Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

Even after having 4 kids, you’d think that breastfeeding would come easier with the fourth kid, but nooooooooooo….. Jacob is throwing me for a loop. First it was the bottle feeding… That was interrupting the proper latch and his preference for the bottle seemed to overtake his want for breastfeeding, so we cut out the bottles. Second it is his latch, since he was bottle fed, his latch was smaller then the typical one. Mind you he also has a really small mouth because he’s a preemie, so we’ve been using a nipple shield to help open his mouth wider, but with that comes other problems: he doesn’t get as much milk as he would drinking from the bare breast. Third, since we’re using the nipple shield, he latches better using that than on the bare breast, but I’ve been working on getting him off the nipple shield. So that’s another transition. Fourth, he hasn’t been gaining as much weight as we’d hoped, so instead of adding formula, as other people would, we’ve been adding a tube while feeding him…to get him to a higher weight….Sigh…so many things going on.

There are usually 2 breastfeeding problems: 1) a milk production problem, where for whatever reason, your body isn’t producing as much milk as your baby needs and 2) a latching problem. This happens when your baby can’t latch properly and it makes breastfeeding hurt. For me, my problem has always been a latching problem. I have never had a problem with milk production, thankfully, but on the other hand, a latching problem can make any mother quit breastfeeding because it really hurts if you don’t get the help you need. Sigh… This is such hard work. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it is the least talked about in parenting classes, but let me tell you…. It puts things into perspective.

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your baby… To try to give him/her the best possible nutrition… It’s really hard… And the sad thing is… A lot of mothers give up before their babies. One thing I have learned in my life regarding breastfeeding is NEVER give up! If you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for it, it will be totally worth it. There is help out there if you really want it. But first you have to get over the painful latches of the milk production issues to be able to be in the clear.

Over the last few days, Jacob and I have been struggling with breastfeeding. He’s been fussy a lot at night which means that I’ve been up nursing him. I feel like I’ve been nursing him non stop over the last few days. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, persistence and a heck of a lot of the miracle nipple cream I was prescribed! Let me tell you… Without that nipple cream, I don’t know where I’d be.

Thinking about how this relates to the Theology of the Body… In so many ways, a mother is that child’s representative of Jesus, metaphorically, of course.

She willingly feeds her child, losing sleep and other things that come along with it. But if you knew what the milk was, you’d also understand the parallels with that of the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Holy Eucharist? It’s literally transformed from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. See John chapter 6 in the Bible. Jesus’ body and blood becomes the sustenance for our lives. If we eat of his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life. He is the life source of our lives.

In the same way it can be for breastfeeding…the mother’s body and blood is transformed into sustenance for that little baby. Without the milk, the baby would die. But I guess one of the most beautiful things to think about is that mothers get to feed their babies just like the Blessed Mother fed the baby Jesus. She gave up her body for him so he could live by drinking the milk that her body produced.

If breastfeeding doesn’t make you a saint, I don’t know what will. While I’m sitting here, feeding Jacob, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just quit breastfeeding this little boy… And as I contemplate this, I think no… I could never give up on this. This is my sacrifice for him but also for those who need prayers. My struggle will be offered up for those who need and want prayers. So if you’d like me to remember you during my struggle please comment on this post, and I’ll be sure to pray for you during my breastfeeding journey.

Before I end this post, if you could also lift me up in your prayers, I could really use them. Breastfeeding is hard, but one thing I’ve learned is… Get the help…it’s out there if you need it.

This is where I got my help…

The Doctor’s Breastfeeding Clinic

The doctors here are great! And so is the lactation consultant. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their help.

One last note… I was reading another blog about 5 saints who should be known by breastfeeding mothers, and one that really stood out was St. Zelie Martins. She was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was unable to breastfeed her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses because she couldn’t feed them. And many of them died while they were separated from her. 😮 Can you imagine?? Your babies died because you couldn’t breastfeed them?? I’d be devastated and I’m sure she was. So I’m that note, I’ll end this blog with a short prayer.

St. Giles (patron saint of breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, St. Zelie, and Our Lady of La Leche, please pray for all the breastfeeding mothers out there that are struggling and wanting to give up! Give them the will to keep going even when they want to stop. Allow them to enter into the suffering deeply and unite it with that of Christ and the Blessed mother. Allow them to persevere by your grace. All this we ask in Jesus’ name! Amen!

My little milk monster! He keeps me on my toes!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

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Preemie babies and Theology of the Body

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote anything for this blog, and I’m not making excuses, but life definitely got in the way of keeping up with this blog. However … I’m back now and hopefully I can contribute more to the blogosphere.

Ok…. So update….. I had a fourth baby… Another wonderful baby BOY! I know what you’re thinking… Another boy? Was it planned?  Were you going for a girl this time around? And. … You gonna go for the girl?? As in… Are you going to go for the fifth baby?

Let me start by saying that I love my kids and they bring me so much joy…even if they drive me crazy sometimes. To answer your lingering questions though… Yes another boy; yes it was planned with more thought; no we weren’t going for a girl persay, but if we happened to be blessed with a girl, great… If not, I know boys, so it’s not much of a stretch; but to answer the big question you’re all thinking…Yes we are open to having more children!

Say whaaaat?? Yes… We’re open to having more if God blesses us with more children. That’s part of what we agreed to when we took our wedding vows: “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” and the answer is an absolute YES! I just hope we are able to because I have had 2 C-section. It is a little more complicated to have children after the second C-section.

The story behind this little one is a bit of an epic tale. Rios and I were hoping to have a 4th child because when we first got married, we wanted to have 2 or 4 kids, so after Aaron was born we realized we would love to have another, so we decided to get back on the Billings Ovulation Method bandwagon and intentionally work with God to make it happen. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it was before. I was at my heaviest weight and having very irregular cycles.

Sidenote: using the Billings Ovulation Method has helped me figure out issues within my cycle.

http://www.toronto.naturalfamilyplanning.ca

I figured out that I had thyroid issues and low vitamin D, so as soon as I got those things taken care of, I found out that I was pregnant! What a joyous occasion! This pregnancy, however, was my hardest one to date. I was told that there was a chance that this baby would have down syndrome. I also ended up getting gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. On top of that, this baby was considered high risk because he was an intrauterine growth restricted baby aka (iugr) with only 2 blood vessels running through the umbilical cord.

So when he was born, he was 2 pounds 5 ounces. Even at 34 weeks, he was as tiny as a 30 weeker. He was very feisty when he was born though. His apgar score was 10. You don’t even see that in babies that are born to term. Needless to say, I knew he would change my world when he arrived. I wasn’t even expecting him to come when he did. I was in the hospital for a non stress test: they hook you up to the monitors to check the movements of the baby, but during the test, the doctor said his movements were not adequate, so they sent me for an ultrasound. After the ultrasound, they sent me back to labour and delivery for my results, and during that time, the doctor said that the fluid around the baby was depleting. This began my journey as a preemie mom.

He was delivered via C-section and I was happy but at the same time sad. It’s hard to sit back knowing that your little baby was taken so early from the warmth of your womb and now has to stay in the care of others. I was also sad knowing that the possibility of a large family was now limited by the multiple surgeries.

The first time I got to meet him was after breakfast the next day. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how small he was. I didn’t know what to do because he was so tiny. I was in awe that I had been a co-creator along with my husband and with God to bring this little human into the world. What a huge blessing this little guy has been in our lives.

He has been in the nicu for just over three weeks now, and it has definitely been an experience. There is an element of letting go of your little baby in the hopes that he will get the best care even though you wish he could come home with you. It’s realizing that you can’t give him what he needs right now. That he needs to be in the care of the nurses while you are at home waiting and pumping. There is also the element of pumping even when you don’t want to.

Let me pause for a minute and reflect on pumping versus breastfeeding. Let me tell you one thing… Breastfeeding is sooooooo much easier than pumping. When a mom breastfeeds her baby, you’re all he needs. No extra bottles, people, and sanitizing. But on the other hand, pumping requires an element of giving of yourself in a different way. Even though your baby isn’t with you physically, you are still responsible for producing the milk that sustains him. You still have to wake up every three hours to pump or your milk either won’t come in or it will diminish. It’s a different kind of giving of yourself. It is a weird feeling being away from your baby because while you’re pumping to keep up your milk supply, you’re essentially feeding a machine. It’s also a bit harder to connect with your baby because you are separated from him. When pumping you still have the very real consequences of sore nipples. It hurts and sometimes you want to cry because you are tired, sore, and cranky, but you keep moving forward because you know that little life that you birthed is depending on you.

So how does the Theology of the Body relate to having a preemie baby? It relates very much. In general, babies are the epitome of the Theology of the Body. Birthing a baby is living the Theology of the Body. But having a preemie is another aspect of TOB. It is giving of yourself even when you are away from the baby. It is trusting the nurses to take care of your new little bundle of joy. Without those nurses, you would be a hot mess. You have to rely on your village to raise a family. If we are meant for communion, you definitely live this way because those nurses are the ones that are caring for your little one while your are at home trying to live your life and be a part of your baby’s life. They make it possible for your baby to thrive, and sure it’s their job, but at the same time, they love what they do and the nurses at the nicu where my little guy is, well they’re fantastic! I want to thank each and every nurse that has taken care of my baby. If you’re reading this, please know that I appreciate all you do and I thank you for loving my son while I’ve been unable to care for him fully. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I once asked Christopher West what kind of advice he could give to a mother who was about to give birth to a baby in a few weeks, and his response was perfect.

“I have nothing but deep reverence for the mystery about to be revealed through the Theology of your body!! Christ used labor pains and birth as an image of the paschal mystery. You are entering bodily into a sign that encompasses the mystery of existence, of creation, fall, and redemption. Live it prayerfully… Offer all of your sufferings for the redemption of the world… The veil between heaven and earth is very thin in these moments… ”

– Christopher West

As I reflect on the actual delivery of my new baby boy… It is very much like living in union with Christ at the time. I was laying down on the operating table, vulnerable and in the form of Christ. My arms were spread out just like Christ’s were on the cross. I was giving life and at the same time losing a bit of myself and my heart to this little life. Every time a new baby is born into my family, my heart expands to allow more love to exist. Love can only grow more with the addition of more children. That is what it means to live the Theology of the Body to live freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Love until it hurts, and even when it hurts, keep loving more because that’s how we are called to love one another. We are called to love one another as Christ loves the church in that he gave his life up for us. Love day to day in the small things and you will be able to love in the big things!

Welcome to the world Jacob Xavius Manrique-Reyes! We love you!

Book Review: Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on my blog.  It has been a crazy few months.  We just came back from California, but that is a story for another blog post….

This particular blog post deals with my very first book review on my blog.  I was blessed to received an advanced copy of Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body written by a slew of different authors. In all honesty, it is the first anthology that I have read?? Or is it…  I don’t remember… hahaha

Let’s start the review… buckle up…. here we go!!!

This is where you can buy it:

Image and Likeness on Amazon.ca

Image and Likeness on Amazon.com

My overall feeling about the book was that it left me with a sort of unsettling feeling after reading a few of the author contributions.  There were some great stories, but there were ones that really left me feeling uncomfortable and very uneasy.  I’m not sure if that is the response that I’m supposed to be feeling, but that’s honestly how I felt.

I have read quite a few books about the Theology of the Body, some novels that had TOB related themes, but I never felt the uneasiness I felt reading this collection of stories.

I think a few of the stories got the TOB cry of the heart correct, and the author was able to portray that in his or her work, but for some, I don’t think it related to the TOB themes.

There was a particular story that dealt with superstition. This was probably my least favourite short story.  It set up the rest of the book to make me feel extremely uncomfortable.  I wondered after reading this story, if this was what all the stories were going to make me feel like.  I didn’t want to continue reading the book, but a few of my favourite authors contributed to the anthology, so I decided to keep reading.

One written by Leslie Lynch kept me wanting to know more about the characters in her short story…. What is she going to do??  Will they get married??  Will she go through with it?? I really enjoyed reading her particular short story, and it was one of the reasons I kept reading.

Theresa Linden is another author I enjoyed reading.  She wrote a few great stories for this collection, but I think her first story needed a brief introduction.  I knew what she was writing about because I have read a number of her novels, so I’ve come across her characters before, but for the untrained Theresa readers, they may not understand that her first short story takes place in a post apocalyptic society.  The characters in her story are from her series Chasing Liberty.

Overall, would I read the book again??  Probably not.  I might read a few of the stories in the distant future but not the whole book.

Here is a list of the contributing authors

Would I recommend this book??  Maybe…  It wouldn’t be the first book I would recommend people read if they were searching for good fiction books on TOB, but if a person was specifically looking for an anthology, I’d recommend it.

Out of 5, I’d probably give it a 2.5.  It was okay.  The few stories that were great weren’t enough to override the ones that left me feeling restless.

The Theology of my body

So 2 months ago, I attended the second Theology of the Body course in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and it was truly amazing! I LOVE how the TOB community is very tight knit. I attended the course with a few people I saw last year at the first TOB course, and we became closer through our love for TOB and for each other!

Reality has set in though and the weight of the responsibility has set me on fire for the Lord and this prophetic message!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my experience at the retreat, let me share an experience that I shared with my TOB friends at the retreat. It has really put things into perspective for me. I never considered my body to be a theology, but boy, was I wrong. I always thought that my body will be a gift, and sure…. it’s easy enough when you’re a parent… you’re ALWAYS a gift…but when the true nature of being a gift is called into question, things change.

A few weeks before the course, our friends got married, and it was a beautiful wedding. One of the sponsors at the wedding recently had a baby a few weeks prior, so I was asked to take care of him, and of course, I said YES! I LOVE babies!!

As I was taking care of him, he started to get fussy, so I rocked him, stood up, burped him… but he would have none of it. I quickly walked to the back as the entire wedding party was lining up and told his mom that he was hungry. She was unsure what to do because the wedding procession was going to start in a few minutes. My husband, being the TOB supporter, steps out and says “who’s going to be the wet nurse? Charity right?” and both the baby’s mom and I looked at each other and I said “I’m ok to feed him as long as you are… I don’t want him to be hungry.” And she said “tob right? Charity!” I was in such awe from that moment. I knew I had to be a gift for this little incarnate soul. He was hungry, so I fed him out of love and charity for him and his mom.

Wait whaaaaat????  You breastfed another baby??  Some of you are probably thinking this… and to you I say Yes…yes I did!!  I did it with joy and love for God. My understanding of the theology of the body made that decision easier for me to love another human that wasn’t directly related to me.

I must say that it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had.  I mean breastfeeding in general is a beautiful experience, but it is different when it’s your own child and when it’s someone else’s.  At that moment, I remember feeling awestruck and simply in love.  I was able to be a gift for someone other than my family and it was beautiful.

It only really hit me how powerful this witness was to me and to my fellow TOB retreat goers.  I shared this story with them during our Thursday bonfire, and a few women after came and told me that it was such a great story and that they would pray for me. One woman said that I would forever be her example of Our Lady of Laleche.  Every time she sees someone breastfeeding a baby, she will think of me and pray for me.  🙂  What wonderful people to offer up prayers for you.

Fast forward a few months later, and what have I realized….  There are so many things I can say about this experience.

It helped me have more reverence towards our blessed mother Mary.  She is the original Our Lady of la Leche.  She nursed the baby Jesus in order to sustain His life, and in turn, He gave up His to save hers.  WOW!!!!!  I, somehow, was able to participate in the very act of charity that sustained my friend’s baby as well as the charity that allowed Jesus to live.  We never think about Mary breastfeeding Jesus, but in reality she did.  What else would she have done??  She loved him enough to give up her life to care for him.  She had sleepless nights, fussy baby blues, breastfeeding aches, but yet she still gave up her life to take care of the one who gave up his. We often forget that Mary was human with real struggles and real parenting fails, but she, with the grace of God, took care of Jesus.  What a lovely reminder for us mothers… Mary was once in our shoes, so she knows our hearts better than anyone.

The theology of the body has taught me that we all long for closeness and love, and the only way to show and express love is to give of yourself fully.  To give of yourself to another freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully is the only way to truly live life. If you’re going to live, live with love.  If you’re going to love, love till it hurts.  If you’re going to be a gift, give yourself fully. When they say “no man is an island” it’s true.  No one can live by themselves devoid of the rest of the world. My dad once shared with me that “God made me to know him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.” I will forever take those words with me as I move forward in life.  That one moment where I gave myself to love and serve another little human has forever changed my life, and for that experience, I am truly grateful.

The Lone Female Amongst The Sea of Males

It’s no secret that I have three young boys: Philip aged 7; Isaac aged 4 1/2; and Aaron aged 19 months.  They have taught me a lot about the way boys see the world and the way their humour is.  A lot of times I end up rolling my eyes at their silliness, but at the same time, I am also in awe of the wisdom that comes out of their young mouths.

They teach me to have more fun and to let go a little.  I love the way they make my heart melt with the warmness of their love.  They inspire me to be a better mother and better role model. SOOOOOOO…… the reason for my post this week is to talk about the importance of raising my boys to treat their future spouses with respect and love that Christ has bestowed upon us.

Since learning about the Theology of the Body and how it saved my marriage, I vow to make sure my boys know about this beautiful teaching and hope they take it to heart and be able to live in this society working to heal it from its deep wounds.

I have a lot of funny stories that pertain to the raising of young boys…. oh…. tons of them… hahaha

Let’s start from the beginning…. Philip was born in 2009, and he will be catalyst for this teaching. He is also the one that is now truly responding to it.  Thankfully with the grace of God, he has been understanding the teaching and even reminding his brothers what to do.

Having boys definitely has its challenges, especially in the realm of appropriating their bodies.  Philip is a silly kid and he often dances silly at home and then brings his silliness to school, and that often gets him in trouble.  The boys and I often have discussions about making sure they respect their bodies and that their bodies are sacred because we don’t just have a body, we are our bodies.

Soooooo I’m going to give some practical tips on what I’ve been doing to teach my boys the basics of the theology of the body:

  1. Use appropriate terms for body parts.  Always, always, always use the proper names for body parts.  Think about this…. we don’t have silly nicknames for our eyes, elbows, or feet, so why do we insist on using names like “bird” or “doodle” to describe the male anatomy?  We used to use nicknames for the anatomy, but now we have fixed this and have continued to use the proper terms for the proper parts.
  2. Find out what they know. Before you start divulging all the ins and out of the birds and the bees, you need to figure out what your kids know and what made them think of asking that question. Because kids are curious, they ask lots and lots of questions, but you need to know what information they have received and from where.  One time Philip asked me “Mommy, what does sexy mean?” I thought it was a funny question, but I asked him “where did you hear that word?” He said “I heard it on the radio.” My first thought is… Definitely have to filter their radio station… the next thing I said was “Well, sexy is a word that people use to describe another person, but it is not the most respectful word that we can use.  You can use words such as beautiful or pretty instead.”
  3. Always tell the truth (age appropriately) of course.  Before you tell your children everything under the sun… give them simple answers.  They are curious, so you can stay away from giving so much detail, but they do deserve a response: the TRUTH. Philip asked me one time “Mommy, where do babies come from?” My answer was simple: “Well buddy, when mommy and daddy love each other, their love, along with God’s love brings you into the world. It’s through our love that has allowed you to be be born.” This satisfied his curiosity, for now, at least…. we’ll see how long that will last. haha
  4. Give your kids lots of hugs, kisses, and appropriate affection.  It is important to show your children that you love them by showing them.  Give them lots of hugs and kisses.  Tickle them and make them laugh.  It is also important to make sure that your children know what inappropriate touches are.  You want them to know that their private parts are covered by their underwear, and that no one should be touching that area of their bodies.
  5. Teach your children the glorious reason that God created them.  I constantly talk to my boys about the reason they should keep their hands away from their penises (because their bodies are sacred and that is disrespecting their bodies).  I  talk to them about the sacredness of their bodies and that God created them to be a gift to their future wives, so by touching themselves, they are choosing self-gratification over God’s glorious purpose for them. If marriage is their chosen vocation, they are going to learn how to treat their future wives.  Quoting St John Paul II “Only the [human] body is capable of making visible what is invisible:
    the spiritual and the divine. Through…bodiliness,… masculinity and femininity, man becomes a visible sign of…Truth and Love, which has its source in God himself.” (TOB 19:4) My boys are going to know that they were created to love as Christ loves.
  6. Show affection to each other.  It is important that your children see their parents kiss and hug.  It’s funny because Isaac, my middle son, hates it when Rios and I hug or kiss.  Rios constantly tells him “I kiss and hug mommy because I love her! But it’s important to respect her!” I must say that I am blessed to have a husband who loves me as Christ does.

These are the things I’ve learned while studying the theology of the body, and how it relates to my child rearing.  My sons are the fruits of my labour and by the grace of God, they will continue to learn how to treat others with respect and dignity.  This is my job and I’m going to do the best I can to raise these boys right!

Thanks for reading,

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

The Conversion of Saul to St Paul

The benefit of being home with my kids is that I get to participate in morning mass.  I  love listening to the word of God.  It’s even better when Aaron comes with me and behaves.  hehehe…Today’s readings were about conversion: the conversion of St Paul.

What causes our confusion??  What causes us to lose hope, to doubt in the existence of God?? I think for the most part, we are lacking faith.  In a previous post, I mentioned that faith is the ultimate reception of God’s love and gift.  We don’t believe that God will give us our gift, so we grab for it instead.

St Paul was one of the most hated among Christians because he persecuted them.  He tormented them and killed them, so why would people believe he had a conversion??

People are so skeptical of others that they can’t believe anyone could actually have a change of heart.  How can an invisible “God” really talk to us? Or, look at Jeanette’s life…she is always gossiping about others, how can she be a follower of Christ?  Christians are put under a microscope because we are expected to have all the answers and have a seemingly holier life, but people often forget that we are humans, not divine beings.  We are working everyday to get rid of the stigma that follows Christians, or at least we should.  Our lives should reflect the life of Christ.  We need a Paul-like conversion.  We need a total 180 degree change in our attitudes and lives so that we are now reflecting the life of Christ.

But how can we do that??  How can we have a deeper conversion??  I’ve been reading and contemplating this book called Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay (I will post a link below) and it has really helped me deepen my prayer life as well as help with my conversion story.  He quotes St Bernard of Clairvaux, “There are more people who convert from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better!” WOW!!!  This is thought provoking….  why is it that this happens??  In one word: CONVERSION.  What is true conversion??

True conversion is looking at your life and seeing the faults and working towards God and mirroring your life after the saints, apostles, Jesus and Mary.  If it wasn’t for the conversion of St Paul, a lot of us would not be here believing in the gospel.

My conversion happened when I started studying the Theology of the Body.  Those writings of St. John Paul II really changed my life.  I am looking for ways to bring this to the wider group of people.  A lot of people can have their own conversion by listening to these very healing words.  There are many ways God can call us for conversion, but TOB was mine.  After going to the Theology of the Body Institute and learning more, I have total faith that I’m following the right path.  I am so happy I came across these writings, so please pray for me.

Below, I will share a link to download a talk by Christopher West entitled: Your Body Tells God’s Love Story!  It is an introductory talk on the Theology of the Body! I hope you enjoy it!

May God bless you and help you with your conversion story.

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

Link to Deep Conversion Deep Prayer:

http://www.amazon.ca/Deep-Conversion-Prayer-Thomas-DuBay/dp/1586171178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453736061&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+conversion+deep+prayer

FREE talk by Christopher West

https://members.thecorproject.com/file/nYezD8ZRkd0

Mary and Jesus: My Reflection

In yesterday’s Gospel reading we hear about Jesus’ first miracle: the miracle at Cana. It is beautiful to note the relationship between Jesus and Mary.  Even though Jesus said “it is no my time yet,” he perfomed the miracle on the request of his mother Mary.

So what does this mean for us??

Christ wants to fill our lives with His love.  Throughout the bible there is marriage.  The bible begins with a marriage between Adam and Eve; the bible ends with a marriage between Christ and His church; in the middle of the bible is the Song of Songs.  Jesus perfoms his first miracle at a wedding: the wedding at Cana.  Jesus and Mary are the new Adam and new Eve: the masculine and the feminine.

People often say that Mary isn’t as important as us Catholics make her out to be.  In reflecting on this topic, I would say that Mary is the most important woman in the bible. Mary is the perfect example of faith: being open to receiving the gift.  She did not understand God’s plan, but she said yes to it.  Because of Mary, we have Jesus and because of Jesus we have Mary.  The two cannot be separated.  In a similar way, Christ and his church cannot be separated. The funny thing is, Mary is the church: the church is feminine.  Why people say that the church is a patriarch is beyond me, in fact the church is feminine but has masculine components.  They are both needed and cannot live without the other.  Jesus is the ultimate example of masculinity: He was our gift in that He gave His life for us. In today’s society, we have a need for a truly masculine example, and we can find that in Jesus.  Mary, on the other hand, is the ultimate example of femininty; she perfectly received the gift.  To understand the feminine, we must look at Mary for our example.

The filling up of the wine is a representation of Christ being the one to fill our lives.  We fill our lives with things in the finite world: sex, drugs, and alcohol, and as much as it numbs the pain, it will never truly satisfy.  The only one that can fill the desire of our hearts is Christ, in the same way that He filled the jugs of water with the most delicious wine.  He wants to fill our lives with His love.  Mary is the one who helps us know her son.  She is the one that is always pointing our lives to her son. She is always with us on this journey to find Jesus.  As the saying goes: “no one can honour Mary more than Jesus her son.”

Secular world drama

I have been having conversations with some interesting people these past few days. I am a Catholic and will be for the rest of my life. I believe in the truths of the Gospel, and I believe that God calls us to a spiritual battle on a daily basis.

I spoke with someone the other day, let’s call her Nancy, that struggles with pornography. Nancy grew up in a Christian/Catholic house and sadly something happened while she was young that caused her to think that her body was an object of someone else’s desires. Nancy’s view of her body and of men skewed her view on what the true meaning of sex is. It opened the door to a battle with pornography that she was never meant to struggle with. In an ideal world, that situation that happened when she was young would have never happened. The man would have been there to protect her instead of take advantage of her. He would have loved her as Christ loves us, by giving up his life for us all. Instead of becoming a slave to his desires, that man would have desired only the pure, the good, and the beautiful. That man scarred Nancy, he tried to break her. He almost did BUT the Lord is so great. He has redeemed Nancy. He gave her the graces she so desired and has been trying to restore her life to its once original innocence.

The other person I spoke with was once a priest who used to fully believe in the truths of the Gospel, but now has since taken a sabbatical in order to discern what his place in this world is: let’s call him George. He has mentioned to me that he has been turning away from religion and has become more accepting of the secular world, which generally I’m ok with. I understand that not everyone is in the vocation that they were meant to be in, but I also know that there are such things as moral absolutes. George was mentioning that one doesn’t need God or Jesus to live a moral life. I honestly don’t believe that because morality, what is true, good and beautiful, can only come from God. He mentioned that you don’t need Jesus to tell you that murder is bad…. Really??? I think, as humans, we need to have rules set for us, or our world would be in utter chaos. We need to be told what to do because obviously we don’t seem to be getting it right. To the person that has morals without faith, who tells you that you are living a moral life? Did you wake up one day and say…today I’m not going to kill anyone…and go about your business as you would any other day??  Is it enough to live in this world being content with the truth of the secular world? Or do you believe that you were called to do something greater than what’s at the end of your arm’s length??

In both cases, Nancy and George have been working through issues that have been caused by what the world has to offer. They have both become victims of their generation. The devil is a very sneaky seraph, and I must admit that he has a good strategy to distract the faithful. He often makes us doubt ourselves and doubt the loving nature of our Lord. The oldest trick in the book is for us to believe the lie that God will withhold the gifts that He has for us; to put doubt in our hearts. In my conversations with my friends, I have been pondering a lot about the truth of how the Theology of the Body can help to restore our broken society. But before we start, we have to ask God for faith. If we don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Having faith is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the will of the father and remaining open to hearing His whispers. He always gives us a choice to either do good or bad, so we need to be open to receiving the gifts He has in store for us!

To Nancy and George, I pray that the Lord will give you the graces you need to understand the truth He sets before you!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

Insight!

This past week has definitely been an interesting and insightful week for the truth of my character. I left my job after giving birth to my third son Aaron because I felt a calling to do something more in life. Because of how the Theology of the Body impacted my life, I felt/feel a strong calling to take this beautiful teaching and bring it to a wider audience. At my parish, St Anthony of Padua, we are going to offer the introductory Theology of the Body Course in the DVD format starting in April, but until then, I am biding my time praying and reflecting on deepening my own prayer life.

One of my favourite Saints, St Teresa of Avila comes to my mind and even though she was in a lot of pain in her life, she used it as a way to show others her love for Christ. She knew how to live in the ache. She had an understanding that everyone is broken but it is how we use our brokenness that will either make or break a person. If not her, who? The same can be said for us, if we are not doing the Lord’s work… who is?? The Lord has no body on this earth but ours, but are we going to allow him to work through us? If we are all called to be a part of the Body of Christ, what part are you? It made me think… I am being called by the Lord to proclaim the good news about why we were created, and I’m looking for opportunities to speak this truth… this week has made me realize that this mission is bigger than I am and that I need prayers please!  can anyone help me get in touch with speaking opportunities??

 

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Aha moment!

The moment came when I realized I needed to learn the Theology of the body (an encyclical given as 129 Wednesday audience talks written and preached by the late St John Paul II) was when Rios and I were going through a rough patch.  I’ve had the Theology of the body for beginners book since at least 2005 (I’ll include a link at the end)… but NEVER picked it up!! If I knew the knowledge that it could provide for me before I got married, or early in my marriage, I wouldn’t be divulging this information now… I would have been a serious follower of Christopher West (who wrote the beginner book) way back then. Alas, the Lord knows when to reveal himself to us and it just so happened to be at the perfect time.

I always felt sort of odd after I gave birth to Isaac (my middle child), but I never thought it was my understanding of my role as a woman.  I honestly thought that there was a problem with me.  I looked into speaking with doctors about this condition I was feeling…  or this lack of feeling as it existed in me, but I never actually did anything about it…I let these feelings fester within me and at the same time, Rios was struggling to regain his manhood.  I had broken him; to the point that he wanted to leave.  As this blog goes on, I’ll share little nuggets of information about my life, but for now you’ll get this! 😉

I can safely say that we’re still together… hahaha, so no need to worry, BUT I will say this….  The THEOLOGY OF THE BODY saved my marriage… if it can for mine, it can for anyone!

“The human body includes right from the beginning…the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.” TOB January 16, 1980, St John Paul II

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Theology-Body-Beginners-Introduction-Revolution/dp/1934217859/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452655968&sr=1-1&keywords=theology+of+the+body+for+beginners