Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Joseph's Altar

March 19 we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus. St. Joseph is the patron of families, fathers and the Universal Church.
The St. Joseph Altar or St. Joseph Table is an old tradition from Sicily. It began in Sicily when drought threatened to ruin all the crops. The people prayed to St. Joseph and the rains came. In thanksgiving, they prepared a table of foods they had harvested and shared their crops with the poor. 

Cheri Mainetti at St. Raphael's Catholic Church in St. Petersburg put together a beautiful altar to celebrate the feast of St Joseph on March 19. Cheri combined a statue of St. Joseph with flowers, palms, a rosary, breads, beans pasta, candles, wine and prayer cards. Next to the altar are the collection boxes for food for St. Vincent de Paul to distribute to the needy. Many generous parishioners brought in canned goods and staples for the poor.

Cheri's hard work inspired Ryan Finster, age 9, and family to create a home altar area for the patron of fathers, families and the Universal Church.

March 19 is a great day to listen to Dr. Mark Miravalle's talk "St. Joseph: The Patron of the Universal Church" distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media. Click HERE for an mp3 or CD.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Standing Up for Marriage~10 talking points we need to learn


Talking Points in Standing Up for Marriage 
 by Una Fides 

Do you find yourself trying to stand up for marriage but unable to find the right words to use? If so, then this newsletter is for you. We've put together a number of talking points that will enable you to fight for, and defend, marriage. It is a high calling. In the words of Archbishop Cordileone, "Fighting for marriage is our way of loving God, and the struggle is the particular gift that God has given our generation. This is our particular trial, and by overcoming it, we may achieve spiritual greatness."Let's get talking!

Point 1
Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don't have the right to redefine marriage for all of us. This is the most effective single sentence you can use to defend marriage and research verifies this. It is important to keep focused on the main issue, marriage. This debate is not about homosexuality. It is about marriage and what marriage is.

Point 2
Use only the phrase "redefining marriage." Never use the term "same sex marriage" because that is a natural and physical impossibility. We should not make it sound plausible or real by describing a same sex relationship as a marriage. "Same sex marriage" is just as physically impossible as "male breastfeeding," so we should not make same sex marriage sound plausible or real by describing it as a marriage.
Point 3
The nature of marriage is not a religious question. You do not need religious or theological arguments to defend it. Marriage comes to us from nature and it exists in nature. Neither the Church nor the State created it and neither can change its nature. Christ sanctified marriage as a sacrament and, in doing so, has given us a supernatural sense of its meaning. Throughout human history, the State has always protected marriage because it is essential to the family, the well-being of children and the common good of society.  
Point 4
The whole debate before us is not about whom to let marry but about what marriage is. Marriage has always been a male/female institution because it is rooted in biology and is critical to the common good of society. Marriage has a public purpose which is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to each other. It is a biological union of a man and a woman for generating, protecting and raising children.
Point 5
Advocates for redefining marriage seek to remake it as a personal matter based on sexual romantic companionship. They want to view marriage as a loving and emotional bond between two people. Its primary purpose is seen as the sexual happiness of the adults involved. In this revised definition, marriage is all about adults, their feeling and their wants. If marriage is no longer conjugal in nature, and simply a sexual romantic partnership, how can there be any meaningful restrictions on marriage. Two men and two women could have a romantic interest in each other and a sexual partnership, so why can't they be married? And what about polygamy and polyandry? These consequences of separating marriage from its true conjugal nature are already being seen. In Brazil and the Netherlands, three way relationships were just given full marriage rights. California recently passed a bill to legalize families of three of more parents. And this is only the beginning!

Point 6
Proponents for redefining marriage claim that it is all about equality. Equality is not equivalency. Equality deals with treating similar things in a similar manner but does not deal with things that are dissimilar and fundamentally different. The demand for equality must rest upon an objective reality that shows the things declared equal are, in essence, actually the same. This is not true in the current debate. Opposite sex relationships and same sex relationships are inherently different. They are fundamentally different due to the fact that opposite sex relationships can produce children; same sex relationships cannot. Absent this claim of equality, there is no discrimination in restricting marriage to a man and a woman. Distinctions have always existed in marriage laws. Parents cannot marry their children. Brothers and sisters cannot marry. Under-age individuals cannot marry. People who are already married are not allowed to marry anyone else. Such distinctions are not discrimination.

Point 7
The welfare of children is being completely disregarded and dismissed in discussing the redefinition of marriage. Marriage, as it has always been acknowledged, is oriented to having children and raising them. Transforming marriage from a child-centered institution, whose purpose is to join mother and father for the benefit of children, into a genderless institution to satisfy adult desires is unconscionable. Research clearly demonstrates that the gold standard for children is to be raised in a household headed by the child's own biological mother and father. Children raised in single parent families and children born to unmarried women have higher risks and experience poorer outcomes. Recent research (Dr. Mark Regnerus, 2012) shows that for a majority of outcomes, children raised by parents in same sex relationships significantly underperformed children raised in households with married, biological parents. (Dr. Mark Regnerus, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?", 2012) Marriage is a pro-child union and, if it is redefined, the needs of children will have been sacrificed to meet the wants and needs of a small percentage of adults.

Point 8
Religious liberty is in grave danger if marriage is redefined. Even proponents of genderless marriage agree that such a change presents a very real danger to religious freedom. If the legal definition of marriage is changed, it is not just one change that takes place but literally thousands of changes in law and public policy occur immediately. The legal term, "marriage" occurs in family law, employment law, health care law, property and tax law and the list is endless. These new laws and policies will affect and govern religious institutions, schools, hospitals, families and individuals. If Church and State disagree on the definition of marriage, major conflicts will occur on a massive scale. That religious liberty is in great jeopardy by redefining marriage is not just legal theory but is confirmed by many real life examples that have already taken place. A few examples: loss of funding and licensing for adoption agencies for refusing to place children with same sex couples (Catholic Charities in MA, DC, IL), loss of state tax exempt status for religiously affiliated camp (NJ), imposition of tax penalties for preaching about marriage amendments (Montana), extension of married student housing to same sex couples (Catholic college in MA), Canadian Bishop investigated for simply explaining Catholic teaching on homosexuality in newspaper column.                  
Point 9
Proponents of genderless marriage claim that those who defend traditional marriage are bigots for not allowing marriage to be redefined as they wish. This false claim is used to silence the opposition and shut down meaningful dialogue. Those opposed to a certain opinion should not have to accept a new law to avoid being labeled bigots. The falsity of this charge of bigotry is well demonstrated by the fact that 70% of the African American community in California voted in favor of Proposition 8, a state amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Can it seriously be argued that all these African Americans in California are bigots? Declaring all those opposed to redefining marriage as bigots is patently absurd.

Point 10
Some would have us believe that the defense of marriage is a lost cause. Proponents of genderless marriage tell us that this change is inevitable. History suggests otherwise. Between 1920 to 1930, the eugenics movement seemed unstoppable, having been embraced and championed by the elite institutions of American society. Catholics and others, considered "backwards" by the progressives of the day, resisted and history shows that the eugenics movement was decidedly not inevitable. In the 1970s we were also told that a "woman's right" to an abortion would come to be accepted by all. Polling today shows that the percentage of those opposed to abortion is now greater than it was in the 1970s. The redefinition of marriage will only succeed if the defenders of marriage do not buy into the "inevitability" claim.

 Two must see video clips!

 Marriage = Biology (Not Bigotry) 

 Why Marriage Matters

Prayer in Defense of Marriage
God our Father, we give you thanks
for the gift of marriage: the bond of life and love,
and the font of the family.

The love of husband and wife enriches your Church with children,
fills the world with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness and service,
and is the sign of the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, for his Church.

The grace of Jesus flowed forth at Cana at the
request of the Blessed Mother. May your Son,
through the intercession of Mary, pour out upon us
a new measure of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
as we join with all people of good will
to promote and protect the unique beauty of marriage.

May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society
to treasure the heroic love of husband and wife,
and guide our leaders to sustain and protect
the singular place of mothers and fathers
in the lives of their children.

Father, we ask that our prayers
be joined to those of the Virgin Mary,
that your Word may transform our service
so as to safeguard the incomparable splendor of marriage.
We ask all these things through Christ our Lord,

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

For additional and more in-depth information on this subject, please see:

What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by Dr. Robert George, Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson 

United States Council of Catholic Bishops

National Organization for Marriage
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The Mission of Una Fides is to build the Body of Christ by 
encouraging Catholic men and women to enrich, fortify, and
embrace their faith through prayer, study, and fellowship
Reproduced in full from Una Fides March 1 Newsletter.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Guest Blog Post by Abby Brundage of the Spirit FM Mom's Squad Blog

A Sacrificial Lent


By Abby Brundage CLICK HERE FOR Mom Squad Blog
Considering a pregnancy takes three-quarters of a year, chances are, you're going to be pregnant for a particular season or holiday. One season that sticks out for me in both of my pregnancies though, is Lent. I was newly pregnant for the Lenten season of 2011 and this time I am in my third trimester. Both times, I feel like God has been sending me a message about how we act when that little life is growing inside of us.

A couple of days ago I was chatting with Julie Musselman, one of our Mom Squad Bloggers. I'd asked her what she gave up for Lent and how it was going. We chatted for a second about pregnant women being exempt from the fasting portion of the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting & almsgiving. My thought to share with her was that I feel like Lent is a great time to be pregnant because it keeps the self-centeredness at bay. An expectant mother comes in a very close second to a bride in the race for most irrational women on earth. In both cases, we give excuses - stress, most important day of her life (for the bride) and hormones, discomfort, "I'm carrying a life here!" (for the pregnant one). Yes, one of those scenarios seems a little more excusable, but it's still not nice! (acknowledging my use of a 5 year old's word)

I have really enjoyed the very gentle reminder during these 40 days that it's SO not all about me. God is kind; He doesn't whack me over the head with it or send a messenger with a snarky comment to put me in my place. It's just that constant nudge that while I might be "exempt" in a way, I still need to focus on others more than myself and that even more important than taking care of the human that is kicking me from the inside out at this very moment, is the need to take care of my relationship with Him.

Julie's reassuring words were, "You know that you ARE sacrificing more than ever at this time." I agreed, aware that my rear end & thighs were expanding and my back was aching, but my reply was, "Yes, but I don't need to make everyone else sacrifice along with me and make their lives miserable!"

The perfect example of this self-sacrifice even in the moments where it is not expected is Mary. She was in her first trimester and traveled to be with Elizabeth to help her with her final months of pregnancy. It's nice to think that maybe since she was going to endure some serious emotional agony("And a sword will pierce your very heart", Luke ch 2), that God had mercy on her and neglected to "bless" her with morning sickness, but chances are, she had at least a few moments of queasiness. She rode on a donkey for goodness sake!

She put aside her own needs and aches and took the long journey to serve. What a beautiful way to experience this season of sacrifice!
2001 Julie Musselman pregnant with fifth child
 p.s. by Julie Musselman

After Abby and I spoke the other day I sent her my favorite scriptures for Pregnant Moms. Especially when I was pregnant with our fourth, fifth and sixth children, I needed to focus on the reality of the gift of life, rather than how tired or sick I felt. In those later pregnancies I was particularly besieged by well-meaning but completely annoying people who would comment things like:

"don't you know what causes that?"

"how many kids are you going to have?"

"boy you look like you are going to have the baby any day" (when I was 3 month pregnant)

"When's the baby due?" (when the baby was born and 4 months old)

I found that be reading these scriptures and repeating the TRUTH they contained, I could overcome my temporary feelings of discomfort in living a counter-cultural, but Joy-filled life with a big family.


"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then am I strong."                                      2Cor 12:9-10

"I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."                             Rom 8:18

"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. "        Rom 12:1-2

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. "                   Col 1:24

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of believers."     Gal 6:9-10