My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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How to have a Domestic Church Part 6

How to Have a Domestic Church
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 4
Part 5

Since we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Encyclical Humane Vitae this year, I think it is worth noting that being open to new life is a vital part of having a Domestic Church for a married Catholic Couple. Much of this is taken from my annual Pre-Cana talk.

But first a few disclaimers.  I am IN NO WAY SAYING that couples who find themselves struggling with infertility of other health issues that keep them from having children are somewhat less holy, less serious about their faith, less married, or less Catholic from couples who have children.  God gives all of us special crosses to bear and special burdens to carry.  Some couples are given the special suffering and burden of infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth. The other side of being open to new life is being willing to accept  that that may not be God's plan for you.  I have known couples who have gone through infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth and have grown in holiness and given glory to God in their gracious acceptance of His will, some through continuing to be open, some through adoption or foster parenting, and some through other creative ways to be of service in the church.  They are truly united to Christ's cross in a special way (CCC 2379).

Back when Mr. Pete and I got married, we had absolutely no clue about what we were doing.  We knew the church was against birth control.  We were really foggy as to why, but as luke warm about our faith as we were at that time, we still took the NFP classes offered and successfully followed those guidelines for years. But I would have to say that we had a modern contraceptive attitude about it rather than an understanding of what we were truly giving up during those years.  We had no idea how important children were in a marriage.

The catechism says:
1604. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: "And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'"

Many people underestimate the importance of having children on the growth, stability and joy that comes from married life.  I know we did.  Our early married life was filled with us, and what we wanted, and what would make us happy - and all of those things were fun, but none of them really helped us grow up as individuals or as a married couple.  I can't imagine how we could have sustained that kind of a lifestyle for the rest of our lives.  Being fruitfulness in the sense of caring for others ourside of ourselves was what was required for the life and good health of the marriage.

Scripture often speaks of this: 
Psalm 127
Behold, (6) children are a gift of the LORD, The (7) fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a (8) warrior, So are the children of one's youth. 5 How (9) blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

Behold, (1) children are a gift of the LORD, The (2) fruit of the womb is a reward.

Psalm 128Blessedness of the Fear of the LORD.A Song of Ascents.1 (1) How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who (2) walks in His ways. 2 When you shall (3) eat of the [1] (4) fruit of your hands, You will be happy and (5) it will be well with you. 3 Your wife shall be like a (6) fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like (7) olive plants Around your table. 4 Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

Matthew 19:14But Jesus said, "[Matt 18:3; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; 1 Cor 14:20; 1 Pet 2:2] Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for [Matt 5:3] the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

In scriptures, children are always a blessing, they are never a curse!

I would like to share two pieces I found on some religious Blogs this year:

The first is from a blog called Domestic Felicity written by a young Jewish Woman:

These verses weren't new to me. I've known them for a long time. But when I re-read them, I was struck anew by the beauty of God's vision of children: rewards. Arrows in the hand of a mighty man. Olive trees, a symbol of prosperity, of roots that go deep into the land of our fathers. What an astounding picture! There's nothing about children being burdens; about the 'inconveniency' of having children when it doesn't fit into our plans. I asked myself: do I think God would say, 'ah, but if you're getting that mortgage, of course it invalidates everything I said about children being a blessing'?

This was how I reached the conclusion which isn't really a novelty: if children are blessings and precious gifts, why on earth would we reject, postpone or limit the sweet rewards God in His wisdom might choose to give us?

And you know what the most amazing thing is? I realized that I actually used to think children are bondage – but the real bondage was precisely those thoughts! I realized how important it is to have children, but I used to view them as hindrances to whatever other plans I might have. I thought having fewer children will mean more freedom. But I really felt free only when I chose to submit myself to the will of my Creator and accept whatever He has in store for me.

This from a Catholic husband and father of seven.

There is much talk these days about how contraception prevents pregnancy. But there is little discussion on what else it prevents—namely, the full union of husband and wife.
Contraception is like a condom over the heart. It says I am not fully open to the possibility of life. And didn’t Jesus say He was the way, the truth, and the life? Whenever we exclude or deter life, we exclude and deter the presence of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason alone, birth control has silently divided husbands and wives in ways they cannot comprehend. It has prevented the deepest unity of souls, and therefore, the deepest of unifying and sanctifying graces: life Himself, Jesus, who is the third partner of every sacramental marriage.

Is it any wonder that scientific surveys have found the following results among couples who do not use artificial contraception? They:
• have a dramatically low (0.2%) divorce rate (compared to 50% in the general public);
• experience happier marriages;
• are happier and more satisfied in their everyday lives;
• have considerably more marital relations;
• share a deeper intimacy with spouse than those who contracept;
• realize a deeper level of communication with spouse;
(To see the full results of Dr. Robert Lerner’s study, go to
Within a year of our decision to follow the Church’s teaching put forth in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, we conceived our first daughter, Tianna. I remember sitting at the kitchen table and saying to my wife, "It’s like… it’s like we’re an apple tree. It’s natural and good; the very purpose of an apple tree is to bear fruit!" Children in our modern culture are often viewed as an inconvenience, or at the very most, an acceptable fashion if you have only one, or maybe two (any more than three is perceived as distasteful or even irresponsible.) But children are the very fruit of married love, fulfilling one of the essential roles designed by God for a husband and wife: to go forth and multiply.
Since that time, God has truly blessed us with six more children. We have three daughters followed by four sons.

They weren’t all planned—there were some surprises! And sometimes Lea and I felt overwhelmed amidst job layoffs and accumulating debt… until we held them in our arms and couldn’t imagine life without them. People laugh when they see us pile out of our van or tour bus. We are stared upon in restaurants and gawked at in grocery stores ("Are ALL these yours??). Once, during a family bike ride, a teenager caught sight of us and exclaimed, "Look! A family!"

1 Timothy says Women saved by child bearing if she proceeds in faith love and I believe it!

Now certainly there are other sins that come forward – screaming at the kids, an lack of patience come to mind – but those are really chances to learn to grow. You simply don’t have other sins because you don’t have the time or energy!

I found that I really learned my faith when I had to teach it to my children. We homeschool – every day I would read something new in the bible that I was teaching Calvin and couldn’t wait to share it with Peter. We were so excited about everything that we were learing about the scriptures and about our Catholic faith.

Children teach us soo much!! I’ve seen myself in their eyes- of course they pick up all my bad habits, and say things I shouldn’t say. But each child as an individual has taught us something.

In Calvin my firstborn, I saw the wonder of God’s creation.  I could also see the graces God gave my son.  Calving has always needed a lot of correction!  Sometimes a spanking, sometimes a scolding,  But he doesn’t harbor a grudge, and remains easy going. Things roll off his back easily. God gave him the grace to accept his corrections graciously.

Sam has always had a true child like pure faith and love of God – something innate not taught.  This continues for him in adolescence and although he is starting to probe and ask questions.  We are starting to have some really wonderful discussions!

Gabe is the stealth kid.  While Calvin and Sam fought over the last cookie, Gabe would just go in there and take it!  He has  taught me about survival and joy! He is always so pleasant.

Noah  tested me with love.  I never had a child that wanted to be around me, on me, near me as much as this one did.  He needed a lto of hugs and lots of reassurance.  He is turning into a bright inquisitive child.  He also loves to debate and argue (in a good way). I hope my mind can stay sharp and acute enough to keep challenging him!

Isadora – my reward for 4 boys!!  She proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that little girls and little boys really are different!  She may have played with the tonka truck, but Barbie was always driving!  She has a love of  loves Mary and Baby Jesus, she loves to hear the saint stories (especially about girls and women!) and she is my best helper.

One year after my Pre-Cana presentation, I was criticized on one of the evaluations for mentioning my stillborn son, Raphael. But I can’t imagine leaving him out. I am a Catholic Christian, I believe in the communion of saints and since I truly do believe that, I believe my child is as much a part of my life as if he were here in the flesh and I was raising him. I also mention him because, God used that experience to draw me closer to Himself. I grew by leaps and bounds in my spiritual life after going through that very special suffering of a still birth.

Raphael – I truly felt the presence of God in my life when Raphael died.  His story is here.  God did so many things to let us know that He was there with us.  From letting Raphale come on All Saints Day, to surrounding his birth with a little comedy so that every time I think of that day I have to laugh just a little. That truly was a grace from God because I think He knew I couldn’t survive that experience without some humor.

I was afraid to look at Raphael's little body at first but I am so glad I looked upon him and held him.  He taught me the dignity of all children been before birth. Humanity of the human body, How love surpasses death and reminded me to pray for my other loved ones already in purgatory and ask the ones in heaven to  take care of my baby. He taught me about suffering and how to cope with a loss when I  literally had to make the choice to get up and live when I just wanted to die too.

Grieving can be hard on a marrige.  However in my experience I never loved my husband more than when he picked up that little casket and carried it forward for his funeral mass. Raphael's death taught me to appreciate this life, and that life can be taken at any time – it really is a gift and not to take it for granted.

And then there was Rosie, - whose pregnancy and birth taught me to trust again and whose very busy and ornery 3-year-old self keeps me on my toes!

And despite all the crosses that come with a large family, laundry, mess, space, lack of sleep, worry, I would do it all again and I am open to doing it again because these precious gifts, every one of them have brought so much into my life.


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