Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Passion, sex, and the Church

I recently heard of a conversation a friend had with a young man who'd made some interesting remarks regarding sex and the Catholic church. This had been sparked by the question of "are you pro-life?" and quickly turned from a question of whether abortion was wrong to why the Church wants to deprive people from experiencing the pleasures of sex.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and just want to respond to a couple of points that this young man made.

"It seems like the Church just wants to remove passion from sex..."

I can understand why, from the outside, it might look like this. The Church is very firm in her teaching that sex is only to be enjoyed within marriage. But, see what I just said? Enjoyed.

God created sex! And He created it to be pleasurable! He created it this way for us! Sex is pleasurable for a reason: because it is good. However, pleasure always has limits. Dr. Janet Smith gives a talk, Contraception: Why Not?, in which she explains why sex is a naturally good action.

Dr. Smith says:

"There are lots of things that have pleasure attached to them. Pleasure is not the purpose; pleasure is the motive; pleasure is the consequence; but it's not the purpose. As a matter of fact, God attached pleasure to the things that he really wants us to do, that are necessary for our survival and for our happiness. So, it's pleasurable to eat and it's pleasurable to drink and it's pleasurable to sleep and it's pleasurable to exercise, and it's pleasurable to have sexual intercourse. It's pleasurable. That's not the purpose."

And she goes on to say:

"So, God attached pleasure to everything he wanted us to do for, not our salvation, so much, as just our well-being. But we have to do it at the right time, and the right place, and in the right manner, with the right person, etc., etc. — in the right way. Sure, eating is pleasurable, but there are limits to what you should be eating. Sexual intercourse is pleasurable, but there are limits to what you should be doing, and you have to seek that pleasure in accord with the nature and reality of what you're dealing with."

So here's the thing: it's not that the Church is trying to remove pleasure or passion from sex, rather, she simply wants it to be experienced in an ordered fashion.

And who's to say that passion isn't a factor in married sex? Arleen Spenceley recently interviewed a sex therapist who noted that if you're saving sex for marriage, you're likely talking with your significant other about sex issues, and better communication can lead to better sex in the long run.

Sure, if you're aware that you're ovulating and are attempting to avoid pregnancy for a grave reason, being "in the mood" and abstaining is really difficult. This is where the argument for contraception (which is horrible for a woman's body - another topic for another time) comes into play...sex is never off limits and could be viewed as more spontaneous.

However, there's this thing called delayed gratification. Scientifically, depriving yourself from something that you really desire causes more appreciation and enjoyment when you finally are able to experience whatever you were avoiding.

The Natural Family Planning Teacher's Association says that NFP, "because of more frequent communication about intimate sexual matters, increases the relationship skills of love and affection - the expression and experience of love, warmth, and mutual attraction between the couple." 

Well that doesn't sound like the Church desires for married couples to remove passion from sex! Rather, by encouraging NFP and saving sex for marriage, it seems to me that the Church is trying to help married couples enjoy better sex! Interesting!

"But I'm still young...I'm just not sure if I want to give that up..."

Again, I can understand this, to a degree. Especially if one has already experienced the enjoyment of sex, the idea of locking it up until who-knows-when could seem like torture.

Here's something else to think about. Sex is pleasurable, yes? And sex was made to be pleasurable, yes?

Let's assume that I want to get married and intend to stay married for the rest of my life. Let's also assume that I've had a few sexual partners prior to marriage and have therefore experienced the pleasures of sex.

If I've had sex with many different men, if I've been *ahem* pleasured, by many different men, and view sex as simply a means to finding pleasure, who's to say that this attainment of pleasure should stay within marriage? If I see sex as merely a way to pleasure myself, and my husband is no longer pleasuring me, what should keep me from seeking that pleasure elsewhere?

I see this attitude toward sex as being potentially dangerous within a marriage. Society and the Church alike say that sex is an important part to a healthy marriage. However, the difference is that the Church doesn't see sex as the crux of a relationship.

If for some reason, whether it be illness, energy levels, available time, etc., sex doesn't occur as frequently as is ideal or perhaps isn't as pleasurable as one would like, this is not a reason to seek this pleasure elsewhere. Communication about barriers to a preferable enjoyment of sex within marriage is essential during these times!

I think a big part of accepting this teaching of the Church is personal maturity. Someone who is unwilling to "give up" sex is likely not mature enough to consider marriage.

Marriage requires sacrifice. It requires dying to oneself every single day. Someone who is unwilling to sacrifice prior to marriage is likely to be unwilling to sacrifice within marriage.

That's my two cents...what do you think? How would you respond to someone who makes these statements? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July NAS Post: Summer Reading List

Hello hello!

AH! This summer is going by sooo fast! I'm travelling like a crazy person for work, so that paired with my no-free-weekends-from-May-to-August has proven very interesting.

BUT I did have a chance to go on my family vacation, which was just splendid. Vacation is always a time when I read as many books as I can get my hands on. This makes for a perfect set-up to this month's Not Alone Series topic!

Grandma and her crazies on the 4th :)

The books I read on my vacation [unfortunately] weren't any that I'd recommend...they were fluff and not that great, which is why I could read all four of them within 6 days. Lucky for you, though, I've read a ton of great books and LOVE to share the wealth!

I don't know about you, but if I find an author I like, I just go and read all of their books. So some of my suggested reading list has a couple of my favorite authors with my favorite titles!

Keeping Faith (connections to Catholicism!)
Change of Heart
Lone Wolf
by Jodi Picoult

Pierced By A Sword
Conceived Without Sin
House of Gold
(trilogy of Catholic novels!)
by Bud MacFarlane, Jr.

The Red Tent 
by Anita Diamant

The Hunger Games series 
by Suzanne Collins

The Wedding
A Bend in the Road
Message in a Bottle
by Nicholas Sparks

Cleopatra's Daughter 
by Michelle Moran

The Sister Wife 
by Diane Noble

Will you share some suggested reads with us?? I've been wanting to read Bridehead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and The Betrayal by Diane Noble (sequel to The Sister Wife) but I'm always looking for more ideas of what to read next!!

***Because the summer is a crazy time, the link-up will by open for a few weeks! We hope you'll join us!

Please keep Jen in your prayers as she travels to Aruba this week! Insane! And keep all of us meeting up for #NASavannah this weekend in your prayers as well! We'll be praying for all of you!

And if anyone is interested, many of us decided on the NAS Facebook group to pray the St. Anne Novena together! It begins on Thursday, July 17th and we'd love for you to pray with us as well!!


August 12
Feel free to catch us up on life, talk about something that's on your heart or have a stream of conscience post! No rules here! :)

September 2
NAS posting resumes!
Topic to be announced :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Not Alone Series: One Year Anniversary!

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the Not Alone Series!

Today we're doing a reflection on the past year...how things have changed, how we have changed, etc.

The beginning of this community sprouted from a reaction post from last April. I flippantly wrote that we needed a single ladies support group but never expected anything to come of it. Sure, I felt the need for a better formed community, but did anyone else feel that? I had no idea. But the Holy Spirit was working because Jen emailed me and got the ball rolling!

This time last year, Jen and I were frantically emailing back and forth.
We were so excited and so nervous!

"This is going to be so great!!!"
"Ahhh I wonder if anyone will even want to do this with us! Eeek!"
"Welp, if no one links up, at least I don't have a big enough following to feel embarrassed!"

These are nearly direct quotes from our email and chat threads :)

And so here we are.
One year, nearly 50 posts, and tens of thousands of views later.
I still cannot believe what the Not Alone Series has become.

Jen and I had a very specific vision for the Not Alone Series community. We desired a welcoming, loving, understanding community of women who could grow in solidarity with one another. We envisioned a source of comfort; an oasis in the blogging world among hundreds of "mommy bloggers".

Over the past year, I've not only built true friendships with some amazing women, but I can see such growth in my own life. Much of this growth I credit to the influence and support of the Not Alone Series community.

When we first started the NAS, I was just beginning to come around to the idea of "living in the now". I was just beginning to realize that if I expected to ever be able to look back on this time in my life with fondness, I had to live it well while it was happening! In having the NAS to bounce my ideas and struggles and desires off of, I've grown into a more complete version of myself.

In the past year, I have been on zero dates.
I've been in zero romantic relationships.
And I am more content than I've ever been in my entire life.
Thank you for helping me to grow in this way.

As Jen mentioned, we've struggled personally in the past year, but also with the continuation of the Not Alone Series. We take hosting the NAS very seriously and strive to serve you all to the best of our capabilities. There have been times when we wanted to throw in the towel: when we've received negative responses, or are just too emotionally, physically, or mentally exhausted. But again, like Jen pointed out...it's in these moments when God gives us inspiration or feedback from someone who's benefited from the NAS.

Whether it's someone who found hope in the posts and community or someone who discovered us and cannot wait to contribute...you all are the reason we keep this series going. God reminds us time and time again that when we first ventured out on this journey, we entrusted the NAS to Him and His will. It is because of His will that we have all been brought together and it is through His will that the Not Alone Series will continue to be a beacon of light to single people who feel alone.

Our tagline still rings true, and I hope you find comfort in it:

You are not broken.
You are not lost.
You are not left behind.

And you are not alone.

There have been so many great topics this year, it's hard to choose my favorites, but I have to echo Jen (again!) in saying that the very first post is one of my favorites. But I also loved sharing my discernment story, cracking my heart open for all to see, and being shocked that I was in the minority in certain opinions! And definitely being able to announce our trip to Savannah was one of the most exciting posts this year! Come on, July 18th!!!

The Not Alone Series has become more than I could have ever imagined and I believe that the Lord has great things in store for our future! I hope you'll join us as we continue to journey on!

We will be taking a little reprieve from the regular NAS schedule this summer, but have monthly posts planned for July and August which can be found below! Please email us with any topic or general suggestions for the future and let us know how the Not Alone Series has impacted you!

Even if you've never commented, posted, or emailed before, we would LOVE to hear from you! Please!
Shoot me an email or a comment...I want to meet you! And I know Jen feels the same way!

Link up your Not Alone Series: Year in Review post over at Jen's! Happy Anniversary, y'all!


Summer Schedule

July 15
Summer Reading List
Share your favorite book recommendations! Beach reads, deep novels, anything! Share share share!

August 12
Feel free to catch us up on life, talk about something that's on your heart or have a stream of conscience post! No rules here! :)

September 2
NAS posting resumes!
Topic to be announced :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not Alone Series: Social Media

Our lives tend to revolve around social media and knowing what's happening in everyone's lives. How has this effected your life? In your experience, has social media made dating easier? Harder? 
i.e. not judging something you see about the guy you're dating on Twitter/FB

Jen suggested this topic after the following video was floating around, you guessed it, social media.

Kind of ironic that a video encouraging us to ditch the phones and "constant connections" went viral.

Have you seen it? Did it make you think?

When I first watched this video, I really wanted to throw my (brand new barely had it for a week) phone out the window.
....and 5 minutes later I was texting and checking Instagram as usual.

But I will say this: since seeing this video, I've become more aware of my, and others', usage of technology when in a social setting.

I spent this weekend with my best friends from college. The six of us haven't all been together since a wedding two years ago. Since then, one has been married for nearly 2 year, two got engaged, and one is about to move to Texas. We have TONS to talk about.

So cute!

But you know what kept happening throughout the time we spent together?
Even when the conversation was moving along, somene would be checking her phone.
Occasionally, someone would be texting.
There were even times when we were all silent and some of us were zoned out while the others checked Facebook, Instagram, what have you.

Y'all, we have PLENTY to talk about. Exciting things are happening! We haven't spent this much quality time together in TWO YEARS!

Yet, a portion of our weekend was spent forsaking one another for the glow of our phones.

Now, I'm not perfect. I certainly could learn to leave my phone zipped in my purse more often.
Even during the time that I've been writing this post, I've checked Facebook a couple times.

What is with our constant need to be connected?
Is the world going to crumble if you don't tweet your feelings at.this.very.moment.?
Will your food taste less delicious if you don't first 'gram a picture of it?
What would happen if you didn't text your friend back right.now.?

Yesterday, (Happy Memorial Day!) I went to a barbecue at a friend's house. I had a lot to carry, so when I got out of my car, I put my phone in my purse so I could use both hands for the loot.
And you know what happened?
I got to the party, dropped my purse at the door, got talking, and forgot about my phone for 4+ hrs.

There were a couple times throughout the evening when I thought "oh, I wonder if so-and-so texted me back...oh, I wonder if so-and-so emailed me....oh, I wonder if so-and-so posted pictures from this weekend..."
But despite the ingrained habit of constantly being connected, I was immediately sucked back into the present. Instead, I was able to focus entirely on the person in front of me, to give my undivided attention to them.

I'm sure you know how frustrating it is when the person you're talking to keeps checking their phone. It feels like they don't really care about what you have to say, as if they wish that you'd just shut up already.
Do you know how that feels? I definitely do.

So then, why would I do that to someone else?

I'm making an effort to be more present in the present moment.
Will you join me?

**And in regards to dating and social media, my advice is this:

Googling your date: not a bad thing
Analyzing your date's tagged pictures and freaking out about the girls he has his arm around: bad thing.

Social media can be our friend, but shouldn't replace normal human interaction.

What do you think about social media? How has it influenced your life? What about your dating life?
Link up below!


Next week's topic:
NAS year in review
June 4th, 2013 was the very first NAS post! How has your life changed in the past year? How has the NAS community impacted you? Where would you like to see the NAS go in the future?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

St. Gianna Beretta Molla {Guest Post at Cherishing Everyday Beauty}

Happy Saturday, all!

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm guest posting over at Sarah's blog, Cherishing Everyday Beauty, today! Here's a sneak peek...


My freshman year of college, I attended a retreat held by the Newman Center called "Koinonia" (Greek for community). Every retreat had a patron saint chosen for the weekend and my retreat's patron saint was St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Our tagline for the weekend was "Love courageously!"

This weekend was where I really began to dive further into my faith and relationship with God. Looking back, the fact that St. Gianna was the patron saint of a retreat that kickstarted my faith journey seems extremely providential, but I'll get to that a bit later.

Ever since I first learned of St. Gianna, I loved her.
I loved her story, I loved her life, I loved her devotion to love....


Click over to Cherishing Everyday Beauty to read the rest! While you're there, check out the other posts in her Saints Series! 

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes (29)

Well well well what do we have here?! A non-NAS post?! WOAH. Yep, that's right...I'm making a come-back people! Brace yourselves! :) Linking up with Jen in an attempt to ease myself back into the land of the blogging. :)

[1] This past weekend I had the absolutely WORST bout of allergies EVER. Perhaps it was mixed with a sinus infection, but regardless...Happy Mother's Day, Mom...now can you take my temperature?

Yes I am a 24 year old adult and still want my mommy to take care of me when I'm sick.

The good news is that with all of the rain we've had this week, pollen counts are plummeting!
Hello breathing easy!

The bad news is that with all of the rain we've had this week....it's been raining all week.
Hello humidity and crazy curls!

Furrr realzz.

[2] I've ready for some warm weather...heck, I'd settle for sunny and 55°. But thanks to Audrey's post on cute spring shoes, I'm back in my optimistic, "the sun will come out tomorrow let's hope maybe if the rain doesn't ruin it" mood :)

I'm pining for these babies.

[3] I cannot believe that I've yet to mention this in a blog post. If you've been around for any length of time (before I went all AWOL), you'll know that I have a severe attachment to the Patton clan.
Some would call me a stalker, I prefer affectionately attentive. I think they're cool with it.

But aaanyway, can we just pause for a moment and acknowledge:

a) how freaking cute/adorable/perfect little Miss Phoebe is?
b) how freaking cute/adorable/perfect the name "Phoebe Patton" is?
c) how much I love the 4 kid grams? LOVE.
d) how much I want Simace to adopt me. Please? I do diapers.

Lemme know, Grace. I'm (affectionately) yours :)

[4] Also, don't ask me how many times I've watched this video of the Patton kids meet their newest sib.
No, really...don't. If I answer I just might have to admit I have a problem.

[5] Move on, Morgan....

Ok, so have y'all heard 6' 2'' by Marie Miller? I know I've seen it shared by others before, but I stumbled upon it again and AH...love.

Plus, turns out she's Catholic. I loved this article about how true and natural this desire/longing/etc for your spouse is. Solidarity, people!

[6] While I'm talking about music, I've been real sentimental lately thinking about how my baby sister is graduating from high school in a couple weeks. ahhhh when did she grow up?! ...and Compass by Lady Antebellum reminds me of her and this place in life.

My favorite line:

"So let your heart, sweetheart be your compass when you're lost and you should follow it wherever it may go"

This should be true for everyone, but especially as a soon-to-be HS grad...it's important :) I'm real pumped though that she'd decided to attend my alma mater and will only be 45 mins from me! Yay!

[7] I'm so excited for the next few weeks! I found out a little while ago that I was accepted into the 2014 Vita Institute at Notre Dame! I'll be staying on campus for a little more than a week at the beginning of June and studying various subjects in relation to the pro-life movement including philosophy, politics, law, social science, biology, etc. I cannot wait!

Well, that wasn't so hard! Maybe I'll be able to crank out another post in 3 months ;)
Have a lovely weekend! Check out the other Quick Takers over at Jen's!