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Lawrence and I began this blog to discuss our faith with our friends. Anyone is welcome to chime in. Also see our most popular posts for the week on the right. God bless you. Susan Fox
Thursday, December 5, 2013
by Susan Fox
Well, sisters, this was the way it was.
Cone-shaped lamps mounted on a fake brass pole spread their light over our cozy 1960s living room in Southern California. My grandmother was visiting and telling us about her trip to the beach.
She was wearing her usual shapeless grey dress, and only women were present (my mother and I), so she felt emboldened to tell us the shocking tale. Women were going to the beach in something called a bikini. “Grandma,” I said innocently, “What is a bikini?” Sort of like, “Grandmother, what big teeth you got.”
But this was no wolf in Grandma’s clothing; this was the real enchilada, my Grandmother. So she cut a line on her shapeless grey dress to show me exactly what was and what wasn’t covered by that little piece of cloth called the bikini.
My mother and I were truly shocked. (Although I am laughing at this moment.) And we had no idea someday I would have a son, and he would have to quit going to the pool – by his own choice -- because of that inviting piece of cloth!
But really, nowadays the poolside attire has moved into the Catholic Church, and my son and husband must hang their heads and cover their faces when they attend Mass or stand in line for Confession, which we do weekly.
Shocking, but true. And if I had never married I would have no idea that anything was wrong. Maybe other women look at women’s clothing, but I mostly think ... about other things. But that was before I was married. My husband taught me that men are sight-oriented and if they are chaste, they don’t want to see women in the current “bikini” styles.
I love to eat out, and unfortunately, some of the restaurants with good food also have female waitresses with extremely short skirts. My husband would not go back there. Life with a chaste man is difficult when you are a glutton.
Now, decades after my husband got me to stop wearing Southern California attire to daily Mass (long modest shorts and sandals) -- now I notice it all. I was standing in line for Confession a couple of years ago and I noticed a man with two gorgeous women standing in line behind me. I thought they were his daughters. Little was covered in their attire.
My conscience bothered me. Should I say something or shouldn’t I? Luckily, I was in line ahead of them, so I asked the priest. He gave me an answer I didn’t understand at the time. He said, “You must follow your conscience.” That’s the same thing Pope Francis said recently, and I noticed that many traditional Catholics were upset, thinking that he was promoting relativism.
Luckily, my husband is studying theology so I have since found out that St. Thomas Aquinas was the one who said that originally. He said we must always choose the good, and he assumed we had a well-formed conscience. Well, the priest just heard my confession so I guess he concluded I had one of those. But at that point I didn’t understand it, so I said to Jesus, “Well, he didn’t tell me I couldn’t do it.”
Back I went, looking the father in the eye because I knew he knew they shouldn’t be dressed like that. And I said, “Sir, you have the most gorgeous daughters I have ever seen.” Wow, was that ever the Holy Spirit! Only one was a daughter, the other was his wife!
Anything, I said after that was going to be okay with the Missus, and she apparently ruled the roost. So I told them they needed to cover up because there were chaste men here and it was hard for them to keep their focus on Jesus with them dressed as they were. They nodded smiling.
But really, it’s more than that, sisters. Sometimes it’s seems like today’s fashions use the same lures as the clothing of the hookers on the street corner. We have to remember that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:18-20)
I’m not recommending this apostolate to everyone, especially if you look down on our immodestly dressed sisters. I can’t look down on anyone because I had no father, and no one told my mother how I should dress when I was in high school. That was the early ‘70s. I wore a mini-skirt with my hair down to the end of my skirt. But one Sunday, I distinctly remember wearing it in the Communion line on the way up to receive Jesus, and I felt ashamed. I never wore it again.
So for the guys, let me explain. Women do not understand what they are doing ... when they dress like that. They can’t. I’ve seen them as Eucharistic Ministers, handing out Communion, wearing the new princess style -- a see through skirt – long in the back and very short in the front. There is a mini-skirt sized slip underneath, so don’t worry. It covers the essentials.
Male and female, God made us to complement one another. My husband and I recently discussed marital relations, and I asked him what it meant to him, and he answered “bone-deep consolation.” Well, it isn’t that for the woman, it’s attention. Men are wired to look, and women are wired to be looked at.
So women dress, wear perfume, put dangly earrings on, pink hair clips, and even late in life religiously get their hair done for male attention. They bat their eyes for the same reason, and move their hips. Notice me! That is being female.
Unfortunately, in the fatherless society that we live in, that makes life hard for the chaste male. And women don’t even realize the great harm they are causing others, and themselves if their dress makes an unchaste male draw the wrong conclusion about their character.
I think I might just print a copy out of this article and keep it in my purse to hand it out next time I run into a sister who has not been informed of the dangers of immodest dress. It will save me and my dear sister a lot of personal embarrassment.
In fact, I think I’ll start by giving my pastor a copy.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
by Susan Fox
"How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!" (Isaiah 53:7)
The world is fast sinking into barbarism, and yet we look around and see that many in the Catholic Church are asleep. Wake up Church! The barbarians are already at the gate. Where is St. Augustine, the great bishop of Hippo, prepared to defend the City of God?
On Nov. 24, 2013, a mob of half-naked pro-abortion feminists molested and abused a group of Rosary-praying men trying to protect the Catholic Cathedral in San Juan de Cuyo, Argentina, according to LifeSiteNews.com
The men linked arms to prevent the women from entering the church. The same groups have recently defaced other cathedrals in Argentina. The women spray-painted the men’s crotches and faces with swastikas and performed obscene sexual acts in front of them while chanting “get your rosaries off our ovaries.”
The overweight and badly-dressed “women” also sang, “To the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, who wants to get between our sheets, we say that we want to be whores, travesties and lesbians. Legal abortion in every hospital.”
|Argentine lesbian protestors on Nov. 24, 2013|
I say “women” because they acted more like beasts:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” (Rom 1:21-26)
But yet I am deeply moved by the witness of the watchmen who surrounded and protected the cathedral church.
Who would guess that the white-robbed army of martyrs would arrive in Eternal Life with spray paint on their faces, shirts and pants? White martyrs they were, for none of them died, but they did accept tremendous suffering for the sake of the City of God on earth, the Catholic Church. Besides defending the cathedral church, they also stood up for the virtue of chastity – even the chastity of the women attacking them.
|The white-robbed army of martyrs.|
Some men were visibly weeping and others helped support one another by covering the eyes of the men on the front line. Many men were looking up so they couldn’t see the obscene acts occurring in front of them. None of them retaliated against the abuses heaped on them. You can tell these men showed heroic restraint because my husband’s response was “I’d kick their teeth!”
Archbishop Alfonso Delgado of San Juan de Cuyo barricaded himself inside the church with 700 of his congregation, who prayed during the entire ordeal. When the feminists couldn’t get inside the cathedral, they burned Pope Francis in effigy. “If the pope were a woman, abortion would be legal,” they shouted.
How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices. They shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion.(Isaiah 52:7-8)
And these watchmen raised their voices praising the Blessed Virgin Mary with the words of the Holy Rosary. How St. Ambrose must have been smiling.
By their actions, the archbishop and his congregation demonstrated the same heroic behavior of Bishop St. Ambrose and St. Monica in defending the Portian Basilica in Milan about 383 A.D. against a takeover by Arians. The ruler at the time -- Empress Mother Justina -- preferred Arianism to Catholicism because it made the Father more important than the Son, and since the bishop was identified with the Son, the Emperor could rule over the bishop by representing the Father. In short, it was an Arian power grab, but a power grab that failed because the people wouldn’t budge. Stubborn St. Monica, who would not give up on her wayward son, St. Augustine, was among the parishioners who occupied the Church during that similar confrontation. According to the latest film on Augustine's life, Monica's still-as-yet unconverted son Augustine was with the Arians trying to get into the basilica. In Argentina and Milan at two separate points in time, Catholic watchmen and the People of God prevented the takeover of the church.
We are witnessing the literal fulfillment of this passage in Scripture: “But nothing unclean shall enter it (the City of God), nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27)
Praising the men who defended the church, Fr. Romulo Campora said, “San Juan loves its God, loves its faith, loves its family.” He lamented the damage done to the cathedral and concluded that “if they don’t respect life, we can’t expect them to respect the buildings.”
The event was organized by the National Women’s Encounter sponsored by the Argentinian Department of Culture. The site ArgentinosAlerta.org said, “These encounters of women represent today’s civilization that seeks to impose its own rules. On one side they try to impose a political agenda that international organizations dictate: population control, abortion, contraception, homoseuxalism. On the other side they become barbaric in the most literal sense.” In our humble opinion, the international organizations (read United Nations) are greatly influenced by the U.S. State Department.
Ironically, The Argentina Independent wrote about last year’s “Encounter” in Posadas with the headline “Pretty is the Woman who Fights.” They got that wrong. Handsome is the wearied spray-painted male who wouldn't budge. How could our society have devolved to such a conflict between good and evil, between male and female?
But we have to hope and pray that the heroic witness in San Juan will bear good fruit in the hearts of the females who participated in this horror. The Catholic Church is full of martyrs, whose deaths gave birth to new saints. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." (Tertullian)
St. Paul watched and agreed with the stoning of St. Stephen, who prayed for him as he died. Shortly afterwards, Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians living there. “Saul, Saul why do your persecute me?” Jesus asked, and Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He turned his life around and became an evangelist and servant of Christ, writing a number of epistles in the Bible.
St. Monica and St. Ambrose together worked to bring about the conversion of St. Augustine, who struggled for years with sexual addictions and heresy. In the movie, "The Restless Heart," he appears outside the cathedral aiding the Arians while Monica his mother was barricaded within. Some of the watchmen were killed.
But most stunning is the example of 11-year-old St. Maria Goretti, who refused the sexual advances of Alessandro Serenelli and was killed by him in 1902. Her deathbed forgiveness led to the later conversion of her murderer who had been addicted to porn. Alessandro may himself someday be canonized a saint.
Certainly St. Augustine would not look down on the ladies outside the Cathedral of San Juan de Cuyo. When the Vandals (real barbarians) came to destroy the city of Hippo in North Africa, St. Augustine met them privately and very kindly. He died before they burned the city to the ground. He hoped for their conversion.
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” (St. Augustine of Hippo)
Graphic video of the event here:
Sunday, December 1, 2013
by Susan Fox and “Grace”
“The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib, which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh…” (Gen 2:23-25)
On Thanksgiving Day, I was stirring the gravy on the stove, and I realized that when I was a child how gravy was made was a big mystery to me.
I watched so many women stirring, stirring, stirring and putting in this ingredient and that, but how do you make gravy I wondered. What do you start with?
I didn’t learn until I went to France when I was 19 years old. When I arrived in France, I couldn’t boil water. My overprotective mother fed me all my life and I studied, studied, studied. That was my job.
But when I got to France, my relationship with the Americans there did not go well. So I cut those ties and hung out with Danielle, mother of two little boys and a former schoolteacher. She taught me cooking, child rearing and French for that was all she spoke. Voila! Mystery of Gravy solved.
But recently another mystery was handed to me on a platter. A man asked me, “Susan, why am I gay?”
Now that question sits on my plate like unmade gravy. I really don’t know, I thought, but a large percentage of people who self-identify according to their homosexuality have told sociologists that they were sexually abused as children. Others have said they entered the lifestyle through pornography. Ah, now I was on firmer ground. There was at least one ingredient to this recipe I understood.
I have friends, who were sexually abused as children. The abuse caused them to be sexually broken, and they have had to struggle their whole life long with various sexual addictions. The disordered effects on their adult lives are horrific.
A human being’s first sexual experience impresses itself on that person, and you don’t shake that no matter how much you pray, no matter what kind of efforts you make on your own behalf. That’s why God said, "If anyone causes one of these little ones -- those who believe in me -- to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matt 18:6)
So the Catholic Church highly recommends that we make our first sexual experience our wedding night. It is to save us untold grief and questions like, “Susan, why am I gay?” But unfortunately, sometimes as children we don’t get a choice because God gave us and all the adults around us something called “free will.”
I have a friend, and I will call her Grace, who was molested as a child repeatedly by a family member. Grace felt like a prostitute, and before she married she had illicit relationships that mimicked her molestations. She ended up in a hospital after an affair broke up.
Sex outside of a loving marriage is degradation and humiliation. Inside marriage, you bring the baggage of your past life. Lifelong joyful chastity is your best hope for a fulfilling existence on earth.
But life is never ordered perfectly. Did you know that often children who have been treated as Grace or people who have fallen into the habit of reading pornography have stronger inclinations to the sin of lust than other people who haven’t had these experiences? One case is clearly involuntary and the other is voluntary, but in both cases something evil has entered your life.
My husband and I told our son, “Sex is like Pandora’s Box. Open it up before it’s time and there is nothing you can do but deal with the consequences.”
But there is a spiritual solution to sexual addictions. We are both spiritual and corporal beings. When we have sex –even if we are not a willing participant – we bond with that person. There is a lifelong spiritual connection. And it seems like God wanted to emphasize the point on the physical side for He created the bonding hormone Oxytocin – primarily to unite mother and child during and after birth, but scientists are discovering this hormone is related to sexual climax and unitive intimacy with your partner.
In order to be healed of disordered sexual inclinations – even after we are struggling to live a chaste life -- we have to spiritually cut the ties to all our previous sexual partners. Not only that, but if we have spent time looking at pornography, we can actually have formed a spiritual bond with “Miss April” or “Mr. May.” Everything that happens in the porn star’s life bleeds into ours, unless we cut the tie. But that only applies to men, who are sight-oriented. Women’s porn is usually in written form, and those ties must be cut as well.
This is the book I found to deal with those situations: “The Healing of Families: How to Pray Effectively for Those Stubborn Personal and Familial Problems” by Fr. Yozefu-B. Ssemakula. Good things come from Uganda. He does retreats around the United States. Go to www.healingoffamilies.com to find the book and Father’s schedule.
Father Yozefu -- we call him Fr. Joe for that’s what his name means in Ugandan -- dealt with all kinds of issues but the key is that your family or you can invite a sort of twistedness into your life that can only be thrown out by an exorcism prayer you can say yourself. Someone invited the evil one into your life, and he has to be shown the door.
I tell the following story, not because I am accusing anyone of a crime, but because the following crime demonstrates that a bond is created in the sexual act – even if one partner is not willing. Shortly after I went to Father Yozefu’s retreat, I watched a program on EWTN (Catholic television). A courageous young woman told the story of how she had been drugged and raped on a cruise ship. She didn’t remember the rape, but she found herself with the strange desire to find the rapist and maybe see if they could have a relationship. She didn’t understand why she had that inclination, but I was prepared to understand and accept it because of what Fr. Joe taught us. Even a one-event drugged rape created a spiritual bond. How much more would a fully participatory sexual relationship create a bond over time?
The good side to the story, however, was that as she struggled to deal with the aftermath of that experience, she had a vision of Christ bruised and laying in a pool of urine – the way she was found. She understood when she was raped, Jesus suffered the same in His own Body. This brought her incredible healing. So should all of us rejoice to know that Christ accepts into His own Body all of our sufferings.
Grace, my wounded friend and a convert to Catholicism, added this to my gravy recipe:
“I think it is also important to say that Catholics believe that sex is a mystery. A mystery is not a cypher, something we know nothing about. It is something that we can know in part, using our reason and God's revelation. Some Catholics, like Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body, understand that sex is a Mystery with a capital “M,” like the Incarnation. In other words, sex is holy. Catholics really should capitalize the word Sex whenever they use it to mean what is properly ordered according to God's plan. But almost no one talks about that kind of sex. Although humans are obsessed with sex, we actually know very little about it, whether ordered or disordered.
But here is one thing that some people, enlightened by God, have learned about sex: since our bodies and our spirits are one, sex really does create a spiritual bond, even "bad" sex. We are linked forever, body and soul, with all sexual partners. And having multiple partners feels wrong. Sex cries out for exclusivity, because it is the Holy of Holies where God creates True Love and new Life -- where He creates the image of the Blessed Trinity on earth, the Family. But when rape or incest or fornication or homosexual acts touch the virgin body/soul, then God's Image is distorted, and the person suffers irreparable loss.
Yes, they may find healing, but they will carry the scars as long as they live. In this world, because of the twisted culture in which we live, there are very few pure, innocent, intact souls. We are all walking wounded, to some degree. It is just the degree of suffering that differentiates us.
This man wants to know why he has same-sex inclinations ... if we are honest, we must say we do not know the answer. Why does God permit His holy design to be thwarted? Why does He permit the innocent to be violated? This is the only real challenge to faith in God: the mystery of evil.
Sex remains a mystery. Why did God allow my sexuality to be warped by the world? Why is the sexual urge so overwhelming, so out of proportion? Why do I do the thing I do not want to do, to paraphrase St. Paul? God, why can't you take this cross away? The few glimpses we get of real Sex, the way it is meant to be, only torment us more with our inability to attain that vision.
Some people speak about transcendent joy in sex, but the only taste I ever got of that, (due to my sexual woundedness), was when I held my new born babies in my arms. That was holy, transcendent joy, a foretaste of Heaven.
And that joy must have been God's special grace to me, because I know that many mothers have that joy denied to them as well, because they are too wounded, or else their culture robs it from them. Why does God permit so many mothers to feel no joy at the birth of their children? Why do so many mothers destroy the life that is within them through abortion, or have to watch as others destroy them?
Remember that old bible of the Sexual Revolution, The Joy of Sex? Well, God meant to give us the True Joy of Sex, the kind of transcendent joy I experienced at the birth of my children. But instead, the world, the flesh, and the devil attack us poor humans at every turn, and sex brings us sorrow. Immeasurable sorrow. Why does God permit this? He meant to give us joy and life, but instead, with sex we find violence, lust, frustration, disease, disappointment, heartbreak, and death.
Even the best of marriages knows some of this because we are all wounded to some degree. Why, God? This is our cri de coeur.
Still, God gave me the gift of faith, and through that lens of faith I dimly saw what His plan was for me, and I struggled towards it like a half-blind person, stumbling every step of the way. And he gave me a good husband to love, and three beautiful little incarnate souls to care for. God created my family with just a little clumsy co-operation from my husband and me. Why did we receive this grace when others did not? A mystery? It was certainly nothing we deserved. Does it make me feel like I'm better than other people struggling with their sexual woundedness? I hope and pray it does no such thing. I hope it gives me humility."
Grace’s comments show us that sex belongs and finds its fulfillment in a family setting. And she is correct there is a transcendent aspect of sex. Used in the context of marriage, it creates a happy lifelong bond with your spouse, and this bond cradles the newborn lives of your children. It seems like I’ve found more ingredients to make good gravy.
But I had to laugh as I remembered when I was a young woman, my theology professor at a Jesuit University, tried to develop a theology of sex, but he didn’t do a very good job of it because he was focused on the physical aspect alone. When he described the sexual climax, he said with poetic depth, “Cosmic Awareness. Oceanic Consciousness.” I believed him then because I had never had sex! But I’ve been happily married for 30 years, and I don’t know what he was talking about.
So I asked my husband of 30 years what he thought about sex. Lawrence Fox said, “Sex (with my wife) is bone-deep consolation. “ According to him, the words of the Book of Genesis, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” resonates deeply with every man, who reads Adam's words when he first met Eve. The man reading this in Genesis recognizes that woman was created to complement man in order to live in the image and likeness of God and to fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth. “Man can’t do that alone. He can’t do that with another man, ” Lawrence said.
Well, Lawrence, that is not how women view sex with their husbands at all! “Nope,” I said, “We just like the attention – passionate male attention in the context of a faithful marriage.” Our conversations are great too.
Not everyone is going to be married. But joyful chastity offers men and women the opportunity for a fulfilling life. So I thought, I wish I could interview a celibate priest living a life of joyful chastity. That is not going to happen in this life, so I remembered a retreat I had attended where the priest spoke about his suffering and loneliness. His solution: The Holy Spirit. He gestured and wrapped the Holy Spirit around him like a blanket. “He is my Comforter,” the priest said simply.
Remember to put that ingredient in your gravy.
Great video resource for All: