Politics & Catholicism, Part One

Warning you now. If you don’t want to read about Politics & Catholicism, then click away and don’t bother reading Part Two, either!

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Another chance to change your mind

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Okay, don’t say that I didn’t warn you! 

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Before writing this extremely long tirade regarding Politics & Catholicism, I truly debated if I should share this article, let alone go on a rant. As you can see, I ultimately did. 

This article was written by Jeannie Gaffigan, the wife of well-known comedian Jim Gaffigan. In this piece written for “America: The Jesuit Review,” Jeannie stated that — though she is firmly Catholic in her beliefs, and is most-definitely pro-life (as most Catholics are) — wrote that she will not be voting for Trump this election. She stated the impetus for writing this essay was the Twitter Storm that ensued after Jim, who has always been non-political in every single act he performed or interview he has done, had uncharacteristically tweeted a “profanity-laden rant against President Trump.” 

Personally, I don’t think the tweet was that bad; however, the responses he received (as well as on Jeannie’s own Twitter account) was full of vitriol & hate. And many of them  (continued to) spread misinformation. Several responses even turned to quoting Trump when he called his opponent as a “fake Catholic.”

Which, for someone who ordered law enforcement to deliver tear gas to peaceful protestors & the surrounding media personnel standing in his way just for a photo opportunity, Trump certainly didn’t display Christian-like behavior. Ironically, that photo op was to show the public that he is a good, God-fearing Christian. In actuality, his actions prior to this photo op (and even after the tear gas was delivered) proved that he is definitely NOT Christian. Seriously, he doesn’t even know how to hold the Bible properly!

But we’ll get to that in my next diatribe, as I suspect this post will end up being super long. Anyhoo …

After Jim’s tweet, close friends and families of theirs had privately came up to Jeannie to informed her that they didn’t like Trump either; in fact, they hate everything else that he stands for. However, they also suggested that as a “Real Catholic,” she should “hold [her] nose and vote for Trump if only because the Catholic faith dictates, above all, we must vote for the pro-life” candidate.” 

What I like the most about Jeannie’s article is she stated so eloquently those exact reasons that *I* won’t vote for Trump. Well, actually she quotes from Pope Francis’ message that he delivered to the US  as a result of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, which went into overdrive following the death of George Floyd and other similar events (before and after) his death. 

Pope Francis said, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”  

Jeannie then wrote that systemic racism in our our current culture has led to the economic and social inequality we’re currently experiencing — or rather, just now “noticing” — in our country.   And in the current state of affairs, it is virtually impossible to claim  that we (as Catholics) are truly practicing a “culture of life,” which protects the the sanctity of ALL life. Jeannie goes on to add that , “… we [as Catholics] have been complicit in a long history of de-valuing our fellow human beings based on the color of their skin or the way they came to this country.”

As someone who has had 12 years of Catholic education (and has also been label a “Fake Catholic”), this goes against everything I learned about humanity in school and during the thousands of homilies I’ve listened to in the course of my life thus far. And, although my Mom sees me as a “Lapsed Catholic,” I want her to know that all the money that my parents spent on my education did not go to waste. I have *always* turned to what I was fundamentally taught during my formative years. And I continue to practice these principles of Catholicism today; not only spiritually, but ethically as well.  

My actions are the result of practicing a lesson that I was taught during my formative years and is a moral principle for several different faiths: 

“Love one another; [and] just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

(John 13:34

The Golden Rule, or as it is defined by theologians, the “Ethics of Reciprocity.“ It’s the first thing you are taught in Catholic school (and/or catechism classes). It’s the one act that is almost inherent for most Christians, and the rule that even any empathetic person that choose to be agnostic or an atheist. 

As someone who chose to be an RN, I am inherently drawn to treat everyone with empathy, of which I learned from that Golden Rule. It certainly is a lesson taught in Med School (“First, do no harm”) and Nursing School (via The Modern Nightingale Pledge that “Nursing is a ‘Missioner of Health … dedicated to the advancement of human welfare.’”)

How about Muslims?” you might ask. While not directly quoted in the Quran, Muslims also have the intrinsic belief that they “must think about how their actions affect others; to see the world in a whole new way – through the eyes of another.”   

The basic gist is: Be good to one another. 

Can you, as a Christian, think that Trump is following the Golden Rule? Jeannie Gaffigan certainly doesn’t think so, stating in her article that “Mr. Trump is only pro-Mr. Trump.” How can someone claiming to be Christian say that prisoners of war and soldiers who died defending our freedom are “losers” or “suckers” ?!? 

I could cite many (MANY) more examples of how pathologically narcissistic Mr. Trump is; but I won’t. Yet.

Any sane Christian would agree that Trump has broken all Ten Commandments AND has committed all of the seven of the Deadly Sins. I (obviously) subscribe to that thought. Wholeheartedly.  However, after much reflection and  prayers  (yes, Mom, I DO pray) I cannot vote for a person who is not sympathetic, let alone empathetic. Trump definitely does not think of others, except if it affected him personally. As a matter of fact, I believe he doesn’t even *think* about — let alone pray for —  those individuals & groups that do not subscribe to his beliefs. Truthfully (and stay with me here, my friends), Trump probably doesn’t know the Beatitudes, much less recognize that MANY Christians use this as a guide to *understand* and learn from those individuals / groups / religions whose thoughts don’t align with their own beliefs. 

As a refresher for my friends (and a lesson for those friends that are not familiar with the Beatitudes), here they are: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.

Matthew 5:3-10

Forgive me if you find the following sentences insulting. Before you cast your ballot (stone?), I beg you you to See. The. Whole. Picture. Before deciding who should represent and lead the American People. Please DO NOT cast your vote simply because of the ONE platform on the current president’s stance – or rather “indifference” – regarding Roe v Wade. Think of the OTHER platforms that he promotes during his (COVID-19 ridden, non-mask wearing, anti-social distancing) rallies. 

Let me say this in another way. If you (Catholics & Christians) are planning on voting for Trump just because he agrees with only ONE of his many platforms he’s using to run his campaign;   or because who is “for” (better stated, “indifferent” about) Roe v Wade .. please please PLEASE remember those Beatitudes. Ask yourself if Trump plans on helping ALL the individuals named in the Beatitudes, as WELL as those unborn children who’s life you’re fighting to defend.  

Does that mean I’m pro-life? As a confirmed Catholic, that answer is tricky and it depends on the events & situations surrounding the woman & her loved ones. I think there are circumstances such as complications during pregnancy, as well as the lack of support & financial means to raise a child, are involved in making a decision. And I am aware that, even if it’s not directly stated in the Bible, the interpretation is that the woman should keep the child. 

But (and this is where I bring up empathy) think about it in the context of yourself, your sister, mother, aunt, daughter, grand-daughter: 

What if you were single or married to an abusive spouse? What about the safety of the the child once he/she is born? 

What if your sister is unable to financially afford even the basics for herself, let alone a child? 

What if your daughter’s pregnancy happened as a result of rape? Of incest? Of sex trafficking? 

What if your grand-daughter had a miscarriage in the late 2nd or 3rd trimester? Would you expect her to keep the lifeless child in her womb until she is able to deliver her stillborn baby? 

What if, in the desire to have children, your infertile daughter & son-in-law seeks other means to start their family and it doesn’t “take”? What if they didn’t have enough money to go through another round, using frozen eggs .. But they can’t anyway because they didn’t have enough frozen eggs to even try again? What if a year passes, and your daughter (now confused, hurt, and ashamed with still not having kids) receives a call to renew the “rent” to keep these eggs frozen — but didn’t have the thousands of dollars it takes to keep them frozen for another year? What if that couple had no other choice but to “give them up?” 

Yes, that last situation was true. And yes, it did happen to me. 

What about adoption, you may ask? Well, let me ask you to put your empathy hat on once again. What if your sister wants, yet knows she is unable, to keep the child (for various reasons as mentioned above)? What if your sister was given different CHOICES and ultimately decided to put the child up for adoption? As a woman who is infertile (well, menopausal TBH), I believe that this is *much harder* to do than the general public would think. 

If you *truly* believe that adoption will “solve everything,” then, once again, you should examine the whole picture. Ask your sister why she is / was leaning one way or the other. Understand the various reasons your sister is making (or already made) the decision she did. Seek to understand, rather than instruct your sister what she should do. 

Don’t tell your sister what YOU would do in her situation; rather, ask her what YOU can do for her. 

And support (and RESPECT) her decision, regardless of it goes against your belief. 

I can’t tell you what it would be like to give up a child (we couldn’t even have one if / when we tried, anyway 🙃😝😂) or even to end a viable pregnancy, but I imagine that person would continue to live her life with a ginormous gaping wound in her heart; knowing that her child or his / her spirit is out there somewhere. I imagine she will always have the feeling that a part of her is missing in her life and stay with her the rest of her days, even when she wanted to get / could get pregnant again. 

Can you see the resemblance in emotions for a woman that couldn’t have kids of her own? After over 15 years of infertility, I *still* have that gaping wound and hole in my heart (and can’t forget “good old Catholic guilt”) from our attempts to have biological children of our own. From losing those frozen eggs. 

So I can hear the question now: “Why didn’t you & your husband try to adopt?” As an infertile couple, we DID consider that alternative. Let me just tell you (from experience) that it isn’t EASY to “just adopt.” There are financial issues, privacy issues, and the overall feeling that you’re not “good enough” to be *approved* by the agency to be placed on a list; let alone  *chosen* by a woman. For those that sought to adopt, I’m simply in awe that they could open their hearts and home to accept a non-biological child. I’m absolutely thrilled that those adoptions were successful, and that they were able to start (or complete) their family in this method. 

In my case, I was overwhelmed by the thought of starting our family by adoption. My confidence had been shattered to pieces by years of doctors appointments (sometimes daily looky-see’s down there 😱). Simply stated, I couldn’t “just adopt” after years of failure and disappointment to have a biological child of our own. I was afraid that, even though we might have been chosen to be parents of that women’s child, the biological mother or father or other family members may change their mind and then take away the baby I had been wanting to raise since first go married. I had no power in our ability to have biological children let alone adopt, so at least I can direct the narrative of our situation and “Let God, let go.” 

Obviously, Hubby and I ultimately decided that if it was meant to be, then it would be. And since nothing came of it, we decided to be fur parents instead. After finally making the decision to remain child-free, I felt the entire weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. 

So after reading my own experience, ask me again if I’m pro-life or pro-choice. Ask me if I believe that each person is unique and that their life experiences lead them to make the decision they do / did. I know what I am, but I want you, as a reader, decide on where I stand — and where YOU stand — on this issue. 

Okay, as I knew this would be a long post, I will just leave off here and continue my rant in the following (long) post. 

Read Part 2 now. Or later. I have no problem if you decided to take a break, especially if you feel I’ve talked (written?) your ear (eyes?) off.

Dark Spaces and Other Things

I went to a dark space this past week. I went back to the land of longing for a child of my own.

That’s a place, while always in the back of my mind, that I haven’t been to in a long time.

It started when I found out that a newer co-worker of mine had triplets. So naturally I asked if this was a surprise to her when she found out she was having triplets. That’s when I found out that she and her husband had done IVF and had succeeded with pregnancy after their second try; a frozen cycle from the remaining embryos from her first try.

D*mn it. I was jealous.

So jealous that I thought of our one failed IVF cycle and the failed ability to even have tried a frozen cycle. Which then had me thinking that if we did succeed with our cycle, our child/children would be 9 years old.

Nine. Years. Old. What a different person I might have become if we were successful.

Maybe I wouldn’t be such a sad person inside. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so anxious all the time. Maybe I wouldn’t be so afraid of failure like I am about everything in my life.

I know. I’m realistic enough to know I could still be the same person I am today, with or without kids. However, I do know that my fear of failure stems from the belief that I grew up with: If you try hard at anything, you will succeed.

Except as hard as Hubby & I tried to conceive, we did not succeed.

Failing at trying to procreate was the first time I ever had to question that belief. The corresponding darkness that followed our failed IVF only allowed me more time to question whether anything I do would only result in failure.

So the dark place I was at this week? It all boiled down to my fear of failure in EVERYTHING I do. From feeling like I’m a failure at work, to feeling like I’m a failure in my personal life.

I’m still a little fragile from this past week … probably will be for a while, if I’m being honest with myself … but I’m trying to be better. Trying to realize that sometimes failures can be opportunities for improvement. And trying to remember that mistakes are really just mis-takes

I Want My Mommy

Earlier this week Hubby & I woke up at an ungodly hour. My mom was flying out to the Philippines and needed a ride to the airport. It being an international flight, she needed to be at the airport at least 3 hours before take-off.

Her flight was at 7:00 am.

Needless to say, Hubby & I got little sleep the night before.

With Hubby staying curbside, I was able to help check my Mom in at the airport and say a proper good-bye before she headed into the security line.

What she said to me in those moments have stuck with me this past week and have made me realize that, as much as I think I’m okay, I’m still not quite okay.

On the way home from the airport, I cried. Cried, because I was already missing my Mom who would be gone for six whole weeks. Cried, because I knew that it was time to make another appointment … one I haven’t had in about six months now.

Cried, because as much of an adult I (supposedly) am, there are still some days that I just want to be a child again and want Mom to tell me that everything is going to be alright.

Things will be alright, I know. Even though they’re not right now. I know this because I have the love and support of a wonderful husband and … even though we don’t get along all the time … my mom.

I miss you, Mom. Hope you’re having a blast in the Philippines.

Missing Dad

It’s been a busy week, otherwise I would have written much sooner. Especially since the 2nd anniversary of my Dad’s passing was this past Monday.

I would have thought that going through the first year anniversary would have made this year a little more bearable, but it turns out I was wrong. It was just as hard to get through the day this year as it was last year. What made it worse was that I had to work, which made concentrating on things a little difficult. (Reminder to self: Take next year’s anniversary off.)

I still miss my Dad. Every single day. But bring an anniversary into the mix and it makes it more emotional. I wish I could still hear his voice, his laughter. I wish I could still get those silly voice mails he used to leave on my phone. I wish I could talk sports with him and commiserate with him about the NHL lockout. I wish we could talk about the new James Bond movie and whether he liked it or not. I just wish he was still here with us.

But alas, he’s not. He’s up above watching us all and hopefully protecting us. And maybe — just maybe — he’s visiting his grand-daughter in Texas and making here laugh and smile as only my Dad could do.

I love you, Dad. And I miss you ever so much.

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Twenty

Spent part of my day outside today. That is, after spending most of it indoors at work. But at least I got to leave in the early afternoon.

My Mom and I went to place a grave blanket on my Dad’s grave this afternoon. We bought a bare blanket and spent some time decorating it with ribbons and bows. This is the first time we decided to decorate it ourselves and we actually had a fun time doing it. We did a fine job, if I do say so myself!

Afterwards, we went out for an early dinner and had some nice conversation. Overall, it was a great afternoon.

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So I’m thinking that Mom & I should make it an annual thing … something we can do together. Because there’s not much we do together.

It’s not that we don’t get along … it’s just that we don’t share a lot of the same interests or find a lot of things in common.

I wish we could … find things more in common. Which is strange to say, since she is my mother. We should have tons of things in common. But we don’t.

It’s one of those things that I shouldn’t do … but I blame part of it on the fact that I don’t have children.

(Yes, I’m bringing out the “Infertility Card.”)

We’ve never really had much in common, even growing up. But I always thought that once I had a baby, I’d be able to turn to my Mom for some “I don’t know what the h*ll I’m doing”-bonding.

And even if we didn’t always see eye to eye, I would put our differences aside if my kids wanted to spend time with their “Lola.”

But since the kids/grandkids thing isn’t going to happen, I want to find some way to bond with my Mom; to connect with her.

So maybe it won’t be bonding over what latest funny thing “Johnny” just did. Maybe it’ll have to be bonding over what we’ve lost together … her, a husband; me, a dad.

What am I grateful for today? The time spent with Mom, bonding over my Dad.