Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Parental Love

Our long holiday from democratic debate over one of the most contentious issues of our time appears to be ending. In the theme of this year, a return to reality is upon us. What’s so devastating is that we have to have this debate in the first place.

Society has become desensitized to the violence of abortion and anesthetized to reality. The process of performing an abortion, whether by depriving the child of a healthy environment or through the physical act of ending their life, is inherently violent and always wrong. Juries punish harshly those who perpetrate similar acts against children in their care, so why the rage over applying the same standard to children at the earliest stages of development?

Selfishness is a central element of the argument, along with a distortion of love. Like so many cornerstone components of the human experience, love is anything and nothing at all. Love is not a feeling. Love is not love. Love is complete surrender, total sacrifice for the other.

Accepting the gift and responsibility for the care of a child is the highest calling of humanity. That acceptance requires the fullest measure of devotion from the parents, and a life-long commitment to the child. To observe the beauty of that relationship unfold is one of the most beautiful things in the universe. The child enters into existence wholly dependent on their parents. Then, as they reach the mid-point in their lives, the dependence begins to reverse. Decades of parental self-sacrifice are repaid through decades of child self-sacrifice through elder care.

Parenthood is a journey of weighty responsibility. But it’s a journey that is necessarily rooted in the total gift of self, a complete surrender of the parent’s priorities for the child. That is true love.

Turn On Your Brain

The culture of rage is here, a general acceptance of rule breaking in the furtherance of political ends. Rage is primal, reaching into the area of your brain that runs your internal “fight or flight” response. It shuts down logic and instead pursues action, no matter how unhinged.

A sad consequence of this indulgence of rage is that it rewards the party that can convince the highest number of people to turn off their brains. Alexander de Tocqueville marveled at the educated electorate that he met in America, and how everyone engaged in the democratic process. He’d be shocked to see that it only took 200 years to convert that America into a mob.

Humans are naturally trusting, and so it can be easy to accept reasonable sounding arguments, even if they’re fallacious. Many will ask you to excuse the intentionally killing of a child, but only in “rare” cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. A critical review of this request presents some questions.

Why is the only response to the violence of rape, the violence of killing a child? In what medical circumstance is it medically necessary to kill the child, rather than end the pregnancy early by delivering the child and admitting them to the neonatal intensive care unit?

Under the weight of logic, the argument collapses. We know inherently that killing is always wrong, with the sole exception of in self-defense.

Rage, and the beneficiaries of rage, benefit when you turn your brain off. Keep yours on.

A Fresh Look

For over a year now, we’ve lived in our new house. I think that it takes time to get used to your new environment before you deeply understand what changes would improve your lifestyle. We’re at that point.

My father-in-law was here last week for a visit. An extra pair of hands, along with the natural feeling of renewal that springtime brings, inspired us to move on to the next phase of home improvement.

When we moved in, our house had an intercom system. We removed four of the five speakers shortly after moving in, with the last one in the master bedroom. Over the weekend, we pulled it down, patched the wall, and painted. I have a great feeling of completion.

Along with the system were two intercom boxes on the porches. Five minutes of screwdriver work, and their yellowed squares were down and in the trash. We pulled down a fake fence in the side yard and trimmed dead branches that were overhanging the deck.

These were small projects, many taking less than an hour to complete, but the overall impression is a gigantic change. A cleaned up yard, a completed bedroom, and little annoyances resolved.

It’s easy to feel trapped in the same sinful inclinations, day in and day out. Our character flaws pigeon-hole us into the same types of sin. But while we may feel trapped, Easter invites us to take a fresh look. A bit of TLC, a little time changing our environment or refreshing our perspective reveals two truths. God defeated sin, and so we can conquer it. Our God is a God of mercy who gives us all the resources we need to embrace and live His Law. All we have to do is put in the work to make the change.

The Paradox of Time

There’s a quirk in human psychology when it comes to time. We have lists of things that we’d like to do, but never enough time to do them. Yet, when our schedules open up, we’re more likely to drift to watching TV or wasting time, rather than investing it in quality activities from our list.

The path of least resistance is too easy to take. I enjoy a lazy river as much as the next guy. The mistake is believing that important things like work and chores get in the way of recreation.

A healthy amount of work is part of a well-balanced life. Work gives us productive activity and dignity. We use our skills to improve the lives of others, and generate compensation that supports our family. Engaging in quality work allows us to mirror the lives of Jesus and his father Joseph, who we know based on historical records, worked very, very hard.

At the end of the day, I’m often tired. It’s hard to summon the energy to clean the kitchen or take care of the little tasks around the house that need to be done. Some days, I whiff and check out for the evening. But on the nights that I take 15 minutes to get the kitchen clean, or the 10 minutes to pick up the books and toys around the house, the following day always goes better.

I’ve always planned to have a date night with Alison once a week. An evening where there’s nothing on the schedule except spending time with her. When I was solely an at-home dad, it rarely happened. We’d spend small chunks of time several times a week in the same room, and that was it. Now that my availability is cut down, Sunday night is a much bigger priority for a date night for me. Coincidently, we’re having date night much more regularly.

There’s a balance to managing the many responsibilities that we have in life. In the face of them, we can’t surrender to idleness or overwork. Like our spiritual life, making this balance requires daily effort and some amount of failure. Try harder next week.

Victory

Easter is here and the tomb is empty. The timing of Easter this year was prescient. In my listening to the “Bible in a Year” podcast, I lined up exactly with the events of Holy Week. The same went for my daughter’s Bible curriculum. For her school work, we read a story and the next day she narrates the story and draws a picture. In her telling, Jesus was hiding behind a tree, waiting for Mary Magdalene to show up. The image she drew of Jesus lying in wait was amusing.

Now that we’re into the Easter season and our Lenten practices are over, it’s time for an annual reminder about the point of what we just did. Lent, Holy Week, and Easter are only the beginning. They’re the keys that unlock the true freedom of Christian life. They’re the exercises and disciplines that draw us into our call to constant conversion.

Fasting from sweets, your snooze button, or meat on Fridays is the first step. It’s the introduction to the discipline of fasting. Fasting isn’t giving something up, it’s raising our awareness. Many vices aren’t driven by a desire to do evil, but a reaction to some negative event in your life. Drinking to excess may be covering up deep emotional wounds. Impatience behind the wheel may be about allowing too many pressures to build up in your life. When we give something up, we have an opportunity to be curious about what’s really going on in our lives.

Our successes and failures this Lent are another part of our journey. The Christian Life is anything but boring, and answering Jesus’ call to pick up our cross and follow him is the work of each day. But when we’ve completed our trek to the top of the hill, the place of the skull, what waits for us is not public humiliation and complete destruction. What waits for those who answer the call is the ultimate victory.

The Human Person

It’s a great paradox that in the Information Age, when every book every written and every fact known to man is available on your phone, that our connection to the truth is at great risk. The future that GK Chesterton presciently wrote about over 100 years ago is coming true; we are drawing swords to defend the basic and observable truths in the natural world.Read Article

Increments

Lent is quickly winding down, and perhaps the success of your Lenten rituals is a bit checkered. Sustaining any type of radical life change is often easy at the beginning, but the slightest bit of friction from life can cause the best intentions to crumble.
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Examination of Conscience

Last month, my son received his first confession. As he was preparing to receive the Sacrament again last weekend, I sat down for a few minutes to help him do his examination of conscience.Read Article

A Sense of the Sacred

A few years ago, I watched a documentary about the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. They followed the historic rise and fall of the population, along with the complexity of adjudicating cases of those sworn to defeat the United States of America as an experiment in human history. Although I can’t tell you much beyond the scope of the documentary, I vividly recall the coverage of religious life in the facility.Read Article

Desensitized

Evil’s greatest objective is to desensitize us to its reality. If we fail to perceive evil for the threat that it is, to our lives and our society, then it can more easily dominate us. Read Article

Never Wasted

Starting or growing a habit of prayer can seem like a big lift. We first have to restructure our day to meet our new objective, and then we have to maintain the momentum each day. The biggest challenge comes when there’s disruption. Like any diet or exercise routine, vacations or illness can throw a wrench into our finely tuned machine and cause us to feel discouraged.Read Article

13 Cents

Lent is upon us, this year's opportunity for us to take a fresh look at our spiritual life. As our thoughts turn to what we're going to take on or give up for the next 40 days, they're also likely to turn back to our character flaws. We are all predisposed to a unique mix of temptation and sin, the ones that come up in confession after confession. Although this constant battle can wear us down, Lent reminds us that the war is already won.Read Article

Icy Slopes

I went skiing for the first time in my life last week. We started discussing a trip in July and firmed up later in the fall. I spent a lot of time thinking about the trip's logistics and surprisingly little on the mechanics of learning this new skill.Read Article

Detailing

Our vacation plan for this year included a trip to the Great White North to enjoy a week of snow, play, and skiing. Driving north, the landscape turned from winter browns to gleaming white. Unfortunately, flurries and snowstorms met us along the way, as well as road salt and ice.Read Article

Keto Recycle

Over the past three years, I've experimented with the keto diet. It's fashionable right now, a fact that's helped me stay consistent. My grocery store stocks a variety of keto-friendly options, which is fantastic.Read Article

Noticing Progress

It’s hard to notice progress in our personal growth. We’re so intimately familiar with ourselves that small changes are imperceptible. Even the markers that we mentally track can be deceiving. Read Article

Applied Bioethics

One of the best outcomes from majoring in Philosophy is how it nurtured my sense of curiosity. The toolset that I gained helps me look critically at the world and think deeply about issues. Alison and I’s story is in its twelfth year. We started dating the final semester of college, and the story continues today.Read Article

Preparations

I love to drive. Each year, our family takes two or three major road trips. These are highlights of my year, even if occasionally the kids don’t travel as easily as I wish they would. Although our destinations are often places we’ve been before, it takes weeks of preparations to be ready to go.Read Article

Image and Likeness

2021 was supposed to be the year of civility and normalcy. Well, we didn’t get it. Instead, we got more acrimony and animosity. Last year I wrote about walking under the stars and listening to the Bible. I had started the Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz. I didn’t make it past day 25 or so, but I’m starting over.Read Article

All Things New

What a lousy two years we’ve had. Disruption, distortion, and distrust maligned what was supposed to be a grand opening of a new decade. Peace, prosperity, and stability reigned, and we collectively looked forward to more of the same. How quickly that all faded.Read Article