Monday, February 19, 2018

Life is finite, bounded up by mortality, tragic and sometimes unfair

At three weeks
At four weeks
I haven't been taking nearly as many pictures as I'd like. But I can see the difference from one week to another! 

Have you heard of Jordan Peterson? Did you see this interview that has made him super famous as of late? Did you see this really funny meme making fun of the interview? (watch it only after the inteview!)

If you live in the US or Canada, you probably have. He has a new book out which I haven't read, but from what I heard of it I would like to buy it for every person in Portugal. It's about antidotes for the problems of our times, but I think those problems are exacerbated in Portugal. More personal responsibility and not blaming society/God/government/etc for your problems? Yes please! 

I also listened to the latest Patrick Coffin Show podcast featuring Jordan Peterson. This quote really stuck with me...

At 26 minutes:
"The thing about making the bleak case... Let's say that you are fundamentally optimistic and that you fundamentally do have faith and you do believe that truth can prevail, then you can say, look what it has to prevail over. And then the reality that it has to prevail over is the fact that life is finite, and bounded by mortality, and tragic and sometimes unfair. And that all of the suffering that's intended upon that is multiplied almost beyond endurance by malevolence. Everyone knows that, especially people who've been hurt know that. And so then you say, yeah that's right, you're right in your deepest suspicions, you're correct BUT despite that, the power of love, so that would be the desire for things to flourish, and the power of truth is such that it can transcend those bleak realities."

Patrick Coffin said soldiers and abuse victims can relate to Jordan Peterson's message. But I think post-partum women can too. At least I can! Life is rough, rough, rough, rough right now. Luckily I have grace upon grace, sacraments, and glimpses of love and truth prevailing. But yes, life is bleak. And post-partum is not for the faint of heart. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Praising, reverencing, serving

Watching sleeping beauty, when my mom was still here. And play dough. 

One of the themes I really liked in the book He Leadeth Me was the purpose of our lives here. The author was a Jesuit priest, and he quoted the first principle of the Spiritual Exercises several times throughout the book: 

"Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it."

Even in the most extreme conditions, such as prison or slave labor camps like the author, we are able to praise, reverence and serve the Lord. We are not here on this earth to "be happy" or be comfortable. Look around at the conditions of life on this earth and you'll easily see that's impossible. At least on a physical level and all the time. Instead, we all have deep yearnings and desires for things that are not of this world. 

This quote and the book in general led me to a thought experiment about what is really important for our family and for parenting. And it is freeing. If we are here just to praise, reverence and serve the Lord... we don't have to care about what others think. About fitting in with society. About if our kids will be weird. We just have to love. *Just* as in... that "one thing" the subheading of this blog says. But of course, that is a lifelong lesson. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Beloved and Blessed by Kimberly Hahn

Image result for beloved and blessedI ordered a book by Kimberly Hahn because I suspected I would identify with her mothering and family style and I really did. I was so inspired by this book and am going to order more books by her as soon as I can. It had some really practical advice I appreciated and it also had some deep spiritual truths explained simply. It has a chapter all about Theology of the Body which I skimmed, but thought it was really great for people who aren't so familiar with it. And it has a chapter on homeschooling, which is so simple and well-written I'm going to translate it into Portuguese to give it to people who ask me difficult questions I can't answer! Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

"'You're thinking about love the wrong way, as if it gets divided,' Dad replied. 'Love is muliplied with each new family member. Not only will you have a unique love for this child, but he will bring love to each member of your family.' We need a new term: Let's replace sibling rivalry with sibling revelry." p. 49

"We cannot take anything with us when we die, but we can send a bit of ourselves ahead if our children precede us in death. If the goal of Christian parenting is heaven, we have already succeeded with those children who have died. And I believe we are different parents because of their love and prayers on our behalf." p. 68

"Is there someone for whom you have great respect in financial matters? Seek his or her advice, for 'where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in na abundance of counselors there is safety' (Proverbs 11:14)." p. 99

"Our overall goal is to have happy, healthy, and holy children who obey us and obey God. [...] We are imperfect parents parenting imperfect children imperfectly! This is God's plan." p. 117

"Resist the extremes of hypercontrol of your firstborn and lack of control over your youngest." p. 131

"You have access to the grace you need to overcome your fears about parenting. You are obligated to continue the job you began. And remembre, Jesus is the one who began this good work of parenting through you, and he will be faithful to complete it." p. 142

"Children are spiritually sensitive. They respond when we read Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus. They listen when we hold them at Mass and whisper what each part means. They draw near for a blessing before bed (sometimes with holy water). They know God's love initially through our love for them. As our children mature, we witness God touching their lives directly, guiding and calling them in unique ways." p. 160

"The years are few in which we can decide our children will attend daily mass; I do not want ot miss the opportunity. When complaints are heard - yes, even in the Hahn household - I begin (and they chime in), 'We don't have to go to Mass: We get to!'" p. 162

Monday, February 12, 2018

He Leadeth Me quotes

Image result for he leadeth me ciszek
I had heard about the book He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek online, mainly from Jennifer Fulwiler. So I was excited when my online book club decided to read it. It is definitely a five-star book and one of those that you can't stop thinking about in between when you read it and can't wait to pick it up again. I read it immediately post-partum, and it was perfect, to make a little more sense of the (little) suffering I was in. It is one of those books I want to buy for everyone and wish everyone would read. Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

"For every man's life contains its share of suffering; each of us is occasionally driven almost to despair, to ask why God allows evil and suffering to oertake him or those he loves." (prologue)

"He had stripped away from me many of the external consolations, physical and religious, thatmen rely on and had left me with a core of seemingly simple truths to guide me." (prologue)

"Yet, from our vantage point in history, we know it was really quite the opposite. Israel's troubles were in truth a manifestation of Yahweh's special providence, his special love for his chosen people. Like a fond and loving father, he was trying to wean them away from trust in kings or princes or in armies or the powers of this world. He was trying to teach them, again and again, that their faith must only be in him alone. " (chapter 1)

"The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that - not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God's grace, but every day." (chap 3)

"A concern for sheer survival reduced prisoners under these conditions to a state of docility and servility that was truly inhuman." (chap 4)

"Solitary confinement, in short, must be very much like what some theologians paint as the principal torment of hell: the soul at last recognizing its mistakes for what they were and condemned forever to the loss of heaven, constantly tormenting itself with reproaches and tearing itself apart because it still sees and understands and want the things it has lost forever, but knows it is condemened to lose forever becasue of its own choices, its own failings, its own mistakes." (chap 5)

"And I learned soon enough that prayer does not take away bodily pain or mental anguish. Nevertheless, it does provide a certain moral strength to bear the burden patiently. Certainly, it was prayer that helped me through every crisis." (chap 5)

"I had not really left myself open to the Spirit. I had, in fact, long ago decided what I expected to hear from the Spirit, and when I did not hear precisely that, I had felt betrayed." (chap 6)

"I find it perfectly understandable that Peter, in his letters to the early churches, should have reminded his Christians to work out their salvation in fear and trembling. For just as surely as man begins to trust in his own abilties, so surely has he taken the first step on the road to ultimate failure. And the greatest grace God can give such a man is to send him a trial he cannot bear with his own powers - and then sustain him with his grace so he may endure to the end and be saved." (chap 6)

"I was curious beyond belief, almost addicted to stories of every sort, even rumors. The habit of recollection I had been able to develop while in solitary confinement broke down under this bombardment. I was continuously distracted, even when I tried to pray." (chap 8)

"I didn't build a new city in Siberia because Joseph Stalin or Nikita Khrushchev wantedit, but because God wanted it. The labor I did was not a punishment, but a way of working out my salvation in fear and trembling. Work was not a curse, even the brutish grunt work I was doing, but a way to God - and perhaps even a way to help others to God. I could not, therefore, look upon this work as degrading; it was enobling, for it came to me from the hand of God himself. It was his will for me." (chap 10)

"There is a tremendous truth contained in the realization that when God became man, he became a workingman." (chap 10)

"None of this came easily, for I was not a disembodied spirit. Hunger could distract me, the interrogators could confuse me, a body aching in every joint and worn down by a long arctic day of grueling work could leave me totally exhausted and very much discouraged. It is much easier to see the redemptive role of pain and suffering in God's plan if you are not actually undergoing pain and suffering. It was only by struggling with such feelings, however, that growth occurred." (chap 12)

"Every moment of every man's life is precious in God's sight, and none must be wasted through doubt and discouragement. The work of the kingdom, the work of laboring and suffering with Christ, is no more spectacular for the most part than the routine of daily living." (chap 14)

"The body can be confined, but nothing can destroy the deepest freedom in man, the freedom of the soul, and the freedom of mind and will. These are the highest and noblest faculties in man, they are what make him the sort of man he is, and they cannot be constrained. Even in prison, a man can choose to do good or evil, to fight for survival or to despair, to serve God and others or to turn inward and selfish." (chap 16)

"It dawned on me at such times how futile were the attempts of man or of government to destroy the kingdom of God. you can close churches, you can imprison priests and ministers, you can even set men and churches to fighting among themselves, but you cannot uproot thereby the good seed existing among the tares and cockle, that good seed that is the kingdom of God." (chap 17)

"Yet my greatest consolation was the evident faith of the courageous Christians I served, a living witness in this desolate land to the power of God's grace and the existence of his kingdom. Their faith, their courage, inspired me daily to offer up all my actions and works and sufferings of each day to the work of spreading the kingdom of God upon earth. What was I, in comparison the the millions of atheists in the Soviet Union? What was I, in comparison to the might and power of the Soviet government? What were any of us, really in the face of the system around us, with all its organs of propaganda and powers of persecution? Yet, in God's providence, here we were. This was the place he had chosen for us, the situation and circumstances in chich he had placed us." (chap 17)

"To increase our love, to love properly, we must strive to increase our faith, and we do this by means of prayer and the sacraments." (chap 19)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

On the Incarnation quotes

Image result for on the incarnation athanasiusI read On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius after everyone else in my online book club finished reading it, but I read it nonetheless. I read it mainly at hospital visits before Tommy was born. It was really dense, so there was a lot of skimming involved. I liked reading the introduction by C.S. Lewis more than the actual book (how sad, I know...), but it was a good effort even so to read it that proved rewarding. Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

From the introduction by C.S. Lewis:

"It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire."

"But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet."

"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones."

From the book: 

"...he granted them a further gift, creating human beings not simply like all the irrational animals upon earth but making them acording to his own image (cf. Gen 1.27), giving them a share of the power of his own Word, so that having as it were shadows of the Word and being made rational, they might be able to abide in blessedness, living the true life which is really that of the holy ones in paradise." (3)

"For God has not only created us from nothing, but also granted us by the grace of the Word to live a life according to God." (5)

"Although being himself powerful and the creator of the universe, he prepared for himself in the Virgin a body as a temple and made it his own, as an instrument, making himself known and dwelling in it." (8)

"So, lest this should happen, beng good he bestowed on them of his own image, our Lord Jesus Christ, and made them according to his own image and according to the likeness, so that understanding through such grace the image, I mean the Word of the Father, they might be able to receive through him a notion of the Father, and knowing the Creator they might live the happy and truly blessed life." (11)

"Death must precede resurrection, for there would be no resurrection without death preceding, so that if the death of the body took place somewhere in secret, death neither appearing nor taking place before witnesses, its resurrection also would be unseen and unwitnessed." (23)

"And as a noble wrestler, great in skill and courage, does not choose opponents for himself, lest he cause suspicion that he is fearful of some, but leaves it to the choice of the spectators, especially if they are hostile, so that when he has overthrown the one they have chosen, he may be believed to be superior to all, so also, the Life of all, our Lord and Savior Christ, did not contrive death for his own body, lest he should appear fearful of some other death, but he accepted and endured on the cross that inflicted by others, especially by enemies, which they reckoned fearful and ignominious and shameful, in order that this being destroyed, he might himself be believed to be Life, and the power of death might be completely annihilated." (24)

"For it is true that the dead can effect nothing, but the Savior effects such great things every day - drawing to piety, persuading to virtue, teaching about immortality, leading to a desire for heavenly things, revealing the knowledge of the Father, inspiring power against death, showing himself to each, and purging away the godlessness of idols..." (31)

"This is, on the one hand, the proof of the Savior's divinity, that what human beings were unable to learn among idols, they have learned from him, and, on the other hand, no small refutation of the weakness and nothingness of the demons and idols." (52)