What Is Love?

I have to admit, whenever I think about this question the first thing that pops in my head is this:

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But Night At The Roxbury is not what we are here to talk about today. And, just a hunch, but I’m not sure those guys would be able to contribute too much to the conversation we are about to have on the true definition of love.

Love and Infatuation

Full disclosure: I watched every season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette for nearly ten years.

Most people (I hope) don’t take shows like that too seriously. But they really are a unique microcosm of the Infatuation Effect. The whole “I’m obsessed with you, you are my whole world” phase of relationships that are just getting off the ground.

But, as a culture, I think we do misunderstand infatuation for love in our own real lives. Infatuation is chemicals and hormones, and is wonderful and exciting.

But it isn’t love.

Love and Utility

I’ve been writing a fair amount about utility lately… the idea that we only give people value when we find them useful to us in one way or another.

I think, though, unless we actively counteract our tendency to relate to people in this way, the idea of seeing people for their usefulness is unfortunately rather innate.

A few examples:

In Childhood:

  • Befriending a slightly more popular girl in school in the hopes of raising your own social status.
  • Making a “trade” with a friend for a piece of candy because they have something you want, rather than because you want to give them something they desire.

In Adulthood:

  • Befriending people who might help give you the image of status/social life you hope to convey.
  • Relating your own kindness or generousity to a spouse in terms of how much they do for you.

Valuing people for their utility also  isn’t love.


So, What Is Love?

According to Aquinas, to love is “to will the good of another.”

If we love, we want the other’s good. This could be a friend, a spouse, a child, a relative, a stranger. We love them if we want good for them.

It seems so simple.

Tonight, my son fell and cut his chin on a sharp edge of plastic. I held gauze to his chin to stop the bleeding. It was a deep wound. We were at church, and I left immediately to go to the nearest pharamacy to get what I would need to take care of my boy. I wanted him to not be in pain. I wanted to help him heal, and quickly. In those moments, I loved him well.

I don’t always love well. This is something I’m sure I will be working on my entire life. Far too often I want the bigger piece of cake, the more comfortable situation, the first place in line. To be the receiver of good rather than the giver. It is something I think about and pray for. To love better. To will the good of others.

That’s one thing I love about the Examination of Concience. It helps us think about the ways where we put ourselves first, or had selfish motives. And it helps us turn back towards the true definition of love.

Some of my favorite Examination of Conscience questions are:

  • Do I work to protect the dignity of others when it is being threatened?
  • Do I recognize and respect the economic, social, political, and cultural rights of others?
  • Do I live in material comfort and excess while remaining insensitive to the needs of others whose rights are unfulfilled?
  • Am I disproportionately concerned for my own good at the expense of others?
  • Does the way I spend my time reflect a genuine concern for others?
  • Do I see all members of the human family as my brothers and sisters?

Reflecting on these parts of myself help me to know areas where I am self-focused, rather than other-focused. Areas where I will my own good first and above all else.

Truly loving another person is not easy for those of us who tend to like comfort. Who tend towards self-preservation. It is not for the faint of heart. Love takes faith, humility, perserverance, and the laying down of self for another.

In our faith, we have the perfect example of what it means to lay down a life for another. Jesus loved perfectly. He willed the good of all humanity above his own and thus redeemed it. And while we are not perfect, we can continue to turn our hearts towards that which is good, and seek to emulate the example set for us. There is unfathomable redemption in love.

And knowing the true definition of love is a good place to start.



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On Beautiful Churches

The Original Problem

I used to have a problem with ornate churches. I used to think the money would have been better spent elsewhere. I verged, at times, on offended.

Then, I realized, I’ve worshipped in very expensive buildings that weren’t so aesthetically pleasing. Yes, Cathedrals cost a lot more than the average mega-church, but they are both expensive. I’ve also worshipped in some churches that probably weren’t as expensive. I’ve worshipped outside, which is as cost-efficient as you can get. This article isn’t an attempt to argue that worship can’t occur in a variety of settings. It’s an explanation of how I’ve come to love beautiful churches, and to understand the value they hold for the practice of my faith.

The Real Presence

But why is there value in beautiful churches? As Catholics, we believe Jesus himself is present in a very real way in the Eucharist. That’s a good place to start.

During my conversion, I read a book called Jesus Shock by philosopher and Catholic convert Peter Kreeft. He argued that only belief in the True Presence could have built such beautiful churches. Only belief in the fact that those churches would be housing the presence of God himself resulted in the aesthetic beauty and astounding architecture of the Basilicas and Cathedrals of the world.

I believe it was Peter Kreeft who also wrote about beautiful churches, and how they help make up for the scandal of the manger. I had never before thought of the manger as scandalous, but our Savior, the God of all things was born into the most humble of places, amidst animal dung and slop. How scandalous indeed. Beautiful churches that house the presence of our living God in the bread and wine provide a much more fitting place for God to reside in the form of the Eucharist. It provides a contrast to the humble state in which Jesus entered the world as man.

Looking Up

At our current parish, there are a number of amazing stained glass windows that let in the light. At certain Masses at certain times of day, the sun shines its light directly through some of them. It is awe inspiring. I find myself often at Mass, throughout the liturgy, looking up.

I think that’s part of the point. Beautiful churches draw our thoughts and minds heavenward. To help us physically and tangibly connect with the heaven-earth intersection that occurs during the Mass. The incense, the music, the vestments, the tabernacle. They all are helpful in this regard, too. We are a body/soul composite. And all those physical components, including the architecture of the church, help frame and focus our minds on the things of God.


My husband and I visited Paris briefly several years back. We toured Notre Dame Cathedral, with the eyes of tourists. Interested in the architecture and history. I never once thought about the Eucharist that entire trip. I hope to be able to go back someday with the eyes of a Catholic. I think I will appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to before.

Because before, when I walked into a Cathedral I saw interesting architecture but was concerned of the financial waste. I walk in now and see love. Love of God and his True Presence in the bread and the wine.

I don’t need to be in a Cathedral to worship, but I appreciate beautiful churches now.



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Helping Each Other To Heaven (Catholic Stand)

Hello friends!

Lorelei’s latest article is up on Catholic Stand today!


Helping Each Other To Heaven: A Convert’s Perspective on Catholic Marriage

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Celebrating Our Ten Year Wedding Anniversary!

Ten years ago, JP and I entered into the Sacrament of Marriage.

We celebrated our anniversary on May 26, 2017. It was a beautiful day, and we are so thankful for each other, and for God growing us in love this past decade. We started the week off by watching our wedding video, and looking at pictures from our relationship, and some of the notes we have given to each other over the years. Turns out back in the day we celebrated “month-versaries” of dating, and got each other a card for each month we had been together. We talk in those cards of all the “memories” we had made in the past one month, or two months, and it’s pretty dorky and funny, but also kind of sweet. Ten years in we now believe we actually do have some great memories together… so feeling pretty legit.

But, without further ado, here are some highlights from the actual anniversary day.

We drove up to Green Bay, which is where much of our early relationship took place, with plans to take the kids to several of our “Love Spots” in the area. We thought it would be good for them to see us celebrate our relationship together for the first part of the day, and it was really cool to have them along, visiting places we never knew we would be bringing our three kids a decade later.

We went to Zesty’s where we had part of our first date, and got ice cream.

Then the kids sat on the bench where we sat and had one of our first conversations. I remember I had my mom scheduled to call me so I could have an excuse to “bail” in case things weren’t going well. I forget what the code word was, but I clearly didn’t need to use it. I liked the fella’.

First Date Bench by the Fox River

We also took the kids to Scray Hill, where JP and I went on a few dates to overlook the lights of the city. It’s also where he proposed at night on a vacant lot, which sounds sketchy, but actually wasn’t. Turns out, the proposal location is still a vacant lot! (Side note: JP does not enjoy selfies, but he humored me with a joyful spirit throughout this part of the day.)

Where we got engaged.

JP went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, and De Pere is where I (Lorelei) grew up. So St. Norbert played a big role in our relationship as well. We took a walk there, also on our first date, and JP cheesily picked me a flower from a bush. Much of our early relationship, looking back, came with a side of cheese. Maybe it does still, cause we went back to that bush and took a picture.

JP picked us all a little flower. Yeah… stil cheesy 🙂

About this point in time JP and Lissie start acting a bit fishy. I knew we were planning to visit the church where we got married (which was the Catholic church Old St. Joes on St. Norber’ts campus. How we ended up with a Catholic wedding looooong before I was Catholic is a whole ‘nother story. But was also a grace I didn’t even know I was receiving at the time.)

The time was nigh and JP suggested we head over to the church. Once inside, Lissie looked at me with a smile and said “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.” I take her, and she admitted Daddy told her to do that to keep me busy for a minute.

We finshed up, and I couldn’t find JP. Turned out he was inside the church, and he asked the kids if they wanted to see what it was like when Mommy and Daddy got married. Then he handed me my actual wedding veil, and a piano player started to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D. (At this point I’m very impressed with my husband.)

He took his spot down the aisle, and the kids ran and took their seats. I walked, once again, to the place where we married each other, and JP, I kid you not, ten years later, had tears in his eyes.

Things looked a littled different from my end than they did ten years ago. First of all, there were two humans who we created sitting by JP. And, my husband was holding our infant daughter as I walked to meet him. It was all surreal and beautiful and very cool.

I figured he would have some sort of love note for me or something, and I turned to smile at the kids. But when I looked back, a Priest had popped out from behind a wall, and he said we were there to affirm our wedding vows.

So we stood, in the empty Church with a Priest and our Children, and affirmed that which we promised to each other ten years ago that day. For richer and poorer, in sickness in health, until death do us part. It was a most wonderful surprise.

Where the magic happened ten years ago.


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After our vow renewal.

After that, one set of Grandparents babysat the littles for the evening, and we put the camera away while we went to enjoy a fine bottle of wine and the Chef’s Table at Chives in Green Bay. Highly recommend it, especially for special occasions. We were joined by a good pair of friends, and ended the night with some awkward karaoke.

It was wonderful to be able to spend a day just celebrating all that has happened in this first decade of our marriage, and to realize how far we’ve grown, and how much our love has developed and matured from those early days.

The Sacrament of Marriage has been a huge gift to us. One which I think we are just beginning to really appreciate, and to understand for what it is meant to be. We are both looking forward to what the next decades bring.


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Finding A New Mother In Mary

Before I was Catholic, I focused on Mary during the holiday season. I mostly thought about her, pregnant and heavy laden, making the long journey for the census just before her baby was to be born. Tired, searching for a place to rest. Giving birth in a dirty, humble place. Holding the infant Jesus in a night where shepherds and angels and the light of a star paid Him heed. I had the honor of being in late stage pregnancy twice during the Advent season. I was very comfortable thinking about Mary then.

But I didn’t think about her much otherwise. Thoughts about Mary were safe during Advent and Christmas. But, like the tree and decorations we put up in our home, my thoughts of Mary, too, were boxed up and put away at the end of the season, until the following year. Mary belonged in a nativity scene, not in my life.

A Growing Admiration

All of that necessarily changes when one is on a journey to the Catholic Church. Mary plays such a key role in our salvation story, and Catholics aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. I know, based on the Bible and the teaching of The Church, that Mary is in heaven, and prays for us. I also know that Jesus listens carefully to what his mother requests of Him. Her role as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong obedience and holiness, also are things I worked through as I prepared for Confirmation.


It became easy to realize there was much more to Mary than what I had previously thought. It became easy to be thankful for how precious a role God gave Mary, from the moment of her own conception. It became easy to admire her.

But, as I am learning, admiring someone is not the same thing as being in a relationship.

Baby Steps

As a teen, spending time with my mother wasn’t as high on the priority list, though that has long since changed. But in some ways, I think I still relate to Mary in that way. I know she loves me and is there for me, but I don’t often make time with her a priority. Some of the Rosary’s I’ve prayed have ended up being the most powerfrul prayers of my life, prayers that were clearly answered, and graces that were abundantly given.

So why don’t I do it more?

Perhaps it’s some tendency leftover from my Protestant days. The Rosary isn’t often one of the first prayers I go to, and even though it doesn’t take incredibly long, I often struggle at the time commitment a Rosary takes. I have been praying Hail Mary’s more often in my day to day life, which I think is a good baby step. But it feels too tiny sometimes, when I know the beautiful graces given to me through Mary on the occassions I have spent time intentionally turning to her.

But I also know Mary has a lot to offer me if I would not only spend time talking to her, but also listening.

I have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. There’s my mom, who has been with me since the beginning. I also have a step-mom, and a mother-in-law, as well as many other women who have been influential in my life.

But as much as these women have allowed me to talk and share my heart with them, I find I often learn the most when I listen to the wisdom they have to give me. And Mary has so very, very much wisdom to offer. Through her example in Scripture, through her presence in the ways she has appeared to many throughout history, offering Truth and encouragement and building our faith as a Church. This weekend, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and that is just one of many examples of her intervention in our world. And I’m sure she would speak to my own heart, if I only would quiet myself and listen.

Many Mothers

I think a person has room for many mothers. Women who love, guide, and shape us. Who intercede for us. Who listen to us. Who offer us comfort. And I firmly believe Mary should be at the top of the list of Mothers in our lives.

On this Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that as I celebrate the earthly mothers in my life, I would also move closer to embracing my heavenly Mother, Mary. That I would allow her guidance and wisdom more and more into my own daily existence. That I would not take the blessing of having a heavenly Mother for granted. And that I would look to emulate her, and ask for her intercession to become even a small portion of the woman and mother she was to Jesus and is to The Church. For God’s grace to emulate her in holiness. And to know she is there for me, loving me, and waiting for me to spend some time.


We Want to Know: What is your relationship with Mary like? How do you relate to her as a Mother?

P.S. If you found this post interesting, and would like to read more on This Catholic Family… hit up that follow button on the top left of our page, or follow us on Facebook. We’d love to have you back again!


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Laying Down My Rights

Just when ya think you’re in pretty good shape… something comes along and reveals the sin in your own life very clearly.

JP made a mistake this week. A very honest mistake. It ended up costing us $100. Which isn’t the most money in the world. But, it was enough to provoke a reaction in me that I am not proud of.

I got so mad about that $100. I thought some Not So Friendly Thoughts. I wasn’t very nice.

And the whole time I was having the reaction I had, I knew that the root of it all had to be some sin of my own.

I literally was having a conversation with myself in my head (not like a crazy person conversation, but a totally sane inner dialogue) that I knew I was reacting sinfully, and I needed to stop, and then the other part of me was saying I had a right to be angry and offended and to let him know how I felt.

There were a couple of realities at play here.

I know, of course, that my husband is allowed to make mistakes! Neither of our mistakes are going to consistently cost us $100, but this time it did. And that doesn’t change the fact that I have no right to insist on his perfection, because I could be the one making a mistake tomorrow that has a cost to him.

Also, I knew if I had made the same mistake he had, and he had reacted the same way I did (which, by the way, he never would have), I would have been extremely hurt. He wouldn’t have made me feel small. I knew that, and I still felt the desire to assume that I had a right to make my offended-ness known.

The Bigger Picture

Okay, so… here’s the thing.

Here is why I knew so deep down that my reaction was unacceptable, and sinful on my part.

Straight up Truth: My husband is Imago Dei. He is created in the Image of God. And that, in and of itself means he is to be shown dignity, at all times. And it means that he has immense value by virtue of his being God’s Image Bearer.

And I knew that, and I felt myself wrestling inside with knowing that reality and still wanting to claim some right of my own to be offended, and let him know it.

Here’s the other thing.

I have no right to respond in sin, because of my Christian faith.

I believe that Jesus, One who had never made a mistake, had never sinned, who had every. single. right. to claim offense, willingly, and with love, took every. single. sin. of every. single. person. from the entire history and future of the entire world upon Himself.

And he died on that cross, partly because of the sin I committed against my husband over this matter. My sin over this is one of the reasons He hung there. My sin is like one of the thorns pressing down upon His head, and piercing His skull, and causing Him pain.

Jesus never claimed his rights. He who had the most right in the world to be offended, took all of everything upon himself. He never for one moment has given us anything less than the utmost dignity. He never for one moment has given us anything less than perfect love.

Colossians 3 states:

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and [k]patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is [l]the perfect bond of unity.

I know I was anything but compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, or patient over this matter. And I was slow to forgive. But the real kicker, is the part that says “Just as the Lord forgave you.”

And, at that, I have to humbly surrender. At that, I realize I have no rights. I have no claim to offense. And I need to extend the same grace extended to me, to others. Especially to my husband when he makes a mistake.

How Deep The Father’s Love

I am so thankful for the Lord’s forgiveness in my own life, but it is also so convicting right now. I am acutely aware how I tried to claim something I have no right to claim. And it came at the cost of giving my Imago Dei husband the dignity that is his.

I know I’ll be heading to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this coming weekend, for this, and other things. And I’ll be looking forward to audibly hearing that unmerited forgiveness from Jesus. I’m also looking forward to my penance. I suspect it might be something I can do to show my husband love and dignity. Which will be just the medicine I need.

One of my favorite hymns of all times is How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.

It’s just such a beautiful reminder of the most beautiful Truth. I can’t even grasp how much Jesus took upon himself on the cross. But I know it means my salvation.

And I know I can, once again, receive the forgiveness that is there for me through my faith in Him. And I can be thankful that He promises to shape me more into His likeness, as long as I continue to allow Him to work in my soul.

I am thankful that I know I don’t have to live in guilt. That I can pick up and move on and work towards better reactions in the future … but it just smarts a bit realizing you’re wrong. Humble pie doesn’t always taste super great.

And, finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention JP. Because I can also be thankful for a gracious husband, who witnessed my struggle, and accepted the apology of his Much Too Quick To Anger Wife, and for the example he sets of patience and grace within our own marriage.



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A Valentines Note From The Savaryns

Hello Readers,

Happy Valentines Day!

Now that we are approaching 10 years of marriage, we are clearly marriage experts. Haha.

Actually, we know very acutely that we are not. However, we do know a thing or two more than we did when we started dating nearly a dozen years ago.

And tonight, we reflected on the most romantic thing we have done recently for each other.

JP said the most romantic thing I have done recently for him was when I recently gave him a back massage. He knows physical affection is not one of my natural love languages, and therefore when I offer a back massage, he knows I am doing it for no other reason than I remembered it is relaxing for him, and because I love him.

The most romantic thing JP has done for me recently has been to explicitly encourage me to pursue a dream of mine. Something that requires me to set time aside. He asks me every few days if I have been able to make any progress, and he encourages me to structure my time to make it a priority. Knowing that he loves me enough to urge me forward with this goal means the world.

I think one of the things we’ve discovered in our time together is that real, abiding love is often found in the small gestures like the ones above, not exclusively in the grand ones. A big mega date can be awesome and fun and all kinds of other good things. But, unlike what some dating reality shows might lead us to believe, real love, and real relationships aren’t built in the big moments. They are built in the small.

And, unexpectedly, many times the small actions can be harder to pull off than the grand ones. Because you have to remember, in the day in day out ordinary moments of life to choose to love your spouse in a way that speaks to them. You have to choose to remember to do something to build up your spouse, especially when you get nothing out of it for yourself, simply because you love them. In the busyness of life, the remembering can be hard. But when we are intentional with each other, when I remember to give JP a big hug when he gets home so he can feel loved, and when JP remembers to keep the kitchen counter clean on the weekends so I can relax, when we love each other in the small ways, we both move through our days, whatever challenges may come, already built up by the love we have for each other. And that love can help sustain us.

Starting this Valentines Day, we plan to add one small thing to our daily routine. Something that we can do with and for each other, in the presence of our children, so that we may also set an intentional example for them of our marital love for each other in a small yet significant way. Our goal is to add this short, simple prayer to our family prayers at the end of the evenings. To hold hands with each other in the presence of our children and pray:

Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the strong love that grew between us.

To work that love into practical things so that nothing can divide us.

We ask for words both kind and loving and hearts always ready to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

Dear Lord, we put our marriage into Your hands.


If you are married, with or without kids, we challenge you to take the time to pray this prayer with your spouse on a daily basis along with us this year. Simply by taking a moment to ask God to be present in our love for each other, this one small prayer might just end up being that which helps us greatly along the path of learning to donate our selves for the benefit of our husband/wife, and thus to love them better.

-JP and Lorelei

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The Problem With Pretty Woman

This is the story of a young girl, now grown woman, who looks back on a movie she absolutely loved and watched multiple times throughout her formative teenage and young adult years. It’s about a dramatically changed opinion. It’s about a call to awareness, a call to seek out Truth. And it all starts by giving another look at the seemingly classic romantic comedy called:

Pretty Woman


Looking back, I find it interesting that neither I, nor anyone I know that I watched this movie with when I was younger ever questioned what was going on.

At a fundamental level, Pretty Woman romanticizes prostitution, and creates the fantasy that true, meaningful, lasting love (well, we don’t really know if they last… the final scene in the movie is a grande romantic gesture, not a glimpse into their life together years down the road), can come from a beginning in exploitation and lust.

To start, I know Julia Robert’s character in the movie doesn’t have a pimp, which removes a hair of the horrors she would have faced, but she is remarkably unscathed for someone who has been selling her body for a while. She bears none of the apparent effects of trauma from rape, or abuse that women who actually are sold or sell themselves face on a regular basis. But none of that is romantic. Or comedic. So… obviously they had to make her seem normal- healthy even. Like a cool girlfriend you’d like to have, except she just sells her body on the streets each night without any side effects. No biggie.

Reality check. For the past 2 years I have been part of a ministry where I have the honor each month to spend time with and love on young women that are exploited, and let me tell you, none of it is romantic, or healthy. And I mean healthy in the sense of “this is an ok thing that should regularly be happening and is good for the people involved.” There are a lot of myths associated with how people perceive how women “choose” to enter the sex industry, which could be another article in itself. But, suffice it to say, it is very rarely a “choice,” in the sense of a woman, who has had a normal and healthy upbringing, with no abuse or trauma, and just wants to make some extra good money, decides to enter the sex industry of her own free will and with no coersion then, or thereafter. And that woman, with plenty of other options, is free to choose to leave whenever she is ready to be done. Sure. Maybe. Sometimes. I may have met one or two such women during my time in this ministry. But the dozens of other women I’ve met tell the story that the above scenario is most certainly the exception, and not even close to the rule.

But it’s just a fun movie, some might say. You’re taking it wayyy to seriously… Well… that’s a nice thought, but I don’t think I am taking it too seriously. Because I know what the message this movie sent to pre-teen/teen me was. It’s the same message the cover of Cosmo sent to me, and Redbook, and commercials, and a host of other things. And when a young girl is exposed to enough of that message, at least part of it gets internalized. At least part of that message let me know that, when all else fails, a woman can and should use her body as leverage. It let me know that some significant part of my purpose and worth had to do with my sexual appeal to men.

I could go further into detail about my own personal story, but thank God, I have since learned the twisted nature of those lies I was fed. I’m at a point now where my own personal convictions about where Truth resides are solid. I don’t even care what the magazines and the media and whatever else tell me my worth is. I no longer buy the magazines that perpetuate those messages. I no longer go to those websites. I question every source other than my Creator that tries to tell me who or what I am and what I am good for.

But what I do care about, is the many impressionable young and grown minds that don’t view these messages through any sort of filter. I do care about a Men’s Health magazine, with a provocatively dressed and posed woman on the cover, placed on a low shelf, cover out, at eye-level perfect for my daughter and son to see as we check out at Barnes and Noble. I know that the line I’ve been using when I catch Felicity looking at such a cover that “Oops, looks like that lady forgot to finish putting her clothes on! How silly!” isn’t going to work for much longer, and we are going to have to begin having a much broader, much more serious discussion. And, finally, I do care about the women I see each month who so need to know their value, and are constantly fed lies about their worth by the world around them and the men and women who exploit them.

Full disclosure. I more than just “don’t like” Pretty Woman anymore. I’m mad about it it. Maybe not so much the movie itself, but the culture that made it a hit, and the full on lies we women are buying into all too often.

Anything that glamourizes and romanticizes lust and exploitation is something that is a significant concern. And the reason isn’t just because messages like the one Pretty Woman send out into the world messed up my young self a bit. It’s because those messages undercut the absolute, no-hold-barred Truth about the value of women.

Saint John Paul II wrote extensively on the value and dignity of women, and it is the Church that fully reflects how God intended the dignity of women to be seen, and appreciated, and valued. One of my favorite quotes by him is as follows:

“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

Pornography and all forms of exploitation show a ton of skin, but nothing of the humanity of the person beneath it. And that is the root of the problem. When a human… becomes an object. And not only an object, and object meant for the consumption of another. The woman on that Men’s Health cover is not just an attractive body, but a soul-filled person with an inherit dignity. Removing the person to lust after the body strips her of her dignity. And we, simply, have no right to strip anyone of that.

One of the greatest gifts and encouragements to me on my own journey to understanding my value has been the Church, who, in the midst of the culture described above, reveals a completely different narrative about women, and their worth. It is my hope and prayer that my daughters, the women I have the pleasure to know in all facets of my life, and many others will start to or continue to question the narrative of the world at large about our worth, and instead seek the Truth of our value given to us by God. Like with food, we internalize what we consume. We internalize what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Let us turn off the noise and turn up the Truth. Let us question all that we are fed by this culture about our bodies and our sexuality. Let us be brave enough to speak louder than the world to our daughters, so they believe it. Let us stop spending money on movies, magazines, and other media that break down and manipulate the truth that we are a body/soul composite with inherent dignity.

Let us refuse to be seen as anything less than we truly are.


P.S. For more information, check out Saint John Paul II’s On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. Tis a good place to start. 🙂

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Oh Child, I Have So Much Good in Mind for You – If You Would Just Obey


In reading the Gospels lately, there is a common theme in Jesus’ teaching that jumps off the page at me (JP). That theme: if you believe I am Lord, then do what I say. I really am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I’ve come so that you can have life to the fullest. But, having that life requires obeying me!

Being a parent has granted me the gift of understanding our relationship to our heavenly Father in better ways than ever before. Look at a scenario many parents are familiar with: parent wants what is good for the child, child doesn’t trust parent… But why?

Because sometimes what’s good for the child requires some element of suffering for the child.

The child can’t see past the short term suffering – giving up the toy to the younger brother, turning off the T.V. when mom asks, coming inside when told, …. etc. Since the child only sees the short term suffering, he/she has a hard, if not impossible time, believing that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. But, the parent pleads with the child – if not explicitly, at least implicitly, subconsciously – to trust, just trust. “Child, if you’d just trust that I have your best interest in mind and obey what I tell you to do, life would go so well for you. I love you unconditionally, I take care of you, I want nothing less than for you to become the best version of yourself!”

But the child needs to do more than simply give mental assent to this claim from the parent – the claim that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. The child actually needs to obey the parent! Without obedience, there is no growth. In obeying the parent, the child is participating in allowing the parent to shape him/her into the person the parents want them to be. And they want them to be a certain way only because the love them so very much! They want the child to be happy and they know what brings happiness and what doesn’t.

How similar have I been in my relationship with God to how my kids interact with me. Yah, yah, yah, God, you came and died for my sins, I get it. Jesus is God, I get it. …. 30min later when stuff is getting hard in the house, kids are screaming, dishwasher is broken, rain water is coming in the window, … whatever, I choose to sin, I choose not to obey Jesus’ commands in those moments. But if I really believe he is who he says he is, then the answer to all life’s greatest challenges is to do what he says! And what does he say to do?


That lead to the next logical question: what is love? How do I love as Jesus commands? Love is to will the good of the other. Love, which is what God is, is self-giving, indifferent self-giving. Love is giving of self regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you will get in return. This is what Jesus came to show. He showed us what that looks like. And then he gave us the answers to all of life’s greatest troubles: do what I tell you – love others as I love you – and you will have life to the fullest. You will be free to freely give! Not to even begin to mention the endless grace he pours out on us when we make room in our hearts for him. If we just trust our Father in heaven has our best interest in mind and do what he says, we will have life to the fullest.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:1

– John Paul

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