Learning to say “I Forgive You”

Struggling to Say It

Growing up, the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” didn’t always come together. I think my parents, particularly when dealing with me and my brother, did their best to teach us how to get along and make things right when someone was offended. But one of the things that strikes me the most when looking back, is that repentance and forgiveness wasn’t necessarily modeled to us, at least not regularly and consistently for me to remember that as a pattern of family life.

I think that’s partly why, as an adult, it was really hard for me to say I was sorry, and even harder for me to say “I forgive you” after someone had apologized to me. This was especially true when it came dating and early marriage. I remember times, sitting in the car with my husband driving, when he had apologized for something and I just sat there, staying silent. I literally felt the heat of anger inside of me as I made him wait a long time for those words. Even when he pointed out my reluctance and that it ws hurtful to him, my mouth did not want to open. I still don’t fully understand why it was so hard for me to offer that to someone I loved, other than some selfishness in me felt it would be more just to make him suffer.

Confession and Forgiveness

Another piece of my journey in this area that’s been helpful has been the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Five years ago, as I neared the culmination of my conversion to the Catholic faith, I began to understand and deeply appreciate the value of examining my conscience-saying I was sorry, and literally, audibly, hearing forgiveness offered to me by the Priest, who is really standing in Jesus’s place. Trusting you’re forgiven is one thing. Hearing that mercy spoken to you out loud is certainly another. Confession has changed me, and continues to do so. I know now very deeply how it feels to know you are forgiven by hearing it said. I know how much it has the power to heal.

My husband had grown up in a home when repentance and forgiveness came easy, or readily, at least. And he couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to offer forgiveness to him. I’ve had to work really, really hard over the years to say “I’m sorry” as soon as I understand I’ve caused hurt to someone, and to say “I forgive you” honestly and quickly after an apology is offered to me. We are now teaching this to our kids and modeling it intentionally with our own actions in and out of the home.

Because here’s the thing: Our entire faith is based on an ocean of unmerited grace. It doesn’t really matter what someone has done to me or how I’ve been offended. If I believe in Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross and his power over death, and his doing all of that to offer reconciling grace to me and everyone else who has ever existed or will ever exist, that significantly changes how much of a right I have to hold a grudge.

In some cases, offering forgiveness and also letting go or setting boundaries might be the appropriate choice. But I also think there is something to be said for the healing power of forgiveness not only for the person being forgiven but also for the person who forgives. Forgiveness can help heal the offender, but it also heals the offended. And if the Creator of the Universe has chosen to not only forgive us, but has suffered greatly to do it, then how freely should I open my arms to others and forgive them?

If we truly understand the former, then the latter isn’t even really a question.

Lent is a beautiful time of year in the Church for so many reasons. The continued call to conversion through almsgiving, fasting, and penance helps prepare our hearts for Easter in such a special way. If you haven’t been in a while, or even if you have, perhaps it’s time to go to Confession. To find a few quiet moments this Lent to examine your heart and say you’re sorry and turn yourself back to love.

And then, of course, to receive an absolute ocean of unmerited grace. A grace that has the power to fill us, and flood out into the whole entire world as we forgive others, too.


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Meet Saint (Maker) Savaryn! (& Reflections on 2020, too)

When Covid started, I kept seeing all these people getting dogs. I was like “JP, all these people are getting dogs because they’re stuck at home hahaha, how interesting is that. We will clearly never get a dog because we’ll be too busy resuming our jet-setting lifestyle as soon as this is over. Also, dogs poop all over the yard.”

And then…with 13 days to go in this difficult year, a puppy arrived at our home and joined our family. Turns out, never say never has become quite the theme in my life, in many more ways than one.

Meet Saint Maker Savaryn!

We call him Saint, but his full name is Saint Maker because he will help us grow in virtue. Also, every time we call his name, which is a lot, it’s a reminder of our main objective- to become Saints ourselves!

Saint is a fluffy cuddle ball who loves pretending he is a great hunter, cuddling, licking peoples’ faces, and sometimes tinkling on our floor.

I am not a dog person, but I’m slowly warming to him. I like seeing the kids take him outside to go to the bathroom. I don’t completely mind when he’s tired at night and rests his little warm fuzzy self on my lap. JP has promised to brush his teeth daily so he doesn’t get stinky dog breath as he gets old.

JP is very sweet with him, too. He grew up with dogs and loves them even more than I realized. It’s cute to see my full grown husband walking around with the little fluffball Saint. They’re already becoming good friends.

Reflections on the Year

There have been less distractions this year- in terms of places to go, things to do, people to see. And it’s given me so much time to look at the life right in front of my face with clarity. Because of this, one of my biggest take home messages of the year has interestingly been an intense reaffirmation of how often the most worth-it things are not the easiest.

Growing in holiness is hard, raising children is hard, writing a book is hard, loving selflessly is hard, homeschooling is hard. But they are are really, really important things that I value, and this year, I found myself often reevaluating how I can be more intentional in all of these areas. Each is an act of love, in a very particular way, so, really, with all of these things so very present, and my own flaws so very exposed, the question has truly become: how can I love better? Especially inside the domestic church that is my home.

I’m much more impatient than I would like. I grow weary quickly with my family. I can have unrealistic expectations or not give someone the benefit of the doubt. I’ve fought battles against my own insecurities this year, particularly with writing. Once- when realizing I had to undertake a huge revision on my second book- a really, really important one that would make the difference between getting the book right or not- JP found me on the floor of our closet crying a little. This story mattered so much but I didn’t know if I was good enough to do what needed to be done. I was so scared! But, in time, I stood up, pushed through the uncomfortable feelings and got to work, one word at a time. And now I’m on the other side of that revision and am so very proud and excited to share that book with the world!

Which brings me to another big takeaway of 2020. Life isn’t about avoiding uncomfortable feelings at all costs, or even about avoiding suffering. Both of those things are part of life, and this year has given us all a lot to be uncomfortable with, or to bear as suffering. We cannot avoid those things, even in a ‘normal’ year, but in 2020 we all had to confront it on a global scale. What do we do when uncertainty hits? What do we do when we suffer? How can we take those things and use them for good-or to make the world a better and more hopeful, loving place?

Happy New Year

I wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy New Year. I almost was going to wish everyone a smoother 2021, but I think it’s better to wish everyone a 2021 that brings us all closer to God, to Love, to living as Gift of Self. God knows what we need to be holy, and it’s our job to accept whatever he brings.

Even if he brings you a puppy that likes to tinkle on your floor. 🙂


Strong But Not Superhuman

The Swells and Crests of Life

We had a period of time this fall into early winter where things were relatively calm. I remember thinking to myself during that time, Remember to appreciate this. Be thankful for this.

Because I’ve been around at least long enough to know that life comes in seasons, in swells and crests, and that something would come to stir up our temporarily calm seas.

Mary was in the hospital for two nights just before Christmas, and RSV spread through the rest of the family for most of Christmas break.

Then, in January we caught our breath.

In February, we lost my aunt to suicide, and we are still recovering from that loss. The pain continues to come in waves. There are good days, and there are difficult days. The air leaves my chest and my stomach sinks every time I go in the basement and see a pile of boxes there. All her stuff. Filled with clothes and baking supplies and art that I have no idea what to do with and no clue if or when or how I will be ready to see it, to touch it, to use it again.

Coming to terms with the pain she felt, our own powerlessness to do anything to change it, and the hope that my prayers can help her still all make for a complicated mix of emotions. I can’t control when the grief hits. And when it does, it isn’t always convenient.

And it just seems like right now there is an abundance of regular but personal and professional business that make finding balance more tricky than it is at other times. I’ve wanted to have time to write more on the blog, but it’s been difficult to find the words to say amidst all the sadness.

I’m struggling with knowing the best direction to take my novel, and in discerning if it’s time to let it rest for a bit and start something new. It’s tough for me to leave a thing unfinished, in any area of life. And it’s also tough for me when there is no clear end point. I can’t say for certain when it will be ‘done.’

We are making some positive, needed, good changes, like moving to a bigger home to account for the growing number of people in our family. I’ve started being asked to speak even in different states, which is super cool and exciting.

Managing Self-Care

But compartmentalizing is tricky for me. It’s tough for me to keep everything in it’s own separate baskets in my mind and things tend to spill over. Today, I wrote an outline for myself to make sure I’m managing my self-care. Blocking time to write, to read, to exercise, to sleep. To make sure I respect the rhythm of my own body and the way God has made me. I recharge my batteries by having time alone. By writing. By reading. And by prayer. If I don’t make it a priority, then I can go too long without making it happen, get caught up in the current, and I start to feel anxious.It was good to take time to actually write out those priorities.  And it’s amazing what a quiet hour by myself can do for my peace of mind and ability to be present for my family.

The long and short of it is, I need to remember to give myself a break! I can’t be All The Things All The Time to All The People. I can’t read an article while Mary is crawling on my lap. I can, however, set aside time specifically for Mary crawling on my lap and other kid related endeavors, and also set aside different time to read that article.

I am strong, but I am not a superhero. And I think consistently trying to do more than one thing well at one time is a way to drain this momma fast.

If I need some time to grieve, I need to take some time to grieve. Not grieve AND feed the kids dinner. Not grieve AND coach a teacher. I need to open up time to just let myself grieve, at least at some point during that day. And respect it. Likewise, I can’t write a super cool blog post AND interact with my kids (with any level of patience). I can work on house hunting/building stuff, but not at the same time as I pack my lunch.

It sounds so simple, but it is something I try and do so often! Not only am I going to do this one thing, but I’m going to do more than most other normal people and try and do more than one thing at the same time and then take pride in the fact that I am able to be so productive and efficient!

But at the end of the day, I just make myself tired.

So this is a good, recurring lesson for me. We won’t ever be able to finish All The Things when all is said and done. And learning to let myself take a slower pace, or set something aside for a while will only help maintain some much-needed balance. During the times when the seas are calm, but also when they are rougher too.


What helps you keep balance when things get busy? Have you had seasons of your life where you learned new ways to keep a healthy perspective?

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Morning Air Interview: “Being Gift in a Take World”

Hello friends!

Lorelei was interviewed this week for Relevant Radio’s Morning Air program about her recent article: “Being Gift in a Take World.”

Check it out by clicking here! She’s the first guest right at the beginning of the show.


-JP and Lorelei

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Lorelei’s Guest Appearance on the Catholic Vitamins Podcast!

Hello This Catholic Family Friends!

Lorelei was recently interviewed by the podcast Catholic Vitamins. She was able to speak with Deacon Tom and his wife Dee and share her story home to the Catholic Church. Deacon Tom and Dee are a wonderful couple, and it was a pleasure to get to know each other a bit and share about being Elated in her conversion to the Catholic faith.

Check out the link here!


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Being “Gift” In A “Take” World

The Disease of What’s Best for Me

There is a disease rampant in our world today. A disease called “What’s Best for Me.”

Entertainment programs are filled with tips on how to make our lives better. How to get the best deal. How to make ourselves look good. How to advance in our careers. How to make more money. How to improve our existence.

And we absorb that culture, particularly if we live in a part of the world where we are saturated with it. Unless we actively counteract the messages we receive, they absorb into us, and we end up reflecting the approach of the world instead of the approach of our faith. Unlike what we see and read and hear every day, happiness isn’t found in improving our lives and seeking our benefit. The Catholic Church teaches that happiness is found in seeking to improve the lives of others, through a sacrificial donation of self.

To Will the Good of Another

At the core of this question is the idea of love.

To love, according to the Catholic Church, is to “will the good of another.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1766). That’s it. It sounds so simple.

If we are married, love is to will the good of our spouse. If we are parents, to love is to will their good too. Whatever phase of life, to love is to will the good of those we encounter.

It rings so true when we hear it, but it’s so different from the culture we live in! And it is less easy to apply to our relationships each and every day than it seems. But if we live our faith, if we put our energies into absorbing the truths the Catholic Church teaches, living as gift becomes more and more natural, more and more a part of how we function and view the world. Our lives become all the more beautiful for it.

Being Gift in Choosing Life

Our parish Knights of Columbus just distributed baby bottles for us to collect change in, and that will go towards Right to Life causes. The tragedy of abortion is great in our world, and this is another example of where so many have bought into the lie of What’s Best for Me so much, that they are willing to support the legal right to end a human life.

The reality is that women have this awesome opportunity to live our lives as gift in a way unique from men. We give our bodies as a sacrifice to grow and nurture life. And pregnancy and raising children is, indeed, a big sacrifice.

But we have an amazing example of bodily donation as gift for another in Jesus.

Jesus lived as the ultimate and perfect self-gift. His own words, which we hear at each and every Mass, are: “This is my body, given for you.” He gave his whole self for us, and it’s a beautiful parallel to what happens when a woman sets aside her own comfort to bring life into the world.

“This is my body” is such a popular phrase in pro-choice culture. But they distort the beautiful meaning of the phrase. Those who fight for legal abortion say, “This is my body, and I get to do what I want with it. No one has the right to stop me.” Jesus says, “This is my body, and I am going to give of myself fully to turn the power of sin on its head and to heal the world.”

There is a clear winner between the two uses of that phrase. In goodness, in beauty, and in the truth of what our bodies are meant to be.

Living as Gift is life-giving. Living for self is life-taking, sometimes in the very real and literal sense in issues like abortion. But also, in the sense that each time we choose self over another, we take the essence of life – truth, beauty, love, from those we wound with our sin.

Living as Gift within Marriage

I spent more years than I’m proud of watching the popular TV show, The Bachelor.

That show sends the message that love is meant to make us feel good. That it’s exciting and thrilling. There is the unspoken belief that love will be like that forever. Like a fairy tale, it will make me feel good forever.

It sets up extremely unrealistic, unhealthy expectations. Nothing about even the concept of that show is willing the good of the other – one person dating upwards of 20 men or women at one time is not good for anyone involved. That’s one of the reasons I won’t watch the show anymore.

It’s distorted. It’s sending a lie about love. It perpetuates a belief that I can do what’s best for me, no matter how many people get hurt in the process.

If we understand what the Church teaches about love and Catholic marriage, the idea of Gift is one of the keys to living a marriage that stands as witness to God’s love for humanity. This occurs when the husband and wife are living as Gift to each other in all areas of the marriage.

When we encounter any situation with our spouse, and we ask the question “Am I doing this for his/her good?” we are letting God into our decision with our spouse. Before we say that sharp word, before we lose our patience, before we assume the worst, we can think about our partner’s good.

This applies in a special and beautiful way to our sexuality, too. Catholic teaching on sexuality isn’t meant to be repressive, and it isn’t without reason. The things we are not allowed to use/do in Catholic marriage – contraception, climax without intercourse, pornography, etc., are all forms of believing the “What’s Best for Me” lie. Contraception says “I’m going to give myself to you, but I’m not going to give myself fully.” Climax without intercourse says “I’m going to take from you, rather than give myself to you.” And pornography says “I’m going to take pleasure without giving anything at all.”

But when we live as Gift, when we respect the whole person of our spouse, including our fertility, when we give mutually and fully to each other, each and every time, that is where the beauty lies. The joy of sex isn’t in finding the best way to feel good for ourselves. It’s in mutually seeking the good of the other in an all-encompassing and powerful way. A way that mirrors the life of the Trinity and foreshadows heaven.

A Disease of Humanity and the Cure

Reaching for goals and working to improve are all positive things. But when those things are distorted, and we start pursuing our own betterment even when it is to the detriment of others, then we do have a problem. When we seek our own comfort first, or own best first, when we forget to be Gift to those around us, then we have become sick.

If we live with a What’s Best for Me mindset, we will never be as happy as we could be. We will never have the peace we could have. We will never find the joy. We weren’t meant to be satisfied with the things of this world. We were meant to be satisfied with God. It follows that living life as God intended will bring us the greatest true fulfillment.

The ultimate way we can serve God is by living our lives as a gift in gratitude to our Creator. All of the above examples help to lead us in that direction. The realization that our lives are, ultimately, not our own, that each and every day is a gift from God helps us release any false control we have tried to cling to. None of this is ours. Life is gift from God. It’s meant to be lived as Gift to God and others.

The Me First disease is more than just an American problem. It’s a humanity problem. A result of original sin, when Adam and Eve were the first to believe the lie that eating the fruit was what was best for them and their own personal goals and advancement.

But the Church gives us this beautiful remedy to the sickness. The remedy for the poison that is What’s Best for Me is a firm commitment to What’s Best for You, to living life as Gift. It turns selfishness to selflessness, greed to generosity, and taking to giving. Living life as gift reverses the darkness of sin and let’s God’s light shine through. That is a powerful witness to a world that has absorbed a dangerous lie.

For more information on living life as “Gift,” please see John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, or check out Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.

Note: This article was originally published on Catholic Stand.

My Experience on EWTN’S The Journey Home

A few weeks back, I hopped on an airplane and headed to Columbus, Ohio to film an episode of ETWN’s The Journey Home, hosted by Marcus Grodi.

I was met at the airport by Scott Scholten and his wife Barb. Scott produces and directs the show, and they also have a special B&B apartment in the basement of their home to host many of The Journey Home’s guests.

I had read other articles about people who had been on the show, and was very excited to see the famous “Guest Book,” where many notes and signatures from guests of the program reside. It was a surreal moment adding my name to that list, especially considering that two years ago, I was closer to leaving Christianity entirely than I was to becoming Catholic.



And let me tell you this, the Scholten’s are experts at hospitality. I was so blessed to be able to stay in their incredibly comfortable accommodations. Every little detail was attended to, and I was made to feel like a member of their extended family.

There was also a Mother Angelica mug, out of which I just had to drink my evening tea 🙂

We had lovely conversation over dinner and breakfast the next morning, and then it was off to Mass at this beautiful, quaint, historical Catholic church near the Coming Home Network headquarters, where we would film the show.

I caught sight of Marcus Grodi in the back of the church and we made a quick wave ‘hello’ to each other during the giving of the peace. I knew from my hosts as well as other guest posts about the show that Marcus doesn’t spend much time with guests before the filming begins. He wants to get to know each guest and his/her story for the first time genuinely during the taping.

They filmed 2 shows this day, back to back. I was up first.

Walking onto the set was also very surreal. I had seen this set before in the shows I had watched. There were some people who were very important and encouraging to me on my faith journey who had sat on the same side of the desk I would sit on soon. Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler and Steve Ray were a few that immediately came to mind. But there are many others.

Well hello there, Mr. Desk.

The show used to be filmed live, and still tapes as though it is. There are no re-do’s, just a 2 minute break in the middle. It was a bit intense to think about at first, but everyone is so kind and welcoming. I was definitely on high alert and excited, but once we started filming it felt more like a conversation. I didn’t forget about the cameras and people in the shadows of the lights, but Marcus Grodi is a very gracious host, and it was easy to tell him my story.


He listened so well. I don’t remember everything I said, but I do remember there were a couple of things he brought up at the end to help a point I had mentioned earlier come full circle. He asked great questions to help me elaborate on some things. You can tell Marcus is a pro. I told my story pretty much from birth to life after conversion, and felt like the time flew by. We then answered a couple of email questions, filmed a short promo, and that was it!


After filming, some of the Coming Home Network folk took me and the other guest out to lunch, then it was back to the airport and home again. It was a whirlwind, but one I will never forget.

I also don’t think it will ever cease to amaze me that my story is now counted among those that made a huge difference to me as I prepared to enter the Catholic Church, and even still after. Those stories were a lifeline as I wrestled through questions, dealt with loneliness and difficulty in the transition from our Protestant Church, and as I rejoiced in the Truth I had found resided within the Catholic faith.

I hope you will have the chance to watch my Journey Home. It airs Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 8pm Eastern/ 7pm Central on EWTN. If you don’t have EWTN, you can live stream it here online.

Encores will air:

Tuesday, December 19th, 1am Eastern

Friday, December 22nd, 1pm Eastern

Or Watch the whole episode below!

My written conversion story is also featured in the Coming Home Network’s newsletter this month, and can be found here.


Do you have any questions about my conversion story? Or whose conversion stories have impacted you in your faith walk?

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Men, We Are Being Led Astray

We All Want Happiness

Men, many of us are being led astray. We all want happiness. But not everyone seems to know where to find it. What’s more, I suspect many of us who think we have it are blind to the possibility that what we have pales in comparison to the real thing.

Those Guys

With the attention sexual misconduct is getting in the media, it is easy to point the finger at ‘those guys’ out there who have done some obviously terrible things. But I want to call attention to all of us, what we might be doing in pursuit of happiness that is equally off the mark. That’s what ‘those guys’ were doing anyway, isn’t it? Pursuing happiness in the way that they knew how, the way that they desired.

So the question becomes, how do each of us pursue happiness?

And how does this manifest itself to those around us?

For example, a group of regular guys get together for an evening away from their daily grind. Beers, conversation, some sort of entertainment – watching the game, having a cookout, whatever. These guys are, on the surface, pretty happy. Spirits are high, small talk is jovial, and the joking abounds. But listen closely to the topics of the jokes, and the spirit of the conversations and there is something not quite right. The jokes are, by in large, sexual in nature.

Now how do we gauge whether that’s ‘ok’?

By what standard am I referring to when I say something is not quite right?

Made To Love

We are made to love. And to love is to will the good of another (Aquinas). When we, as guys, are bringing sexuality into our jovial small talk and jest, I ask all of us to consider whether we are “willing the good of another” in what we’re saying. If our wives were to hear themselves being the topic of sexual jokes at guys’ night, how do we think they would feel: more loved or less loved? And when we ask this question to ourselves, how does the answer we give make us feel? Are we indifferent? Are we offended that I even pose the question? After all, what does it matter how we talk about our wives – or women in general – when they are not around? Right?



Reflection of our Hearts

How we talk about women, especially our wives, is a reflection of the state of our heart. And if we think we are finding happiness in cracking sexual jokes all basically implying that life is nothing more than finding pleasure when one wants it, then we have a serious misunderstanding of where happiness lies.

Our creator wants us to be happy. He made us for himself. And since he is infinte joy, infinite beauty, infinite pleasure, nothing short of him will even come close to the happiness we will experience when we are in total union with God. So to begin our journey to ultimate happiness – total union with God – here on earth, Jesus tells us to live like God now. Real, lasting happiness is found when we live like God lives: indifferent self-giving.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:44-45

The Challenge

I challenge each one of us to put Jesus’ teaching (live like God lives) to the test. Try treating your wife as more important than yourself in every single aspect of your marriage. Will her good as more than your own. Do this and see what happens. Lorelei and I always had a decent marriage, but then I took the challenge; I tested out how much happiness really does lie in willing the good of the other. I put to the test the claim that I was made to love.

The results were breathtaking.


When I started to will Lorelei’s good more than my own in every area of our marriage our marriage went from decent to phenomenal. The more I willed her good, the more I found she willed mine. The more I gave to her, the more she gave to me. It was like resonant feedback from a microphone in front of a speaker, only instead of a harsh noise, it was a beautiful sound, the type you wish would never end. Synergy. 1 + 1 = 3. That kind of result.


Men, it is my firm belief that we will be most happy when we live like our infinitely loving creator – in indifferent self-gift to all those around us. Put this to the test and tell someone you know how it goes. If you experience what I did, I predict our small talk will take on a different tone.


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Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Why We Need Theology of the Body More Than Ever


I was too young to know much about the scandals surrounding Bill Cosby the first time around. Then, as time went on the media storm subsided and Cosby emerged as someone still able to find affection in the public eye. He was, if not The American Father, at the very least in the running for it. I remembered him as Dr. Huxtable, as the guy on the Jello commercials, and as the host of Kids Say The Darndest Things.

I saw him live with my family to watch his comedy routine in person- it was a fun, family friendly night.

But, when the accusations burst forth again in 2014, I was old enough to pay attention. Even without a conviction, and with only the knowledge of what Cosby has admitted to doing, there is something we as a whole find incredibly disturbing about his conduct.

Then, as name after name of male celebrities comes into the public eye, and similar, equally disturbing stories are told, we have to wonder… what is it exactly about this behavior that we know is wrong? Lack of consent? Yes. Abuse of power? Yes. A distorted sense of immunity? Yes. These and a myriad of other things.

But, I suggest, there is also a deeper underlying issue at the core.

Let’s Talk About Sex

What’s the point of sex? Well, it is the means by which we continue our species. But procreation is not the only purpose of sex. The other point of sex is that it is for the good of the spouses.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death

And how is that aim of benefit to the spouses achieved? Here’s the Catechism one more time:

“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude”

Sex as Self-Giving


Jesus gave his body fully for us. He sacrificed himself for our good. And that is exactly what sex is meant to be. It is meant to be a husband giving fully of himself for the good of his wife, and a wife giving fully of herself for the good of the husband. It is an ultimate appreciation of the dignity of our spouse, through a total gift of ourself to him/her.

Anytime we do something other than that, we turn sex from a self-gifting act to an act of self-seeking. From giving to taking. From whole to broken.

Marriage and Church/Marriage and the Trinity

Marriage is often referred to in the Bible as a reflection of Christ and the Church. Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom, and the Church as the bride. If we play that relationship out to its logical conclusion, we see the beauty in Christ’s sacrifice for us, and realize our job within marriage is to reflect the beauty of what Christ did for us as a witness to the world.

Marriage is also reflection of the Trinity.

God is a burning inferno of love, and that love between the Father and the Son ushers into being a Third, the Holy Spirit. And when a husband and wife love each other, it has the potential to bring about a Third. That love becomes so real and so tangible that another life is brought into existence from it.

Sex is powerful stuff. Not because we have a right to indulge for our own sake or pleasure, but because we have the ability to give the gift of ourselves wholly and fully to another human being.

When that gift is profaned and becomes a selfish act, it undermines the dignity of the humans involved and can cause great hurt and pain. People feel used, something inside us becomes broken.

Sex is meant to be a total gift of self. Nothing about it is meant to be selfish.

The Distortion of Sex In The News

That’s partly why the news stories coming out about famous celebrity males taking advantage of females in incredibly disturbing ways hits home. Those behaviors are the result of a myriad of things. Privilege, a hunger for power, pride. But they also stem from the view of sex as being something that ultimately we deserve. Sex is for us. Pleasure is something we take instead of something we mutually give. Sex becomes a carnival house mirror instead of a pure and true reflection of God and his love for humanity. A cracked and distorted facimile of beauty.

We can see so clearly in those examples that something, and yes, many things are broken.

But a distortion of what is meant for good can occur even within a Christian marriage. All Christians would benefit greatly from an exploration into Theology of the Body and diving deeply into the power of the purpose of human sexuality. If our marriages are meant to be a living reflection of the Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful love of God, then it is vitally important that we know what we are being asked to reflect, and that we take seriously the responsibility and honor to live as Gift to our spouse.

If you are interested in learning more about the foundational Christian views on sex and marriage, please check out:


And, when we see these examples when good is perverted, let us know why it is we know, at the root of it all, that selfishness in any expression of sexuality, in any situation at all, is harmful and wrong.


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The Prayers of My Children

The Prayers of a Child

My kids, well the ones old enough to talk, talk to God like he’s a friend. They just tell him what they hope for in their own lives, and who they want to intercede for. Felicity for the longest time prayed for her preschool teacher who had a bothersome tooth. Auggie prays for his baby teeth to come out, which I think is his three-year-old way to tell God he longs to be bigger and more grown up. He’s had to show a lot of patience while waiting to be big enough for things like a big boy bike, and to be old enough to play soccer, and to be able to occasionally skip nap. They just lay it out, no holds barred.

Then we have our family prayers. Our kids know The Angel Prayer, where they ask their guardian angel to watch over them, The Lord’s Prayer, Good Night Dear Lord, and a few others, including the Hail Mary.

The Blessing of Continuity

And, though I never in a million years thought I’d send my kids to Catholic schools (particularly in my pre-Catholic days,) we have been so blessed by St. Lucy’s Catholic School, and our kids have only been going there for 3 months. Particularly, I’m loving the continuity between our home life, church life, and school life.

And a couple weeks back our kids came home with a mini rosary. Ten beads strung on pipe cleaners and twisted together at the end. That simple little tool has added a whole new layer to our family prayers at the end of many days.


Felicity leads us in the decade, holding on to each bead as she prays, and we join in. I watch the ease with which she asks for Mary to pray for us. I feel peace wash over me as it so often does when praying a prayer I was once so afraid to pray. In the prayers of my child we settle in as a family and draw nearer to Jesus.

Unity At Last

It is such a visible, tangible, audible reminder of the unity of our family in faith. Ten years ago I didn’t know how we would handle our different faith traditions when we had children. I didn’t have much reason to believe that this level of unity would one day be a part of our lives. But I hoped and prayed for it as JP and I found our way.

And, as I listen to the simple and pure prayers of my children, I realize just how deeply that desperate prayer has been answered. And it is such a beautiful thing.


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