Fear, Prayer

This weekend I drove into Naples, to a parish I’d never been to before, for an intentionally anonymous confession. I knew it would be a rough confession, and I preferred to seek out the comfort of strangers rather than the well-meaning concern of friends and neighbors here in Ave Maria.

It was indeed comforting to walk into a church and not feel obligated to say hello or make small talk. I found my way to the confession line and began to complete the examination of conscience I had begun on the drive over, and was immediately grateful that I had made the drive. Instead of soberly examining my conscience, all I could do in the line was hold back tears. And more than a few escaped, leaving those obvious trails down my face. The ones that say, “no, I’m not just here for a routine confession…I’m desperate, and a sinner, and miserable, and only here at last because it was this or pulling a Thelma and Louise.”

I thought maybe I could pull it together in the confessional, but all I managed to do was stop sobbing long enough to sketch out for the priest the general reason for my tears. I didn’t even make it to the list of sins I had collected in my mind in the car. As soon as I had given him a rough outline of my general state of mind, I resumed crying loudly while the poor priest, in a mercifully soothing Irish accent, reminded me that God loves me and hasn’t abandoned me, asked me to come see him some time when he didn’t have ten other people in line behind me, and gave me absolution.

I’ve never broken down like that in a confessional before. I’ve cried, sure, but I’ve never been sobbing so hard that I couldn’t even give a coherent confession. The priest asked me to pray for peace for my penance, and while I’ve been doing it, I’ve also been more aware than ever of just how elusive peace is for me.

There are a million reasons for it. A million reasons why I’m not at peace with my life as a wife, mother, homemaker. I’ve explored a lot of them here, on my blog. But I’m starting to realize that it wasn’t as if I had this great, peaceful life and then BAM! children ruined it for me. Actually I was a drug addict before I was a mother so no, not so peaceful. And before I was a drug addict, there wasn’t much peace there either, in my hard-studying, hard-partying college days. Or in high school, when I was a studious, disciplined head cheerleader. Or in middle school, when I was a nerd, the butt of jokes, vulnerable and insecure. Or really as far back as I can remember.

I don’t know why I’ve always been so unsatisfied, so unhappy with my life right now, no matter when that “right now” was. I do know that I’ve never, ever wanted to be like this.

Toward the end of my pregnancy with Sienna, I was starting to feel excited, even a little giddy to meet this new little person, this stranger, my daughter. It must have showed, because once in Target while I was browsing through the tiny pink onesies and impossibly small hats, a woman with three kids hanging off the sides of her cart stopped and snapped, “You won’t be nearly that happy when that kid is on the outside, I promise.” She practically spat the words at me, glaring hatefully, as if my happiness personally offended her. Then she stomped off, barking irritably at her children to shut up, already, and don’t touch that, and leave your sister’s hair alone and sit down right now! I could still hear her sharp voice after they rounded the corner. I stood there, frozen, shocked at her anger but also genuinely afraid. I do not ever want to end up like that, I thought. I will never, ever let myself get to that point.

Last week I had to rush into Target for an unplanned trip. I had been to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for Thanksgiving supplies, and was planning on rushing home before everything melted when I got a phone call from the doctor. They had been trying to fit us in before the holiday break without success, but they had a last-minute cancellation, and they wanted to see us that afternoon. I agreed and then immediately regretted it, since I had a car full of cold and frozen items and had forgotten our cold bags at home. So off to Target we went in search of a cooler, me with Lincoln strapped to my chest, fussing irritably at all the strapping and unstrapping, toting Charlotte and Lincoln, who were equally irritable after a day of being shoved in and out of carseats. They immediately commenced bickering while Lincoln cried and struggled in the Maya wrap. I flew up and down aisles, getting increasingly more frustrated when I couldn’t find the cheap styrofoam coolers, and finally settled for a regular one at triple the price I’d wanted to pay. I had to get baby wipes while we were there, so we hastily made our way over to the baby section. As we walked toward it, I saw a heavily pregnant young woman eyeing a crib, touching the mobile, smiling that secret last-trimester smile while one hand stroked her belly. Bitterly, I thought, she’s not going to be nearly that happy when that kid is on the outside.

On the way home from the doctor I called the Ogre, crying. I told him what had happened in Target, how horrified I was at my knee-jerk reaction to the woman, and how much I hated the person I was turning into. A person who is so stressed and overwhelmed by the demands of young children that I can’t even enjoy them. A person so unhappy that I can’t even let other people be happy without wanting to destroy it, somehow. To make them understand how hard life is, or will be.

And here’s the worst part, I told him. The worst part is, I blame the Church. I blame the ban on birth control, the fact that NFP doesn’t work for us, the reality that I will never, ever have a chance to get a handle on things because I’m constantly pregnant or nursing. I can’t crawl out from under the pregnancy-and-postpartum rock because the rock follows me everywhere, just waiting to smash me again. Intellectually, I believe the Church. I understand the arguments against birth control. I agree with them, even. I just no longer think I’m a good enough person to follow the rules. There are mothers around me who have 6,7,8, 10 children and they do it with so much grace and love that it is beautiful to see. But I’m over here, doing a terrible job raising my own four, barely scraping by, hanging onto my sanity by my fingernails, and turning our home into a place of anger, frustration, bitterness and fear. All the grace and love and joy that I want to raise my children with is being suffocated by my own sheer terror at the thought of another pregnancy, and another, and another.

The Ogre didn’t say much. We’re in the same boat, me and him. Me terrified of the physical, mental and emotional toll wrought by more children, and him terrified of the financial weight on our already sinking ship. To tell the truth, I think he’s equally terrified at the thought of losing me to a complete nervous breakdown, or a heart attack or stroke brought on by overwhelming stress. And neither of us have any answers. We know what the Church says. We know that we ought to have faith, and trust. Personally, I don’t think I have any faith or trust left in me. I think that well was depleted by the last two pregnancies, immediately following courses in new methods of NFP. Ones that, we were assured, would really work. Is it possible that we did it wrong, that I misread signs, that it’s all down to user error? Absolutely. I’d even say it’s probable. But there’s only so much perfection in reading signs and charting that can be expected from a sleep-deprived, over-stretched mother whose every bathroom break is accompanied by a toddler or two. And there’s only so much abstinence that can reasonably be expected of a couple not in a Josephine marriage. Seven, eight months last time? I lost count. How long this time? A year, two? And how do we deal with the incredible strain that so much abstinence places on our marriage? The frustrated desires, the feelings of rejection, the guilt, the anger, the loneliness?

So, pray, the priest tells me. Pray for peace. Yes, I will pray. I will pray without hoping, from a place quite near despair. And I will write about it, even though perhaps I shouldn’t, because someone will certainly tell me in the comment box or over email that I am giving scandal, that I should set a better example of Catholic faith in this very public forum. But this is faith. This is what a life of faith can be like, what it very often is like, even for people much holier than I. And in this Year of Faith, I suspect that everyone’s faith will be tested. So I’ll add an addendum to my prayer for peace…that when the Year of Faith ends, I still have mine.

  • http://hannahandhorn.blogspot.com/ Hannah

    Tough choices. My prayers will be with you.

  • Catherine

    You might try this : http://www.natural-family-planning.info/standard-days-method.htm

    No charting, temperature, symptoms…just a small calendar and a bit of abstinance. Praying for you.

    • Don Gwinn

      It would be a bad idea to try that unless you want another child. I’m not trying to be mean or come off as the arrogant wannabe-scientist sneering at the “natural” method, simply pointing out that this method is proven unreliable in the real world.

  • http://www.montessorimessy.com Sarah Scherrer

    I will thank Goodness for your honesty, with yourself and with your readers. And I will thank Goodness for your talent and courage at articulating things that are hard to describe. Please keep up the good work.

  • Erin

    Thank you for the beautiful post, beautiful for being so real. I identified with much of what you wrote.

    I thought I’d mention something. After my first baby was born I chose a method of breastfeeding called ecological breastfeeding and continued to nurse my girl long after her first birthday. I did not get a period until my baby was nineteen months old! I was personally grateful for that break in my fertility.
    I feel shy to offer this comment because I don’t want to sound like this is some cure all for the difficulties of motherhood. I just know that it worked for me and I share it because until two years ago I had no clue the effect that frequent nursing can have on some women’s fertility. Here is a link to an article explaining this effect in case anyone is interested.

  • pagansister

    One more thing, JoAnna, IMO there would not be a God who would condemn a woman for using the intelligence she was born with to determine how many children she wished to have. and acting on it. After all, NFP is used with the intent to NOT get pregnant. What is unfortunate it that it is very unreliable—lots of NFP children. ABC is a mortal sin? Really? Not in my opinion.

    • pagansister

      Unfortunately JoAnna, I didn’t put this in the right place! Should have followed my Nov. 30, 2012 at 10:36 PM post I did under your Nov. 30, 2012, 6:49PM post. Sorry.

  • http://intimategeography.wordpress.com Barbara

    Hi Calah

    The postpartum will pass, so to will the anxiety. God really does give us the grace to get through these moments which seem, in the pit of life, to be insurmountable. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like giving up in the last year. I too found myself pregnant at the most inopportune time (my husband has been unemployed for a very long time, and I’m still finishing off a graduate degree I started well before my conversion). As soon as I held that baby in my arms, however, I knew everything was going to be all right, that He would take care of us and we would be okay. We’re still in financial difficulty, but we’re surviving a day at a time and I have the most immense joy.

    I really wish people would just stop, STOP! recommending birth control as a solution. I had one person after another, counsellors, friends, parents, relatives, doctor after doctor saying it like a chant. I want to scream to all of you, and them: You’re not helping! Birth Control will not make the financial difficulties, or the postpartum, or the exhaustion, or other problems go away. It will just put a brick wall between a Catholic woman trying to live her faith in a sincere and consistent manner and the one source of love and support who never fails her. Yours isn’t a solution, its a temptation. Your smiling, fluffy, relativistic therapeutic approach is holding out an apple of temptation that will bring with it its own problems. Respect that I and Calah are Catholics, we do not need to be told to renounce our Church’s teachings as a solution because you don’t agree with them. We need to be loved and supported on our own terms as such. If you can’t do that, then keep silent and pray for us.

    • http://www.ignitumtoday.com/author/elizabeth-fox/ Elizabeth

      What a wonderful response. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to believe that obedience to the Church’s teachings, no matter how difficult, will ultimately protect us from the suffering and sickness of sin. It’s almost cold comfort, but as Fr. Benedict Groeschel if fond of saying “If you trust God, the evilest thing that could happen to you won’t.”

    • pagansister

      Using ABC doesn’t make a Catholic woman a “bad Catholic”, Barbara. I’ve known many a faithful Catholic woman who on purpose had 1-3 children and stopped.

      • Karen

        They may call themselves faithful Catholics, pagansister, but they are rejecting Church teaching. They are in fact what some call “cafeteria Catholics.” Choosing what to believe and follow. Or, as my parents are ,”CINOS”, or Catholics in Name Only. My mother attends Mass, receives the Eucharist, and calls herself Catholic, but she thinks the Pope should teach that the Pill is okay and abortion is acceptable. That is not Catholic.

        I’m not saying your friends are bad or going to hell or anything like that. It’s not for me to decide, after all. But they are rejecting Church teaching, and as Catholics we are called to be the light of the Church, not the selective kaleidoscope of the Church.

      • Barbara

        Pagan, with all due respect, that is relativism. Catholicism doesn’t do relativism. There is right and there is wrong. There is a good way to live and a bad way to live. God makes hard demands on us; He insists that we cultivate virtue, not that we do what makes us feel happy. He’s like a personal trainer for the soul, working us to leanness and compassion, not a doting grandmother who gives us candy even when we’re five hundred pounds. It is this vital difference which is why I left neopaganism in the first place. Neopagan gods and goddesses demand nothing, Jesus demands us to be more than we are, to move beyond our comfort zone and self-centered desires. Catholics who use birth control may be sincere in belief, but not in practice. The reason I don’t listen to the voices like yourself, who sounds exactly like my mother by the way, is because I don’t want anything coming between me and God. My other sins are a constant battle, why add another one?

        • Barbara

          Also, one more thing. The God I worship demanded that his own Son go down to Earth and get himself good and killed in order that we humans would recognize the darkness that lives and nests among us and turn away from it. He asks hard things sometimes, but always for some good end.

        • pagansister

          Barbara and Karen: Several of those women I mentioned are and were teachers I taught with for 10 years in a Catholic school. None of the teachers I worked with (all Catholic except me and one other teacher) had more than 3 children, actually one had 4. Several were young enough to be my daughter. They had no problem with ABC. So, you may call them cafeteria Catholics but from what I saw, they were very faithful Catholics. Karen and Barbara, I totally agree with your mothers, from what I read in your posts. :o) Barbara, sounds like you tried being Pagan. In all honesty, I do not worship any gods or goddesses. I was raised Methodist. At 17 realized what I was being taught made no sense. I found that worshiping someone invisible etc. very strange. Married a born UU during college, & we raised our 2 children in the UU tradition. They have made up their own minds about religion, which was what we wanted them to do. From my parents they got the Methodist (Christian if you will) point of view, and when they were little attended the Vacation Bible summer schools. I refused to tell them there was a God, I told them I had no idea, which I is true. My 2 sisters are very devote Christians. I consider myself “pagan” due to the fact the I do not consider Jesus “divine” , but was human like everyone else. As for a God? Who knows? IMO, there is no religion that is superior to another. All are equal, and are only important to their followers. Wars have been fought and people killed due to religion. What a waste of human life. Having said all that, I love being inside churches of any denomination. Attending the student mass once a month was special, and calming. The church was 100 years old and beautiful—huge. Obviously I didn’t receive communion. I taught kindergarteners, so mostly I was watching them and helping them respond etc. but they weren’t receiving communion yet either. So, as one of my beautiful sisters says—I’m spiritual not religious….a label I take with no problem. I have symbols of all religions in my house, except a crucifix, but I do have a couple of Celtic crosses on the wall. Sacred spaces come in all forms—and can be in all places, not just inside a church or mosques or temples etc. Having had the good fortune to go inside Stonehenge, I found that to be as sacred and calming as being inside the churches I visited while in England also. I know you both are sincere in your beliefs and your loyalty to your Church. I respect that even though I don’t agree with it. All religions have good advise and guide lines as well as some that are not what I would consider good advise at all! I take my beliefs from many faiths. Merry Christmas ( a little early) to you both!!

    • Emmers

      The postpartum will pass, so too will the anxiety

      They will pass faster, most likely, with treatment. If you’re not already, Calah, please talk to your OB/GYN or pediatrician about post-partum depression and anxiety — they can give you the resources you need to help you manage these issues.

      Read http://ask.metafilter.com/176089/Is-parenting-going-to-suck-forever too, and know that it *won’t* suck forever, that you *can* get through this.

      Consider, too, what God wants — does he truly want you to be miserable and sick? Or would he want you to be happy, content, and imperfect?

  • Maggie

    IT WILL GET EASIER. I remember well the hallmark version I had in my head before my first child was born. And then being so angry and frustrated with my life and myself because motherhood was nothing like I thought it would be and I felt like I was the only one in the world who sucked at it. Being an introvert, I found out I wasn’t much of a toddler/baby person. The constant non-stop needs of the little people drove me insane at the time. There were many days of crying in the bathroom while my kids banged on the door. Funny though, now that we are far, far away from those years; what I wouldn’t give to hold them and smell their new baby smell for just a minute. But I love my teenagers. They are my kind of people.

    We survived those years by trading with another family “babysitting bucks”. We created paper money with denominations of 1/2 hour and 1 hour increments on them. Gave each of us 10 hours worth of money and used those to trade with each other for babysitting. It worked great because neither one of us could afford to pay a sitter and the babysitting bucks kept us from taking advantage of each other time wise since once we ran out we had to earn more back by trading. At the time my husband had to talk me into it because I could not fathom taking care of someone else children. But I’m so glad we did it because I found one of my dearest friends in other mom, and my kid’s developed a cousin like relationship with the other kids which worked out great as we had no other family in the area at the time.

    My husband came from a very, very large family. His mom survived those years when there were still babies in the house by finding a neighbor lady to watch the kids while she went to daily mass for a sanity break. He said she cried and prayed a lot. (But there was a lot of laughter too!) And if you bothered Mom while she was praying and no one was bleeding you would be in big, big trouble. But if you could see his family now. Simply beautiful. The blessings of all that support and love now that they are all grown is awesome. And my husband’s parents are two of the most peaceful, joyful people I’ve ever met. But theirs was a peace and joy earned by many, many trials, tears, and prayer.

    You will get through this. With prayer, possibly medication, time alone, mass, confession, tears, screams, finding a close confidant, exercise, and sleep. Just know you are NOT ALONE.

  • Melissa

    I know this may seem patronizing, so for that I apologize. From an outsiders prospective it looks like God is giving you an awful lot on your plate and for whatever reason wants you to offer it up. I hate hearing that when I’m suffering. A good friend of mine reminded me last year that if there is something God does not waste it is suffering. Who knows maybe the suffering you offer up will be enough to grant the Grace for a deathbed conversion for one of your loved ones, maybe even one of your children if they (heaven forbid) lose the faith. I wouldn’t toil over the NFP. God will give you what he wills you to have. If He wants you to suffer right now and you were to even use contraception he may just give you a worse suffering, something completely different than back to back pregnancies. He does this because we each need it. Why? We’ll find out one day.

    By simply obliging to God’s Will, without any love-dovy feelings that you’d like to have you are doing more than the person who isn’t struggling spiritually. That’s part of the beauty of the Catholic Faith. It’s real. It’s raw. You don’t have to want to go to Mass, you don’t have to ‘feel’ good about God and life, you just have to endure whatever it is God sends you. Maybe see if you can find time, even once a month to visit the Blessed Sacrament alone… no children. I once in confession was trying to understand how some of my protestant friends could have multiple babies, spotless houses, hair always done, have no excess weight, go on trips, have an income close to mine (aka not much)… etc, etc, and the Priest (after chuckling) reminded me that God is just and if God knows someone is not going to save their soul he grants them the pleasure to which they are due for good works and such while on this earth. It was sobering. I’ll be honest, I’m struggling a lot right now with getting to confession and praying. Another good friend and mother of 12 (she home schools too) told me that the only way she can keep a spiritual life and not give up is to read a spiritual book every morning for five minutes. You have to keep filling yourself up in order to have any Grace to output. Keep your chin up. It won’t always be this bad and hard, and you’ll be thanking God when you’re on your death bed for all of these struggles. If anything you’ll find yourself with little or no purgatory. I have another friend who is expecting her 6th.. her blood pressure is high enough to warrant a hospital stay but she can’t because of all of her children at home, which she home schools. They live in a 800 sq ft home with two small bedrooms… and she home schools. When we spoke last week and I couldn’t help but comment on what a crappy situation she has she reminded me that if this is her purgatory, then it’s how God wills it. She also reminded me that it could be worse, her children are healthy, they’re driving her crazy, but they are happy and they know and love God. Her house is not very peaceful, but if God wants her to have a peaceful house then he’s going to have to find her one.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers. Add me to yours too please. I’m miscarrying my fourth right now and we move into our new house in a week. I’ve been on bed rest for two weeks now.

    Deo Gratias!

    • pagansister

      “……you just have to ENDURE whatever it is God sends you” You are serious? This loving God that you worship apparently likes to “send suffering”? Not any representation of a god I would want to have anything to do with. Having a boatload of children one after another with no reliable spacing techniques due to the “sinful” nature of ABC, is IMO just not using the brains that that divine being was supposed to have handed out! There is nothing good about suffering.

      • Melissa

        Very few people ‘like’ to suffer. I’m sure there are Saints in heaven that suffered so perfectly that they came close to loving it, in so much that it brought them closer spiritually to Christ. Speaking of suffering though, Christ suffered on the cross, St. Peter some however many years later was crucified, upside down and suffered terribly, the remainder of the apostles suffered. The North American Martyrs who converted many native american tribes suffered horrifically, just awful… If we as Christians claim that God truly is who we believe Him to be, then why should we not have full confidence in his authority in our lives? My four year old today suffered what she thought a terrible injustice when I refused her a cookie at 4:45pm… little did she understand that in a mere 15 minutes I was about to serve a healthy dinner which her body needs and her cookie would have ruined her appetite and had her up at 3:30 in the morning starving and crying. If we as Christians claim to have faith that God can raise himself from the dead after three days, know our futures, etc, etc, then why would this God not know what is truly best for us? It would be another story all together if I stood out in a busy street, waiting to be hit by a car because I felt the need to suffer. I would be a hypocrite if I claimed to have full faith in God, but except in the bedroom… since God has NO idea what is involved in raising children. I don’t know why I have to suffer the things I’ve had to suffer, but I can honestly say that many of my earlier sufferings have all been brought around to really great things for me. God knows we are going to have to suffer and so he sent his son, who asked us to pick up our Crosses and follow him. I don’t love to suffer, but I do know that it is easier when I remember that Christ suffered worse, and then I humble myself and tell God that if He will allow me to suffer then I will in good spirit for his sake, and I offer him my suffering. I’m sure that even though you don’t believe in God you have suffered much. So, my belief in God has not created suffering, but simply made it easier, with consolation and understanding. You think that because we Catholics welcome children as God sends them that we are in fact bringing suffering upon ourselves? Do you spend much time with lonely elderly people who decided to not suffer dirty diapers, back to back pregnancies, hand me down clothes, not more children then they could afford to take on elaborate vacations? I know lots of adult children of big families who had hard upbringings, but who relish in their large families, who easily support their ailing parents, since there are so many children to help out. They often have happy families. Sure there are Catholic parents who impart as little love to their children as parents of no faith who never wanted children and whose abortions failed, but I can say that it is of no fault of Church teaching. I’ll bet those Catholics were little more than Catholic in name. I know plenty of miserable baby boomers who ‘had it all’, career, career and family, the ‘appropriate’ number of children, one boy, one girl, as they became teenagers they had enough money for fancy trips, son could play hockey, etc, etc… but for some strange reason most of those families seem to end up with selfish adolescents, and later young adults who do little but bother with their equally self absorbed parents. The families that stand out I notice are usually the ones who as a family suffered together. Maybe Dad lost his job and rather than spiralling into pity and despair accepted his situation, did the best he could and taught his children to still love God. Maybe this family lost their house, went from wearing Gap to thrift, but pulled through as a family. Maybe Mom who was used to lunches out and her weekly aerobics class supported her husband and didn’t spend a penny more than was necessary. See, if we don’t understand suffering then we don’t suffer properly, with the right mentality. Then we are easily led to despair. Think of all the men when the stock market crashed who put guns in their mouths, just in time for their little girls and boys to find them with their brains all over the walls. What if those men humbled themselves, hung up their suits, even with gritted teeth and worked alongside the ditch diggers? What sort of example would they have shown their children? Daddy will work, even when the going gets tough, because he loves you, not ditch digging.
        I believe that there is a hereafter that God has created me for and based on the example and life of Christ I know that this earth and life can be cruel. Heaven will not be, but we have to prove ourselves worthy of Christ’s sacrifice by having complete faith in God in order to make it to Heaven. The Devil thought he had God in the bag after the crucifixion, but then God conquered death. Christ’s apostles who abandoned him during his crucifixion were filled with the Graces God promised he would send on Pentecost Sunday so much so that they themselves did not fear their own deaths. Really consider that for a moment. They SAW Christ raise people from the dead, WALK on water, multiply bread and fish, AND THEY STILL fled during the death of Christ, then they turned to despair that he’d been killed… even after Jesus told them that he would rise from the dead. God must have made good on his promise of Grace sent by the Holy Ghost, otherwise how else could one explain the courage these men had from thence on? The Catholic Church teaches that we do not just receive Grace from God as some lovely feeling that we magically manifest for ourselves, but instead something that we actually receive through a sacrament, which was originally instituted by Christ. We have to receive Grace via the Sacraments. The same way the Jews ate the Manna that fell from the sky, in the perfect quantity, every day for 40 years, we receive the Holy Eucharist whose only earthy ingredient is it’s appearance. This imparts Grace to us which we NEED in order to be able to endure all the awful things that life has in store for all of us… pagan or not. The Catholic Church has seven sacraments and all are necessary, without them ‘something’ is alway missing. My protestant friends are constantly ‘searching’ for the truth, trying to better understand, trying to fit it all together, and make it ‘fuzzy’ inside. that’s why many of them can’t relate to a Catholic’s easier acceptance of reality. Before 1930 there was no protestant denomination that did not condemn contraception and the mentality behind it. They all eventually gave in. All except the Catholic Church. It may appear that Catholics ‘submit’ and can’t think for themselves, but with all the ‘searching’ that goes on in the protestant denominations isn’t it possible that Catholics have a solid backing to rest their heads on, and that is why, day after day they choose to remain Catholic? I once listened to a conversion story of a Presbyterian minister’s wife and she said that while in bible college her class was split into groups and her group was to discuss Catholic teaching on contraception. Out of the five students, four were willing to just laugh off the topic, claim stupid women submission and ego centred Priests and go on with their day. This woman stopped them and forced them to really THINK about it. Really… are these women who have to endure pregnancies, extra weight gain, labour really mindless zombies? Isn’t is possible there is more to the Catholic teaching? So she investigated and through the Bible alone determined that yes, in fact the Catholic Church is onto something. Do you know that in the Bible there is only one explicit, detailed mention of sex. ONLY one.. and in that bible story a man and his wife try to have sex and prevent conception by pulling out. God responds immediately by killing the man. God created sex and through sex, intended for married people God populates the world with children he Wills and imparts Souls to. Any Catholic woman will tell you that she does not get pregnant at every single opportunity. She can go months or years in between pregnancies, without any medical condition, use of contraception, or NFP. God plans babies, we co-operate, or we risk sinning against God. Sin kills our souls. When we die if we are in mortal sin we go to Hell. Period. Maybe you just haven’t realized yet that in order to not hate suffering and God you need some help that was designed with you perfectly in mind. Those men that shot their brains out I’m sure God wanted them to rise to the occasion with humility, not kill themselves. I’m sure they would have also been rewarded on this earth with families who were grateful, with much more rewarding to come in Heaven.
        I would encourage you to read up on some truly amazing stories of recent canonized Saints. Padre Pio would be an excellent choice. He died in 1968 and was the first Priest EVER to have the Stigmata. I see you are a pagan. I’ll bet you that if you let out one quiet, honest prayer to St. Pio to intercede that you know the truth of God, you might just be surprised. This is the best way to find out. Many people pray that if a certain suffering ends they will believe, but God doesn’t seem to work on bribes. If you can’t bring yourself to pray do read up on St. Pio. Medically he lost enough blood to not live, he knew the confessions of strangers, before they even made it to the confessional, the day he died his stigmata completely disappeared with no trace of any scarring.
        Catholicism is not a cheesy, fly by night religion. You will not find big ‘horrah’ sessions with cheesy, mega watt smiling pastors encouraging us to share our feelings and how God has done whatever in our lives. It’s real. It has a honest, reliable explanation for it’s self and for all it asks of us. Albeit there are many Priests today and Bishops who do such a poor job of defending the faith that it could be nearly impossible to find solid, real Catholic answers, but if one gets past any ‘kumbaya’ parish Priest or Bishop and reads some older, honest material on Catholicism one would find solid, refreshing, reason. TAN publishers have nothing but excellent and reliable Catholic resources.

        PS. It is difficult to find multiple protestants who agree on simple Bible translations, let alone whole tenants of a organized religion. Consider that there are hundreds upon hundreds of Saints that do not contradict one another at all… even from the times when two were alive at the same time, in different parts of the world, with no knowledge of one another. Saints who insisted God exists, and that there is only one true religion intended by God, who later when they died had their bodies never corrupt, or when they were exhumed had as well a sweet scent, with no prior embalming. St. Joan of Arc, after she was burned at the stake her heart was left. Beating. In perfect condition. Her murderers knew they had sinned gravely against God, so to hide their shame and the truth they threw the beating heart into a river. The miracles of the Holy Eucharist that have turned from bread to physical pieces of human flesh, even the ones hundreds of years old have been studied under the microscope and found to be live heart tissue. All of the same heart. The cells are still beating. There are protestants every day who take a real look into what God must have reasonably meant when he spoke about one sheep and one fold who come to understand that it has to encompass all that the Church claims, all the while not realizing until the end of their search that the only Church God intended was the Catholic Church.

        There has to be a reason for life, otherwise it would all be too cruel.

        • pagansister

          It is obvious that the Church has you totally convinced, Melissa, so I certainly won’t bother to try and change your mind. My husband and I raised our 2 children who didn’t turn out selfish and uncaring of others. We don’t and didn’t live an extravagant life stye. We’re just regular folks. We raised them in the UU tradition, where they were taught about all faiths, as well has how to help others who are in need. They have done just what we wanted them to do—made up their own minds as to faith. They and their spouses are loving, caring human beings and that was not due to a restrictive religion that threatened them with being watched by a supreme being. I cannot agree that just because a Church tells you that a supreme being is in control of your reproduction (gives you children) that you as an intelligent human being doesn’t question if being pregnant all the time is a good thing. As to the NT stories of Jesus and his special nature and coming back to life etc. I do not believe any of it, even though I was taught that for my first 17 years. Jesus was a totally human being, who taught things that were new for that time and place. He imparted some very good ideas but so did many other prophets. I don’t remember Jesus saying that all women were good for was having kids. In the times he was born and for centuries after families needed to be large because many children died early and the only reliable form of birth control was not having sex. Many women died having children (which I guess means they went to heaven), Also children were needed to help the family make a living. Today however, in many cases families don’t have to suffer a child’s early death nor are they needed to work the fields so having 10 or more more kids isn’t a necessity. Many Catholic families are much smaller now for many reasons, not the least of which is ABC. I watched my my mother suffer and die over a period of 3 years from Parkinson’s. I find no redemption in suffering at all.

  • Don Gwinn

    This is heartbreaking. Frankly, I blame the church, too, and I don’t feel a bit guilty about that. You seem to be getting a lot of advice that amounts to telling you that you don’t know how to run your own life. You examine your life so carefully, so well, and with such honest clarity, but that doesn’t do you enough good when you have to take all that hard-won insight and throw it away because your church disagrees.

    I wish I could help you. I wish you could see your church the way I see it: one more church in a landscape awash with them, all claiming to be the one true way–even if one of them had the one true faith, the rest would have to be wrong. If you could allow for the possibility that they’re just simply wrong about some things, I think you’d be amazed at your own strength and wisdom before long.

  • Teresa Klemme

    Precious lady…thank you for voicing what so many feel. Prayers are with you.