Each one of us, every single one of us, is born with the genius, the miraculous, unearned, inborn talent of sainthood within us; and every single one of us is also called to a life of hard work, discipline, and the persistent development of our consciences and wills.
It is a mystery why some people seem to take to a life in Christ so easily, willingly and eagerly gravitating toward prayer and self-sacrifice and acts of charity. It is a mystery why some people seem to have so many struggles, so much to overcome, so many unfair trials and obstacles, making even the smallest bit of spiritual progress feel unnatural and burdensome.
This puts me in a strange position. When I think about this issue, I feel my very existence questioned. As a disabled woman, I have been told flat out, “I’d rather be dead than be like you.” Even the Dalai Lama has said that aborting a fetus with a disability is understandable. How do I begin to hold this contradiction in my mind? That I am a valid, beautiful human being — as are all my friends, some of whom have much severer impairments — and that I also support women’s right to choose, a right that logically must extend to a woman who ends a pregnancy because of the prospect of an extra finger? I don’t know the answer, but somehow, I believe the treatment I received as a disabled woman who chose to conceive — the disrespect, the testing, the constant questioning of my capacity to give birth and to be a mother — and my response to it fit into this equation.
This follows a 2016 ruling by France’s Conseil d’État endorsing a broadcasting tribunal’s 2014 decision to prohibit a commercial portraying Down Syndrome children as joyful individuals loved by their parents because it might distress those who chose to terminate an unborn disabled child.
Reflecting upon these developments, I couldn’t help thinking how much France owes to one particular Down Syndrome child: a young girl who struggled to speak, needed assistance to walk, and who died of pneumonia at the age of 20 cradled in her father’s arms. Anne de Gaulle’s father, however, was no ordinary man.
Charles de Gaulle was surely the twentieth century’s greatest Frenchman. Yet for all his achievements, the ultimate drama of de Gaulle’s life was his helpless daughter. What Anne gave to him, however, was immeasurable. As de Gaulle confided to a priest at the beginning of his lonely crusade in 1940 to save France’s honor, “for me, this child is a grace, she is my joy, she helps me to look beyond all the failures and honors, and always to look higher.”
For so many years, I imagined that the reason I was unhappy, anxious, lonely, depressed, etc was because I wasn’t married. That wasn’t true, but at the time it really felt true. As I grew in wisdom and understanding throughout my 20s (mostly through observing my married friends and family), the idol I had made of marriage was mercifully destroyed. Before I ever met Kristian, I understood the following: Marriage will not make you happy (although a good marriage can definitely contribute to your happiness). Marriage will not fix your problems (although your spouse can help you face your problems and love you through them). Marriage is not a guarantee against loneliness (although it does help mitigate some loneliness). Marriage is not God. Marriage is a vocation, a path to heaven, and as such is meant to draw you closer to the only One who can truly satisfy you.
Okay, so it would appear that the Church lumps yoga in with New Age spirituality. But what about my kind of yoga? You know, the benign kind practiced at 24 Hour Lifestyle or my kid’s school? Fr. Michael asked if I really believed that my intentions could strip the inherent meaning away from a thing. He made the analogy of going to Mass as a nonbeliever, mimicking the poses of genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, and perhaps even doing so out of a desire to mock the Mass. “Would it change what was happening on the altar? Isn’t there some spiritual reality taking place there, whether or not the nonbeliever admits to it?”
For anyone who has spent time in the dance world, it’s well-known that it’s difficult to find studios that continue teaching age appropriate choreography to the 12 and older crowd. But let me remind you that my daughters are THREE and FIVE. Even toddlers aren’t safe from being sexualized?!
I’m not okay with someone sexualizing my small children, but I’m even less okay with paying someone a hefty monthly fee to do it.
…Having a class without great instruction isn’t ideal. Choreography that sexualizes toddlers and young children is unacceptable. But training kids to ignore their inner voice about things pertaining to their bodies that make them uncomfortable is downright dangerous. I want to teach my kids to LISTEN to their intuition, not be taught to ignore it.
Marguerite Duane, FACTS, “Petition the CDC: Women and medical professionals need accurate information on family planning”:
Like Noelle’s doctor, most medical professionals, along with prominent websites on women’s health and reports in the media, generally discount this option, because they are told that FABMs have a 24% “failure” rate.
But this rate is not accurate.
…Fertility Awareness Based Methods are left out of women’s viable family planning options in large part because the information published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not accurately reflect effectiveness rates for individual FABMs based on the highest quality research. Since many health professionals and medical organizations rely on the CDC for accurate information, it is important that we ask the CDC to update its website with evidence-based data that shows the accurate effectiveness rates of modern FABMs for preventing pregnancy.
Correct information is KEY to helping women make their own informed choices about family planning methods.
Then, if you’re like me, a funny thing will happen once you start reading regularly. You’ll remember that you really do like to read. Of course, it’s always easier not to. Reading is “effortful fun,” not effortless fun like watching TV. It demands something of you. But it gives a lot of pleasure back, and when you’re reminded of that daily, it becomes a lot easier to keep going.
When widespread contraception use makes sex-without-kids an expectation, it is easy for our culture to ignore or forget that for most women, sex does eventually lead to kids. The blessing and burden of having and caring for children is “owned” by mothers as their personal problem to sort out.
An authentic feminism would recognize women’s exceptional baby-creating power as a “good” and would help girls prepare for the best pregnancy and child-raising experiences. It would prepare young women to make choices in sex, relationships, marriage and family formation that support their empowerment, well-being, and the well-being of their children. It would also work to make society a place where families can make career choices that support caregiving.