Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday - The Pope breaks with liturgical rules

I'm overjoyed, delighted, touched that Pope Francis decided to continue the tradition he started in his home country to wash the feet of juvenile detainees (including women!) in Italy on Holy Thursday instead of what popes traditionally do this day which is, "carry out the foot washing ritual in Rome's grand St. John Lateran basilica.  The 12 people chosen for the ritual were always priests to represent the 12 apostles whose feet Jesus washed during the Last Supper before His crucfixion." 

This act apparently got a Canon lawyer all hot and bothered because he said, "liturgical law expressly limits participation in that rite to adult males, and I have consistently called on Catholics, clerics and laity alike, to observe this pontifically-promulgated law in service to the unity (dare I say, the catholicity) of liturgy (c. 837)."  He went on to say that he found the Pope's actions "inspiring."  But, as a fairly new Catholic, I guess you can find a Christian act inspiring but still know it violates some Church law and be OK with it all.  Huh.

The Vatican spokesman we all know and love, the Reverend Frederico Lombardi said, what I found terribly interesting, "in a 'grand solemn celebration' of the rite, only men are included because Christ washed the feet of his 12 apostles, all of whom were male.

'Here, the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women,' Lombardi wrote in an email. 'Excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all, in a group that certainly didn't include experts on liturgical rules.'"

Am I reading this right?  If the feet washing on Holy Thursday would have been in a grand solemn celebration, of course we would and should exclude women because Jesus clearly only favored the service of men, the Twelve Apostles.  But, because the new rogue Pope wanted to go to a kiddie prison, we had to wash girl feet because well, we are the one, true Church, heirs to St. Peter, and excluding girls would be majorly inopportune in light of those facts and we should be all about love here (that's what Jesus preached), and besides, there were no Canon lawyers in the jail to stop us.  Or, maybe I'm just cynical this week (in some arenas).  I'm terribly grateful God has given me a lively, happy Holy Week.

Why are infertiles being swept into the gay marriage debate?

Yesterday, I started a letter to Archbishop Cordileone.  I'll post it here once it's finished.  The first version was quite aggressive (my natural tone) but in the shower this morning had some ideas spring to mind to make it more diplomatic.  Not that I feel diplomacy is necessary but I figure I should give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't trying to hurt infertiles' feelings.  The same can't be said for a few people over at Little Catholic Bubble.  In the latest post (as of an hour ago) I think Leila buries herself into a deeper hole by saying this:
Because fertility is not required for marriage (never has been), only the ability to complete the marital act. Sometimes, due to defect, disease or age (effects of the fallen world), children do not come from acts which are by their nature ordered toward procreation. (Of course, many couples deemed infertile later do conceive… as the Bible says, "God opens and closes the womb". The creation of children is ultimately in His hands. But the act that makes children is the principle act of marriage; it's what separates marriage from friendship.)
First of all, I'm again glad to know that our infertility is because of the "effects of the fallen world."  That's strange because God Himself said in Genesis 3:16 (NIV version) because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

I remember from last Sunday's (Palm Sunday) gospel reading (the Passion) Jesus says in Luke 23:29, "For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’" 

And I do appreciate Leila proclaiming that God's favor might fall upon me and I will conceive but I think for most of us infertiles, we've become blue in the face telling fertiles not to tell us that it's "All in God's time."  I've always rejected this crazy notion some bloggers have that because they are fertile God favors them more or because they can't get pregnant, God's punishing them for something they did.  I categorically reject that theory.

I also contend that sexual intercourse is NOT the principal act of marriage.  You might need to initially consumate a marriage to make it a legal marriage.  I think you used to be able in some countries or some states to nullify a marriage if you NEVER had sex.  But, you don't need to keep knockin' the boots to retain your status as a married person.

If Catholics want to base their argument against gay marriage on procreation i.e., you have heterosexual sex, you get pregnant, you carry a child to term, you give birth to that child, and then you raise that child until age 18 (well, now it's to 25 or more), as the only thing distinguising marriage as a sacred union and in the Church, a sacrament, Houston, we've got a problem.

I think a very mature attitude about a Christian marriage is that it's not about sex.  You heard it here first: If you are basing the quality of your marriage on the quality of the sex or having any sex at all, you're shallow.  Christian marriage is a vocation!!!!  It is one of the greatest opportunities for ministry.  If you are encouraging, supporting, and lovingly challenging your spouse in their Christian faith, you are a good husband/wife.  You are in a good, holy marriage.

I get that the Church wants to enter into the debate against civil gay marriage.  But, why are you divorcing your argument from your faith and making it all about sex, conception, birth, and parenting?  Isn't it enough to say that God says homosexual acts are wrong, bad, etc. and then say He ordained marriage between a man and a woman as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His Church?  That's good stuff for me and it prevents everybody from having to tap dance around (or just stomp on) the infertile and elderly. 

For some in this debate those words are interchangable because despite being a lawyer for the OPPONENTS of same-sex marriage, Charles J. Cooper couldn't be bothered to educate himself on infertility when his whole argument is that gay marriage "will refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples."  The key to marriage, he said, is procreation. 

He went on to say (and I quoted part of this as the title of my last post) "even with respect to couples over the age of 55 -- it is very rare that both couples -- both parties to the couple are infertile..."  I think Mr. Cooper spends too much time in his office.  As we NFPers know, if even one party is infertile, you are both infertile by definition because it takes two to tango.  Well, three.  Dr. Hilgers tells us that you need good sperm, good egg(s), and good cervical mucus to conceive.  In our case, we need more than that 'cause we've got all three and it's a non-starter.

I'm really secretly delighted this whole debate is swallowing up infertiles and spitting them out like a speck of dust in someone's eye.  I have joined, not by choice or desire, an extreme minority in human society.  I cannot get pregnant, am making zero moves to try and get pregnant through medical intervention, and won't adopt.  I am living according to my principles and my faith.  I am doing the right thing.

I know that there are bad apples in every bunch but it's very sad to me to see so many people who view their faith as pure and their understanding of it - perfect, throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water (I couldn't help myself.) 

I'm starting to realize my voice here on the Internets is important.  If I am going to be apart of that tiny minority, I will not shrink away.  I will defend the life that has been handed to me and I will advocate for my community. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

" is very rare... that both parties to the couple are infertile"

What?!?!  WHAT?!?!?!  Oh my gosh.  Holy Week and this is the stuff that's going on?  Did I just hear the word "infertile" uttered in the United States Supreme Court House?  I had to come out of semi-retirement for this.  This is big news.  And I was really dying for some Catholic bloggers to chime in on this issue, and one in particular didn't disappoint.  I was having so much fun being outraged today.

Let's establish some ground rules here.  I live in California.  I vote.  I voted in 2008.  I even voted "Yes" on Prop 8.  Shocker.  Elitist gays don't like that blacks and Latinos tend not to condone gay marriage and they helped Prop 8 pass in 2008 so they take this case to the courts and yo, it ends up in the Supreme Court where it looks likely that the justices won't rule on it.  It makes perfect sense to me that the SCOTUS won't rule on something so momentous to our society so soon into the debate.  Yes, that's good, sound reasoning.

But what has got me all excited?????  It's that the lawyer arguing in favor of Prop 8 tied his whole friggin' argument against gay marriage to the procreation argument.  And then the Archbishop of San Francisco jumped on the bandwagon.  Really?  Is that all these people have?

And holes were punched all through that argument.  Kagan asked if the government could deny a marriage license to couples over the age of 55.  Would that be unconstitutional?  Well, yes it would and the... well, do me a favor and listen to that excerpt of the hearing today.

And Cordileone gets in on the action:

Q: You have spoken of gay marriage as a "natural impossibility." But in terms of procreation, how does it differ from opposite-sex couples who are elderly or infertile?
A: Our bodies have meaning. The conjugal union of a man and a woman is not a factory to produce babies; marriage seeks to create a total community of love, a "one flesh" union of mind, heart and body that includes a willingness to care for any children their bodily union makes together.
Two men and two women can certainly have a close loving committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do.
Infertility is, as you point out, part of the natural life cycle of marriage (people age!), as well as a challenge and disappointment some husbands and wives have to go through. People who have been married for 50 years are no less married because they can no longer have children.
Adoption can be a wonderful happy ending for children who lack even one parent able or willing to care for them. But notice, when a man and woman cannot have children together, that's an accident of circumstances, the exception to the rule. When a husband and wife adopt, they are mirroring the pattern set in nature itself. ...
               Treating same-sex relationships as marriage is the final severing by government of the natural         link between marriage and the great task of bringing together male and female to make and raise the next generation together in love.

It is so comforting to know that my circumstances are viewed by an archbishop as "disappointing."  And "an accident of circumstances."  Gosh.  And all this time I interpreted my experience as an infertile as devastating, life-altering, crushing, against everything I had believed to be true.  My infertility is no more than an accident of circumstances.  That's life, suckers.  And you are being used as a pawn to support an irrational argument against gay marriage.  I can't believe my status as a female, heterosexual, married, Catholic is now tied to gay marriage.

Now, as Catholics we don't have to use half-baked arguments to support heterosexual marriage.  Don't get me wrong.  Of course, marriage is intended "for the increase of mankind."  But, it doesn't stop there.  "1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: "It is not good that the man should be alone."92 The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.93 "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh."94 The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been "in the beginning": "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."95"

I took that from the Vatican's website.  Yes, I know it's terrible citing of sources.  Marriage and the beauty and mystery of marriage has nothing to do with kids.  How a man and a woman relate to one another in a marriage is special full-stop.  Why a prominent member of the Church and Prop 8 cronies had to cheapen my (childless) marriage for their own purposes is disgusting.  To call me an "extreme minority" and toss me aside as an inconvenient outlier to their statistical model is wrong.  Infertiles are not the key to your argument against gay marriage.  Marriage is between a man and a woman can be defended with better and more compassionate arguments than that.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Break Out

A new Pope from Argentina!!!  How cool is that?

I'm now just two days shy of 15 weeks since my last haircut.  It grows slowly according to the hairdressers because I'm not taking hair growth vitamins.  Heck, if I won't take pre-natal vitamins, I'm sure not doing ones for hair.  And my face is relatively long, so I figure I'll only make it to a chin-length bob after 12 months.

Getting back to Sarah's comment on my last post... how I speak or what I write about my husband is the truth how I view it, so it's entirely biased.  I get that he come across as difficult but that's only because I tend to write out of pain and not good times.  I should probably change that habit, it might make me a more pleasant person, for sure.  My view is that we're all jerks at one time or another.  I'm a jerk.  He's a jerk.  It depends on the situation but I think that progress is all we can hope for.  It's a journey, not a destination and that's something I try to remind DH every time we hike a mountain summit.

Just today I've come out of a very dark grey fog.  But I'm seizing the moment because it feels so good to feel good. :)  My husband pointed out this morning that I've been mercilessly complaining about my life when what we have now is what I said I wanted previously.  And I just realized it today.  And so I'm a jerk.  I apologized to him for hurting him with my inconsistency.  I guess I can place the blame on the devil.  He's been leading me astray for months.  Maybe all of the pain of the last two years has finally come to a head and how I manifested the pain was by dragging my husband into Camp Loony.  I don't know.

But it has to stop.  The Misfit was right on target, along with Sarah, Kat, prayerful journey, and MFAW that the pain I'm feeling is reconciling my real life with what I had hoped for it.  I'm forever an Anne of Green Gables fan.  She says, "I can't help flying on the wings of anticipation.  It almost pays for the thud."  Well, my thud was too damn hard.  I cannot keep up this version that the life I lead is less than or deprived of the real things I should have, and the real people I should know, and the real experiences I should be having.

As any infertile who reads an entertainment magazine or former infertile blogs, the world can be a scary place.  Pregnancies and children are treated like winning the lottery.  I'm not negating the fact that children are a blessing.  Don't get me wrong.  Children are wonderful people.  But they are not the key to personal fulfillment and happiness.  Well, you know, they might be for some women and men.  But knowing what I know about life and risks is that pain exists and you cannot escape it.  So, for me, I think I can be just as unhappy with a kid if I let it be that way.  So, this is actually a comforting thought.  I can use mind over matter.

But what this also means is that I'm quitting the infertile blog business.  A lot of infertile bloggers have turned their blog theme into something really cool like decorating, or recipes and cooking.  If I had a hobby like that, I think I can make this into something.  But my house is already decorated and I only cook from recipes you can easily find yourself in a book or on the Web.  Trust me, you don't need me.  I'm flexible over how long I'll leave the site up.  I'm not sure when I'll post again.  I need to clear my head space and I'm pretty sure it'll be easier to do that if I'm not seeing pictures of babies with onesies on them saying, "Future Pope" or "Ladies Man", etc.

You wouldn't know it by reading my blog but I have lots of incredible things going for me.  I need to reconnect with my husband.  I need to widen my circle of friends (in real life).  I need to hike more.  You can always reach me at airingthechapel [at] gmail [dot] com.  I do check that account sometimes.  And I love to write personal emails so drop me a note if you'd like.  I promise to write back. :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Your" Infertility

I've been away from blogging for a while.  It's not due to Lent.  I'm not convinced God think's it's spiritual growth to disassociate from the Net but I'm not questioning somebody who does.  I've been away just because there have been so many bad things happening in my life I didn't want to detail them here and I no longer write at work, so it doesn't leave many opportunities to blog.

I have plans to call Dr. Elizabeth tomorrow morning to sit down and chat with her and get some ideas about next steps with my health.  I keep trying to get better on my own but I slip back easily (even when I take expensive vacations) and it's not getting better to the point where I can get back to a normal life.  Cryptic much?

My husband would not support any part of what I'm about to write but he doesn't read my blog at all-he doesn't know the URL so I need not worry about him judging me here.  Yeah, it's great he's back but life is not a fairy tale.  My biggest problems right now are exceeding pressure at work with no corresponding promotion or raise, the fact that I have no meaningful support networks, and I continue to struggle at some level with infertility.

In an argument today, my husband was retelling me what I think my problems are and he said the words, "your infertility... uh, our infertility...."  But as any married woman knows, the latter part although it came a mere fraction of a second after the former part, was much too late.  I get reinforcements EVERYWHERE that infertility is MY problem.  My parents continue, mostly from my mother to freeze my eggs, get IVF, do something, anything other than what I'm doing now which is nothing.  Apparently, doing nothing in this, my culture is not acceptable.  I'm not sure that attitude is isolated to the secular community.  Catholicism can dish it out, too with NaPro.  Jeez, it's been forever since I wrote that abbreviation.  How many bloggers are out there that are doing nothing on the fertility front?  Two?  Yes, it's isolating.

And I'm 35.  I'm not idiotic to not think about dwindling chances.  I mean, if I throw in the towel now, have I forever fucked myself over?  When I'm 45 will the crushing regret reveal itself?  The truly sad part about this is that it has nothing to do with a kid, a person, or parenthood.  It's about shedding the stigma of infertility.  I mentioned two days ago to a woman I had just met with six terrific kids which I was lucky enough to hang out with for a few hours that I was infertile.  She offered up the forever reassuring story about her sister that couldn't get pregnant, tried IVF a couple times, gave up, and a couple years later got pregnant and actually gave birth to a living, healthy child.  Wow!  Who hasn't heard that story before.  The mother of six also told me that she had two miscarriages in her twenties, thought she'd never have kids, and look at her now.  Her Marine husband also recently abandoned the entire family, but no matter, the kids are great!

Miscarriage is one of those topics I feel is truly being talked about and women are getting support from lots of different places; friends, media.  In Mass, during prayers of the faithful, you can put in "Baby so-and-so" as a deceased person and everybody understands that, that is a terrible pain.  But at least you can give that pain a name.  Not so with infertility.  It's nebulous because if you never get pregnant, you don't register especially in Catholicism where conception is king.  The personhood movement is predicated on "the moment of conception."  If you never get to that point, what are you?

The truth is that every month we try to get pregnant and fail, I'm having a miscarriage.  It's the thought that counts, right?  If my intention, my whole desire and actions are to get pregnant, and I don't, it's a miscarriage.  I'm often tempted to put in my Baby [ATC's surname] into the prayers for the deceased.  I'm entitled.

Ok, let's get to the second problem.  During the six months that my husband lived elsewhere, not one of his friends called me for any reason; to get-together, to see how I was doing, to check in.  Nothing.  And now that's he's back, we're just back to good!  It's like the whole social experience was dependent on my husband.  I told him last weekend that at least I can now foreshadow what it'll be like when he dies.  Nobody will be around for me (save my family and my handful of close friends.)  Why the hell did we invite anybody to our wedding?  What a waste of money.  If the people who witness this all-important vow in front of God and company don't get around to paying the slightest bit of attention to you, what was the point?  We should have eloped to Vegas and has our union blessed during a regular, week-day Mass.  At least with strangers present, I wouldn't have expected anybody to follow up.

And maybe all of this is because I'm 35.  I'm coming into a lot of awareness about my own values.  Not my husband's, not my family's, not my company's.  Proclaiming self-determination while married is indeed a struggle.  I can list all of my demographic characteristics and that wouldn't tell you who I am.  I'm not an archetype.