Come Out Virginia, Don’t Let ‘Em Wait

(Catholic Girls Start Much Too Late) by Kelly Thomas When men hear that I won’t have sex until marriage, they have one of two reactions: A) they run screaming in the opposite direction or B) they nod soberly, muttering assurances about respect, all the while nursing an unspoken “challenge accepted.”  The “A”s are by far the … Read more

Those Hilarious Anti-Catholic Haters

by Beverly Stevens, REGINA Editor Running a popular Catholic e-Magazine and Facebook Page  has given the admins at REGINA Magazine a closer familiarity than most with that curious species, the Anti-Catholic Bigot.  While many may have assumed that they were an extinct species, we can assure you that they are alive and well. And, though their … Read more

God’s Creation Through Amy’s Lens

By Donna Sue Berry Photos by Amy Proctor   Amy Proctor is a  Catholic who loves the traditions of the Faith. And what a life she leads — not only a wife and mother, but a world traveler, writer and photographer. As a photojournalist, Amy weaves her stories together with her  beautiful photos.  Her work … Read more

Exposing Myths About Catholic Annulments

Fifteen Myths About Catholic Annulments One interesting side-effect of the recent synod on the family in Rome is that media reports have laid bare the fact that a real lack of clarity still exists among many people — both inside and outside the Church – about the Catholic declaration of nullity (“annulment”). Benedict Nguyen, a … Read more

The Mysterious Fence-Sitters of Gen X

by Beverly De Soto Stevens

I am puzzled by Generation Xers. No, really. I know that they are regularly termed ‘slackers’ by Boomers, and I do think that’s a bit unfair. I’ve taught graduate level Finance classes to Gen Xers – albeit in a military environment – and I have seen little evidence of the whining and slacking they are accused of.  No, what astonishes me about Gen Xers is the fence-sitters. About, literally, everything. About their LIVES.

It’s eerie, actually. An entire generation of people who adamantly refuse to commit to, well, anything. Marriage is too scary. Choosing a serious career path is too hard. Then, there’s the living-at-home-forever syndrome.

It’s eerie, actually. An entire generation of people who adamantly refuse to commit to, well, anything.

All of this means we are facing something entirely new in the history of the world: an entire generation of middle-aged teenagers. Adults, whose tastes and ideas are substantially the same as they were as teens. Baseball caps worn backwards, pants drooping ostentatiously over protruding bellies, wolfing down Big Macs while flashing expensive manicures.

The snarky humor — an ironic “awesome” — is the familiar byword for this entire generation.  They perch on the fence, en masse, mysteriously refusing to step off onto the solid ground of adulthood.

Why is this?

People tell me it’s the bad US economy. But here in Germany, the economy has been going gangbusters, as the car companies sell luxury vehicles to Chinese manufacturing zillionaires stuffed full of American cash. (Just in case you were wondering what happened to America’s prosperity, but I digress.)

Nevertheless, for some mysterious reason well-compensated German Gen Xers in secure jobs supported by an all-encompassing welfare state, are most comfortable sitting on fences, too. (As a result, most of the women in the almost-empty maternity wards here are over 40, with many of them pregnant by sperm donors.)

The snarky humor — an ironic “awesome” — is the familiar byword for Generation X.  They perch on the fence, en masse, mysteriously refusing to step off onto the solid ground of adulthood.

This story repeats itself all over the developed world, regardless of whether there are jobs available.  What, exactly, is going on here?

Gen X Weddings

I think Gen X weddings tell us a lot about this afflicted generation. The wretched excess. The vast sums borrowed for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘destination wedding.’ A lifetime of debt to enable two ordinary people to stand barefoot on a tropical beach amongst the uncomfortable guests with sand in their shoes, taking pretty vows that mean nothing. The obese bridesmaids stuffed into strapless gowns, tattoos emblazoned on their plump, self-tanned appendages.  ‘Bridezilla’ burning her dress afterwards.

And the wedding night? Long past the point in their relationship when sex is a fearful delight, Xers collapse in exhaustion in their ‘bridal penthouses.’

And well they might. After the parties and the obligatory travel comes the hard part: life, and re-paying their crushing debt.

Oh, and arguing about whose ‘role’ it should be to cook, clean and care for babies. Especially in the face of ruthless layoffs, with resulting unemployment or underemployment. And then there’s always porn, of course, the ultimate solace for men stripped of their dignity and self-respect.

Long past the point in their relationship when sex is a fearful delight, newly-married Xers collapse in exhaustion in their ‘bridal penthouses.’

Surreal ‘judgmentalism’

It’s all so surreal — as if we are descending into a time when, try as they might, an entire generation’s attempts at legitimacy end in self- mockery.

Xers desperately crave legitimacy, which they imagine comes from spending money. At the same time, they insist on their ‘right’ to acceptance, regardless of how unacceptable their appearance or behavior may be. For some strange reason, they are blind to a plain fact that every other generation has acknowledged:  One cannot demand respect, or legitimacy. These things must be earned.

The problem is not them, they continue to insist. Crotch-grabbing — literally or figuratively — as we see so often on Facebook, is ‘free speech.’ Squeezing a size-20 woman into a dress designed for a sylph is not unseemly. Sleeping with an array of ‘partners’ before the eyes of their children is not wrong. Mortgaging their future because they ‘deserve’ a $2000 handbag is not problematic.

The problem is the imagined ‘intolerance’ of others. The worst crime one can commit, in the eyes of this generation, is to be ‘judgmental.’

‘One should not judge, lest they be judged,’ we are told, in sepulchral terms. It’s as if this generation deeply believes that life should be a merry chase, an inchoate chaos, from which we should have the ‘right’ to extract as much pleasure as possible. And that, folks, is about it.

All of this insanity is, of course, way too much for the average human being to endure. If every single certainty in one’s life – morality, beauty, truth – easily falls victim to ‘spin,’ then why would a normal person ever get off the fence?

There’s no safe ground on which to land.

It’s all so surreal — as if we are descending into a time when, try as they might, an entire generation’s attempts at legitimacy end up in self- mockery.

A deep, pervading distrust

Clearly, Gen Xers’ fence-sitting belies a deep distrust which today pervades the West.

What do they distrust? Well, everything. Our institutions, our laws, and each other. This lack of trust is so deep, it’s almost as if they cannot bring themselves to risk anything.

I find this fascinating. Catholic Gen Xers were the first generation brought up entirely in the post Vatican II church, where whatever ‘Father Bob’ said, went. The only sin in this ‘Catholic’ world-view is that of intolerance – though you’ll not find this in the Ten Commandments, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This, of course, makes the idea of ‘sin’ laughable. There is no right and wrong in this world view. There are only ‘choices.’

The absence of ‘sin’ as a concept thrusts us into a nightmare world which no New Age platitudes or pseudo-scientific ideas can rescue us from.

The only salvation from this bad dream?

You guessed it.

The absence of ‘sin’ as a concept thrusts us into a nightmare world which no New Age platitudes or pseudo-scientific ideas can rescue us from.

Enter Catholics

Truth be told, I have been stunned by the faithfulness of the Catholic priests of this generation. Choosing the priesthood in the face of overwhelming cultural headwinds to the contrary. Risking derision, marginalization and worse from their families and peers. Taking a thankless job, without even the comfort of a wife and family to sustain them.

They are intelligent, patient, hard-working men, thoroughly versed in their Faith. They have dedicated their lives, with total commitment, to the Church. And nothing – not sex scandals, not the Lavender Mafia, not overbearing parishioners, or hostility from the media – will deter them.

How is it that men of such stellar quality can emerge from the confusion and despair of Generation X?

Many – though not all – of these amazing men celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.  They are drawn to it, inexorably. When you ask them about this choice, they revert to an uncharacteristically emotional way of speaking.

It was ‘the Holy Spirit,’ they say, not without irony. And they mean it.

Are they happy?

Compared to their peers, these Catholic priests of the Gen X generation are suffused with joy. Something – some Love – keeps them anchored to a commitment they are wholly, deeply and completely surrendered to.  They are not sitting on any fence.

And they’re not alone.

Compared to their peers, Catholic priests of the Gen X generation are suffused with joy. Something – some Love – keeps them anchored to a commitment they are wholly, deeply and completely surrendered to.  They are not sitting on any fence.

There’s the homeschooling families – most of whom are Gen Xers and Millennials. Poor as church mice, most of them, dependent on a husband’s modest income.

Refusing to contracept and abort, they cheerfully bear child after child. Then, they raise and educate these children on a shoestring budget, often making a Catholic parish the center of their lives.

There’s also the Gen Xers who are reverting and converting, in droves. They show up at Regina Magazine on Facebook, and they ‘like’ everything they see. Catholicism – its deep power, mystery and eternal verities – is what draws them. Regina Magazine’s focus on the beauty of our culture is what fascinates them.

“Awesome,” indeed.

The Price Catholics Pay for a Future

Such choices are deeply counter-cultural. They fly in the face of the accepted ‘wisdom’ of a Gen X generation not at all hesitant to condemn – notwithstanding the need for ‘tolerance’ – any deviation from their fence-sitting worldview.

This has a cost. I lurk in Facebook rooms where homeschooling mothers lend sympathy and support to each other. Often, they are painfully ostracized by their families, peers and even their parish priests! They are ‘too Catholic,’ they are told.  They are ‘extremists.’

But something – some Love – keeps them soldiering on.

And they are saving the Catholic Church. While other Catholic Gen Xers desert to dogma-averse, big box churches with good coffee and comfortably uncertain morals, these families raise children who are staffing the growing new traditional Catholic Orders.

And the converts and reverts are marrying, and having children — or discerning a serious religious vocation.

Deo gratias, all of these people are the real Future of the Catholic Church.

And that makes for a merry Christmas, indeed.

Often, homeschoolers are painfully ostracized by their families, peers and even their parish priests. They are ‘too Catholic,’ they are told.  They are ‘extremists.’

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amanda_2.jpg

Ladies, Take Back Your Christmas!

Eight Days to a Better, Blessed Catholic Season

by Beverly Stevens

Ladies, Take Back Your Christmas! It’s that time of year again, when women’s magazines inundate us with psychological studies about how depressed we get at Christmas.

Why are women often so sad at Yuletide? Mostly, it seems, we are casualties of the family under attack. Many are divorced, or have lost someone to illness. Or they are estranged from their family. Or they are suddenly the sole support of a family where a husband has been taken out of the work force — or out of their lives. Many are out of work – and down on their luck. Many women are just sick and tired, and about to give up hope.

For some  of us, Christmas is a time when all of life’s downers seem to crowd around like ghosts pointing accusing fingers. Some women get mad. Others get sad. Others just party frenetically.

The worst part is that all this stands in high contrast to the genuine good times that everyone else seems to be indulging in, right? Okay, so here’s some concrete steps you can take to pull yourself out of the Christmas Trap – courtesy of the Catholic Church, which brought you the real Christmas in the first place.

Take a deep breath. And then take the next eight days to re-adjust your Christmas. 

The First Day of Christmas: Get serious about making your season holy.

First, set your private Christmas goals, in a notebook reserved just for you. Here’s some ideas:

  • Reduce the stress.
  • Observe Advent.
  • Treat yourself every day.
  • Control your Christmas spending.
  • Shop Catholic sources.
  • Focus on helping others.
  • Create beauty.

DAY ONE: Get serious about your Christmas experience.

The Second Day of Christmas: Reduce the stress.

Your Christmas experience is largely in your own hands. Think about how you can reduce your stress level.

  • Limit or eliminate TV altogether. You don’t need the noise, the sentimental craziness, the bad evening news or the commercials. Use the time you have saved to go for a daily walk, read a book, or bake cookies.
  • Avoid crowds and traffic jams by limiting your driving to off-hours. Driving wastes time and gas, and drives your stress levels higher.
  • Shop online.
  • Suggest that you share planning and expenses for Christmas events with trusted friends or family.
  • Swap services with a good friend — you can color her hair, and she can babysit your kids.
  • Indulge in a warm bath – baking soda softens your skin, and a few drops of perfume add delightful scent.
  • Set aside time before bed to pray.

REDUCE STRESS: Avoid frustrating traffic jams. Plan to drive at off-hours.

The Third Day of Christmas: Observe Advent.

Since medieval times, the Church in her wisdom has helped Christians prepare for the Nativity of our Lord.

  • Contact your parish to see what their Advent plans are. If they are not observing the Season, find a Latin Mass parish near you 
  • If there are communities of Religious near you, visit their chapel, especially when they pray the Divine Liturgy.
  • Make a good Confession at least once between December 1 and December 24.
  • Set aside one evening each Advent week for your private devotional time. Light a candle. Play soft Advent music. Pray a rosary. Read the Biblical accounts in Matthew, Luke and Mark.
  • Set up your Nativity Scene, but leave the Baby Jesus in a drawer so that the youngest family member or visitor can have the privilege of placing the Child in the manger. Take a photo and send it to them!
  • Invite friends or neighbors to help decorate your Tree. Play Catholic chant music and serve simple refreshments.

OBSERVE ADVENT: Celebrate the Season by preparing for the Advent of our Lord.

The Fourth Day of Christmas: Treat Yourself Every Day.

You will be surprised how giving yourself a small treat every single day really does improve your mood.

  • Take a walk.
  • Light a candle in Church.
  • Go to exercise or stretching class.
  • Shop for a new Christmas outfit in a secondhand or vintage store.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Go for a swim.
  • Invite a friend for coffee.
  • Settle in with a good book.
  • Get your hair done.
  • Buy yourself a new lipstick.
  • Attend a school or church Christmas concert.
  • Go caroling.

TREAT YOURSELF: Take a walk with a friend.

The Fifth Day of Christmas: Control your Christmas spending.

Spending big bucks is about consumerism, not Christmas. Focus on spending with intent, for the right reasons and to support the right people. 

  • Instead of gifting busy friends and neighbors, give them the gift of time! Volunteer to make Christmas ornaments or cookies with their small children one afternoon. Sit with their elderly relative while they run around. Volunteer to walk their dog!
  • Instead of meeting friends for restaurant meals, plan a potluck dinner at your place. (If you can’t cook, provide the table, the wine and the cleanup!)
  • For wonderful, inexpensive gifts that enhance your faith and that of others, shop at online stores of Religious Orders.
  • Patronize your parish’s annual Christmas Bazaar.
  • Avoid buying expensive, ready-made gift packages – bake fresh Christmas cookies instead, taking care to wrap them beautifully!
  • Give the gift of a FREE Regina Magazine subscription!

DITCH THOSE EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT MEALS: Cook with friends at home!

The Sixth Day of Christmas: Shop Catholic Sources.  

Stop making global corporations richer. Many traditional Religious Orders and home-based businesses rely on Catholics doing their Christmas shopping at their stores – online or within their communities. And they are honest merchants, usually purveying top quality products.

  • Trappists, Dominicans, Benedictines, and Cistercians are just a few of the Orders who produce spectacular beer, wines, cheeses, coffee, baked goods and specialty items.
  • Visit your local Religious communities to see if they have any products – books, rosaries and CDs are very common.
  • Many Catholic parishes have Christmas Bazaars with homemade items – check out the websites of parishes near you!
  • Some parishes even have regular stores, which support their youth activities or other outreach.
  • Parish bake sales are a great way to pick up sweets for gifts – and for your dinner party table!
  • Patronize the Catholic companies you see online. (Maybe your homeschooling daughter could use some Catholic resources? Or your priest would welcome new vestments?)

SHOP AT CATHOLIC SOURCES: Many Orders rely on your Christmas spending to help them get through the year!

The Seventh Day of Christmas: Focus on helping others.

There is a lot of pain in this world, and we don’t have to hop a jet to find it or spend a million to make it better. You can help your neighbors, friends and fellow parishioners with simple gestures. (Plus, it helps to get your mind off your own worries!)

  • Inquire at your parish to see if they need help with events in Advent or Christmas.
  • Is your co-worker nursing a sick husband? Is your friend stressed to the max? Why not take her kids out for snow-sledding and hot chocolate? Or take her dog for a romp in the snow?
  • Reach out to your neighbors with small gifts – a homemade tin of cookies with a pretty ribbon often goes a long way!
  • If you know a family out of work, get together with some friends and organize a surprise food shopping expedition. Five friends donating $20 each can provide a family with a whole lot of food for the holidays!
  • Can you cook? Bake? Sew? Knit? Do crafts? How about house-cleaning? A clean house, folded laundry, a home-cooked meal, a handmade Christmas wreath, or a knitted afghan are all great lifts for families under stress during the holidays.

IS YOUR NEIGHBOR SICK OR OVERWHELMED? Walking her dog can be a great Christmas mood-lifter!


The Eighth Day of Christmas:
Create Beauty.

Christmas is ultimately about Beauty. Now is the time for you to take a fresh look at your life, to see where you can enhance the beauty of Life and the Faith.

  • Gather greens and berries to fill your house with simple, fresh, fragrant Christmas decorations.
  • Volunteer to decorate your Church for Christmas.
  • Begin work on Christmas crafts – with friends, this is especially enjoyable.
  • Give your home a new look for free! Use some of that time you’ve saved by turning off the TV — re-arrange the furniture in your living room, or give one wall a fresh coat of colorful paint.
  • Sing along with chant CDs as you drive around.
  • Throw a baking party! Invite friends over to make loads of cookies, sing Christmas carols and celebrate the season!
  • If people ask what you’d like for Christmas, tell them you’re saving up to take that drawing & painting class you’ve always wanted—and that you accept donations gladly. (This will set you up nicely for the New Year!)

CHRISTMAS GREENS from a walk in a nearby woods can grace your table this year.

When You Are in Crisis

You are in crisis.

Your marriage is over. Or you are losing your house. Or someone close has died.

Whatever the cause, the anxiety is killing you.

Suddenly, you understand why people commit suicide. Your life has devolved down to the gnawing fear in the pit of your stomach. You are unable to concentrate. 

At best, your life has become an unending series of painful tasks.

Joy has deserted you.

This is when you need God – and the Church.

What you need now is a plan.

coping1

“Twelve years ago, I learned that my ex-husband had been systematically raiding our bank account,” says Betty, now remarried and in her fifties. “He spent nearly $100,000 on courses to become ‘enlightened’ in a cult. I didn’t notice because I was too busy working night and day to support the family. He was a free-lancer who consistently lost clients – and as I came to understand, a sociopath.”

Betty was left to raise their two children on her own, as her ex paid no child support. She turned to an 80 year old Monsignor, who gave her hard-headed advice. “He told me three things: ‘Get your finances in order. Keep a close eye on your kids. And stay close to the Church.’”

Betty did all these things. Within months, her finances were under control, and her  children recovered.  Four years later, she met and married a good Catholic man – at the ripe old age of 47! Today, her almost-grown children are happy, healthy and successful.

Betty’s story is exceptional. Not everyone has a wise Monsignor to turn to. This was Elena’s situation. “I knew for many years that my husband would probably die before me,” she says. “But when he did, it was still a shock. I spent two years watching TV, not wanting to leave my house.”

Sarah’s ex did everything to demoralize her before he finally left her for another woman. “He told me I was fat. He said that I disgusted him. That he deserved a super-model.” To her utter shock, he took every dime in their bank account, too.

coping2Michelle’s ex-husband grew increasingly aloof from her, and their lovemaking became less and less frequent. Finally, it stopped altogether. Then, her 14 year old daughter stumbled upon his child pornography websites. The damage to both mother and daughter’s psyches has been incalculable.

“I’ve come to believe that internet porn is really something diabolical,” says this slender woman with tired eyes. “It utterly destroyed our marriage, and today he is a shell of the man I fell in love with.”

coping3There is social decay, and families seem incredibly vulnerable. And women bear the brunt of much if not all of this.

These all-too-common tragedies are the stuff of our daily lives, it seems.  And for many women, trauma like this start a downward spiral which compounds the damage as they attempt to cope using food, alcohol, drugs, or sex. Worse, the damage overwhelms their children, who become easy prey for the dark forces in our society.

“Some of these things are a normal part of life – birth, sickness and death. But the plain fact of the matter is that Catholics – like everyone today – are fearful,” says one American priest. “There is social decay, and families seem incredibly vulnerable. And women bear the brunt of much of this.”

How to cope when you are in crisis? The key is to recognize that you are Catholic, and to understand the Church’s wisdom in teaching that we are complex creatures of body, emotions and spirit.

When you are in crisis, each of these aspects of YOU have been attacked — and traumatized. Trauma requires treatment. Therefore, you must put a recovery plan into effect for yourself. Unfortunately, nobody else can do this for you. It’s your life, your health and your children who are at stake. Ready? Let’s roll.

STEP ONE: REALIZE AND RECOGNIZE

coping4

First, you must realize that it is your solemn responsibility to get your life in order.

Then, recognize that you are only human. Your recovery will take time.

How long? Only God knows. This leads us to Step Two:

STEP TWO: SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE

coping5Your soul has been traumatized. So you need to turn to the Church. Everything you need is there for you: Confession, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion. These are all nourishment that your damaged spirit needs now to start healing.

Spiritual care is crucial to your recovery. You must do one good thing for your SPIRIT every single day. In the beginning, this may be something as simple as sitting in church and silently praying over and over: “Help me. Help me.”

This is fine. In fact, it’s a big step. The best way to do this is to be in front of the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, it’s worth traveling for, if it is not done in your parish. For sure you can find it at a traditional parish here:  

http://web2.iadfw.net/carlsch/MaterDei/churches.html

Later, you may be able to progress to reading the Bible, praying the rosary or reading about the saints.  But remember: ONE GOOD THING FOR YOUR SPIRIT every single day.

STEP THREE: PHYSICAL NURTURING

coping6Your body has been traumatized. Maybe you can’t sleep or eat properly. Or you have mysterious aches and pains – or worse, real stress-induced illness. It’s time to heal by doing one good thing for your BODY every single day. Remember that exercise needn’t be violent. Experts recommend that you get 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week. As your recovery progresses, don’t slack off:  ALWAYS DO ONE GOOD THING FOR YOUR BODY every single day.

Attend an exercise class

Work out at home

Garden or other outdoor tasks

Swim or hike

Walk or run

Ride a bike

Do breathing and stretching exercises

Take a hot bath

Give yourself a home manicure/pedicure

Get your hair done

Get your nails done

Get a massage or a facial – or both!

coping7

You can’t heal on junk food. Cook – and cook often. Invite friends and neighbors to your table on a regular basis for fresh, healthy food. (Need ideas? See ‘Sunday Dinner with the Romans’ in this issue.)

STEP FOUR: EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Your emotions have been traumatized. Perhaps you feel numb. Maybe you can’t stop worrying. It’s possible that you have sudden crying spells. Or you have thoughts that you cannot control. Maybe you are even thinking about suicide.

Do not be afraid. Bad feelings are normal when you have been traumatized. It is imperative that you recognize this and do one good thing for your emotional state every single day.

Get yourself a good, Catholic therapist. How? Ask a good, Catholic priest or nun – or friend or relative. You need someone who is skilled at working with trauma – and who is not trained to be ‘value neutral.’ A practicing Catholic therapist will understand and support your moral values and your need for prayer.

Remember, you are carrying a poison around inside of you. Get it out of your system. Be persistent. Talk it out.

Next, you need some talking buddies. That is, more than one person who will listen to you. Why? Because you need to talk this out. So, be sensible and spread the wealth. Don’t overburden any one friend with your pain – respect their need to live their lives, too. Finally, get yourself a fat notebook or two. You are going to use this to journal everything. Here’s some ideas to help you get started:

  • How Could This Happen?
  • Why I Hate My Life Now
  • My Prayer for Today
  • Help Me, Lord
  • What I Want for My Kids
  • What I Must Fix This Week
  • What I Accomplished Today
  • What I Need To Do Tomorrow
  • How I Want to be Living In a Year

Then, begin.

EVERY SINGLE DAY: Talk about your pain. Write down what you are thinking. Your agony. Your prayers. Your hopes. Your plans. Remember, you are carrying a poison around inside of you. Get it out of your system. Over time, your need to talk and to write about this will wane, as you begin to heal.

Grief experts say it takes about a year, at minimum, to recover from a devastating loss. But everyone is different. Your recovery is a completely individual process.

You, however, are not helpless in all of this. Once you understand that you must work to take care of your whole self – body and soul – you will have taken the first, crucial steps out of the dark place where you are now.