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Reclaiming Social Graces Human Dignity 101: Image and Likeness From the Newsroom to the Nursery

Liechtenstein Prince Wins Pro-life Gamble

Embracing the dignity & beauty of Christ-centered womanhood

SUMMER 2012


About

Magazine

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stroll through the mall or a glance at the magazines in the check-out line will give you a clear idea of what our culture promotes as the ideal image of womanhood. The plunging necklines and disappearing hemlines of clothing in store windows tell you that to be a woman you must expose yourself to the world. Mainstream women’s magazines encourage this message by upholding edgy and provocative female celebrities as images to aspire to. These messages combine with hundreds of others to portray an ideal of womanhood that when tested proves unfulfilling, unattractive, and ultimately untrue. Our Catholic faith presents a nobler image of womanhood. Founded on the revealed truth that we were created in the “image and likeness” of God, the Church teaches that we possess immense dignity. Christ’s redemption further elevates our identity by making us

God’s adopted daughters and calling us to live a life of holiness for Him. Knowing and living these glorious truths will deepen and transform our lives as women in ways we never dreamed. The truth about our dignity from God gives us a powerful incentive to say “no” to fashion trends that expose our bodies, and the beauty of Christ’s call to holiness motivates us to abandon the ugly provocativeness of our culture’s ideal womanhood. In their place we discover the joyful challenge of dressing attractively yet modestly so as to affirm the worth of our bodies, as well as the fulfilling pursuit of an authentic life of virtue, especially the virtue of chastity. As witnessed by countless women saints, especially our Mother Mary, striving to live this way results in an image of womanhood that is radiantly beautiful and entirely fulfilling—because it is femininity as God intended.

The purpose of Dignitas Magazine is to seek the truth about womanhood

as God intended it to be, to encourage Catholic women to authentically live this truth, and to promote it in the world. We look to Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church for instruction. We strive for authentic holiness by seeking concrete ways to practice virtue. We eagerly look for relevant, winsome ways to promote the goodness of God’s image of womanhood in a world hungry for the truth. Nourished by prayer and the sacraments and inspired by the example of the saints, we joyfully embrace this task—and invite you to join with us!


Contents

IN EVERY ISSUE Recommended Reading Quotes to Remember Know It. Live It.

ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY 6 Human Dignity 101: Image and Likeness by Catherine Pelicano Responding Pro-Life by Katherine Williams REVIVING FEMININITY 14 Reclaiming Social Graces by Catherine Pelicano HIDDEN PLACES 26 From the Newsroom to the Nursery by Theresa Gavaert CLOUD OF WITNESSES 40 St. Gianna Molla by Caitlin Connelly IN THE NEWS 44 Liechtenstein Prince Wins Pro-life Gamble REAL CLOSETS 52 Real Closets with Amanda and Anna, Sarah, and Susan VENUES OF GRACE 60 Study Groups: Building up the Body of Christ by Christina Coffman


DignitasStaff Catherine Pelicano

Co-founder, Managing Editor Catherine Pelicano (23) is from a family of eight siblings. She became interested in the topics of human dignity and Christcentered womanhood after attending a youth conference in high school. As Managing Editor of Dignitas Magazine, Catherine gets to combine her passion for these topics with her love of the written word. Apart from Dignitas and her job as an Assisted Care Provider for a precious special-needs kiddo, Catherine enjoys cooking, running, scheming about her future European adventures, and all things British.

Abby Pelicano

Co-founder, Creative Director A graphic designer and photographer in the upstate of South Carolina, Abby (25) has been remarkably blessed in collaborating with her sister to create Dignitas Magazine. She shares a passion for spreading the truth about the dignity of the human person— particularly to women—and prays that it will be an aid on the path to holiness and unity with our Lord Jesus Christ. When away from the computer she is probably swing dancing, hiking in the mountains, or absorbed in a classic black-and-white movie.


Our Contributors

Heather Burgess - Photographer Heather (34) is a pediatric physical therapist and budding photographer who is passionate about her faith, family, and friends. Photography pages 38, 54-59, 62-67

Christina Coffman - Writer Christina (19) was born and raised in Maryland but now lives in South Carolina. She enjoys spending time in the great outdoors and of course, being part of Dignitas Magazine! Caitlin Connelly - Writer Caitlin (23) is a Registered Nurse currently working in a pediatric emergency department. A South Carolina native, she enjoys spending her spare time at the mountains, the beach, and everywhere in-between. Theresa Gevaert - Writer Theresa (33) is a wife to her best friend, mother to two darn cute children, and a recovering TV news producer. She’s no longer calling the shots in the newsroom, but she’s producing a happy life in her little corner of the world. Kallah Oakes - Writer Kallah (24) is a stay-at-home mom in Charlotte, NC. She loves running, cooking magazines, and J. Crew sales. She blogs about pursuing the abundant life at beingopentolife.blogspot.com Katherine Williams - Writer Katherine (24) is a swanky architect in South Carolina. She is interested in listening to people, small-time sleuthing, and all things being made new.


ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY

Human Dignity 101:

Likeness and Image by Catherine Pelicano

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ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY

“What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honor? It is man—that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes of God than all other creatures!” - St. John Chrysostom, CCC 358

Have you ever walked through

an art museum or sat in a concert hall listening to some musical masterpiece

and been amazed by the depth of feeling and creativity that emanates from the human person? What amazes

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me the most about art is how each work produced is such an elegant expression of the mind and heart that created it. My father is an artist, and when I look at his work I see styles that reflect so many aspects of him. The dignified style of his formal portraits speaks to his love for what is noble and true, while his cartoons reveal the part of him that is still childlike. I truly see the very heart of my father in everything he creates. The same is true of God, the ultimate artist. In His grand work of creating the universe everything He made reflects in varying degrees His heart and mind. The first few chapters of the Bible, coupled with the teachings of the Catechism, reveal the truth that mankind reflects the Creator’s glory more profoundly than any other creature. Understanding this amazing truth about our nature is essential for grasping the reason for our dignity, as well as the very purpose of our existence. In the opening verses of the Bible, we read: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters” (Gen. 1: 1-2). 8

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How dramatic these two verses are! Like Michelangelo standing before the raw mass of marble that would become The Pieta, it is as if we’re catching God taking a breathless pause before undertaking His masterpiece. Then, He begins. The mighty power of His words are His tools, and they take material form as He creates heaven and earth and the wonders that fill them. With each new Word He enriches the universe with ever increasing majesty and beauty. Finally, He speaks into being the living creatures. The ocean is filled with aquatic life and the earth with “creeping things and wild animals of all kinds” (Gen. 1:21, 25). God steps back and revels in the goodness of what He has made. Every creature, every mountain, every drop of rain He has created reflects something of His heart and reveals His glory, and because of this it is very, very good. Nevertheless, the best is yet to come. “Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air...and over all the wild animals...God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1: 26-27).

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ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY

With the creation of mankind, God’s work reaches its glorious climax, because with it He sets His very “image and likeness” upon the earth. Put in artistic terms, man and woman are the pièce de résistance of creation. We are to our Creator what David was to Michelangelo—a masterpiece. But how exactly is this so? What is it about our human nature that makes us such noble works of art? To answer these questions we must understand what it means to be made in God’s “image and likeness.” First and foremost, being made in the “image and likeness” of God means that each of us possesses an immortal soul. The Bible references the human soul in Genesis when it says that God blew “the breath of life” into our first parents (Gen. 2:7). Each of us received that divine spark at the moment of our conception—and with it the ability to think rationally and to choose freely. In the landscape of creation, no other creature possesses such remarkable abilities or enjoys such freedom. For this reason, the Catechism describes the soul as “that which is of greatest value [to man]” and most importantly, “that by which he is most especially in God’s image” (CCC 363).

But what about our physical body? To grasp the whole truth about how we bear God’s “image and likeness” we must understand that our body and soul are so intimately connected that they form one nature. Amazingly, this mysterious union means that our body shares “in the dignity of ‘the image of God’” (CCC 364). The Catechism teaches that because of this, “man may not despise his bodily life. Rather, he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it” (ibid). To have a balanced understanding of ourselves, therefore, we must remember that our flesh is more than just weak and wayward— it is animated by our immortal soul! The dignity our body enjoys because of this is one of the most astounding aspects of the masterpiece that is the human person. Given the amazing way we have been created, the question we have to ask is “why?” Why have we been endowed beyond every other creature with such wondrous spiritual abilities? Why do we hold such a dignified place in the physical world? Surely, our abilities and dignity weren’t just fancy flourishes God arbitrarily gave His masterpiece. After all, we aren’t static

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sculptures. We are dynamic, living beings. Doesn’t it follow, then, that we are privileged for a purpose? The Catechism teaches that we are: “Through his very bodily condition [man] sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator” (CCC 355, 364). This is why God made us in His “image and likeness”—so that we could glorify Him by offering all of creation back to Him in praise. No other creature on earth has been called to make this offering. No other creature on earth can offer it with the intention and freedom that we are able to. Our vocation to bring God glory is at once the purpose of our existence and the source of our immense dignity. Like an inanimate work of art, we bring glory to our Maker simply by our existence. However, because we are living beings, we were made to bring God glory actively as well. Making use of the remarkable faculties He has given us, we glorify our Maker most when we use our rational mind to know Him and our free will to conform our lives to His truth.

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ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY

Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

Dignitas Magazine | Summer2012

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Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.


Responding Pro-Life by Katherine Williams

The first time a woman told me

about her abortion, I was 18 years old and working part time at a retail store in the mall. We were talking about boys, and she was explaining a complicated relationship she had with an ex-boyfriend. During the conversation, she casually mentioned that one of the reasons she had lost her respect for him was that he refused to help pay for the abortion of their child. Instantly my stomach dropped. “Oh, that’s sad,” was all that I managed to mumble. She touched on how devastated she had been, and that was it. She moved on, but I felt as though I had been hit by a truck. Abortion had always been very abstract and remote to me. Never before had it collided so forcefully with my non-confrontational, easy-going world. I was left speechless. When I think about this woman now, my heart throbs and I wish I could go back and comfort her. Women in these situations often believe they are completely alone, that they have nowhere to turn, and nowhere to go. Many women believe the consequences of having a child and bringing it into the

world are too great and too painful to handle. There is a fear of physical and emotional abandonment for themselves as well as their children. How can we women, relational creatures that we are, reach out to others trapped in the throes of a crisis pregnancy and contemplating an abortion? How can we equip ourselves to respond immediately in a sincere way that is pro-life? How we respond will set the stage for a conversation that may make the difference in someone’s life, so it’s important to be prepared. The next time you are confronted by a curious, hostile, or suffering woman in this situation, say an earnest prayer to the Holy Spirit and bravely respond.

Respond Compassionately Compassion—not judgment—must be the foundation for your words. If I could go back, this is what I would have said to my coworker, “I don’t want you to feel alone in this, or

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that this situation is only your burden to bear. I am here for you; I care about you.” We have to remember that every human is infinitely loved and desired by God, regardless of how black their past or present may be, and treating anyone as less is a grave trespass against her dignity and worth. As Saint Augustine says in his Confessions, “There is no sin or crime committed by another man that I am not capable of committing, by reason of my own weakness. And if I have not yet committed it, it is because God, in his mercy, has not permitted it.” How blessed we are if we’ve never been faced with a crisis pregnancy! Realizing this will help us create an atmosphere of compassion (as opposed to anger or accusation) and will enable us to have an open and loving conversation. By being compassionate, you may become the vessel of healing that the Holy Spirit works through.

Respond Sincerely Earlier this year, a new coworker announced to me that she was pregnant. This was followed immediately by her telling me she was having an abortion. She explained that the father had re14

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fused to acknowledge her or the baby and that she couldn’t raise the child by herself. When she began to tell me her news, I was excited and congratulated her. Responding with excitement is natural and good. It is also important, though, to be respectful if the pregnancy puts the mother in a difficult situation: “Congratulations on your pregnancy! How can I help you? What are you going through? I’ll be praying for you.” Be sincere. Your congratulations and concern can be a small spark of awareness and understanding that occurs between both of you. Your congratulations will witness to the mother the wonderful reality that she’s carrying another life within her. Every mother has the immense dignity and privilege of bringing a new life into the world! If you can bring her to understand this amazing privilege, she may decide to keep her baby. At the same time, your concern for her situation also shows that you understand this is no small or irrelevant decision she faces. In both of these ways you bestow on her the dignity she deserves yet may not know how to grasp or accept. True sincerity is essential, for without it you may only bring estrangement and more pain.

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ENDOWED WITH DIGNITY

Respond with Practical Conviction Deciding or admitting to being pro-life can feel like the equivalent of painting a giant target on your chest. You might be branded as hateful, intolerant, ignorant, and judgmental. You cannot hope to carry this cross faithfully except with Christ’s help. He has asked you to be His witness and to take part in leading others to divine life and unity with Him. Always remember, He will give you the grace you need to do this. When you speak to someone about abortion, pray for the grace to speak with certainty and firm resolve in what you believe. Respond gently, lovingly, and as welcomingly as possible, but do not concede the point that abortion is wrong and that its effects will lead to heartbreak. It is also important to share information about the many practical resources for women in crisis pregnancies. For example, “Have you thought about adoption or heard of Birthright?” By responding immediately with a practical solution, you may lead the mother to consider again the option that seems impossible to face—keeping her baby.

Educate Yourself: Research and educate yourself on what the Church believes and why we are called to believe it. Ask questions and learn the facts about a baby’s development in the womb, the effect of abortion on mothers and families, and what resources there are for women in crisis pregnancies. Here are some suggestions: c Read what the Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Section 2270-75). c Read Humanae Vitae, the encyclical of Pope Paul VI on sacramental married love (www.scborromeo.org) and Dignitas Humanae on the dignity of the human person (www.ewtn.com) c Study and familiarize yourself with the different stages of fetal development. (www.babycenter.com) c Become aware of the legal history and current political standing of abortion in American government. (www. all.org/article/index/id/MjQ0Mw) c Check your area for Birthright centers as well as women’s care center that do not support abortion. Learn how these programs work and establish a contact within the pro-life community of your area. (www.birthright.org)

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REVIVING FEMININITY

Reclaiming Social Graces By Catherine Pelicano

My mom and I share an interest

in all things vintage. We could shop at antique stores and flea markets for hours on end, ever intrigued by the glimpses we get into life in another time and place. Once, on one of our many antiquing trips together, we found a basket full of vintage aprons. Looking through the pile I found one that caught my eye. It was made out of a delicate, gauzy material with intricate embroidery along the hem. Lovely though it was, I noted its

impracticality. Why, I asked my mom, would anyone wear it in the kitchen when they’d be afraid to spill anything on it? The booth vendor heard my question and explained how in the 1950’s women wore aprons like those when they hosted. They would wear sturdy aprons for cooking, but when the guests arrived they would don those “party aprons” over their cocktail dresses for serving hors d’oeuvres. It was a singularly feminine way to signify their role as hostess.

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REVIVING FEMININITY

This bygone custom showed me how being a socially gracious woman used to be a cherished and studied art form. Not too terribly long ago, girls were taught from a young age what it meant to be a presentable, self-possessed, and gracious woman. They learned how to dress attractively and appropriately for their body type, as well as how to carry themselves with confidence and poise. They learned how to address others graciously, and how to engage those around them in conversation.

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In my opinion, the women of these eras are some of the classiest (not to mention mysteriously attractive) women in history. Think about the faded photos you’ve seen of women from your grandmother and greatgrandmother’s generations. Think of women like Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly; women who brilliantly managed to blend together class, poise, and pizzazz. It seems that increasingly far too many girls cross the threshold into

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REVIVING FEMININITY

womanhood with little to no idea of how to practice common courtesy or how to present themselves respectably in either a professional or social setting. The loss of this knowledge has contributed to the degraded image of womanhood we see around us today. This would change if we made an effort to reclaim the art of social graces. Am I suggesting we revert to walking around with books on our heads, or that we become irrelevant, old-fashioned women? Certainly not, and we don’t need to. Becoming a socially gracious woman isn’t about the “party aprons” or being a replica of June Cleaver. The real heart and soul of gracious living is seeking the truest good in social situations. In a word, practicing social graces is really about practicing virtue. This is why the values and spirit of graciousness our grandmothers’ lifestyle was based on can never go out of vogue, even if specific expressions of it do. Our job today is to find ways to revive and reapply the art of social graces in our modern world. Reviving social graces won’t make you an old-fashioned woman; it will

make you a counter-cultural woman. It won’t make you a dull or dowdy woman either. In fact, this is probably the gem of our grandmothers’ wisdom: Truly gracious women are stunningly attractive. Why? Because they are living a virtuous life centered on pursuing the good, and when you pursue the good you are ultimately pursuing God. Women who apply themselves wholeheartedly to living this way will unavoidably begin to reflect God’s own attractiveness. How’s that for the ultimate beauty secret?

Here are

4 Ways Socially to be

Gracious

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Practice Hospitality From the New Testament letters to The Rule of Saint Benedict, the exercise of hospitality has long been valued as an important part of the Christian life. Saint Peter instructs us that we should “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9-10), while Saint Paul says we should take joy in “having guests in our home” (Titus 1:8). There are many ways to answer this call to hospitality, but how you respond will depend on your situation and the resources you’ve been given. That’s the beautiful thing about hospitality: it isn’t about how much you have to offer—it’s about how you offer what you have. So don’t wait until you have a spacious, beautiful home, or a loaded pantry to open your doors to another. Even if all you have to share with a guest is a simple meal, clean towels, and a hot shower, or just a cold glass of water, if you offer it with a spirit of true generosity and graciousness, it’s enough.

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Be a Gracious Guest The art of being a gracious guest is one of the most important. Whether you’re staying for the afternoon or the weekend, you should do everything you can to minimize your “guest footprint.” While yes, part of being a gracious guest is allowing your host to provide for you, don’t let the pampering make you forget to pitch in as well. This is especially true if you are one of many guests. Anyone who has hosted a large group knows what an undertaking it can be. Practically speaking, hosting more than one guest means more to plan, more to cook, and more mess to clean up. With a certain amount of awareness on your part, you can anticipate the needs of your host. Ask beforehand if there’s anything you can bring with you. Always offer to help clean up afterward. Arrive on time, and more importantly, leave on time. These acts of graciousness express your gratitude to your host in the most meaningful way possible.

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Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.


#3

Send Handwritten Notes

In our world of cell phones, emails, and text messages, handwritten notes have become much more rare, and are therefore much more valuable. There is something timeless and inherently gracious about handwritten notes. As calligrapher and author Margaret Shepherd put so well, “In contrast to a phone call, a handwritten note doesn’t arrive demanding to be read when you’ve just sat down to dinner,” and it even “courteously lets you know who sent it even before you open it.”1 Now that’s classy and gracious communication. Developing the habit of sending handwritten notes takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it. Start by stocking up on supplies. Whether you turn to the dollar bins at yyour favorite craft store, or the

pricier selection carried at upscale bookstores, aim to always keep a stash of blank note cards on hand. Then use them. Not sure when to write one? Saint Paul gives an excellent guideline in Romans 12:15 when he says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Write a personal note of congratulations and best wishes whenever a friend or family member graduates, gets married, or has a baby. Also write notes of condolence to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. Then, of course, there are always thank-you notes. Challenge yourself to think outside the gift box, though, and send thank-you notes for intangible gifts you receive, such as time, care, or concern. Shepherd, Margaret. The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication. New York, NY: MJF, 2002. 1

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#4

Receive Compliments

What is your first reaction when anyone (guy or girl) compliments you on how you look? For most women, the knee-jerk reaction to being complimented seems to be making a quick and even harsh denial of it. No doubt, this reaction is partially due to the flawless, all-beautiful image of womanhood we’re constantly bombarded with via the media. So when someone says your hair look nice, you immediately feel obliged to come back with something along the lines of, “Oh gosh! Thanks, but no. My hair looks awful today!” Maybe you really didn’t have time to fix your hair that morning, or maybe you agonized over it meticulously before you left the house. Either way, even if it isn’t a fabulous hair day in your eyes, someone else looked at you and saw something beautiful—and took the trouble to say so. Don’t throw their kindness back at them. Be grateful and receive it graciously.

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HIDDEN PLACES

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Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.


HIDDEN PLACES

From the

Newsroom

to the

by Theresa Gevaert

My heart raced as my fingers nervously punched the numbers on my phone.

I took a deep breath and said a silent prayer, “God, please be with me.� I was calling my boss to announce a decision many people thought I was crazy to make. I was resigning from a job I loved, a job where I had a great salary, amazing co-workers, and a reputation as someone the company would continue to promote. Why did I decide to walk away? Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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HIDDEN PLACES

It was all because of a boy. The shift from full-time professional to stay-at-home mom was one I never expected to make. I always assumed I would return to work after the birth of my husband’s and my first child. It seemed natural that after a three-month maternity leave I would resume my job as executive producer at a TV station. After all, I worked my tail off in college, cajoled my way into the university’s station as a freshman, worked nights to produce the morning news, and earned the title “one to watch” from my professors. I had a job lined up before I graduated and quickly discovered that not only did I love the news business, I was good at it. The idea of leaving it to stay at home with my baby never entered my mind. On March 2, 2010, everything changed. My husband and I welcomed our precious son into the world and the moment he opened his eyes my life took on a new focus. 30

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HIDDEN PLACES

Becoming a mother transformed me. I was madly in love with my baby and longed to spend as much time with him as I could, yet I still felt very much committed to my career. It was an internal conflict I wasn’t prepared for, and I felt very alone as I struggled to decide whether I should stay home full-time.

So many questions flooded my mind. Would leaving a successful career path affect any future job possibilities? Could we afford it? What sacrifices were we willing to make? Would I feel inadequate without contributing financially to the household? The decision was also constrained by my own preconceived notions about stay-at-home moms. I had become an adult in a culture that made motherhood a controversial career choice. Society told me to find my self-worth in the title on my business card and the salary I Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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commanded. I had truly bought into the notion that if I was intelligent, interesting, and worth talking to, I shouldn’t waste my time raising children. I should be in the working world actually doing something with my life. Emotionally exhausted, and my maternity leave coming to an end, I turned to my Heavenly Father for comfort and direction. In prayer I asked God for His divine guidance and the wisdom to make the right decision for our family. An unexpected thing happened: the more I prayed, the more I felt a nagging in my soul that I should not return to work. That wasn’t exactly the answer I had hoped for so I tried to push that nagging feeling aside. I told God I would meet Him in the middle. With just a few weeks to go before I was due back at work, I drew up a proposal to my boss to return part-time. I presented it with every confidence he would accept my offer. When he didn’t, I was devastated. I cried off and on for days. In the midst of my enormous disappointment though, I could hear the Lord quietly telling me, “Accept the blessing. Accept the blessing I am so generously giving you.” 32

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That beautiful message eventually took root in my heart, and I realized that staying home full-time was the best thing for our family. So, I resigned. Both to my job and to God’s will. I finally did accept the blessing, but it took me a long time to appreciate it. My first few weeks as an official stay-at-home mom were filled with moments of panic. I began to seriously question the decision. I stopped trusting in God’s plan for my life, and I allowed myself to become overwhelmed with doubt.

I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, wondering:

Am I now “less equal” than others who work for pay? Am I now “less interesting” because I don’t have an impressive title? When I was asked what I did for a living, I found myself saying, “I stay home now, but I used to work in TV.” Every time that sentence came out of my mouth I felt horrible, as though I was down-playing the importance of being a mother and, in turn, betraying my son.

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HIDDEN PLACES

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HIDDEN PLACES

I also wasted an enormous amount of time feeling guilty. I questioned whether I was doing a disservice to women by having the opportunities I’d had and then not going for the brass ring. Was I wasting my education? After all, didn’t I get a journalism degree so I could use it? But perhaps most unsettling, was the pervasive feeling that my identity had died. I had defined myself by my occupation, and I enjoyed the prestige of my position. Without it, I just didn’t know who I was anymore.

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In the throes of an identity crisis, I turned to God once again in earnest prayer. It was difficult for me to admit, but I realized that somewhere along the way I had begun to derive my selfworth from sources other than the Lord. Through prayer, I realized that God is the only one who can give me the value, worth, and success I seek. And it is God who affirms my dignity— even if the culture does not. I am His daughter! That is my real and true identity. I foolishly desired recognition and accolades, and in doing so, I

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was missing out on the tremendous blessing He wanted to give me. In seeking out His will for my life, the Lord showed me that He was calling me to a new vocation. It required a tremendous sacrifice, yes, but there is always a true and abiding joy that comes with living the vocation God calls you to. The happiness I experience now as a stay-at-home mom is richer and deeper than anything I thought possible. It’s been almost two and a half years since I left the workforce. The “I’m just a mom” syndrome strikes every once and awhile, suggesting the world is moving on without me while I watch cartoons with my toddler. Occasionally, I find myself daydreaming about discussing stories with reporters and scrambling to find breaking news. Sometimes, I’m still tempted to think that might make me a more important person. But then I remember this observation by G.K. Chesterton in his book What is Wrong With The World, and it helps me to see the truth about my vocation: “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule

of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.” I am responsible for the souls of my sweet son and daughter who are entrusted to my care. As I ponder what it means to faithfully pursue my work as a mother, I now look beyond the dirty diapers and loads of laundry. I am part of a grand enterprise, and I am making an enormous contribution to society. I am raising my children to be saints and disciples of Christ. What job could be more important than that? Our Lord graciously guided me through the changes and challenges of staying at home. He helped me find my way. I don’t receive a paycheck anymore, but the payoff of watching my children discover the wonders of God’s world is priceless. I can honestly say I am fulfilled. I did

accept the blessing, and now, I appreciate it.

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Recommended

Reading

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The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right By Emily Stimpson | www.emmausroad.org

Dignitas Magazine: What prompted you to write a book for Catholic women about the single life?  Emily Stimpson: I began to realize that more and more women were remaining single later in life and, in the process, wrestling with issues most of our mothers and grandmothers had never wrestled with. They are issues that I’ve wrestled myself and I have found a lot of helpful guidance from the Church. Unfortunately, that guidance wasn’t all neatly collected in one book or encyclical, and it wasn’t always immediately obvious how it applied to the struggles of single women. My book attempts to correct that problem…or at least start to correct it. Dignitas Magazine: Is there any particular need you think that single, Catholic women have today that you hope your book will help fill?

Emily Stimpson: When I looked at books for single, Catholic women, I found memoirs about the single life, sociological studies, dating and chastity guides, and books for women who wanted to remain single. But what I wasn’t finding was a book for women who believe they’re called to marriage and are still hoping to marry, but who want to know how they’re called to live now, in the in-between time. It’s so important for us single women to understand that we don’t live our singleness in a vacuum. The choices we make, the habits and virtues we cultivate—they’re all going to have a profound effect on the types of wives and mothers we become if we marry and the type of women we become regardless. They are going to determine the type of marriage that we enter, and the type of relationship we have with God. They are going to lead us closer to Him or farther away from Him. That’s why it

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is so important that we live our single life the Church’s way, and not the culture’s way. The Survival Guide is, at its core, a crash course in living the single life the Church’s way. Dignitas Magazine: You chose to address a wide range of topics in your book. What guided your choice of topics? How do they tie in with the “Survival Guide” theme? Emily Stimpson: By addressing such a broad range of issues—from dating to career and housing decisions to coping with married friends and their children—I tried to write a book that women could go back to again and again, depending on the changing circumstances in their lives. More importantly though, life is vast and wide-ranging. There’s so much more to the single life than dating and chastity. There are other decisions to make, relationships to nurture, and opportunities to pursue. Most of life is not going out on dates, it’s working and cooking and cleaning and hanging out with friends. I wanted to write a book that recognized that and helped women really live all the aspects of their single life, not just one or two. Hence the whole “Survival Guide” theme. 40

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Dignitas Magazine: You are refreshingly honest in your book about the difficulties involved in being single, yet you also emphasize the blessings and freedoms that single people enjoy. It can often be hard to remain grateful for the single life we’re living when we dearly want to be married. What helps you maintain a grateful perspective? What has been the greatest blessing that has come out of your season of singleness?  Emily Stimpson: Over the years I’ve developed the habit of thanking God for all the little things in life. I treat Him almost like I would treat a host at a party or a dear friend who is putting me up at her house for a week. In other words, I cultivate an awareness of all the little things He’s doing for me and thank Him continually for them. So in the morning, when my coffee tastes like the best thing in the world, I thank Him. When the light shines in my office in a particularly lovely way, I thank Him. When a favorite song comes on the radio, I thank Him. I’ve gotten myself in the habit of seeing everything good and beautiful and true as a gift from Him, and telling Him that I see that. Then, when I’m really struggling, I go back through all the little things

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I’ve thanked Him for over the past several days and all the big things I might have forgotten. A litany of thanksgiving is one of the best cures for the “woe is me” blues. As for the greatest blessings that have come from my singleness, that’s a toss up. The obvious answer is a closer relationship with Christ. He’s used all my struggles with being single or relationships that have gone south to draw me closer to Him, and for that I am so grateful. But, I would also say “time.” In my singleness, God has given me time to learn and study and love in ways that I couldn’t have if I were married. And because of that time, I’m a far better woman than I was 10 years ago. I have a long way to go before I’m truly the woman God made me to be, but that means I’ll just be that much better of a wife (and hopefully mother) with each passing day. I find that thought very consoling.

Dignitas Magazine: Finally, if you could pick one message from your book that your readers could walk away with, what would it be? Emily Stimpson: To be in the moment, trusting God and looking for how to answer His call right now, today. A couple of people have said that they wished I had addressed in more depth what happens if Mr. Right never comes along—essentially how to deal with never getting married. But I can only address what I know and I haven’t gotten to that point yet. What I know how to do is live in the moment and try to make a gift of myself in the moment. I want other women to know that too. God only gives us the grace for the troubles of the day. It’s our job to see that grace and receive it, not try and borrow grace for tomorrow’s troubles.

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Emily Stimpson is an award-winning Catholic writer based in Steubenville, OH. A contributing editor to Our Sunday Visitor newspaper and the author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years, her work has also appeared in Franciscan Way, First Things, Faith and Family, Loyola’s Best Catholic Writing series, and elsewhere. She blogs regularly for CatholicVote.org.


CLOUD OF WITNESSES

Saint


CLOUD OF WITNESSES

Gianna Francesca was born to

Alberto and Marie Beretta in 1922 in Magenta, a city on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. The Berettas were dedicated parents who strove to raise a joyful, pious family. Gianna, the tenth of the Beretta’s thirteen children, eagerly received the Catholic faith passed onto her from her parents. She was a diligent student and dutiful daughter throughout her childhood. As a young adult, Gianna served her community by working with the poor through the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and with the youth in Catholic Action. She also had a passion for the beauty of nature and enjoyed spending time outdoors, skiing and mountaineering. Gianna’s life was marked by a strong trust in Providence as well as a conviction that life was a gift from God. This trust in God’s providence would prove to be one of the defining characteristics of Gianna’s life.

After finishing her undergraduate studies, Gianna pursued a career in medicine at the University of Pavia, specializing in Family Medicine and Pediatrics. Upon completing her degree, she opened her own medical clinic in Mesero, a town near her childhood home. Gianna took her vocation as a doctor seriously and dedicated herself to assisting those most in need, including poor mothers, babies, and the elderly. This dedication to the poor prompted Gianna to consider medical missionary work. She even attempted to join her brother, who was a missionary priest in Brazil. However, her poor health prevented her from going, so she carried on her work at the medical clinic in Mesero. Gianna continued to seek God’s will for her life. For a time, she considered entering a convent and serving God in the religious life, but after much prayer—and after meeting her future

Born: October 4, 1922 | Died: April 28, 1962 | Feast Day: April 28th Patron Saint of: Mothers, Physicians, Unborn Children “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” - Hebrews 12:1


CLOUD OF WITNESSES

husband—she finally discerned her vocation to the married life. Gianna met Pietro Molla, an engineer ten years her senior, in December 1945. They were engaged the following April and happily married on September 24, 1955. Gianna entered her new vocation with the same spirit of joyful service that marked her single life. She and her husband committed themselves “to forming a truly Christian family”, which they happily did in 1956 with the birth of their first child, a son named Pierluigi. Over the next two years, Pietro and Gianna joyfully welcomed two daughters, Mariolina and Laura. In 1961, Gianna became pregnant again. During the second month of her pregnancy, however, she began to experience severe abdominal pain. After an assessment, her doctors determined she was suffering from uterine fibroma. The condition put both herself and the baby in danger, but Gianna only expressed concern for her child. The physicians ultimately gave her three choices: an abortion, a hysterectomy, or 44

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a surgery to remove the fibroma. Gianna was warned that to continue the pregnancy, even with the fibroma successfully removed, would still be a risk to herself. Without pause, Gianna chose to have only the fibroma removed. She firmly made her wishes known to her husband, saying, “If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; choose—and I demand it—the baby.” Even after a successful surgery, complications continued throughout the remaining months of her pregnancy. Gianna’s trust in Providence supported her during this time, throughout which she remained faithful to her duties as a doctor, a wife, and a mother. On Good Friday 1962, Gianna successfully delivered her fourth child, a healthy baby girl named Gianna Emanuela, via cesarean section. However, Gianna continued to be in severe pain and remained at the hospital following the delivery, all the while embracing her suffering and even giving thanks to God for it. A week later, Gianna died from peritonitis, a complication related to the delivery. She was only 39 years old.

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In May 2004, Pope John Paul II named Gianna Beretta Molla a saint of the Catholic Church. In his homily at her canonization Mass, the Pope called Gianna “A simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.” Perhaps Gianna’s greatest insight into divine love was her understanding of its relationship with suffering, which she expressed when she said, “One cannot love without suffering or suffer without loving.” Gianna bore witness to the value and power of sacrificial love throughout her life of service, but most especially by laying down her life for her child. Gianna’s example is a timely one for us today. Not only does her pro-life witness stand in powerful opposition to the Culture of Death, but her spirit of joyful self-sacrifice can also shed light on our society’s misconceptions about finding fulfillment in life and love. As John Paul II said of Gianna at her canonization, “The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.” May the beauty of St. Gianna’s life inspire us not to be afraid to sacrifice and suffer for love!

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Prayer of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

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Liechtenstein Prince Wins Pro-life Gamble IN THE NEWS

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IN THE NEWS

A drawn-out battle for the pro-life cause finally end-

ed in victory early in July in the Central European principality of Liechtenstein.

The battle began back in June of 2011, when proabortion activists proposed a revision to Liechtenstein’s existing law on abortion. At the time, the law prohibited abortions of any kind except in cases where continuing a pregnancy posed extreme risk to the mother’s health. However, even in these instances abortion was to be regarded as the absolute last resort. To enforce this, the law also stated that any physician found performing abortions “on demand” outside these specific cases could serve up to three years in prison, while the mother who procured it could serve as much as a year.1 The changes proposed to these laws by the abortionist group were radical indeed. Not only did they propose legalizing abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, but also in any case where the fetus was identified as having a mental or physical disability. A referendum was scheduled in mid-June to vote on the proposal. However, before the it took place, Liechtenstein’s Catholic monarch, Prince Alois, made a stand against the pro-abortionists. Without any talk of a compromise, the Prince declared he would veto their proposal, should it survive the referendum. According to a spokesperson for the monarch, the Prince “wanted to send a clear signal that abortion isn’t an acceptable solution for an unwanted pregnancy.”2 Despite mounting pressure within Liechtenstein from the pro-abortion activists, as well as from political Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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IN THE NEWS

entities outside the country such as the European Union, the proposal was voted down in the June referendum. Spurred on by the outcome of the referendum, disgruntled pro-abortion and pro-democracy activists drafted yet another proposal early in 2012, this time targeting the veto power of their pro-life monarch. Despite the rare use of the veto in recent decades (the last time being in the 1980’s), the activists sought to drastically limit the Prince’s right to block new legislation. Prince Alois’ response to this initiative was unexpected and even more provocative than his last. If the people voted to remove his right to veto, the Prince announced that he would step down from power and leave the country, likely taking with him the political stability that the 300-year-old royal family signified. The Prince’s declaration hit a nerve for many in Liechtenstein who felt the activist’s proposal betrayed the deep-seated respect and loyalty existing between the people and the monarchy for centuries. The division caused by the proposal could be seen everywhere in Liechtenstein in the time leading up to the referendum. 48

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The people finally voted on July 1st, and the results spelled out a strong victory for Prince Alois, with an impressive 76% of voters supporting his right to veto. With most of Central Europe embracing abortion-on-demand policies and consequently experiencing low population replacement rates, Prince Alois’ example of conscientious leadership in regard to abortion is a glimmer of hope for the pro-life cause in Europe. Moreover, thanks to the vote of confidence he received from his people this month, Alois will continue to be in a powerful position to promote the right to life in his own country and in the world.

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Smith, Brittany. “Prince Promises to Veto Abortion Law.” WORLDmag.com. N.p., 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 25 July 2012. 1

Bucher, Joannes. “Liechtenstein Battling EU Pressure to Legalize Abortion.” LifeNews.com. N.p., 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 25 July 2012. 2

Additional Resources: - Ertelt, Steven. “Liechtenstein Voters Reject Measure to Legalize Abortion.” Lifenews.com. N.p., 19 Sept. 2011. Web. 25 July 2012. - Von Krempach, J.C. “Prince of Liechtenstein Risks Crown to Defeat Abortion Lobby.” Lifenews.com. N.p., 17 July 2012. Web. 25 July 2012.

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Quotes to Remember Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. -Margaret Dyreng Nadauld

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The Beauty of Natural Family Planning by Kallah Oakes

I recently went for my annual OB check-up. Believe it or not, I was actually excited about it. I couldn’t wait for my midwife to meet the little curly-headed boy she had helped my husband and I bring into the world just one year before. Sure enough, we had a lovely little visit, and then she had to ask me about my method of contraception. I cringed at this because there is no way, in a few short seconds, to explain how Natural Family Planning is not Catholic contraception, nor is it a superstitious “rhythm method.” Moreover, there is no way to tell someone, in just a casual conversation, what a valuable gift NFP can be to a marriage. I’m not even talking about its proven effectiveness or its many health benefits. The real value of NFP, its real beauty and goodness, can be seen most clearly in the effects it can have on the spouses and the family. Our Lord challenged His disciples to judge a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:16). The fruit of practicing NFP has been powerful for my family, and this is what I wish I could have shared with my midwife:

LOVE: The greatest fruit of NFP in my marriage and family is the increase of gratitude and love between my hus50

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band and I. Despite what many may think, the short periods of abstinence NFP calls married couples to observe if they are trying to avoid a pregnancy does not have to dampen the love or romance between the spouses. It is impossible to authentically practice NFP, though, without learning a few different ways of expressing love for one another that do not involve physically renewing your marriage vows. My husband and I had to learn by trial and error what worked and what didn’t work in showing each other love and affection during these times. We found that sitting up on the couch and just talking… about work, about books, about things that excite us…was incredibly romantic without making marital chastity incredibly frustrating. Not only did this different, fresh way of showing love for one another make everything else so much more satisfying throughout the month, but it has truly increased our gratitude and love. We are grateful to see the self-sacrifice of desires that the other is willing to make for the good of his beloved... grateful for the heroic practice of virtue that arises out of a desire to protect the nature of our love for each other. I know I can thank NFP for the fire burning bright in my marriage.

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JOY & PEACE: Two other fruits NFP

has brought to my little family are joy and its sister, peace. The joy my husband and I have experienced comes from the trusting openness to life—to the abundant life that Christ wants to offer us (John 10:10)—that NFP challenges us to practice. We are content in the knowledge that we are pursuing God’s will for us as a growing family. We’re also greatly relieved and at peace by the ability NFP has given us to understand what is going on with my body at any given time of the month. This confidence didn’t develop without effort though. It took about six months of observing my own cycle before I started to see the patterns and understand the fluctuations—and six months for my husband to appreciate the complexities and to realize that my body is not some crazy, hormonal, irrational mystery. Now that we are at last able to relax and trust the accuracy of NFP, we can turn our attention to the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual sides of this process of family planning. Like Mary who sat peacefully at Jesus’ feet while Martha worried and sweated in frustration, my spouse and I feel NFP has enabled us to joyfully seek God’s will for our family because everything else is peacefully well-ordered.

PATIENCE: Another beautiful fruit of NFP has been the patience it has taught

my husband and I…patience with each other’s limitations; patience with our own desires to express our love physically on days of fertility; patience as we persist in discernment and prayer each month to know when God will open the door for that next little person to join our family. Practicing NFP requires and fosters patience in an ongoing conversation between the spouses. Part of the beauty of the whole process lies in the way NFP gently forces you to discuss everything openly with your spouse, and to become a patient and compassionate listener. Your limitations, your burdens, your desires, your hopes, your concerns, and your fears are suddenly on the table with humbling clarity and liberating honesty. The discussions that have arisen on nights when my husband and I are trying to be patient with our desires have been poignantly deep and lovingly tender. I am so grateful to have experienced them.

KINDNESS: The kindness that I have

experienced from my husband, the chivalry reminiscent of our chaste dating days, is a cherished fruit that has come since we chose to practice NFP. For my part, I have learned to express my longing to please my husband during days of fertility with actions of kindness—taking out the trash (which is usually his job), cleaning the kitchen be-

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fore he gets home, or rubbing his head when he’s tired from a long day at work.

GOODNESS: Yet another fruit of

NFP for us has been a deepening desire to seek the good—the good for our growing family, the good for each other, and the good for both the present and the future, above both our passionate desires and irrational fears. NFP teaches us to prayerfully seek what is truly good for our children. Oftentimes this is not a trust fund and a car at sixteen in the absence of companionship and love from many brothers and sisters in a bustling, joyful household. However, nor is it an exhausted mother and careworn father overwhelmed by their brood. NFP has taught my husband and I that discovering what is truly good for our family can only be accomplished by the grace of God in our prayerful discernment. NFP has also taught us that the good for our family is going to be unique and completely different from what may be the good for another family; we cannot look to others to learn what is good for us.

SELF-CONTROL: Without a

doubt, practicing NFP has strengthened the fruit of self-control in both my husband and myself. Self-control was never a strong point for me; I am embarrassed to admit that prior to marriage I generally just did what I wanted when I want52

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ed to, with one excuse after another for my lack of discipline. I have always been good at rationalizing my selfish actions in the absence of self-control. By learning to practice NFP, however, my ability to exercise self-control has increased in every area of my life—whether I’m trying to stick to a budget, attempting to keep my house clean and orderly, or sticking to an exercise regimen. I have been so grateful for the grace God has given me to grow in this crucial virtue.

FAITHFULNESS: Another fruit

of NFP is faithfulness. Of all the reasons why I chose NFP over artificial birth control, the one that sits at the foundation of all my convictions is my belief that to contracept would greatly endanger the happy, free, fruitful and faithful oneness I am so blessed to experience with my spouse. Perhaps other couples do not see contraception as a grave danger to the longevity and faithfulness of their marriage. Perhaps they have never recognized negative effects from using a condom or a pill to be sexually at each other’s disposal, at the price of suppressing their potential to create new life. However, after years of formation in the theological and philosophical reasons behind the Church’s teachings on contraception, I am convinced that if I were to contracept I would be knowingly using my husband and allowing him to

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use me. This, I sincerely believe, would take its toll on our union and commitment to each other. Studies show that divorce rate for couples who practice Natural Family Planning is less than 5%.1 This makes sense to me, given the positive effects my husband and I experience in our marriage through practicing NFP. Truly, the fruit of steady faithfulness in our marriage is worth the sacrifice of the convenience of contraception.

GENTLENESS: Finally, gentleness

has also been a fruit of NFP on my marriage. The short periods of abstinence that come along with practicing NFP help me see my husband as the same young man who gently and persistently pursued me with both passion and purity during our season of dating. This is because NFP requires him to use the same virtue of self-denial and respect for my dignity that made him so irresistible to me when I was just his girlfriend. Thanks to the cycle of varying expressions of marital love we experience each month with NFP, my husband is reminded that he must continue to “court” me with sincere gentility, while in return I’m reminded that I am deeply desired and beloved by my husband.

The fruits of Natural Family Planning in our lives have indeed been the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). The gentle, peaceful order that has come into our lives upon learning the art of NFP has truly blown me away. My husband and I are daily being tried and tested into more loving spouses and parents, more self-aware individuals, and more truly humble seekers of God’s will. In a nutshell, that is what NFP does. If you pursue it with discipline, purity of heart, and open communication with your spouse and Christ, NFP prepares your heart for God’s will. It gives God a chance to send you invitations, to open your heart, to gently convict you of your weakness, and to bless you for your generosity. I am grateful each day to the Holy Spirit for inspiring us to learn this discipline, and for giving us the grace to stick to it. I pray that more and more young couples open themselves up to the beauty NFP could bring to their lives, and the fruit it could have on their marriages and families.

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http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/193/36/ Further Reading: The Papal Enyclicals Humanae Vitae (Pope Paul VI), Gaudium et Spes, Familiaris Consortio (Pope John Paul II), and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 2366-2372* 1

What does the Church teach?

KNOW IT. LIVE IT.


REAL CLOSETS

Summer Styles REAL CLOSETS:

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REAL CLOSETS

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Amanda& REAL CLOSETS

Anna’s closet

Bright pink umbrella to help beat the heat

Cotton maxi dress to keep cool and comfy

AMANDA (28) Full-time job: Stay-at-home mommy Pet Project: Being a prepared mother by learning about common childhood illnesses and injuries. Guilty Pleasure: Starbucks Frappacinos 56

Dignitas Magazine | Summer 2012

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Chubby baby cheeks Floral sun dress

Strappy sandals

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Dignitas Magazine | Summer2012

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Sarah’s closet

Gold dangle earrings

SARAH (26) By day: Admin Assistant By night: Dancing fanatic— Swing, Lindy hop, and Blues. Current Ambitions: Slalom water skiing and cooking the perfect pork chop.

Linen shirt

Soft leather tote

Black and gold bead cuff bracelet

Bright red shorts to add color 58

Dignitas Magazine | Summer 2012

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Susan’s closet

REAL CLOSETS

Summer fedora Turquoise earrings

Pink and white flowy scarf

Light-weight long sleeve T

SUSAN (19) Studying: Psychology New-Found Hobby: Trail Running. Challenging, but so fun! Most Proud of: My niece and three little nephews

Summery white shorts

Aztec print handbag Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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REAL CLOSETS

Fashion Tips

A basic “trick of the trade” for summer dressing is layering tank tops or camis underneath shirts and dresses with low necklines. However, if temperatures make adding layers to your outfit impractical, sidestep the need for layering by looking for tops with higher necklines. Simple necklines don’t mean you have to sacrifice style, though. For starters, try pairing a chunky, statement necklace with a simple crew-neck tee. Both the neckline and jewelry will draw attention upwards to your face.

We all know that modesty gets harder the closer your summer plans take you to the water. If you’re planning on buying a new swimsuit this summer, the Dignitas team’s best advice is to be aware of your body type. For example, if you have a larger bust size look for styles designed in your favor, like this “V” strap swimsuit. Designs like these offer coverage right where you need it. Also keep in mind that swimsuits designed for high levels of activity often provide more support and coverage than your average swimwear. 60

Dignitas Magazine | Summer 2012

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More than any other season, summer poses a unique fashion dilemma— how to stay cool yet covered in the summer heat. Here are a few tips from the Dignitas team for beating the heat without sacrificing your sense of style or your dignity.

The most practical way to dress for the summer heat is to choose loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics, like cotton or linen. Breezy peasant tops and light-weight linen skirts or pants are savvy additions to your summer wardrobe. Remember that color choice matters as well. Stick with light colors on hot days since they don’t absorb as much heat as dark colors do.

Finally, whatever you’re wearing this summer, remember this: when it comes to modesty, how you carry yourself is often just as important as how covered you are. The simple act of smiling and standing tall with your shoulders back clearly communicates your dignity and worth to everyone meet. Happy Summer!

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VENUES OF GRACE

Building up the Body of Christ

By Christina Coffman

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Dignitas Magazine | Summer 2012

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VENUES OF GRACE

One way that the staff of Dignitas Magazine stays spiritually nourished is through a women’s study group, begun and led by our friend and contributing photographer Heather Burgess. Our weekly discussions have impacted our spiritual lives in such a powerful way that we wanted to share how a study group can be a special “venue of grace”. We encourage you to start your own!

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VENUES OF GRACE

Until last fall, I didn’t have

many Catholic friends. In fact, all throughout my middle and high school years, friends who shared my faith were few and far between. I had several Christian friends but I lacked a connection with them when it came to discussing the depth of my Catholic faith. Right after graduating high school, I moved with my family from Maryland to South Carolina. As most people do when moving to a new place, I spent nearly the whole first year building new circles of friends. When I looked for Catholic friends, however, I came up dry time and time again. I was too old for the high school youth group in my church and too young to relate to the adult groups. I was coming into my sophomore year of college, and my desire to discuss and grow in my faith with others my age was only getting stronger. Little did I know I wasn’t the only young, Catholic woman in the area with the same desire. I heard about a newly-formed study group for college age and young professional Catholic women through our new parish. The group met at a coffee shop once a week to discuss a 64

Dignitas Magazine | Summer 2012

book about Catholic womanhood. Needless to say, I eagerly joined them. What a blessing it turned out to be! Week after week, I found that our discussions enriched my life and brought me closer to God.

Being part of a group of other young women with whom you can grow in your faith is truly a wonderful gift. When I learned how the group came together, I saw just how much of a work of grace it really was. Heather shares the story: “Following a time of personal sorrow, God began bringing several young women into my life, all in their late teens and early twenties. I felt very called to serve them in some way, though I was unsure how. One day, I happened to catch part of Steve Wood’s radio program, Faith and Family, on the local Catholic radio station. He was interviewing author Gina Loehr about her book, Choosing Beauty: A 30-Day Spiritual Makeover for

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VENUES OF GRACE

Women, which discusses the cardinal and theological virtues, and how Catholic women can practice them. At that moment I felt confident that the Lord wanted me to begin a women’s book study dedicated to growing in our faith and encouraging one another.” Heather shared her idea with the young women she knew and asked if they’d be interested in forming a group. Without fail, every one of them responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” To Heather’s surprise, some even added they had been praying for something like that. “God could not have affirmed his plans more clearly,” Heather says.

Our women’s group has been meeting for nearly a year now. In that time it has become clear to us that the evening we spend together each week truly helps us grow in our faith and our pursuit of holiness. The friendships we’ve formed and the encouragement Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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VENUES OF GRACE

we receive help us to keep moving forward in our relationship with Christ. Like me, Dignitas writer Katherine Williams was also looking for Catholic friends since she had moved to the area a few years back. She joined our study group shortly after it began and describes how encouraging it was to find “other young ladies who were also striving to be gracious and virtuous women.” Sarah Perkins, a recent convert to Catholicism, shares how the honesty and mutual trust we have in our discussions helps us grow by encouraging us “to share personal things that we would normally keep hidden. I’ve realized that we all deal with very similar issues, and that I’m not the only one who struggles in certain areas.” By being honest about our struggles and encouraging each other’s efforts, each of us has felt the positive effects of true Christian friendship in our lives.

Forming your own study group can really be as simple and easy 66

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as you want to make it. Start by getting the word out, either with a few phone calls or a notice in your parish bulletin. Once you and a few friends can commit to come together once a week, choose your discussion material. Our group finds it helpful to choose books with short chapters and discussion questions so if someone misses a week they can easily pick back up with the group without feeling too far behind. This also makes it easy for newcomers to join in while we are in the middle of a book. In addition to Gina Loehr’s book Choosing Beauty, two other titles with this format are: Style, Sex, and Substance edited by Hallie Lord and Living as a Beloved Daughter of God by Patricia Mitchell and Bill Bawden. Once you have your reading material picked-out, you’ll need a meeting place. You can meet at a coffee shop, a Church building, or even in a home. Something to consider when choosing a location is how formal you want your meetings to be. The women in our group prefer the laid-back atmosphere of a local coffee shop, which helps keep the discussion relaxed.

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VENUES OF GRACE

The format of your weekly meetings can be simple as well. We always open with prayer and follow with the questions at the end of each chapter to guide our discussion. Finally, each meeting ends with a time to share prayer requests. Everyone writes down their prayer intentions for the week and gives them to the person sitting to their right. Praying for each other’s needs throughout the week has been a wonderful way to get to know

each other better and deepen our friendships. Our women’s group has become a weekly reminder for all of us that Our Heavenly Father always knows our desires and gives us the what we need to grow in holiness. If God calls you to start a similar group in your parish, we hope you will experience the same grace that we have.

Copyright 2012 Dignitas Magazine. All rights reserved. No material from this website may be copied, reproduced or distributed without express written permission from Dignitas Magazine.

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Blessed John Paul II, Pray for us! Dignitas Magazine is powered by prayer and the creative juices that flow from working in the wee hours of the morning.


Summer 2012