NFP Awareness Week 2016- Media Meditation Monday


Hat tip/credit to the USCCB.

Let’s get this week really underway! (If you’d like a primer on NFP, explore the links provided by the USCCB.)

A couple of years ago I decided to recognize NFP Awareness Week with some regular posts. I’ll try to tag them so you can look them up (and honestly, I need to review what I’ve already said!).

Today I wanted to bring back one of my personal favorite categories, Modern Media Meditation. Considering myself musically Ignatian, I most often and profoundly experience God in music. And believe it or not, some of the principles of NFP are preached in music. That you hear on the radio! No need to wade through the one generic Christian rock station or break out Matt Maher CDs, unless you’d like to.

“All of Me” by John Legend. For our first dance, PJ and I swayed and twirled to young singer Jasmine Thompson’s cover.

Many posts ago, I analyzed the lyrics to the song, with maybe just a hint of an idea that perhaps it could be used for my very own marriage! If someone knows of a version with male and female voices, please let me know, so it can be my new favorite thing. To further connect the words to NFP, especially the lovely theme devised by the USCCB:

  • Love: Not just the passionate, romantic kind (eros) the singer feels for the beloved, but the sacrificial (caritas/agape) kind: “Even when I lose, I’m winning.” Something I could only superficially understand before marriage and living the practice out–“NFP entails loving sacrifice”–I am now experiencing more deeply. Think of any hard part of NFP and that you were losing–the idea is to have the grace to see you’re actually winning, because what you have given up was out of love for the other. And that is “winning.”


  • Mercy: This virtue is showing compassion, to “feel with.” Despite  the beloved’s “imperfections,” or the “world beating you down,” the singer loves the person totally and completely. To me, the latter lyric could signify our sinful nature in this fallen world. And NFP in practice does still offer a channel for evil to enter in. What couples have to do (and what PJ and I are striving to live out) is be merciful to one another when he/she struggles, and like God, love anyway–and use that love to “show us still a better way.”


  • Life: Okay, this is a little bit of a stretch, because nothing in the song talks about creating a life together. HOWEVER, the singer repeatedly mentions giving his/her “all” to the other, as does the beloved reciprocate. In NFP, you are giving all of yourself, including your potential fertility. When you’re both “showing hearts” (just what shape do you think some NFP charts use to indicate intercourse?), you’re showing openness to each other, but also a child.

And just because there has to be some humor, some choice lyrics are “You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind.” Relying on (a very effective) method of spacing or achieving pregnancy that relies on discernment is a very radical act in today’s culture, and given some of the practice’s idiosynchrosies, a little intimidating. Also, “Risking it all, though it’s hard.” I will always be honest. Before marriage, I could point to forums, articles, “experts” and say, “Let’s not be naive. This is hard.” Now I can say, “Yup! I was right.” Sometimes it is a challenge, and you’re feeling like you are taking a risk. But the point is you do it anyway. Not because you’re lazy. Not because some old man in a funny hat told you you had to or else hell. But because you want to. Because you see it as an act of love.

Some other examples:

  • “Take Me the Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. The sentiment of accepting a person the way she is–you know, a person with the gift of potential fertility (or with challenges)–is clear. The line about Rogaine is unfrotunate, BUT the rest of the singer’s reciprocity is about small acts of care, especially the physical. NFP is all about honoring and caring for your beloved’s body.
  • “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten. While not an obvious choice, this song captures the commitment, even in the most difficult times, a beloved feels for the other. I hear elements of sacrifice and mercy (“I’ll walk through hell with you”) and charity (“Take my [wings] so yours can open to”). NFP involves a deep commitment for spouses, and depending on your discernment, can have its “heavens” you can’t find, and its hells that maybe you find yourselves in. Not to mention that the teaching of why NFP is an approved practice is based on Truth, and living it out requires faith.

What songs have you heard lately that might apply? Which lyrics will see you through your journey?

Oh, and I want to shout out to the blogger and author who really “sold” me on NFP. Simcha Fisher is running a contest for SIX ClearBlue fertility monitors all week. You can use this trusty device as part of a sympto-hormonal method of NFP to achieve or postpone pregnancy.


NFP Week: Modern Media Meditation–Humanae Vitae


*Disclaimer: I am away on a cruise and may not have access to update/edit this post or moderate comments. Please be charitable!*

Did you know you can read all of the popes’ encyclicals for free? Online?

Happily, the Vatican posts all things papal on its Web site, very often in your language of choice. 🙂

Here’s Humane Vitae.

A very prescient document that definitely has something to say to our current culture. Just look at the opening paragraphs:

“The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.”

Happy meditating!


Modern Media Meditation Monday: Marriage Songs

Happy Easter!

This week on the Not Alone series, we’re talking about marriage. And since Lent is over, and hence my sacrifice of wedding/marriage-related reading/thinking is also over, I thought I’d finally put out this post that’s been on my heart. Many of the songs on the radio today are sad love songs—and not sad because they’re about loves lost, but sad because the type of love expressed and desired isn’t real love at all, but an at-times grotesque imitation. Happily, though, a few songs are getting national play and popularity that do express the essence of love—particularly the wondrous kind found in marriage:

Sara Bareilles “I Choose You”

– “I will become yours and you will become mine/I choose you”: Love binds us. We become one flesh. Love is not just a feeling, but a choice, a commitment.

– “My whole heart/Will be yours forever/This is a beautiful start/To a lifelong love letter”: Love is meant to be a lifetime. Unlike romantic comedies where the marriage is the end of the love story, marriage is the beginning.

– “I am under-prepared, but I am willing/And even better/I get to be the other half of you”: Love is between two people, fallen as we are. And no one is 100% prepared, but love is an act of the will. And loving another person is sanctifying.

John Legend “All of Me”

– “Love your curves and all your edges/all your perfect imperfections”: Love is not just accepting all the bits of a person, but loving them.

– “Give your all to me/I’ll give my all to you”: Love is the gift of self—the whole self; it does not hold back. Love is reciprocal.

– “Even when I lose, I’m winning”: Love is sacrifice, but from that sacrifice comes authentic joy.

– “Cards on the table/we’re both showing hearts/risking it all/though it’s hard”: Love can be hard, but if both come with open hearts, it is worth it.

Goo Goo Dolls “Come to Me”

– “Come to me my sweetest friend”: Love isn’t just romance, but friendship—a person you choose for your life, bound not by familial affection or the hormones of desire, but an act of the will to share things with the person.

– “Fortune teller said I’d be free/And that’s the day you came to me”: Love isn’t freedom from, it’s freedom to. So often people associate relationship with constraint (ball and chain), but authentic love is freeing–his freedom is when his relationship begins.

– “Today’s the day I’ll make you mine/So get me to the church on time”: Love is sacramental. And what’s more: the beloved isn’t really the other’s until the sacrament that binds them.

Modern Media Meditation Monday

I sometimes feel like an Augustine Jesuit. St. Augustine says singing music is like praying twice. St. Ignatius says to find God in all things. I find Him in popular or secular music. Yesterday, during laundry, I was struck by my 1000th listen to Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait:”

I was so moved by this listen because this time, I experienced the magical moment of the fourth stage. My meditation on the lyrics of a song moves through three phases:


Sweetheart Serenade: First, I imagine that a potential Proverbial Boyfriend is singing the song to me. Or requesting it at the dance hall and dedicating it to me. With “I Will Wait,” I envision it as being an awesome statement of his commitment to chastity with me.


Oh yeah, Love is Reciprocal: Sometimes I am graced with the ears to listen to the song and take away a new thought: I would sing these lyrics to potential Proverbial Boyfriend or writing the lyrics in a card or something. or even just praying them for him. With this song, I realized, I need to express this sentiment as a show of support. I will wait for him. Patience is a virtue I don’t have quite yet, and in a real-life situation, I literally am waiting and need to “keep my heart slow.”


God’s Love Song: Then I might be blessed with my ears opened by the Holy Spirit. The lyrics are love notes from God! This Mumford song isn’t quite obvious; perhaps the singer is Jesus. He is waiting for me, waiting for me to come to Him, to love Him, and he will be patient with me on my faith journey.

Oh yeah, Love is Reciprocal, Part 2: Finally, I might reach the point at which I want to belt out the song to God. I love Him and want to express the joy of my relationship with Him. And if I can do that, then I am content to have that be the only relationship in my life. Like I said, patience is a virtue I do not have yet. And sometimes it is hard for me to wait for God to surprise me. But yesterday, I found myself authentically singing that “I will wait for you,” God.

Modern Media Meditation Monday

I absolutely love Facebook squares and Pinterest pins. here’s one to mull over:

take a deep breath and trust in God.

Worry seems to be a natural part of being human. If something challenging were going on, one would think it almost wrong or weird if you had no worry about lab results, poor performance at work or school, or uncertainty about the future. It is not bad to have emotions, but it is bad to let them overtake you.

While it may be difficult to “forget” about something that is truly a concern, it is far easier to let that concern overtake everything else. I was recently anxious about a certain situation and was worried and praying a lot. Then I remembered that I had faced this situation before—albeit with different details. but the core issue was the same. And I also remembered that it ended well—God had provided for me. So this time, when the worry resurfaced, I did take a deep breath and said “I will trust in you, Lord.”

If we look at worry as a lack of trust in God, we will be able to prioritize our feelings anew: we will focus on striving to trust in God and not on our woes.




Modern Media Meditation Monday

Today’s meditation is on an interpretation of Sara Bareilles’ “Winter Song.”

Girl: This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon,
It rolls in from the sea

God: My voice; a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light,
To carry you to me.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?

Is love

Girl: They say that things just cannot grow
Beneath the winter snow,
Or so I have been told.

They say were buried far,
Just like a distant star
I simply cannot hold.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

God: I still believe in summer days.
The seasons always change
And life will find a way.

I’ll be your harvester of light
And send it out tonight
So we can start again.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

Girl: This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon
It rolls in from the sea.

My love a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light
To carry you to me.

Is love alive?

To ponder and pray with:

*What “storms” do I face in my life?

*What keeps me distant from God’s voice and love?

*How do I answer God when He asks if love is “alive” within me?

* What answer do I expect from God when I ask Him about love? How do I feel about what He says?

* When have I recognized my role and responsibilities in maintaining my relationship with God?
*How can I keep God’s and my love alive in this world?

Modern Meditation Monday – The Way


From the 2011 movie The Way, starring Martin Sheen:



“You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.”

These words from Daniel, the son whose tragic trip on El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), a pilgrimage through Spain, inspire many paths for meditation.

  • Most often, it is the parent who gives wise counsel to his son or daughter. But in this film, some of Daniel’s last words to his father are profound pearls of wisdom that show how the child can speak to the parent. How often do we try to tell our Father what to do? Are our words really wise?
  • Many times we hear the words “Choose life” as a pro-life slogan. One reason that’s done is to use the words of the abortion-rights groups’ meme and subvert them to convey a more positive message. But if we consider Daniel’s words, we either live our lives, or we don’t. Outside the “life” connotations of the quote, it on its face may inspire many people on both sides of the debate. What attitudes and means of support can we pray for to help pregnant women fully live out their lives with the new life they’re carrying?

The movie is full of wonderful quotes to think about:

  • “Why does something that is supposed to be so inspirational make me so angry?”
  • “A pilgrim is pure and should suffer.”

Buen camino.


Modern Meditation Monday – It’s Still Sunday

Happy Easter! and Happy Sunday

Easter is so joyous that we Catholics celebrate for eight days – an octave. But this is no ordinary octave – it is an octave of Sundays.
In our hyper-scheduled lives, it can be hard to wrap our heads around eight of the same-named day in a row. It certainly doesn’t feel like another Sunday – we’re back to work! But liturgically, Sunday it is.

Today, and for the rest of the week until Divine Mercy Sunday, we celebrate the Resurrection as if each day were Easter Sunday. Daily Mass will feature a sung Gloria, and the readings will feature the many different experiences people had following Jesus’s rising again.

In the regular calendar year, Sundays are a time to slow down, savor the time for rest, and celebrate the Mass. So for Easter, we should embrace this opportunity to slow down, savor this special time, and celebrate Mass – living out the joy in context of the rest of our week.

Since we can’t recalibrate our PDAs to reflect this time-shift, what if we used them to track one thing we can do to recognize it as a “Sunday?”

Modern Meditation Monday – “Make a Joyful Noise”

One Lenten sacrifice some people make is to give up listening to secular music. To be sure, some lyrics of the more dance-able songs don’t speak to our strength or dignity as women. But not all mainstream music contains negative messages. In fact, some songs proclaim profound thoughts for reflection.

Consider the lyrics of Death Cab for Cutie’s “You’re a Tourist.” The verses capture the emotions found in the biography of St. Francis of Assisi. After a prolonged illness as a young adult, he returned to his usual life of partying with his rich friends, but felt deeply unsatisfied and out of place.

Now let’s break it down:

“And when you feel like you’re a tourist
In the city you were born
Then it’s time to go
And define your destination
With so many different places
To call home
Cause when you find yourself a villain
In this story you have written
It’s plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions
Are in need of redemptions
Would you agree?
If so, please show me”

Francis felt like an outsider among his peers. His profligate life of leisure and spending his father’s riches made him feel like he was doing wrong. He prayed, and oh, did the Lord show him: The rest of his life he devoted himself to traveling around in poverty with no home base – just as Jesus had commanded of apostles in the Gospels.

The rest of the song’s lyrics apply not just to saints’ lives, but our own as Proverbial women as well. Though the tone and instrumental accompaniment aren’t rousing, the words are encouraging:

“When there’s a burning in your heart
An endless yearning in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun
Let it grow, let it grow
When there’s a burning in your heart
Don’t be alarmed.”

Wherever you’re at with your relationship with God, if suddenly you’re surprised at a new fluttering of desire to be called to something greater, something new – you need not worry; this is nothing to fear.

“When there’s a doubt in your mind
Cause you’re thinkin’ all the time
Framin’ rights into wrongs
Move along, move along
When there’s a doubt in your mind”

This current season of Lent in particular inspires us to reflect, to contemplate, to review our lives. Competing worldviews among members of our own Catholic faith can prompt inner anxiety – am I living right? Is this opinion okay to have? But we shouldn’t linger in these doubts. If we’ve been properly taught in the faith and are living as Christ calls us, we need not give into insidious questions, as those only lead to fear.

“When there’s a burning in your heart
And you think you’ll burst apart
Oh, there’s nothing to fear
Save the tears, save the tears”

How many times have we felt like only a thread was keeping us together or we’d explode – not just in anger, sadness or worry or even happiness or love, but somehow we manage to keep together? I like to think it’s God’s love anchoring every thread of our being. With such power in our souls, why retreat back to fear? No, let us laugh at the future.