Posts Tagged ‘abstinence’

By: Lynette Wilhelm, Staff Spotlight

My first exposure to “the Pill” was actually while watching an episode of The Wonder Years on TV as a kid.  I loved this show, and dreamed of one day living the hippie lifestyle of the ‘60s by attempting to replicate the style of Karen Arnold.  I even made a patchwork dress out of an old pair of overalls that I rocked into college, oh yeah :)

1e8ce1eAnyway, I’ll always remember the pilot episode where the narrator, Kevin Arnold, described his family’s evening rituals marked by the arrival of his dad coming home after a long day at a thankless job.  Kevin explains that no serious business could be presented to their patriarch until he had loosened his tie and had a good vodka tonic in him.  However, the eldest Karen was not as respectful of this ritual, and begins an evening family discussion around the table by announcing, “I’m gonna get some birth control pills; I thought you should know,” triggering chaos at the family dinner table.

At the time, I couldn’t understand the big deal of this statement and its dramatic effect on the family’s evening.  But as I grew up, I realized that Karen was basically announcing to her family that she was planning to begin a sexually active lifestyle – while still in high school, no less – the thought of which no parent should really enjoy.

The Catholic schools I attended and youth group repeatedly instilled in me the desire to remain chaste and abstinent until marriage, in accordance with Church teaching.  I was graced with many faithful instructors who taught a true, Catholic education: that sex is beautiful and holy and should only be experienced within the context of marriage.  I will be entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony later this summer, and I have been blessed to keep this promise to myself, God, and my future husband.

Yet oftentimes, Catholic schools and youth groups forget to take these promises one step further and encourage chastity once married.  Just as I didn’t “sleep around” and offer my sexuality to men I did not truly love, once I am committed by the Sacrament of Matrimony to my beloved, I will continue in my understanding that sex is still beautiful and holy.  So holy, in fact, that it can bring forth another human life!  How awesome is that?!

Erin Kisley, who has written wonderful pieces as a fellow bride-to-be here on Encourage & Teach, recently reflected on this topic and how the process of Natural Family Planning (NFP) can promote this chastity in marriage.  We as Catholics must also understand this process in order to teach it in our Catholic schools and youth groups.  It’s not enough to teach “no sex before marriage.”  We must introduce our youth to what happens to sex after marriage.  It remains beautiful and holy, albeit taken up a few thousand notches :)  And that is nothing to “wonder” about!

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Lynette Wilhelm has a B.A. in Political Science from Hillsdale College and a Master’s from the University of Dallas.  She works for the Office for Child Protection & Safety coordinating safe environment trainings for the Diocese of Arlington.

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By: Kathleen Yacharn

So, I was driving in my car with my son and daughter the other day and a few uncharitable words about the driver in front of me might’ve slipped out, but really, who drives 15 miles below the speed limit? And while no swears were said, I was still surprised when my adorable four-year-old son chimed in by gleefully repeating what I’d said with the gusto of someone who knows that Mommy is not being nice. Mirror, mirror on the wall that he is, my son was enjoying following me into my vices!

Thankfully I haven’t experienced this particular blend of embarrassment and shame more than a few times but it is quite a memorable feeling! Knowing as a parent, older sibling, aunt or uncle, or cousin that you’ve shown a child sin is a hard feeling to stomach. We forget just how much kids learn from their surroundings, and I forget too often that I am my children’s first model of goodness, of charity, and of understanding. After my son giggled his way through my litany of “what the heck, why are you so stupid?”, I realized he needed to know that I had done something wrong. As soon as we got home, I turned around and told him that I actually hadn’t been good and shouldn’t have said those things. And as an innocent child, he seemed to understand right away that my words were wrong.

Praying ChildBut this modeling doesn’t have to always be only a representation of our sinfulness! As parents, we’re called to lead our kids to Christ and to teach them how to live Christian virtue day in and day out. This Lent, let’s model our sacrifices to our boys and girls and show them that prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and almsgiving are good and healthy practices in life. While Christ did remind us that when giving we shouldn’t let our left hands know what our right hands are doing, kids don’t understand subtlety and do love learning things from their parents. Why not teach them such important principles now, while they are young?

Fostering virtue is not as difficult as it seems. When planning a budget, invite your child to watch you and show them how it’s important to set aside money for charity. Perhaps ask if they would want to give some of their allowance or savings to the church or to a local organization of their (guided) choice. Ask your children if they can think of a meatless menu for Fridays with you. Take them to Stations of the Cross or a rosary recitation so that the sights of the veiled statues, the smells of incense, and the songs and prayers of Benediction and Eucharistic Adoration become as holy to them as they are to you. If you’ve added prayer to your day during Lent, invite your children to think of prayer intentions or to join you. If you’ve given up a food you like, why not buy some and donate it to a shelter or soup kitchen? These kinds of acts not only help your kids form virtuous habits but also understand the reason and purpose of self-sacrifice: loving the Lord with all of your heart, being, strength and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

For more ideas on how to help kids relate to Lent, please see my post from last year: Parents: 10 Engaging Lenten activities for your Kids.

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Shortly before 10 last night, Virginia joined the growing number of states that have adopted restrictions against abortion coverage within its state health exchange (to be created pursuant to the new federal health-care law).  Via a 61-36 vote in the House and a 20-20 vote in the Senate (with the tie broken favorably by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling), the Commonwealth joined Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Idaho in making use of a provision in the federal law that provides, “[A] state may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such a prohibition.”

By banning coverage (within Virginia’s exchange) of abortions that have long been ineligible for federal funding in major health programs such as Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (that is, all abortions except for cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother), Governor McDonnell’s successfully adopted amendment now ensures that, as discussions on establishing a state exchange proceed, health plans seeking to be part of the exchange will be prohibited from covering abortion on demand.

Prohibiting abortion coverage within health exchanges (through which federal taxpayer money will be routed) has been a top priority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, beginning during the debate on federal health care restructuring over a year ago and continuing after its passage in March of 2010.  The Virginia Catholic Conference is encouraged by the Commonwealth’s important contribution yesterday to the ongoing national effort to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that people will not be forced to pay for other people’s abortions. With the addition of Virginia, at least 10 states now restrict abortion coverage in health insurance policies generally and/or in policies traded on exchanges.

Also last night, the General Assembly added funding to the state budget for abstinence programs.  Governor McDonnell’s proposal to provide this money was the Conference’s other top priority (again in alliance with other groups) during yesterday’s one-day session and was approved by the House, 69-29, and by the Senate, 20-20 (with Bolling again casting the deciding vote to break the tie favorably).

The two 20-20 votes provide another example of how essential constituent input is.  Large numbers of people throughout Virginia contacted their legislators in support of these pro-life, pro-family amendments and made a very considerable difference in the outcomes.

To join the Conference’s email alert network, please visit www.vacatholic.org


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