Radiating Fruitfulness: Sacrifice

Radiating Fruitfulness: Sacrifice

We made it! I made it! Welcome to the third and final installment of my first series, “Radiating Fruitfulness: Charity, Hospitality, Sacrifice,” where we explore what it means for a marriage to be fruitful, even for those of us not blessed with children. If you’re just joining us, feel free to check out Part 1: Radiating Charity and Part 2: Radiating Hospitality.

Radiating Sacrifice

Somehow that title doesn’t have the same ring as the last two. The word “sacrifice” doesn’t exactly fill us with warm fuzzies, does it? Still, the Catechism points to sacrifice as a way in which all marriages are fruitful. What does this mean?

Sacrifice means giving something of ourselves, offering something up, as a gift to God. Sacrifice is an act of love, and an exercise in trust. We know that we will be ok without these things, because God is our strength. Christ gave is own life as a sacrifice on the cross, to redeem us. We in turn take up our crosses daily, uniting our suffering to his.

We know that marriage comes with sacrifice. We vow to love and honor each other “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.” Even in the good times, placing the needs of your spouse before yourself isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sanctification in marriage comes from a daily dying to yourself for the sake of the other. “No, I’m not going to stay at the office later than I have to, because I have a wife who needs me.” “Sorry, I’m going to have to cancel my plans to take care of my husband who’s not feeling well.” “Yes, I’ll hold my tongue in front of your mother.”

Those things are little, and yet we know there are bigger sacrifices that come with love.

“No, we’re not going to live together before marriage because we trust that God has a plan for us, and that sex belongs in marriage, period.”

And then, the struggle of the infertile:

“No, doctor/mom/dad/brother/cousin/myself, for the thousandth time, we refuse to engage in IVF. Yes, we know that that is our only chance for a biological child. Yes, we are suffering, more than you realize. But we trust that God has a plan for us, and that new life is sacred. We make this sacrifice because our souls are more important to us than the fulfillment of our dreams, because our greatest dream is the Kingdom of God.”

What good, truly, comes from these sacrifices? If we look with human eyes, we only see the pain. In the first instance- “My spouse is encroaching on my comfort.” In the second- “Quaint, archaic rules are getting in the way of how I want to live.” In the third- “Old men in Rome are dictating whether or not I can have children.”

If we look with eyes of faith, we see the Glory of God. When we sacrifice and die to ourselves, we open our hearts and become holier people, and that holiness radiates outward.

Like St. Therese’s “Little Way”, we are growing in holiness through small, everyday sacrifices. In the first instance, sacrificing your own comfort to tend to the needs of another bears witness to the love and patience of the Father.  In the second instance, bearing witness to the truth of sexuality goes so far against the grain that it angers those who can’t bear the light. While many won’t have to courage to say it out loud, more than one will be touched by this witness. And on a much more personal note, couples can attest to the many blessings and graces that flow after marriage as a result of this sacrifice.

In the third case, perhaps the witness is more silent. Perhaps not many will know that refusing IVF comes with an immense suffering on your part. But I promise, it is worth it. Graces flow from obedience. In the words of Our Lady of Lourdes, “I cannot promise you happiness in this world, only in the next.” Couples dealing with infertility are on the front lines of the culture wars. Our witness to the dignity of life and the sanctity of marriage matters. It is perhaps a still, small voice- but one that has the power to open eyes and change hearts.


We know that all love bears fruit. It is my hope that this series might be a small comfort to my brothers and sisters who are suffering in the throws of infertility. I promise you, your marriage has a purpose. God has a plan. I pray that all who read this will experience the healing touch of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that whether or not you have children, your marriage will bear much fruit, for his greater glory.




Radiating Fruitfulness: Hospitality

Radiating Fruitfulness: Hospitality

In this series, we’ve been exploring what it means when the Catechism states that all marriages can “radiate a fruitfulness of charity, hospitality, and sacrifice.” If you missed the beginning, check out part 1, Radiating Charity.

I have to admit, writing part 2 has been a real challenge. What exactly is “fruitfulness of hospitality”? Honestly, I had to do a lot of background reading and thinking to even have an outline for this post. I’ve wondered about this question for an entire decade. Why did I expect to have this figured out in a week? Am I in over my head? Oh but I have to write this. Ok. Here we go:


Part 2: Radiating Hospitality

What does hospitality mean, anyways? Let’s start with the Google definition.

  1. the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

The Old Testament includes a number of stories that illustrate the sacred nature of hospitality. Angels disguised as house-guests are a recurring theme, and God continually rewards the generous heart.

These stories reflect a culture in which hospitality was held as a sacred virtue. We see this lived out in the life of Jesus. There are many stories of him visiting people and having dinner at their homes. We know he ate with Levi, Zacchaeus, Peter’s in-laws, Mary and Martha, a Pharisee, and many others. Much of his teaching was delivered over a dinner table. His first miracle was supplying wine to a wedding feast. Another miracle involved feeding 5,000 people. He made breakfast for his friends after his Resurrection. The night before he died was spent breaking bread with the apostles, giving his own flesh as bread for the life of the world, and commanding them to “Do this in memory of me.” Jesus invites us to his table, where he gives himself to us in the form of bread.

At our wedding homily, the priest talked about how heaven is described as a wedding feast. It’s everyone together, happy, celebrating and full of love. Only minutes old, our marriage was already fruitful in that it was bringing all those people there together. This continues, not only in the parties we host or the dinners we share, but in our desire to let our home be a safe harbor for others. I really do believe that “radiating a fruitfulness of hospitality” means that the love you share spreads to create a welcoming environment for those around you. Just like the dinner scenes in the New Testament, your new family (even if it’s a family of two) can be a place where others can experience the warmth and healing comfort of God’s love.

When two people marry, their home becomes each other and the love that is shared between them. Marriage brings forth a new life, one that is designed to be open and welcoming. The grace of the sacrament fosters an environment for sharing, visiting, and loving one another. This is how marriage radiates a fruitfulness of hospitality.


Check out Part 3: Radiating Sacrifice

Previous: Part 1: Radiating Charity

New Series! Radiating Fruitfulness

New Series! Radiating Fruitfulness

The Sacrament of Marriage is always fruitful. It always brings forth new life, even without the gift of children. Understanding this outside of the context of parenthood can be difficult, but it is nonetheless true. Even the Catechism mentions this.

“Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” (CCC 1654)

I’ve often read these lines and wondered what they meant. What does this mean for my life, for my marriage? Why does infertility get such little mention in the Catechism, as if it were an afterthought?  Of course, the Catechism is a summary, not the exhaustive body of Catholic thought. Still, not much has been written on the subject.

In a way, perhaps those of us suffering infertility have a unique gift. When we are denied the obvious signs of fruitfulness, we are invited to discover the beauty and gift that Sacramental Marriage is in and of itself.

This is a new series exploring what it means for a Catholic marriage to “radiate fruitfulness” through charity, hospitality, and sacrifice.

Part 1: Radiating Charity

The Catechism defines charity as “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” (CCC 1822)

Charity, sometimes called “love”, is the highest of the virtues: It is what animates and inspires the others.

Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (CCC 1824)

And of course, the most famous and beautiful passage ever written about charity comes from St. Paul:

“Charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13)

When we are called to marriage, we are called to be Christ to one another. Our vocation is to love with our whole selves- and this love, by nature, expands outward. It becomes a beacon of hope in our world of darkness.

A loving marriage provides a stable home base for the spouses from which they can step out and share their love with everyone they meet. Some concrete examples of this include community involvement, mentoring, sharing your wisdom with others, being an example of Christian living, and encouraging others to walk in the light.

The love between a husband and wife becomes an energy that transforms their world. Case in point: a wounded woman who thought she had nothing to offer realizes that she is valuable. Through her vocation to love her husband and his vocation of loving her, she learns to open her heart and soul to the world. And through his vocation to love his wife, and her vocation of loving him, a man learns that he is needed. He learns he can be a provider, a hero, that he is strong and able, that he has a purpose.

They say that behind every great man is an even greater woman. The truth is that true love transforms. It makes us become the best version of ourselves.

“All because two people fell in love.”

Radiating Fruitfulness: Charity, Hospitality, Sacrifice. What it means for #marriage to be fruitful, even in #infertility. #Catholic #Christian

 Check out Part 2: Radiating Hospitality

Check out Part 3: Radiating Sacrifice

The Body of Christ: Beaten and Bruised, Stolen and Mocked, Adored and Glorified

The Body of Christ: Beaten and Bruised, Stolen and Mocked, Adored and Glorified
The following is not my own, but something that must be shared. This completely floored me today. It reads like something from St. Lawrence or the other martyrs. I had to share it with you. I hope it goes viral among Catholics. I found this on Facebook today, shared by my husband’s uncle who is a Roman Catholic Priest. He didn’t write it. It looks like writer is Steven R. Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez, please correct me if I am wrong. I have nothing to add. Here you go:



I have been trying to put a few things together in my mind and I welcome the intervention of my friends and my betters.

For the last week I have been incredibly bothered by a homily I heard on the Feast of the Assumption. The priest began speaking about hope and goodness promised by the Assumption in the face of what seems like a negation, like death. He then said “Surely all of you are aware of the terrible thing happening in the Midwest.” At this point, I was certain and completely moved that he was going to say “In Ferguson, Missouri . . . ” Instead he said, “In Oklahoma City . . . “

I was completely floored. Not only did I not have a clue what he was referring to, when he finally did get to the point (some Satanists were trying to hold a black mass with a consecrated host) I was absolutely shocked.

Literally, in the preceding weeks, women and children fleeing the poverty and violence of their homes had been met by utter violence and hatred at the American border, Iraqi Christians had been exiled, crucified, and their children decapitated by ISIS, and in ANOTHER MIDWEST TOWN, an unarmed young black man had been shot and killed by a police officer and the result was utter chaos in the streets and a police response that I could only stare mouth agape as TANKS ROLLED DOWN THE STREETS OF AN AMERICAN TOWN WITH GUNS AIMED AT AMERICAN CITIZENS.

And instead, for this young priest, the greatest evil facing our country, the evil we in BROOKLYN had to join in and pray for a miracle, pray for an end to the evil, was this Black Mass in Oklahoma.

And so I began to think about this. Something bothered me about this whole juxtaposition. Was this priest right? Was it that in some profound cosmic mystery the Black Mass was more serious and dangerous than everything else?

You see, these Satanists were trying to get their hands on a consecrated host, on the real presence of Christ. Not just a symbol, not just some bread that they could pretend was a consecrated host, they wanted to get their hands on the real thing . . . the body of Christ. And this image began to ruminate in me.

On the border of Mexico in Texas and California the body of Christ, present in these women and children coming to our country with all of the hope of a better life, was rejected. “Go home. We don’t want you here. America for Americans.” Yes, America for Americans, not America for the poor, not for the marginalized, not for the stranger, not the outcast, nor the orphan and the widow . . . No, not them. Not those stinking dirty brown faces that came here–gasp–illegally! No, not that Body of Christ.

And in Iraq. Not those nazarenes. Not them. Send them away. Kill them if they stay. And we can sit comfortably by while they suffer. And our president can golf. And our congress can pontificate. And our elite can talk about how we can’t go back there. Can’t help them. And isn’t it all too bad. We don’t really want to get involved. Not with that Body of Christ, persecuted and martyred.

And in Ferguson. It’s just easier to look at this police officer as a racist murderer. To look at Michael Brown as the latest victim of a racist society. And especially from the other side of those tanks, to look at those crowds of young men and women, angry and hurt, as just violent criminals that we must STOP before they loot and hurt those businesses, by ANY MEANS NECESSARY it seems. Because to look at them as people, wounded, fragile, full of desire for love and truth and beauty . . . well, then, I might have to put my ideology aside and actually feel something. Maybe even weep. No, let’s talk about the plight of the black man, the racism of the white man, the inherent goodness of the police, the slant of the media, the rush to judgment . . . let’s talk about men in general, because they don’t have bodies . . . No, no body of Christ for us here either. Just sociological claims and political posturing. Right and Left and Republican and Democrat. Men and women without flesh. Ideas without bodies.

You see, for me the irony is that we ignore the body of Christ in Mosul. We disincarnate the Body of Christ in Ferguson. We reject the Body of Christ on the border. But in Oklahoma City, there, Satanists are trying to get their hands on the Body of Christ. For all their perversion, they’re the only ones who are trying to get their hands on Him.

And what were they going to do? Commit a sacrilege? Trample it? Beat it? Profane it? The first time that happened, He had handed himself over for it. When Peter raised his sword to defend him, he was rebuked. The Son of Man must suffer and die. And we’re scandalized by some Satanists? This is where we spend our energy?

You see, I’m not a bishop. (I’m sure the whole Church should rejoice in that.) But if I were. If I was the Bishop of Oklahoma City, I would have said “Ok, you want the Body of Christ so badly, I’ll take him to you.” And I would have invited my flock to go with me. We would have walked through the streets of Oklahoma City, from the Cathedral to the Convention Center where these Satanists would be waiting, and Monstrance in Hand I would have led my flock. I would have led them right inside. I would have led them right up to their altar. I would have turned, and offered the benediction, and I would have prostrated myself, and invited my flock to prostrate itself. We would have prostrated ourselves and there offered ourselves to his Presence. And we would have stayed. Let them Crucify him, but I would adore him. And I would have wept. Wept for these poor confused Satanists. Wept for Iraq. For Isis. For Ferguson. For those women and children at the border. For America. But most of all, I would have wept for Him. Him who I long for and I am so unfaithful to. Him who I want to love but everyday I crucify. Him who is the only one that can respond to this deep and utterly profound need I have for happiness. And I doubt there would have been a black mass. But I’m probably wrong, and I would have handed him over myself, and then I would have shown myself to be like Judas. Again.

This is probably why I’m not a bishop.