Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: Catholicism

Catholic Postpartum Book

No, this isn’t my next book. Although I am highly qualified to write such a book, I have other books I need to focus on at this time. Here I am, yet again, to publicly state that the book A Catholic Postpartum – by Julie Larsen, is a boo that Catholic’s should stay away from. That is, until the author accepts with humility that the book is in error and she researches and updates it.

I know earlier I blogged about the Responsibilities of Being a Catholic Author and I share that I had not read the book. I now change that statement. I have read the book and it is much worse than I thought.

Below is my review of the book:

The book has short chapters
The book contains bible verses from Douay-Rheims
The book contains a warning on Yoga
The book has written recipes that are easy to follow

The rest of this review is a warning to Catholics and explains that the book is poorly laid out and contains grammar errors. The font is hard on the eyes and it is very clear the book is unedited and self-published. In addition, each chapter is full of weblinks rather than the author giving you the information, she writes the book like this is her personal blog and refers you out to look up the information yourself. This would be very difficult for any postpartum mother.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps is outdated and causes more anxiety in postpartum women. If the author had done research, she would be aware and no longer promote this. She also promotes co-sleeping yet doesn’t explain how to do this safely. Page 27 has some weird formatting issues and is confusing. Lettuce? Other outdated information was about using alcohol on the umbilical cord stump. I’m sure there is more but this book is difficult to read and the table of contents isn’t helpful.

When the author discusses circumcision, she had the opportunity to explain that circumcision is not Catholic teaching but again, refers you to some other website for you to research. The Baby Care section should just be eliminated.

The author explains padsicles and talks about c-sections and using them yet ice is not needed on the perineum following a c-section. This is confusing. Most of the book is confusing.

The author fails at explaining the necessity for baptism. This should be done right away yet she says it’s okay to wait and then refers to Appendix A for choosing Godparents, yet there is no Appendix A. Why even have an appendix? Just explain the importance of choosing Godparents in this section? When I did find the section on choosing Godparents (page 150) it was called Bonus C and discusses that the Godparents are people who take your children when you die and this is incorrect yet it is the secular understanding.

Much of the book has pagan ceremonies and resources. Bone-closing, mother-roasting, don’t eat cold foods, Yoni vaginal steaming, homeopathy, ceremonial belly-binding, placental consumption, and more. The resources the author points to are pagan websites (not Catholic) and there is no biblical foundation nor Catholic tradition to provide a basis for any of what the author claims. Some of the links the author refers the reader to are broken as well.

When an author claims “catholic” in any title, they must do their due diligence in order to preserve the soul of the person reading their content. This author has shared that they do not know any theologians and didn’t even consult their pastor/priest. This is very dangerous. The links provided give “authority” and that may lead a Catholic to believe it is acceptable to participate in anything they find on these websites. As teachers, God calls us to a higher standard and warns us against poor teaching. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1

The author does not share or explain her “authority;” meaning, what training and experience does she have in writing the book? This book is gives medical advice, has no theological basis for any of what is written, and the author doesn’t share her credentials other than the fact that she is a woman, has had babies, and claims to be Catholic.

My authority to critique this book comes from over 18 years of experience as a doula and childbirth educator as well as a Catholic. While I hold a certificate in Catholic Biblical Studies (4 years), I do not claim to be a theologian; but as an author myself (unrelated books), I consult at minimum my priest before claiming anything in a book of mine is Catholic teaching.

This book is not Catholic just because the author put bible verses in it and shares about Saints. Much of the material is problematic yet if the author took the time to research, I believe this could be an excellent guide for postpartum mothers. Unfortunately, the author is hostile about any feedback regarding her books so if you do read this book, please know it is not Catholic.

Stay clear of this book.

I do hope and pray that the author of the book will accept the criticism as a catalyst to make this book the best Catholic Postpartum book on the market, better than one I could write and one that will lead Catholic’s to a more spiritually fulfilling postpartum experience. If not, I hope another Catholic will write the book because it is certainly needed.

On a side note, I have consulted with a theologian on this topic and there is no documentation of a ritual for postpartum women in the Bible outside of Leviticus 12. Traditionally speaking, there could be rituals that were lost but anything addressing “energy,” anything that is Mayan or Chinese Medicine are all pagan rituals and should not be passed off as Catholic.

The Responsibilities of Being a Catholic Author

I’ve written several books and published them. I truly enjoy writing and all my books are meant to serve and help others but they are secular in nature. Becoming a “Catholic” author has been intimidating because I am held to a much higher standard.

Actually, as an educator, God says that teachers are judged more strictly, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1.

I take it very seriously when I say that any Catholic should do XYZ because I could be responsible for damning their soul based on my advice. Not only that, the publics perception of me (who read my books/blog), also needs to align with the Truth of my faith. I certainly can’t be a part of the Girl Scouts as a Catholic (due to their Planned Parenthood ties).

Last August, I was hit hard with humility when a woman admonished me for a blog post I had written. She’s an amazing woman and I am thankful she had the courage to reach out to me and admonish what I wrote. You can click on her blog in the previous sentence. I wish we lived closer so we could meet in person.

It turns out that the way I phrased my blog (men lactating), it appeared as if I was reducing the dignity of motherhood and the woman’s role. I was horrified. Instead of becoming defensive, I prayed and re-read what she was sharing. I could clearly see there was an error and was able to modify what I wrote so that no other person would fall into sin by asking their husband to lactate to feed their baby.

So when a woman shared her “Catholic” book in one of my Catholic groups, I felt courageous enough to reach out to her and tell her that she could be responsible for leading Catholic’s astray. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the same space spiritually and I was blocked though she did private message me and referred me to The Educated Birth website so I could read about the pagan (Mayan) bone-closing ceremony. The Educated Birth website is full of anti-Catholic, non-science based information; ie. men can have babies and uses the terms birthing person. Do not visit this site.

I find that very sad so this post is an effort to bring attention to an error in the book A Catholic Postpartum: A Plan for Catholic Mamas by Julie Larsen. I do not want to link to her book because I do not want anyone to buy it. It contains a Pagan ritual called “bone-closing ceremony,” which the author denies is Pagan.

This isn’t a “review” of A Catholic Postpartum. I have not read it as I will not pay over $25 for a 113-page, unedited, non-researched “Catholic” book. What I write here is a warning for those who may read it and believe that a bone-closing ceremony is something Catholic’s can do/did do.

I was able to find an email for Julie and I reached out to her and apologized for offending her with criticism about the pagan ritual in her “Catholic” book though I was met with hostility. She shared some information with me on her thought process. For instance, she admitted that she did not even read the information about a bone-closing ceremony on the website that she referred to me.

I was quite shocked! This website is the only place she got her “research?” She also shared, “I thought the bone closing was a Mexican tradition and that’s the only reason I put it in the book – most Mexicans are Catholic.” She also stated, “I don’t know any theologian to ask – I should[sic] have to consult someone to write a book – I based it on my own personal research. It doesn’t have an Imprimatur – ok?” Unfortunately Julie, if you are going to put a Catholic name to this, you DO need to consult someone. At the very least, consult your pastor.

It appears A Catholic Postpartum is not Catholic at all and is Catholic in name only. As a doula and childbirth educator, I am aware of the spiritual dangers that line of work can lead to. Doula’s are all about holistic ideology. The word “holistic” is actually died to pantheism. Despite being a Catholic, when I worked as a doula, I was led to energy fields/healing energy, acupuncture, Mayan abdominal massage, card reading, oils from witches and pagan shops, and all sorts of things that led me AWAY from God.

It seems as if Julie is there, navigating this pagan world with the Catholic one. I really had hoped she would prove me wrong that a bone-closing ceremony was an ancient Jewish practice that we lost. After all, there must have been something that women experienced during the 40 days after birth. Did the local women tend to them?

That is a question I am now asking my Catholic network to answer. There must be something? For now, we do not know and there is nothing that shows the bone-closing ceremony was a part of Jewish tradition or early Christianity/Catholicism. It is wise to avoid this book for now and pray for Julie to be open to doing the research required for this book to be amazing. She has a responsibility as an author to ensure her work is inline with Catholic teaching.

Satan Despises Latin – Part II

In my last post, I ended with my opinion that if the Catholic Church returned to kneeling to receive the Eucharist, more people would come to believe in the Real Presence. I have heard that people haven’t always kneeled to receive the Eucharist. Fair enough…but there also wasn’t this crisis where people didn’t believe what they were receiving in the Eucharist. Maybe there was, and that is why we returned to kneeling to receive?

I can only guess right now, as I am not a theologian or expert in that area. Maybe you know more? Share it!

It’s quite obvious that receiving the Eucharist in this way makes us vulnerable. We are kneeling, closing our eyes, tilting our heads back, and receiving in an exposed area of our body. It takes an act of humility to receive in this way. Is our pride really so strong that we cannot control it to receive God’s love in this way?

There is still the question of why someone believed the Mass at the women’s conference was a Latin Mass. She specifically called it a “Pre-Vatican II” Mass. I wonder if she has ever attended a Pre-Vatican II Mass because 70% of the prayers that are said during the Pre-Vatican II Mass are NOT said during a Novus Ordo Mass. Want a side-by-side comparison? Here is another link you might find helpful.

Many will also say that it’s “for our benefit” that those prayers were removed. After reading my Missal for the past two years while following along with priest during the Mass, I am shocked at how much I didn’t know. Prayers I never knew existed were right in front of me. These are the prayers the saints were exposed to yet I had no knowledge of them.

And then there was the priest, facing away from me.

The woman complaining she couldn’t understand the Mass, a Novus Ordo Mass by the way, was really upset because the priest faced away. After 45 years of attending Mass with the priest facing away, this was probably the least confusing aspect for me when I began attended TLM. If I were being honest, it almost makes no sense for Ad Orientum (priest facing away) when the Mass is not in Extraordinary Form. Too much is missing.

Yet, if you truly understand what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, it’s really not questionable. It makes complete sense. Remember, we are a fulfillment of Judaism. Some of the manners will be similar. What did the priests do in the tabernacle or Temple?

The altar is in a different location for the Novus Ordo Mass and there is much discussion regarding the problems with the placement of the altar. To face the congregation means the priest is the focus of the Mass. The priest should not be the focus. The priest is there for you, offering for you, THROUGH him, TO Him.

Active participation is usually the next argument. If it’s in Latin, I don’t understand it and I can’t participate OR, I won’t know if the priest’s words make the Mass invalid. The first argument is just silly. Active participation is INTERNAL, not external. And the latter argument is ridiculous. How would you even know in the vernacular if the priest said something that invalidated the Mass unless you are a liturgical scholar?

Every movement of the priest in the TLM is purposeful and liturgical. It is truly amazing to have a priest DO for you. Again, it’s an act of humility and trust. “It’s not what we grew up with.” “It’s so unfamiliar.” I get it, truly I do. Remember, when I first attended, I felt the most alone at a Mass then I ever had. I felt far away from God but now, I don’t want to leave when I am there. It’s as close to Him as I will get on this earth. I am there early and stay long after Mass.

When I read Revelation (Apocalypse), it was blatantly obvious that this is the Mass of Heaven. THIS IS what the angels and saints participate in. There IS an altar and we worship Him in Heaven. After four years in Biblical School and the culmination was reading Revelation, I realized I was lied to my entire life. Revelation is not to be feared, it is to be longed for. It is the fulfillment of all that is right and true. It is the Mass, not the destruction of the world.

So again, I challenge you. Read Revelation. Go to a Traditional Latin Mass (High Mass) but don’t just go once. It’s rare that you’ll experience an “ah-ha” moment that first time. Go five times, or seven! Seven is a fantastic number and means so much in our Catholic “culture.” Read the book and follow along the Latin. You will see all that is familiar to you in the Novus Ordo yet there is so much more.

It’s not really about the Latin, because Latin IS the normative language for the Novus Ordo Mass. Every priest could change the language of the Mass to Latin and it would still be the Novus Ordo Mass. It could be a distaste or struggle with change and it’s likely related to your pride. It’s our tradition. Why is tradition a bad word these days?

If you find you just can’t go to a Traditional Latin Mass, maybe start as I did? I began to kneel to receive the Eucharist. I still received in my hand but I felt that since we believe that the Eucharist IS the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I could not receive him standing as if we were equals.

After months of kneeling, I felt a call to receive on the tongue. Every piece of Christ would remain in my mouth. Nothing would fall to the ground or be stuck to my clothing. Yes, even tiny particles are left on your hand but if you are absolutely convicted that you will not receive on the tongue, kneel. He is Our Lord. You will be unable to stand if He came to you now. Believe the Eucharist IS Him.

Humble yourself and kneel for the Lord.

Satan Despises Latin – Part I

I’ve heard this phrase many times. It’s one of the reasons people give to me to learn Latin and to pray in Latin. Exorcists seem to say this as well. Learning the prayers in Latin isn’t really that hard, but learning actual Latin can be much more difficult.

I have pondered why I truly attend the Traditional Latin Mass and I can say now, it’s not the Latin that brings me there. It’s beyond Latin, yet I have friends who despise Latin. I even had someone share with me that they could not understand the Mass at the Catholic Women’s Conference of Denver because of the Latin.

Let me say that the Mass at the recent conference was NOT in Latin. Nothing about the Mass reflected the Traditional Latin Mass with the exception of the priest facing away from the congregation. So why on earth would this woman say that she couldn’t understand the Mass? I surmise it’s because she despises traditionalism and anything that might point to it.

The Mass at the conference was a Novus Ordo Mass. The priest who celebrated it will tell you this was a Mass of ordinary form according to the spirit of Vatican II. The Mass had women readers, women gift bearers, modern songs with some chanting during the Mass (think of the Kyrie, Agnus Dei, and Sanctus chanting during Easter and Advent), incense, and reception of the Eucharist either standing/kneeling in the hand or on the tongue.

What I have come to know was the use of the communion rail was “offensive and divisive” and the priest should not face away from the congregation. Because of those two things, the Mass literally could not be understood because of “Latin.” Wait, What? The Mass was not Latin. Everything was said in English (our vernacular), except the Kyrie (Greek), Agnus Dei (Latin), and the Sanctus (Latin).

Why did this person identify the Mass as a Latin Mass?

Kneeling at a communion rail and the priest facing away from the congregation. Those two things made this Mass…”Latin.” I truly pity this person and pity is NOT a bad word. I have compassion and sadness towards her because she does not understand what the Mass is nor the differences between Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form.

In further exploring the concern with kneeling at a communion rail, another person explained it was divisive. Why? Because they felt the only choice was to kneel instead of stand to receive and either is acceptable. Honestly, the communion rail allows for a smooth “communion.” It eliminates the need for lay Eucharistic ministers. The speed in which the Eucharist can be distributed is very swift (when people know how to use the rail).

You can approach the rail standing (as some did at the conference) and receive in the hand or you may kneel and receive in the hand or you may kneel and receive on the tongue. Contrary to what happens when a person kneels and opens their mouth at most Novus Ordo Masses, not a single person was denied the Eucharist.

When a person kneeling with their mouth open to receive Our Lord is denied Our Lord, it’s an act of “activism” by the denier; whom could be a priest. It’s their very way of protesting traditionalism. It’s their demand that the person kneeling conform to modernism. It’s not about “safety” or “reducing the spread of disease.”

When I read the entire Bible, one thing stood out perfectly clear. Every person who faced God in some way, fell to their face. In other words, they dropped to their knees. Are we like Job? Attempting to believe that we are so worthy that we do not understand our insignificance to what God has done for us?


Job demanded God answer him and God replied with Job’s insignificance. Yes, God knows Job. God knows all of us, “every hair on our heads is numbered” most specifically. Heck, even I don’t know all the hairs on my children’s heads. Yet, Job was not there when God created everything from nothing.

God is our Creator. The Creator of the Universe. Jesus is God’s love manifested. Jesus IS God. Therefore, Jesus was there when God created everything from nothing. If we believe that Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is present in the Eucharist, and as a Catholic we are bound to believe this, why on earth is it not in our nature to kneel for our Creator?

I can only surmise that they do not truly believe they are receiving Our Lord when they “take” the Eucharist because if they believe this, they would fall to their knees. Yes, I was taught to stand. I was never taught to kneel and receive on the tongue so there is a degree of ignorance but if you are reading this, you can no longer claim ignorance. Failure to kneel is now defiance. It is an act of pride.

And I have heard that “the church changed so I don’t have to kneel.” The “church” is mere men. You know better so you should do better. I firmly believe that if the church stated you must kneel to receive (whether on the hand or on the tongue), more people would begin to believe in the Real Presence.

Part II

Idolatry Today

I just completed four years of Biblical School and received a Certificate in Biblical Studies. I never imagined I would read the entire Bible AND be able to understand it. While there is so much more to learn, I am grateful for what I know now. My eyes have been opened.

We’re in the final chapters of Revelation aka Apocalypse. The fullness of what’s in Revelation would take more than the five weeks of study we receive. There is so much in Revelation and it can be quite confusing. The Dragon, Beast, and Harlot are what was covered today. Satan.

How many believe Satan even exists?

He certainly does so if Satan exists, God exists. There have been tabernacles that have been stolen recently. These are often made of pure gold, worth thousands yet the tabernacle is discarded because what the person was after was inside. A priceless item. Christ Himself.

If they believe in the Real Presence, why do so many Catholic’s lack belief?

What will they do with Christ now that He has been stolen? Most likely a Satanic Ritual where horrific atrocities are performed, likely child sacrifice, sucking of each other’s blood, sexual rituals and more. Celebrities have been sharing their stories, many practice it. I pity them.

In Revelation, we are to see the Justice in God. God spills out his wrath on us, the sinners. Those who reject Him. The not-so-funny thing, people who love God, also reject Him so they think…I’m not going to hell. I’m not one of the bad ones. We are ALL sinners but are we constantly trying to turn back towards God and follow Him? Or are we so focused on living IN this world…the world we are not made for?

So what is Idolatry today?

Idolatry was easy to pick out in the Bible. The worship of gods like Zeus and graven images of calves. It’s hard to see today even though Pope Francis brought the idol Pachamama into the Vatican and allowed the worship of this goddess. But Idolatry today is even more discreet. Modern day idolatry is anything you love or prioritize over God.

Idolatry defined: “the worship of idols,” “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”

Idol: an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.

“I just want to die and go to Heaven so I can see my dog, my baby, my child, my mother, etc.” You should want to go to Heaven to see God and only God. You will not need any of these people or pets in Heaven. If you need them, you likely won’t end up in Heaven.

This phone, sports/baseball game, food, etc…is more important than praying to God or going to Church/Mass. Some of you will say, this isn’t idolatry, it’s life. I again point you to, we should want NOTHING of this world and only the “after.” After, is God but you must love God, want to know Him, and serve Him in this world in order to have your “after.”

We spend our days searching for happiness. We are in a constant search for more yet we seem to never find the “more” we are looking for. There always seems to be an empty hole that cannot be filled. You will only find it in God. When you think of Him often, pray to Him often, love Him often, serve His people (all His people, even those who hate you) often, and worship Him (His way, which he prescribed in the Bible which is the Mass).

We are so scared to place our Trust in Him. We say it to people all the time but do we do that? Do you actually place your worries, fears, anxieties, and needs at the foot of His cross and ask him to take them from you and then walk away trusting that He will? Do you thank Him for what He provides you? Everything you receive is from Him.

So when we place a device, a child, a friend, sex, sports, etc above God, we are practicing idolatry. We are pagans. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Him. Nothing should be placed over Him. Nothing should be desired over Him. You have free will. You can choose to love Him or you can choose to reject Him by living for this world.

We may not be happy in this world. We may suffer and face persecution from those we do not know and those we love but I promise you, what you suffer here for Him, will bring you to Him eternally. And that’s where I want to be and where I want you to be.

Traditional Latin Mass – Part Five

I’m returning to my Traditional Latin Mass series. In my last post, I stated I succumbed to the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass). That’s not really a nice way to say we left our parish and moved to another parish. I had a friend over and we talked extensively about why those who attend the New Mass seem so against attending TLM. As you can read, I was one of those people too but I also didn’t realize what the TLM was about nor did I know was Mass really is.

Somehow, my heart and mind were opened and I was curious. I won’t say that I purposefully sought this out because I didn’t. I knew that TLM was what my parents grew up with. They went through the changes in Vatican II when they were in their teens. In talking with my mother about it, her church just switched to the “New Mass.” She said she believes they just started substituting English for Latin and that no one questioned the New Mass, it was just accepted. “No one questioned the church’s teachings.” Even her parochial school didn’t question it. They just opened up the new missals and off they went.

Did they not understand what the Mass really was? Did they not realize what was being taken from them? It makes me so sad to see that the change happened so swiftly with no one questioning it. I had dinner with Father Nix last night and he said it was a two-week transition and the Latin Mass was over.

So that got me thinking when did the Latin Mass stop?

1963 – Latin Mass Banned following the Second Vatican Council

What the heck? How could the Latin Mass be banned and why? It was the Mass of the Saints. It was the Mass that had been utilized for centuries. So when did the Latin Mass begin? The Latin Mass Missal was finalized in 1570 by Pope Pius V.

This Mass is often referred to as the Mass of St. Pius V but just because it was formalized in 1570 with the issuance of Quo Primum an apostolic constitution; which by the way also correlates with the Reformation (or rather the church revolution), does not mean that was the “birth” of the Latin Rite. I point out the correlation with the Reformation because it’s extremely common for an event like this to trigger an official statement.

It happens often in Church history where we have been doing something for centuries and then the Vatican issues an official statement on the teaching or dogma. This takes decades or even longer but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t the Tradition or Culture of the Church prior. This is actually how you should read and understand the Bible. Why did Paul issue letters to the different cities? They were doing certain things so he preached to them and by the way ADMONISHED them based on their sins.

So my point is, it’s not like in 1570 the Church all of a sudden changed the Mass to the Latin Mass and that the Second Vatican Council brought us back to the “original Mass.” For all intents and purposes, the Latin Mass WAS the “original Mass” in the Roman Rite (there are other rites as I have previously stated).

Missale Romanum was a helpful read on the changes of the Second Vatican Council and warrants further study into what was “restored” but not so much what was “added” or “new” in the Mass. Learning about this isn’t easy. It’s an overwhelming study and I have barely cracked the “book” on this or rather the many books.

Summorum Pontificum was issued by Pope Benedict XVI and there is concern that the Latin Mass will again be banned when Pope Benedict dies; however, I cannot expand much more on the Mass. It’s beyond my knowledge, understanding, and education and it’s something I am still studying but you can read more on Quo Primum here.

And finally, I’ll again point you to Justin Martyr because his Apologies not only tell you what early Christianity was like (are you willing to die for what you believe as a Christian), but also what the Mass was like…only a “President” (presiding person aka priest) distributed the Eucharist for instance.

NEW YORK TIMES – October 16, 1984
Pope John Paul II Announces Limited Use of the Traditional Latin Mass – Now what?

Which one is right? I can’t tell you. I’m still on my journey but you are either to the point of “yeah, which one is right?” or “This lady is a traditionalist nut.” I’m not the latter but I will ask you to do something. Maybe you have never done it before or you do this regularly but I urge you to find an adoration chapel; one where you can sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and then ask God.

Be specific. “God, please open my heart. Help me to listen to you and to know you are speaking to me. Please God, reveal to me which is truth, the New Mass or the Traditional Latin Mass? I will open my heart to your Word.” Now it’s your turn to listen. I don’t know where God will lead you.

Peace be to you.

Finding a Church Home – Part Four

Prior to the pandemic, attending another church was easy. You just walked in but now many required sign-ups to go. Some super private as if you needed to be on an exclusive list. Even Easter Masses were not shared with the general public in order to push out the “C&E” Catholics (those that attend only on Christmas and Easter). How could the church do this? Why was the Archbishop allowing this? Church has always been for anyone and everyone. This was very divisive.

After feeling quite abandoned by our church, we decided to start attending the one that was close to our home. We had been driving 25 minutes to go to our parish for the last 15+ years but technically, it wasn’t our home parish. I checked the rules for the parish near our home and they had their sign up accessible online. It didn’t matter if you were registered there or if this was your first time. They were welcoming all!

Off we went. We walked in and they had holy water in their fonts and people could receive Holy Communion on the tongue. In fact, they had four kneelers present in the communion line to indicate who would receive on the tongue. The only ones who distributed Holy Communion were the priests and deacons. This felt reverent and seemed to have more of what we were looking for, except the progressive music.

We also had some friends that were on the “exclusive list” for the TLM and they were able to bring us. But before I asked for them to add us to the list, I needed to get past the prideful TLMers. I decided to reach out to a few friends who I knew had been attending TLM or had recently switched. One conversation did not go so well. The friendship almost ended. Part of that was on me and the feelings I had towards what she was sharing. That was something I needed to explore but I met with another friend who was loving and explained things really well. I felt confident I could at least go once and just see. Everyone explained I would have some “extraordinary” moment and I wouldn’t be able to go back to the Novus Ordo.

So I asked our friends to put us on the list and walk us through our first TLM as a family. I had been to a Latin Mass as a child but didn’t remember much of it so this was really a new experience for me as well. Our first TLM was on the first day of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year. How fitting!

I want to tell you so badly about the “extraordinary” moment I had at the first TLM but nothing happened. In my experience, I felt alone and isolated. I felt farther from God than I ever had when attending Mass. I was overwhelmed with not knowing anything or any of the norms and I was distracted by an unruly child in the pew in front of me. I felt sad.

I didn’t really want to go back if that was how I was going to feel. I had finally been participating in a way I had never done before, singing, reciting, kneeling more fervently, praying more reverently, etc. Friends would tell me that those who attend the NO were so unholy, “but you’re not.” They would point out abuses and tell me that I was “a good one.” This was offensive. And then I am attending “their Mass” and I find myself questioning why they like it. They don’t do anything. There is really no participation at all…at least not externally.

What I didn’t realize though, with all that was going through my head, was just how much my family was experiencing. My oldest finally felt at home. My youngest was in awe and shock that Jesus was in a “castle” and how deserving and fitting it was that the Lord was being worshipped. My daughter was enthralled and finally quiet in the pew, plus, she asked to wear her veil for the first time (because most of the women wore veils). This was the norm I wanted her to see and this is what I wanted my children to know but I was empty inside. My husband also was uplifted and he felt we were finally in the right place. Shocking considering he was a Protestant convert (although most great Catholics are converts).

I reached out to a friend who was also a priest and told him how I was feeling. His response…”Give it two months.” While he is an NO priest, he’s traditional, often encouraging us to find a TLM. In fact, he just brought TLM to his own parish!

Despite the advice, we decided to go back to the church by our home. We felt that it might be the in between we needed. So we signed up again. We got seated in the front row this time and felt a bit awkward since we were still new there but we made it work. The Mass was horrific. The Missal Book for the readings was missing. No one could find it. Mass was stopped. There were several little issues but this one was huge. Right before Communion my husband leaned in and said, “I have been praying and asking if this is the right church for us and for a sign that we needed to be here and this is a sign telling us otherwise.”

He was right. Now where do we go?

I succumbed to the TLM.

What Church Do I Belong To? – Part Three

Our Traditional Latin Mass journey began in Part One with the heavy grief we were carrying from our parish. We had to officially close the doors to our parish when I emailed the religious education teacher telling her we were removing our son from his sacramental preparation classes there. He was mid-year already and he would be starting over at the new parish but this felt right.

I really wanted to leave quietly. I didn’t want to leave at all actually but if I had to, I wanted it to be quietly. Once that email was sent, it triggered a chain of events and I had to come clean. Many emails and calls began once they heard we were leaving.

We weren’t attending that church anymore.

Saying it hurts my heart. I stuck with our church through some really tough changes. Friends begged me to leave because they felt I was missing something. I felt called to stay. I prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament off and on for years asking if it was time to leave, all the while, the message was the same…STAY.

Until the message changed…

I received a call from the Religious Education Director, whom I adore and love. It hurt to tell her that our son would receive the Sacrament of Penance at another church. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving the new community we have at our new parish but that doesn’t overshadow the very real grief I have in leaving the church that put me on a journey to really learning my faith.

I grew so much in the 16 years we were there. I went from being a mediocre Catholic that attended Mass when I felt like it to veiling and kneeling to receive the Eucharist on the tongue. I went from being scared of priests to inviting them into my home for breakfasts and dinners. I went from not participating in ministries to revamping one completely and helping to create a ministry that didn’t exist there. And then I met a very special person who planted the seed to start a women’s conference in Denver and the Catholic Women’s Conference of Denver was born.

I really grew at the parish even as things changed and I wanted to stand by it but as progressive music and guitars came in, I felt lost. Then Advent and Lent came and went with no Latin. It was the only time of the year I ever got to hear it and I missed that ancient piece in the liturgy and didn’t even realize how much I was truly missing. None of the liturgy was sung after COVID hit either which further contributed to feeling lost.

My very dear friend who helped me start the women’s conference had already left our parish for the Latin Rite. She spoke of it often and encouraged me to try it but I rejected the notion. I was a “lifer” at this church and I would die going here. I had heard of Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and knew of one other person that was going there.

But most of those who attended TLM seemed talked poorly of those who didn’t. It was confusing and I struggled. Talks on Catholic Radio even discussed how Novus Ordo (NO) was a bad word and you are “not Catholic” if you attended the NO. It was sad to hear I wasn’t considered Catholic if I didn’t attend the Latin Mass. I certainly didn’t want to experience the isolation and shunning this priest describes.

I couldn’t understand how anyone could look down on someone who attends NO and believe TLM is the only way to go. It seemed prideful and I knew that was a sin so I didn’t want to be a part of that. I didn’t want to be sucked into what I felt was a “cult.” Soon my social media feed was full of people speaking poorly of those who attend NO.

TLM was a turn off and even though many friends were trying to tell me all that I was missing, in reality they were pushing me away. I know their comments were well meaning but they didn’t lead me to leave the NO. I knew that something wasn’t right where I was going but I didn’t know what I needed or how to fix it. Talking with my priest fell on deaf ears. I was still questioning the validity of the Mass and this wasn’t about NO or TLM. It seemed much smaller than that.

As the president of the Catholic Women’s Conference of Denver, I had many choices to make in terms of the annual conference. Many friends help me and I don’t like to say I am the president because the women who help me with the conference are just as important (if not more), than measly old me. But this was also an area where I saw some issues. Even within our own group, we had push back about being traditional.

Our spiritual director had been trying to guide us into a more traditional form of Mass and feedback received from attendees was negative towards the traditional parts he brought the conference. But I was also feeling that certain things weren’t traditional. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Altar Girls were areas I was struggling with for years.

My oldest son walked away from being an Altar Server because of the girls. He grew up seeing them serve. He didn’t know there was any other way. He didn’t know the tradition either but he himself felt like altar serving was a role reserved for boys only. My son explained that he felt the girls he served with were domineering. He didn’t like that so he stepped down. It was sad.

I didn’t have a daughter until three years ago. I was looking for preschools for her to attend when she turned two. Many of the schools were protestant churches. One in particular, we had to turn away from. There was a female “minister there.” I could not allow my daughter to witness this. I did not want her to think that this was something she could aspire to.

Regardless of your feelings about women pastors/ministers, respect mine please. I don’t think we (women) should be filling that role. You probably think they should. If women want to serve in a religious role, there is an opportunity for them. Unfortunately, we don’t see Sisters often enough but many opened our first schools and hospitals so you can thank a Sister (and the Catholic Church) for that.

Several hundred women attend our women’s conference annually. We always get feedback that the women want a Sister to speak or for them to be present. When we do have them at the conference, it’s truly amazing but this just shows how much women want to see Religious Sisters. We are moved when we do.

But I’ll return back to the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion because I was struggling with having a lay person do this. It’s actually an abuse to have them do this and that is what I found to be true in my research. A priest and deacon should be the ones to distribute Holy Communion. We don’t need, nor should we have lay people to do this. What we need is patience. So what if Mass is 5-10 min longer? What’s your rush?

If I knelt down to receive the Blessed Sacrament, some would role their eyes. If I received on the tongue, some struggled to distribute it that way and of course, when COVID hit, many priests refused to distribute the Eucharist on anyone’s tongue. If you firmly believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ…are you actually worthy to be touching Him? I wouldn’t be. I’m sure we can question whether or not some of our priests or deacons are worthy but that’s not the discussion of today.

There would be no way I could convince my pastor to stop having Altar Girls and he definitely wouldn’t stop Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. He wanted drums and guitars in the church and said as much when I challenged him on this. It’s okay. I will be obedient. He’s the pastor.

So it wasn’t just these things that pushed me away. Something was burning in my heart. I wanted to know more. I wanted to find out what the Early Christians thought and did. I wanted to know the roots of the Mass. I needed to know and understand. Biblical School really helped with that because I could see the Mass between the pages of the Bible. Book after book, the Mass was there.

Then, I found The Apologies of Justin Martyr.

IVF and Infertility – One Catholic’s Thoughts

Most people don’t know my procreative history. Many just assume we contracepted after having our first and then as our marriage progressed, pulled the pill or condom (figuratively speaking) and decided to have more children later in life. First, it’s really know one’s business but I do get the random looks and “judgment,” when I mention the spacing of my children. In fact, my husband even had someone assume his first child was from a separate marriage and the two youngest were from his current marriage. This made my physically sick to my stomach.

If you have followed my blog; you would know about my fertility history so if you are reading for the first time, welcome. I am pretty complex and my blog spans many years so you will see growth and changes in me especially in regards to my Catholic faith. What I am about to share is not judgment; although my statements will upset many. The truth is sometimes very hard to hear sometimes. These messages come from a place of love though. I want you to be in God’s grace. To be anywhere else is to not live.

I am a Catholic and I do not believe in IVF. I also suffered through 22 years of infertility (onset of menses through age 37). I procreate, I do not reproduce. Let me explain. Humans procreate, only animals reproduce.

I do not judge a person who uses IVF, that’s up to God but a person who uses IVF, regardless of why they are using it, is participating in an intrinsically evil act. I know at this point, many people are boiling over with anger against what I have written. I just said that IVF is intrinsically evil.

Creating new life is not usually associated with evil but it can be; if we do not surrender to God’s Will for us. IVF kills multiple embryos (babies) in order to get just a few “good” babies. IVF contributes to other evils such as “perfect babies” by utilizing techniques you are told will help increase your chances of having a non-disabled, good DNA, smart child. These techniques are also cooperation in evil under the guise of good. It’s part of the Great Reset (which is no longer a conspiracy theory because it’s out in the open now). So many who use IVF are tricked into utilizing these techniques. Why do we have such a lack of faith? Why do we think we can create a more perfect person than our Creator? It’s the fruit in the garden and the Devil has led you there.

IVF is one of many evils and God allows evil. This is one of the major confusions about faith in God. We are on Earth and we reject God because bad things happen but we must remember, this isn’t Heaven. Bad things happen here but if we are graced with Heaven, no bad things will happen.

Ultimately, the people who choose IVF will have to face God’s judgment over their lack of trust. Do you know what happened to people in the Old Testament for their lack of trust in God? Well, Moses got angry and hit a rock instead of speaking to it and God punished him by never allowing him into the promised land. All he did was hit a rock! Moses did some very amazing things yet despite all he endured for God, he lacked trust and was exiled from the promised land.

Look what happened to Abram and Sarai! God told Abram that he would have descendants. Many of them “descendants as the dust of earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted.” (Gen 13:16) And Abram complained that he was childless so God made a covenant with him. “Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.” (Gen 15:5) Did you know it was daylight when Abram was told to “number the stars?”

And then what happens? We’re not sure how much time had passed (maybe decades) but still childless, Abram loses his trust and faith that God will provide and takes matters into his own hands when Sarai suggests Hagar is the solution to their childlessness. Hagar represents IVF here (my words, not anothers). Hagar represents the lack of trust and a child is conceived without ever asking God if this is the path they should take to have a child. God allowed it, despite the evils of adultery. Four years after this sin, God establishes a new covenant (circumcision).

I know it hurts to hear that a person who chooses IVF lacks trust in God. It hurts me when I am told I lack trust in God because I had genetic testing during my pregnancy. There are many things that hurt but ultimately, the hurt is coming from within me because it’s true. Because I DO need to have a deeper faith and trust in God.

I didn’t choose for my children to be 10 and 14 years apart. God chose that for me. I wanted my first baby at age 23 but that’s not what God wanted for me. I endured intense suffering personally, professionally, and within my marriage. I told my husband numerous times during our infertility journey to divorce me and go find a wife that could give him the children he deserves and desires. I almost lost my job because I was so extremely hormonal, filled with medicines to force my body to ovulate and obsessed (1 step closer to possession by the devil) to have a baby. I demanded it! I was “good” and God better give me the child I deserve!

I sought fertility treatments from family practice doctors, Obstetricians, Infertility Specialists, Reproductive Endocrinologists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, Mayan Abdominal Massage practitioners, naturopaths, Chinese Herbalists, and other non-traditional/Eastern medicine practitioners.

Oddly enough, what you don’t see in that list and most people wouldn’t even notice, is I did not seek God. I did not seek an anointing of the sick. I didn’t even go to my priest for prayers or guidance. Sure, I prayed, “God please bless us with a baby,” but I didn’t say any specific prayers, seek intercession from the many saints who could have helped me endure the suffering, or even spend time in adoration/strict prayer for my healing.

Instead, I sought help from the secular world. So, I had little “faith” in God.

Sure, my faith wasn’t as strong as it is now. My knowledge of my faith was not even close to what it is now. I wasn’t practicing my faith either with as much zeal as I do now. I can say that I was “Catholic” only by name but not really Catholic. I wasn’t living (nor trying) to live my faith. I was a Catholic hypocrite.

It takes an immense amount of trust to live as God has asked us to but oh … the rewards that come from it.

Elizabeth Petrucelli

Suffering is NOT easy. We went through three and a half years of trying to have a baby before we conceived our first. Yes, we sinned. Some priests wrongly told us we did not sin but we did. We used IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) in order to conceive. We do not know if it was the IUI that actually brought us to conception or the “baby dancing” but we know that on our 5th try with the IUI, we conceived.

You see, with IUI, you still have sex. So we were still trying despite being “inseminated.” Where was the sin? We removed my husbands semen through illicit means, placed it in a tube, washed it, and then injected it through my cervix into the uterus to give the sperm a better chance of survival. Yes, a priest actually said it wasn’t a sin to masturbate into a cup and inseminate me. Sorry to be so blunt but this priest was wrong. It WAS a sin even though the “act” still occurred and conception occurred within my body versus outside the body like IVF.

Infertility hurts though. It’s suffering and no one likes to suffer. We do everything we can these days to prevent any sort of suffering. We have dumbed down our population because we are doing everything we can to stop the suffering. Even the minor suffering. It’s like no one has the skills anymore to hold off on eating for a few hours because they might “suffer” or rather, allow ourselves to be uncomfortable for a short time.

FYI: It’s okay to be uncomfortable and it’s okay to suffer, even if it’s hard. Yes, it’s sucks. We have all experienced some form of suffering. Through suffering, great good can come. It affords others the opportunity to help as well. Did I enjoy the three and a half years of the trials I went through in order to have my first? Absolutely not! Did I think, “this suffering will lead to others helping and provide me with graces later?” Absolutely not!

After we had our first, we spent six years trying for another. We went heavy into every alternative therapy there was. With our first, we only went to an OB, an infertility specialist, and then finally a reproductive endocrinologist. All the alternative stuff was done during the next six years in addition to the regular treatments.

It would have been easy to choose IVF. We could have started a “Go Fund Me” or participated in contests to “win” an IVF treatment but we didn’t. I seemed to have tried everything on my own, again, not turning to my faith or my priests. I prayed but not deeply. I didn’t turn to God. I suffered without the Saints. I tried longer than most do before putting it into human hands and forcing a baby.

I know, that’s a hurtful statement. But we aren’t guaranteed a child. We cannot demand God give us one.

After six years, we stopped treatments. I was tired and we accepted that God gave us one blessing. I moved on to something else in my life and just as I had truly accepted our only child and all the judgment that had come with him (how can you be pro-life/Catholic and only have one child?), I peed on a stick and it was positive. I was pregnant!

If you read my book All That is Seen and Unseen; A Journey Through a First Trimester Miscarriage, you would know that story. You would know that I was pissed off that I was pregnant. I was angry. This child that I should have been so grateful for was a source of anger in my life. While it was short-lived, it was still there and I was certainly shameful for having those feelings.

Ruby died.

That was her name. She didn’t survive and her loss changed my life forever. I became an advocate for pregnancy loss. Losses in the first trimester meant nothing to society but the grief is real and is now much more accepted.

That was in 2010 and it was a catalyst to try to have another baby. It would take two more years to conceive. I gave myself a “drop-dead” date for stopping. December 31st, 2012. If we weren’t pregnant by then, we would stop all treatments and again, accept that we would only have one living child.

My last ditch effort was a laparoscopy. Again, still not turning to my faith; which is inherently fruitful, I asked my reproductive endocrinologist to take a look inside, to make sure that we hadn’t missed something. By now, my husbands sperm count was lower than it ever had been. Again, seeking information through illicit means. See, I am a sinner. But we didn’t have the knowledge to know there were licit ways to gather the same information. We knew it was wrong but we did it anyway (mortal sin) because we didn’t know there was another way.

I digress.

My insides were fine. The medication I was using would allow me to ovulate so after I recovered from the surgery, I could move forward. To our surprise, I ovulated on my own on our first child’s ninth birthday, just two weeks post surgery and we conceived.

Born nearly 10 years apart, we would have a second living child. If we wanted another before my 40th birthday, we would need to conceive pretty quickly. How silly to put a date on it, as if having a baby in my 40’s was awful. My grandparents did it. But the secular world had a hold on me. The doctors would say I was old, friends and family would say, “aren’t you worried you will have a child with Down Syndrome or some other ‘problem’,” and friends our age were sending their kids off to college not bringing new kids into their home.

It was a struggle to shake those thoughts and feelings and place my faith in God but we did. We turned to prayer and pastoral support. We began to volunteer in the Church, put our son in catholic school, never missed Mass (even on Holy Days), prayed more rosaries, and prepared couples for marriage. I was ready to dive into treatments but I began to ovulate regularly six months after our second living was born. That was odd and a blessing but I was also deep in postpartum depression. So we waited.

After months of therapy, all was good and I was ready to try again and we conceived easily. Augustus Jude died though and after his death, we were “done.” I say that as if I was in control. I wasn’t. Nor are you. God is.

I began to have regular cycles again and NFP had become a struggle. We had never had to avoid pregnancy in our entire married life. I know I blogged about this numerous times. So here we were, in our 40’s learning how to control our “urges, something that should have been mastered in our “mature” age.

I know I blogged about what came next, or rather who came next so I won’t bore you with the repeat story but another baby was on the way. God’s design, God’s plan. Not mine. In fact, I had just contemplated abortion should I become pregnant this late in life; another societal/secular influence on me based on me wanting to be in control, not God.

But God loved me anyway and he softened my heart. Would I have done it? I don’t know. I am ashamed to admit that I considered it. I am ashamed to admit that I wished her (Baby Girl) away. But that’s as far as it goes because this girl is the greatest blessing of my life. Sure, all my kids are blessings but she was my fiat. I HAD to submit to His will.

Let me tell you something, I am no saint. I am a sinner. I fail all the time at trusting God. Sharing this with you is NOT casting judgment. I will be judged for not placing my faith and trust in him. I will be judged for “demanding” a child.

I don’t have an answer to your suffering. You may never look back after you have demanded a child and regret it or wonder what would have happened if you had just waited. Waiting is hard. It is not easy to give in to the suffering and acceptance. People do it though. It’s possible.

We are all sinners. God knows that. But have you asked for forgiveness for your faithlessness, for your lack of trust in Him? I don’t know if you have sat in that confessional and said, “Lord, I beg your forgiveness for taking your power of creation into my hands and not trusting in your plans for me by using treatments that go against your design.” It’s hard to say that.

I remember going into the confessional and saying, “Lord, forgive me for not being open to life by using a condom and resisting your plans for us.” Sounds silly, but it was HARD! I sin, just like you. I will be judged, just like you. I will have to suffer the reparations, just like you. Where do we make reparations? In purgatory.

I am not better than you for not choosing IVF. I know your suffering on an intimate level. I didn’t choose IVF because we knew it wasn’t for us . On a deep level, we knew it was wrong. That’s why so many who use it get defensive. They too, know it was wrong. Sure, a beautiful and amazing child came from it. God allowed that child but the means to bring that child here was wrong. The means we used to conceive our first was wrong. I have confessed it but I still feel some shame even though God has forgiven me.

And imagine for a moment what that child will grow up to believe. A child bought and paid for, exploited from conception. “I feel that donor conception is a trade in human beings and very few people consider the effects it has on a child.” – From a child

There are so many biblical women who struggled with infertility and so many couples who took their childlessness into their own hands and forced a child anyway (through a concubine or maidservant). That never went well for them nor the child. Curses abound. Bad things happened but we don’t equate those bad things to the sin, at least I didn’t until I began to study scripture. God doesn’t punish like that anymore. His mercy endures forever and we should be focused on his mercy.

Jesus died on the cross for you so that you could find eternal life in him through reconciliation. He wants us to say sorry for the wrong, not “oh well, everyone else is doing it,” or “I have been good so I deserve a baby.”

And by the way, it’s a sin to lead others to sin. If you’ve had IVF and you say, “well, I did it,” that’s scandal. Others will see it and think, “well, she’s Catholic and did it so I guess it’s okay.” Scandal. Sin.

Sin leads to death.

We must try not to sin and lead others into sin.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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