Tag Archives: sin

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

My best friend heard this one at her Bible Study:

Knowledge is knowing that a Squash is a Fruit.
Wisdom is knowing that a Squash does not belong in a Fruit Salad.

OK, so when she told me, the fruit was a tomato, but I altered it, thinking that tomatoes might be pretty good in a fruit salad, but that’s not my point.

I’ve been really pondering things as of late. It might be our Book Club selections (we just finished reading The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, and I’ve just finished reading The Great Divorce by the same) or it’s the fact that I am beginning to have more time for deep thoughts… I don’t know. I guess the best way of putting it is that I have experienced a re-conversion.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know that I converted to Catholicism when I was in college and since then, I have gone through the highs and lows that come with being a woman of Faith. I am not just talking about personal highs and lows, but those mountaintops and valleys, oh the valleys of Faith. It’s a funny thing about conversion. When I first entered the Catholic Church, I as on fire for the Lord. I was saying and doing all of the “right” things, but looking back, I really wasn’t feeling them. Almost predictibly, as time went on, that fire began to cool a bit. I can liken it to being in a new relationship, because that is what it is.

You know, when you first start dating or seeing someone, it’s all wine and roses… you are giddy at the thought of their name and there is nothing that you would want to do to disappoint them. You might even make the conscious effort to change for that person. You are so happy and there is nothing that can take that happiness away. But then, the honeymoon period ends. It’s then you start seeing the irritations in your new Beloved. The way he breathes through his mouth, the fact that she refuses to ask for directions, how he never takes you up on your offer to drive… for each of us, there is something. SO, you end up at a crossroads, do you break up with this person or do you persevere?

The same thing happens with Faith. When you are a new convert you want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to prove how many sacraments you know and what differentiates a venial and moral sin and you want everyone to know the names of the twelve apostles and you are a font of knowledge about your faith. And if you are not careful, you may even start looking down on people because they don’t know as much as you do. But sooner or later, something happens and that zeal begins to wear off. A close friend tells you he doesn’t like your change, your spouse tells you that you are not the person she married, a Priest tells you during a conversation that what you are saying is bordering on heresy. Whatever it is, you start to pull back and you find yourself in the desert. You start to question if you have made a mistake because you now feel alone. You did everything right, and now where is Jesus? Why don’t you feel the same thing that you think your neighbor does? And what about that woman who wears a veil at Mass?? What’s she experiencing??

In the nearly ten years that I have been a Catholic, I have experienced highs and lows. I have followed the rules, I have broken the rules. I’ve been excommunicated (I was under a state of mortal sin and had not been to confession. It’s by the Grace of God that I didn’t die in that state…) and in full communion with the church…

As an aside, this might help:

Excommunication of laypeople principally means that they are cut off from receiving the sacraments. It does not mean that the Church is condemning a person to hell. In fact, excommunication is intended to be a medicine to inspire people to repent and be reconciled to the Church. Once reconciled to the Church, that person may again receive the sacraments. If an excommunicated person dies without being formally reconciled to the Church, he can be saved if he truly and sincerely repents all of his mortal sins before death. Certainly we may pray that a person in these circumstances be interiorly reconciled to God and the Church through full repentance before death. (from “This Rock”, Vol 18, Issue 9)

…but a funny thing has happened to me in the last year or so. I have begun to feel comfortable in what I have become. I no longer feel I have to defend who I am or who I have become. I still love learning more and more about Catholicism and I have will defend Catholicism as needed and to the best of my abilities (with the words of the Spirit because I can’t do it alone,) but I no longer go out seeking confrontations. I have surrounded myself with other women of Faith and that, I think, has been the biggest factor as a friend once said: “You can’t be a Christian in isolation.” I don’t feel as if I have to convert anybody or bring anyone into the Church, after all that is NOT my job as a Christian. As St. Francis of Assisi said: “At all times preach the Gospel; when necessary, use words. ” Only Christ can change another’s heart and bring them Home. My job is to act as Witness to Christ’s Love and Mercy. I don’t have all of the answers and the best part is, is that I do not need all of the answers. I have the knowledge and I can always gain more knowledge, but what I am experiencing now is the Wisdom that comes from the Love of the Son.
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I know, I know… I still owe you a post on Abortion… I’ll get there. Also, I’ll be reviewing a new children’s christmas book “Little Star” by Anthony DeStefano. Stay Tuned!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, sacraments, Tuesday

Ask CCM Tuesday: Stem Cell Research

So, what’s the deal, you may ask, with the Catholic Church and Stem Cell Research? The Church is all about keeping people alive at whatever cost, but it’s against stem cells? What’s the dealie, yo?

First of all… The Church is not against Stem Cell Research, per se. Rather, she speaks out against embryonic stem cell research. Let’s start with some history:

If you follow my blog, you may already know that I am a Badger… meaning I earned my degrees at the University of Wisconsin- Madison (BS ’02, MS ’05.) What you may not know is that UW-Madison is essentially one of the birth places of embryonic stem cell research. Back in 1995 non-human primate stem cells were isolated there and later on, human lines. So what’s the big deal with stem cells?

Stem Cells are cells found in multi-cellular organisms which have the ability to differentiate into other specialized cells. The two ‘news-worthy’ types (embryonic and adult) differ in one major way: embryonic stem cells have the ability to become ANY of the over 200 different cell types in the human body (they are also known as pluripotent cells,) while adult stem cells (somatic or germline, depending on the origin of the cell) are multipotent, meaning they are limited to becoming the type of tissue from which they originated. Pluripotent Adult Stem cells do exist, but they are very rare in the body. It is possible to induce pluripotency in some cells (i.e. skin cells) by using genetic reprogramming but these would not be considered stem cells. Stem Cells can also be obtained from fetal and amniotic sources, but we don’t hear about those as much.

Adult Stem Cells are currently being used in the treatment of leukemia via bone marrow transplants which is, right now, one of the only established treatments using stem cells. As of right now, embryonic stem cells are still in the research phases, but the possibilites exist for Adult Stem Cells being used to treat Parkinsons, cancer, spinal cord injuries, wound healing, diabetes and arthrtis, to name a few. However, because of the nature of embryonic stem cells they have the tendency to develop into tumors also referred to as teratomas which can threaten the life of the recipient.

The problem with embryonic stem cells is that the cells are taken from an early stage embryo, called a blastocyst, thereby killing the embryo. Catholics, among other faiths and persons, believe that life begins at conception, so taking the cells from the embryo is kin to taking a life in order to research possible cures to extend another life. The Church teaches us that using evil means to obtain a good is not worth it, so to speak. The practice is often justified because the currently established lines come from embryos that are the un-used embryos from In Vitro Fertilization with the thought being… “well, we have these embryos here and they are doing nothing but sitting frozen in stasis, so at least we are using them.” In short, the Church says in the Instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, that

“the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized” (I, 1).

But the ethical use of embryos in research is not the only question. Another question to ask ourselves is: Should we continue with our policy of research into high-tech, expensive therapies that may not be available to many citizens because they are uninsured, underinsured, or because their insurance plans might not cover experimental treatments? Is it right that not everyone would be able to take advantage of stem cell therapies? In short, the Church is very supportive of scientific progress and using science to the betterment of human life, but not at the cost of it’s smallest humans.

So, my opinion: I am a science nerd, through and through. My first job after college was in a cancer research lab. My Masters Degree is in Human Pathology, I find disease and it’s research fascinating. However, I don’t agree with the use of embryos in research. I don’t agree with taking a life to further a life. That last statement can be a hard one to follow, after all how can we say that one life is worth more than another? We can’t, and that’s my point.

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Next Week: In Vitro Fertilization. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. But please, keep things respectful and constructive!

Every Tuesday is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, life, political, science, Tuesday

Can I get a Witness?

Yesterday was Respect for Life Sunday and so the homily focused on the sancity of Life. DH and I discussed the topic a bit, and I realized that life issues can be a difficult topic to discuss, even between spouses. It kind of got me thinking… as a Catholic Woman and Mother, why do I find it so difficult to discuss, let alone witness to, life issues?

My thoughts are that we as a people love to cling to our individuality and personal decisions and there is the desire of not wanting to offend another and so we water down our personal convictions as to not alienate another person. How many of us, in meeting a possible new friend, tend to avoid discussing “hot button issues” (politics, religion, etc) because we really want that other person to like us and to not think that we re a weirdo. (To be honest, DH’s family tends to avoid those topics among family because of the desire to keep the peace.) But in doing that, we are presenting that new friend with a false identity… great way to start a friendship. For me, the difficulty lies in who I used to be and who I am now. While I am still pretty liberal in most topics, in the venue of Life, I have become staunchly anti-death which in some circles equates me as also being anti-feminist. I don’t think of myself as a mindless fem-bot but at the same time, I don’t see how being pro-woman and pro-life have to be mutually exclusive. And why is it not OK to change? After all, I am not the same person I was in high school and college (I am older, pudgier, smarter, with more life experience,) why can’t my political/ moral/ personal views change as well?

By and by, I have been very blessed. When DH and I started our family, it happened seamlessly. All of our parents are in great health as are DH’s grandparents and my paternal grandmother. Women on my mother’s side of the family easily reach the triple digits. So in my case, it’s easy to speak out against:

-Abortion, when one’s pregnancies occurred in the context of a happy marriage

-Stem Cell Research, when you are not struggling with Parkinson’s or Huntington’s or Diabetes

-In Vitro Fertilization, when you’ve had no issues getting pregnant. (As an aside, Robert Edwards, the IVF pioneer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine this weekend.)

-Euthanasia, when you’ve never watched a loved one suffering, living a life that others consider not worth livng.

If you are like me, you’ve given yourself these excuses more than once. You say it and then you feel a little better because you’ve sidestepped giving your true thoughts. While we may have avoided offending another person with our lukewarm response, we miss out on the fallacy common to all of the excuses: What I am doing is MY will and not God’s Will.

-I am going to abort this child because I don’t want the baby.

-I am going to take stem cells from this embryo, killing this embryo, for research.

-I am going to create a baby in a petri dish because I want my own baby, not another’s.

-I am going to put my loved one out of their misery because I can’t stand to watch them suffer any more.

So you might be thinking, “Yeah, I can see that, but don’t we have free will?” To that I have to say that Free Will and God’s Will are not one and of the same.  I know that people hate to hear that phrase “God’s Will,” especially when God’s Will is not what we want to have happen. And you know, I equate it a bit with my job as a parent. The Bear, at three, would love nothing better than to eat Oreo cookies for lunch. But I tell her that she may not do so. She may cry and pout, because she is not getting her way, but I, as her parent, must negate her personal will and desire for her betterment.

So, where do I stand on all of this? Well… you’ve have to stay tuned to find out. For the next 4 “Ask CCM Tuesdays,” I will present the teachings of the Catholic Church on each of the above Life Issues along with my personal stance on it. Tomorrow, we will start with Stem Cell Research.
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As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. But please, keep things respectful and constructive!

Every Tuesday is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, feminism, infant mortality, life, mothering

Ask CCM Tuesday

Well, I didn’t get any questions for this week, which is not a huge surprise considering that I just posted about it yesterday. So, let’s start a little Catholic A-Z, shall we? I figure, on the weeks that I don’t have any questions to answer, I’ll post something about Catholicism using a letter of the Alphabet!

A is for Absolution

According to Wikipedia:

Absolution is an integral part of the sacrament of penance. The penitent makes a sacramental confession of all mortal sins to a priest and prays an act of contrition. The priest then assigns a penance and imparts absolution in the name of the Trinity, on behalf of Christ Himself, using a fixed sacramental formula:
“Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (suspensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, so far as my power allows and your needs require. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Thereupon, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Absolution forgives the guilt associated with the penitent’s sins, and removes the eternal punishment (Hell) associated with mortal sins. The penitent is still responsible for the temporal punishment (Purgatory) associated with the confessed sins, unless an indulgence is applied or, if through prayer, penitence and good works, the temporal punishment is cancelled in this life.

(emphasis mine)

Absolution, for me, is one of the most freeing things to experience. After confessing my sins, just being able to hear the words forgiving me of my transgressions. My brothers and sisters of the Protestant Faith are often concerned about the thought of a priest forgiving someone of their sins and will use James 5:16 as reason against confessing to a priest. However, the Catechism states:

1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacraments of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

1465 When he celebrates the sacraments of Penance, the priest if fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgments is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner. (emphasis mine)

Hope you enjoyed this week’s “Ask CCM!” Looking forward to your questions for next week! If you liked this blog, please share with your friends!
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If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

I have no prizes to offer for your questions other than the knowledge that you might be helping others with their questions!

Pax Christi!

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Now on Tuesdays! Ask The Caffeinated Catholic Mama

I feel the Holy Spirit’s been after me for a while to do this so I am going to finally stop being stubborn and say “yes.” Starting tomorrow and every Tuesday to follow, I will use my blog space to answer your questions to the Caffeinated Catholic Mama.

So if you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

I will do my best to answer your questions and if I cannot, I will refer to a Catholic’s BFFs for the answer: The Bible, The Catechism and The Priest. (that’s assuming your question is about Catholicism.) Please try to make your questions concrete as I am not so good at the existential questions… after all, my education is in the Natural Sciences!

I have no prizes to offer for your questions other than the knowledge that you might be helping others with their questions!

Looking forward to answering your queries!

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Pax Christi!

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Who gets to decide if it is a choice?

No, no, this isn’t a pro-life post (sorry to disappoint!) But I was listening to The Diane Rhem on NPR last week and they were discussing the proposed ban on face-covering veils in France. The discussion got a bit heated among the panelists and I found myself yelling at the radio at times.

I can understand the worry of the French Parlament, burkas can be used to conceal explosives of suicide bombers and face-covering veils can obscure the face rendering facial recognition software inoperable but does that still make it right for a group of politicians to dictate what a woman can and can’t wear?

Let’s be honest here, for the most part, the Western World is not known for being the most modest place, especially for women. I mean, here in the US, we seem to have a HUGE problem with breastfeeding in public but we don’t blink an eye at a 12 year old traipsing around wearing a belly bearing halter top and booty shorts a la Lolita. In talking to some people about this, I’ve heard a lot of comments along the lines of “If they want to wear the covering, why don’t they live in a country like Saudi Arabia where it wouldn’t be so obvious? Hmmm.

Additional arguments for the ban take on a “feminist” perspective in that for some women, the wearing of the burka or hijab is forced upon her by male relatives. While that is true, what about the women who choose to wear the burka or hijab? Should they be forced to shame themselves in the sight of their God because of the laws of man? Why don’t we address the treatment of women by radical Muslim men instead?

Where would the line be drawn? Would nuns and religious sisters be required to dress in short shorts and tank tops because “everyone else does?” What about priests? Should we ban Roman Collars because the collar is a clear religious symbol that is unduly pressed upon our non-religious brethren? Would we have to restrict the wearing of saris and buddhist robes because they too are long and could be used to conceal weapons?

I personally love wearing my veil to Sunday Mass and I have been known to take a long, black pashmina and wrap it around my head, hijab-style, on particularly bad hair days. Now granted, the proposed ban does focus on face-covering veils, but who is to say that the ban will not become more far reaching and attempt to secularize all types of religious dress?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but it does make for an interesting discussion. Should governments mandate what can and cannot be worn by its people? Or is it better for society to exert the pressures?
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What’s your opinion? Thoughts? I know you have one!

Pax Christi

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Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, feminism, life, race, wednesday, world

Sacrament of Penance… who needs it?? I do! I do!

I came home to the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2002. I was not engaged to a Catholic man, but I was dating one but marriage was not really on the radar. I was a senior in college and planning on Grad School so marriage was a thought but not the goal. I mention that because when I talk about my conversion, usually people assume that I converted for marriage or some “other” reason. Yup, there was another reason… God called me home.
I first became interested in the Church when I was in high school. I was raised Baptist and regularity attended Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, WI as a child. That is where the seeds were first planted and cultivated. In high school, 2 of my best friends were of other faiths: Lutheran and Catholic. I attended service with each of them, but the Catholic Church really spoke to me (Sorry, Laura!)
For me, and perhaps for others, the only “difficult” part of Catholicism is the Sacrament of Penance and the thing is that is really is not that difficult at all. Earlier, I wrote about the effect of Pride on our lives and the fear and trepidation that the thought of Confessing your Sins brings stems from the sin of Pride. We don’t want others to know that we are not *gasp* perfect and that we make mistakes and we surely don’t want that man in the Roman Collar to know!
Many non-Catholics (and some Catholics) question the validity of confession ones’ sins to a priest, after all, God is all seeing and all knowing so why can’t I just send up a prayer saying “Oops! My bad!” right to Our Heavenly Father Himself? Well, here are some things from The Catholicism Answer Book to consider:

  • When confessing to a priest, you are not talking to Father Insert-Name-Here, rather you are talking to Christ HIMSELF! A priest acts In Persona Christi and Jesus, through the sacramental ministry of the priesthood absolves us of our sins. (And if you are really shy about your sins, the screen is still there!)
  • The Sacrament of Penance is first and foremost a sacrament, an encounter with divinity and one of the ways that God communicates His grace to us.
  • By verbally confessing your sins to another living, breathing, tangible person, we are given the chance to practice the virtue of humility which counteracts the sin of Pride. Is it embarrassing sometimes to confess our misgivings and mistakes and the low points of our lives? Yes! But any sin in incredibly offensive to God, Our Father, and if you are a parent, you can especially understand the value of your children telling you the truth.
  • The Sacrament of Penance is also known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sin separates us from God, it makes us unfit for the glory of Heaven; Confession clears your soul and you once again wear the white garment that you wore on the day of your Baptism.

Confession is not bad, in fact it’s good… no, it’s GREAT! Confession gives you the chance to get those demons off of your chest, the ones that nip at your heels day in and day out; the ones that sit on your shoulder and tell you that you are a bad person and that no one will ever respect you if you tell; it takes the power that Satan has over you away and restores the purity of your soul.

Given all of the benefits, one has to ask… who WOULDN’T want to go to Confession?

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