Natural Family Planning

Dear Anthony,

I’m getting married soon and I wanted to find out exactly how NFP works, since that’s what the Church recommends.  I have saved myself for my husband and remained pure.  I want to enjoy sex without the worries of getting pregnant right away.  I want my husband to enjoy sex too, so NFP allows him to go all the way.  If we use the method where we monitor my cycle, we can’t enjoy sex anytime we are interested, and we will both be frustrated.  From what I’ve learned so far, using NFP also means we can make love when the mood strikes but have the frustration of having to halt or forgo it since we don’t want to conceive yet. Please advise me on the different methods and how they can be used without feeling limited, restricted or guilty.  Isn’t there a method that allows us to have sex whenever we want and not worry about conceiving?

First, let me say how wonderful it is that you have successfully maintained your virginity and how admirable it is that you saved yourself for your future husband.  In this day and age, there are so many forces at work to ensure no one enters marriage as a virgin, even if they sincerely intended to.  Those like yourself who were steadfast are truly heroes of purity.

In all my years of providing advice for singles and couples, I’ve never had anyone just come out with this concern so blatantly as you have here.  It’s refreshing and I appreciate it.  As you can imagine, so many Catholics have thought this very same thing but typically will beat around the bush around the core motive.  Plus, they don’t want to admit that this is their main concern, because it sounds too worldly or impure or shallow, etc.

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It’s important to first recognize that one aspect of your motive for your concerns is completely understandable and makes sense.  You are attracted to your spouse and want to have physical intimacy, but get frustrated by having to stop that natural and beautiful inspiration to consider if you might get pregnant.  You’d be surprised how many Catholic marriages have problems because of this particular frustration.  So there is nothing wrong with your concern, nor with your hope in finding a way to be intimate at will without worrying about pregnancy.

Now the bad news.  There is no way around having to deal with this concern. Like all actions, there is responsibility involved.  Anyone trying to take the responsibility out of sexual activity is deceiving themselves and playing with fire. Sexual intimacy is the most natural thing in the world, but so is having children. They really and truly are not separate things.

There is no sure fire way to have it both ways without going outside of the Church.  All the birth control methods available are contraception.  These birth control methods do not have a certainty at preventing pregnancy (many have learned that the hard way). They might have a high success rate, but not 100%. The pill has the added sinful result of actually chemically aborting a newly conceived child.

NFP (Natural Family Planning), though approved by the Church, is not meant to be a contraceptive method.  In other words, if a married couple is going to use NFP in order to share their love for each other in intercourse but prevent conception, it can be considered a form of contraception. There are many ways contraception is defined, but the most important part is “the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.”  To deliberately prevent pregnancy is what the Church teaches to be gravely sinful.

I think you can see where I am going with all this.  No one faults you for your desire to share your love for your spouse as physically and intimately as possible. But marriage is a call to responsibility. And at the top of the priority list is the responsibility to be a family.  The main purpose of the love you have for each other that brings you together in marriage is to bring forth new life.

I have told countless couples to postpone getting married if they are not ready to have children. The strong pull toward each other in love is to foster a mutual commitment for life in marriage.  And that intimacy desired is designed to bring forth new life.

This notion of needing time as couple to get to know each other is hogwash. That is merely two people making an excuse to be selfish.  There is no room for selfishness in the commitment to marriage.  When you marry, you agree to start a family.  And you are a family.  Your new responsibilities are for your spouse, and any children that God blesses you with.  Your life is one of sacrifice, not self-indulgence.

So why get married if you are not ready for the gift of children?  And they are a gift.  A precious gift – and a visible sign of your love for each other.  Children force the couple to get out of themselves and raise these new persons entrusted to them.  It’s a big responsibility.  So my advice is to not get married until you’re ready to have children.

And when you do marry, be completely open to life and start having your family. However, be responsible.  NFP can help you to conceive.  It can also help you to space children as necessary.  Work closely with a trusted priest or spiritual director to assist you with important decisions like how many children to have and when.  That is tricky as you go along in your marriage.

But at the time of getting married, there is no good reason to immediately prevent conception.  You don’t want to stunt God’s purpose in bringing you together.  And you will definitely get to know each other more as you go through having a baby.  It will bring you closer than ever.

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The high price of not putting out.

Dear Anthony,

I’ve had it with men!  Once again, I have been rejected by a guy because I would not have sex with him, and made it clear (after his many attempts) that I’m not that kind of girl and it’s not going to happen until I’m married.  It never fails.  Things are going great and then the guy breaks up with me using any excuse, but I know it’s because I’m not “putting out”.  And these are nice, Catholic guys.  I am so crushed right now.  I can’t help thinking I’m doomed to a life of loneliness because I won’t have sex until I’m married.  But I DON’T want to be alone!  Maybe I should just give in since even the great guys are expecting it.  I’m so depressed.  Why do Catholic guys expect sex from a Catholic girl?  I just don’t understand.

It always deeply saddens me when a woman writes to me about this exact scenario.  Unfortunately, I hear this very same thing all time, and have for years.  So let me first say that I am sincerely sorry for what you are going through, and all women like you go through this kind of rejection (and God knows there are many).

I believe that there are many good, Catholic men out there who are authentically good men and would make good husbands and fathers, but because they have allowed themselves to adopt certain modern ideas and practices about approaching women, they are ultimately too toxic to be capable of marital love.

There is much about today’s society and its obsession with sex that bombards men involuntarily and affects men negatively without them realizing it. Have men really become so intoxicated with this culturally pro-sex lifestyle that they cannot see the value and beauty of a woman who is clearly a good catch for them?  Are they really too sex-driven to be willing to endure a time of chastity in courtship with the woman he will spend the rest of his life loving in every way (including physically) within marriage?

Perhaps the answer is yes, they are too sexually intoxicated.  And like a drunk who denies they have a problem with alcohol, a sexually intoxicated Catholic man will never admit that they have been influenced by this substance which affects his judgment when it comes to love and marriage.  We cannot discount the power of intoxication on anyone, including genuinely good people; nor can we discount the power of the culture to intoxicate a person ever so subtly and without resistance.

I would like to believe that however powerful the culture is to intoxicate for the worst, the exposure to purity and beauty in a good woman is that much more powerful to wake a man up from his blindness and see just how wrong he is about how he treats a woman and approaches sex.  No, scratch that.  I DO believe that this kind of good woman is more powerful than the power the culture holds over a man.

So why are so many good women being rejected by men who should be thanking God for sending such a woman into his life?  That I cannot answer.  I could offer my opinion and some theories, but I don’t have a clear answer.  Maybe the men aren’t as close to Christ and the Sacraments (sources of the only power to combat such evil) as they should be.  Perhaps they are too far invested in the lifestyle of having sex or living together prior to marriage.  Perhaps they really don’t want to be married.  Who knows?

Too many good women are paying the high price of remaining faithful to their belief that sex is for after marriage.  And too many of these women are in pain because they are made to feel like they are somehow idiots for taking that belief so seriously.  And too many of these women are beating themselves up trying to figure out what else could be wrong with them that caused the man to break up with her, not willing to believe he was so shallow to do it just because she wouldn’t put out.

I can’t sugar coat this one, ladies.  You do pay a high price, in that you don’t have someone to share your life with when you want that so very much.  But you can’t ever forget (please, don’t ever forget) that you also paid a high price to Christ for standing your ground, and that price is deep union with the greatest love of your love, Jesus Himself, and the eternal happiness you will possess as a result.

I suggest you hold your head high and continue being the beautiful woman you are for yourself and for the sake of Christ.  Don’t allow these men to take away who you are.  Keep becoming more and more beautiful, and live as if it’s them who are missing out.  You always have your union with your ultimate love, Jesus Christ.  That is no pious sentiment.  That is real and true.  And it’s better than anything.  Pray for these men.  They need it.

But also stay open and hopeful. There are lots of single men out there who share your commitment to chastity, or who will respect and admire you.

I’m dating a Catholic, now what?

Dear Anthony,

I could use some advice as the non-Catholic party in my relationship.  My boyfriend is a very nice Catholic guy.  He knew I was not Catholic.  We get along just great.  But he’s “really” Catholic, and I’m “really” not.  He isn’t insisting on me being Catholic or anything like that.  But I can’t help feeling like that is going to come up sometime soon.  It makes me nervous, because I don’t want to get so far in our relationship and then have heart broken because I won’t become Catholic.  Should I just save both of us a lot of time and grief and end it now, or is there some hope that we could actually get married even though we have two different religions? I understand if you can’t answer this, but I thought I would give it a shot.  Thanks so much.

I’m very glad you reached out to me.  I have discussed matters that involve non-Catholics before, and I am very interested in the concept of mixed marriages and their potential to be successful.  

It’s obvious from your question that have a religion that you practice.  You didn’t share specifically what it is, so I can’t be as specific as might be needed.  It does make a difference if you are a baptized Christian of one of the thousands of Christian denominations, or a non-baptized person of another religion.  What makes no difference, however, is the fact that you belong to another faith, and that causes concerns for both parties.

We live in an age where is extremely easy to meet someone under normal, everyday circumstances who is attractive in many ways, but does not share your religious affiliation and beliefs.  For most of us, we are exposed to all kinds of people.  That makes it very easy to find people we get along with, share common interests, career goals, and are attracted to.  Making friends is easy.  Even getting a date is pretty easy.

Unfortunately, what’s also easy is having sex.  No matter what your religion, in today’s society, moral issues surrounding sex (i.e., chastity, premarital sex, contraception, etc) seem to have become a non-issue.  It seems that everything about society has a pro-sex message and purpose.  Having sex is as commonplace and expected as dining together.  It’s not questioned.  If there is concern, there is fear and guilt about bringing it up.

This leads me to your concern about being involved with a Catholic.  If your boyfriend is a practicing Catholic, there will be several key things about his religion that he will be committed to that should give any non-Catholic concern when it comes to considering a Catholic as a prospective future spouse.  These key things are:

1) The Holy Eucharist.  Any Catholic worth their salt believes that Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist.  That the bread and wine on the altar at a Catholic Mass is changed in substance (though not appearance) into the body and blood of Christ at the hands of the Catholic priest.  A true Catholic must never, ever, believe it is only bread and wine, or just a symbol. A non-Catholic must accept that the person they love believes this, and never attempt to dissuade them otherwise.  A true Catholic attends Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation.  The non-Catholic also supports the Catholic’s need to attend Mass every Sunday and is encouraging.

2) Confession.  The act of confessing mortal sins to a Catholic priest, being absolved of those sins, and performing the penance.  A practicing Catholic will go to Confession when they know they are in mortal sin.  This implies that the practicing Catholic stays on top of what the Catholic Church teaches in order to know what is sinful, and examines their conscience to determine when they have sinned.  A non-Catholic must accept that the person they love submits to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in their life and needs to have their mortal sins absolved by a Catholic priest.  

3)  Pre-marital sex is not allowed.  Genital intercourse prior to marriage is wrong and a mortal sin.  If committed, the sacrament of confession is necessary.  A Catholic is not permitted to have genital intercourse until married, no matter how much it seems right or you love each other, or if there is a desire to live together to see if it will work out first, etc.  A non-Catholic must accept this AND show respect for the person they love by not ridiculing this belief and not tempting them to have sex.  If it still happens, there must be sorrow and remorse, and encouragement by the non-Catholic to go to confession and a stronger commitment to keep it from happening.

4)  Artificial contraception is not allowed.  A woman on the pill, a man using a condom, and any other apparatus or method used for the purpose of preventing conception of a child.  A Catholic can never, ever, agree to the use of artificial contraception IN marriage, as well as prior to marriage.  A non-Catholic must accept that the person they love is pro-life and open to life, and believes contracepting is contrary to life and true love.  

5)  Loves everyone, including enemies.  Jesus Christ gave a new commandment and called all His followers to live it; “love one another as I have loved you.”  This call to love is a call to love the unlovable, enemies, those who persecute you, those in need, those who won’t love you back.  A Catholic is ready to forgive and have mercy on those who wrong and hurt them.  They don’t hold grudges or seek revenge.  They are ready to sacrifice for the good or need of another.  A non-Catholic must accept that they person they love is someone who does not love selectively or conditionally, nor is a hypocrite.

6)  Prayer.  A Catholic makes time to pray to God and strengthen their inner, spiritual lives, and includes God in all important decisions.  A non-Catholic must accept that the person they love is a person of personal prayer and includes God in the relationship.

7)  The Resurrection.  That Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead on the third day.  All aspects of being a Catholic is in vain if Jesus did not rise from the dead.  A non-Catholic must accept that the one they love believes this as historical fact and as the cornerstone of faith.

So what do you think so far?  Perhaps you don’t see your boyfriend going to Mass every Sunday, or ever going to Confession.  Perhaps he is totally open to having sex with you, and doesn’t care that you are on the Pill or about using a condom.  Perhaps he loves you but is critical or annoyed or mean to others who have wronged him or you.  Perhaps he rarely prays, and doesn’t show interest in including God in decisions that affect his life.

If this is the case, then you are not actually dating a Catholic.  He might say he is Catholic, but he is not a practicing one.  So I guess you’re safe from worry about him every trying to convert you or being “too Catholic” for you to handle.  Sadly, there are many baptized Catholics who still call themselves Catholic, though they no longer believe or live it.

But if he holds true to these key things, then you have to decide if you can live them, even if he never attempts to get you to become Catholic.  You still have to live with a Catholic.  And what’s more (and it’s MUCH more), you will have to marry this man in the Catholic Church before a priest.  AND, you will need to agree to raising your children to be Catholic.

I truly believe marriage between a Catholic and non-Catholic can work, primarily because marriage itself does not require the same religion to be successful.  Love between two persons can have such a strong mutual respect that there is never an inclination to do anything to hurt the other, and always a mutual encouragement of what is important to the other.  However, it helps a lot if you are the same religion, primarily because of the children.  It seems inevitable that once children come along, each parent starts realizing that it would be important to instill stronger religious values and practices in their children.   

In my experience, interfaith marriages only work if one or both of the persons involved have no serious commitment to their religion prior to marriage.  If one or both get serious about religion after the marriage, that has its own set of risks and problems.  So best to know where you both stand prior to marriage.

You have every right to be concerned about the Catholic you’re dating.  I have provided you with the key specifics that should be the focus of your concern.  I wouldn’t be too concerned about his trying to convert you.  Be more concerned about how serious he is about his Catholic faith and if you can live with a person who lives that way.   

Marriage is successful primarily if your love is built on close friendship, mutual respect, mutual sacrifice, and compromise rather than religious affiliation.  But when it comes to religion, the non-Catholic party has more to compromise and concede to.  I know that’s a lousy deal, but that’s the way it is.  Much is demanded of Catholics, and the Catholic Church does not allow its members to decide what and what not to believe.

Can I have a Catholic marriage if I’m not a virgin?

Dear Anthony,

I’m confused, and slightly worried.  I recently read an article by a respected Catholic author talking about being married to the person you lose your virginity to, that it is a fact the Bible teaches, and that those who marry someone else are not really married in the eyes of God.  It was very confusing to me, but I’m mostly worried because I am (unfortunately) no longer a virgin, but I have changed and become convinced of chastity before marriage.  Is it too late for me?

First of all, let’s make it clear that you have nothing to worry about.  Though you are no longer a virgin, as a Catholic, you are completely qualified to have a valid, sacramental marriage one day when you find the person you choose.  The loss of virginity before marriage absolutely does not disqualify you from Catholic marriage, nor are you “too late” in God’s eyes by your conversion to a chaste life after losing your virginity.  In fact, your conversion is God’s inspiration and gift to you which you accepted, and takes great delight in those who return to Him.

I have heard this argument before and understand the basis of the argument.  I understand how it can be confusing to people.  It’s not something you hear in your upbringing, or in your religion or C.C.D. classes. At least, not explicitly.

This argument is rooted in the Biblical concept of marital union; namely, genital intercourse.  The Bible phrases this act as a “knowing” of another.  To “know” the other means that you have had genital intercourse.  In the Old Testament, you see many instances of a man taking a woman into a tent where he “knows” her.  That act is all that is necessary to be officially married.

The person in the article you read is probably stressing the point that there is something very real and objective about the act of genital intercourse and becoming married.  Some teach that there is an exchange of persons in that act, and that “becoming one flesh” (another Biblical teaching) happens when you have genital intercourse.  Therefore, the person you lose your virginity to is the person you are married to, regardless of how you feel or if it’s legal by civil standards, etc.  It’s a compelling argument because it does makes sense based on certain Biblical realities.

It’s first important to be said that loss of virginity is traditionally a very big deal, both positively and negatively.  Positively, because two people getting married was celebrated.  It was culturally as well as religiously expected that the person you marry is the first person with whom you engage in genital intercourse.  Negatively, because if you were not a virgin at the time of marriage, it was cause for divorce.  Parents would actually need to prove the virginity of their daughter to prevent divorce if a man claimed after marriage that he did not know if she was a virgin or not.  And if it were known in the community that you were not a virgin, you ruined your chances for marriage.

And, of course, at the time of the central event of history, the clarity of the Gospel writers that Mary was a virgin was of strict priority for two reasons; one, the prophecy of the miraculous conception and virgin birth, and the intention of the just man, Joseph, who, by law, had to divorce Mary when she was found with child.  He could not stay married to a woman who was not a virgin (which, as we know, the angel made sure he did not further pursue).

Contrast this with today, when the chances of finding a virgin for marriage are remote.  For better or for worse, remaining a virgin before marriage is not a priority of the culture today.  But it is reality.  And we all must live our lives in reality, not in what we want, hope, or wish.  Therefore, it would be impractical, to say the least, to insist on marrying a virgin.

But how do we reconcile this with the clear Bible teaching about virginity as a requirement for a valid marriage?

The answer is actually quite simple.  As Catholics, we do not live our lives solely on what we read in the Bible, nor on our personal interpretation of what we read in the Bible.  Jesus Christ is the authority of Truth, and He established an authoritative body, which is His own mystical body and presence, on earth for all time and ages, with a self-appointed head of that body; the person of Peter, the first pope.  The Pope and all bishops in union with him are the official representatives of Jesus Christ and all revealed Truth of the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing in official Catholic Church teaching that says you must be a virgin before you are married.  When a couple approaches the Church for Catholic marriage, there is no question asking if you are still a virgin.  The Catholic Church allows marriages between a man and a woman with whom one or both are no longer virgins, and those who have been previously married civilly with a decree of nullity.  Non-virgins are welcome to the altar of the Lord in Holy Matrimony.

I certainly understand why someone would want to marry a virgin, or someone who has never been married.  Perhaps it is a desire to avoid possible diseases.  Perhaps it is to avoid dealing with another person’s ex-spouse or their children, or they only want their own children.  Perhaps it’s just that they feel it’s too risky, or they want someone who has also exercised self-control in refraining from pre-marital sex. It’s everyone prerogative to choose married to whomever they please, and hold out for someone who personifies the priorities they seek in their marriage partner.  Who wouldn’t prefer to be with someone on their wedding night who has never been with another person?  It’s a very nice hope, indeed, to find that. Yet, it’s not very practical in today’s world.  And it severely diminishes one’s opportunities.

Don’t be worried.  You are not a virgin anymore, like most of today’s society, including many Catholics.  But you are still very much a Catholic, and absolutely a candidate for sacramental marriage when you finally find the love of your life.  Keep up the good fight for remaining chaste before marriage.

Like, ever.

Dear Anthony,

I recently asked a girl out who I met on Ave Maria Singles.  She seemed so nice, but not very Catholic.  I think she would be so awesome if she would just get more serious about her faith.  I met with her so I could evangelize her and she stormed out of the coffee shop.  I really want to marry a Catholic girl strong in her faith. What do you suggest?

So many single Catholic men and women feel it’s their duty to evangelize the people they are dating.Too many.  

You may have heard of Taylor Swift.  She sings a lot of songs about terrible relationships.  She has some wisdom in this department that men can learn from.  I have no doubt that if someone tried to evangelize her on a date, she would not only storm out, but you would be in her next song. But anyway…

The problem is not in the concept of evangelizing.  We are all called to evangelize.  The majority of effective evangelization is example, not confrontational.  Observing exemplary Christian living leads to trust.  Genuine friendship leads to trust.  Without trust, you can’t be effective in speaking to someone about your concerns.  

You should never, ever, ever evangelize by confrontation on a date.  That’s simply bad timing, to say the least.  I’m not surprised this woman stormed out. She was blindsided by your so-called evangelization because she was expecting something totally different.  She expected to be on a date, and you made her feel like she was on trial.  

You are implying she is not strong in her Catholic faith.  Another colossal mistake.  Just because a person seems to be behaving or speaking a way that you believe shows weakness in faith does not mean they are not strong in their faith.  Not at all!

So many good people who love Jesus Christ have strong, deep roots in their faith, but have attachments and influences from the world, culture, media, and people around them.  Don’t we all?  These have a way of causing confusion and blindness.  We can easily succomb to deceiving ourselves and falling for our own excuses. That leads to ignoring and turning a blind eye, and so on and so forth.  

Many people are too impatient for the real process of this primary method of authentic evangelization. Perhaps upon observing your Christianity, a person like this girl you met gets turned off.  It would have served you better to be a fantastic first date, with absolutely no hint of putting her under the microscope or taking it upon yourself to point out her spiritual weaknesses and flaws. The Holy Spirit works through non-threatening, non-confrontational happenings which can naturally work on the conscience and inspire change for the better.

Perhaps you didn’t really intend to see her again.  And that goes for people on the website whose profiles you find questionable. Contacting them to “evangelize” is wrong. Those who join Ave Maria Singles have an expectation of using the site to meet someone. Any attempts to evangelize will likely be unsuccessful. They saw that a message was waiting. They got their hopes up. When they open it, they find you telling them what they are doing wrong in their life. They are really mad.  And then the customer support team has to hear how terrible members can be and clean up your mess.  

I think it’s wonderful that you have such a heart for Christ that you want everyone to live Christ-centered lives, and desire to share Him with others.  But our hearts are to be governed by our minds. The mind determines important virtues such as prudence. It can actually be imprudent to do confrontational evangelization.

My advice is live by example and allow the Holy Spirit to do the primary work of conversion. The more you are living the life of perfection in the Christian life, the more attractive it will be to others.  

So it’s back to the drawing board with you and online dating.  Never, ever, ever meet with a woman without being sincerely interested in getting to know her.  

Nobody wants to be with someone who wants to change them.  If you persist in trying to confrontationally evangelize women, you will very likely hear her quoting Taylor Swift, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

the love songs of the Beatles

It’s been 50 years since the Beatles first landed in America and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  I’m a pretty avid Beatles fan, and like following the continued legacy of the band.  My favorite aspect of the Beatles is the songwriting team of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

The Beatles were a phenomenon many believed would be just another fad, like so many before them, and so many after them.  Though the screaming fans chasing after the foursome everywhere they went did die off, the power and influence of their songs have not.

Paul McCartney was not a complicated person.  He had a happy childhood with two loving parents who supported his musical ambitions.  John Lennon was a very complicated individual with many tragic aspects of his upbringing.  Both of these very different men were able to come together and contribute their songwriting talents in writing simple, happy love songs in those first few years of their recording career.  Consider just the following songs released between 1962 and 1964:

Love Me Do,  Please Please Me,  P.S. I Love You,  All I’ve Got to Do,  All My Loving,  Do You Want to Know a Secret?,  From Me to You,  I Saw Her Standing There,  I Want to Hold Your Hand,  I’ll Get You,  It Won’t Be Long,  She Loves You,  Thank You Girl,  This Boy,  And I Love Her,  Any Time at All,  Can’t Buy Me Love,  Eight Days a Week,  Every Little Thing,  A Hard Day’s Night,  I Feel Fine,  I Should Have Known Better,  If I Fell,  I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,  She’s a Woman,  Things We Said Today

I’m sure you recognize many of these.  And that’s just within their first three years.  They are catchy, beautiful, short and sweet, very singable, and very endearing. These songs express the longing we all have for intimacy with another.  

Paul McCartney is the one critics claim is the happy love song writer, and John Lennon wrote more strange and angst filled songs. Like all stereotypes, it has elements of truth to it.  However, Lennon did write love songs (e.g. All I’ve Got To Do, Do You Want To Know A Secret?, Julia, Don’t Let Me Down) , and McCartney wrote non-love songs (e.g. I’m Down, I’m Looking Through You, For No One, Sgt. Pepper, Helter Skelter).

I would like to point out two songs that Lennon himself referenced as love songs.  In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine on December 5, 1980 (just 3 days before he was murdered) about his album, Double Fantasy (my favorite Lennon solo album).  Lennon said that the song Woman was the “grown-up” version of his 1965 song Girl.

If you have never heard this song, please listen to it.  In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. It is also quite a lesson in what true love between a man and a woman really is. You can tell he was deeply in love with his wife, Yoko Ono.  

Let’s compare the two songs:

GIRL

Is there anybody going to listen to my story, all about the girl who came to stay?

She’s the kind of girl you want so much, it makes you sorry

Still, you don’t regret a single day, ah girl

When I think of all the times I’ve tried so hard to leave her, she will turn to me and start to cry

And she promises the earth to me and I believe her, after all this times I don’t know why

Ah, girl

She’s the kind of girl who puts you down when friends are there, you feel a fool

When you say she’s looking good, she acts as if it’s understood

She’s cool, cool, cool, cool, girl

Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?

Did she understand it when they said

That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure?

Will she still believe it when he’s dead?  Ah girl

WOMAN

Woman, I can hardly express, my mixed emotion at my thoughtlessness

After all I’m forever in your debt

And woman, I will try to express my inner feelings and thankfullness

For showing me the meaning of success

Woman, I know you understand the little child inside the man

Please remember my life is in your hands

And woman hold me close to your heart, however distant, don’t keep us apart

After all it is written in the stars

Woman please let me explain, I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain

So let me tell you again and again and again

I love you, yeah yeah, now and forever

You can see that Girl has adolescent game playing and immature behavior. Woman shows the maturity, gratitude, humility, mutual respect, and deep sense of partnership that are required for a successful relationship and marriage.

It’s hard to believe John Lennon has been dead for 33 years.  It’s hard to believe Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are in their 60’s.  In my lifetime, all four Beatles will no longer be among the living.  But the beautiful songs they shared with the world will endure for as long as there is a civilized world.  Their contributions to love and the human spirit through the gift of music is a blessing to us all.

Long live the Beatles!  Long live happy, beautiful love songs to inspire our hearts!

why would my ex-boyfriend try to ruin my reputation?

Dear Anthony,

I decided to give in and accept his interest in being more than friends, and we started dating.  Long story short, it didn’t work out and we lost our friendship as well, which I’m still trying to get over.  But what I have to deal with even more is the shock that this man who once called me his best friend, and professes to be such a strong Catholic, told his friends that I tried to have sex with him.  I only found out because a friend of mine told me she heard it.  It’s spreading like wildfire and there’s nothing I can do about it.  

I’m so sorry this is happening to you.  It’s a cruel thing and should not have happened.  I can tell you for sure that you will come out of this stronger than ever if you can stay close to God and not do anything in retaliation.  And don’t panic.  The last thing Jesus wants you to do is lose your peace.  Rest in Him who was innocently judged and unjustly crucified.  I always marvel at the Lord’s silence amid His accusers.

You are not alone.  Many good people have been victims of slander, even by those close to them and who profess to be Catholic Christians.  They obviously do not know their Catholic faith much at all, nor have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church that clearly teaches against this kind of behavior.

The bottom line is every person has the right to their good name, and no one is entitled to spread rumors, true or false, and risk a person’s reputation.  Obviously, you cannot undo what your ex-boyfriend has done to you.  You can try to clear your name and set the record straight.  Or you could simply not do anything and let it pass, allowing others to conclude what they want to conclude based on what they hear.  Anyone who cares about you or knows you will not allow that information to change how they feel about you.  And anyone worth their salt as a person will have the decency to resist passing any judgment on you without having heard your side.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is follow the Lord’s example of silence. Don’t try to defend yourself.  Don’t confirm or deny.  It’s no one’s business.  Just keep being yourself and living your life.  Maybe confide in a close friend or family member you can trust to help you get through, but don’t let it affect you or change you or make you do anything differenly.  You are not a terrible person.  You might be a sinner, but who isn’t?  You might have done something wrong, but who hasn’t?  You are no better or worse than anyone else.  No need to lower yourself by allowing this slanderous activity to affect you.

I recommend that you read St. Francis de Sales’ classic book on personal Christian formation, “Introduction to the Devout Life.”  de Sales calls the sin of slander “a veritable pest of society.”  I hope it brings you comfort, enlightenment, and strength.  

“He who unjustly takes away his neighbour’s good name is guilty of sin, and is bound to make reparation, according to the nature of his evil speaking; since no man can enter into Heaven cumbered with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name.  Slander is a kind of murder; for we all have three lives–a spiritual life, which depends upon the Grace of God; a bodily life, depending on the soul; and a civil life, consisting in a good reputation. Sin deprives us of the first, death of the second, and slander of the third. My child, I entreat you never speak evil of any, either directly or indirectly; [….]

Those who slander others with an affectation of good will, or with dishonest pretenses of friendliness, are the most spiteful and evil of all. […]

When you speak of your neighbour, look upon your tongue as a sharp razor in the surgeon’s hand, about to cut nerves and tendons.”