Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in spirit, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Oh Lord,

Teach me to seek You and reveal yourself to me when I seek You.

For I cannot seek You unless You first teach me, nor find You unless You first reveal yourself to me.

Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking.

Let me find You in love, and love You in finding.

~Saint Ambrose of Milan

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Name: Erin Yonke

Location: Aurora, IL

Info: I'm happily married to my husband and champion pro-life activist, Matt. I stay home with my three small boys; Ambrose (11/06), Peter (3/08), and Joseph (9/10).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

a story about birth control.

First, I should say that the teaching of the Catholic church on birth and life and birth control has come to be a great (big, HUGE) source of relief to me. Second, I’m usually not one for long-winded personal stories, so my apologies for that. Still, I think the point is worth making.

Somewhere along the line, in the years I spent growing up in a family of seven children, I forgot that life is precious.

Don’t be mistaken. I have always been taught that children are a blessing from God, and I adore my sisters (and there’s some affection for my brother, too;-) —but as far as I could tell, they were falling from the sky (and, possibly, every other high-up place, and that one ought to wear complete body armor in order to avoid injury).

Life was always readily accessible, and apparently infinite. Babies were a dime a dozen. That was that.

When Matt and I were engaged, this “life” that I saw running through the halls, spilling grape juice on the counter, and leaving sticky finger prints on every glass surface within reach was far too close to a reality, too close to invading the life I was about to begin. It must be prevented, I was convinced, and I was advised that it was the “wisest” thing to do.

I admit, it seemed backwards even at the time, that I would marry the man I loved, to become one flesh with him and create a picture of the beautiful union between Christ and His church, yet religiously down a little pink pill every morning in order to ensure that I would not have his children. I couldn’t help but wonder what better thing there was for a marriage to do than to bear fruit. Nevertheless, I was full of excuses. It was practical, and I was young. I said that it would be good for my marriage to put off having kids, knowing full well that there was not a higher blessing for a marriage than children, and that God, in His infinite wisdom, would provide for us everything we needed to sustain any life He chose to give us.

A month into our marriage, the Holy Spirit took hold of our consciences, and we threw away the pills.

That wasn’t the end. We took up natural family planning. While a considerably better option, my heart remained only very slightly changed. I didn’t want kids. They were an obligation, I would lose my figure—not to mention that I might have to wear ‘mom jeans’. Kids are messy, they are loud, and they would rob me of my sleep—and I knew this for a fact, from many years of first-hand experience.

This “natural” birth control wasn’t as extreme as contraception, I told myself, although I would have liked it to have been. I wanted to be in control of this. Desperately. It frightened me to know that I wasn’t.

Certainly, I knew that whether or not I tried to manage it, if God willed for us to have a child, we would—no matter what. It wasn’t a question of how I was effecting what God was doing, it was a question of my heart’s response.

Months passed, and the Holy Spirit was faithful to convict me of my sin, though I was still fixed in it. One moment I would say, “God, please bless us with children” and the next it was, “Oh wait, no! I didn’t mean it!” For months and months this repeated itself, almost daily. Knowing that God is the giver of all good things, knowing that He, Himself loves children, and wanting to love children myself—and at the same time resisting, and even fearing that He would bless me with such a duty.

This struggle didn’t end until Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 2:00pm—ten days before my first wedding anniversary, in the very moment when I realized that there was an unmistakable pink line on my pregnancy test.

From that one moment, I could write page upon page about how differently I view the world, how gracious God has been, how amazing life is…and this baby has not even entered the world. I will speak quietly, because I have so much to learn…but the honor, and the joy of giving life to another person has been unbelievable. The beauty of a home filled with children marks a life filled with fruit and with God’s blessings, things with which I cannot wait for my own home to be filled to the brim.

And the truth is this, friends: when Christ took on flesh, He did so that He might offer it to us, to give us life. The prosperity of the womb is a picture to us of this very thing—it is our opportunity to offer our bodies to our children, so that they may have life. I’m not going to get into a discussion about abortion—but to address the idea of “when life begins”—we, as Christians, cannot simply hold to the idea that “life begins at conception” for our own lives. In the same way that purity and faithfulness to your spouse applies even before marriage, love for your children is required before their conception. As Christians, we must believe that life begins in the hand of God, as soon as we reach the marriage bed. Until we do, I believe that abortion and contraception will continue to be rampant amongst pagans and Christians alike.

The opening of the womb is the opening of the heart. It is being charitable and hospitable to your children before their very conception. Christ never turned a child away, and likewise, we should not either, from the moment we choose to fulfill the marital act. To close our wombs is deny the sufficiency of Christ, His bloody death on the Cross, and it is to refuse to lay down our lives for another in light of His sufficiency.

Had Christ carried even an ounce of my selfishness to the cross, had He hung a “closed for business” sign on His neck (as I had, in theory, done to my own children), if He had said, “Sorry, number 4, but I think that three’s a good number…” My life would be a wreck.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

even though I'm the only one who cares...

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It's my baby!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

a post for the sake of posting...

The thing I hate about blogging is that I so often feel like I really OUGHT to post something, and that I should, somehow, be able to post something interesting since I am, after all, taking up space on the infinite world wide web, and that I bothered to even start a blog AND even more, bothered to get people to read it. Not that there's any real obligation, or that I have anything important to say that would dramatically effect anyone's life...I just have some ridiculous, unfounded sense of duty to this thing, I guess.

Anyway, 5 weeks left:-) Had a visit with the midwife on Tuesday...she seemed to think that the baby was "too small" (*rolling eyes*) , and wanted to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was growing OK. Had an ultrasound on Thursday--generally speaking, I'm anti-ultrasounds...but darn it all if they aren't amazing. My mom came with me and we got to see the baby sucking his (or her) thumb, and I came home with the coolest picture of my baby's profile:-) Oh, and big surprise--everything is fine. The baby's small (also, big suprise...since it's a BABY). I guess somebody's got to be in the 30th percentile...or it wouldn't exist.

Aside from that, my dad enexpectedly lost his job last week. Being out of work is stressful...and moreso when you have 7 children. Pray for him, if you think of it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

mild thoughts on the baking and breaking of bread.

So, over the last couple months I’ve not been employed, which has given me a lot of free time, most of which has been spent in DeKalb with my family and getting some miscellaneous projects around the new house done before the baby comes.

Anyway, I’ve also been taking some time to study bread baking. I should rephrase. I am a full-fledged bread-baking fanatic and should join a support group. I’ve always enjoyed making bread, but this…oi. It is a never-ending quest for the perfect crackling crust, the perfect crumb, the perfect flavor.

I’m not going to attempt to bore anyone with the physics of bread baking.

The thing that continues to fascinate me about bread is that it is the thing that Christ chose to symbolize Himself and His generosity to us. It is the food through which Christ chose to offer Himself to us—and there’s a lot to that.

The bread we create “by the sweat of our brow” is firstly a symbol of Christ’s broken body that He so freely offers to us, a reminder of the life that can only be found in Him and His sacrifice, and thus a symbol of how we, too, ought to lay down our lives for one another. God chose bread to unite earthly and divine things—and it is here that the line between our physical hunger and our spiritual hunger is somewhat blurred.

Eight weeks until the due date! I'm trying to sound excited (and I am), except that "eight weeks" sounds the same as "eternity" right now.