Marriage


Marry Him and Be Submissive #BookReview

Time for another book review!

My friends at TAN Books asked if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing  –

Marry Him and Be Submissive by Costanza Miriano

I’ll admit the provocative title piqued my curiosity. If anything, I decided to read to see if it was as controversial as it sounds and see what all the fuss over the book (in Italy) is about. (Apparently Costanza has caused such a stir over her book, which came out first in Italian and now in English, that there have been “riots” and talk of banning the book in Italy.)

What I liked about it:

Costanza, a working journalist, writer, wife, and mother of 4, seems like a fun and interesting person who cares deeply and passionately about preserving authentic and mutually respectful loving marriages. She shares a lot of advice and wisdom to women who are either contemplating marriage or are already married in a tell-it-like-she-sees it but with a good amount of tongue-in-cheek quips to go along. That said, the translation is great although I think I missed out on a few punch lines because I’m not well-acquainted with Italian humor and culture.  It was fun getting a little peek into what life for a mom, maybe a lot like myself, is like in Italy.

After reading it, I’ll honestly say this probably is not a book I would choose to read on my own but I’m glad I had the opportunity to see what it’s all about with an open mind. I can definitely understand why the title and the content would ruffle a few pretty feathers but it definitely gave me some munchies for my mind to chew on.

Without getting into any opinions as I know this can be a sensitive subject, I will say that I did not relate with everything Costanza writes about. However, I did  find it interesting to notice the similarities between her – an Italian woman and mother somewhat obsessed with fashion and giving out unsolicited advice – and I – an “American” woman who generally dislikes clothes and shopping or telling anyone what to do if they don’t want to hear it (except for my kids, of course).

What is Submission?

Before I share more, I’ll also say that it’s essential to understand what the word “submission” really means in the context of marriage and loving relationships. Costanza did a good job going into a deeper explanation of that on pages 112 – 120. In short, know that, in Italian, sotto mettere (submission) means to place under so as to be supportive.  I remember learning about this with a line drawn horizontally across the whiteboard and then a woman stick figure under a man on top with the woman’s arms holding up the man and the man’s hands holding up the woman.

Kind of like this…

_________^_________________

v

sort of…you’ll have to use your imagination. 😉

So, in this context, it is not a submission that says a woman should basically do whatever her husband tells her and never speak up against him. It is a sub-mission – a loving and generous submitting and giving oneself to another and in cooperation with that other person for their own good and the good of their family.

For the record, she also has a book for men – Marry Her and Die for Her.

If you can understand the true meaning of the word submission, then you can more fully understand and appreciate what Costanza means when she says, “Marry Him and Be Submissive”.

In other words, Love Him Selflessly and Support Him Generously with your Love.

Here’s a video of Costanza explaining her perspective on “submission” on the BBC Newsnight. 

Like I said, I probably wouldn’t have read this book on my own, and I found her tangents into fashion and other unrelated topics distracting for my already distracted brain. That said, she shares a great amount of wisdom about Women, Marriage, Motherhood and everything that goes along with it.

Here are some quotes from the book I liked: 

On Marriage and Commitment

[Your husband] is the means God has chosen to love you, and he is your pathway to heaven. Our vocation, whatever it is in life, is essentially to make each other happy. As Pavel Evdokimov, the Russian Orthodox theologian puts it, if the objective end of marriage is to generate children, the subjective end is to generate ourselves.
Without [your husband, you] cannot fully be yourself… And this task, with God’s help, you will regenerate yourself.

Nowadays everyone seems to be desperate to keep all options open…. What they don’t realize is that the choice to leave something open necessarily requires closing off some other possibility. Refusing to decide closes off the possibility of following a path that leads to depths of emotion and riches of spirit that the world has ever known. Experiencing an array of different love affairs won’t teach you as much about love as living a single experience of love in all its depth.

The choice of a profound and lasting love will help you embrace your everyday life…It will help you love your life… the path will lead you, through everyday life, up a slope that may be steep. But at the top, a great valley, will open up before you – a hidden and secret place that the back lanes of ‘feelings’ can never reach. It is experienced by very few…”

About Women, Emancipation, and Equality

“Today, we women are no longer required to act as servants, but we can choose to serve each other out of love and as a freely chosen response to a call. Men and women are very different, which has nothing to do with equal opportunities. We are not the same, and not recognizing this is a cause of certain suffering, as indeed happens every time we deny the truth.”

“Emancipation – which started out as a claim for Justice – led to a distorted idea of equality. Equality is not sameness. It is about giving equal dignity to two identities that could not be more different.”

To her young daughters  –

“My hope is that your generation and women can finally be at peace with itself, and I hope that you can fulfill your deepest identity by consciously choosing it. And so – and this really is an unfashionable wish – I hope that you will be, more than anything else, strong and thus welcoming, open to others and capable of bringing people together. And in a word, if you can, be good.”

Advice for Motherhood

Pages 148 – 150 contain many good words and thoughts about motherhood that any mother of young children could relate to, for example:

“It might be useful for you to know that if you need to go to the bathroom and you still managed to retain the right to close the door, you can place a toilet role against the wall and use it as a makeshift cushion to grab a couple of seconds of rest.”

“Lowering your expectations is always a wise move, and at certain points, a goal simply to survive is a sign of good sense.”

“So I have come to the conclusion that the main challenge of our life as parents, and mine as a mother, lies precisely in this: We have to learn to give them their freedom…The challenge comes…when our children begin to take a healthy distance from us; when they are no longer little satellites revolving around us; and when they grow up, not always in the way we would like. The point is this: it’s not for us to choose how their life will pan out. We have to get used to running the risk that they won’t turn out the way we had planned… But that they may actually be better than we had ‘planned.'”

“We have to have patience, let time pass, learn to accept things, and acknowledge that, on occasion, times will be tough; they might be dirty, naughty, and much more, but they will always be our children.”

On Maternity and Openness to Life

“Maternity on the other hand offers the possibility of learning that precious lesson of how to give of oneself. And women who learned that lesson move up a gear in life. They flourish…. If you try, with honesty and humility,…welcoming a new life into your own life can convert you and help you to be less selfish.”

“…there is no need to be perfect to make the decision to being open to life, nor is it possible to wait until you reach perfection before trying to bring up decent kids. You just do it as best you can, knowing that none of us are perfectly balanced or free of anxieties. You do it knowing that mistakes will come every day.”

On Sacrificial Love (in Marriage, Motherhood, and all relationships)

“Keep on giving even while you’re running on an empty tank, without ever looking back. Otherwise what you have is not love, it’s a contract, and for that you don’t need a husband, you need a housekeeper.”

“There’s a secret that the world hasn’t figured out that allows us to follow a luminous path through the daily grind of boredom, habit, misunderstanding, and annoyances…. It is summed up in one word – sacrifice. The daily struggle is transformed from a stumbling block into another word for love. It is no longer something that gets in the way of love: rather, it’s something that nourishes it and helps it to grow. Love doesn’t go out in the daily grind; its flame burns stronger.”

If these quotes and the title, Marry Him and Be Submissive, have tickled your curiosity as it did mine I suggest you give Costanza Miriano a chance and look at the issue of marriage, women, and submission from a unique perspective. You might even gain some extra fashion advice while you’re at it! 


The Gospel of Happiness Book Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to those who entered the The Choice of the Family Giveaway! I won’t leave you waiting…

 

Shyrelle Weber!!

Congratulations Shyrelle! I know you’ll enjoy this.

The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness is a profound reflection on the dignity and essence of marriage, sexuality, family, God, and love.

It would be a great gift for those who work in marriage preparation, such as your pastor or priest friends. It’s good for anyone who is curious about why the Church teaches what She does about marriage, sexuality, and authentic love.

Bishop Jean Lafitte is the Head of the Pontifical Council on the Family at the Vatican and the organizer for the upcoming World Meeting of Families in conjunction with Pope Francis’s first visit to the US in Philadelphia September 22 – 25. We’ll be hearing a lot about this in the media this month so if you want an “inside” look into the mastermind behind the meeting, this book would certainly provide a better reflection than anything  you’ll read or hear about it.

I encourage everyone to read this book and become enlightened and excited about the beauty that is Marriage and the Family. It has certainly inspired me to speak and write more about the beauty of marriage and family and to live it out gratefully and joyfully in my own marriage and family life.

Thanks again for all who participated. Stay tuned for the next book review and Giveaway coming this Tuesday,  September 8 with –

The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology by Dr. Christopher Kaczor

 

{P.S. Amazon sends me a cute little gift card when you make any Amazon purchases via the affiliate links on this site – Thank you!}


The Choice of the Family {A Book Review} 2

Hello and welcome to today’s blog tour stop for Image Catholic Books Blog Tour of Bishop Jean Lafitte’s new book, The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness, which releases September 1.

The Choice of the Family is a profound reflection on the dignity and essence of marriage, sexuality, family, God, and love.

It is a reading of interviews between Pierre and Veronique Sanchez and Bishop Jean Lafitte who, among other ecclesiastical duties, is the Head of the Pontifical Council on the Family at the Vatican and the organizer for the upcoming World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’s first visit to the US in Philadelphia September 22 – 25.

As a wife and mother and as a lover of Christ and the beauty of the vocation of Marriage and the Family, I loved all Bishop Lafitte’s deep reflections on the mystery and gift of Marriage and the Family. If you’re interested why the Church teaches what She does about love and sex and marriage, this book will open a door for you to step in and fall in love with the great mystery of the truth of Marriage and the Family. By the time I was finished, I had nearly all the whole book highlighted.

The interview questions cover a wide span of topics relating to the engagement and marriage, family life, authentic sexuality and love, and an especially strong emphasis on the vital importance of appropriate and enriching marriage preparation. Through the dialogue, Bishop Lafitte, who came from a large family, shares his experience and understanding of marriage and family life and raises the Sacrament atop the high pedestal it belongs on, even and especially in this modern age.

As I read through the interviews, I imagined myself sitting on an old chair in a French villa sipping a cold glass of fresh sparkling lemonade while listening to a wise man paint the most beautiful image of marriage and family. The more I read the more Bishop Laffite’s profound perspective tugged me deeper and deeper into the beauty and genius of Marriage and the Family.  It’s like studying a beautiful painting; the more you look at it, the more beauty and detailed intricacies you notice.

Marriage and Family have become a the topic of the times and many cry out again the Church’s teachings on what marriage and sexuality is. However, Bishop Lafitte maintains that even so, the Church will and must continue proclaiming the truth.

The Church has on voice that makes itself heard. She is attached because she is not always understood….Very often, the Church has the courage to take a position in which she knows she will be not only in the minority, but also isolated. She is driven thus to give her testimony even though it will cost her. This action is part of her mission, her very being.

It saddens me greatly that so many do not really understand the full potential and design of marriage, so many misunderstand the Church’s teachings and they are truly missing out on something wonderful. While most see the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality as oppressive and “unfair”, Her message about love and sexuality is a message of Hope and Joy!

Bishop Lafitte’s reminds us of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s proclamation –

It is evident today that we need to find our way back to the genuinely Christian attitude that existed among the first Christians and in the great periods of Christian culture; the attitude of joy in, and affirmation of, the body, of sexuality – seen as a gift that always requires discipline and responsibility as well. (Light of the World pg 103)

While many may feel depressed about the current state of marriage and the family, Bishop Lafitte’s calls us to stay positive and have Hope.

At the heart of the Christian couple and of the family, there is a the mystery of hope: a natural, human hope and a supernatural hope when filled with God: Hope carries a family and its members toward the eternal future. Hope already makes the desired good present.

and lastly,

The family that grows together and is strengthened wagers that the society into which it is inserted is worthy of being served, and that consequently it is worth the trouble of working within it, of getting involved. Hope is a central virtue.

I yearn for others to hear and receive this gift of what marriage, sexuality, and family truly IS.  In The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness, Bishop Lafitte shares gives us a true gift and joins St. John Paul II’s call for families to “become what you are!”

I encourage everyone to read this book and become enlightened and excited about the beauty that is Marriage and the Family.

The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness releases September, 1 and I’m teaming up with Image Press to offer ONE FREE Book! Choose one more options in the Give Away below for a chance to win.

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{Amazon sends me a cute little gift card when you make any Amazon purchases via the affiliate links on this site – Thank you!}


OBGYN Doctor Embraces Natural Family Planning, says no to Contraception 2

I have an amazing story I want to share with everyone!

A friend of mine, who is an OBGYN doctor, recently embraced Natural Family Planning into her practice and marriage and decided to stop prescribing contraception or perform elective sterilizations.

Sadly, as a result, she was terminated from her practice and is now discerning what the next step is.

Until then, she would like to share her story of how she came to realize the damaging effects of contraception and the benefits of Natural Family Planning.

Go here to read her story which she has given me permission to publish and for others to share so they can be inspired and encouraged as well.

What inspires me every day is when I reach out to women and can minister to them about the beauty of who they are.

 

Update:

I want to add that by sharing this story, it is not my intention to cast any judgment on anyone or stir up any viscous debates about contraception and all that. Only meanie pants do things like that.

It is something I am obviously interested in and passionate about but I also understand everyone has different opinions, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences so I did not share this story with the intention of making anyone feel ashamed or judged or ridiculed and neither does Dr. Cox.

So I shared this story for those who might find it interesting and inspiring in their own lives. I’d love to help answer questions about NFP for those who are genuinely interested but I’d rather not engage in any type of ugly debates. I’m too old and sleep-deprived for that and I’d rather engage in meaningful and respectful conversations with people.

Besides, my kids are hungry and I’m hungry so anything I’d say at this point would not be very helpful. Thanks for understanding!


My own 20 minutes in Heaven

For #ThankANun day last Tuesday I decided to do more than just fill up social newsfeeds with hashtags and actually do what John Schlimm hoped people would do on that day – aside from buying his book of course. I decided to sit down and write a real thank you card to the “Nuns” who had played such a special role in my spiritual formation in high school.

As I wrote the words of thanks I realized there was no way I could fit everything I would want to tell them on this 4×6 piece of pretty cardstock. These Sisters gave up their lives to promote a deeper devotion to Christ through His beautiful Mother as school teachers.

So I decided I’d hand deliver the note with a freshly pressed copy of  John’s  Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.

Mother Mary Magdalene was in a meeting when I popped by so I left the note and card with Sr. Cecilia Marie who was still as full of joy and kindness as ever. I asked if we could take a picture together and she was eagerly amused by the notion of being in her first ever “selfie” picture.

Later that day, after a long afternoon and after school pick up time, the phone rang – it was Mother Mary Magdalene!

She’d called to thank me for the card and book but then she stayed on the line and continued to ask how I was, how’s the family, and my husband. It wasn’t just small talk, she really wanted to know. We talked for a good 15 – 20 minutes and the whole time I felt as if I was in my own “20 minutes in Heaven”. It was so wonderful, like catching up with an old friend.

As I listened to her calm and familiar voice, I picked up the undertones of the small still voice of the Spirit. Like in my high school years, He’d chosen her as His messenger of peace and trust.

At some point in the conversation, I don’t know why, but I felt a twinge of longing. Longing for her somewhat cloistered life away from too much technology or other “luxuries” that really just end up detracting. Longing for a consistent and scheduled prayer life. Longing for a clear and direct purpose and mission like they have – teach the Gospel and increase a devotion to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I chuckled a little and admitted this last one to her, “Sister – I mean Mother – sometimes I wish my life had a clearer and more specific purpose like you Sisters do.”

“Oh but, Erika, you are a consecrated woman!” She exclaimed with the typical gusto that earned her the endearing nickname, “Turbo Nun”.

“You are a wife, and a mother!!” She continued on with an infectious zeal.

“What you do for your children, and your husband, is your mission. And, and – by golly – those children are going to grow up to sing God’s praises in ETERNITY one day because of your prayers and love for them.” 

I had to swallow back a few tears as she went on with an enthusiasm that could only be propelled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As she spoke, I felt as if we were speaking Mother-to-Daughter, she, like my own mom, encouraging me and reminding me of my purpose and abilities.

As I’d listened to her speak of all the details she’s working on for a new Novitiate House and what she hopes for her community and for her “daughters”, I also felt a strong mother-to-mother connection. We understood each other in a way we never could have before. We both knew the amazing responsibility that comes with being a leader of a household. We both knew the joys and struggles of watching and helping those in our charge as they grow and develop into who God created them to be. No doubt, we’d both learned many lessons in trust and letting go along the way.

I’m so glad I had that chance to speak with her like that.  Her words invigorated me and my passion for my vocation – my marriage  and family. I’ll try to carry her zeal and excitement with me throughout the little and big details of my days.

 

If you’d like to read the book that inspired me to thank these beautiful Sisters which led to that Spirit-imbibed conversation, I suggest you check out John Schlimm’s Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.  And! There’s still one more day left today for the Giveaway HERE for his book so be sure to enter before 11:59 PM today 5/11.

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