Cheeseburgers and Promoting a Culture of Life

So now that everyone knows I’m pregnant, you may as well know some of the foods I’ve been craving the past few months (I hope you’re not hungry right now). The longest standing one is cheeseburgers. I can’t tell you how many cheeseburgers I’ve eaten since June, but it’s been quite a few, more than quite a few truthfully. Specifically from one or two fast food restaurants, but pretty much any cheeseburger will do. I’ve also gone through an asiago cheese bagel phase, a tomato-basil-mozzarella phase and presently consider a bowl of ice cream an acceptable way to deal with heartburn (it’s cold, creamy and delicious, perfect remedy in my opinion).

Cheeseburgers and a Culture of Life from Daily Graces at
CCO Public Domain

On a recent trip to the grocery store I was predictably hungry, it was 1:30 in the afternoon and lunch was so long ago (wink). As I looked at what was around me, a common fast food restaurant was only a few blocks away. I try not to give in all the time, but part of being pregnant is giving in every so often. So I drove up the street and promptly ordered 2 cheeseburgers, a small fri and small drink. Total = $4.37.

Now here is something interesting. Like most places, this particular restaurant has value meal options. For this one, their value meals come automatically with an order of medium french fries and a medium drink. That is usually fine with me, though admittedly it is a bit too much food for me in one sitting. I could have chosen the value meal that came with 2 cheeseburgers, a medium fri and medium drink, but I knew it would be too much. Plus it was technically “second lunch” so I didn’t truly need another somewhat overly full meal. What would my total have been if I had ordered the value meal? $4.20.

17¢ difference isn’t a lot of money. It’s not an amount I would get upset over or think a whole lot about. Except in this case where I actually spent more money and got less food. I’m not upset about the less food part, though it is rather ridiculous. What frustrates me is the lesson it teaches. Eat more for less, even if more is too much.

We are bombarded in our society by the quest for more. More pillows will make your living room more inviting. A new phone will allow you to do more with your time. Losing 10 more pounds (even if you are at a healthy weight) will make you more desirable. It seems that the whole point of marketing is to convince you that whatever you have is less than adequate and until you do more/get more you can’t possibly be a happy person.

For all our society talks about portion control and moderation when it comes to food, it was surprising to see that I paid more for less. But then again, if the underlying principle of our society involves the blind acquisition of more things, I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised. It’s as if we can no longer fathom that anyone would want less. I think I’ve posted it before, but this commercial still gets under my skin. More more more! Mine mine mine! It’s not hard to see why these mentalities cultivate a society that encourages what Pope John Paul II called “a culture of death,” a culture that devalues life, that upholds violence and narcissism, and justifies immorality through relativism.

I don’t mean to get all dark and gloomy, after all this train of thought started with a mere 17¢ and a couple of cheeseburgers. But as a mother it is my duty to raise my children to be moral, active participants in our world. I want them to be thinking, feeling, compassionate and merciful contributors to society, living the lives that God calls them to. In order to fulfill this task, both Ben and I need to be aware of what seeds we are planting in their lives. Are we allowing them to desire more, or to be content with what they have been given? Do they get to scream and shout “Mine!” and grab things from their siblings or other children, or are they courteous, asking for a turn and sharing with one another? (Some days are better than others, we are dealing with seedlings after all).

And what are they seeing in our behavior? Are we constantly grasping for the latest cell phone or technology? When we sit down at dinner are we engaging with them or our tablets? Are we at the store purchasing new clothing on a regular basis or are we thrifty with our money, maintaining our appearance without obsessing over it? Do we complain about what we don’t have or do we share with them how thankful we are for what we do have? And maybe most significantly, are we generous with what we have been given, or do we keep it for ourselves, shouting with our selfishness and greedy actions the same “Mine!” that our children are not allowed to say?

We aren’t perfect that’s for sure. But we are trying to be aware about cultivating a culture of life in our home. It is good for our kids that we intentionally try not to have multiples of many toys. It makes some days harder, but they are learning lessons about sharing and working together rather than sitting side-by-side, disengaged from one another. Every night before bed we share with the family and with God the things we are thankful for and the people we would like God to bless. We encourage politeness, courtesy and respect for all the members of our family. Each member is important, valued and respected regardless of how old they are. In all these small ways we are growing in love and holiness and promoting a culture of life.

Daily Graces.


Advent Reflections – December 8, 2015

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Today’s feast is near and dear to my heart. The chapel at the University of Dayton where I went to college is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

Today also marks the beginning of the Year of Mercy. Click here to learn more about the incredible opportunities we have to celebrate and participate in this year.


Able to Love without Requiring Love in Return: The Reality of Motherhood

The most fundamental task of motherhood is giving life, being open to life. Coupled with this live-bearing ability is the capability of loving another person, even if there is no expectation of reciprocal love. When a woman first conceives a child, for the first few months the only signs of the life growing within her are nausea,  fatigue, odd eating habits, new sensitivity to certain smells, and random bouts of tears during commercial breaks.

Our son John, around 8 weeks

She has felt no movement, sometimes hasn’t even heard a heartbeat yet. But already she is making extraordinary changes for the sake of her not-yet-known child.  Perhaps she is quitting smoking. She has reduced or ceased drinking alcohol. She is sleeping more and has increased the amount of water she is drinking. Very likely she is more closely watching her diet. She is or will be going to the doctor regularly.

The reality is that this new life has at this point, given her nothing. But in the depths of her heart, indeed her very being, this child is grown in love. The changes, the suffering, the anxiety, all come from this deep place of love.

Do you love anyone without needing them to love you in return?