My epiphany of our calling to give

The original Epiphany we celebrated a few days ago commemorated Jesus’ physical manifestation on earth thousands of years ago. Now we think of modern day epiphanies as earth-shattering dramatic moments where we suddenly understand something previously unknown. Or is that just me? My life doesn’t contain too many of those. But there are many times when I’ve come to understand a concept in a way that completely shifted my perspective.

I was on my way to one of those moments in an airplane during spring break. It was a combined retreat and service trip, in a place I’d never been to, without a single soul I’d met before. I’m still not sure why I went, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience during my college years.

Continue reading my piece on discovering the basics of Theology of the Body over at Everyday Ediths.

 

Mother Teresa beyond the poor

What if I told you that there was so much more to be learned from Mother Teresa’s life than helping the poor? 

As a Catholic, there are thousands of people we recognize as possessing heroic virtue, so it might be hard to pick a favorite saint. But Mother Teresa, whom I affectionately call Mama T, is hands down one of my favorites. Let me tell you why.

At first I admired her for giving up everything to help the poor. Who wants to walk the streets helping people who kind of (really!) don’t like you (at first)? Probably most of us wouldn’t jump on that opportunity. 

It’s admirable and beautiful what Mama T did to help the poor, and I think most of us could make a greater effort to alleviate the suffering of those living in material poverty. That’s the easy to agree with message that so many people fell in love with Mama T for.

But there’s so much more to her. Here are some of the reasons (beyond helping the poor) Mama T is my homegirl:

She teaches us to trust God with absolutely reckless abandon. 

I use those words literally because to most people, how the Missionaries of Charity live is totally reckless. When I spent a spring break with them, I learned that they never ask for what they need or want. Instead, they’ll pray for God to provide. And guess what? He always does – even if it’s not how we imagined. The soup kitchen I helped them run for a week was overflowing with food to share. And they had never put donation bins in churches or asked for people to contribute. They got up around 4am, didn’t have furniture in their chapel, hand washed their sari’s, got through each day helping others tirelessly, traveled around their city to help all sorts of people, AND were able to stay awake for an hour of adoration. We can’t all do this, obviously. But it was a good example of what can happen when we lean on God. 

This story is another illustration of how Mama T trusted God (and shows us to!), which I try to remember. I’ve gone back to that story so many times. Her example is such a good reminder that God will never lead us to such deep waters that he can’t carry us across. 

She showed me that being Catholic doesn’t mean you have a perfect relationship with God.

It might be scandalizing to some people to know that Mama T felt unloved by God for the majority of her adult life. To me, it’s comforting. It’s proof that being a good person doesn’t come from special spiritual super powers. Yes, she had to have a lot of grace to do what she did. But just like her, I can choose to do what is good and contribute something beautiful to the world even if it stinks sometimes. People we admire have struggles and feel alone sometimes. How awesome to know what we’re all capable of.

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Never heard of her struggles? READ THIS BOOK.

She helped me understand that loving is about giving.

Much like the quotable Fulton Sheen, Mama T had some mic drop moments talking about giving. Reading her words have been part of my understanding of Theology of the Body – that life isn’t about getting and having. It’s about being and giving.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

During my mission trip, one of the sisters was experiencing severe pain in her foot. It apparently was getting worse as she was getting older. But we didn’t find out until well into the week, when it came up in conversation. Her response? “You don’t get old until you stop loving Jesus!” She just kept on giving.

She taught me that feeling unloved is a crisis unparalleled by material want.

To much of the Western world, being without a house and food sounds like one of the most horrible things that could happen to you. It is surely a sad thing. At some point, I thought how nice it would be to go to places like the slums of Calcutta and alleviate the suffering there. But having a bit more life behind me now (ha!), I get this. Material want can be fixed. And it should be, by people who have things. Want for love is so different. Whether it’s a broken relationship, a rough upbringing, or something else that’s cause for a feeling of alienation, there’s not as easy a fix. It’s complicated and messy and I hope that throughout my life I can help some people feel a little more cared for.

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.

She showed me that you don’t have to go to Calcutta to change the world.

If you love Mama T, you probably thought about going to India for a hot second. Am I right? I did. Would it be awesome to see and experience her work? Of course. Yes. It would! I’ve found mission trips to be enriching and wonderful experiences. They’re great. But I think they also run the risk of us failing to see the people around us right here in our neighborhoods who need a helping hand. Mama T issues a challenge to us, which I hope to spend my life working on:

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.

Are we up for the challenge?

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“I Thirst” written beside every crucifix in their buildings serves as a reminder to spend our lives satiating God’s thirst for souls by bringing his love to the world.

You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.

We’ve heard her words. We love her. Now let’s find our Calcuttas. Where is yours?

To Life,

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Theology of the {unmarried} body

If you’ve been around Catholic circles in the last 20 years, you might have heard some serious fangirling over St. John Paul II. He was allegedly the “coolest saint ever“. He even fished, wore hipster glasses at some point, acted, and oh, gave us Theology of the Body.

Theology of the Unmarried Body - Not Alone Series

If you haven’t heard of it before, “Theology of the Body” (TOB) started as a series of talks that was later compiled into a book . . . which has now been explained so normal people can understand it (even Cosmopolitan). JPII used these talks to reflect on and teach us the purpose of our lives. No big deal, right? You know, it’s just our place in the cosmos and the answer to the question we all ask: “Why do I exist?”

Intrigued? Good. Me too. So I read this introduction and my mind was blown. The main point?

God created us in his image so we can reflect his love in our lives and ultimately be united to him in heaven.

His love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. (I mean, obviously the Trinity isn’t going to be breaking up anytime soon.)

He created us to learn to love like he does.

He created us male and female to show us that we can reflect the love of the Trinity, a communion of loving persons, as evidenced by the way our bodies were designed. He created us to give of ourselves unconditionally and accept others unconditionally, just like he does, doing our best to see the dignity of each other made in the image of God.

This communion of loving persons many people are called to is the family. But some people misunderstand TOB and think it only applies to marriage. This is false, because TOB teaches us about everyone’s call to love. Some people are called to love through marriage and family life. Others through a religious community or consecrated single life. This post isn’t about marriage and relationships. It’s about how we live out this call to holiness, to give of ourselves unconditionally, as people who are unmarried.

Essentially, TOB teaches us to love others by giving instead of grasping, by seeking to see people more like God does: with the unique dignity of being made in his image as a gift to the world. That’s possible, and dare I say, demanded of us as Christians at all stages in life.

JPII teaches us that “man . . . cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”. This central message is insanely simple, but radical at the same time: Give. It’s implications are countless.

For people who aren’t bound by marriage or religious vows to continually give of themselves to the same person/group of people, we have the unique privilege of giving ourselves more fully to the people we encounter everyday.

“The married person puts their spouse first,” said Janet Smith. “The celibate puts God first. When you’re single, the next person who crosses your path is the person you put first. That’s who Christ is asking you to give yourself to. That’s how you love him.”

What might this look like in our lives?

1. Give the gift of your time to a cause you believe in.

  • Cultivate a spirit of selfless giving by volunteering to build homes, go on mission trips, serve at a soup kitchen, cuddle babies at your local NICU, babysit for tired parents . . . figure out where your passions and schedule meet with other people’s needs.

2. Give the gift of your skills and talents to people who can use them.

  • Good at math? Tutor. Love to paint? Host a painting & wine night for friends who need a little community. Master chef? Make meals for people recovering from a big life event. Our abilities are meant to be shared freely and generously.

3. Give the gift of your prayers. Always.

  • Sometimes the most we can do is pray. What I do for this is post on social media every Sunday asking people to comment/message/like the status and I’ll remember their intentions throughout the week. I write these intentions down in a journal (when I’m on top of it) and refer to it throughout the week in prayer. When I’m on top of my game enough to offer things up for people, that happens too. My goal is to visit those intentions each night. This has been a huge way to not only connect with people, but offer more of my time and effort for them.

4. Die to yourself (aka. don’t always treat yo’self).

  • For example, we could bring the brownies to share at work instead of finishing them on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Fasting every once in a while might be your jam, or offering other things for people. It sure doesn’t fit with pop culture, but it teaches us to be more selfless which is what TOB is all about.

5. Push yourself to see the dignity in everyone.

  • That coworker who gets on your nerves? She’s made in God’s image. Crazy driver who flips you off? God’s image. It’s easier sometimes to see the dignity in the homeless and poor than the people we live with or are closest to. So before you entertain nasty thoughts about people or snap back to a rude comment, STOP and challenge yourself to see their dignity as a child of God. They are a unique and unrepeatable gift to the world, even when they aren’t acting like it.

6. Be grateful.

  • You know what’s hard? Being grateful. There’s so much we have to have and do. Mmkay. You seriously don’t need to have the newest iPhone. Relax and count your blessings. After reading this book, I started writing down things I was grateful for each day. It’s made such a difference. It teaches me to see the gifts in the little things. Seriously, try it out. Notice the little things. Unless you’re a naked starving hobo living in a cardboard box, you’ve got at least a few things to thank God for.

7. Go the extra mile.

  • As unmarried people, we can give more of our time than pretty much anybody else. Yes, there are jobs and commitments. Life is busy. But life is always busy. And we have time for things when we make time for them. So make time for loving people! Go out of your way to have coffee with a friend, start a book club, or organize a local event. Remember that even when people don’t seem like they deserve it, do something nice for them anyway. It will change your life (and theirs!).

That’s it. TOB is about finding our purpose in life through selflessly loving. It’s harder than it sounds. But I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t all keep fangirling over this if it wasn’t worth it. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s in those moments when you think of other people, do thoughtful things, and respect the dignity of people unconditionally that we are most fulfilled. Not to mention that’s when we’re best living our mission to love.

In These Beautiful Bones, Emily Stimpson says:

“We’re all made to be a gift. And we become that gift by using our bodies to serve, teach, comfort, correct, feed, clothe, shelter, heal, encourage, lead, suffer, sacrifice, and pray for others, helping them through it all to become more the men and women God calls them to be.”

And my main man Fulton Sheen (as always) has a few words on the topic of when we meet Jesus face to face:

“He will look at our hands to see if they have been scarred from giving, our feet to see the calluses from travel to preach His Gospel, and our side to see if we have loved to a point of sacrifice. Woe to us who come down from Calvary with hands unscarred and white.”

Ever thought of TOB like this? How can you apply it to you life? Tell me what you think by commenting below or linking up with the Not Alone Series here!

To hands scarred from giving,

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20 Tips when considering abortion

Dear women considering abortion,

I know there’s a lot going through your mind and heart right now. And I know there are lots of opinions out there about what you should do. When Madeleine Roe recently shared 20 Tips for Your First Abortion, she offered ways for you to (at times lightheartedly) cope with the reality of going through an abortion procedure. Here are my own tips, in no particular order, for you:20 Tips When Considering an Abortion by Laura @ A Drop in the Ocean1. Know that you are not alone. If your support system of family and friends have deserted you, know that there are workers and volunteers around the country who dedicate their time to walking with women during this critical time. You can connect with a center where there are people to support you by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

2. There are many sources of information about abortion and pregnancy, but not all sources are created equal. You can view scientific-based information regarding your health and prenatal development at the Endowment for Human Development. Here are side effects and risks of abortion from the American Pregnancy Association, something to consider for any surgical procedure. Allow yourself to explore the reality of what is happening inside you, and what abortion does. Here are different types of procedures explained by the American Pregnancy Association.

3. You have time to be fully informed and educated decision. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you must make a decision quickly. Nobody should coerce you into making a decision. You have a lot of information to process, and many details to work out. You need time to talk to different people and look at the risks of each option.

4. Speaking of options, you have three: parenting, adoption, or abortion. Not all options are equal. Take a critical look and the pros and cons and consequences each option has for you and your baby. Parenting gives a child the gift of their biological parents, but sometimes the situation at home means it’s not the best environment for raising a child. In that case, making the courageous and sacrificial decision to give a child the gift of an adoptive family might be something to look into. You can reach out to organizations like this one to learn more about adoption.

5. Adoption might be the last thing on your mind and that’s okay. Any decision you make at this point will be hard on some level. And making the decision of adoption is not always the best decision for everyone. I know it might feel like a betrayal to your child to carry them and then give them to an adoptive family to love and raise. So know that I look up to biological moms who make the courageous and sacrificial choice of adoption. They give their babies an intact family when their situation makes parenting unrealistic. How courageous is that?

6. People do care about you, and this choice matters. Choosing what to do when you’re pregnant in a difficult situation takes time and support from other people. It will affect many lives, not just yours. So take time to lean on supportive people in your life, whether it’s your family or local people you found from #1.

7. Take care of yourself. Your life has drastically changed since getting that positive test. Whether this was planned or not, you’re now a mother! Contrary to what Madeleine suggested, binge drinking is not a great way to cope. Take some deep breaths and connect with people who can help. A massage might be a better option. Or treat yourself to a girl’s day and go get your nails done. Take a walk. Start a journal. Find a way to process your emotions in a constructive way instead of masking them.

8. Don’t assume the worst of your friends who are against abortion. Some of them might be jerks about it. If they are, they should read this to better understand what you could be going through. But anyone who truly cares about you and your baby will be there for you no matter what.

9. When weighing the prospect of raising a child during a difficult time, remember the joys of being a parent. Instead of just thinking about the snotty noses, costs of schooling, lost sleep, and inevitable back talk, remember the smiles and laughter of children. Think of holding your very own baby in your arms – the one you made sacrifices for to bring into the world. What an honor to be given this opportunity! So don’t don’t forget the costs. But also remember the benefits. Remember it’s worth it. Every person deserves to be loved in the way only you as a mother can love this baby.

10. Be honest with yourself and your support system. Parenting might seem ridiculously unrealistic to you. Say that. You might be scared as heck about adoption. Say that. You might only be considering abortion because it seems like your only option. That’s why it’s a good thing you have time to talk with other people and come to a conclusion. Get to the heart of why you’re considering abortion, and let’s see if there’s another way to solve that.

11. Science and technology are so advanced that you can actually see what’s going on inside you. But I bet you already knew that, because you’re smart. A heartbeat starts at around 21 days after conception, shortly after you found out you were pregnant. Isn’t science truly stunning?! Check out the Endowment for Human Development for an interactive prenatal development timeline.

12. In some states, you are required to be given the option of seeing your ultrasound. This is not a political agenda being forced at you, but science. There is a living embryo or fetus (depending on your stage of pregnancy) inside of you, and you deserve to know the facts. In fact, those are just scientific names referring to the little human that started off as a single cell. All that will change about them is their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency on you.

13. Pay attention to the little things. Does seeing babies inflict feelings of guilt or shame? Are you noticing families while you are out? There are so many emotions going on right now. Recognize them and own them. Little things matter as well as the big picture.

14. Some ordinary things will never feel the same. Whether it’s the metal bowl Madeleine mentioned or something else, many women will experience symptoms of PTSD after going through the sometimes scarring or traumatic experience of having an abortion. And that’s not just my opinion. Lots of women have shared their stories. You can go through all sorts of testimonies here.

15. Think long-term. Often times when parenting seems scary, it’s because your resources or support systems are limited. But depending on where you live, there should be resources to alleviate any difficulty you’re experiencing. Find a place by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

16. The fact that we have articles telling us abortion is normal tells us it’s not normal. We don’t have articles giving us 20 tips for a hit and run or tips for your first rape. We intuitively know that some things don’t need to be justified.

17. Some abortion clinics could endanger your health. A couple summers ago, Planned Parenthood protested a bill that would make their clinics (where they perform surgical abortions) meet the same medical standards of ambulatory surgical centers. They didn’t want to be legally compelled to meet medical and safety standards. If I was having surgery, I’d want to be at a safe clinic. I don’t know about you.

18. If you end up going to an abortion clinic, there might be people on the sidewalk to support you. There might be rude people who yell at you too (and I would ignore them if I were you). But I’m talking about the nice ones. They have information about the best local resources. If I were there, I would have a flower for you and give you this letter I wrote.

19. This is a roller coaster. Stifling your emotions or refusing to confront the hardness of your situation won’t help. Allow your tears to fall. It’s okay to be mad and scared. It’s okay to not have everything perfectly figured out. That’s the beauty of people who love you. They’re there no matter what.

20. You deserve better than abortion. I’ve seen too many women hurt by abortion to consider for a moment that it’s just another routine medical procedure. You deserve to be loved by people who will see you through this. And you can do this. An unexpected pregnancy is that: unexpected. But people have gotten through the hardest of times and thrived. And you can too. Because you’re stronger than you think.

You are braver than you believe

And if you haven’t found a support system yet, you can always contact me. I am more than happy to walk with you for those first scary steps and help you find that support system. You deserve only the best.

To Life,

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When trust changes everything

When TRUST changes everything by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

It’s kind of funny how trust changes everything.

I’ve been thinking about the future. A lot. But what’s new? With senior comps (ie. “what you do instead of a thesis”, “a test of everything you’ve learned for your degree”, or “no pressure”) later this month and graduation impending, saying the future is on my mind would be an understatement.

As many soon-to-be-graduates would say, it would be SO nice to have everything set in place right now.

But I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not for lack of trying. And I’m kind of dying to know what’s in store.

Being in this position is somewhat terrifying as someone who tries to have my life put together. My heart rate does sometimes go up a little bit thinking about OH MY GOSH WILL IT ALL WORK OUT?!?! And yes, I’d like to ask God to swing WIDE open the door he’s guiding me to instead of leaving multiple ones cracked open just a little.

I’d like that clarity, please and thank you.

But clarity is not my prayer right now. Because in reality, I don’t think we often know for certain exactly what we’re supposed to do. We might have an inkling. Sometimes a choice does seem obvious. But mostly life is about learning to take the next step when God calls us to, even if we’re blindfolded. It’s choosing to step out on the tightrope, even when we know we could fall.

It’s learning to trust that no matter what happens, God’s got our backs.

This Lent, I’m not giving up coffee or Facebook. But one of the things I am doing is reading through Rediscovering Jesus. Because that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. I need to remind myself that there is a purpose in life, and that purpose is to get to heaven. If my life isn’t ordered toward that, then other stuff doesn’t matter.

One line that stuck out to me this morning was “God is always waiting on us. Sometimes we may think we are waiting for him, but that is never true.” BOOM.

So this Lent, I’m not thinking about all the things I’m waiting for (okay, trying not to do that), or what I can get out of it, or keeping a checklist of every single thing you must do to make it the best Lent ever and be a good Catholic. I’m trying to focus on the transformation of Lent, better conforming my life to God’s will, and asking myself what things I’m still holding on to that I need to let go. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?

Kathryn’s reflection this morning is much of what’s in my own mind. Lent isn’t about the checklist and seeing just how penitent we can force ourselves to be.  It’s about reminding ourselves of our need for God and changing our lives to reflect that. As the first reading tells us today:

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart”

That’s what I’m up to: trying to return my heart to the one who created it. I’m praying for trust, and for all the intentions I’ve been given – that we all would learn to find that peace of surrender. That we would remember the beauty of our faith, of God who created us, and of this season. If you have any intentions I can remember, comment below or contact me. How has your Lent started out today?

Here’s to a new beginning.

To Life,

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The Pope who gives us hope

If you haven’t been seeing all the news stories and posts on social media, Pope Francis visiting the U.S. had kinds of been a big deal. Instead of being trampled by other enthusiastic pilgrims, I’ve been living vicariously through them by watching the live feed, other videos, and news stories.

Because Pope Francis is reaching so many people and touching so many lives, I figured, why not share his love in this space? Here’s a reminder from him that there’s hope in the world:

A woman’s reaction to his address at the Inter-religious Meeting at Ground Zero

From Ave Maria Press:

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Kissing all the people after Mass!

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A moment from Mass with Cardinal Dolan (shared by Lino Rulli):

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Pure joy (from Brandon over on Instagram) – I’m making it a life goal to be that grandma:

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He was already driving away, but Pope Francis stopped his car to bless a boy with cerebral palsy (look at the comments on Facebook to see a ton of non-Catholics who love and support our Pope!):

Did you hear about people asking if Pope Francis is democrat or republican? Well, there’s this:

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Pope Francis is a pope for our times. He is not high and mighty. He is one of us. He gives us hope, and he teaches us how to love better by doing things like eating with people who are homeless instead of government leaders. Find out more about Pope Francis’ visit at the Vatican news source.

Have other stories that have inspired you? Share them in the comments!

To Life,

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Courage, dear heart

Courage Dear Heart by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

Let’s be real, folks. Our world is a molten hot mess of depravity right now.

I’ve kind of wanted to go cry in a corner at various times over the last couple months and ignore the world. I did actually get off of the internet for a couple days because I had just had enough. It’s exhausting to see this all going on, and frustrating at times having little control to change it. Sometimes it feels like talking to a brick wall because the conversation has lulled. Either people have spoken their minds, or people choose to remain removed from the issue.

Now the waters seem to have settled after the initial shock. We’ve written about the Planned Parenthood videos and gay marriage being legalized, shared our disgust, and now mostly gone back to our everyday lives of getting by.

We have become accustomed to evil.

At the same time, we know this all is horrible.

But it’s also the norm.

So what in the world are we supposed to do?

If you think back to the holocaust or slavery or the civil rights movement – all social issues of their times – society didn’t change when people got sad. Society didn’t change because people found out about bad stuff happening. Plenty of people had to have known about those atrocities.

The world changed because a brave few had enough guts to stand up, expose evil, and demand the atrocity that was going on be stopped.

No one person is probably going to change the world (#RealityCheck). But what if instead of allowing ourselves to hide in a corner and go back to our ordinary lives, we let the gravity of this time sink in and radically change us?

What we if we actually decided that enough is enough?

That the truth we believe in is worth defending at all cost?

That our reputation doesn’t matter when it comes to defending the life and dignity of the vulnerable?

Now THAT would stir things up.

Many of us who believe in truth and morals are used to being the minority. Obviously. We expect to be told we’re wrong. We expect the media to misinterpret us and belittle us. We know our religious liberty is at stake. We know Christian morals are no longer the law of the land.

But you know what? We’re not victims here.

I am not a victim.

You are not a victim.

Certainly we’re affected by our life circumstances. But life is how we respond to whatever is thrown at us. Though we may want to hide in a corner sometimes, we can’t. Too much is at stake. And if we did, who would be changing the world?

I think we keep things quiet because we are more scared of standing up for ourselves than we are of bad things happening to other people.

And that just won’t do.

We are called out of comfort to stand witness to the beauty, truth, and goodness that is our faith. We are equipped by our Mother Church who gives us the foundation to articulate the dignity of life and love as God intended. We are called to profess the goodness of every human person, not to simply go on living our own isolated lives. Life is about more than our little lives.

In these moments when we tire of “the issues”, we have to remember that it’s not people we’re fighting. It’s principalities and evil (Ephesians 6:12). And God’s go our back, guys! It’s not just us against big, bad people who are out to get us. We are facing deep-seated evil, and moral relativism unlike the world has seen in a while. This is our opportunity to do more than talk, to substantially make changes in our communities and families to support the dignity of the human person.

This is where we show the world who we are.

This is where we have to radically put our trust God, because we cannot fight evil with our littleness. But love conquers all. Love has already won thousands of years ago on the cross. Do you believe that? Do you trust in him who created you for such a time as this? Because he created you for a purpose. Living at this time is part of the plan.

We have to trust HIM, because we cannot do this ourselves. It simply can’t be done. And that is frustrating. We are troubled because these atrocities are terrifying and we can’t control everything going on. But we can rest peacefully knowing God has it under control.

If we allow God to use us to create a better world, and give him all of our weaknesses to transform, there’s no telling what he will do through us.

As Aslan would say, take courage, dear heart. You are on the side of love and life. You belong to a people of God that evil is in the midst of a reckoning with. The battle is rough and the soldiers are few. But we are mighty. We serve God who loves and equips each of his children for the purpose we were created for. And spoiler: truth always wins.

To Life,

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Photo courtesy of Lori Branham on Flickr and is used in accord with it’s license without necessarily representing the views of the photographer.

Daring to face the giant

How dare she sit there eating salad and sipping wine while nonchalantly talking about crushing babies?

I don’t know how someone could be so callous. 

She’s going to rot in hell for everything she’s done. Good. She deserves it.

These, and worse, are what I’ve heard many people say about Dr. Nucatola – Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services – recently pictured in a viral video. The video shows her talking over dinner about Planned Parenthood’s practice of passing body parts of aborted babies on to mediator-type organizations which then transfer them to medical research labs.

The video revealed a horrifying practice especially to those who had never heard about this before.

But it’s interesting to see how people respond.

Many people are incredulous at how an organization can do such a thing. They take their anger and disgust out on this woman. The anger and disgust is understandable, but personally attacking this woman does not help. Because guess what…

We ask how dare she do this. How dare she abort babies and crush skulls and manipulate how abortions are done to produce prime body parts?

Yes, how dare she.

But how dare we neglect to stop this. How dare we stop talking about it. How dare we go on with our daily lives as if nothing is different. How dare we avoid big topics in order to continue our comfortable lives?

Jenny’s post on this topic resonated with me because like her, this news did not surprise me. I have heard about this before. It did not emotionally jar me or make me cry. It did not break my heart.

And that disgusts me.

I am so used to hearing about attacks on human dignity and life. I am so used to people not being valued. I am so used to hearing about people being killed that it doesn’t phase me anymore. Don’t even ask me to watch a horror movie or go in a haunted house. But babies being ripped apart? Yeah, that’s happening. People being beheaded? Oh yeah, that ISIS thing has been going on for a while.

But THESE ARE HUMAN LIVES WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!

As someone who talks about the dignity of every single unrepeatable life, how do these stories not have a huge impact on me? How am I not sobbing at the thought of innocent lives being literally ripped apart?

You know, I don’t have a great answer. But I GET what Jenny said:

When I was younger I used to wonder about the German people and why nobody tried to get out ahead of Hitler, how an entire nation could have fallen under his evil spell.

Now I know. Now I see, firsthand, that none of us are immune to the horrors of our day. And that as the temperature rises, the frog slowly cooks, oblivious to his own imminent peril as the mercury creeps ever upward. And that at a certain point the human mind, when confronted with such appalling and obvious wickedness, shuts down or short circuits in cowardice or fear or apathy or, or, or …

I get it. I am so used to evil that it’s the norm.

I am the reason we still have abortion.

We all are.

Because we’re used to it and don’t fight it anymore. We accept that we’ve lost before the battle is over.

God, save us from our own blind selves. And renew in us the conviction to bring your light to a horribly fallen world. If we don’t speak up, nobody will. 

Time to buckle up, friends. We’re in this war for the long haul. There is a giant Goliath of evil looming around us. But I have good news, and a bit of a spoiler: love, life, and truth ALWAYS win.

To Life,

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6 non-religious reasons to oppose gay marriage

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2post 3, and post 4). The goal of these posts is not to convince anyone to think what I think, but to create a conversation and explore the topics together. I am not an authority figure on this issue, and will not always approach this from a highly academic perspective, but am writing as a Catholic young voice seeking the truth. I hope you’ll follow along and be part of the conversation!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

 

While my faith is very important to me, not everyone shares my beliefs. I think it’s important in this series to include non-religious reasons why legalizing gay marriage might not be the best idea.

Here are 6 reasons to think about:

1. In moving away from traditional families, we move away from traditional values.

Duh, that’s the whole point, right? Some people count this as progress. And of course we should always learn and become better and develop as a world. But in moving away from traditional families, we’ve become relativistic. People say it just doesn’t matter what anyone does. But anything that encourages a departure from absolute truth is problematic.

2.  There are two different genders for some reason, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s to propagate the species. 

I guess this is good news for people who think the world is overpopulated. I mean, more gay marriage, less people born, right? Well, many countries, including the U.S. are below a replacement level of fertility rate. That means we’re going to have more and more older people with less and less younger people to care for them. That doesn’t sound like a good economy.

3. STD’s are more prevalent among those who are in sexual relationships with a person of the same gender. 

Ever wonder why they ask you when you’re donating blood whether you’ve been in a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender? According to the CDC, “75% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States” are among men in sexual relationships with other men. These men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer. This doesn’t sound like a normal and healthy lifestyle.

4. Children are entitled to a mother and a father.

Yes, two people of the same gender are capable of raising a child. But the balance between the differences mothers and fathers provide is not replaceable with two people of the same gender. Some people say it’s not important to have both, that it doesn’t matter. But two parents of the same gender cannot provide the same environment of a traditional family structure.

5. It purposefully deprives children of their biological parents.

Adoption is a beautiful and courageous thing to do. But when two people of the same gender want a child who is not adopted, they have to use a donor. There are too many articles to link here that say what a problem egg and sperm donation is. It’s a hugely unregulated industry I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage people to be part of. As people get older, adopted children or children conceived using donors often want to know their biological parents. Often times nowadays, it’s impossible with anonymous donors.

6. We do not have enough evidence to say that children growing up with homosexual parents do not have any problems down the road.

According to one study, children of homosexual parents:

-Are more likely to be currently cohabiting
-Are almost 4 times more likely to be currently on public assistance
-Are more than 3 times more likely to be unemployed
-Are nearly 4 times more likely to identify as something other than entirely heterosexual
-Are 3 times as likely to have had an affair while married or cohabiting
-Are 10 times more likely to have been “touched sexually by a parent or other adult caregiver.”

That’s just one study. We need a heap more research to know what the long-lasting repercussions are before we say all families are equal.

The fact is that besides philosophical and theological reasoning, there are plenty of reasons why a sweeping decision to legalize gay marriage is highly problematic. I hope you’ll continue to follow along as we wrap up this series looking at a few more topics!

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

Be sure to check out post 1, post 2post 3, and post 4 if you haven’t already!

To Life,

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Image via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Tips for proceeding in the battle for marriage

This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2, and post 3). The goal of these posts is not to convince anyone to think what I think, but to create a conversation and explore the topics together. I am not an authority figure on this issue, and will not always approach this from a highly academic perspective, but am writing as a Catholic young voice seeking the truth. I hope you’ll follow along and be part of the conversation!

Love Wins A series on gay marriage

 

In the immediate aftermath of the recent decision by the supreme court, I was mostly relieved to see that people I know weren’t being haters on social media. As time went on, though, some things came up that kind of made me cringe.

Exhibit A: Comparing gay people to unborn babies (or vice versa, or comparing the issue to abortion at all)

Exhibit B: Whining about being a victim

Exhibit C: Trying to prove your point with a fancy graphic.

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Here are some pointers for people who stand behind traditional marriage on how to not be a crazy person moving forward:

1. Be a witness to the truth about love and marriage. It’s not all butterflies and unicorns, but it’s always worth it. Unless people can see that through you, posting articles and saying things isn’t going to help very much. Actions speak louder than words.

2. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. Literally. You’re representing a lot of people, so represent well! I recommend reading a lot, paying attention to laws and studies, and becoming well versed in the why behind our beliefs.

3. Defy the stereotype of bigot and homophobe by . . . not being a bigot or homophobe. Love people, even if they disagree. And if people call you names for just believing in traditional marriage, respond gracefully. Nobody can make you a bigot unless you’re actually being one.

4. Remain open to conversation. And make sure that when conversations come up, you lovingly offer what might be a unique perspective.

5. Listen to people’s concerns on both sides, and don’t discount them. Everyone needs to be heard, valued, and responded to lovingly.

6. Have more of a response than JESUS for why you believe what you do. Sure, you could quote the Bible, but how relevant is that to people who don’t share your Christian beliefs? This goes back to #1 and the need to be educated. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow!

7. Keep the hope alive. In the end, no person or legal institution can change the sacrament of marriage, or the biology of men and women. Our society is changing. The way traditional marriage is treated is changing. But have hope, and don’t despair! Know that God is all about second chances. No one is beyond His mercy and love. Let no one be beyond ours.

If you can’t already tell, I think the most important thing on both sides of this debate is to love our neighbors – even when we disagree. That’s why this series is called “Love Wins”.

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!

To Life,

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Image via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Further reading:

5 Ways to Respond to the Supreme Court’s Decision on Same-Sex Marriage