NAS: Favorite Saints!

This week’s topic is favorite saints! But not just any saints . . . some related to purity, chastity, etc. Here goes!

Mother Teresa is probably my favorite saint EVAH (and she’s not even technically a saint yet). St. Joan of Arc was quite a¬†boss. I’ve also learned more about JPII recently and love, love, love him. The Catholic church has so many beautiful people for us to look to as role models.

Buuut I’m supposed to be writing about saints related to purity, chastity, etc. ūüôā

There’s the obvious St. Maria Goretti who refused to give in to an attacker and then forgave him (yes, that’s rather vague, someone remind me of the story!). She’s one that many people look to as a beautiful example of purity. But for me? I stick to St. Michael and St. Raphael, two of the archangels.

St. Michael is pretty much always pictured defeating Satan.¬†I’ve grown to love (and know by heart!) his prayer which is a beautiful plea to be protected against evil. It’s appropriate in many ways,¬†and definitely for asking for his intercession for the courage and grace to beat Satan to a pulp when he tries to temp us into straying from the straight and narrow.

Here is his prayer:

“St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard ¬†against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil creatures who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”

St. Raphael, I’ve learned, is the patron saint of happy meetings (among other things). There’s a beautiful story derived from the Book of Tobit about how he healed Sarah who was grieving and influenced Tobias and after stuff they got together and yay! It’s deeper than that, though. Read about it!

Here’s a prayer I found asking for his intercession (which I think is really beautiful):

“St. Raphael, loving patron of those seeking a marriage partner, help me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a helpmate in life the person whose character may reflect some of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he (she) be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children it may please God to entrust to our care.

St. Raphael, angel of chaste courtship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Offer your prayers to God for the both of us and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as you were the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobiah and Sarah.

St. Raphael, friend of the young, be my friend, for I shall always be yours. I desire ever to invoke you in my needs.

To your special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband (wife). Direct me to the person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen.”

And that’s that.

Head over to Jen and Morgan‘s for more on this topic!

NAS: Marriage

I have somewhat neglected participating in this series because it feels strange publishing things on topics I only talk about with family and girlfriends and such. But I figure it doesn’t hurt. Maybe someone I know will read something good and benefit from it, and if not . . . what’s the big deal? Not much. So! This weeks topic is: Marriage.

I don’t even like this movie that much, but this part is hilarious.

Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage…but what is it exactly that you’re attracted to? What have you seen in others’ marriages that you’ve learned from or would do differently?¬†

Well.

I’ve always loved playing with kids. I babysat and watched my siblings and led things ¬†for kids in high school. It only seemed natural to assume I would get married.

But then I went to a seriously Catholic college.

Shoot.

I actually have to do this whole discerning thing.

How does that work? What the heck was I supposed to do? I don’t want to be a nun! What does this mean? Holy cow I’m going to die, I’m so not sure now! Somebody tell me for crying out loud!

That lasted a couple minutes.

Then I put my big girl panties on (it’s a metaphor, people!) and found out that to discern you really have to look at what the options require, look at your talents and abilities and characteristics and see what matches the most.

Boom bam!

It became very clear to me that I would die am not suited for religious life. It’s hard to describe why or how I knew/know. I just know.

It’s not like I expect to find Prince Charming and run off into the sunset. I know marriage isn’t easy. And I think that’s kind of why it’s appealing to me, strangely. I like a challenge. Promising to love a person through the good and bad until you die is a pretty big deal. You’re vowing to live for the good of this person until you DIE. Whoa. But at the same time, the other person vows to love you in return. And if you put God at the root of your relationship, you’re a cord of three strands (which it says somewhere in the Bible is not easily broken). How awesome is that?

I never, ever, want to live alone in my entire life. I want to share my life with another person, and I hope to someday bring kids into the world if that’s the plan (eh, God?). Marriage requires that you give love unconditionally, and your mutual love create this trinity-mirroring sacred kind of love that God grants to people through the awesome sacrament of marriage. And your spouse vows to love you unconditionally in return.

If I though about it more, there are probably deeper reasons, but that’s it for now. I am thankful to have beautiful examples of people who have made marriage work (both sets of grandparents for almost 54 years, parents for 25). If it’s what God has in store, then I’ll pray for the grace to accept all the challenges and beauty it gives. And until then? I’ll keep on praying for the grace to live my current vocation gracefully.

NAS: Valentine’s Day!

What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day? Do you¬†enjoy it? Loathe it? Not even realize it’s a special¬†day? Do you celebrate it in any way?

Linking up over at Jen’s!

I love Valentine’s Day! Growing up we always made valentines for each other and would sneak out late at night or early in the morning to put them at the dining room table. When we woke up we’d be greeted by notes from our parents and siblings at our place. And candy too ūüôā Since coming to college I still send valentines home to the family and they still send them to me. And they’re all up on my wall!

This year I initiated a valentine-making spree here at school. It was a stroke of Pinterest creativeness, or procrastination. I can’t remember which ūüėČ We made one of these for each of the suites of ladies in my dorm (20 I think) and hung them on the doors:

DSCN6018

On the back we wrote something like: “To the beautiful ladies of Suite X: Happy Valentine’s Day! You are loved! ‚̧ Suite Y”. It was fun to spread the love.

My evening involved movie watching and chocolate, which was fun. I haven’t been staying up very late on Fridays anymore since I go sidewalk counseling early on Saturdays. They had a single ladies dinner on campus that guys hosted, but I didn’t go. I don’t feel like I need to cry over my relationship status because I know I am loved by the people around me. If a significant other is someday added to that group of people, then so be it. Awesome. Everything happens in God’s timing. And this year it was time for chocolate ūüôā But let’s face it, everyday is chocolate day, right? Kidding!

What I don’t like about Valentine’s day is the humongous teddy bears and crazy balloons and all that jazz. Why? Because I don’t think you need a holiday to show people you love them. You should be doing nice stuff for people all the time. I’m certainly not a pro at that and am working on appreciating people more, but come on people. Do surprise nice things! Don’t wait for holidays!

I do appreciate when people use the opportunity to celebrate the goodness in their lives and the world. ¬†That’s nice to see. I appreciate nice notes. And you know what? Taking time to do the same for other people rocks too.

NAS: Chastity is a Choice

This week’s topic:

Chastity – A Choice
Living chastely (not just abstinence) is a choice. Have you ever had to defend your choice to live out chastity? If not, why do you choose chastity?

I’ve never had to defend my point of view on this matter probably because I don’t talk about it with too many people. The people I do talk about it with probably all hold similar views to mine. People who would question me probably don’t because how random is that to bring up if you’re not already talking about it?

Aaaanyway.

We are so bombarded with unchaste messages all day every day. Seriously. Just the other day when I went to see Gimme Shelter, pretty much every blessed preview had some risque scene (or two or ten) without clothes that involved some degree of non-committed men making out with sexy women. And to think within the last century people of the opposite gender weren’t even allowed to be pictured in movies in the same BED without at least one foot on the floor. Most of the time couples had separate beds. People, we’ve come so far. And not in the right direction.

It is my belief that some things should remain sacred. To a world who doesn’t understand this concept so well: it’s called a little mystery. I don’t want to see your body parts revealed by immodest clothing because I don’t need to see body parts to see you. You’re so much more than body parts. Your smile and personality tell me so much more.

Living a chaste life these days is probably really weird to some people. I mean, why? Everyone’s out there hooking up with people they don’t know, right? Well, wrong. Sure, some people are, but deep down I think most people (and I’m talking about mostly women because that’s what I am and understand) hunger for more.

I live a chaste life because the fleeting pleasures the world offers do not offer me happiness.

I live a chaste life because I know I am meant for more. And so are you!

Like our lovely emeritus Pope Benedict said:

“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

Some people might ask “How do you do it?” and I’d reply with the Nike motto: Just do it. Make the choice to live counter culturally. Surround yourself with people who hold similar values and they will build you up, not threaten to break down your standards.¬†Don’t read or look at inappropriate things. Halt any impure thoughts with a prayer for the grace to live a life filled with a desire for what is good and holy. Chill with the Ryan Gossling memes, already. And don’t make Pinterest boards of hot men. Just making them secret so we can’t see does NOT count.

When steamy scenes come on tv, turn away. Better yet, turn it off. Act chastely by not inviting inappropriate attention, not because your body is not beautiful, but because you are made up of much more than the eye beholds.

That’s the long-winded answer to why I live chastely. Call it a cross if you will, but by being free of the worries the world offers with her ideas of how I should live, I am more free to be the woman I am made to me. It’s for my own good, the good of the people I am closest with, and ultimately setting me up for a better future than if I were to bring tons of baggage and brokenness to future relationships.

What are your thoughts?

NAS: Making NOW Count

When I started blogging, I had no idea that there’s a whole blogging “world”. People read each other’s blogs and comment back and forth with each other. Even though they might not live near each other, they get to know each other through writing. The funny thing is that quite a lot of the blogs out there are written by moms . . . And that’s definitely not where I am in my life right now, so it doesn’t make sense to follow them avidly.

What I have found, though, is that there are quite a few young Catholic women like me out there. And it’s really refreshing to read what they write. When I found the Not Alone Series (started last summer), I was intrigued by the concept. Many of these young, Catholic, and single blogger ladies would write on a specific topic each week and share their take on it. The majority of the topics have had to do with the Catholic single life, which is why I haven’t participated. Until now.

I’ve never written (that I can remember) about this because, hey. I know who reads my blog, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted them all to have access to things that might be a little more personal about me. But then I figured why NOT? Seriously. If you’re a young Catholic woman you’ve probably thought things similar to me. And if you’re a woman young at heart, maybe you’ve been where us young’uns are now. So really, nothing new people. I won’t post anything so terribly awkward that any of you people would die reading it.

And so beings my participation in the Not Alone Series.

This week’s topic is:

In what ways can you grow/stretch RIGHT NOW that could effect the whole of 2014?

Well, that’s a loaded question.

I can grow . . . in my prayer life.

Being at college has given me all sorts of opportunities that are not necessarily going to be at my disposal in the future: 24 hours adoration within a 7 minute walk, multiple daily masses, countless faith-enriching events, and so much more. I also have a crazy awesome stack of Catholic-related books to read. I’m working on the books, and started regular adoration last semester. My prayer books I write in (almost!) every day is also part of this.

I can grow AND stretch myself . . . in my relationships with friends and relatives.

Talking with people gives you so much more insight than any type of social media¬†ever¬†could. And quite frankly, my generation has generally forgotten how to talk. Instead we text or shoot off a quick email. Ever have to call someone’s home phone to talk with them and have a family member answer? Hmmmm, probably not too many people remember that. Face to face interaction is so important, and I think that’s one reason why it’s hard to start sidewalk counseling. But I’m going to do it anyway. It seems that most people appreciate when you give them the time of day and take time to listen, so I need to do more of that.

I can stretch myself . . . in my classes.

Oh my. This is a biggie. Last semester my classes streeeeeeeeeeeeeetched me to a point where I broke a little. They were demanding, and I sometimes failed to devote enough effort to them. That feels really lame, and I never want to look back on a semester and think that again. I have to give them my all. We’ll see how I feel after classes begin, but I am predicting just as hard of a semester.

I can grow . . . by serving others instead of always leading.

Call it being a “natural leader” or it might just be my somewhat demanding and at times bossy personality. Trust me, I never intend to be harsh or overly demanding of people I am involved in things with. It just turns out that most of the time I care a lot about things I get involved with, and I have high expectations of most people. That aside, I’ve been really trying to take a step back, delegate, and give others the freedom to do things how¬†they¬†want to. Because guess what? People matter. To be a good leader I think people have to believe that you trust them, and giving them freedom does just that.¬†People¬†are¬†capable of doing things rather well without me. ¬†I must put that into practice by being more of a servant leader.

I can grow . . . by writing more.

Maybe I should start considering myself a bit of a writer, but I never have before. Writing (creatively, that is – no essay prompts!) helps to explore issues and thoughts. It helps me connect with people. And you know what? Sometimes I have good things to say. This is one of my goals for the month (and year!): to write more. Writing for Live Action is lots of fun, and I need to get back to it. Writing here is even more fun, and I know that words can have a lasting impact. I need to appreciate and harness that power and communicate it through writing about things I care about.

And there you have it. I have lots of growing to do in little and big ways. No matter how small the change, though, it can make a lasting impact on my life. There are lots of other (maybe smaller?) ways I can grow, which I write up each month in my goals posts. Check back at the beginning of each month for those!