I was talking about modesty with my friend the other day. She works as a youth minister and was drafting a dress code for her teenagers attending a service camp in a few weeks. In the past, she hadn’t included one because she remembers how, as a young woman, she so often felt ashamed of her body as the result of well-meaning adults instructing her and her friends on modesty (“modest is hottest” or so they say).
At 2:59 p.m. Friday afternoon, I deleted Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter off my phone. At 3:00 p.m. I left my phone on my bedside table and closed the door behind me.
Ok, I’ll admit that title is a little click-baity, but let me explain. I posted the above meme on my Instagram a little while ago. It followed from some discussions I had with my 12th graders (I teach ethics at a coed Catholic high school) when we covered units on Justice and Chastity back to back. I was struck by two recurring themes: First, how much the two topics have in common, and second, how almost universally, the students who were on board with church teaching during the first unit were adamantly opposed to it in the second and vice versa.
The fire started accidentally. However, there are no accidents.
Selfless love is a hard thing for me. The problem is, sometimes I think my love is like a bucket of water; I love someone and a little bit pours out, someone loves me and a little bit pours back in. Most times, I pour out and my water lands right in their bucket. That should be enough, but I find myself constantly checking my own bucket to see if they returned the favor.
So the power of the female Catholic is nothing new. It is as old as the women of the Bible. But I fear it is often untapped. If we Catholic women concentrate our efforts on ascertaining more “power” from within the hierarchy, we may be attempting to bring about change, but are not doing it with the full strength of our femininity.
More than ever, I’m asking myself now, why am I still Catholic? Should I stay or should I go? (Cue the song)
I want to shout out trust no one! Yet, Christ still calls me on the carpet and says “will you leave too?” Within that I recall the phrase “The gates of hell shall never prevail” (Matt 16:18).
I had been shouldering the burden of chronic anxiety and depression for years before I had learned about mindfulness. For years, I had trained my mind to ignore the root of my illness (a history of abuse) and to cope with its symptoms: my pent-up nervous energy, my over-analyzing of every social situation, my intense self-scrutiny, my hyperactive mind going to work on all my fears and insecurities.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think we often get so wrapped up in apologetics, Christian courtship, and theology of the body, having babies, being involved in church, and more, that we just forget to have fun. This is bad.”
Ready or not, it was time. Time for each child to take the next step in bike-riding expertise. And so one sunny afternoon, we all set out – each with the next-level bike – to let the Great Bike Training of 2018 commence. We hadn’t been at it long before three kiddos realized this was not going to be a simple one-and-done session. As Teddy grumpily inched along on his balance bike, Max slowly wobbled next to dad, and Bridget took her first tumble, the hesitation and frustration set in
There is a crisis of discernment in the Church.
You might think that I'm going to write that there is not enough discernment. Maybe I'll write that a failure to discern is causing people to miss their vocations.
But that’s not what I’m about to write.
What is harder to believe? That you’re going to suffer? Or that you’re loved, utterly and unconditionally? Perhaps one of the most reliable teachers of humanity is suffering. From the wailing infant to the senior groaning with pain, an entrance, an exit and the passage between. More than any companion we choose in life, suffering accompanies us, through anxiety, loss, disappointment, and heartbreak. In fact, our inability to find, connect with, and receive love is one of the great sources of suffering. Some have even painted Hell as simply eternal separation from God who is love.
Have you ever reflected on the blessings in life and wonder how God is going to top that moving forward? We all have struggles and joys which make up our lives. What happens when you realize God's plan for your life is radically different then your own? How do you find joy there? God's plan for our life is the best plan. I don't doubt that, but I'm working on how best to embrace his plan as better than what I thought was best. Working on keeping hope alive, letting my desires go to only see Him.
I remember the first moment I realized I had an eating disorder. I had just come home from college on break, my freshman year, and I was getting changed in my room. In the mirror I could see my hip bones for the first time in my life, and I could count my ribs.
We tend to put the saints on a pedestal as people who achieved perfection. If you read about a saint you often get a story that’s heavy on the saint’s virtues, but light on the saint’s bad habits or sins. If you look at a statue or painting of our older brothers and sisters in the faith you’ll find them in ecstasy, preaching, or being brutally martyred. But, I bet you won’t find a painting of St. Therese with a bad case of bed-head.
What is it that makes the Little Way so appealing? To answer that, I think you have to ask what makes littleness appealing. Catholics seem to have a deep fascination with “little saints.” Saints like Therese of Lisieux or Mother Teresa or Maria Goretti. We find ourselves compelled by their littleness, amazed at how they could accomplish so much by making themselves so small. They offer a challenge to the pride and self-centeredness of our time; it can be refreshing to choose littleness in the midst of a world so focused on celebrity and grandeur. Both littleness and pride are a choice to be small.
The Catholic Church is infected with one of the most deplorable parasites known to man: hipsters.
Hipsters are the living worst. They want everything before everyone else, and once they have it, they want to keep it for themselves. They want to soak in the irregular until everyone else finds it, and when that time comes, they will pridefully strut - noses way the hell up in the air - far from that now-shared interest (which, interestingly enough, was absolutely meant to be shared in the first place). Ranging from obscure music, to undecipherable literature, to underground speakeasy bars, experiences and joys spoil more quickly than guac in the fridge for these pretentious buttheads whenever somebody else *gasp* wants to be a part of it.
A lot of people have the common misconception that geeks are nerds. I would argue that this is, in the words of Dwight Shrute; “False.” Nerds are highly intelligent usually as regards science and math and wear high suspenders and pocket protectors. Geeks fall into the socially awkward yet super enthusiastic about a specific thing. These two can, and often do, overlap. This is commonly referred to as a Trekkie.
Many of these people (like most people in general) come from a very painful past. A past so painful that they have to escape it somehow, and the only way they have found is by entering a world where the good always wins, so they can have some form of hope for the future. And everyone needs something to hope in, though they do not always place their hope in the One whom they should.
Now, I don’t care if you’re Catholic or not. I don’t care if you’re an atheist or an animist, a philosopher or a scientist, a mathematician or a musician, a man or a woman, a dog person or a cat person; hell, I don’t care if you call it “soda” or “pop.”
The fact is that you read the word and you pictured something.
Everyone has an idea in their head of what a Catholic is, and it’s likely that none of them are identical.
It is a common theme in modern Christian culture, “We’re all sinners!” Whether you’re a high powered televangelist, a leather jacket wearing Christian musician or an energetic Youth Minister, we seem to employ the sentiment of Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and are deprived the glory of God,” to communicate a sense of welcoming within the walls of our Church. It is the response to the biggest protest to relationship with God, “I have messed up too bad or too often, God does not love me, I don’t belong in church.” And yet, despite its evangelical value, it remains one of the most struggled with ideas in the Church today, prompting Pope Francis to announce a Year of Mercy.