The Post you knew was coming…

If I had a nickel every time I heard “emotional chastity,” I would have enough money to buy a patent, copyright that phrase, and make millions of dollars.

But you know what? I’ve never heard someone talk about it concerning religious vocations. If someone has, please, please, please, please let me know because I know there are 7 billion people in the world, and most of them are smarter than I am.

But until then, I will write about emotional purity (because chastity is physical, so that term doesn’t even make any sense) for those women discerning religious life.

Okay, now you might be thinking, Caitlin, how does a women discerning religious life struggle with emotional purity? I mean, she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she can’t pick wedding colors, she can’t ponder kid names, and she can’t worry about giving too much of herself away.

True, minus the boyfriend part because, if you are seriously discerning religious life, you are dating Jesus.

So, you can’t daydream wedding colors or kid names, but you know what you can be emotionally impure about? Habits and religious names.

A habit is a wedding dress that you get to wear FOREVER, and there is something incredibly exciting about the thought of having a saint (or two) claim you and lend their name to you. I’m not going to geek out too much about this…because it would be emotionally impure.

Furthermore, what is the most attractive part of a religious vocation? Radically giving yourself to Christ, totally and completely renouncing the world. Do you know what the really means? Your GPA really doesn’t matter, the degree you’re earning might not matter, the amount of money you make probably doesn’t matter.

I mean, regardless of vocation, it’s pretty easy to sit in class and think, Yeeeeeeah in eternity, this probably doesn’t matter.

But there is the dilemma. How do I live in this world, but not be of this world?

So, here’s what you do, you make rules. And if you are like me, you make them, think they are great, break all of them, and start again.

Rules

1. You can’t sit in chapel forever. Seriously, I know it’d be the best thing ever, but you have obligations that Christ is calling you to. So move that butt.

2. At the same time, you need time with Him. Make a schedule and be that person who writes in time with Jesus (1 hour). Dating people spend time together, so if you are dating Jesus, you best be spending time together.

3. Focus on the present. I suck at this. Enjoy your vocational status as it is right now. Give thanks for the things you can do now that you might not be able to later on.

4. Run to Mary, she knows.

5. Remember that Jesus didn’t start His public ministry until He was 30. Do you think He was sitting around dreaming about what was to come? No, He was getting work done!

6. Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified Matthew 28:5. He knows we are trying and He honors and adores our attempts.

Peace

Caitlin

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Just when you think you’ve heard it all…

God speaks to you in ways you never expect.

Earlier tonight, I got a really bad headache and was determined to go to bed early to ward it off and ignore the pain. I checked my email in one last attempt to amuse myself – wishing for some free offer or maybe a magic genie had finally caught up to the technological advantages of wish-giving in the 21st century – and lo and behold, there it was.

This summer, I taught Totus Tuus, a summer catechetical program designed to teach grade schoolers through high schoolers about the coolness of Catholicism. Okay, so that’s not the official description, but that’s what we did. Traveling to parishes and trying to amuse kids in any regard to give them a real idea of the beauty, youth, and TRUTH present in the Church was my life this summer, along with 2 seminarians and another beautiful young Catholic women.

During my first week, I was blessed enough to work with a young girl at a parish here in Lincoln. I won’t disclose her identity, but we’ll just call her Mary. Mary helped during the grade school portion of the day, playing with the kids, amusing them, filling waters, doing all the grunt work without a complaint even through the busy times of sport conditioning at the Catholic high school here in Lincoln. She was there every day with a huge smile lighting up her face, waiting for us to tell her what to do. Of course we took advantage of that – but she loved every minute of it.

That week, I gave (what I regard as my best of the whole summer) a vocational discernment talk, running parallel to the story line present in the book of Ruth. I  was beyond nervous to give a talk, being much more fluent in the written word rather than the spoken, but I gave it anyway. To a bunch of dead stares and apparent-bored expressions (minus my teammates who were on the extreme opposite end, laughing at inappropriate times and cringing visibly, which surprisingly was not that helpful).

Mary emailed me tonight about the talk I’d given. She attended a local retreat held by her Christian Teen group this past weekend, and the talks and Eucharistic Adoration made her think about the talk I had given. (Background necessary: in the talk, I mentioned feeling called to the religious life for awhile.) She was very sweet and wanted my opinion on her feelings of being drawn to the religious life.

God, how wonderful are You! Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that You are present in everything, working through me even across time and space. I needed that pick-me-up, and she needed my advice. It was perfect.

Headache, VANQUISHED.

Hannah

We were hipster before PBR

Catholics were being hipster long before you even knew what hipster was. For those of you who don’t know what hipsters are (in which case, you might actually be one) I will now supply my own definition. A hipster is a person who likes things you’ve probably never heard of, wears things purchased at thrift stores or stolen from the elderly, talks about things you’ve probably never heard of, rejects modern mainstream society, and for the most part, is the butt of many jokes.

AKA Catholics.

Early Christians liked a lot of things that people of their time probably had never heard of. Things like, Jesus Christ, transubstantiation, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Spirit, etc. Modern hipsters talk about things like “underground music” and “underground bands” and “underground fixie bikes”, but early Christians were very underground. I mean this in a hip way, because you know your religion is legit when people want to kill you because of it, and in a physical go-into-hiding-underground way.

Furthermore, Catholic Moms have been shopping at thrift stores and recycling clothes since before you were born, and after you were born, and now that you are growing up, and before your next sibling was born, and so on.

Catholics and hipsters understand the importance of being thrifty. Why would I buy a pair of jeans for $50 when I could get a pair for $5? So what if they are tapered, that’s called skinny. My sweatshirt says “World’s Best Grandma”? Maybe I am. Are you judging me because I bought an XL maternity dress, took it in, and then used the extra fabric for headbands? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Catholics talk about things you’ve never heard of, and then discuss it in detail because they want you to understand so that you can talk about it together! Canonization? Not about canons, still super cool. Kerygma? It’s Greek and important. Emotional chastity? Doesn’t even make sense, but let’s talk about it!

Rejection of mainstream society is pivotal for a successful hipster. Hipsters do NOT like Ke$ha, Twilight, Justin Bieber, Hollister (is that still popular?), American eagle, or Desperate Housewives. For the most part, Catholics dislike the same things. But more importantly, Catholics understand what “going against the grain” and “dancing to the beat of your own drum” really means.

Abortion? No way, I love babies and mommies. Pre-martial sex? Not my thing. Contraceptives? Here is a research paper I wrote about why it’s harmful. Cosmopolitan magazine? Sometimes I bring Post-it notes into the grocery store to cover up the inappropriate stuff.

We get sued for things like having gender-segregated residence halls at Catholic University of America, we are mocked when we pray outside abortion clinics, and get shut down in class when we respectfully correct a professor teaching heresy.

Our modern world is all about tolerance, let people do whatever they want and you have to be nice to them. Except Christians, mock them all you want.

Despite all of these negative factors, we Catholic hipster continue loving the Lord, spreading His gospel, praying for those opposed, and buying crew neck sweatshirts for 99 cents at Goodwill.

Caitlin

Confession

Okay, I’ll admit it.
I hate going to Confession.
I’ll admit that I love the feeling after the sacrament is done, don’t get me wrong. It’s cleansing and freeing and one of the best feelings in the world. Sometimes I feel bad for those who aren’t Catholic just because they don’t get to experience that feeling.

But honestly, I hate going.
I am always aware of when it’s time for me to go. My soul feels heavy and like it’s pressing into my chest, numbing myself to the rest of the world. But I have the darndest time convincing myself to actually get in line at the Newman Center and do it.
Last night I ran into this very concern. I was studying like a good student in the library with every good intention to leave in time to go to Confession before 10 p.m. Mass. But as 9:15 rolled around, I found myself sitting at a desk in the library internally shouting at myself.

“YOU NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION!”
“But I don’t want to…”
“I DON’T CARE. YOU NEED TO GO.”
“I need to study some more. I’ll just do that before Mass instead.”
“NO. STOP BEING AN IDIOT.”
“But I have this big French assignment that I haven’t started yet…”
“I TOLD YOU, I DON’T CARE. JUST GET YOUR BUTT TO THAT CHURCH.”

So after this debate, I reluctantly packed up my things and walked over to the church. When I stepped inside the chapel doors, to my (albeit abhorrent) relief, there was a HUGE line for Confession. The first thought that pops into my head?
“Whew. Maybe there won’t be time for me to go.” (Terrible, I know. Humanity and concupiscence suck sometimes.)

So I took my time putting my backpack down in the pew, just in time for two other people to get in line before me. Even though I counted the chance that I would actually get to go as highly unlikely, I joined them in line, banking on the fact that there wouldn’t be enough time.

As I stood there in line, doing my Examination of Conscience in a sort of half-hearted manner, I began to think. Why was I so reluctant to go to Confession? Of course I am human and attached to my sin, that’s a given. Habits are easily formed and not easily broken, and I seemed to have the same sins every time I’d gone to Confession in the past two years. But that wasn’t really it. I also knew that the priest (who is a good friend of mine) wasn’t going to judge me, let alone even remember my Confession in two minutes. And I realized something, staring into the Monstrance with Jesus Himself looking back at me. I didn’t want to go to Confession because I was reluctant to learn more about myself.

Okay, that sounds kind of crazy. But I think it’s true. I’ve been going through a lot of personal and emotional changes lately, and it’s taken a toll on me. I have been changing a lot lately and learning a lot more about myself from my relationships with others. And I’m just not a fan of change in general. I was reluctant to go to Confession because I knew Jesus was going to show me something else about myself that I didn’t know before. And I didn’t want that. I wasn’t so much attached to sin as I was to my self, the self that I know and have known for a long time. I have had so much change in other areas of my life that I didn’t want this to be another place to adjust in, to work towards, to be aware of.

As I stood staring at Jesus in line, I quickly realized how really idiotically stupid that is. As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman says, “To live is to change, and to have changed often.” Life is full of change, full of flexibility and motion and elasticity. Change is inevitable in every aspect of my life. And just because I was hesitant to add my sin and the self I knew to the list of changes in my life, that’s what was going to happen because He wanted it for me. All the other changes in my life were in direct result of His influence in my life, so why should I not give over this aspect as well?

Lucky for me, I was the last one able to receive Confession before Mass started. As I quickly walked back to my pew, I said a quick “thank you” for the revelation He had given me, and the graces I had received from so blessed a sacrament.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to love going to Confession from now on. But I think the next time I start internally shouting at myself, I’ll have a little bit better retort to give.
“I’M AN IDIOT? YOU’RE AN IDIOT!”
Just kidding. Kind of.

Hannah

Newest project

Hello interwebz, are you ready?

Okay, that’s probably an unfair question because you don’t have any idea what you’re getting in to. Let me take a moment to introduce us to you, and then you can decide if this is a good or not-so-good or fairly-adequate or barely-interestng idea that you might be willing to shout on the rooftops about, or at least tell all your friends about when you get the chance.

My name is Hannah, and my co-writer here is Caitlin. I’ll give her a moment to introduce herself soon, but for now it’s my show. About me. Well, I’m a 20-year old college student, and I’m in love with my Catholic faith. I was born and raised Catholic but didn’t truly accept the Catholic Church as Truth (with a capitol T) until I came to college. Currently I’m studying English, I’m discerning a call to marriage with a certain young gentleman, and I love to knit, watch NBC comedies, and edit (sometimes viciously) other people’s writing. I’m fairly normal, as you will soon come to understand.

I am Caitlin, I am 21, and I not normal in anyway. I’m studying Spanish with minors in Religious Studies, and Studio Art. I am also discerning a call to marriage with a different gentleman, a more Divine Gentleman, if you get my drift. If you don’t, I’m discerning a call to the religious life, aka a nun. Freshman year, college kicked me down and Christ picked me back up. I like video games, crew neck sweatshirts, talking about being Catholic, and La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Caitlin and I have long discussed the lack of good, young Catholic writing available. Marc from BadCatholic is an exception to that rule, of course, but as far as we can tell, he’s the only one doing it. And if I’ve learned anything in my education so far, it’s that following the crowd is always lucrative, right? In light of that revelation, we decided it was about time that there was some sort of feminine perspective on the Internet about being young and Catholic. We both have a lot of ideas to present to y’all, and many opinions that aren’t really the norm for our generation.

If you have questions at any time, please feel free to ask them. We are not quite familiar with the WordPress format yet, as we are both originally Tumblr bloggers, but as soon as I figure out the outside-contact concept, I’ll make sure it’s up and working. Know that we are praying for anyone who comes across this blog, and if you ever have ideas about what we should write about, let us know!

God bless,

Hannah and Caitlin