Keep Calm the Advocate is Coming

Happy Pentecost!

I don’t want to be that person and start a story this way, but I’m going to…

When I was in Rome (so pretentious) we stopped at a Church (some really nice one with an Italian name) and inside was a beautiful painting of the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles and what I really like about it was that all the apostles were wigging out but Mary looked serene.

I was reflecting on that today and then started googling pictures of Pentecost and trying to find a depiction where Mary looked as harried as the apostles.

Obviously I can’t claim to have checked every single piece of art that depicts Pentecost, but in all the ones I saw, Mary is keeping it calm.


mary pentecost

I love the second one (click for full size) because let’s be real, if this happened I would totally be that disciple who is practically in the fetal position. But Mary’s cool with it because the Holy Spirit is her spouse.

So thinking more about that relationship makes me tired and I feel like I need a nap, but it’s a beautiful relationship for us to attempt to understand. Maybe not even attempt, maybe just admire.

In the Magnificat Mary has a line that has always seemed out of character to me and caused me to struggle in my understanding of the Blessed Mother. She says “from this day all generations will call me blessed”. Okay, Mary, we know you are a big deal. But she isn’t boasting or bragging, the Holy Spirit is inspiring those words, so in a way they aren’t her words; it seems out of character because it is.

When the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles they begin to speak in different tongues, using not their own words, to get a point across. The Holy Spirit is the giver of gifts, the Advocate, the Helper to us. The apostles are filled with the courage to leave their hidey-hole and boldly proclaim Christ. When the Spirit descends on Mary and her “soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”, the Spirit is using her as instrument to proclaim the glory of God. It’s not a violation of our free will because gifts need to be accepted, we need to make an act in order to receive them.

So on this Pentecost we should turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to strengthen us, to have us be used as instruments of God’s glory and to have our own talents imbued with divine love. The Spirit uses those who freak out at His gift giving (apostles) and those who are calm about it (Mary).



There’s no such thing as soul mates, and that’s great

I’m going to explain to you why soul mates don’t exist and how, in the grand scheme of things, this is actually better for us.

I’m sure someone, somewhere is mad at me, which is understandable because we’ve been programmed to believe that there is one person in the world, and only one, who will complete us and if we somehow miss them we will be a spinster cat lady until we die (also, what is the male equivalent of spinster cat lady? Oh, there isn’t one…?)

cat lady

That puts a lot of pressure on us. I mean, seriously. This is probably why we make such a big deal about prom and going on dates and running to the grocery store because at any moment we could run into THE ONE and if we miss THE ONE then we’ve screwed up everything. Gosh, that is a lot of pressure.

In my mind, not having a soul mate is reminiscent of the existence of purgatory (oh man, so romantic) because we are lovingly given the ability to try again. We have free will, and God gave it to us knowing that we would make mistakes but He also gave it to us knowing that, occasionally, we’d listen to Him and get something right.

But the biggest reason why soul mates are a social construction to create a greater emphasis on romantic love, is because love is a choice and a soul mate effectively removes that choice for us.

Where is the free will if we are cosmically destined to run into one person and love them because it’s “fate” and “destiny”? How much more romantic is it to find a person that we like, who likes us back, and then choose to love them because we want to get them to Heaven? And maybe it will work out and maybe it won’t. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t “meant to be” or that you are going to be forever alone, it just means you’re human.

I’m definitely NOT saying that God doesn’t have a plan for us. So often when I say I don’t believe in soul mates, people assume that I don’t believe the Father has a plan for our love lives. Quite the opposite. He has a spectacular plan. Christopher West talks about how God’s greatest desire involves marrying us off, either to a person, the Church, or to His Son. We are made for relationship with Christ and for relationship with others. And that relationship involves making decisions to love.

Here’s a great little article from the magazine Verily (which taught me how to order drinks at a bar without looking like an idiot. Praise God) about the Myth of the Soul Mate.

I think the biggest reason people like the idea of soul mates is that it takes away a lot of our responsibility; it gives our relationships an auto pilot function. If things get rough then we weren’t “meant to be” and we should just scrap it and start over. Instead we are encouraged to love boldly, and knowing that love isn’t easy but that makes it all the more worthwhile.