St. Joseph nailed it

(Alternative pun titles: St. Joseph, building relationships. St. Joseph, constructing marriages. St. Joseph, wood’nt doubt him for a minute…)

I had every intention of posting this yesterday on St. Joseph’s feast day but then I (somehow) got sucked into some March Madness (#1 in my family bracket, y’all!) and then didn’t get it done.

But, redemption is real and St. Joseph will understand.

Ever since my junior year of college I’ve had a devotion to St. Joseph. Initially it started because I saw lots of people kneeling by Mary and I felt like St. Joseph was a little neglected. I’m a sucker for underdogs (hence almost all of my MM picks are upsets. Gonzaga for the win!)

I looked up more about St. Joseph and discovered the beautiful litany for him which includes such titles as; terror of demons, head of the Holy Family, solace of the wretched, and Protector of Holy Church. Amazing and pretty hard core. So no longer did I view St. Joseph as this simple and quiet man who gets overshadowed, but an integral player for salvation history. He protects Mary and Jesus, he guides them away from danger and into Egypt, he is responsible for their well being. Can you imagine being responsible for the well being of two perfect people? Or protecting this perfect (and moderately helpless) family from actual murderers? Herod’s men were being sent out to kill babies, it was the law of the land. And the angel appeared to Joseph to tell him to take his family into Egypt.

“Not in my house”

My discovery of St. Joseph also came a pivotal part of my spiritual life, which is not surprising. How often do we “randomly” discover a saint who “happens” to speak into our personal struggles.

Anyway, at this point I was a senior in college and recently discerned away from the religious life. Previously, I was pretty sold on the idea. I had an order picked out, I had an official visit date set, I had my application in, and I had my personal belongings divvied out between my friends. But, all of that fell through (for the better) and I was crushed, disappointed, and a little confused. And now I realized I was probably called to marriage (dun dun dun).

So, turning to my new spiritual BFF, I told St. Joseph that I didn’t want to just date around. I had dated a fair amount in high school and was a little boy crazy in my early years of college. I didn’t want to just date for the fun of it. But ultimately I just wanted to do what Jesus wanted me to do. I figured that the foster father of Jesus probably had a pretty good idea of what that was.

But I decided to be bold in my prayers. I told St. Joseph, “If it’s okay with Jesus, I would like the man I am going to marry to ask my dad for permission to date me”.

I don’t even know why I said it. It seems like a totally ridiculous request. Like, seriously, who asks for a dad’s permission to date their daughter? But my heart was sentimental and I was emotional. So I made the request and forgot about it until a year later.

Fast forward one year, I’m on a great date with an amazing man and as he is driving me home he hands me his phone.

“Hey, will you put your dad’s phone number in my phone? If it’s okay with you, I’m going to ask for his permission to date you.”

I laughed out loud because who does that. And who asks for that in prayer? But Jesus and St. Joseph knew my heart, they knew my prayer, and (Praise the Lord) my request was in favor with God’s ultimate plan.

So I punched in my dad’s number under “Caitlin’s dad/Craig”.

Fast forward a year-plus-some-months-later and John and I got married.

Catholic-wedding-money-shot (Mel Watson Photography)

Catholic-wedding-money-shot (Mel Watson Photography)

Also John’s confirmation saint is St. Joseph. No surprise there.

I’m not saying that St. Joseph is a match-maker (he might be a little bit) or that if you ask for some random request he will grant it like a genie. But I am saying that he is a powerful intercessor. He knows Jesus and Mary personally and intimately. He is our spiritual father and wants to provide good things for his children.

I didn’t dive head first into this relationship because I knew that John was “the one”, whatever that really means. But I knew that Jesus had blessed the beginning of our relationship and had given me a huge gift in this sign. So I was more fully invested in prayer knowing that the relationship was a gift and I wanted to honor it and honor John.

Take some time to get to know the spouse of Mary, the protector of child Jesus, and the universal patron of the Church. Or read this cute article about Pope Francis and Pope Benedict and their love for St. Joseph.

Thanks, St. Joseph. Praise Jesus, now and forever!

Love,

Caitlin

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Casting into the deep

Cast into the deep

//Luke 5:1-11//

1 It happened that he was standing by the lake of Genesareth, at a time when the multitude was pressing close about him to hear the word of God; 2 and he saw two boats moored at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had gone ashore, and were washing their nets. 3 And he went on board one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to stand off a little from the land; and so, sitting down, he began to teach the multitudes from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Stand out into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch”. 5 Simon answered him, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and caught nothing; but at thy word I will let down the net”.

All day you’ve been out in your boat, sun beating down on your back, the salty spray stinging your face, and the cold water splashing up against you. You’ve fought the waves and the currents, you’ve sent your net and pulled it back in and nothing, nothing, nothing. A full day of work and nothing to show for it. Your companions are disappointed and discouraged, you are tired and defeated. You step back onto the shore and begin the tedious work of untangling your nets, gently patching the holes and tears, carefully dislodging seaweed and sticks, and, finally, folding it up for a new day tomorrow.

You had all the tools, all the skills, all the knowledge, the perfect conditions, but no catch.

You notice a crowd approaching the shore and that a single man seems to be leading them. As the people are herded onto the beach, the man reaches the edge of the sea and notices that he is running out of dry land. He gets into your boat and asks you to cast off a ways. Limbs still aching for a full day of work you push the boat back into the waves. It is then that he begins speaking to the crowd.

After speaking, he turns to you and tells you to go back out into the deep water and let your nets down. You are tired from a full day of work, your heart is weary from many failed attempts. The idea of dirtying the nets again weighs on your mind and the fear of more failure causes you to hesitate. But the words he spoke to the crowd are in your mind, and you respond in half-hearted faith.

What is your “failed day of fishing”? After many attempts, perhaps in Bible study attendance, working hard in class, in reaching out to that one friend, in trying to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker or friend, in patching up a damaged relationship, a failed Lenten sacrifice, or maybe fully investing in prayer, what is it that you want to just pack up and leave for later?

You have all the tools, you have the skills, objectively, you have everything you need just like Simon did in order to fish.

Why is Jesus in your boat? What is your second fishing attempt? Do you have faith in how the story ends? Will you leave you allow me to make you a fisher of men? Simon is called away from his profession, from what he had always known, from his “normal”? Do we allow Jesus to call us away from where we are? Do we allow Jesus to surpass our wildest dreams?

Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.

Love,
Caitlin

My first demerit, going to Rome, and when I didn’t like Pope John Paul

If you have been on Facebook for even 12 seconds and are friends with even one Catholic, you would know that today is St. John Paul’s feast day. And I, like most every other human being, am pretty pumped.

To be honest I was very late on the loving-Pope-John-Paul trend. I knew nothing about him while he was alive, I don’t remember ever hearing about him, seeing a picture of him or anything until after his death. Then my school gave a crash course on how the papal elections work and I snuck out of art class to watch Pope Benedict be announced and I got my first demerit.

So hardcore. Also, what kind of Catholic school gives demerits to students who want to watch the papal election? I digress.

But even after that, I just knew JPII was the pope before Pope Benedict. It wasn’t until I moved to Lincoln, NE where I experienced the deep love people had for John Paul. I heard story after story from my peers, from adults, from priests, from nuns of how their lives were changed by him. Whether it was from World Youth Day or hearing him speak or just his efficacious way of living, people loved him.

And, to be honest, I felt like I had missed an opportunity. Like, he was dead now and I couldn’t experience what these people did. Their lives were touched profoundly and I felt like I was playing catch up. So instead of learning more about him, I just decided that he could be other people’s saint, that it was fine if he was cool and amazing and miraculous for others, but not for me (side note: this is also how I felt about Jesus at this time).

Fast forward many years and in college I went to Rome. As we strolled around St. Peter’s Basilica early that morning, I saw many of my peers congregating not in front of the Pieta or any of the other impressive pieces of art, but around a plain looking side chapel with a tomb in it.

Spoiler: it was John Paul

And as I knelt there (because everyone else was) I felt a little cynical, like, oh hey it’s you again. And I felt a little frustrated because, once again, I had JPII FOMO (fear of missing out) (or fear of having missed out, more accurately).

And I for sure cannot explain what happened next but in my angsty little heart I remembered things that led me to Rome; hearing about JPII in high school, deciding to apply for Totus Tuus and teaching all over that state, spending time in actual prayer while teaching, encountering Jesus in the Eucharist, having to explain at every parish what Totus tuus meant and who first said those words. Those experiences taught me that I did care about my faith, that I did want to be Catholic. That led me to the Newman Center at UNL, which led me to some crazy FOCUS missionaries and one specifically crazy one who fundraised my trip to Rome.

The only reason I had agreed to teach and participate in this Totus Tuus craze was because John Paul first made those words his motto. I realized that I hadn’t “missed out” on encountering JPII because he was still doing amazing things in Heaven. What a weird and wonderful faith we have that allows us to encounter and grow in relationship with people who are dead. People who have already lived and overcame the struggles that living brings. And that we can grow in relationship with the Creator of life itself? It’s unreal, but it’s also very real.

Then I started crying and took that unfocused and shaky photo.

He was a saint for me specifically and he was able to intercede for me in a unique way. This helped me to realize that Jesus was my Savior, Redeemer, Beloved, Everything and that He loved me in a unique way.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 956: The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”

Thank you, Juan Pablo for all the good you did and the good you continue to do. You make me proud of to be Polish, to be Catholic, and to be human.

In Defense of Kids and Babies (Part 1)

It’s been awhile since Hannah and I tag teamed a post. I was scrolling on facebook when I saw this post from BeliefNet.com, 10 Things to do Before You Have Kids.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this. I was even more surprised that it came from a Christian website and supplied some really lame things to do.

I then participated in an activity that I rarely do online…I read the comments. ACK. They ranged from heretical, ignorant, to down right insulting.

But many readers asked the same questions Hannah and I asked: why are these things so important? Why can’t people do these things after having kids? Why is this Christian website even posting this kind of article?

Since Hannah has a beautiful baby girl, she has provided her rebuttal to each of the 10 things.

Join a Kickball League:

I know plenty of responsible, working, involved parents who are members of sports teams, and it doesn’t seem to distract from their lives in any way. Yes, you might watch some sports when your kids get old enough, but what is a better deal – you having to do all the sweating and working and getting tired and feeling old because you can’t run like you could in college, or watching your kids who have boundless amounts of energy run around like mad men chasing after a soccer ball with no apparent objective in mind? Seems like a clear winner.

Attend Coachella:

It may have always been a dream of mine to go to Coachella. But let me tell you, just because I have a baby now is certainly not the reason I won’t be going anytime soon. Who has the moolah to afford one of these things? Plane fair, lodging, plus the cost of entrance is just a ridiculous total. I’d much rather take my baby to a free outdoor concert, have her sleep through the whole thing, and really get to enjoy it rather than stress about a grocery budget for the next year because I went to Coachella. (And yes, that argument was the same before I had kids. Even more so, perhaps, during the broke-a$$-college-phase).

Travel to a Festival:

The author gives no reason you can’t do this one with your little one(s)…oh wait, maybe because there’s no reason not to bring them! Whether you want to go to Oktoberfest in Germany or perhaps even just the local St. Patty’s day parade in your hometown, kids are pretty much always welcome at festival-like events like these. Why do you think they invented the stroller? Festival-going.

Make Brunch a Weekly Event:

I don’t know about you, but I do love me some breakfast food. I’m pretty sure it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. (That and the toothbrush. I’d be happy with just those two for the rest of my life.) Why would you want to deny the deliciousness of brunch to your new favorite people – your kids? Sure, they might not have as intellectual conversations as some people’s friends, but sharing is caring…especially when it comes to breakfast food.

Spend a Good Chunk of Change on Yourself:

To me, this just reads: Be irresponsible because it’s fun, and don’t bother to plan for the future. Now I’m all about treating yourself every once in awhile, because life is meant to be lived, but I will never advocate for fiscal irresponsibility. True story: my parents always encouraged us kids to put half of our earnings from jobs in the bank, and I thank them for that lesson greatly. Fiscal responsibility is important no matter your stage in life.

Save Like There’s No Tomorrow:

Wow, there’s actually some good advice in this list. I agree – if you know you’re having kids in the future, it’s never a bad idea to start saving ahead of time. They are expensive little things – obviously, worth it, but expensive! Saving is good, again, no matter your stage in life.

Add a Pet to Your Family Dynamic:

Now, I don’t totally disagree with this point. Pets are (from what I’ve heard) a great way to practice for the responsibility of parenthood. But let’s be real, the range of what your Golden Retriever can do will only grow so far. A kid, on the other hand (human, not goat) will far surpass a puppy in about 2 years. Want to teach your dog to speak another language? Probably not going to happen…but kids can do that! I’m certainly not advocating against pet-owning though. Pets make great friends for kids! But you don’t HAVE to get one before you have a baby.

Stay out all night:

Who does that? That’s for bored teenagers who have nothing more fun to look forward to the next day that sleeping in til noon. Plus, when you have kids, you get to stay UP all night – or at least some of the nights, probably (unless you have a miracle baby) and what can be more precious than that? And the author says that you’ll want to stay home rather than go out “on the town” when you have kids. But let’s be honest, if you’re reading an article about things to do before you have a baby, you’re probably on your way to a stay-at-homer anyway.

Score your dream job:

Just because you have kids means you lose your entire identity? I know plenty of men and women who were inspired by their children (even at a very young age) and went and found their “dream job” while having kids. Plus I have always believed that the idea of a “dream job” is unrealistic. Anything that you have to work at is going to be frustrating at some point, and will never completely fulfill you emotionally or spiritually…so like, what’s the point in stressing about it?

Write a Letter to Yourself:

Again, this is a good thing that I do not disagree with. I wish I would have thought of it before having K! But then again, I wasn’t trolling the internet looking for a list of things I absolutely-needed-to-do-before-having-kids, because I’m a believer that your life doesn’t change all that much with kids, it only grows and gets better. (Call me crazy if you want. It’s the internet, after all.)

For (in my opinion) better and more exciting posts about kids and babies read: “I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Don’t Like 25% of Humanity” and Contributing to the Anti-Child Culture.

 

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Look at this mother of one having zero fun.

Mission Statement

I never know if I should acknowledge how long it’s been since I’ve posted when I return from a hiatus…or if I should just try to slip back in, unnoticed.

But my friend Marilyn posted on my wall so the shame is already there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mission statements and why businesses/people/organizations have them.

This is partly because I work for FOCUS and we have a Main Thing and a mission statement (and often I mix them up). But also because I’ve neglected blogging here for awhile now and it made me think about what the purpose of this blog even is.

This is not some drawn out finale letter, so don’t you worry.

I think I started blogging because I had opinions about things and I wanted to get them out in a safe space. Then I realized that I really enjoyed writing, so that was an added perk. And then it transformed into a nice little community of people who might actually be enjoying what they are reading.

So, I think this will be my blogging mission statement for my contributions on TCG’s blog:

To the best of my abilities I will use the gifts and talents that the Lord has given me to share Christ Jesus, His Church, and the Truth in a way that is encouraging and loving. I will use this blog as a tool in the New Evangelization to speak on Christ’s love and mercy in a way that is relatable and repeatable.

Short and sweet.
And maybe I’ll do these things on a more regular basis.

Thanks for sticking around!

Love,

Caitlin

PS: I’ve decided to finalize how I will sign all posts so there is some kind of continuity.

 

“Friend, why are you here?”

“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Hail, Master!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you here?'” Matthew 26:47-50

In Scripture, Jesus asks a lot of questions. I read (via Google) that He asks about 87 questions, and most of the time He asks a question in response to a question.

But this question in the Gospel of Matthew has real stuck with me during this celebration of the Triduum. Friend, why are you here?

Jesus knows why Judas is there, He knows that Judas is the betrayer, He knows that Judas is betraying Him right at this second, but He still asks the question. I used to read it as a way of Christ giving Judas the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Judas isn’t here to betray Him…in the middle of the night…with all these men…who are armed.

But more and more the idea of mercy has been on my heart (many thanks to Pope Francis, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and the upcoming double canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday).

I believe that Jesus is asking Judas, I know what you are doing but why are you here? Judas, these men know who I am, I would willingly give myself up for them. Judas, do you need to be here? Couldn’t you have told them where I would be and then gone away?

I believe Jesus is asking this because there is still time for mercy. 

Even after the exchange of money, even after Judas leads the men to Christ, even after Judas addresses Him as “Master”, and even after he kisses him, there is still time for mercy.

The deed is done and Christ asks him, are you here to receive My mercy? There is still time.

Even after the guards grab hold of Me, even after they take Me away, even after the rest of My disciples leave Me, after the beating and the scourging, after the crucifixion, even after everything seems to be lost, there is still time for My Mercy.

“Let us … remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me.” Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!”Pope Francis’ Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013

 

Have a holy Good Friday!

Caitlin

 

“Heart of the World”

I’ve wanted to write a book review for awhile but for some reason I thought it was a bit of a creative cop out. Like, let me review in text something greater that someone already published in text?

But I am low on creative juices so here is my very first book review!

Heart of the World by Hans urs von Balthasar

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Rarely do I read a book multiple times, but I am currently enjoying this book (which, in all fairness, took me almost a year to get through the first time) for the third time. I am a voracious underliner in books and my copy is so marked up that a page does not go by without multiple sections underlined. 

If I had to pick a book that changed my world view, changed my way of thinking, or one that I would take with me on a desert island, it would be this one.

Father von Balthasar weaves a beautifully poetic and soul shaking text that dives deeply into the Heart of Christ. What does it mean that Christ, who is fully man and fully divine, had a human heart just like ours? Literally, it was made of same stuff as ours and emotionally it experienced the full spectrum of feelings and emotions. 

The chapters vary from the perspective of a speaker (like us, fully human) and Christ addressing us. It is remarkable to me that a Swiss theologian and priest who died in 1988 can write in such a way that is so reflective of my own heart. There are sections in this book that made me stop and wonder if Father von Balthasar can read my soul, even years after his death.

Of course, he can’t, but he can write in a way that addresses all of humanity, how we deeply and intimately Christ loves us, how if we believe that Christ died and rose for our salvation that it should affect every aspect of our lives.

I pulled some sections from the book that seemed especially appropriate for Lent. They, of course, do not do the book justice since von Balthasar’s sprawling chapters need to be read in context (in my opinion, one sitting) to really experience the beauty of the text.

“Into what hole can I crawl so that you will no longer see me, so that I will no longer be a burden to you and that the decay of my person may no longer importune you? I have sinned right to your face, and the mouth which touched your lips — your divine lips –a thousand times has kissed the lips of the world and said: ‘I do not know him'” (p.145)

“He seeks trust, intimacy: he is a beggar for your love” (p.121)

“But see: the weakness with which you weaken me can no longer be an obstacle. When I am weak, then I am strong. Let yourself be weakened by my weakness, my Bride, that the fruit of your body may grow within you, the child of our love. How much longer will you insist on my making up for your refusals by my suffering? How much longer will you shift the burden onto my shoulders, a burden, which, if bourne by both of us, would become the delight of the Kingdom of Heaven?” (p.82)

In a real and unapologetic way, von Balthasar reminds us of how we quarantine Christ to sections of our life, of our hearts. We let Him reign on Sundays, we let Him in when we have cleaned our homes, but we refuse to let Him see the messy parts, to enter into our lives when we feel that we have control.

Truly, I love this book. It combines Scripture, allegory, imaginative language, and alarmingly honest human thoughts that ultimately point back to the Heart of Christ which beats with love for us all.

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CRCM

Truth and Beauty and Kissing Strangers

I’m very sure that to many I will sound like an uptight prude, but I find nothing beautiful about strangers making out with each other for a film project.

Perhaps you’ve seen the video floating around Facebook; it’s black and white, a mellow coffee shop song plays mournfully, and very beautiful and hip individuals meet for the first time and kiss.

Apparently it’s beautiful. I found it weird, awkward, and only watched thirty seconds of it. Amanda Hess of Slate wrote a piece that sums up my feelings with just its title, “This video of strangers kissing is ‘beautiful’ because it stars models“.

“The video peddles the fantasy that beauty can spring from an unexpected connection between two random people, but what it’s really showing us is the beauty of models making out. It’s like the hipster Bachelor. I doubt that millions of viewers would be so quick to celebrate a video of randos kissing if they were all less thin, hip, stylish, charming, and well-manicured. “

Casey Chan from Sploid wrote in favor of the film saying:

“Um, wow. I don’t know if it’s the song selection or because it’s in black and white or the fact that everybody in this video is so attractive, but what started out as incredibly awkward—seeing two strangers meet each other and kiss—turned into something pretty damn beautiful.”

To which I replied, it IS because of the song selection and the black and white and the fact that everyone is beautiful that you find the whole thing beautiful.

The film maker, Tatia Pilieva, effectively dressed up the situation enough to make viewers believe it’s beautiful. If you take away, like Hess says, the glamor of the individuals, the moody music and Instagram filter, you have an incredibly awkward situation. And it should make us awkward.  

The effect of the film is to shock us, surprise us, manipulate our emotions into…something, I don’t really even know. Am I supposed to feel like if I kiss strangers that is somehow more beautiful than kissing people I know? Am I supposed to just view it as a piece of art?

Mostly it just makes me want to have a sit down with my generation (Generation-X, or the Millennial or whatever dumb label we get) and politely ask us to stop doing whatever this is. Stop grasping for the cheap imitation of beauty, stop replicating what isn’t true nor good, to remember that we are so much more talented than we think we are. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

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Happy Valentine’s Day: I wrote about sexuality

On Monday I went to a free lecture on the Carnegie Mellon University campus called “Sex Positivism” that was put on by the Secular Humanist League and the Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic Group. The speaker was Greta Christiana who is a fairly prolific writer and blogger who often writes about (among other things) atheism, being a humanist (humanism?), and erotica.

I was hoping that Greta would be helpful in my understanding of the atheist lifestyle, help me to understand why atheists believe what they do, and how sexuality aligns to those beliefs. I was hoping that she wouldn’t make a bunch of pot shots at religion, but life isn’t perfect.

Within the first 5 minutes of her lecture she had already the f-word to describe the sexual act, and continued to use juvenile euphemisms to relate to sex. I like words, I like studying them, I like what they connote and denote. I hate when people use the f-word to refer to sex. Greta is obviously a well-educated, highly literate, and respected individual but her choice of language did not demonstrate that.

There was one moment in her talk that caused everyone (including myself) to laugh out loud. She said:

“Conservative Christians say ‘sex is dirty and bad and you should save it for the person you love’”.

Do Conservative Christians really say that? That’s awful. It makes me think of the highly-informative gym teacher in Mean Girls:

mean girls peer health exchange

Now, I’m not an expert in anything. Also, full disclosure, I am not a parent, nor am I married, and I’ve never had sex. But I have had a wide range of sex education type courses and I also have opinions. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to say some things.

1. Let’s actually talk about sex

Well, here’s a post I wrote about modesty . We need to approach sexuality the same way we approach modesty; with Truth and Love.

Also, we should talk about it. Parents are the first teachers, which is great, but I learned a whole lot about sex from my middle school peers. So perhaps our parents are getting beaten to the punch. That being said, I think many people approach it as a One-And-Done topic in an official setting. But as individuals get older we learn more and more from our peers and it becomes more and more challenging to ask questions and discuss it.

2. Include all the topics

My middle school presented a very biology centric presentation on the birds and the bees (why is it called that? Shouldn’t it be the bees and the flower? or like…the birds and the birds?). It was good because I knew the biology of the human being. But I didn’t understand how religion played a part.

In high school I received snippets of theology but it was mostly from a fear only perspective. If you do x, y, and z you are sinning and then you will go to Hell. I mean, that’s not wrong, but isn’t it better to talk about how much we are loved by our Creator, how intimately He designed us, how He wants us to be with Him in perfect union forever and that the marriage act is a glimpse of that? And that the last thing we want to do is separate ourselves from Him, and do something that might separate someone else from Him as well?

It’s like evangelization, I don’t think people become Catholic (or are open to the idea of Catholicism) when we argue and throw doctrine at them. The relationship (even just the idea of it) with Christ needs to be there.

3. Less fear and guilt

I once went on a retreat for high schoolers and there was a question and answer portion. One of the students anonymously asked about how to handle the fact that her boyfriend wanted to have sex with her. She was uncertain, she knew the “rules”, she was confused. There were two responses. The first involved some fear and guilt; you’re too young, you don’t know about love, you don’t know that he will stay with you, you need to save that for marriage, he’s crazy, you should break up with him.

The second response was (in my opinion) a million times better; that is a really hard struggle, it makes sense that you have a lot of questions about it, it is natural for you to desire to have sex and an intimate relationship with another human being because we were made for an intimate relationship with our Creator. This was followed with a similar proposal that because this intimate union is such an important thing, since it has such immense implications physically and spiritually, it should not be taken lightly and should be something that is done within the context of marriage.

2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.”
“Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”

2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”All human generations proceed from this union.

There’s my two cents.

In other news, Pope Francis spoke to ten thousand (!!) engaged couples about love and it’s a great read, and an especially great St. Valentine’s Feast Day read.

I love you all. Happy St. Valentine and Sts. Cyril and Methodius day!

Blogging from my phone

Hello! Maybe two or three of you were wondering where we’ve been. And maybe not, either way, I’ll update you.

I can’t speak for Hannah, she is her own person and has her own eternal soul, but I hope she posts soon (hint, hint).

A week ago I moved to Pittsburgh, PA to start (finally!) my job as a FOCUS missionary. I graduated in December (Praised be Jesus) and am finally at a point in my life where my vocation is not “student”.

So I’m serving (missioning? Working?) at Carnegie Mellon University, which is very exciting and very terrifying.

Important side note: I’m typing this on my phone because we don’t have Internet in our apartment (yet) because my teammate/roommate is a literal saint and doesn’t waste time online.

I would walk down a few blocks and use the Newman Center’s Internet but it’s Pittsburgh so it’s raining and I don’t want to deal with that quite yet.

Also in Pittsburgh people put fries on their salads. So, yes, I like it here.

Please keep the CMU team and all the students here in your prayers and hopefully I’ll write a more substantial post soon.

Peace!
Caitlin