3 Realistic Tips for a Happier and Holier 2017

Over the past couple of days I have seen countless posts about 2016 being the worst year ever. While each year undoubtedly comes with its own challenges it is important to remember that there are positive steps which anyone can take to make this next year happier, healthier, and holier in order to increase our peace during turbulent times. This new year I want us all to make a couple of beneficial resolutions. Sure, we may skip out on the gym more than we mean to and we might find ourselves forgetting that we ever made resolutions at all but I wanted to suggest some realistic/holistic ideas for a truly better new year.

 1.    Spend less time on social media.

The best way to deprive ourselves of mental peace is to mindlessly scroll through your news feed. Whether we are comparing ourselves to others, stalking them, or reading every Buzzfeed article we come across, it is rarely ever time well spent. I have never heard anyone say how happy they felt after spending time on social media. Every minute of the day is a minute which either brings us closer to God and to others or doesn’t. Let’s spend less time on social media and more time being social with those near us and God.

 2.    Spend more time outdoors.

Some of the happiest people I know are also some of the most active people I know. God knew what he was doing when he created the beautiful nature which surrounds us. There is something very serene and grounding about being outdoors and feeling the sun on your face. Even in the chill of winter, the cold breeze serves to pull us out of our routines and remind us to be a little more free. If you want to use this year to feel healthier, get outside and detach from technology for at least 15 minutes every day

 3.    Form a daily prayer routine and stick to it.

I heard somewhere that on the weekdays one should pray before 7pm and on the weekend’s one should pray before 1pm. This is a good step towards strengthening our relationship with God and keeping ourselves accountable for our prayer lives. There are many forms of prayer which one can incorporate into any day. Whether it be praying the Rosary on your daily commute, stopping in the chapel for a couple of minutes every day, picking up the practice of doing an examination of conscience daily, or spending time journaling or simply listening to God, make it daily. Set aside a fixed time and let it grow as you go along.

 These are simple goals but I believe they can help our minds, bodies, and souls become stronger, more positive, and holier. Let’s make this New Year one which helps us to be better. Let’s be saints, Lets be adventurous, let’s break our social media habits.

 

I’m saying special prayers for all of you in this New Year.

 

God loves you so much and so do I.

1 Corinthians 13

Discovering True Femininity: Ana and Eileen

 This past semester, I had the opportunity to be in a Focus bible study on the feminine genius. Focus is a “Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy off the gospel to college students”. My two bible study leaders were incredible and really helped me dive into my own self discovery of the feminine genius through not only the bible study, but also my own prayer life.

We started our study in Genesis, focusing on the beautiful complementarity between man and woman. Here in the first book of the Bible, God lays out His plan for men and women so beautifully it says “…he took one of his ribs and closed the flesh up again forthwith….This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” -Genesis 2. Eve was not taken from Adam’s head to rule over him, nor was she taken from his feet to be ruled by him, but she was taken from his rib, to rule with him. Together they find joy, together they become the person that God created them to be. This major theme from the bible study left me completely stunned. This one story I had heard so many times had so many truths and I wasn’t even aware of them! This plan that God has for humanity so drastically differs from the plan the world lays out for us.

Later that semester I entered into discipleship with my bible study leader, Sara. Being a disciple means that Sara accompanies me as I pursue a life of virtue and evangelization. We meet once a week and the goal is for me to eventually have my own bible study and invite one of the girls in my bible study into discipleship with me.

Sara truly became a friend to me during our time spent together this past semester. Her feminine gift of receptivity is unlike any other, and seeing that in her has inspired me to focus on my own receptivity. When she first asked me to be her disciple I was shocked because I am a relatively shy and reserved person. I was so shocked that she felt called to enter into this journey with me. I thought, why me? Why not someone else? Her choosing to invest in me as a disciple meant so much more than she could ever know.

This invitation made me realize that I don’t have to be like everyone else, and that it’s ok that I am more quiet and shy, because that is the way that the Lord created me. Sara really did bring out the best in me, and helped me to see the feminine gifts that God has given me. Sara saw in me the ability to be a great disciple and leader, but ultimately, God saw it first. She became a vessel for God’s grace, healing, and confidence.

-Ana

This past semester I applied to be on the Women’s ministry team at my university. Women’s ministry is a group of about 12 girls who serve the women of campus and put on events for them. While filling out the questions on the application I was challenged to reflect on my view of femininity. One question in particular asked, “Summarize how you view Catholic womanhood to be different than models proposed by secular feminism.” My view on Catholic womanhood is living out the vocation that was created by God specifically for women. This womanhood involves understanding the unique gifts and talents God bestows on us as females. Being able to find our identity in God is a large part of how I view Catholic womanhood. This differs from the models proposed by secular feminism, which calls for identity in independence, self-gratification, and equality to men. I want to focus specifically on finding our identity in God. It is God who created us and God who knows us so well. The more we discover God, the more we discover ourselves.

After becoming friends with a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Ignatia, I found the meaning of authentic femininity. It absolutely amazed me that this religious sister was so confident in her identity and was so able to be both a woman and spiritual mother to so many people on campus. A large part of my view of womanhood involved eventually getting married and sharing in a life with someone who complimented me. Sister is not married to another person and yet she still finds her identity in her Spouse, Jesus.  Sister Ignatia shows me womanhood in such a different way than anyone else. She is a bride of Christ and she finds her beauty in that. I see such authentic femininity in her life with the beauty and JOY of her personality. Sister Ignatia shows me that womanhood does not necessarily have to include marriage and a family, it can be lived out in our everyday life as a member of the church.

-Eileen

 

Jesus wants us to find ourselves in Him. He wants to reveal to us our authentic femininity. He wants us to bring our gifts and talents to His church while guiding us along the way. How do you view Catholic femininity? Have you allowed Jesus to show you who and whose you are

Hi! My name is Ana and I am a college student at Texas A&M University. I’m so excited to be starting this blog. I’ve always had the idea in the back of my head to create a place where I can share my thoughts about the faith and about life in general, but I never really felt like I would be able to do it. A couple weeks ago I ran across an article from Verily Magazine (if you don’t know who they are, you should really check them out!) about how to keep in touch with long distance friends. One of the ideas was to start a blog with your best friend, and I literally almost died when I saw that! WHY HAD I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT?! So here I am now, with my best friend, ready to spread seeds of JOY!
Hey guys! My name is Eileen and I am a college student at Franciscan University. Unlike Ana, the thought of starting a blog had never crossed my mind. When she told me about the idea and what we would be writing about I thought to myself, “Whoa, that really scares me!” But then I thought about the quote from my all time favorite saints (and my confirmation saint!), John Paul II, “Do not be afraid to be Saints!” What did I need to be afraid of? I get to write about the blessings and many joys Jesus gives me daily! What could be better than that?! So here I am now, with my best friend, ready to spread seeds of JOY!

St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. St. John Paul the Great, pray for us. St. Faustina, pray for us. St. Augustine, pray for us. All you holy men and women, pray for us!

Katie’s Testimony

God created us body and soul. This is something that was ingrained in me as a young, homeschooled child who studied the Baltimore Catechism. The essence of the human being is both in the body and in the soul. Even though this was something I “knew”, it has just become something I understood.You see, for almost my entire life, my body served as a stumbling block to my relationship with myself, others, and most importantly, God.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

I never saw my body as a gift from God, or a temple of the Holy Spirit. I saw it as annoying and stupid and wrong.

I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I’ve had family members make snarky comments about dieting since I was 10, and the librarian at my library used to call me her “cute little chubby girl.”

All of these people who made comments had good intentions, but it became clear to me very quickly that my body wasn’t normal, that it needed fixing, that it wasn’t good.

Then came high school. And I’m sure you know that highschoolers can be merciless. My school had desks in tight rows I could barely fit through. Each time I would try to get to my seat, giggles and whispers surrounded me. I remember hearing words like “fat,” “whale,” “ugly.” It got to the point that I begged my teachers to let me sit in the front row or at the end of a row so I wouldn’t have to deal with the cruel comments.

I felt ugly, and that my body was useless. I swam competitvely, and I remember being so embarrassed of my body that I would stay in my swim suit until I got home while the other girls all changed in the locker room.

It had nothing to do with modesty, and everything to do with how I had come to see my body.

When I was 12, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. I was put on medications to help manage these illnesses, but there were still times when they became so overwhelming, and I turned to outward ways of coping, including cutting. My body image became more and more warped as I began to have scars and abused it in this way.

Through the grace of God, and with the help of medication and therapy, I eventually stopped cutting, but I was still internally wounded for the way I had hurt myself. My body still felt like a burden.

I remember when I first started college, I was terrified that it would be like high school all over again. I was afraid I would be all alone because I was overweight, and people wouldn’t want to be seen with me. However, God didn’t forsake me. He put people in my life who looked beyond my appearance and insecurities, who loved me despite my extra weight.

Last September, I went on a pilgrimage to Philadelphia to attend Pope Francis’ papal mass during his visit to the United States. During an interest meeting, it was revealed that we would end up walking 10-15 miles throughout the day. I remember looking at my friend in complete horror, telling her that I had to drop the trip because I didn’t think I would be able to handle that much. My friend promised that I could, and told me she’d remain with me the entire day, even if we were miles behind the rest of the group.

And I did it. I walked over ten miles and lived. On the bus ride back to campus, I marveled at what my body was capable, despite all it’s ‘quirks’. It had carried me through through 22 years of life, countless miles, heartbreaks, and illnesses, and my heart still beat. I couldn’t walk the next day because of the pain I was in, but it was the first time I earnestly thanked God for my body.

I began to appreciate my body for what it was – a gift. I began to consciously try to treat myself kindly by exercisng and eating healthy, drinking more water, and trying to stay away from any self-criticism or cruelty.

By this July, I was able to make a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. Over the course of my trip, I walked almost eighty miles, doing over ten miles each on two consecutive days. My body did that. God gifted me with a body that was able to do that.

My feelings towards my body aren’t always all sunshiney. I still am very insecure about my weight, and have random insecurities, like wishing my nose and gap between my teeth were smaller, or that my lips were a little bigger. But the truth is that each of these things are a gift from God. These things I’m insecure about allow me to laugh,to cry, to smile, to speak and to walk with my God.

My body isn’t perfect. But it’s mine. And I’m grateful for a body that will carry me where God calls me.

Katie Freddino graduated From Mount St. Mary’s University in May with a major in English and a minor in Theology. She will be working with the Disney College Program in merchandising (basically a Disney princess)… Katie loves long walks on the beach and all varieties of margaritas. She believes tea and a good book can solve almost any problem and heart to hearts are her jam. Katie wants to change the world by writing. Her blog can be found at: cloudywithachanceofcatholic.blogspot.com

Becca’s Testimony

I’d like to talk to you about patience, which is hard for me, because I’m probably THE most impatient person on the face of the planet. I’d also like to talk to you about love… with a little bit of Jesus.

I’m that girl. I’m the hopeless romantic. I’m the Taylor Swift-loving, Nicholas Sparks-reading, Hallmark commercial-crying girl. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. Because as I loved, I lost the most important man in my life (Jesus, obviously).

The thing was… the love I was looking for wasn’t love at all. It wasn’t sacrificial, it wasn’t pure, it wasn’t what was going to last forever. I trusted too many people and I let too many guys hold my heart. I fell over and over and over again and I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t keep these guys in my life. I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it. Why wouldn’t they stay with me? What was I doing wrong? Why was I pushing people away without knowing what I was doing?

And then in October of 2013, I met him. I fell hard. For the first time in my life, I found someone different. And I actually mean it. He was different. He still is. He always will be.

But there was a problem. You see, I had trained myself to only see my own thoughts. I had forced myself to reconcile with the fact that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough. I didn’t have the right body or the right clothes. I definitely didn’t have the right personality. He’d never want me. So I ruined it. I ran away.

I let the one man who I really, truly ever wanted with a pure love walk away from me. I made a mistake, and I had to live with the consequences.

Here’s the thing. I’m supposed to be talking about Jesus here, right? During this time, he didn’t exist to me. I went to church and I “prayed” on Sundays. But I didn’t know him. I was trying to love and give myself away when I didn’t even have myself to give. I didn’t know myself, because I didn’t let myself know Christ.

Ladies, tell me if you can relate. “I’m not Catholic enough. I know I’ll just sin again, what’s the point of confession? What I’ve done is too terrible for Jesus to forgive. He can’t love me.” That was me, over and over again. I didn’t see the point of trying to make Jesus love me because I’d convinced myself I didn’t need anyone’s love.

So back to the story… here I was lost and heartbroken. Sure, I had some cool friends and a great family. But I knew I had messed up. Just to put this into perspective… I had already spent two months pursuing this boy. And then I just gave up. I had spent two months of my freshman year wanting a boy who wanted me back and then I told myself I didn’t deserve him. I. Was. An. Idiot.

I had a friend at the time who I often accompanied to the Grotto. For me, it was more of a social thing than a prayer thing, but I still went. I sat there silently. I tried to pray sometimes, but it never really worked. One day, she shared a prayer with me that I will remember forever.

 

St. Anthony of Padua’s Be Satisfied With Me:

 

“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,

To have a deep soul relationship with another,

To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,

Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,

With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.

With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,

Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,

That I have planned for you.

You will never be united to another

Until you are united with Me.

Exclusive of anyone or anything else.

Exclusive of any other desires or longings.

I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you

The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.

I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.

Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.

Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.

Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry

Don’t look around at things others have gotten

Or that I have given them

Don’t look around at the things you think you want,

Just keep looking off and away up to Me,

Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love

Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,

I am working even at this moment

To have both of you ready at the same time.

Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me

And the life I prepared for you,

You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.

And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,

I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.

And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty,

perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.

Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.

Believe it and be satisfied.”

 

This prayer changed my life. For the first time, I understood. I wasn’t finding a guy because I wasn’t finding Jesus.

Remember when I said I wanted to talk about patience? This was it. It took a month (on top of the two I’d already spent wanting him). While this might not seem like long, it was forever. I prayed that prayer every single day for a month. I prayed to St. Anthony every single day for a month. I begged him to bring that man back into my life. I begged him for love and happiness and promised to pursue Jesus at the same time.

It took a month for Anthony to answer me. Since then, it’s been over 2 and a half years. Funny, isn’t it? The man of my dreams shares the name with the saint I spoke to for what seemed like forever.

Because of this prayer, I know I have a relationship that will last. I pursued Jesus instead of pursuing a boy. I focused on Jesus instead of focusing on a boy. When I had finally made the decision that I didn’t need him anymore, God put him right back in my life. Patience works. God knows your heart, and only God knows when you are actually ready.

I’ve come a long way in my faith life since then, and so has Anthony. Jesus forced me to be patient, showing me that the best things really do come to those who wait. He showed me that He will never give you step 2 before you’ve completed step 1, and as annoying as that can be sometimes, it all makes sense at the end.

Jesus isn’t just someone who I talk about in Theology anymore. I have an actual prayer life. I say the rosary more often now than I ever have. Now, I’m not saying that I found Jesus because I found a boy (quite the opposite, actually). I’ve gone through a million other trials since then. My point is simple: Don’t make your own plans. Make your soul, and your soul will find the way.

Love is patient, remember? (1 Cor. 13). While I became patient in finding love, Jesus was patient in waiting for me to find Him. He didn’t rush me; he didn’t give me an ultimatum. He let me make a few mistakes until I finally begged Him for mercy, and oh boy did mercy come. I will forever be grateful to Jesus and St. Anthony.

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Becca is a rising senior at Mount St. Mary’s University. She is heading to law school in the fall. Becca loves coffee and mountains and one day she is going to change the world.

Why You are More than Enough

“You are enough”.

Three simple words. Countless meanings… and yet it took me so long to understand what they meant to me. Let’s backtrack a couple of years to my freshman year of college. I went on a retreat put on by the Campus Ministry office at school and I was sitting in a room with about 30 other girls… we were all wrapped in blankets and probably crying because of the beautiful talks and the feeling of God’s love in the room. One of the leaders was giving a talk and during it, she took a second to point out to everyone in the room that they are enough. “Enough?” I thought. What does that even mean? She went on to talk about dignity and our importance to God as individuals. I remember trying to meditate on this and finding it difficult to accept.

How could I be enough for anyone let alone God? I knew my faults and shortcomings and I didn’t see how that could ever be enough. Perfection is enough. Being great at everything and never sinning is enough. I can’t be enough. I can try but I can’t ever really get there… Or so I thought.

Since that time in my life, God has drawn me closer to Himself and has really been taking time to show me all of the ways that I am perfectly enough… and not only that but how everyone ever created is perfectly enough for Him.

I pray with scripture often and I would like to share a verse that strongly pointed this out to me. St James Writes, “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace.” (James 4:5-6) this verse goes on to say “Come near to God and he will come near to you”. When I read this verse all I could think was oh my gosh… He’s in love with us. God is in love with us, He longs for us… Jealously! That. Is. amazing. And also, why am I just now seeing and hearing this?

I finally understood. We are enough for God because He loves us. One who loves knows that the beloved has faults and yet loves them anyway. For the sake of the beloved, the lover desires that they acknowledge and overcome their faults but does not love them less. This kind of love is always present to us. God is always desiring us and loving us imperfect creatures in His perfect way. He is always there longing for us to speak to him, look at Him, or even think of Him. The one thing we need to do to experience this love and this enough-ness is to “go near to him” as St. James says. That is all. I know that sometimes in order to draw near to God, we need to overcome certain walls that we may have put up between us and Him. Rest in the assurance that we don’t need to be perfect and we don’t need to have it all figured out, we just need to go to Him.

Often, the problem is that we look for our worth in the broken world around us and all we face is comparison. We are shown all of the things we need to change to be beautiful, to be loved, to be enough for any other person. I think Theodore Roosevelt was spot on when he said “Comparison is the thief of Joy”. Instead of asking the world to show us our worth, we need to ask the creator of the world to show us.

When Pope St. John Paul II visited his homeland of Poland and was speaking to his people who had been under an oppressive communist rule for so long he said “You are not who they say you are, let me remind you who you are”. In that moment he was speaking to the Polish people but his words applied to the whole world. We cannot let this world define who we are, only the word of God can do that.

If you ever feel like you’re just a bunch of flaws and mistakes sewn up into a person who rarely knows what to do, remember that the same God who created you and knows your flaws and your vices also loves you without your asking Him to. He loves you no matter what and he is the one who guides your steps.

When we accept this love and meditate on it in tough times, it becomes easier to see why we are also enough for those around us. When we understand that we are loved by the All-knowing God of the universe, we will also come to understand that we are deserving of love from those around us because we are a unique creation who is unlike any other created thing or any other person who has ever existed. We also see that we have a duty to love others back. Just as we are and just as they are… Love does not require change but it does cause it.

If we choose to see that we are loved and we choose to do something with that love (aka spread it to the rest of Gods beautiful creation), we will see with our very eyes, this world piecing itself back together. We will understand that we are not only enough for love, we are deserving of it… and that is a beautiful thing.

I want to challenge you to sit in a chapel or in adoration this week and just ask God reveal His love for you. While resting in His presence, let yourself be filled with the peace that only He can give.

I am praying for you all as you seek your worth in His eyes before seeking it in the eyes of the world.

God loves you So much more than I do but I also love you. 

1 Corinthians 13

Angela’s Testimony 

I’m Angela Maria Therese Marinelli- baptized & raised Catholic. I think it’s fun to know all my friends’ confirmation names and I like celebrating St. Therese’s feast day more than my birthday. The word “testimony” simply terrifies me and I can’t say this one is whole. But it’s a small piece of my lifelong journey of opening the door to Christ and reconciling the knowledge of His love in my mind with my heart.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been known to people as the “good Catholic girl.” I liked it, I never had a problem with it. But my biggest fear was that I’d be known as the “good Catholic girl” but too afraid to truly live up to the name. I’ve always “known” Christ’s love for me, but I never fully understood it. I never even realized there was a disconnect between what I knew with my mind and what I knew with my heart.

It was easy for me to grasp the teachings of the Church- it was easy for me to get straight A’s in religion class, and easy for me memorize everything about who Jesus is. Because of that, it was also easy to keep Christ at a distance- always just a little too far away to fully capture my heart. He was always on my mind but never in my heart.

There’s a painting of Christ outside, knocking at a door where there’s only a door knob on the inside. My religion teacher, senior year of high school showed it to us at least once a week, reminding us that each of us is the only one who can open the door to Him. I never thought much of it because I didn’t think that was something I needed to question- of course I opened the door for Him, I wouldn’t leave Him out in the cold!

But I never opened the door for Him… it was always just a window. He never came in because I didn’t let Him. Yet I still allowed myself to think that I trusted Him. After all, I could still see Him. It’s not like I closed the blinds. I was in this middle ground where I knew Christ loved me and I knew whatever Church teachings you wanted me to explain, but I couldn’t answer with a pure heart who Christ was to me.

I could tell everybody who Christ was to them and why they should love Him. But I couldn’t understand that He was those same things for me. Towards the beginning of my freshman year of college, a dear family friend passed away. He was the “big brother” my sisters and I never had. A few weeks before, he had asked me to make him a rosary, but I never had time to make it. On the day of his viewing (the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary), I made the rosary and gave it to his best friend, someone I had never met. A simple conversation with a stranger helped me realized that my biggest fear was slowly becoming a reality in the relationship and friendships I was involving myself in. I needed the guidance of a protective big brother and I felt like I just lost mine.

A month later I started preparing to consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On the last day of the preparation, late at night in the Chapel, I finally opened the door for Him. I finally understood who Jesus was to me. It’s a simple, childlike answer and it’s not a complicated groundbreaking theological doctrine, but it’s exactly what I needed to understand- He’s the protective big brother I always wanted. I’ve always had Him and I always will. That night He taught me everything I think a big brother would have. He gave me the safety I longed for and the protection I needed. He told me all the things I’ve always told my friends.

He taught me I’m beautiful simply because of who I am, not what I look like or what I can do. He taught me that He’s the only man I belong to. He helped me realize how much more I deserve than what I had in the relationship and friendships I was in. He filled my heart with courage to make changes that were necessary to become the woman He’s calling me to be. He also showed me the necessity of relying on the Church. He’s acting through each and every one of us. I felt His hand reaching out to hold me through one of His children.

I learned that true strength is not found in denying our fragility and swallowing our tears, but in offering our fragile selves to Him with tears in our eyes. We don’t need to be perfect to give Him our hearts. I always wanted to give Him only the best gift, I thought He deserved only the best- and the best gift was never me if I wasn’t perfect. But that’s not true. He’s the one that changes us into the best gift. And we can’t be the best gift for others if we don’t allow Him to transform us.He’s always waiting at the door of your heart. My door had/has about 9,718,263 pure steel, deadbolt locks…approximately. Probably more. And I think every time I unlock one of them, there’s always one more to unlock for Him. He deserves to be fully in our hearts and He’ll wait as long as it takes to be.

I hope you thank your big brothers today for acting as Christ to you, and thank Christ today for always being your protective big brother.

Love,

One of God’s Daughters.

Angela is a senior at Mount St. Mary’s University, double majoring in Accounting & Math. She likes drinking coffee, baking, making rosaries, sewing, crocheting and a lot of other stereotypical-grandma hobbies. She’s thankful for the creativity God’s given her and she enjoys sharing His love with others in small and simple ways.

Andreas Testimony:

 

From the beginning of my life, God has been a part of who I am. My parents raised my siblings and I Catholic. My family and I always went to mass on Sundays, but our faith went beyond that. Growing up in a Catholic household, there was always talk of God. My parents would always mention God, even if it was in a little way, each and every day. In fact, I do not think I can remember a time that God was not talked about in my house. Due to my upbringing, I always knew who God was, or so I thought.I never really thought much about who God truly was or just how much my Catholic faith meant to me. In the past, being Catholic for me was just a casual part of who I was. I mean yeah I was Catholic, but so what? I never felt a strong connection with Him in really anything that I did. As I grew up, my parents encouraged me to get involved in the youth ministry at my parish and I did participate in some of the activities. A lot of these activities I enjoyed and went to on my own will, but honestly most of them I did not enjoy. There would be some times that I would not feel welcomed in groups or just feel like no one was friendly, so the events started to not be enjoyable for me to go to. On top of that, I never really had a “God moment” or any strong connection with Him, so I started to find every which way not to get involved with these events. I would make excuses for why I did not want to go, even though some of them were true.

Then, one day, my parents came home from church after hearing about a retreat for high school sophomores through freshmen in college, and of course they wanted me to go on it. My immediate reaction was: Absolutely…not. NO WAY. Why would I torture myself through four days with people that I did not know and probably would not like me? After many attempts at convincing me to go on the retreat, the decision was eventually made for me: I was going whether I liked it or not. You could say I was not the least bit thrilled to be signed up for this retreat. I was SO hesitant to go because of all the negative experiences that I had in the past.

Then came the morning of when it was time to bring me to church to drop me off for retreat. The retreatants all meet at my parish before a bus takes them up to the retreat house. I got into a fight with my parents, probably over something really stupid because I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but it probably had to do with the fact that I did not want to go on the retreat. Despite my refusal, I grabbed my duffel bag and got in to the car with a frown on my face. When we arrived at my parish, as much as I did not want to go on the retreat, I wanted to be out of the car as fast as I could. As soon as I got out, one of the teen directors greeted me with a huge smile on his face and said “Welcome! We are so glad to have you here!”. I was so taken a back… woah…people were NICE here?! As I went to join the other retreatants, I began to become more open to the thought of the retreat.

Following a send off ceremony, we were on our way to the retreat house in a town that I have never heard of. After a few welcoming activities and dinner, the team told us that we were going to be praying the Stations of the Cross. In my head, I immediately said “Oh no. The Stations are always SO long and SO boring, and now I have to go through them here? Great.” Little did I know, as soon as those thoughts entered my mind, they left. Unbeknownst to me, I was going to be witnessing the Stations acted out. I had never experienced a living Stations before this. This experience was so moving for me and with each step that I took following Jesus on the path to His death, I felt a pang of guilt and I could only think “I’m so sorry”. Now reflecting back on this, I realize Jesus must have been saying to me, “Don’t be sorry, but realize what I’ve done for you.” Now instead of apologizing for everything, I realize I would have said, “Thank you God for saving me.”

This retreat was so much more beyond the Stations, but I would be writing a novel if I wrote down every single thing that happened. That weekend, God came in to my life in a way that I never thought He would. He found me, and has stuck by my side ever since. Believe it or not, this is not my full testimony. I have experienced many ups and downs since this retreat, and I’d love to share them with anyone who wants to hear. Just remember, you are never too far gone for God to reach you; He will meet you where you are at. God bless, and thank you for taking the time to read part of my story.

 

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Andrea is a junior in college who is studying to become a teacher. She has a passion for working with children and a desire to love and serve God’s people in any way that she can. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, baking, and spending time with her family, which includes her beautiful nieces, nephew, and friends. Andrea also loves to write, and you can check out a blog she’s started here at: madeinhisimagesite.wordpress.com.

Not Only a Husband but Also a Father


Today is Father’s Day… A day where we honor the men who are biological, adoptive, and spiritual fathers. It is a beautiful time to reflect on those men who have stepped up to fill the demanding and beautiful role of raising children. I am blessed to be able to say that I have a wonderful father who is truly a hardworking patriarch and source of laughs for our family. He is a man of feeling and of strength.

In the midst of appreciating my own father , I began to think of all of my sisters in Christ who are discerning a man in their life. There are so many times when we talk to one another about good qualities that would carry on into marriage; things like kindness, honesty, gratitude, attentiveness, and affection. Something that we don’t always look at as immediately important is their ability to be good fathers.

If a woman is called to the vocation of marriage, she may want to consider both the husband-like and father-like qualities of the man.

When St. Joseph was chosen by God as the foster father of Jesus, both the care of our Blessed Mother and of Jesus were entrusted to him. He was appointed as both husband and father- a two fold calling. Set up by the Church as a role model for holy fathers, we can learn a lot from St Joseph about what to look for in our own boyfriends, fiancées and love interests.

In father Lawrence Lovasiks book “The Catholic Family handbook” he writes “Fatherhood is a vocation in Gods service, to be not held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men”. Fatherhood is not something that we should view as an easy, cross-less path. It is one that requires much strength and intense sacrifice.

The first thing to look for in a man whom one is discerning is this strength. By this, physical strength is by no means implied. This type of strength is a firmness of character and a resolve to do what is right. It is a drive to be honest, virtuous, and to stand firm against spiritual attacks. Saint Joseph was charged to protect the Christ child and his mother from various attackers and threats to their lives in the early years of Jesus’ life.

This strength is what will drive him to pray for his family and protect them from anything that may try to come between family members whether it be arguments, misunderstandings, or other outside influences. This strength acts as a glue which grounds the entire family unit spiritually and mentally.

It has been said that “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. While I would add that above all he need to love God and serve him, this order of loving the spouse and living the children through this love is very important. Why? You may ask. Some may think it is more important to directly love the children first and foremost.

By loving the mother first, a father shows his children that there is a correct order to the world. By seeing their mother loved correctly, children learn to love correctly and healthily. They know that before anything, their parents are united. They also know that their parents, because of their immense love for one another, have not only created them by the grace of God but also are now able to sustain them through the love that they share. It provides stability and joy in the home when parents are united in such a way.

Within this thought, something to look at is the WAY this person loves you. If you find yourself to be a priority in their life and you notice that the two of you are able to work to understand one another even in the midst of argument, this is a positive sign of healthy future parenting.

To be your significant other’s priority is something that seems like a great asset in dating but when it comes to marriage it is a necessity. A husband and wife pledge to be as one flesh together. To neglect one another is as to neglect ones own self.

St Joseph doesn’t say much in the Bible, in fact, he doesn’t say a single word in any of the Gospels. He was a hard working man who completely submitted his will to the will of God. While there are many things we do not know about St Joseph, scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was — “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:18).

It’s not about what a man says or plans for the future, or how he looks/smells. It’s about his heart. To have a righteous(Virtuous/excellent) heart is something so crucial to being a good father and working to raise good children.

Children learn so many things from their fathers. If their father is righteous, all of the other qualities mentioned above will follow and the children will in turn have a great role model.

No one in this world is perfect but there is plenty of goodness to go around. We are all capable of it and we are called to not only goodness but to greatness.

We cannot expect others to be flawless but it is not wrong to desire greatness. I have heard it said that If you want to find your St. Joseph, model yourself after the Blessed Mother. Holiness is attractive and it is also inspiring.

Ladies, let us strive to follow the humility, love, and purity of the blessed Mother. Let us draw the men in our lives to holiness through our beautiful example that we are oh so capable of.

And men- thank you for your strength, righteousness, and holy Chastity. Taking St Joseph as your patron, draw women to a higher awareness of their dignity and help us get to heaven.

For any single persons reading this, St Joseph is a powerful intercessor for families and couples. I would highly recommend praying his novena- even now- for your future spouse.

“O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St Joseph patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.”

May God bless you all and I will be praying as all of you seek to live out your vocation in the holiest way possible.

God loves you so much and so do I!

1 Corinthians 13

Dress Like You Mean it: How to Keep it Classy this Summer

As I browsed through the clothing racks of my favorite store the other day, my thoughts were something similar to “so if you pair the high waisted shorts with a crop top the shirt won’t be short anymore… But then the shorts are too short too… so either way my entire legs and potentially my stomach and probably everything else will be exposed to the world and there’s no support for classy dress anymore and I’m going to have to knit my own clothes this summer.” … And that is probably where most people who are trying to dress modestly find themselves around this time of year. So what do we do? Do we give up entirely or do we spend hours looking on Pinterest for “modest summer clothes” and hunting down any lead we can find to the nearest clothing of reasonable length?

It is hard to be classy and keep up with trends at the same time. I am—and always have been—very much into fashion. I enjoy seeing new colors and styles that are on the market and I love helping friends pick out their outfits for special occasions.
Summer has always been a tricky season to dress for. It’s hot, people are all wearing basically nothing, and it’s hot. It’s hot. And it can be really hot. Modesty seems to be the last thing that people are worrying about from June to September and I get it because literally—it’s hot.

However, something that I want to remind us all of is that regardless of our temperature, we are our brothers and also our sisters keeper. Additionally, we are the ones that God has trusted to take care of our bodies. Don’t forget that when we choose to wear something, we will be around men who are the future husbands of our sisters in Christ… We will be around our little sisters in Christ who are looking for someone to look up to, we will be around our fellow sisters who are influenced by what we wear.

What you wear matters.

So I am including below some of my tried and true approaches to summer fashion. I have also included some suggestions of where I like to find these articles of clothing. There are definitely more places out there where you can find these things 

#1) MONOKINI.
Wow what a strange word. Basically, one pieces are all the rage right now anyway so this fashion pick is not only modest- but is also extremely cute and current.
Some places that I have found that have super cute one pieces are
-reyswimwear.com
-radswim.com
-anthropologie.com

Here is a link with some very cute suits within it if you dig the vintage Audrey Hepburn style http://verilymag.com/2016/05/iconic-bathing-suits-vintage-retro-swimsuits-audrey-hepburn-elizabeth-taylor-one-piece

#2) 3 ½” TWILL SHORTS
These shorts are super cute and also very in right now. The length is comfortable and is neither too short nor too long. I know that there are people who are taller than me so there are also 4 and 5” varieties. My favorite place to buy these are
-Old Navy
-TJ Maxx
-Tommy Hilfiger (outlet)

#3) TOPS- ¾ SLEEVE BUTTON DOWNS, SLOUCHY TEES, AND THICK-STRAP TANK TOPS.
Shirts are a little easier to pick out. My advice for tops is to make sure you can move around in them without feeling like you’re going to fall out of them. If you can feel the breeze on your stomach or torso, you might want to go back to store and buy an entire shirt.

My personal picks for places to buy tops:
-Marshalls
-Loft
-Kohls (The Lauren Conrad Collection is great)
-Once again TJ Maxx
-Old Navy
-Jones New York

It is all too easy to buy summer clothes without thinking too much about what effect our choices will have on others. Let’s strive to leave a positive impact on those around us by dressing in such a way that we honor our dignity and theirs. Let us be good sisters to one another. Let us be unapologetically fashionable and above all, let us be a little bit classy and a whole lot of holy.

While it may require a little bit more shopping around than usual, a classy, smart, and fashionable wardrobe is definitely within reach. Do it for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Clothe your body in a way that reflects your inherent dignity.

I am praying for you all as you enter this season of difficult fashion trends.

God loves you so much and so do I !

1 Corinthians 13