Chastity was once a virtue I dismissed as something that applied to “those religious types” who were brought up in the Church. I conjured up every reason imaginable to excuse myself from its demands. I told myself that purity was abnormal, and I settled for living a life that deadened me within. I saw the way that our Lord was calling, but I ran away.
Now, many years later (and three days away from my wedding!) I recognize that I’m marrying my best friend because God opened my eyes to the value of purity.
Yesterday, I was praying at a chapel alone. I was very distressed and sad. I cried out to Jesus that I can’t manage with certain things anymore. I said: “Jesus, I know that you are very busy with real serious issues, but, please, if you could come and hug me. I know that I’m unworthy and have no right to ask for this, but I need you!”. A minute later, a young girl came in. She asked me to pray together with her. She took my hand and we said “Our Father…” together. And then she hugged me very long and tight. And afterwards she said: “God can do more than a man can do”. I whimpered like a baby…
St. Josemaria Escriva:Many live like angels in the middle of the world. You, . . . why not you?
Saint John Paul II:Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of truelove.
John Henry Cardinal Newman:Purity prepares the soul for love, and love confirms the soul inpurity
Bl. Mother Teresa:To be pure, to remain pure, can only come at a price, the price of knowing God and loving him enough to do his will. He will always give us the strength we need to keep purity as something as beautiful for him.
Saint John Paul II:Deep within yourself, listen to your conscience, which calls you to be pure . . . a home is not warmed by the fire of pleasure, which burns quickly like a pile of withered grass. Passing encounters are only a caricature of love; they injure hearts and mock God’s plan
“Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure. The purpose of life is to attain to perfect life, all truth and undying ecstatic love – which is the definition of God. In pursuing that goal we find happiness.”—Archbishop Fulton Sheen (via catholicsoul)
“Men and women will never find a significant other who completes them. A fling, a fantasy, a boyfriend or girlfriend—even a spouse—is not going to satisfy what has gone wrong in you. Only Jesus will do that. Because your heart is broken. You need a Savior, and no one person can fix it.”—(via childaftergod)
Now, I personally know couples who contracept who are beautiful people…they just don’t know the truth. They don’t know the harmful side effects of the pill, or that NFP is actually 98% effective (more effective than the condom or the pill) at avoiding pregnancy, or that couples who use NFP have a divorce rate of less than 2% (compared 50% of the contracepting population). They may also not know the spiritual ramifications of contracepting their union (that contraception trains our hearts to fail to love the other freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully, and is a grave sin). I feel like if they knew the beauty, truth, and goodness of how God designed sex, they would never use contraception.
"1. Refusal – you just heard about this whole fertility charting thing, but you know someone who knows someone who got pregnant using it and the ‘rhythm method’ is way too risky. Nice try, FAM, I’ll stick to my pills/patch/ring/IUD etc.
2. Curiosity – Ok, so maybe you were a little interested in the FAM thing. The idea of charting your fertility seems a little cool, they have apps for it. It can’t be that hard. It’d be nice to see what I feel like off of these hormones…
3. Realization – THERE’S SCIENCE ABOUT THIS. If you know what you’re doing and follow the rules, it can be just as effective as hormonal birth control! Why doesn’t everyone know about this? How come I never knew about this? Sex ed you failed me – I’ve been in this body for x (insert your age) years and I had no idea all of this was happening inside my ovaries.
4. Research – I want to know everything about this as humanly possible. Read all the books, follow all the blogs, listen to all the podcasts. You feel like some female body wisewoman. You had no idea you could even know this much!
5. Evangelization – You talk about charting the majority of the time. You tell your girlfriends about your cervical fluid and how cool it is to know your body. Most of your girlfriends do not care. Maybe one considers ditching her pills, but nah. Too much work. Temping? Every morning? You start a blog, you start a support group, you start a Twitter account. You do find the NFP/FAM community, but they are small. Maybe a few people reach out to you wanting to “make the switch” into charting. You guide them, give them Taking Charge of Your Fertility and proudly review their charts every month. You’re making a difference in the world! You even go so far as to make a documentary for your senior thesis movie in film school. (That is, if you’re in film school.)
6. Rejection – Except you face a lot of opposition. Some people have no interest whatsoever in charting their fertility. Either because their periods are too painful, or the thought of not using any form of protection is terrifying, or they just like their hormonal birth control. They won’t budge and think that your FAM obsession is super weird. Catholics criticize you for trying to relay information that should be exclusively “for married people only” and secular people criticize you for having an agenda to convert everyone to Catholicism.
7. Dejected – Does anyone care about this? Am I crazy? Hormonal birth control really isn’t that bad, after all. The amount of hormones are minor compared to the xenoestrogens from our environment. And some people need it. Ok, fine, I’ll stick with my charts but I suppose I’ll just be here in the corner – all by myself.
8. Acceptance – Ok so there’s still a criminal lack of education on fertility awareness. We’ve sent men to the moon, we have devices that fit in our pocket that connect us with virtually anyone in the world, yet the majority of people have no idea what a woman’s fertile window looks like. The fact that women see cervical fluid and think that it’s an infection is a huge problem espoused by education and society. So maybe FAM will never be the popular choice – but women and men should still know what a fertility chart is. When we get educated on how to brush our teeth, to wear deodorant and wash our face, we should learn that ovulation and periods happen – regardless of the family planning component. So I’m not crazy. I’m just the minority. And there are women who are eternally thankful for FAM. I’ll keep my blog, keep my books, keep making my movie. If women discover FAM and want to start the journey, I’ll be there in a heartbeat cheering them on. I’ll still fight to help the women who want it. Because FAM isn’t always easy and those women need all the support they can get.
So maybe your story is a little different. But that’s mine.”
Discernment is a word Christians often use instead of “making a decision” or “picking a choice,” although it means more than that. Discerning something means taking the choice to prayer and asking where God is leading you. Taking time to pray over a decision instead of shooting from the hip is vital for larger, more important decisions, like which job to take, whom to marry, or whether should you go on a mission trip. In those situations we want to ask God what he’d like us to do. And for that, here’s a handy guide.
“Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace. Grief was not to be eliminated but seasoned and buoyed up with love and hope.”—Timothy Keller (via blissfulbeardsdoitbest)
“I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time … In vain would you tell him that … lovers … don’t bother about chocolates [because] they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which … will leave no room for it.”—C.S. Lewis
As I worked my way through bridesmaids dress after bridesmaids dress (not quite 27… but I still have time!) and continued to grow spiritually I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married. Was I not holy enough? Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something? Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!? And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”. Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.
I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him. If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God! And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God! That moment was a life-changer for me.
So does God have you single? Good. Go and praise Him for allowing you this time to seek, know and love him more. And then start figuring out how you can structure your life to actually make that happen during this time of singleness. He has you here, right now, for a reason. And I can tell you there is nowhere better for you to be to fulfill His purpose for you. So don’t wait, use this moment!
“So often we start Lent focusing on all that we are going to do or give up. We focus on what we hope to do, rather than what we hope to be. It’s like starting a strict diet and being proud of yourself for how much you will exercise and how little you will eat, rather than how much you hope to weigh at the end.”—Catholic Gentleman on Lent
It’s 20 days into Lent. Your firm resolve to give up dessert and be kind to your annoying neighbor is wearing thin. You’ve missed your prayers three days in a row, even though you firmly committed to pray for at least 30 minutes each day. You’re invited to a dinner party where steak is served— but it’s on a Friday. As you walk through the grocery store, you catch a tantalizing whiff of fresh donuts, but you gave up dessert. Your neighbor is letting his dog bark endlessly again…
Sounds familiar? We’ve all been there. We begin Lent with the best of intentions, expecting to grow closer to Our Lord, but instead of becoming holier, we feel worn our and find ourselves growing irritable and impatient.
Since Ash Wednesday is now three weeks away, I thought I’d spend the next three weeks writing about how to have a fruitful Lent instead of a frustrating one. Today, let’s look at the point of Lent and why would she even bother with it….
“A young husband should say to his bride: ‘I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.’”— St. John Chrysostom (via my-scattered-light)
The move seems to represent an abrupt about-face for Ricki Lake, who wrote an article for Family Circle magazine last November saying it was “dangerous” that 40 percent of young women who do not want to be pregnant “aren’t using contraception consistently.” The article was part of the nationwide “Thanks Birth Control” campaign.
“As recently as three months ago, she was speaking as a ‘media consultant’ on behalf of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the same national campaign that maintains the obscene Bedsider website for teens,” Rita Diller told LifeSiteNews.
“As the stories of lives cut short by dangerous drugs that were touted as the key to a long, healthy, successful life emerge, more people like Ricki Lake will be forced to acknowledge the lies they have promulgated,” Diller said. “When women know the truth about contraception, they will reject it.”
I’m thinking through this weird holiday in which love is forced upon us all, and it occurs to me that it is a sorrow to so many. Even though we all know it is cheesy and commercialized and INVENTED, there is a part of every one of us that just wants to be loved on Love Day.
To the discouraged single guy and gal:
What narcissist invented this holiday, right? Now, I do not assume every single person wishes they were part of a set. Of course not. Some of the happiest, most satisfied folks I know are single, and I often look at them with their free lives and think: TAKE ME WITH YOU.
But for those of you who are lonely and this day sucks, I see you too. You are amazing. You are independent and brave, and I marvel at the dreams you are chasing, the gifts you are using, the life you are building. I do not know how to turn on our grill, I couldn’t guess our average electric bill within $250, and I have never mowed a yard. Do you understand what a dimwit I am? Because I got married at NINETEEN (you read that right, gentle reader), I failed to develop adult skills that you are stunning at.
I give you a Valentine for being courageous and smart and resourceful. Look at what an amazing human you are! When forever love finds you, and the stats say it will, you will be an exquisite, capable partner who brings so much to the table and enriches your marriage beyond belief. I am proud of you. Your life is already beautiful and doesn’t need a Hallmark card or reservation at PF Chang’s to validate its worth. (And hey, if you decide to go to a movie that starts in 17 minutes on a random Tuesday, YOU JUST CAN. Revel in that please. It takes an act of God to get out of my front door.)
“You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be so? As long as Faith gives me strength I will always be joyful; every Catholic cannot but be joyful: sadness ought to be banished from Catholic souls. Sorrow is not sadness, which is a worse illness than any other. This illness is nearly always caused by atheism. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path, even if strewn with many thorns, it is not a sad path. It is joyful even in the face of sorrow.”—A letter by Pier Giorgio to his sister Luciana, February 14, 1925
“"If you wish to see what God sees in you, look for your reflection in His eyes. Gaze into that mirror, for once. Come to Him in prayer and allow Him to gradually reveal your worth to you. Be patient in the healing process. Perhaps you have spent years muttering to yourself, ‘I hate my nose. My stomach is fat. I wish I were taller. I’m not pretty enough.’ Wounds take time to heal, especially when you inflict them upon yourself. If you spend time in the presence of God, you will eventually learn how a father adores his daughter. Once you discover your value in His eyes, you’ll learn to resist the urge to beat yourself down." You are BEAUTIFUL :-)”—Jason Evert (via patientlywaiting4u)
“The ultimate source of a persons self esteem is her character, and how she lives. If you define your worth by what others think of you, you’ll always fall short and feel unstable because your worth will lie in the hands of others. It will be outside of you. If you base your worth on who you are and how you live, then you become in control of your own happiness. Granted, it can be tough at times, but loving yourself is ultimately a decision before it will become a feeling.”—Jason Evert (via patientlywaiting4u)
I love fertility charting. I look forward to seeing that little number on my chart, I feel accomplished when, yet again, I’ve predicted my period down the very morning of. But also – I’m an anomaly. Not all women find charting nearly as fun, in fact – they find it a burden. And I get that.
But that’s not what my film is about. My film is about the fact that women aren’t educated about their own bodies because we “aren’t to be trusted”. Which is woefully reminiscent of pre-feminism days. My film is about the conflict between a world where female health is enveloped with the word “choice” – but my choice to not use hormonal contraception and go with a natural method is not just unsupported, but insulted. In 2014, I’m still boxed into the stereotype that I can’t be responsible and level headed. Girls just wanna have fun, right?
But many, many women prefer not to worry about their fertility. Many women, and rightly so, prefer to take an easier route. And they should have the freedom to do so.
See this conflict? That’s what my movie is about. When I originally envisioned my film, I wanted women everywhere to flock to charting instructors. That’s not going to happen. Maybe a few do, but my film is about exploring women and giving voices to their experiences. So my film isn’t some propaganda trying to promote an NFP agenda, but it’s not going to put the pill on some throne either. I’m going to address the pros and cons of all the sides. And ultimately, it’s just an honest account of a girl who found her passion in fertility after ditching the pill and wants to explore why women don’t know more about their own bodies.
Support a wonderful pro-NFP documentary on kickstarter!
"A Cosmo article came out about college dating. There were some truth nuggets in there, but I found some inconsistencies in her piece. She criticized emotional detachment saying dating in 21st century college setting is playing a game of “who can show the least interest”. From someone who went to a college with a 70/30 ratio of girls to boys, I can testify that, yes, dating in college is ridiculously emotionally detached. You want to care, but you can’t show that you care. The author of the article seemed hesitant to take a stance. She wanted to have her cake and eat it too, she didn’t want to criticize hookup culture, but did caution against “not caring”. Can you, though? Can you really attack emotional ambivalence in college dating without acknowledging that hookup culture encourages ambivalent sexual intimacy? “
Read the rest at 20somethingcatholic.wordpress.com!
Find a parish with reverent liturgy and strong catechesis— quality women seem to be drawn to sacredness, truth, and beauty. Then, get involved in your parish’s community life. Don’t dash for the door the moment mass ends, but rather get to know people and serve in various capacities.
“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”—Venerable Fulton J. Sheen