A Rare Treasure

When I was in high school, my best friend’s dad used to tell the boys, “There are girls you date and there are girls you marry. Never get the two confused.” It’s a pretty funny statement that rings very true. The woman worthy of marriage is hard to find, she is a rare treasure. The girls you date, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. There are plenty of those fish in the sea. I don’t think most of us think like this in our relationships. A woman of worth does not sleep with her boyfriends. A woman of worth dresses with modesty. A woman of worth, finds that worth in Jesus, not her dad, the culture, or her boyfriend. Do you see your worth through the eyes of God?

We, as women of faith desiring marriage, should conduct ourselves accordingly. Later we will see this woman who has worth beyond jewels is wise, compassionate, and steadfast. During this blessed time of singleness we should grow in virtue, diligence, and develop in our relationship with the Lord. To Christ, your worth is already beyond jewels, so throughout the next few weeks, let’s start viewing ourselves the same way. When we can see how Jesus sees we will live in a way that honors him and the people around us.

  1. Are you a diamond in the rough?
  2. Are you the kind of girl to date or marry?
  3. How can you grow in your relationship with Jesus and in virtue to prepare yourself for marriage?

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The Glue

During the consecration at Mass this morning, the Lord sparked a thought in my head: He is the glue in a marriage. I’ve seen pictures and posts online about godly marriages having Christ at the center. I knew this was a good thing, what should be the goal of all marriages. If Jesus is supposed to be the center of our lives, then of course he should be the center of the marriage. But today he spoke to my heart. He isn’t supposed to just be the center, he’s the glue.

It is through Christ that our relationships are successful. We are incapable of the true, deep, authentic love that is required in marriage while we are in our fallen state. But Jesus shares his love with us and through us. It is only in him that spouses are capable of the complete self-sacrifice that he displayed for us on the cross. The example is a vital component for teaching us to love, but the fullness of that love is found in Eucharist.

Jesus didn’t just die on the cross 2,000 years ago. He makes present for us that sacrifice at every Mass. I wonder how often couples who receive communion regularly get divorced. The Blessed Sacrament is the glue in our marriages. It is in it that we see love, sacrifice, joy, and peace. Frequent reception of Holy Communion should be at the heart of our relationships. We receive the graces necessary to live like Jesus when we receive him sacramentally.

I have noticed that some couples put other things between them. A lot put the kids in the middle. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The trouble is, eventually the kids grow up  and if the only thing Mom and Dad have connected on over the past 20 years is the children, then they’re going to have some trouble when the birds fly the nest. Some put TV, work, or the house in the center of their marriages but this probably leads to a lot of strife. Jesus is the only thing that should be between a husband and his wife. Only Jesus can pull them closer to one another rather than drive a wedge. Jesus will help couples move past their struggles while everything else will cover up, at best. Eucharist is like spiritual medicine, not just for our souls, but also for our relationships.

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Show Me Your Friends, I’ll Show You Your Future

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My spiritual journey started when I was in college. I observed people drinking, smoking weed, and having sex. I reached out to a Christian friend of mine that basically told me I need Jesus. That was the jumping off point that led me to the Church.

Recently I had been spending time with a nice young man. He is kind, compassionate, and sensitive. Our time together was precious to me because he was always so gentle and understanding, but also challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. Like most young women, I tried to take part in his life and connect with his social group. Now that the Lord has called the two of us to part ways, I’ve realized when the young man and his friends were together, they are like the friends I had in college.

In my opinion, drinking to drunkenness is a waste of time and engaging in erroneous bedroom activities is inconsiderate of one’s future spouse. I want to grow spiritually, intellectually, and physically through dialogue, books, movies, hikes, trips to museums and the theatre. These were not the folks for that; not to say they never did any of those things, it’s just what they did most of the time.

I am someone who wants to be married and have a family. I often look to the future (more than I should), and it impacts the choices I make in the present. I like to be around people that understand the long term implications of the decisions they make rather than only temporary distractions or satisfactions. I would like to be around people who know how to have healthy, productive fun most of the time. I am conscious of saying, “most of the time,” because I know people like to celebrate birthdays, holidays, bachelor parties, etc.

These behaviors were not fun or cool to me when I was 18, they aren’t fun or cool to me at 24. Although our time alone was spent doing things I enjoyed like hearing stories of his travels, walking in the woods with his dog, or going bowling, when he moved in with a friend, the chance of him partaking in activities that I didn’t enjoy, went up.

Now, I don’t think this was the reason we stopped spending time together, but hindsight is 20/20. I pray for him and his friends, that each of them lead happy, healthy, peaceful lives. I want nothing but the best for each of them, but I don’t think we are meant to be the best of friends. I don’t know what the future holds for any of us, but I want to work toward my dreams of traveling and goals of having a family. To do that, I must surround myself with people who feel the same way.

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Safe With Me

For the past few months I’ve been seeing someone. Like all super cool millennials, we never identified what we were. I certainly got more attached than I should have, we are unevenly yoked. Every time we spent time together, I prayed our time together would be focused on good things, not sinful things. I am tremendously grateful to the Lord for keeping us from sinning against our own bodies.

One day I went into contemplative prayer about this young man. The Lord said to me, He is safe with you. It is hard for me know exactly what he meant, but I think about it a lot, especially since the young man and I have stopped seeing each other. I think I am/was close to true Christian love for him, closer than I’ve been to anyone else. To love someone is for them to be safe with you. So I thought I’d share some practical things about living in Christian love:

  1. I will pray for him. The definition of love is to will the highest good for another person. The highest good for all of us is perfect union with the one who created us. Above all other things I want for and from him, I wish he becomes the man God has made him to be and to develop a relationship with our Lord.
  2. I will keep his secretes. Sharing your heart with another person is far from easy. Trust is one of the most difficult and complicated aspects of human relationships. I am grateful he felt safe enough with me to share things with me. I will hold those secrets in my heart, just as I hold my own.
  3. I respect him. Although I don’t agree with everything he does, and there are times my selfish desires get the better of me, I will respect him. God loves us truly and part of that love is respect for us and the freedom to make our own choices. This is the reason bad things happen, the freewill of people. Well that’s a whole other post. Back to the point, I respect him and his choices, even if those choices are not my ideal scenario.
  4. I will tell him the truth. Love isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, contrary to what Hallmark movies and RomComs want us to think. There are times when the person we love makes poor choices or hurts our feelings. For this, I will tell him when he is wrong. We can only be held accountable for the things we know. If he doesn’t know how his choices can impact another person, he is likely to hurt someone else in the same way. Therefore, I will tell him when he is wrong. Whether or not he listens, is another story and goes to point number three.
  5. I will defend him. If I’m honest, he’s a pain in the butt sometimes. But contrary to what he wants people to think, he’s not a bad person. Many people say negative things about him  (including myself), but not anymore. I will defend him against anyone who says an ill, misinformed word against him. I know he is a truly beautiful person inside and out.

I am only human and there are times when my selfish desires to be with him get in the way of Christian love. Luckily, God gives me the grace to love truly and completely. When my moments of weakness arise, I pray and remember these things that make us capable of love.

3 Components of Courtship: God

The purpose of a courtship is to determine if the Lord is calling two people into the vocation of marriage with one another. So obviously, God has to be at the center of the relationship. Keeping the Lord at the heart of your courtship allows for greater discernment, trust, and appreciation for the other person. If Jesus is at the center of your life, and he is at the center of a young man’s life, then Christ will also be in the center of your courtship, and more importantly at the center of a marriage. Relationships and marriages today are tough to maintain and only by the grace of God can lasting marriages be made. You both need to know that your strength comes form the Lord and that it is he who brings two people together.
So what exactly does this look like in a courtship? Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith so attending Mass together would be a good opportunity to allow Christ into the heart of your relationship. Sitting next to each other and enjoying the Sacrifice of the Mass can bring two people together spiritually in a way that nothing else can. Not to mention, you can also discuss Father’s homily on your next date. Holy hours are also a great way to place Eucharist at the center of your life. Although, there is no talking in Chapel, there is an intimacy to be shared between the two of you and the Lord in quiet prayer.
Try going to church events together and reading spiritual books. These events can draw you guys into deep conversation about how the Lord is working in your lives as individuals and as a couple. Bible study I think is another great way to connect hearts. I have written a courtship bible study for you guys to get to know one another better. The link is below. Studying God’s word can reveal to both of you the importance God puts on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
You need to pray separately, with your families, and as a couple. Always remember that it is God who brings two people together, not family, not mutual friends, not common interest, Christ alone. And by his grace, the two of you will be able to discern his will in your lives and, if it is in his will, for the two of you to be together for the rest of your lives.

 

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An Example of Love and Devotion

I go to what my father calls, “old people Mass.” It’s the first Mass of the day and during this time of year, starts at the same time as the sunrise. Most young people go to the evening Mass. Although I probably should go and be around my own people once in awhile, I find the elderly to be a fantastic example to us young folk. There are several of these older and much wiser people that I observe closely. I admire them for their piety toward the Lord, their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and their love for one another. I can’t say enough wonderful things about all of them but this post is about the love I see between old couples, two specifically.
The first couple has to be in there 80s. They are tiny and gray and as precious as can be. Neither of them is very stable when they walk. They hold hands as they each take small, slow, deliberate steps. Neither needs a tool (such as a cane) to keep steady because they can depend on the other. They go to Mass together each morning. She receives Holy Communion first, and then she takes a few small steps to the side so he can receive. She waits there with her hand open for him to grasp so they can walk hand-in-hand back to their pew. I see a partnership in this couple that is hard to find these days.
The second couple is only a man. He is a sleeper, because I see him at the second Mass of the day. Much like the other couple, he has difficulty walking. His steps are slow and deliberate and he has a cane to help him stay steady. At the end of the Mass each day Father gives him Communion in order for him to take it to his homebound wife. Everyday he comes to receive our Lord, and everyday he takes Him to his wife who is unable to get to Mass. I’m sure there are days he’s tired, sick, or just doesn’t want to go to Mass. But Mass isn’t about him, and it’s not just about Jesus for him, either. It is about taking the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ to his beloved. There is such a deep authentic love in this seemingly small act.
My concern for my generation is that we aren’t observing these things. First off, we have to go to Mass. So many young people don’t attend Mass frequently so we aren’t giving ourselves the opportunity to see these things happen. Second, we don’t care about our old. Again, many of us just want to put them in retirement homes and be done. We only see or talk to our elderly during the holidays instead of visiting, listening, and learning from them. Third, we don’t have a learning heart. It is impossible to observe our elderly with a closed heart and learn all of their wisdom. They’ve been on this earth a long time and there is a lot we can learn from them if we open our eyes, ears, and minds.
The reason I share this with you today is because these old loving couples made me wonder, if we (my generation) spent more time with them (the elderly generation) would we divorce so much? I know people under the age of 30 who have been married twice. If we look at our parent’s generation, we see they divorced a lot. Because of this, love, sacrifice, obedience, and vows are completely foreign concepts to us. What if we spent time looking at our grandparents? Would we still be afraid of commitment or losing our own identities? Or would we embrace what it means to be a couple, partnership, and family?
My challenge to you today is to observe your elderly and don’t just see and observe, but learn from them! Taking their advice and counsel could save your marriage, even before it begins.

 

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Single Heart

I am single, though I’d like to be married when the time comes. I am confident that in the Lord’s perfect timing he will present me to a good man. The key here is “the Lord’s perfect timing,” it’s not my timing. Only he knows when we are ready for the next phase of life. One thing I have tried to do, and I see many young people doing, is trying to do things on my time in my way. It wasn’t until more recently that I found the joy of singleness; so many of us today are seeking relationships with others when we should be seeking our relationship with God.
I have come to a place of understanding that I must follow God to be a godly wife…obviously. I read somewhere that over 50% of marriages in this country fail, while practicing Catholics divorce at a rate half of that. (I don’t know where I saw it, but if I find it again, I’ll let you know.) This strikes me because it means that God is at the core of a successful marriage. It is through Jesus that two people can be joined together until death. He is the glue in the relationship. So if a strong relationship with Christ is at the core of every successful marriage, then doesn’t that mean he should be at the core of our single lives as we prepare for marriage? Yes!
During this blessed season of singleness I must remind myself to have  heart completely focused on him. I urge you, sisters, to seek only the will of God in your lives for the sake of your future husband. Our spiritual lives are like a muscle that must be exercised. While we are single we devote ourselves to strengthening that muscle, pursing the Lord, seeking him, receiving him, and allowing him to penetrate every aspect of our lives, and being dependent upon him. When we do this as single ladies, we are more likely to do it as married women. The faithful often speak of a God shaped hole inside each of us that we try filing with vices and false idols. I wonder if the reason so many marriages fail is because wives are trying to make their husbands their gods (or visa verse)? Men are just men, only God is God. Our future husbands won’t be perfect (that hurts to write because I’ve been praying for a brunette Catholic Captain America for a long time). If we are focused on Jesus now, his perfection, his glory, and being in awe of his love alone, we probably won’t try fitting a mere man into our God shaped hole. When we realize we love because Christ loves us first then we can see that Jesus blesses us with husbands for him to be an instrument of His love. None of us love on our own, we are merely tools for the love of God. In the same way, we can’t love husbands apart form Christ. We are instruments Jesus uses to love the people He has placed in our lives.
My point in all of this is to say that we need to seek Christ first and Christ alone. Without him, we are doomed to fail before we start, with him all things are possible. My prayer for us today is to find joy in this season of singleness and to thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to be single in mind and heart so we can devote ourselves only to seeking him.
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