Upon My Return From Germany: Anyways- Mother Teresa

#germany
Germany

People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered;
        Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
        Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
        Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
        Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight;
        Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
        Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten;
        Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
        Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
        It was never between you and them anyway.

— St. Teresa of Calcutta/ Mother Teresa

*** found on the wall of the Children’s Home in Calcutta most likely adapted from a poem by Kent M. Keith.

Germany. . .

Upon my return from living, receiving medical treatment, & working in Germany for the past 5 months with my parents, I feel extreme fatigue and exhaustion after the grueling daily demands we faced, but we shared this challenge and burden alongside other critically and terminally ill patients from North America & Europe filled with remarkable and otherworldly hope & joy. My mother’s cancer diagnosis brought us to Southern Germany after God opened a seemingly impossible and unlikely window in a seemingly hopeless situation. Instead of burying our second loved one this year, we celebrated my mother’s 63rd birthday. A birthday my family and I didn’t think was possible. God worked the impossible.

My family and I are not more loved, valued, or cherished by God because of this miraculous outcome in comparison to the thousands who will not share the same fate. My family members and I will all die but not today for whatever God’s plan & purpose. For whatever reason, God asked us to walk this path. This cancer care journey will forever put us at odds with the established medical community and cancer care standards of our global society. To have knowledge that could help so many peoples suffering & struggles while being limited in our ability to help or relieve them in their suffering is a different & terrible cross to bear. Certain aspects of my time in Germany will take a lifetime and beyond to process and understand. Only God can illuminate the mystery of this experience and in the course and time He so choses.

I’m humbled by the friends and patients I met along the way from all over the world. The profound beauty of humanity in that clinic was outstanding between the clinical staff, patients, caregivers, and loved ones. I experienced a profound joy and beauty the sufferings and struggles of these critically ill, disabled, and terminal patients. Though we all knew were dying, whether a couple weeks or years in the future, most of us lived with joy, hope, and reckless abandon. Language and nationality did not divide us because there are ways to communicate that do not require verbal comprehension & skill. Hugs, smiles, & non-verbal communication can be the language of love.

I found God amid death & suffering by disease & cancer. I found the face of God shining back in the eyes and faces of the patients the medical community and world had written off as lost and hopeless causes. I watched them face death with bravery and suffering with purpose. Not all these individuals have faith convictions or certain values, but because they were treated like humans- unique individuals not statistics or case studies- they thrived amid desperate & terminal situations.

One of the medical students that worked at the clinic and I conversed one day during my Lyme Disease treatment. She stated how she felt she should only be grateful for her life after all she had witnessed especially with the young gravely ill patients she served at the clinic. I agreed. Their witness is a humbling testimony to what is of value in our earthly life & how every moment is a moment of gratitude regardless of the circumstances or outcomes. The sick and dying can sometimes be great teachers. I firmly believe their lives have immense worth & dignity.

I learned there is an international network of clinicians, researches, developers, inventors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, manufactures, etc. that are working under the radar to change the world of health care especially the world of cancer care. Many of them will never have the funds, backing, endorsements, accolades, awards, or notoriety, yet they forge ahead faithfully amid difficult and complicated circumstances. Saving the world begins with one life.

St. Peregrine, pray for us!

St Jude. pray for us!

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

Litany of Trust- Sisters of Life

*** written by the Sister of Life, Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, SV***

From the belief that I have to earn Your love. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that I am unlovable. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the false security that I have what it takes. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute. Deliver me, Jesus.

From all suspicion of Your words and promises. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You. Deliver me, Jesus.

From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will. Deliver me, Jesus.

From anxiety about the future. Deliver me, Jesus.

From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the restless self-seeking in the present moment. Deliver me, Jesus.

From disbelief in Your love and presence. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being asked to give more than I have. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth. Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of what love demands. Deliver me, Jesus.

From discouragement. Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me. Jesus, I trust in You.

That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings and transforms me. Jesus, I trust in You.

That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You. Jesus, I trust in You.

That you are with me in my suffering. Jesus, I trust in You.

That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next. Jesus, I trust in You.

That you will not leave me an orphan, that You are present in Your Church. Jesus, I trust in You.

That Your plan is better than anything else. Jesus, I trust in You.

That You always here me and in Your goodness always respond to me. Jesus, I trust in You.

That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others. Jesus, I trust in You.

That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked. Jesus, I trust in You.

That my life is a gift. Jesus, I trust in You.

That You will teach me to trust You. Jesus, I trust in You.

That You are my Lord and my God. Jesus, I trust in You.

That I am Your beloved one. Jesus, I trust in You.

Please, check-out the Sister of Life website with additional resources: https://sistersoflife.org/litany-of-trust/f-trust/

NFP for the Unmarried- Women By Design

My friend and I laughed like hyenas over bagel sandwiches when we both realized that “Oh yeah, we don’t use trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy protocols.” Single and unmarried we truly forgot in that moment that most individuals and couples use Natural Family Planning or Fertility Based Awareness Methods for fertility and infertility related reasons- as the name implies, Family Planning. But for this duo of laughing single gals, sex (the responsibilities and pleasures) had little do with why or why not we practiced Creighton Method. We practice Creighton NFP for medical reasons- women’s health. And that is a message I hope to share with others.

If you’re a women, whether married, unmarried, consecrated or religious, you qualify to learn & practice NFP or FABMs. Being in a sexual relationship with a man does not activate or call into existence your womanhood. You are a woman by God’s design whether you “use” your reproductive organs for unitive & procreative functions, i.e., babies and bonding, or not. Baby girls develop their ovaries in-utero by week 16-20 holding about 6-7 million oocytes. By birth, a baby girl is born with 1-2 million oocytes. This occurs years before a girl enters into puberty & biological sexual maturity. God designed us intricately and deliberately.

Does a women’s reproductive system remain frozen in-time & space until sacramental marriage & the marital embrace? Or what if the women never engages in God’s mystery of sex because she is called to a celibate vocation (i.e., single, consecrated, or religious life)? All these women deserve the same care and concern for their reproductive health too. (Read Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae!)

Like myself, many women are struggling with their reproductive health within a limited and archaic ideology infested healthcare system that seems to equate hormonal poisoning & the insertion of unsafe devices with the height of medical sophistication for a variety of women’s health conditions. The increase of hormonal birth control therapies contributes to the general decline and demise of health and wellness, especially anything endocrine related. We are all swimming in a cesspool of synthetic estrogen 24/7. Whether you or I take hormonal birth control, globally we’re all living out the biological, environmental, cultural, and spiritual effects. (Did I mention my Undergraduate Environmental Sciences Lab final involved a presentation on EDC/PPCPs effect on fish & amphibians?) Cause & effect- science and facts.

Where do we turn for reproductive health help? Where do we find good medicine? First, you need to “know thyself.” Your cycles and bodily functions, whether for good, mediocre, or ill, are telling you something. Your body is waiting for you to listen. FABM or FAM apps are gaining popularity. Learning a NFP method is best when taught by a licensed professional because each women is different and therefore her cycle can vary. A trained professional can help you (and a spouse) walk through your unique questions and concerns. You can locate specialist in your area via Diocesan websites, Fertility Care Centers of America, social media, search engines, etc.

Within the spectrum of Fertility Based Awareness protocols resides Natural Family Planning and within NFP resides the Creighton Method which I chose because of the scientific and research evidence based medical knowledge and protocols used for the diagnosing and treatment of reproductive health issues. And diagnose and treat my specialists have. My naprotechnologists have diagnosed and treated about a dozen different reproductive health issues with treatment protocols ranging from quick procedures, medications, supplements, injections, dietary changes, diagnostic imaging, various blood work panels, referrals to other specialists, and exploratory laparoscopic & hysteroscopic surgery. Am I miraculously healed? No, I struggle & suffer, and I’m open and honest about those struggles. Naprotechnology stretches me thin like butter over thick toast. It’s become my spiritual fitness regime building up my spiritual metabolism and building & toning virtue muscles. I’ve found breaking points I never knew existed. Most importantly I found healing- primarily within my relationship with God as a Daughter of the King.

Somewhere amidst the struggles of learning, practicing, and treatment with Creighton NFP as an unmarried woman, I recognized something profound. When the dust of confusion and pain settled momentarily, I found myself authentically beautiful and whole as a woman despite my physical brokenness. In the world of hedonism and utilitarianism, I fail, but in the realm of God’s authentic female design and the feminine genius, I’m whole and beautiful. And that’s what NFP can do for women (and for men) when you cooperate with God’s design for the body. For a brief glimpse, I saw myself as God does- awesome, Made in His Image & Likeness. Then those storm clouds returned, but those storm clouds can’t rob me of my glory beams anymore.

We are fearfully & wonderfully made. May God bless and keep you now and always!

Be Satisfied With Me

snowflakes
Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

Feeling distracted and overwhelmed this Advent Season? Loosing sight of the reason for the season? Christmas blues?

-A Poem Attributed to St. Anthony of Padua-

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.

(Amen.)

You are beautiful. You are enough. You are Made in His Image. Happy Advent!

Forgive and Forget? My brain wasn’t designed for that.

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The holidays are upon us opening doors to joy and blessings and suffering and wounds. Real forgiveness doesn’t equate to the secular quip, “Forgive and forget” which by the way is cognitively impossible unless brain trauma exists. Real forgiveness is an act of the will, an act of love not a feeling or emotion. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” – Corrie ten Boom.

Psychologist believe about 90% of hurts inflicted are unintentional, leaving room for 10% of intentional wounding and maiming. But people still feel 100% of the hurts whether intentional or unintentional. When a person feels threatened (i.e., someone is about to learn something that they don’t want as public or private knowledge,) they react. As you approach a wounded dog, even with the best intentions, the dog either runs away (flight) or snaps at you (fight.) People “act out” too, in various methods and manners. Except, with our God-given intellect and cognitive capabilities, humans can be crueler and more calculated in inflicting hurt. This is where forgiveness come in.

Forgiveness acknowledges wrong-doing or bad behavior and does not excuse it. Uncover the wounds by listing “who?” and “how?” Articulate the “how,” “why,” etc. This knowledge is followed by evaluating whether your personal behavior needs to change or boundaries set in-place. Make decisions. Sometimes this step involves seeking professional counseling or pastoral care. God didn’t request us to be doormats. He did ask us to turn the other cheek, but then what?

My counselor describes: “Your friend is sitting next to you and keeps poking your eye. You shouldn’t let your friend keep poking you in the eye (if you do, that is a a deeper issue.) You have a few options. 1.) Tell your friend to STOP! and your friend stops and can remain sitting beside you. 2.) Tell you friend to STOP! but your friend still pokes occasionally. You request they move across the room from you. 3.) Tell your friend to STOP! but your friend keeps poking whether next to you or across the room from you. You need to ask your friend to leave the room, i.e. BOUNDARIES.

To achieve forgiveness you don’t need reconciliation or an apology. Why? People apologize all the time without meaning a word. A sincere apology is rare. Sometimes apologies do more harm than good. For example, a women or man who has experienced intimate partner violence does not need to reconnect with their abusive partner to gain an apology. Reconnecting could be dangerous and harmful to the wounded person. Reconciliation requires repentance. Repentance is a free-will choice, and even God can’t make a person choose reconciliation and repentance. So neither can you or I.

Embracing an attitude of forgiveness frees the wounded. And allows for healing. Forgiveness, the person it frees is yourself. Authentic forgiveness allows people, like you and I, to make a choice in a bad situation. A choice that will either free us or shackle us. To take responsibility for my sins and transgressions but to embrace mercy and compassion. To forgive myself and others as Christ forgave. We are all sinners. And God loves us all. In the end, God is the judge and juror of our lives, but he did ask, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Amen.

*** This post was inspired by 4+ years of clinical, Catholic counseling. Don’t know where to start? Try searching for faith based, Catholic counselors @ LINK. May God bless you and keep you all.***

On the Christian Meaning of Suffering

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Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

BE NOT AFRAID. I decided to return once more to the 1984 Apostolic Letter written by St. JP II titled Salvifici Doloris: On the Christian Meaning of Suffering that addressed the ever present question of suffering: why, what, and how? God transformed even something not part of His original design for humanity (suffering, pain, death, dying, etc.) into a means for transcendence: faith, hope, and charity.

We fear suffering. I can emphatically state in my greatest moments of suffering and the  suffering of my loved ones, I felt closest to heaven- the veil was lifted. Our suffering, united with Christ, can become salvific. “Suffering seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man. It is deep as man himself, precisely because in its own way that depth which is proper to man, and in its own way surpasses it. Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense “destined” to go beyond himself (3).”

We fear weakness. Weakness means vulnerability & lack of control. Christ chooses weakness as the vehicle for salvation. “To Suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God . . . In [Christ], God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering . . . and wishes to have his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self (74).”

We fear the acquisition of virtue. Striving is the key word when acquiring virtue. Virtue acquisition takes hard work and doesn’t always “pay-off” in this life. “Suffering contains a special call to virtue . . . and this is the virtue of perseverance in bearing whatever disturbs and causes harm. In doing this, the individual unleashes hope, which maintain him the conviction that suffering will not get the better of him, it will not deprive him of his dignity as a human being, a dignity liked to the awareness of the meaning of life (75).”

We fear purgation. Purgation leads to heaven. God calls you and I to redeem ourselves and the world in our little way. “The Gospel of suffering is being written unceasingly, and it speaks unceasingly the words of this strange paradox: the springs of divine power gush forth precisely in the midst of human weakness. . . The more a person is threatened by sin, the heavier the structure of sin in which today’s world brings with it, the greater the eloquence which human suffering possesses in itself (89).”

We fear true compassion. Our culture & society throws around the term compassion. What is compassion? Compassion comes from the Latin root com (with) and pati (suffer). Together compatior means “to suffer with.” Compassion means “to suffer with” another person. “We could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one “I” on behalf of other people, especially to those who suffer (92).”

In the Gospels, Jesus repeats dozens of times, “BE NOT AFRAID.” It’s time to let go of the fear associated with suffering, death, & dying. And focus on living. Life is beautiful in all its forms & functions. It’s time to relearn how to suffer with each other. In the words of a man who understood and lived suffering: “In the messianic programme of Christ, which is at the same time the programme of the Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a “civilization of love (96).” Let us go forth and build a civilization of love . . .

Catholic Match Blog Post

Please, read my recently published article on Catholic Match Institute’s Blog, by clicking on the link below.

Bargain Less & Embrace More: How to Navigate Love with Chronic Illness

This article shares my personal experience with navigating the highs and lows of life, love, dating, and relationships with chronic illness. Learn how I’ve changed my dating approach, and how I bargain less and embrace more while being true to who God created me and the unique manner in which God calls me to express love and be loved.

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Towards the Top- Easter 2018

Verso l'alto

Holy Week and the Easter Season 2018 did not fall into my well-intended, personal plans. Instead God took me on another journey asking me to let go of the control I grasped onto over my spiritual life and the manner in which I desired to enter into Holy Week and the Easter Season. There is nothing fundamentally wrong about having a spiritual plan or goals: attending Holy Thursday Mass and Good Friday Service or fasting and abstaining in a certain way for Good Friday or even baking hot-cross buns for Holy Saturday. But what if God desires something different and potentially more challenging? Do I flounder kicking and screaming against the tide of grace or do I surrender and place myself within the current wherever I may drift? Thankfully, he granted me the grace necessary to remain calm and united with Him.

This may seem an extreme description, but let’s be honest, we tend to think we can and should control even our spiritual lives- the manner and timing in which God reaches us or invites us let alone makes any sort of demand from us. God should allow me to attend the Triduum in preparation for Easter. I’m a faithful Catholic. I say my prayers. I offer up my sacrifices. I follow the letter and spirit of the law. God should rewards me not only in a physical way (allowing me to attend Mass) but should also reward me in a spiritual manner (partaking in the sacraments.) But entering into Holy Week and the sacraments isn’t a reward for good behavior. My logic is flawed.

How did Jesus spend his Holy Week two-thousand plus years ago? He entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey praised and exulted only to be sentence to a brutal death by these same individuals a few days later. He broke bread with his disciples and instituted the Eucharist knowing that they would betray and abandon him. He poured his heart and soul out to His heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweated blood all while his disciples slept. Once he was arrested, his trial involved multiple layers of Jewish and Roman involvement fueled by fear and false testimony. “The Rock” on which Christ would build his earthly Church (i.e., Peter) betrayed Him not once but three times. He experienced unimaginable and brutal mental, physical, and emotional torture all while evil taunted Him.

He drug, eventually with the assistance of Simon the Cyrenian, a monolithic cross up a hill while covered in open sores and abrasions only to be led each step closer to a tortuous death. In the midst of the ugliness, a few women and his mother, Our Lady, entered into his passion. Once nailed to the cross, where he would slowly suffocate to death by the weight of his own body, Christ still ministered to the criminals nailed beside him. One rejected him and the other embraced Him. His mother, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved apostle John stood at the foot of the cross while the other eleven apostles and many other disciples cowered in fear and abandoned him. One disciple would take his own life. His garments were gambled off. The people taunted him and his divine power and authority. In his final earthly moments, he bequeathed us His Mother as Our Own. Then he spoke, “It is finished.”

He spoke, “It is finished.” He did NOT speak, “Everything is finished. Nothing else remains.” No, his sacrificial act of love was the beginning. When God asks me to suffer in private during Holy Week, who am I to complain and question why? He asked His own beloved Son to do the same all those years before. His suffering resulted in the salvation of mankind. Am I Jesus or a savior? No. Absolutely not. But I believe in my heart that beneath my difficult Holy Week and Easter Season lies a deeper purpose and plan. A purpose and plan I may be unaware of until the day on which I am raised up and hopefully enter into the Kingdom of God.

I used the inscription by Blessed Giorgio Frassati to caption this post, because this man was a young and vivacious godly man who desire many goods in His earthly life, but died unexpectedly. An avid climber, Frassati captioned a climbing picture with the Italian phrase “Verso L’Alto” meaning “Towards the Top.” Whether God asks you to climb up the mountain or fall down the mountain and back up always strive “Towards the Top.”

How do we strive upwards? Meekness- a quiet strength. A virtue made more and more present in my life during this Lenten and Easter Season.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” -Matthew 5:5

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”- Mathew 11:29

DIVINE MERCY NOVENA: DAY 6

Intention: Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

Embracing Chastity with Body & Soul

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Everyone is called to chastity. Not everyone is called to abstinence, but all people are called to embrace chastity. What is chastity? An orientation towards God, His divine plan, and the good of the other by practicing a chaste love in the actions of our body and a purity of the heart, mind, and soul. Chastity can include abstinence (refraining from marital sexual behavior outside of marriage.) However, chastity must be practiced within a marital relationship too.

Marriage is NOT the fulfillment of lust. Marriage is NOT the fulfillment of pornography. Marriage IS the fulfillment of love- Christ’s love for us. Marriage mirrors Christ’s relationship with us and His love for the Church. Marriage and the marital embrace between a man and woman mirrors the eternal exchange of love between the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father. God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A love that is self-giving and self-sacrificial. A love that lasts. A love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful.

Hannah, I’m not married. Well, neither am I. Chastity isn’t solely a sexual ethic or a list of dos and donts. Instead, chastity is an ethos- a change of the heart which transforms and animates our very being and behaviors stemming from Our Love of God and the recognition that we ourselves and others are created in the image and likeliness of God.

This week my accountability partner and I are embracing the virtue of chastity and turning away from lust. To practice chastity involves self-discipline and self-denial. Turn towards God, Our Lady, the angels and Saints in times of weakness and temptation. Denying yourself the entertainment of lustful thoughts and temptations is the beginning. With spiritual maturity, you must pray for, intercede for, and even fast for those that awaken lustful thoughts and habits. We must first transform ourselves and move outwards. How many women or men in sexually provocative or exploitative situations are being prayed for, interceded for, and fasted for? Not enough.

Speaking from personal experience chastity has always been my goal. Not always attained but always the ideal. When I have fallen away from chastity, I experience fear, shame, hopelessness, despair, disappointment, division, pride, etc. In past relationships, I’ve felt the insidious pressure of having my morals slowly stripped away followed by a sinking feeling in my heart and rising fear of exploitation. I’ve experienced when the person who “cares” for you enters the room and internally feeling, “what part of my soul will die today?” (by the way, if you are in this position, run far far away towards God, don’t look back, and take the time to heal.) My dating and relationship legacy is minimal. But it doesn’t take long for lust and objectifying behavior to creep in.

Whenever I practice chastity whether as an individual or in a relationship, I feel free. A freedom that requires taking responsibility for my actions and the impact of my actions gave on others (including my relationship with God.) Chastity opens me to love not lust or the byproduct of lust- fear. I feel capable of expressing and receiving love instead of dishing out a hearty dosage of fear and objectification. Lust is suffocating and enslaving. The worries or anxieties fade away. The constant battle between God, myself, and the other subsides. The room clears snd makes space to learn and experience authentic love. My body, soul, and heart no longer feel divided, in constant turmoil, and filled with uncertainty. Instead of feeling divided, my heart, soul, and body unite more closely with God and His plan. A fullness and richness (a warmth and light) replaces the bleak yet fleeting pleasures that fill the void of lust.

Where do I start?

  1. If you are Catholic, go to reconciliation. Experience authentic love within the confessional. Christ wants to share His love with you (His healing and forgiveness.)
  2. Sin no more! Resolve to sin no more and amend your life. Surround yourself in a culture of chastity (friends, media, entertainment, dialogue, etc.)
  3. Develop a daily prayer life. Learn to dialogue with God. Call on Our Lady’s powerful intercession. Meditate on the lives of the Saints. Read scripture.
  4. Identify areas of temptation (near occasions of sin). Know thyself. Know your limitations and weaknesses. Don’t play with fire. Don’t even strike the match.
  5. Fast- whether from food or other pleasures or enjoyments. Fasting develops spiritual muscles. Fasting allows you to rely on God more than yourself. Self-denial and discipline counteracts lust and pride.
  6.  Offer moments of temptation to Our Lady and/or God. Pray for yourself and the untwisting of your heart. Pray for the awareness of the gift of authentic sexuality. Praise God for this gift! Pray for the victim of your lust. Recognize their God-given dignity.
  7. Love- practice authentic love in your thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. Let people witness Christ’s love through you. Put the good of the other before your own desires and passions.

Prayer for Chastity

Lord, help me to accept and receive my sexuality as a gift from you. Grant me the grace to resist the many lies that distort this divine gift and help me to live my sexuality according to the truth of self-giving love. Grant me purity of heart so that I might see the image of your glory in the beauty of others, and one day see you face to face. Amen.

 

 

A Letter to My Future Husband #NPN2017

NPN2017Dear Future Husband,

In our day and age, I know it isn’t a matter of whether or not you have been exposed to pornography, but a matter of what you did/do once you were. I ask you to be honest with me. I know. I learned the statistics, the appeal, the behavior, the prevalence, and I’m asking you to, please, choose me. To choose us. Appeal to my love for you by being honest and transparent.

Don’t think for a moment I won’t be angered, disappointed or discouraged. Mostly, I will be scared. Maybe Betrayed. Definitely Hurt. Concerned for myself and potential children. I won’t excuse your behavior. Bad behavior is bad behavior. Porn isn’t just bad behavior. Porn lies. Kills Truth. Kills love. Porn distorts: Sex, Attraction, Beauty, Respect, Dignity, Worth, Value, Gratification, and Discipline. Porn objectifies. Porn turns men into beasts. Porn ruins your soul, your relationship with God, your ability to master virtue, and your ability to become the husband/father God called you to be. Porn is ultimately selfish.

Choosing to view and act on pornography is like eating a delicious 3 layered cake that is enticing and pleasurable in view, taste, smell, texture, etc. But you are so blinded by the externals and yourself (maybe peer pressure or “well intended” advice to eat the cake,) you don’t realize you just ingested a 3 layer “meth” cake of addictive hell, selfishness, and anti-love. But, it’s too late, you need another fix. You go back to the meth cake. You choose the meth cake over real love. It becomes a coping mechanism for disappointment, hurt, shame, uncertainty, insecurity, conflict, marital intimacy problems, etc. Pleasure and a quick fix distracts from struggling and striving for authentic faith, hope, and charity. I’m sorry and saddened if you bought into the lie of porn and chose the garbage when God wanted to give you heaven.

So what now. Guess what? You aren’t a slave to your lust, your past, your mistakes, your shame, your guilt, and your weaknesses. But you do need to change your heart which will change your body, mind, and soul. You ABSOLUTELY must change. There is no alternative. You need to become a true man: a lover of God and not yourself. Be disciplined in thought, word, and deed: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, intellectual, financial, etc. You need to learn that there is right and wrong. And others, including God, have authority to inform you and hold you accountable to what is right and wrong. That there is good and bad behavior.

In the meantime, cling to God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. Learn to do good and sin no more purely out of love for God. Love God! Create a clean heart in me, O God! Heal and hope. Become a real man of God. Don’t be afraid to suffer and sacrifice. Choose love. Choose me. Choose us. And please, pray for me and for my purity. Please, pray for us. You are in my prayers always.

With My Whole Heart,

Hannah

A.M.D.G.