Tag Archives: high school

“Are you meditating?”

Back when I was about 15 years old, I happened to be sitting against a wall by myself after school one day, waiting for my mom to pick me up.  I didn’t much feel like socializing that day, so I decided to take advantage of the down time and start praying a rosary.

I didn’t want to make a scene or draw attention to myself (…and when you’re in high school you feel like everyone is staring out you no matter what you do), so I shifted my eyes down slightly toward the concrete and tried to hold my rosary in my lap so as not to be “showy”.  But somewhere in the middle of the tension pulling me at one end to mentally escape my high school campus and on the other to remain aware of my surroundings so as not to look like a weirdo, I didn’t notice that someone I knew was standing next to me.

I guess I didn’t pull off my prayerful nonchalance as well as I’d hoped, because I was startled mid Hail-Mary by a familiar female voice asking, “Are you meditating?”

It was an honest question and I knew right away that she was not at all asking because she thought it was weird.  But as startled as I was by the abrupt question, I was even more surprised by the answer forming around my lips:

“Well…um—Yes,” I replied.  But silently I finished the newly developed thought to myself: “…I guess I am meditating”

She nodded and kept on walking, and that’s really the end of the memory.  I have no recollection of anything else I did that day—before or after that brief exchange.

The reason that story sticks with me to this day is because, prior to that moment, if someone had asked me hypothetically what the rosary is (or what we as Christians are called to in prayer), I would have told them in so many words that we are to meditate on the life of Christ.  I may have even used the word, “meditation.”  But it wasn’t until I was actually called out and asked by name, smack in the middle of my prayer: “Is that meditation?” that it actually hit me.  What I am supposed to be doing with the rosary is meditating. 

I think what kept me from grasping that concept up until that point was a false understanding of what mediation is.  When I heard, “meditation,” I always pictured a Yoga class full of a bunch of women chanting with their hands pressed together, surrounded by burning candles.  As I understood it, meditation was what you did when you wanted to “clear your head,” and essentially empty yourself of your emotions, desires, and thoughts.   But that’s no way to enter into a conversation, and it’s certainly no way to seek a deeper understanding of who you are as a person.

In order for meditation to mean anything, you have to have a subject on which it I worth meditating.  And what better a subject than the One to whom we owe our very life?  Surely He understands our thoughts and our deepest longings; and desires to use those for His greater glory and our eternal happiness.  If our meditation doesn’t lead us to seek true and lasting happiness, it’s a wasted effort.

CCC 2705: Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the “today” of God is written.

CCC 2708: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Mini-Marriages

Do you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?  If you answered “yes,” then allow me to share something with you that my uncle shared with me when I was younger.  That person you’re dating right now?  One of two things is going to happen: You’re either going to one day get married, or you’re going to break up.  And I hate to say it, but odds are that you’re more likely to break up (it’s a funny little thing called statistics).

I’m not saying this to bring you down; I’m saying this so that you’ll keep things in perspective.  Yes, the guy/girl who dumped you may be a jerk that didn’t realize what he/she had, but there’s no reason why your world has to end because of it.  And just as relevant, there’s no reason why you need to go on a yearlong mission to prove (through Facebook albums, partying, or serial dating) just how “over him” you are.   Fact is: when it comes to dating, break ups are pretty common.  Dramatic and public “mini-divorces” between you and your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend should not be.

As my uncle would say, the only way to avoid the pain and the drama of the “mini-divorce” is to not enter into the “mini-marriage” in the first place.  If you go on every date thinking, “we’re either going to get married or we’re going to break up”, then you’re probably going to have a much more mature outlook than the person thinking, “this could be the one!” before they’ve even finished the appetizer on the first date.  When it comes to dating, it’s so important that we guard our hearts.  We want them to be intact enough to give to the person God has created us for, and ultimately to God Himself entirely.

(Seeing as I stole his wisdom for this post, it’s fitting that I plug my uncle’s Young Adult Ministry — serving 18-25 year olds all over the country 🙂 )

A Case for Public School (…kind of)

Question:

I’m a mom and cradle catholic who is wondering about how to school my kids. I see from your info on this blog that you attended public schools through high school. To what do you attribute your strong faith now? What people, practices of faith, challenges, shaped you into the person you are today? What would you do differently?  You also seem to have a good balance with popular culture, not shunning it altogether yet being discerning in your choices. This is an important skill to learn, because we’re social by nature and it is hard to share Christ if you’re too sheltered. Any thoughts on this aspect of being a good Catholic?

Answer:

Good question.  I will warn you…the short version of my answer to the homeschool vs. public school vs. private school question is simply: “I don’t know.”  It is something I go back-and-forth on all of the time, to be honest.  I will try to answer your questions about my specific background and we will see if that is helpful to either of us 🙂

Hands down, I attribute my faith to my family more than any other influence, and specifically to my parents (and of course it goes without saying that I was given such an amazing and faithful family by the grace of God).  Yes, I went to public school and no, we didn’t always get a family rosary in or memorize the Baltimore Catechism, but I never once questioned my parents’ love for Christ and His Church.  Religion wasn’t a game; and God was real.  Conviction like that demands your attention no matter how it is expressed.

For my family, it was expressed by living out the faith no matter what situation we were in.  If my sister and I had a cheerleading competition that happened to fall on Sunday, we may have had to skip out a little early and miss the awards ceremony because mass came first.  One year, we hosted an “All Hallows’ Eve” party at our house, which included listening to a portion of the Screwtape Letters on tape.  If we happened to have school on Good Friday, we would be taken out a little before noon to spend the afternoon either at service or in silence.

It wasn’t always easy; but I don’t think any path ever is.  Homeschoolers sometimes talk about feeling like they were missing out in high school when I often found myself feeling like I didn’t fit in entirely (there aren’t a whole lot of teenagers who are serious about taking their faith seriously).  Fortunately for me, that classic “rebellion against authority” phase that teenagers are often prone to often found its expression in taking pride in the fact that being a devout Catholic isn’t exactly “mainstream”.

And my parish youth group helped.  Actually, my youth group helped a lot.  And so did the fact that my parish had a blessed sacrament chapel open 24/7 to those who knew the door code…not that my parents ever let me go by myself past 6pm, but that chapel meant everything to me in high school.

Bottom line: I don’t think my parents laid out a battle plan the day my oldest brother was born and had it all figured out.  I think they followed God’s will to the best of their abilities and, for us, that ended up meaning living very much in the world, but always doing our best not to be of it.

All of that being said— I spent the past three years of my life in college getting to know some of the best people I have ever met.  Being at a small Catholic university, a good amount of them had been homeschooled.  And I’m not afraid to admit: there is a lot to love about homeschooling.

First of all: these people knew more about the faith when they were twelve than I knew going into my freshman year of college (and I was no dummy!).   Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they loved God more than I did—but they knew a lot more about Him and therefore were able to love more about Him than I could.  Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much when I was nine…but who knows?

Secondly: as a public schooler, talking to a homeschooler about the books I have read (or, um, haven’t read) can just be embarrassing (a lot of smiling and nodding along happens).  Of course, there are exceptions: homeschoolers who hate reading and public schoolers who read everything.  But by and large, homeschoolers have read the classics by age 10 and public schoolers can graduate high school with an eighth grade reading level.

When it comes down to it, there are pros and cons to everything.  If you choose to homeschool, your kids will miss out on certain things, but the same will be true if you choose to put them in public school.  There is no objectively right or wrong way here; it is just what works best for you and your family (and ultimately, what will help get your children to Heaven…because, as far as I can tell, that is why God gives people children in the first place).

So, that’s my take.  Any homeschoolers out there want to share their perspective?

 

 

 

 

4 Things Cheerleading Taught Me

Today I am making signs for an upcoming flag football game my University is playing in against a rival Catholic University in April.  It’s making me all nostalgic and whatnot for my days as a cheerleader in high school…

Say what you will about cheerleaders, but I learned a lot from my days on the Pep Squad.  I think the lessons I took away from cheer are applicable to all sorts of different situations in life, especially what it means to be a real friend.

1.)  Everybody needs a cheerleader

It’s tough to be the one cheering for a losing team, but this is the job of a cheerleader.  Whether you are cheering for the champion team or the team embarking on game nine of a losing streak, you don’t have the option of despairing.  A cheerleader needs to be there for the team even when it seems like all hope is lost.

2.)  Learn the Rules of the Game

There is nothing more embarrassing than starting an offense cheer when your team is on defense.  You can’t cheer someone on in a game that you don’t understand, just like you can’t be there for someone if you don’t take the time to understand his or her situation.

3.)  Respect the Players

I’ll be honest.  When you are a cheerleader, a lot of the people you have to cheer for may not be the greatest or nicest people in the world.  But this doesn’t mean you have the right to stop cheering them on, or worse, to hope they lose the game.  Even if you don’t like the people you are stuck cheering for, it is your responsibility to do your utmost to help them achieve their best.

4.)  “Just Have Fun!”

My mom used to say this to my sister and me every year in high school during the stressful week that is cheerleading tryouts.  She said it so we wouldn’t stress out too much and so we would remember it was just one week in the grand scheme of a lifetime, but I think it got to the heart of what cheerleading is supposed to be.  It’s about having fun and keeping a positive attitude that is contagious.

Even if you’ve never held a pair of pom-poms, I think we are all supposed to be cheerleaders in one way or another.

When Old Men are Snoring

As a Southern California girl, I admittedly don’t know all that much about rainstorms.  They are a pretty rare occurrence around here, but when they do happen, it is pretty big news.  Flip on the TV in Southern California in the middle of a week-long rainstorm and it will probably be the top news-story on virtually every channel (unless of course there is also a high-speed car chase going on…but that’s another story).

Of course, with the technology we have today, we can usually predict when a storm is coming.  We check our iPhones or weather.com before we get dressed in the morning and we know if we can wear a t-shirt or if we’ll need a jacket.  It’s a nice little system we have going for us.

Still, there are those times when the weatherman gets it wrong and doesn’t warn us about that upcoming storm.  I remember a particular day in high school when my car was being worked on so I had to drive my dad’s jeep to class.  I thought it would be so fun to drive without the top on it.  …Bad idea.  A sunny morning somehow allowed a massive hailstorm to sneak in by the time I was in 5th period English.

If I had known it was going to hail that day, I would have either put the top on the jeep the night before, or gotten a ride to school with a friend that morning.  It wouldn’t have changed the fact that I would be caught in the middle of a hailstorm, but it would have saved the interior of the car from getting soaked, as well as lessened my panic as I looked out the window of my English class.

But the fact was that I didn’t know what was going to happen that day.  In every day life, just like we can’t always see the storm coming in the weather, we also don’t always know when we’re most likely going to be hit over the head with some unforeseen and maybe even painful turn of events.

Does this mean we should live every moment expecting the worst in people and out of every situation we face?  Definitely not.  We don’t walk around in raincoats and carry umbrellas when it’s 75 and sunny on the off chance that it might rain.  If the rain does catch us off-guard, we can either let it ruin our day or we can adapt and move on.  The one thing we can’t do is ignore it; because whether you want it to or not, the rain is going to fall on you.

When faced with an unexpected “storm” in life, the only thing that is clear is that we have to react in some manner.  The way we react is entirely up to us.