Tag Archives: vocation

On Patience and the Number 235

235 days until my fiancé and I “tie the knot.”

That’s 33 weeks and 4 days, or about 8 months— incase you were wondering (I have become really good at counting backwards since getting engaged).

Fun Fact: Patience is very difficult for me.

Shortly after my fiancé and I became engaged four months ago, people started asking me when the Big Day was going to be.  My reply has been met with varying reactions…

There was the, “Wow, that’s quick!” reaction.  There has also been the, “Oh, why are you waiting so long?” reaction.  And I’ve also had several of the, “Oh that’s a perfect amount of time to plan a wedding,” reactions.

To be perfectly honest though, my feelings (and those of my fiancé) often are much more in line with the second reaction.  It feels incredible to know and be planning for getting married, but at the same time, 8 months can feel like an awfully long time away from now.  We got engaged for a reason—we want to be married!  So what’s the deal with all the waiting??

While yes, it does take a lot of preparation, time, and of course a good chunk of money to plan a wedding, we didn’t necessarily choose a 1-year-engagement because we were trying to ensure the perfectly planned and executed party.  We chose a date that made sense for a number of reasons and we started planning.

In other words: the date is on the calendar; the church and reception sites are booked with actual money; thus, we are stuck with December 22nd.

Realizing that fact is actually very liberating (once I convince myself that whining won’t help the date come any sooner and reflect on the fact that God probably had us pick this date for a reason).  There is nothing I can do to make my wedding come sooner.  It’s not sad; it’s just the way it is.  Just like there may be nothing you can do right now to make summer break come any sooner.  Or just like there may be nothing you can do right now to know with absolute certainty what God is calling you to do next year.  As Christians, we just have to live in this moment with our eyes fixed on God; and trust that everything else will fall into place.

So as for me, all I can do is live within God’s love and trust in the fact that He intends to use every last one of these 235 days to prepare Tyler and me for the sacrament of marriage.  And I guess that is pretty neat. 🙂

Ask Mary: Speed Dating Edition

Oh wait…is speed dating not what you mean by “dating fast”?  🙂

Question:

Hi Mary!

I was wondering if you could address dating fasts to grow in your
relationship with God and prepare for future relationships. I have a
few friends who are on them and recently God has put it on my heart to
go one, but there are not many resources out there that talk about
dating fasts. (when I googled it, it brought me to online dating
websites- not helpful lol).
Thanks, and I love your blog!

Answer: 

Thank you for this question!  It’s a good one, and I think it’s very relevant to a lot of young Catholics today.

To be completely honest, this whole idea of a “dating fast” has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.  It could be that I don’t fully grasp the reason for these “fasts”—but then again, that may be precisely why this trend in dating (er—I mean, not dating) amongst young Catholics bothers me so much: I’m not sure that the majority of people embarking on these “fasts” fully understand what or why they are doing what they are doing in the first place.  Usually, the terms are not clearly defined.  What exactly is meant by, “dating” here?  And at what point are you “breaking the fast”?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with not dating.  God most certainly wants to draw us to Himself, and often times dating makes it hard for us to let Him do that.  And if what you’re trying to avoid by beginning a “dating fast” is dating for sport, dating simply to pass the time, or dating to make yourself feel better about yourself, then absolutely.  God is calling all of us to be rid of that sort of dating—forever.

But often times, I don’t think a “dating fast” gets to the real heart of the problem.

Dating is not the same thing as eating, and I’m positive it shouldn’t be treated as such.  I find it somewhat odd to place spending time getting to know a fellow human being on the same level as eating a Double-Double at In-n-Out.  And I think that perhaps placing the two on the same level is what has led so many young people to feel they need to “fast” from dating in the first place.

Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t realize until it was too late is that dating is not supposed to be a given (whereas eating, is).  The purpose of dating is supposed to be marriage (as we learned after the first two or three breakups).  So it would make the most sense if you didn’t date at all until you were at least somewhat close to being ready to get married.  In actuality, most of us started dating in high school—or before!  You can see how, with this background, dating became exactly what we don’t want it to be: a game, something to pass the time, or simply something to make us feel better about ourselves.  So now we feel the need to “fast” from what, like that Double-Double (as good as it may have been), has failed to lead us to lasting happiness.

However, unlike that Double-Double, dating does have the potential to lead many of us to happiness, because dating often leads to our vocation! (for those of us called to marriage, of course)  Denying yourself the passing pleasure of a meal is an act of piety that can strengthen your prayer and devotion to God.  Denying yourself true happiness (i.e. your vocation)?  That’s not piety; it’s insanity.

So how do we solve the problem?  I think the answer is that we return to viewing dating how we should have from the beginning.  For many of us, that may mean we have to break bad habits, and thus some sort of a “break” (or “fast”) from dating may be in order, so that God can teach us how to do date as He intends for us to date (if He intends for us to date).

What we want to be careful we do not do is to treat dating as if it is something that unequivocally leads us away from God.  It’s true that it can do this if we are not using it for its rightful purpose, or if in our dating relationships we are acting contrary to God’s law—but this is not always the case.  In fact, if carried out to its rightful end, dating is meant to lead us ultimately to God, through the vocation of marriage.

That being said, in marriage, God calls us to a specific person—not the abstract idea of the vocation of marriage.  So if you haven’t met anyone yet, then of course you’re still discerning, and should use this time to grow closer to God.  I just personally do not feel that declaring an all-out fast is necessary when it comes to dating.  My thoughts: date when and who you feel God is calling you to date, and not a moment before, and you’ll be fine.  No “Catholic guilt” for having a good time at dinner with a good guy who treats you right just because you said you were “fasting” from dating.

That’s my two cents, anyway.  I’m sure there are many reasons to disagree.  Feel free to [charitably] leave them in the comment box.

Now, fasting from meals as an act of prayer every so often as a way to discern/prepare for your vocation?  I think that is a great idea! 🙂

Hard Work

“…being a Christian is easy – if you believe in Jesus, you will never be tempted again, and everything will go your way”

-from a thought-provoking post written by the fabulous Tara Stone over at ImpactingCulture.com

But more on that later.

Depending on what time you are reading this today, I am either stressing out about my Greek final, currently taking my Greek final, or incredibly thankful that my Greek final is over.  After my final is over, I have approximately 6 days to finish two 10-page papers before I get to board a plane and officially begin my Christmas break.

Funny thing about school: most of the time, just “being smart” isn’t enough.  There may be those classes that you can skate by on just natural-born intelligence, but the classes that you actually get something out of usually require a little bit more effort.  Or worse: a lot more effort.

There are a lot of things in life like this.  We may be born with a certain knack for something—be it painting, music, closing a deal, etc. but no one in this life is exempt from hard work.  The things that matter most in life rarely just fall into our laps.

The crazy thing is, when it comes to our faith, there is no question that it is a gift freely given by a God who owes us nothing and to whom we owe everything.  We would not know God had He not chosen to reveal Himself to us; and ultimately, everything we have in this life (our faith included) is His gift to us.  In this manner, it can very much be said that our faith has fallen into our lap.  (And of all the things to come without effort, this is by far the best one possible).

But, as any Christian trying to live his or her life for Christ knows, the fact that we did not, and cannot, earn our faith does not mean that we are exempt from hard work.  As much as we may wish that the quote at the top of this post were true (or pretend that it is when others are around), the fact is that truly living life as a Christian is hard.  And like many of the best things in life, it requires discipline and effort.

Fortunately, like the relief I’ll be feeling a week from today when I’m on that plane, the hard work will all be worth it in the end.

Also, today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary! (Holy Day of Obligation).  Don’t forget to go to mass!

(And in the spirit of my Greek final: κεχαριτωμένη , a title for Mary translated as “full of grace” in Luke’s Gospel, is actually a perfect participle, more literally translated as, “one who has been bestowed with grace.”  Could it be that she was “bestowed with grace” at the moment of her conception?)

What we shall be has not yet been revealed

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

-1 John 3:1-3 (from today’s Second Reading)

“What we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

As young people, it’s only natural that we are constantly wondering and working towards what we’re supposed to do…who we are supposed to be.  As today is the solemnity of All Saints (check your local mass times—it’s a Holy Day of Obligation!), I thought it was fitting to reflect on this.  We may not have all the details figured out yet, but no matter our age, background, or anything else, what we do know for sure is that God is calling us to be with Him in heaven.

Translation: we are all called to be saints.

Whatever you find yourself doing in this life—going to school, treating sick patients, teaching middle-schoolers, raising a family, etc.—don’t miss your ultimate calling: to be with God and all of His saints in heaven.

Happy All Saints’ Day!

 

Getting Married

Last week, a friend of mine shared this article with me and wanted to know my perspective on it.  In a nutshell, it’s an article written by a Catholic, basically arguing that Catholics should encourage their children to get married young.

From the article:

Many Catholics, like society at large, encourage their children to postpone marriage. Go to college. Get a job. Get financially stable. Date around. Find out who you are first, then consider marriage. Problem is, by the time you do all these things to find out who YOU are, the one things you can count is who you are is ‘not married.’ This is why people now do not get married until they are in their late twenties, if at all. By then, society has messed them up so much by a decade of self-centeredness that they will probably make lousy spouses.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with everything in the article, I think this is quite a jump to make.  Especially since I know there are many people who would LOVE to be married by 23, but that’s simply not God’s plan for them.  As unfair as it is to condemn young marriages across the board as being irresponsible or foolish, it’s just as bad to conclude that those people who get married in their 30s are selfish or will make “lousy spouses”.  Sheesh.

That being said, I do come from a family of people who happened to get married “young”.  My parents were married at 19, and all four of my siblings were married by their 25th birthday.  It wasn’t expected; it just worked out that way.  My dad wrote a guest post a while back about what a father ought to expect from a man wishing to marry his daughter (spoiler: there’s no age requirement—but men without concrete plans to support their families need not apply).

Every relationship is different.  While it would be wonderful if every couple could get married the second they knew they wanted to, often that’s not practical—nor is it prudent.  It’s ok to postpone marriage because you need to finish college first; not everyone can juggle both at the same time, and it certainly does not mean you’re selfish if you know yourself well enough to know that you can’t.

I do, however, feel compelled to say something here about chastity outside of marriage.  It’s difficult.  And quite frankly, dating the same person for ten years without getting married doesn’t make it any easier.  There may come a certain point when prudence calls for either getting married or breaking up, so as not to continue putting you and your significant other in unnecessary temptation.  Of course, if you love each other, breaking up may not seem like an option, and perhaps this is a reason why you shouldn’t be dating anyone if you know you’re nowhere close to being ready to get married in the first place.

Bottom line: this is a vocation we are talking about here!  It’s not something that can be figured out by a divine mathematical equation (i.e. If x = your age and y = the age of your significant other, multiply the difference by the square root of the number of years you have been dating and voila!  Your wedding date).  If only it were that simple.  🙂

Rather than encourage people to get married young as a means of avoiding selfishness, why not encourage and pray for them to practice charity no matter what age they are or state of life they find themselves in?

As St. Therese of Lisieux put it, “My vocation is love.”