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Guest Post: We Want Love

From Mary: Last week I mentioned that Young And Catholic was going to be running a post from a contributor: Kaylee!  Here is her post, as promised.  Enjoy!

double-dutch-nuns3

Something I have been really wrestling with lately is the idea of some sort of religious vocation. For a while I was very interested in it; I thought that it made my heart fly with joy; I was giddy! Then not to long after that, I would be very stubborn against it, insisting that I was called to marriage. It went very back and forth like that a handful of times.  It has been happening since I started viewing religious life as an actual option for my life.

Just recently (as in: it ended today, recently) I had my worst episode of “Nope, I am going to fall in love with a handsome man and we are going to be mushy gushy lovey-dovey for the rest of our stinkin’ lives” that I’ve had yet. It was so bad, in fact, that it had thrust me into a pit of selfishness. I was frustrated that God might be calling me to a life that was without “materialistic” love. Why couldn’t I have what they have? Why can’t I have someone to hold me and tell me as a fact that they loved me? That’s what life is lived for; that’s what is on everyone’s mind, everyday.

Last week(ish), when my latest “I don’t want to be a nun” phase started, I began to really hold onto the lyrics of some of the popular songs.  That might sound kind of lame and overdramatic, but it’s true, and I used those lyrics as a stencil for my hopes. I was starting to desperately cling to the idea of having “someone to hold in the rain.” I was gradually (but somewhat quickly) throwing God out the window, but I was doing so indirectly.  It was more of me pulling other stuff in that caused God to be squeezed out.

I want a boyfriend. I want to hold someone’s hand. I want to get married. I want a man to love me. You know what? I’m just going to go out with an “I’m single” attitude, and let the guys gawk at me (but just a little, you know. Can’t let God think I am totally self-centered).

I was convinced, with a deep sadness at this point, that I was not “saint material.” Since I am not able to live up to God’s standard (for me) of sanctity, then I am going to live a perfectly happy life inside a good moral standard and just allow myself to slip into Purgatory, narrowly avoiding hell. Lukewarm. That was a pitiful goal and I was well aware of it.

I realized something tonight as I worshipped God with some of my friends.  Love isn’t something that I should seek to get anything out of.  Love should be selfless.  Love is a sacrifice of oneself for the sake of the other.

All along, I was thinking of love so selfishly, seeking that I be comforted and held and watched after. I wanted a man to tell me I was worth it.  I wanted a man in order that I would feel fulfilled. I wanted to date someone so that my friends would have something to talk about, so that others would know that I had it in me to date.

When I look at the crucifixion, I see love—a better love than I know how to understand.  And I realized that the reason that is such a beautiful and perfect love is because He didn’t do it for Himself.  The reason that love is so beautiful is because it is selfless.  I realized that religious life isn’t the absence of love; it is the perfection of love.

My heart was given peace tonight as I realized I am strong enough (and you are too)—by the grace of God— to do without material shows of love.  We don’t need that. I don’t need a man to hold me in order for me to know that I am loved; I just need to love Jesus because it proves that He has first loved me (1 John 4:19).

Pray with me as we pray for the strength of those called to religious life, that they may know that love is more than a physical reassurance.  True love is self-sacrifice (John 15:13).

5 Things You Can Do to Make Today Awesome

1. Give at least ten minutes of your time to God in silent, uninterrupted, undistracted prayer. The sooner, the better.

2. When that pesky opportunity to tear someone or something down presents itself in conversation, refuse it. Say something nice instead.

3. Go for a walk. (do this in conjunction with #1 if that works better)

4. Think of how blessed your life has been.  Try to make a list of all of the good things in your life, and see how quickly you run out of paper.

5. Smile (even if you don’t feel like it).

Oh, and check out the daily readings for today.

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” -Romans 8:28

 

Lukewarm-ness

Nothing like Ash Wednesday to make you realize how very much you needed Lent.  It’s funny how any other day of the year I can make it to 6pm without eating a meal and hardly realize it…but on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, my inner monologue is whining all day.

On that cheery note, I’m linking to a post a friend wrote about one of the seven deadly sins: sloth.  Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s much more than sitting on the couch in your pajamas eating potato chips…

Sloth, also known as acedia, seems like the most misunderstood of all the seven deadly sins. I have to admit, when first reading about what the sin of Sloth actually was, I was surprised. I had the thought that it was basically a sin of laziness—just being lazy towards homework or other duties that need our attention. I thought it was connected with the terrible notion of snoozing my alarm clock in the morning and not getting up when I should. Sloth is way worse than this.

Sloth is defined as spiritual laziness where we refuse to seek what we need for our soul’s salvation. It is the rejection of our effort to combat difficulties in the pursuit of holiness. St. Thomas Aquinas defines sloth as “torpor in the presence of spiritual good which is Divine good. In other words, a man is then formally distressed at the prospect of what he must do for God to bring about or keep intact his friendship with God.”1 In other words, a slothful person knows the good he ought to do, but does not desire it

Read More…

…fortunately for me, being too lazy to come up with a blog post is not the sin of sloth, and it can be easily remedied by linking to smart friends 🙂

Logos Bible Software: AKA – Your Next Birthday Present

Quick!  What’s 2 Timothy 3:16-17??

If we were catering to Catholic stereotypes on this blog (which, of course, we’re not), then we’d conclude that most of you probably couldn’t answer that question because, as everyone knows, us Catholics don’t know our Bibles.  But I don’t like stereotypes.  And, as a student of Biblical Theology (who happens to be Catholic), I particularly do not like this stereotype.

Which is why today’s post is dedicated to Sacred Scripture, to encourage you to dive into the Word, and to tell you about an amazing software program to help you do just that: Logos Bible Software.

Logos Bible Software is a powerful tool available for anyone interested in studying the Bible.  Think Google, only exclusively for Bible Study.  Say you went to mass today, and you wanted to go deeper behind the text of the Gospel (Mark 7:1-13).  All you would need to do is open up Logos, type in the chapter and verse, and within seconds you’d be able to read what Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote about the passage, you’d be able to do a side-by-side comparison of this passage across different translations, as well as see the parallel verses throughout Scripture—and much more.

 

Why is it important to study the Bible in this way?  Besides the fact of it just being flat-out incredible to have all of these resources at your fingertips, this is actually how the Church encourages us to approach Sacred Scripture.  Catholic Bible Study 101: the Church lays out three guides, as it were, for reading the Bible.  They are:

  1. Pay attention to the Content and Unity of the whole Scripture
    (The Bible, though a collection of many books, is also one story–the story of Salvation History.  It’s meant to be read as such.)
  2. Read Scripture in light of the Living Tradition of the whole Church
    (Scripture itself is a result of Tradition.  We don’t understand it fully until we read it as being apart of that Tradition)
  3. Be attentive to the Analogy of Faith 
    (Scripture cannot, and does not, contradict the doctrines of our Catholic Faith)

Logos makes it easier for the faithful Catholic to read Scripture the way it is meant to be read, with these three guidelines in mind.  Not that this software is strictly a Catholic program—it’s not.  But it makes available many of the vast resources of the Tradition so that Catholics can read them side-by-side the verse or passage in question with just the click of a button (minimal digging required).  You have at your fingertips commentaries from the Early Christians on the Scriptures, as well as Church documents.  At the same time, if you want to go back to the basics and study the Bible in its original languages and compare different translations (as the Church has also encouraged the faithful to do), Logos allows you to do that, too.  You don’t even have to know the original languages, because Logos does all of the legwork for you.

And of course, as the generation whose iPhones and iPads are constantly glued to our hands, the software perfectly syncs across your laptop, iPad, and iPhone apps, so whatever you do in Logos on your computer, you open it up to the same place on your iPhone (and vise-versa).

As a student of Biblical Theology, Logos is incredibly helpful to me.  If I’m researching for a paper, I can type the passage, or a keyword or phrase, into the search bar and, in seconds, I am knee-deep in relevant sources that will help in writing my paper (my very own digital research assistant!).  It is also incredibly helpful that I can copy and paste into a Word document and Logos will automatically add the footnote citation for me (doing the citations/bibliography of a paper used to take me an extra hour or two because I’d put off actually typing out the longhand of the footnotes until the end).

There are a number of packages available, and you can find the one that is right for you at Logos.com.  I would particularly recommend this software to any of my readers who attend Catholic universities, or to homeschooling families.  It’s an investment that you won’t regret because it saves time, shelf-space, and money in the long run.  However no matter your background, profession, or field of study, I would recommend Logos because as Catholics, we are all called to study the Bible.  As Saint Jerome has said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.

16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:16-17
(for those of you dying to know the answer to my pop-quiz)

 

Not of This World?

There is a very popular bumper sticker that a lot of Christians in my hometown have on their cars.  It reads simply, “Not of this World.”  Maybe you’ve seen one or even have one.  It is a reference to John 18:36; and you probably know the story.  Jesus is before Pilate and Pilate is questioning Christ about why the people have brought Him to be crucified.

Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus says in reply, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

I think the point of the bumper sticker is that, as Christians, we need not despair when things don’t go our way here on earth…in fact we probably should not even expect them to at all, since the kingdom we belong to is “not of this world”.

Alright, fair enough.  This is all certainly true.  And it’s also true that we need to always remember that we are just passing through here; that our ultimate goal is Heaven and that we should not get caught up in the material things of this world. …But am I the only one who finds it just a little depressing that this has become the battle cry of young Christians?  No one expect to be happy here on earth. Love your neighbor as yourself and all that; but we’re all really just waiting to die and go to Heaven.

…Really?  Because I thought we believed in a God who created the world and called it “good”.  I thought we believed in a God who created us and declared us “very good”.  So why all the doom and gloom, Christians?

It’s so important to remember that we are not created simply for this world.  It’s so important to make every decision with Heaven (and Hell) in mind.  But it’s just as important that we realize that this material world is not evil (even though, yes, it does have evil in it).

So feel free to rep the bumper sticker (to be honest, I own some NOTW clothing).  Just make sure you’ve got both sides of the story.  God put you on this earth for a reason 🙂