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Catholicism is for everyone!

Before I delve into any of the moral issues that I am so passionate about, I would like to describe Catholicism and strive to show that it ...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Love & Blessings

I had a wonderful, refreshing day today, which leaves me reflecting on the many blessings God continuously pours down upon me as well as His never-ending love for all people. I wish to share one example of where I've seen God's love radiating in my life. 

So far this final semester of college has proven quite difficult for me and admittedly I have not handled it well. I'm taking 5 classes, plus an internship, which is a lot for someone who usually only takes 4 classes/semester, but I need to get those final few credit hours in so I can graduate on time! They are all English classes, 2 literature, 2 writing, and 1 on grammar. While it has been extremely stressful (especially as I battle that senioritis disease), I still sense God's presence through His blessings, one of whom is my Romanticism professor and mentor, Dr. Prescott. 

I still remember meeting him for the first time during the spring of my freshman year. I came to Bradley undecided and it took me until the spring to start talking to various professors from majors in which I was interested. At first I was kinda intimidated by him, but that ended pretty quickly as I found out he's also from Naperville, shares my interest in Gilmore Girls, and best of all, is a fellow Catholic! I got to know him a little more during spring of sophomore year when I initially tried taking the Romantics class, which I ultimately ended up dropping since I realized I wasn't quite ready for a 300 level class as a sophomore. I also spent all of sophomore year debating whether I wanted to stay at Bradley or not since I do struggle with academics and at the time, truly did not think I could survive all 4 years. I was mostly decided on dropping out, when, during my weekly time spent praying in Eucharistic Adoration, I distinctly heard God tell me to "stay at Bradley", of course, I then tried asking God "why" since I really could not see myself handling another 2 years, but all God would say is "stay at Bradley" and for me to trust Him. Now, this was awkward, since I had already told people (including Dr. Prescott as well as my parents) that I was leaving Bradley, now I would have to tell them the opposite. Funnily enough, I tried emailing Prescott about my decision reversal, but he never got the email, which I didn't find out about until fall of junior year when one of my friends told me to go talk to Prescott since he didn't know I was still at Bradley, whoops! 

During the past two years, that one Tuesday afternoon in Adoration has stayed with me and I have enjoyed seeing the effects of my staying at Bradley play out. Honestly, one of the only reasons I'm on the verge of achieving a Bachelor's degree, is putting all my trust in God as He guides me through college. It's been a rough journey, where I have many times angrily questioned why God wants me here, but I cherish the moments when I do realize God's little reasons. As I've increasingly grown in the Catholic faith and delved deeper into Christ's teachings, I've come to increasingly resent a lot of secularism and am now hoping that I'll eventually be able to attend a Catholic graduate school, like the Augustine Institute, that will focus solely on Catholic theology. In order to get there though, I need to have an undergraduate degree first. Coming back to my main point, it is an absolute joy to have even just one professor with whom I can share my devotion to Catholicism. Truly, God did not me alone here at Bradley, He led me to discover my love/hate relationship with English as well as to the professor who has helped me so much and has genuinely cared for me, going beyond just being a professor, to being a true mentor and friend. 

I got an assignment back from Prescott today, one with which I really struggled and probably would have received a low grade. However, he recognized my issues with analyzing and summarizing, and offered to help me through the journal articles. He commented on my paper that he knows I have plenty to say, if I have someone to help me and ask discussion-type questions as I read the articles. And yes, that is exactly what I need and have been praying about. I do have the tendency to get overwhelmed easily and never quite mastered the skill of summarizing and analyzing. (how am I senior in college again? Grace of God, that's all I can say) 
Most professors probably would have just given me a low grade and been done with it. As busy as Prescott is, especially as department chair, he's still willing to make time to help me. Maybe it's not really that big of a deal, but it really means a lot to me. I truly believe that God has a reason for putting Prescott in my life and even vice-versa. I can only pray that God's love is visible to others through me. 

I guess God loves me too much to leave me alone to struggle through college. And guess what? He loves YOU too, yes you, the person who has made it through this whole post! God's love is truly a gift, all that is required is for us to be open to receiving it. I can honestly say that I have done nothing to deserve it, the miserable sinner that I am (darn you laziness/selfishness), but I can also say how grateful I am for God's love and blessings. 

Back to studying for midterms and praying/waiting for the next pope...God bless :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pure Womenhood

Okay, I'm actually going to stay committed to blogging this time. I hope. I've got lots on my mind, tons of thoughts to share. Today's topic: womanhood.

Over this weekend, my university hosted several performances of a show called, "The Vagina Monologues". My initial, gut reaction was shock over the vulgar bluntness and disappointment as the description reveals promotion of immoral acts such as masturbation, orgasms, and lesbianism. However, upon learning of a friend's involvement with the show, I decided to probe it deeper to try to gain a better understanding of the organization behind it.

Side note: I must admit to never seeing the show; before you get all over me and start on the "no judging until you try it", I pose the question: if you knew a show promoted acts that directly violate teachings from your religion, would you feel required to sit through the performance? Since I have chosen to not view the performance, I will not attempt to review it. My intent is more to reflect on authentic womanhood and chastity/purity and see if VM fits either category.

In visiting the official website, I realized I actually agree with the mission of V-Day as they primarily strive to end sexual violence against women - great! I am all for preventing these horrendous acts. My opposition to the VM lies in their methods and in the sexual behavior they seem to condone. The website repeatedly states that another intention is to foster dialogue about sexuality - well here's my take on it, as a devoted Catholic.

True female empowerment lies in recognizing our beauty and God-given dignity as His beloved daughters. While it is true that having a vagina is a key characteristic of being female, true womanhood goes far beyond that particular body part, it even goes beyond sexuality. Yes, there IS more to life than sex. I understand how tempting sex can be and how over-emphasized it is in our 21st century society.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it quite simply: "Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes" (CCC 2351).

Sex is beautiful. Sex is sacred. Yes, Catholics do see it as a positive! However, if used incorrectly, this inherent good can be made evil. God originally intended sex to imitate the love of the Holy Trinity - the outpouring of love between two to make three. Likewise, a husband and wife are called to give themselves entirely to one another to create a third (and a fourth and a fifth - however many God wills, which the couple finds out through prayer and discernment). Does sex involve pleasure? Yes! God did not want the husband and wife to dread their responsibility to continue the human race. Is every human being entitled to that sexual pleasure? No. And herein lies the complication. Apparently word got out about the pleasure and the desire for that pleasure grew to the point that the original sanctity of sex now lays mostly forgotten. It's now just so ordinary and common.

I'm a virgin - yes I said it. Anyone who knows me probably is not too surprised. Yet, I mean it more in general - that I've gone through four years of college without ever hooking up and to be honest, I have no real desire to have sex with anyone other than my husband. And no, not just because my religion tells me not to - I can still think for myself. I know of all the possible complications - pregnancy, STIs, and all the emotional effects. Why put myself through that? If the whole point of sex is to permanently bind a husband and wife together (through the hormone of oxytocin), why bind myself to a guy to whom I am not married?

Women - be strong, pure, and virtuous! In the words of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen:

"To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."