Love Languages and The Crucifixion

Throughout the season of Lent, if there is one thing that has become increasingly apparent to me in my spiritual life, it is how God loves our hearts so well. That may seem like a very naive realization – after all, we’ve been singing “Jesus loves me” since kindergarten, so the idea that God loves us on a personal level shouldn’t be a shocker.  But the further I fall in love with the maker of my soul, the more I realize that His love is radical and specific to the desires of our heart.

Which makes sense of course – the very essence of God is love (1 John 4:8).  His ultimate gift to us is salvation and the gift of Heaven  – if we choose, through acts of the will, to align our lives in accordance with His plan.  For a God whose very essence is love, it makes sense that the cross has the ability to be inclusive of every human being’s love language.  Christ’s love demonstrated on the cross is not an exclusive, members-only love.  Instead, it is an all-encompassing love affair between God and His people.

Gary Chapman is the famed author of the book “5 Love Languages,” in which he explains that every person has a love language that they speak – one that best fills their love tank to the brim.  In relationships, romantic especially, two people can speak different love languages, and misinterpret the other’s desire to love them.

“In the book, I share some of my encounters with couples through the years that brought me to realize that what makes one person feel loved does not necessarily make another person feel loved. For a number of years, I have been helping couples in the counseling office discover what their spouse desired in order to feel loved. Eventually, I began to see a pattern in their responses. Therefore, I decided to read the notes I had made over twelve years of counseling couples and ask myself the question, “When someone sat in my office and said, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,’ what did they want?” Their answers fell into five categories. I later called them the five love languages.”

But there never has to be that confusion from God concerning how to love YOU.  He made you and knows the count of hairs on your head.  So loving you but failing to speak your love language isn’t possible with Him. His sacrifice on the cross encompasses ever love language possible.

Find your love language below and discover Christ’s love for you and your heart on the cross.

Quality Time:

Christ loves you so desperately that he would rather hang on a tree than run the risk of not spending eternity with you. There is an incredible amount of love through the language of  quality time felt throughout the crucifixion process and even after Christ’s death here on earth.

The Crucifixion opens up an incredible potential for quality time with Christ – essentially because the crucifixion is not bound by the human concept of time.  Christ died for every sin that was and would be, so his crucifixion exists out of time.  This means that even today, in 2016, Christ’s crucifixion is still present, and our interaction with Him and with sin have potential to add weight to the cross.

Yet, because of Christ’s actions during the last supper, He is available all the time even today through His true presence in the Eucharist. He’s never not present in the consecrated host.  In my life, There are times when I desperately ache for interaction with my boyfriend, my best friend, and my sisters.  Yet they’re not there constantly, they aren’t always accessible.  They’re in meetings, in different towns, at the doctors, working on homework, eating dinner, out with friends, you name it.  But Christ is always there, waiting for interaction and quality time with me.  That quality time originates at the Last Supper, and is brought to fruition on the cross.

Physical Touch:

Beautifully, the tangible love of God is not bound by the nails that hold His hands and feet to the cross. Instead, the physical aspect of His love continues with the sacrament of the Eucharist.  In Persona Christi, through the priest, Christ offers His body relentlessly in the Mass daily throughout the world.

Christopher West speaks about this when he talks about his wife’s father, who he never met.  He tells the story  “At Mass the day after his wedding, having just consummated his marriage the night before, he was in tears after receiving the Eucharist. When his new bride inquired, he said, ‘For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of Christ’s words, ‘This is my body given for you.’”

Christ gives us His very body – not holding any part of Himself back.  His sacrificial love is a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift for His bride, the Church.  Beautifully, here at the cross, Christ also embodies the beauty Pope Saint John Paul II taught about through Theology of the Body…but that’s a whole other blog post.

Acts of Service:

Christ hung on the cross for over three hours, His breath ragged, His body desperately yearning for relief.  He hung on that cross for you – the ultimate act of service, especially in comparison to our human attempts at acts of selfless love.  Christ’s death on the cross was not for your temporary good  – Dear, let me unload the dishwasher for you so that you have more time…even though I’ll have to unload it again tomorrow too.  Nor was it for His own benefit – Here, let me help you go get groceries so we can get the pantry stocked and make dinner.

His death was the most selfless act of service that has ever existed.  Christ was not tainted by the presence of sin, yet He took upon Himself the weight of your sins so that He could love you eternally.

Words of Affirmation:

Gary Chapman touches on this, pointing to Luke 23:24, “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”

Yet Catholicism offers a continuation of that love thanks to the beauty of Holy Thursday.  Christ gave his disciples the power of the persona of Christ – whose sins they forgave, they were forgiven.  Whose sins they retained, they were retained.  And so, the most beautiful words of affirmation that a human being can hear are those in the confessional:

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Your Son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.  Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace.  And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Gift Giving:

There are an incredible amount of gifts that Christ gives to you during His time on the cross.

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” Christ gives us His mother, with his disciple representing humankind.  Mary becomes a channel through which we can grow closer to the heart of Christ, thanks to her intercession.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” Matthew 27:50  The Son of God, the Second person in the Blessed Trinity, gives the gift of His life so that you can live eternally with Him

It’s a gift – it isn’t forced, or mandatory or non-returnable.  The beauty of the gifts that Christ pours out on the cross lies in the fact that you have the choice to accept them.  Will you?

Pope Francis opened Saint Peter’s Holy Door yesterday to start the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

I’m torn on how excited I am over this celebration. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of unity and forgiveness and joy concerning the faith and our relationship with others and Christ.  

But the idea of the Year of Mercy makes me very uncomfortable. My very twisted human heart does not want to give mercy to others.

I love receiving mercy myself, but giving it to others who have hurt me? That’s a whole different story.  My selfish desires keep tugging at my heart, whispering “No, you don’t have to forgive.  They hurt you.  Remember what they said? Remember what they did?  You don’t have to give that up.  Just let those wounds sit for a while longer.  You need time to work through that.”  
Ironically, I’ll rejoice and happy-dance my way out of confession, singing “A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains”….yet I’ll replay ways people have offended me a thousand times over, and begrudgingly grasp onto the power and control I feel that I have by not forgiving them. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s quote “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness” is re-quoted over and over and over, but the reason for the repetitive aspect of this saying is that the concept is so applicable to the life we’re living. It is easy to sink into routine, comfort and commonality. It is when we leave our comfort zone that our relationship with God become real and active. 

How is God making you uncomfortable today?
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your GOD ask of you but to fear the LORD your GOD, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Christ calls us to love Him with a radical love, especially when it is uncomfortable and when He is calling us to something tough. He is calling us to love Him with all of our heart and soul without even the tiniest bit of us left lagging in desire for His will in our lives and in the lives of others.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves other has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Ultimately, Christ calls us to be perfect as His Heavenly Father is perfect. This does not mean that we are going to be perfect in the sense that there is no way we could be better or develop further in our faith life. Our perfection is found when we are fully alive in the person God created us to be. Fully dedicated to His plan in our life, and willing His will above our own.

But that fulfillment of His call for us means that we have to love others like we love ourselves. We’re made in the image of God, and so are those who have hurt us…despite what we think of them or what they’ve done to us.  Without the beauty of forgiveness, we’re owing others the debt of love and denying ourselves the beauty of perfection in a life lived fully in conjunction with Christ and His plan for our lives. Those who have hurt us are still brothers and sisters in Christ…and no amount of pain that they have put us through could ever nullify that identification. They are worthy of an authentic love just as much as people who are nice to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” (Luke 60:30-35). I’m not pretending this is going to be easy for anyone. Honestly, writing this post is like a knife to the heart that keeps twisting around with every additional word that I type.

Forgiving someone and admitting that I’m holding a grudge means having to admit that I’m wrong. And for someone whose biggest struggle is pride, that is not an easy pill to swallow. 

The extreme irony is that by withholding forgiveness from someone, the person who is really taking a brunt of that hurt is ourselves. We’re piling even more hurt, pain, and regret onto ourselves as a result of our pride. We’re withholding ourselves from the freedom experienced after recognizing a pain but not holding that against another human being who is loved by Christ and redeemed by the cross just as much as we are.
Then there is this realization: Forgiving someone does not mean that everything will melt away in a sea of contentment and peace. Forgiveness cannot hinge on a persons’ reaction or lack of acknowledgement of forgiveness. That’s another direct hit to pride – forgiveness of someone who has caused pain may just be between you and God…there may not be closure. Yet if you’re wanting the offender in your life to come to you, say they’re sorry and accept your forgiveness on bent knee, it’s time for a gut check, because you’re not forgiving for the right reason. Instead, you’re continuing the vicious cycle of control found by holding a grudge and forgiveness over someone.
Forgiveness is not as much of a reaching out to another person for closure here on earth, but instead a reaching up to Christ with an acknowledgement of pain and a cry for Him to help with this burden. You fully forgive someone by not just wanting their good but willing their good.

There is a distinct difference in “wanting” someone’s good versus “willing” someone’s good. Let’s put it into a different context and explore that concept real quick.

I’m a college student, here in my senior year, and as can be expected from a perfectionist such as myself, I want good grades.  I like seeing a well-rounded transcript and I track my success in college, however faulty this is, by the number or letter at the top of my papers.  I want good grades.  But I can want good grades and not get them.

Just like the cat that I’ve asked for Christmas for the past 17 years of my life and never got.  I wanted that cat to be under the Christmas tree and was sure each year that this would be the year of the Christmas kitten.  Nope, not yet.  {Cough, Mom if you’re reading this, there’s still fifteen days to fulfill that wish}  I really wanted that cat – yet even that strong desire did not magically make a kitten appear.

Instead of just wanting those grades, or wanting the Christmas kitten, I have to will it.  Will – an active verb which requires action both in the future and the present.  I will good grades – meaning that I have a goal in mind and I’m going to do what is required to achieve it.  Studying, talking with classmates, being present for class, visiting the office hours of my professor, taking lecture notes and turning in assignments are all ways in which I actively will good grades.

That active “willing” applies to forgiveness too.  You cannot passively say, “Yeah, I kind of forgive them and want their good.”  That doesn’t work – quit with the cop-outs that mean nothing but lip service.  And don’t think I’m blatantly calling everyone else but myself out on this subject – this blog post is written to myself just as much if not more than it is written to be read by you.  

WILL someone’s good – that means action.  The action required is forgiveness. Let it go.  His mercy is His to give, and not your’s to deal out among His children. 
“And the land owner replied to one of them, “Friend, I am not treating you unfairly.  Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage?  Take what is yours and go.  I want to give this last man the same as I gave you.  Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me?  Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20: 15-16).  
If you look inward, you’ll find that you are just as much in need of God’s mercy and love as the person who has hurt you.  You honestly have more in common with them than you think – you’ve both fallen short of the glory of God and tripped yourself up in sin.  The response to that fall is your choice (thank you free will!) and you can hold onto your pride and implode, or you can give that up and watch the trans formative power of forgiveness in your life.
Do not consider yourself to be the one who has worked in the field better or longer than those who have personally hurt you and are in need of your forgiveness.  Do not wish that the person who hurt you to not be treated with mercy because that is not how you would treat them.  In doing so, you completely discount the fact that God can treat your enemies with the same love, compassion and concern that He treats you with, despite all the times that you have personally messed up.
Quit being jealous of God’s generosity in the life of His children.

Give the gift of forgiveness this Advent and Christmas season, truly celebrate the Jubilee year of mercy in your life, and Be Not Afraid. 

What an Orchid taught me about Christ

I don’t have a green thumb.  In my life, I can count the times I have gotten flowers on one hand, and the times I have killed them on the same hand.  My rose from Dad on Valentines’ day is always the first one to die in the vase – even though I swear I do nothing different to it than anyone else’s.  Each year at the bank I work at, our boss gives us Poinsettias about a week before Christmas.  Mine is dead by Christmas Eve.  The plant that lived in a pottery vase that I was given for my graduation is now just a pottery vase that holds my pencils, because the plant has not been with us for over two years.  The little potted plant my best friend gave me is dead (sorry Mary) because I didn’t think it needed water.  Don’t ask me why.  I just don’t have a green thumb.  And that’s ok – to each his own, everyone has a set of talents and gifts.  Plant care is not one of mine.

So this little orchid that a fantastic guy gave me may have a short lived life in my house, by no means will it be intentional plant slaughter, it’s just something bound to happen.  Yet during it’s (possibly short) life here, it has already taught me quite a bit.

For starters, let’s just take a moment to appreciate how little gardening work an orchid needs.  You feed it by ice cubes (the water, not the rapper) and sit in a a partly sunny place.  Check.  So this can’t be too much – although I’m sure I’ll forget it’s water supply and pass by it one day as it is breathing its last.  But, on the optimistic side, it’s little purple flowers are nice and bright and death has not cast it’s shadow over the door of this little plant.

Here is the phenomenal, mind blowing part.  Look at this little plant.  Just look at it.  See how straight it is standing, reaching up for the sun? (It’s normally in my room, but it came outside today for a photo shoot).  How neat is that? It knows that it grows best standing up, and so it stands.  Check this out, it gets cooler:

Not so straight, right? Despite all the ice cubes I have fed it and sunshine it has eaten up, this little orchid still likes to slump to the right.  
Let’s use the orchid as an analogy for our faith.  (if you think it’s a stretch, bear with me for a second). I grew up in a super Catholic house.  I’m the oldest of eight, I was homeschooled K-12, I knew about Theology of the Body since eight grade confirmation, and I’ve been schooled in apologetics at the lunch table since my freshman year of high school.  I graduated high school two years ago, went to a non-Catholic college, but got involved in my Catholic Campus Center and have made my best friends there.  I’ve grown in my faith through defending it through classes and interactions with other students, Catholic and non-Catholic.  All in all, if my life is that little orchid, I’ve gotten a really good amount of ice cubes and my sunshine tank is pretty full. 
But I still slump to the right quite a bit.  I don’t have it all together (despite appearances) and sometimes my stress levels hit the roof.  I have a horrible temper (it’s beast) and can be insanely judgmental.  Pride is something I consistently have to confess, and I always have fuel for spiritual direction.  I do not know anything but a teeny-tiny percentage of my faith life, and praise God for friends who are knowledgeable in the faith.   Now, take a look at this little baby alligator clip:
That is the only thing that is keeping the orchid from slumping to the right and growing horizontally instead of vertically.  It’s not incredibly strong on it’s own merit, but it’s grip on the orchid keeps the orchid growing tall and sticking up for itself. 

                       

So despite all the good things that I can surround myself with, I still need a little baby alligator clip to keep me straight.  What is my little baby alligator clip? God’s grace.  Something I don’t have to deserve to receive, something that God is constantly just pouring down on me through the sacraments and grace and the time that I spend just looking at His amazing love in adoration.  Something that I see in the faces of those I interact with, and the love of the friends who reach out and sit me down when they know something is wrong.

An orchid growing horizontal is pretty cool – not something you see everyday.  But an orchid that knows its mission and purpose and loves reaching up to the God who made it? Now that my friends is a sight to see.  So, seriously, if you want to come see it, you better stop by quick. Because it may be reaching for the ground in a couple of days.   But until that day comes, I’m really enjoying the blessing of a good reminder of how it’s ok to not have it all together, and the importance of a little baby alligator clip.

Why the Hook Up Culture is Ruining Marriage

At Stanford University, a sociologist named Paula England has been researching the hook up culture for the past ten years.  She has interviewed almost 20,000 students from over 20 colleges.  Her research indicates that by the time one reaches their fourth year of college, 72 percent of students have had at least one hook up.  A majority of people, college students in this particular study, have felt the need to test drive their relationship, or have given themselves to someone they met in class, at a party, or over tinder.

Why is hooking up such a problem in today’s culture?  For multiple reasons, but essentially the process of hooking up and breaking up is destroying the beauty of sex in the way that God intended.

Hooking up takes away from the beauty of intimacy and sex in the right context. 

It is the wish I have for you, as long as God leaves breath in your body. And the act that this is a C.S. Lewis quote makes it even greater.:

Despite the fact that hooking up promotes the very physical act of giving yourself to someone, it destroys the beauty of what sex is meant to be – and the whole intimacy surrounding the gift of yourself to another human being.   In Love and Responsibility, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Love between a man and a woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.”

Sacrifice and Self Denial. 

Yet hooking up promotes immediate gratification and selfish desires.  We are living in a world enamored with the idea of finding ‘the one’ but the solution is to go out with as many people as possible and give yourself away to whoever asks in the idea of test-driving what you like and don’t like.

Hooking up is counter-intuitive to people who are looking for long-lasting relationships.


Sleeping with someone before marriage doesn’t prevent relationship woes, or solve marriage. In fact, if anything, it can make it harder.  With hooking up, your body is connecting with someone on a physical and emotional level long before you even know the character traits of the other person.  It’s a relationship or even a brief encounter when you jump automatically into a deep, yet unsustainable connection.

Be You, because that's BEYOUtiful; and do not think otherwise. =): In the end, marriage isn’t about how you are compatible with someone.  As Jason Evert once said, “I’m a guy and she’s a girl.  We’re incompatible.  She thinks we need seven throw pillows on the bed.  This marriage thing is going to be tough.”  What really matters in a relationship and in a marriage is how you as a couple deal with those incompatibilities.

You do not have to test drive someone physically to find out if they are the one. 

And contrary to common concepts or slang, a person is not a car, or a cereal kind that you have to try out before you know if you are going to be compatible with or be able to have a relationship with them.

Here are things to do to find out if your significant other is the one that doesn’t involve reducing them down to their physical body alone.

Pray about it.


Prayer is not about changing God’s mind so that His plan for our lives finally lines up with what we think is best for us.  Instead, it is about aligning our will to God’s will.  So if you’re wanting to take your relationship to the next level and really show love for him or her, then talk with God about the relationship.  Not talk at  God about what you want the relationship to be.

Will Their Good

Love Never Fails Free Printable | Beloved bible quote from 1 Corinthians | onsuttonplace.com: Authentic love is willing the good of the other as other.  Not your good above their good.  Or your friend’s opinions above their good.  Or your pleasure above their good.

Share Experiences With Them

Your married life with someone is not going to only consist of being with them physically.  What does your weekend looks like with your significant other? Do you share passions? Have you conquered something together?  Are you experiencing the adventures of every day life with them? Have you seen them in situations with their friends, or people who really know them?  What are they like?  How someone interacts with those around them is significantly more telling of how a life will them will look like, in comparison to how well you are sexually compatible.

Ultimately, keep striving dear friends.  It’s a hard life.  We’re living a counter-cultural phenomena – and are swimming against the current.  It’s hard….but it’s so worth it it.  Keep up the good fight.

In Christ,

Chloe M.

God’s Love Song to Himself

Oh God come to my assistance.  Oh Lord make haste to help me.

These words have ended my evening every night for almost the past two months.  This summer I’ve been able to pray night prayer every night with priests, fellow college students, adults on fire for their faith, and high school kids who are eager to learn everything they can about being Catholic.

If you don’t know about Liturgy of the Hours (which I didn’t until I went to college…and I was homeschooled) you are in luck.   Let me introduce you to a beautiful prayer of the Church.  It’s also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God and is the prayer used in the Catholic Church to pass the day around the foundation of prayer.  It is “The voice of the Bride herself [the Church] addressed to her Bridegroom [Christ] It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses the Father.”  (SC 84) This is amazing!! Words can’t describe how neat this is! (How neat is that?)  The prayers consist of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer.

Just the liturgy of the hours in themselves are amazing.  You get to pray the same prayer that Catholics are praying around the world at all times.  You join in with priests from Africa, sisters and nuns from Europe, your own bishop, and the Pope in Rome.  On top of that, the Psalms were what Christ Himself prayed with during His time on earth.

The Psalms are a book of the Bible that I have slowly but surely begin to fall deeply in love with.  I originally thought they were just David’s song to the Lord, which made it a bit awkward to read, honestly. It was like seeing notes that my parents had written each other when they were dating.  Beautiful and awesome, yes, but I still felt like I was intruding on their love story, when I wanted my own.  I felt that the Psalms were a David-and-God thing, and Chloe was the third wheel, reading their love letters of their shoulder.

Then one of the priests with us at Prayer and Action said something one night while explaining night prayer that caught me off guard and made me want to delve into the Psalms with more excitement than I had ever felt about scripture.

The Psalms are God’s love song to Himself that we get to sing to Him.

Whoa. Imagine your in a relationship and your significant other tells you exactly what to do to make them feel loved and appreciated.  They told you what they liked to do on a date, their favorite food, and anything you could possibly need to know about them.  They know what they like best, and then they’re letting you in on it.  You could respond in two ways:

1) Take the information they gave you, treasure it, and then use it to bring about their good and happiness.

2) Ignore it, because you may know them better than they know themselves and want to give things a go with your own ideas and way.

You’d be crazy to not pick option one.  Your loved one has told you exactly what makes them content, and you get to contribute to that.  Welcome to the Psalms.

There is a Psalm for everything.  Psalms that praise God in times of thanksgiving, Psalms that petition for His help in dark nights of the soul.  Psalms for asking forgiveness.  These are some of my favorites from the Night Prayers that I’ve said this summer:

“In the morning let me know your love, for I put my trust in you.  Make me know the way I should walk; to you I lift up my soul.”

Be a rock of refuge for me, a mighty stronghold to save me.  For you are my rock, my stronghold. For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”

“My soul is waiting on the Lord, I count on His word. My soul is longing for the Lord, more than watchmen for daybreak. Let watchmen count on daybreak, and Israel on the Lord.”

If you haven’t prayed any of the Liturgy of the Hours, I highly recommend them.  There is a website that lets you pray along with them, as well as an app (iBreviary is my favorite free one) that has the readings and Psalms in the order of the day.  Even more beautiful is that these love songs to God can be sang with someone – so join in community and praise Him in the way that He loves best.  

Appreciating Women

In the late 1960s, the feminist movement burst onto the cultural scene in America, and in it’s wake has left an American culture that is thirsting for true femininity and the ever elusive answers concerning the interaction between men and women.

The world defines feminism as equality.  Men and women should be treated the same, and men and women should be allowed to do whatever they want.

What does a Catholic have to say on this issue?

I believe in the distinct equality of the human person – but I also greatly value the beauty in the differences between men and women and how God created two genders…not one.

I’m a Aquinas-loving, theology-reading, baseball loving woman with a pixie cut.  I love a good maxi skirt, a strong espresso, and the desire to totally loose myself in love of others.  And I believe that radical feminism has destroyed femininity.  

I’m tired of a radical feminism that says that my desires to get married and have a family are old fashioned and I’m giving up on what should be my ‘real dreams’ if I pursue something so archaic. I’m tired of an angry feminism that says it’s my body and I can do with it whatever I want.  I’m sick of the radical feminism that says woman should just be clones of men and there is no difference between the two.

I value womanhood and femininity as a whole because the world needs femininity and, frankly, the world needs the beauty and uniqueness of women.  For too long, today’s culture has squished what is feminine down into the outskirts of society, all with the battle cry that women are equal, and men and women are the same. And if womanhood is talked about, it’s reduced to narcissistic messages about how woman can look…which is more objectifying than empowering.

In his letter to women in 1995, Saint John Paul II wrote, “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” 

A valuing of women and Catholicism aren’t two things that are at odds with each other. In fact, it is in the Catholic Church that I am the most valued, respected, and honored as a woman.  The love and honor showed to our Blessed Mother radiates the appreciation of the beauty of a woman’s role in salvation history.  Saint Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) wrote, “The feminine sex is ennobled by the virtue of the Savior’s being born of a human mother; a woman was the gateway through which God found entrance to humankind.” Whoa. Re-read that line if you have to : it was a woman who acted as the very portal for Christ to enter the world and take on human nature.  If that honor isn’t something that values a woman, I don’t know what is.

Being a woman doesn’t mean that I’m weak, or insignificant, or less-than-a-person. It actually means that I’m strong, beautifully valued, and a whole person who finds my value and significance in Christ.

Being a woman isn’t about what you wear, what service projects you have on your resume, whether you are married, or devoted to the religious life.  It isn’t about how long your hair is, whether you wear high heels, what religious orders’ charism appeals to you, or who your favorite spiritual author is.  Being a female, desiring to uphold the dignity of women as human beings, and possessing a sense of femininity is something completely different.

“It’s about what inspires our deepest passion, and who reigns in our hearts.” Colleen Carroll Campbell says in her talk, “The Feminine Genius.”

We live in a world that hungers so deeply for saints to rise up, and whose brokenness yearns for the touch a spiritual materialism.  But the culture’s answer to this problem is to create a uni-gender mentality that blurs the lines between roles of men and women, and disdains any difference between what is male and what is female.

Femininity is not a burden or a set back.  Instead, it is a beautiful gift that allows one to be so receptive to Christ’s love for oneself and for the world. Call me old fashioned, but I agree with Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said, “The level of any civilization is always its level of womanhood.  In as much as woman is loved, it follows that the nobler a woman is, the nobler a man will have to be to be deserving of that love.  That is why the level of any civilization of its womanhood.”

The feminine genius that JPII called women to is a great call – a call to love.  A call to embrace the fact that woman are called to help create a culture and world that is open to life.

If we take what JPII and the Church says about women, Colleen Campbell says, “We realize that our fulfillment lies not in tearing men down, or, in imitating boys behaving badly.  It lies in becoming more fully what God created us to be: human beings who bear His image to the world in a distinctively feminine way.”

Viva La Difference….Viva La Feminine. 

Need

More than I ever thought it could have been, my dating fast has been such a blessing – irony of ironies –  becuase it has let me really focus in on what relationship looks like with an objective point of view.  I was thinking about this quite a bit today while I was running – because, face it, the best thinking is either on the treadmill or in the shower.  Let’s be real. What are some of these thoughts then? 

I don’t want a man to need me. 

I don’t want to be the reason a guy goes to Church.  I don’t want to be the middle man (or lady) between a man and the Lord.  This isn’t to discount the beauty of marriage and willing the good of the other as other.  But to be needed? No thanks.  It sounds harsh, but let me explain. 

Let’s say a man needs me emotionally. What would happen when he doesn’t need me anymore? When I’m not the reason that he’s standing, he can lean weight back on his own two feet and I become the pair of crutches that he needed until things got sorted out and healed? Or if a relationship with me is the substitute for what he really needs?

Because he doesn’t need me.  He needs God

I’m not the one who has seen him at his worst and still can make him whole.  I’m not the one who created his soul and who began his existence in his mother’s womb.  I’m not the one who can forgive all his sins with a single word, and welcome him with open arms and unconditional love.  But you know who can fulfill all of that and more?

Colossians 2:10 has a beautiful answer to that question.



For in Christ all the fullness<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29504P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> of the Deity lives in bodily form,
 and in Christ you have been
brought to fullness.
He is the head<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29505Q" data-link="(Q)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
 over every power and authority.”

Yet not wanting to be needed is a two way street – I don’t want to need him either.

Whether that be the elusive him, the could be, who I ‘need’ in my life before I grow in my faith life…or the actual him who pursues me.  I want who I am as a child of God to be defined without him.  Because when two incomplete, half-people marry each other, they don’t complete each other.  They are just two halves that are struggling to find out who they really are.  I don’t need someone to complete me, because that is my maker’s job.

I don’t want to be defined by the need to be needed.  My definition of who I am is found in the fact that I am child of God. 

What does this all boil down to? A healthy relationship is a relationship that is built on the basis of an identification in God.  You are not defined by who you are with or who you aren’t.  You are not the sum of your failures, weaknesses or needs.  You are summed up by the Father’s love for you. (JPII).  Don’t fall in love with the idea of being needed by someone.  Don’t be in a relationship just because you don’t want to not feel lonely. The healthy relationship is one that works like a triangle.  You’re common need is not each other, or affirmation, or affection.  Your commonality lies in the common goal of God and eternity with Him. Each side of the triangle (both the guy and the gal) are working towards a commonality that is not themselves and is not each other.  Instead, they are working together towards a greater good that is outside themselves and requires sacrifice.  That’s what marriage is – not someone fulfilling your needs, but instead you both bringing each other closer to the one who is the author of love.  

Don’t need someone.  Don’t be needed. Instead, find your identity in the unmovable.  Feelings change.  Needs Change.  Wants change.  But the Lord? Not so much.  In fact, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  That sounds like a constant to me.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think on the subject.

In Christ,
Chloe 

Obsession with Perfection

I find it very easy to obsess over the desire for perfection in my life.  I want everything to be just right.  From my grades and extracurricular activities to my closet and how my car is organized.  My heart to hearts with God are are filled with constant reminders that I need to really align my will with His, and not the other way around.  

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

Yet it’s easy to think we know best.  We know what would be perfect for us.  If God could only get on the same page that our dreams are written on, things would fall into place.

We don’t ask for too much, just perfection, for crying out loud.  We want the perfect school experience.  We want the perfect best friend.  We want the perfect significant other.  We want the perfect littles.  We want the white-picket-fence perfect house. 

Why do you think Pinterest is so popular?  It gives a glimpse, even if it is just a fleeting one, at what life could look like if it were perfect.  If you had time to workout everyday, had the decorating skills to rival HGTV and cooking abilities to shock Gordon Ramsey.  We strive for perfection in almost every aspect of our lives.

Yet the worst place that we demand perfection is with people.  I have found this to be exceptionally true in my life lately.

I want a world without collision.  In a play called “Master Harold and the Boys,” by Athol Fugard,  one of the characters compares human interaction to ballroom dancing.  


“Those are big collisions, Hally. They make for a lot of bruises. People get hurt in all that bumping, and we’re sick and tired of it now. It’s been going on for too long. Are we never going to get it right?…Learn to dance life like champions instead of always being just a bunch of beginners at it?”

But that’s the beauty of Christ’s work in our lives.  He enters as a savior to a broken world, but not to declare that the imperfections experienced by us are too much for God.  Instead, He sees the mess we’ve made of things and creates beauty from the ashes.  

Yet how easy is it to demand perfection of others while completely ignoring the struggles in your own life?  To see other’s burdens, and instead of helping to lift them, critique them and advise them. 

Then I realize that the things that I’m calling them out for struggling with are the exact same things that eat into my life.

“I would never marry a guy with a horrible temper because I have a bad temper and I need someone to even me out.”

“I would never go out with someone who struggles with envy because my struggle is envy and I need someone to tell me that what I have is good enough.”

“I can’t be friends with someone who struggles with __________ because I struggle with ______ and I need someone to call me out and be accountable with.”

I’m desiring divine fulfillment through the channels of other children of God instead of through God Himself.  

We shouldn’t be constantly yearning for the perfect girlfriend, boyfriend, family member, best friend or confidant, with who we can finally be ourselves and they can fix everything for us.  We shouldn’t be looking for another person to ‘balance us out.’  That’s not what friendship, accountability, or marriage is about.  


What if we started interacting with people not for how they could ‘make us whole’ or ‘fix our problems’ but how we could find someone to struggle towards holiness together?  Instead of looking for the perfect guy/gal, realizing that they aren’t out there. There is no perfect match who everything will work out with.  What if we desired to experience the same issues with someone and strive towards holiness with the same goals? To know each others struggles and not condemn, but encourage? To see the beauty in the immortal soul?  

C.S. Lewis once said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

What about with our relationships? Romantic and friendships? How does an obsession for perfection change those interactions? Matt Fradd had a beautiful photo that he wrote on that summarizes this fantastically:



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The next date you will go on will be with a sinner, FYI. It’s interesting to me how a line like that—the one I just wrote—doesn’t shock us. Nor do people feel ashamed when they say, “Hey, I’m a sinner.” But a sinner is one who sins, right? And I never hear people act so nonchalant about the particular sins they commit, “Hey, I’m a fornicator.” But back to your next date. Swap “sinner” with one of the following and notice the difference in your reaction. The next date you will go on will be a person who is a liar/selfish/arrogant/racist/a glutton/greedy/slothful/hateful . . . See what I mean? Sin sucks.” Matt Fradd 

Darn it Adam and Eve, sin is here and will be until Christ comes back.  But that doesn’t mean that all is lost.  Heck, we’re all in this boat together – we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the beauty that God orginally had planned for us.  We’re bumping into people like crazy down here.  We’re bumbling around and trying to dance through life perfectly, but we’re too busy yelling at people for dancing wrong to hear God telling us what steps go perfectly in time to the music of His plan. 
Should we strive just for the perfect? Surround ourselves with only perfect people and do only perfect things? You can try, but I’m pretty sure you’ll end up discouraged, lonely and doing nothing.  So what is the answer?  Doesn’t Christ Himself call us to be perfect?  He says so in the Bible in Matthew 5:43-48 – You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23278AX" data-link="(AX)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23279AY" data-link="(AY)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> that you may be children<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23280AZ" data-link="(AZ)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23281BB" data-link="(BB)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
So are we called to perfection? Not in the sense that we will never stumble, never fall, never collide (if we could, we wouldn’t need the sacrament of confession).  
God loves perfectly, with an Agape type love that has no conditions.  He doesn’t keep a score card, tallying up the times we were imperfect so that he can punish us at the end of our lives.  Rather, He desires our good and our fullness, and loves accordingly.  
Our love towards our neighbor (ie, everyone in the world) should mirror His perfect love.  It won’t be a perfect reflection because our sins get in the way.  But to look at other people and will the good of the other as other? That’s striving for loving perfection.  We’ll miss the mark.  We’ll fall down, get scraped up and have to dust ourselves off.  
But there is beauty in the imperfection and holiness that can arise from the realization of our faults.  
Thank Heaven for a God who can love the imperfect perfectly. 

In Christ,

Chloe 

Is God Irrelevant?

This Spring Break I went on an incredible hiking trip (which I could probably dedicate at least ten posts to…more on that later.)  One of the blessings on the trip was meeting some bomb.com people…one of whom wrote this article.  Matt is a sophomore at Emporia State University and he’s studying sociology. 

About a month ago, I read an article in the ESU Bulletin written by a student entitled; “Change in Religion.” As I read it I found that it was not a particularly joyful or necessarily exciting article to read. The author simply claimed that the people of this world no longer rely on God to fulfill their daily needs, such as food or water, or to get them out of horrific situations, such as slavery or poverty.

Whereas the author did agree with the morals of the Christian faith, he no longer felt it was necessary to pray, attend church or even to believe in God for that matter. Simply put, he believed God was irrelevant to today’s world. While I strongly disagreed with this article, it did get my attention by making it clear to me that some of us may not understand why we worship God in the first place.

You might be wondering why we should even believe in God to begin with. It does seem silly, does it not? The idea of an all mighty being in the clouds watching over us, especially with all of the scientific evidence we have of the Big Bang theory and natural selection. To answer this question I turn to one of my favorite writers, Christian apologetic, Peter Kreeft.

In Kreeft’s article, “The Reasons to Believe,” he claims that, “where there is design there must be a designer.” Ultimately he explains that if you were to find a deserted island with “S.O.S” written in the sand, you would not think the letters came out of nowhere. You would not think that the waves washed up onto the sand and left the message behind. No, because of logic and reason you would know that someone, a “designer,” created the message. 


The same goes for the entire universe; where 
there is creation, there must be a creator. Now you might say “well that is great and all, but what about all that scientific evidence we now have?” It is not my intention to tell you that everything in your biology textbook is nonsense, or that the Big Bang never happened. My goal however is to persuade you to have faith that, if it were to happen this way, that it was God driven. This is the way the designer chose to design his creation.

I would assume someone reading this is thinking, “even if God is real, I already have all the things I need; food, clothing, shelter, and money. I am happy with my life already, why would I need to pray or continuously attend a church?” With this kind of thinking, you fall into the same trap as the author of “Change in Religion.”

You see, God is not just a good luck charm or a lucky rabbit’s foot that we call upon when things are not going so well for us. God is our creator, our friend, our heavenly father, and the entire reason for our existence. For all of these things, we should be grateful and therefore desire a personal relationship with him.

Compare this to a relationship with a friend, a family member, or maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend. You get to know these people by talking to them, learning more about them and spending time with them. The same can be said about God. You get to know God by talking to him and spending time with him through prayer and worship. In order to have a relationship with God you must put in the time and effort just like any other relationship.

Whether or not you believe in the same God as I do, is not important for the sake of this article. What is important to take away from this is that science alone can never explain all that this world is or how we got here. The only explanation we have for all of this is God as our designer and creator. Also, God is not just there to take care of our earthly needs. He is there to guide us closer to him so that we can obtain the personal relationship with him that should be desirable for us all.

God is still very much present and relevant to this world, and I will leave it at that.

You’re His "The One"

Tonight I was listening to a talk by Father Mike Schmitz about the beauty found in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  This post includes some of Father Mike’s thoughts with a little bit of Chloe-isms sprinkled in. 

We’re physical beings.  We have bodies that reside here on a physical earth, surronded by things that we interact with through taste, touch, smell and sound.  We connect with the tangible.  Although we have an eternal soul, we are able to experience the goodness God has provided for here on this earth with our bodies.

Including love.  And other people.  As someone whose love language is physical touch, I can so attest to this.  Body language speaks volumes.  There have been times that I have felt loved simply by someone taking the time to put their arms around me and give me a genuine hug.

Physical touch and contact with friends and family is easy to find.  It’s there in a romantic relationship too.  But what about my relationship with God?  How does my love language translate into my relationship with the Divine? There have been countless times that I have turned to my girlfriends and said “If only Christ could wrap me in His arms and I could feel his warmth in a hug.  And if He wore cologne.” That would be what they call the dream. 

love animated GIF

Luckily, Christ knows the aching of my heart and has the answer (does He ever not?).  He yearns to pull us closer to His heart.  He doesn’t want to just be acquainted with us.  Or be there when we need Him.  Or even be really close friends.  He wants to be intimate with us.

Father Mike tackled this subject of the physical desire, and said, “We shake hands with everyone.  There are a smaller number of people who we would hug.  Even a smaller number of people who we’d kiss.  A smaller number still who we’d kiss like that. And only in the sacrament of marriage are we called to give ourselves totally to another physically.”

Christ doesn’t just want to shake our hands, or give us a friendly nod as we pass Him in the hallways.  He doesn’t just want to give us a hug when we feel bad, or a kiss when we need some lovin’.  No – Christ wants to give His entire self to us.  All of Him.  His whole body, and even His very blood.

But to those of us who have been walking around the Catholic block for quite a while, that amazing mystery seems common place.  Going to Church this Sunday to receive the very body of the creator of the universe? Sure, we’ll take some of that.  We may or not be more excited for the doughnuts after Church though.

Yet day after day, we spend our lives yearning, aching for the one.  Not just someone, or a one, or anyone, but The One. We love love, and want someone to return the feeling.

Yet when we receive communion, every Mass becomes a wedding between you and the best lover in the history of forever.

A lover who knows me better than I know myself.  Who not only recognizes my hopes and dreams, but has plans to amplify them and sweep me off of my feet…and off the path defined by my will.  I think it’s time I got to know that lover better.  He knows the count of hairs on my head…and sometimes I can count the number of times I’ve prayed this week on one hand.

In the Song of Songs, the story of a lover who desires the good of his beloved is woven throughout the language of a fantastic romance.  But at the core of this is the story of a God who is enamored with His beloved.  You’re God’s “The One.”

Song of Songs 7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”

He desires us…are we willing to make Him our one