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.

If there are two things that I am passionate about, two things that have a constant presence in my life…I’d have to say they would be coffee and Catholicism.  My mornings start not only with a good shot of caffeine, but also a morning offering or rosary on the way to work.  So this weekly blog series is going to combine my two favorite things in the world.

What I’m Drinking: Ok, I’ll play favorites.  There is a little coffee shop on the corner of campus that I adore.  It has a more industrial theme, with exposed metal lighting, rough wooden benches, and modern, local art hanging from the walls.  The baristas are spectacular, and the drip brew coffee is phenomenal.  It’s a popular place for off campus studying, and even on the weekend, seats could be hard to come by.  The hustle and bustle of student life is alive and well there, and the night crowd is fantastic.  Poetry readings, book clubs and local musicians draw different crowds.  In other words, the perfect place for people watching…one of my favorite hobbies.

The drink of today is my usual – I honestly have never tried anything else there.  Vanilla latte – medium, for here.  The cup has a quote inscribed in the inside rim – “Without love, it’s just coffee.”  Expertly crafted hearts line up, ready to be sipped and enjoyed.  I can be seen at the window, cup on the bar, laptop plugged in. This is my place.  This is my drink.

What I’m Thinking: Do you know what is really neat? (besides neature) Swing dancing.  I am by no means a pro at swing dancing, but there is something that is really awesome about it – and something I can’t exactly pin point.  I love how classy it is – and how much Theology of the Body is tied into the dancing itself.  But more on that later – there’s a whole post on that coming soon.

Anyway, this week at the campus center, we had a guest speaker come by and teaching us not only how to swing dance, but how swing dancing can correlate to our faith.  I was beyond excited.  So excited in fact that this deserves a Taylor Swift reaction.  Talk about an epic combination.  Ok, now onto what he really talked about.

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Have you ever danced with someone who you don’t know? Maybe at a bar, or at a formal, but even if you have never danced with a stranger before, you can imagine how nerve racking it can be.  You don’t know them, they don’t know you.  Do you just worry about not stepping on their feet or do you try to strike up a conversation with them?  It’s interesting.  It can be awkward.  But then you push past it, and realize that you may have some things in common (even if it’s just the fact that you’re both dancing) and you can have a great interaction with another human being.

What if we viewed evangelizing or talking about our faith in the same light?  Yep, sometimes in the initial conversations, it can be weird.  Do you say your plans include Mass when someone asks you what you are doing this weekend?  Or talk about the retreat you just went on with someone in class on Monday?  What about when a crude joke gets brought up in class, or a work place situation calls for you to stand your ground in terms of morality?  It’s interesting.  It can be squishy.

When I swing dance now, I don’t know what I’m doing.  Honestly.  I am exceedingly grateful to be the gal in this situation – I just have to follow a guy’s lead.  Yet it takes a lot of trust to know that he isn’t going to drop me or run me into another couple.  It also takes practice.  You can’t just walk onto the dance floor in a bar and impress everyone with your mad skills (ok, maybe you can.  I can’t.)  But after practice and familiarity with your partner, things start to get smooth – and you can really make an impact.

Your relationship with Christ is something that should invade your life – but it’s also something that takes practice.  And time.  Do you know how long it takes someone to be considered an ‘expert’?  10,000 hours of practice.  So whether that practice is dedicated to swing dancing (not a bad use of your time, honestly) or your faith (even better use of your time) – or both! – know that practice does indeed help.  And your faith is never going to be ‘perfect’ – take it from the saints, you won’t always have it together.  And that’s ok.  Sometimes you’ll back into someone on the dance floor.  You may drop someone, or get dropped – but you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get right back at it. 
So that’s my ramblings for this weekend.  If you need me, you can find me at this counter, pouring over Youtube swing dancers.  Feel free to join.
Have an amazing weekend,
Chloe M. 

How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?

How do they do it, the ones who make love without love? 

Sharon Olds penned this poem in 1984…and the haunting verses carry great weight with each stanza.  In the writing, she tackles this question.  How do they do it?  The ones who make love without love?  Is that juxtaposition and irony possible? To move from the phrase ‘I love you‘ to ‘I love this‘?

People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used. (unknown) 

 Beautiful as dancers, gliding over each other like ice-skaters over the ice.

Performances.  Sex to the elusive ‘they,’ those who ‘make love without love’ is a performance – like a dance recital or an ice-skating competition.  

Fingers hooked inside each other’s bodies, faces red as steak, wine, 

Here the imagery Olds uses takes a more graphic or violent turn.  ‘Hooked,’ and even her similes are comparisons to raw meat…rawness.  A sense of vulnerability that is still present despite the desire to separate oneself from the bonding that inevitably happens on a spiritual, emotional, physical level in the very act of sex.

Wet as the children at birth whose mothers are going to give them away. 
The beauty integrated into the very act of sex – and one of it’s purposes? Procreation.  Fruitfulness. 

“The Church, which is on the side of life, teaches that it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.  This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” (CCC 2366)

Yet these lovers have separated the openness to life away from their love making…if it can be referred to as such anymore.  They’re giving that opportunity and openness to life away.

How do they come to the come to the come to the God come to the still waters, and not love the one who came there with them – light rising slowly as steam off their joined skin?  These are the true religious, the purists, the pros, the ones who will not accept a false Messiah,

Are they really?  Are they better off?  Who is this false Messiah that they are rejecting? The notion that sex means something? Anything?

love the priest instead of the God.  They do not mistake the lover for their own pleasure,

To bypass the creator in an attempt to connect on a deeper level with the creation? Yet in the very act of the reduction of another human being, created in the image and likeness of God, down to simply what one can do for another…instead of willing the other’s good

“The fact that theology also considers the body should not astonish or surprise anyone who is aware of the mystery and reality of the Incarnation. Theology is that science whose subject is divinity. Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology through the main door. The Incarnation and the redemption that springs from it became also the definitive source of the sacramentality of marriage…” (TOB April 2, 1980)

they are like great runners: they know they are alone with the road surface, the cold, the wind,

the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio- vascular health–just factors, like the partner in the bed, and not the truth, which is the single body alone in the universe against its own best time.

Here is the ultimate price tag – that comes with the use of another person, separate from the self-giving love that sex in and of itself demands.  Alone-ness.

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience love and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.” (From the encyclical, Redemptor Hominis — “Redeemer of Man”)

How do they do it?  Or, perhaps the better questions is, can they do it? Can human beings essentially separate the emotion and decision of love away from the very act of ‘making love?’  

An Introvert’s Guide to Evangelization

No man is an island, we can be found.  No man is an island, let your guard down
You don’t have to fight me, I am for you.  We’re not meant to live this life alone

     Honestly, this song from Tenth Avenue North could be an anthem for my college years.  Call me crazy, or maybe you can identify with me, but I’ve always been kind of a loner in my world (typical homeschooler.  Just kidding, just kidding).  I have always preferred small groups of friends to large crowds, and good old heart-to-heart conversations in comparison to small talk.  So getting out of my comfort zone, off of my ‘island,’ has always been a realistic struggle of mine, especially in my college career.

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Freshman year, at the sight of someone new

  Being introverted doesn’t mean that I hate people, nor I don’t come outside my room or that I spend inhumane amounts of time in the library buried in books by myself (ok, except the last one…that one’s true.)  But regardless!  My introverted qualities are something that I really like about myself – and have no problem identifying as a reality.

     Sometimes it seems as if the world views introversion as a problem to be solved.  Articles float around my Facebook feed, informing me of the ‘7 Steps to Overcoming Your Introverted Habits’ or ‘How You Can Be More Outgoing…Today!’  Call me crazy, but I don’t think being introverted is something to solve, or an issue to fix.

      I actually think that being an introvert has some awesome benefits (I’m biased) and allows for some incredible evangelizing opportunities.  So here are my quick thoughts for those all who be Christ’s hands and feet to the world, but especially as an introverted individual.

Recognize that introverts make pretty darn good listeners.

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There is something to be said about being the listening friend.  These are the kinds of friends to have in your life because they set aside what they are doing, or even what they would like to discuss, and engage in some good old fashioned listening.  Willing the good of the other (and putting your needs on the back burner) to be there for support and a listening ear is something that some introverts are great at.

There have been many times in my life when a good friend has simply been there and listened – and even if they never say a thing, their presence has changed my perspective.  Not a listening just so you know what to say next, but a genuine interest in another’s good.  A friend who can help you channel your inner Ed Sheeran and allow you to think out loud (see what I did there) is sometimes the role of an introverted friend.

One-on-one conversations are the heart of being Christ to others – enjoy the jump into the deep end and have great heart-to-hearts.  

If there is anything that is a sign of an introvert, it is the general dislike of small talk.  Sure, the weather is great.  Yep, I hear that the tomatoes are really coming up good this time of year.  But the way that introverts connect is through deeper conversation.

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We live in a shallow world where personal measures of worth are found in Facebook status likes and Instagram likes.  In a world that lives on the surface, introverts have the ability to go deep with their conversations and connect with people on a soul basis.  Don’t be ashamed of wanting to know someone on a deeper level.  Or ask questions that could spark some great conversation.

Don’t be afraid of some solitary recharging time.

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Yep, it’s Friday night. But that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the crowd and hit the town.  If you are introverted, you recharge when you are alone, or with small groups.  And that is perfectly fine.  So go ahead.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and sit down and read the book you’ve been dying to start.  Pack up your journal and go spend some one-on-one time with Christ in adoration.  Don’t feel guilty for needing to be alone sometimes.

Whether you are an introvert with a capital ‘I’ or are somewhere in the middle, know that your personality is you – and it should never hinder you from becoming the best version of yourself.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  1 Corinthians 12:17-20

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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.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Adult life is hard, not going to lie.  Long gone are the days of decisions being made for you.  Now are the times where you must make choices for yourself.  Where you are going to school, your degree field, your friendships, your relationships, your faith are all just a small portion of the things that are now resting on your shoulders as you bravely step out into this crazy world called ‘Adulthood.’

Maybe you, like me, are wondering how in the world this is going to work out.  How am I supposed to be responsible for the course of my life here on this earth when I still draw in coloring books and have to sing the whole alphabet to find out what letter comes next?

With a lot of help, needless to say.  So the latest partner in this walk down the path of adulthood has been Saint Ignatius, or specifically, Father Timothy Gallagher and his book The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living.  This book is amazing – and it goes through how to make a decision and properly discern in matters both big and small.

Let’s tackle the big matters, shall we?  In three semesters, my undergraduate degree is finished.  Signed, sealed and diploma delivered.  And while I am counting down the days until I walk across that stage, shake the hand of the president of the University and trip my way down the stairs, I am also dreading that day.

Because it means more decisions.  And the decisions just keep getting bigger the older I get.  Adulthood is funny that way.

So how does one go about making those decisions?  Prayer? Yes – but it has to be more than that.  I can’t sit in the chapel fourteen hours and leave angry because God didn’t tell me what to do.  Instead, it must be followed up with understanding and action.

Be Aware:  You can’t make a decision if you don’t know that the decisions needs to be made.  Say that five times fast.  Basically, know where you stand and what is going on in your life.  Are you coming up on a decision that has quite a bit of gravity to it?  Where do you stand? What are your options?

Saint Ignatius describes this awareness as having his eyes ‘opened a little’ towards what was moving within his soul.  It’s a realization that God has a plan for your life, and that the role you are called to play in that plan is an active one.

Yet we live in a world where the noise of the business and distraction blind us to the plan God has.  Saint Augustine says, “You were within, and I was without.  You called, you shouted and broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone and dispelled my darkness.”  What is crowding your life right now that is blocking the sound of God’s shouts and calling to your heart?

Understand: In my high school graduation card, a friend wrote one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”  Key words that have always stuck out to me in that phrase: Steer and Choose.  This means that the knowledge and ability that you have after you’ve gained an awareness of your decision is active.  It requires understanding and reflection and choices.

Father Gallagher writes, “This is the interpretative step in discernment, and it too, like a spiritual awareness, is an invaluable spiritual aid.  A clear perception of the origin and direction of the spiritual stirrings of our hearts provides us with the necessary light to follow accurately the guidance of the Spirit.”  You know that there is a decision to be made, and now have an understanding of the ramifications and consequences of the decision.  So now what?

Take Action: This is the most important step.  Ignatius boils this step down to two words: Accept and Reject.  Once you have looked at a decision and understood it in light of your spiritual life, it’s time to do something.  Father Gallagher says, “Everything in the discernment of the spirits is directed towards action: towards firmly accepting what is of God and equally firmly rejecting what is not.  Through spiritual awareness and interpretation, accurate and decisive spiritual action is possible.”

Accurate and Decisive Action. Is prayer important? Yes. Is asking people’s opinions and thinking about the different facets of a decision valid? Sure! But if there is no action to back it up, then why even discern?

When the morning’s freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles quiver under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly, nothing will be quite as you wish.  It is then that you must not hesitate.  (Dag Hammarsjold). 

Virtus in Media Stat

College is upon us…and the first week is done (well, for me at least.  Maybe you haven’t even started yet, you lucky soul.)  As each semester rolls around, I always find myself with lists upon lists of things that I’ve made for myself in areas that I know I can improve.

I have lists and pinterest boards galore for polishing up my eating habits after a summer subsisting on root beer floats, organizing my closet that has exploded over the room, organizing my list of books to read and movies to watch…putting together exercise plans….which is usually the first one to fall off the bandwagon with the first Panera cinnamon roll that crosses my path.

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Each beginning of the school year presents with it a blank slate, open wide to the possibility of improvement.  It’s a chance to smash down the wall between the current version of yourself and the best-version-of-yourself (#MatthewKelly) that is constantly seeming to escape our grasp.

What’s the secret?  How in the world does the balance between schoolwork, social activities, responsibilities, and improvement happen?

A simple Latin phrase….Virtus in Media Stat. And the translation? Virtue Stands in the Middle.

So often it’s easy to go crazy on resolutions.  You should see my list on December 31st that I ring in the New Year with.  Pages upon pages of things I know that I can physically and mentally accomplish, but by January 3rd (If I’m lucky) the list has been reduced to nothing because I’ve either given in or given up.

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Moderation. Temperance. The middle ground.  Middle Earth.  It’s not just my mind wandering on a late Sunday night – J.R.R. Tolkien had some great things to say about starting new habits.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, Sam’s grandfather says, “It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.” 

It’s not just a concept for hobbits…it’s pretty practical in our everyday life as well.  So here are the top three tips I’ve received on becoming who God created you to be – fully alive.

1) Moderation 
It’s easy to stack our planners full of things we want to do, are asked to do, feel called to do.  But take it from the girl who worked seven jobs (at one time) last summer.  Sometimes less…is more.  Don’t be afraid of that open time in your planner.  Yes, you could be doing something.  But don’t be afraid of spontaneous visits with friends, time to sit in silence and just relax, or that adoration chapel you’ve been wanting to stop into but never have the time.  Don’t be afraid to schedule free time, as ironic as that sounds.

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2) Accountability
Are you going to try to make it to morning Mass more often? Planning on training for that marathon? What about that book you said you were going to read…two years ago? Ask someone to tackle the challenge together.  Maybe it’s your room mate, sister, or girlfriend.  But don’t be afraid to ask for someone to keep you accountable.  The path to Heaven is a journey that is meant to be walked together.

3) ForgivenessYou’re going to slip and fall sometimes – if only because of the fact that you are human and not perfect.  What matters when that happens is how you learn from your mistakes and move on.  Don’t spend the time after the mistake wallowing on what you could have done.  Now is time time of thinking how you can avoid that mistake in the future.  So find what triggers you to give up on your process of becoming a better person, and then remove that from that path.  But keep walking.

Do you have any tips for how you stand in the middle when it comes to virtue and self improvement? Share them below in the comment box!

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5 Tips for Catholic College Students

In less than a week, my last semester of my junior year starts. It’s an experience that has flown by faster than you can say “textbook rental” – but I’ve learned so much along the way.  So whether you are just starting college, or returning for another year in the trenches, here are my top five hints that I’ve learned – advice from a seasoned college vet as you will.

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Calling all the college students

1) Make Time for Prayer

Conversation (talking and listening) with God is one thing that can keep the craziness that is college life in check.  However, prayer is usually the first thing that gets shoved to the back burner once college starts for me.  The hint that I got from a friend my freshman year was to make my prayer time an unmovable appointment in my calendar.  Literally pencil in ‘time with God’ in for a certain time during the day and keep that appointment.  You wouldn’t call and cancel coffee with your best friend because you weren’t suddenly feeling up to it.  So don’t do that with your conversation with God.

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Running to my God appointment 

2) Emphasize Christ-Centered Friendships
The word for ‘religion’ and the word for ‘relationship’ have the same root – there’s a reason.  No man is an island, especially in the sea of college life.  Find friends who are going to hold you accountable, who are going to challenge your faith life and who are going to push you towards Christ.  Friends who are going to get to know you well enough that when you say ‘I’m fine’ they know something is up.  Friends who don’t let you pack your faith away with your high school diploma and who tell you when you mess up.  Friends to laugh, cry, and grow with.  Friendships centered in your most mutual friend – Christ. 
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which leads to…..

3) Find your Newman Center

When I was a freshman in college, the Newman center was on my way home from work.  I’d get off at 6 pm, and the center would open at 7 pm for fellowship on Wednesday.  I cannot tell you how many times I took the turn for home instead of the campus center and had to turn myself around and decide to go the campus center.  It’s not an instant thing – there are going to be awkward moments, and funny moments, and moments you’ll relive again and again once you get in there and get comfortable.  Some of my best friends from my Newman center are people that I would have never have guessed would know all the things they know about me now.  But I never would have met them if I hadn’t gone to the Newman center.  So get yourself to one. 
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Surprise friends are the best friends 

4) Reach out and don’t be afraid to evangelize 

Your Catholic faith is going to be challenged.  Despite the college you go to, the time spent at the Newman center, the friendships you form.  It’s inevitable – someone is going to ask you why you’re Catholic.  It could be in a class, where the only time the Catholic Church is talked about is when it’s being bashed.  It could be in the form of a room mate who wants to know why Catholics do what they do.  It could be in a conversation in the cafeteria.  Regardless of where it is, don’t be afraid to be blatantly Catholic.  The world needs more Catholic nerds – embrace it.  But also don’t be afraid of not knowing the answer.  We belong to a church that has been around for over 2,000 years….questions that are asked in 2015 have been answered – we just have to do some research.  So never be afraid of the response “That’s a good question – and I don’t know the answer.  But I know there is one out there.  Can I do some research for you and get back with you?”  They’re more impressed by your humility of admitting that you don’t know then by you avoiding an answer.  
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I will find an answer….I promise

5) Find your devotion

Find something to keep you grounded in your faith life.  Similar to not letting your daily appointment with God down.  It could come in many different forms – maybe you’re going to make it to morning Mass two times a week.  Or say a rosary every day.  Or learn more about the saints.  But have a game plan and stick to it.  Oh, and remember the friends you met in tip number 2? Don’t be afraid to bond further with them over your commonly shared faith.  Start a Bible study together, or meet at the grotto to say a novena.  But having a goal in mind makes it easy to stay on target.

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When I talk about Eucharistic Adoration 

What were tips you were given when you started college?  Do you have any tips for those going in to college?  Are you starting your first year? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!

In Christ,



Catholic Music Spotlight: Interior Castle

Two young women named Joanna Grennan and Emma Fradd started a band.  It’s called Interior Castle.(Pause for Saint Teresa of Avila fan girl moment.) Jo and Emma mix the beauty of guitar and vocals into a beautiful combination of poetic lyrics and gorgeous music.  
They describe themselves as “One girl with a fringe, one without.  One from Australia, one from England.  One girl who sings and plays guitar, one girl who plays guitar and sings.”
The band started when the two gals met in 2013.  So far, three singles have hit
the musical scene, the first called “Finished Dreaming,” which came out in October
of 2014.  Then in January of 2015, “Listen & Talk” burst out onto the interwebs.
Finally, “Get Me Free” just hit playlists near you in April of this year.  
Currently they tour all over the United Kingdom and at the end of this year,
they’ll release their full album. 
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You’ll like them if you like: Mumford and Sons, Lumineers, and Passengers.
Fun fact, which will make you fall in love with these girls even more….Emma’s
brother is Matt Fradd, the executive director of theporneffect.com and integrityrestored.com, a huge name in the Catholic world and advocate for the dignity of the human person.  

Their single ‘Get Me Free’ also has an official video, full of gorgeous sunset shots, frolics in the ocean with drums, amazing harmonies and Australian and English accents – can it get any better? 
So enjoy these beautiful songs and join me as I wait anxiously on the edge

of my seat for their new album to hit the market.

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.