#SCOTUSMARRIAGE: Not an issue of “equality”

I’d like to suggest that our society never even truly knew the definition of marriage, and why we had it right before they tried to change it.

But let’s just preface something here: Just because I DISAGREE with something does not mean that I HATE someone. Our society needs to learn the difference. And fast. Also, the Catholic Church does not hate homosexuals, the Catholic Church disagrees with acting on the sin involved, and other sexual acts outside of the Sacrament of Marriage. Now that we understand each other, let’s continue…

The Supreme Court ruled on a 5-4 decision today that must allow same-sex marriage. In the words of 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, “Today, 5 unelected judges redefined the foundational unit of society. Now it is the people’s turn to speak.Marriage affects more than just two people. It affects society, children, and adopted children… the whole family unit. Marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of societies, both Christian and non-Christian, for as long as man can remember. It is how we continue to flourish.

I remember sitting in my political science class last semester while my professor went on and on about how dysfunctional our United States Senate is, and how deeply undemocratic the judicial system is. The judges aren’t elected by the people, but by the presidents based on their own personal ideologies, and therefore leave a legacy for themselves long after they have left office. And let’s not forget that in the process we also disregard the right of the states to make decisions, which then becomes dysfunctional for everyone.

I think the #1 relativistic argument that our society tends to yell at religious people who want to uphold the dignity of marriage is, “What I do with my life doesn’t affect you!” And while it isn’t my business what you do in privacy (it’s you and God’s), this argument is weak at best. Marriage is a natural good for our whole society. The government is a teacher, whether they like it or not, and the public listens.

But when our government endorses something, whether that is a union, relationship, or even to say that same sex relations are the “equivalent of marriage,” we are not grounded in truth. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is Truth?” The answer was that Truth is a person. The person of Jesus Christ. As Mark Hart famously puts it, “The world crucifies Truth, it’s too uncontrollable.” So it’s not a surprise that we’ve become numb to what is right and wrong. However, as Venerable Fulton Sheen beautifully put it, “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.

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Responding to Bruce Jenner’s Vanity Fair Reveal

Women are women and men are not, and men are men and women are not. That’s as simple as I can put it, but let’s keep going. I’m not criticizing these people, I’m criticizing the mindset behind it. If what I’m saying sounds at all hateful or discriminatory, that’s a good indication that our culture has had a deep impression upon you, which is not your fault, but I think it’s time we tackle this topic with logic and clarity.

Pope Benedict gave an extensive warning on the use of the “term ‘gender’ as a new philosophy of sexuality. It’s seen as politically incorrect to call transgenderism a mental illness, but that’s what it is, gender identity disorder. Gender is now becoming more of a social role that you choose for yourself regardless of what you were born as. For example some people talk having a “yellow baby” rather than pink or blue so not to disclose any particular gender and let the child pick for itself. However, it’s not like that, we know that God created us either man or a woman for a reason and Pope Benedict warned against anyone “choosing for it themselves” because it goes against the nature of life. Our bodily identity serves as a defining element of our whole human selves physically and physiologically. Benedict says it does a person great harm when they call their true human nature into question and attempt in changing their gender, which we know scientifically and spiritually is impossible no matter how you attempt to change yourself. There’s beauty in our sexuality and it’s intrinsically linked to whom God created us to become.

This is my favorite quote to describe the situation, When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.” When we deny ourselves like this, we are actually denying God in a huge way not only because we’re practically playing God but because in denying our personhood were also denying Him because we are made in His image and likeness, which explains what Benedict means when he says, ”man too is stripped of His dignity as a creature of God, the image of God at His core.”

We pray for people like Bruce and love him because he is a son of God and will always be welcomed in Christ, but he is very much forgetting the beauty in his true sexuality, and how it’s intrinsically linked to him being created as child of God. From what I understand Bruce has been struggling with this for a long time, and I send a virtual slap to the back of the hand at the people who accuse him of doing this as a “cry for attention.” Perhaps he likes the recent attention, but the wounds are much deeper here than that, and who’s really at fault here are the people in his life that never showed him the beauty within his own sexuality and helped him rediscover it.

As the Vatican II document ‎Gaudium et Spes states, “For without the creator, the creature would disappear, when God is forgotten, the creature itself grows unintelligible” (36). We can’t forget about God, but sadly, that is what’s happened here. It was God’s will for Bruce to be a man, and hopefully this cross will help lead him closer to God in some way because there is goodness in our sexuality. As Catholics we need to remember to treat this issue with compassion and love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree with it. We’re all sinners. We all have something that makes life a little harder to live, but that  doesn’t mean that the truth about our human identity should be compromised along the way.

PLEASE check out this intelligent and reasonable video by Father Mike Schmitz for better clarity and understanding about this issue:

Pentecost is not a fiction story, it’s our beautiful reality

The year before I was confirmed I was taking regular 10th grade religious education classes at my home parish every other week. One Sunday night we took out our books and distractedly read a chapter in it as a class. Looking back on my Catholic education classes I probably should’ve paid more attention, but that’s beside the point. All of a sudden the religious education directors walked through the door looking very distraught and said, “Class, I’m really sorry, but we’re not able to continue religious education classes anymore.”

A surprised murmur of voices filled the air.

“The United States government has repealed religious freedom and are forcing us to stop educating the youth on any particular religion. All churches will be state owned from here on out, and we could be facing major consequences even being here right now. If you could please follow me down stairs… we’re going to be talking with the rest of the classes about this as a group.”

Looking back, I was probably very gullible for believing that what they were saying was true, but it was very convincing. Even though at this point in my life I approached my religion very half-heartedly, I was still really interested in learning about it, and I wanted more than anything to be confirmed.

I didn’t really know what it meant to be confirmed, but all I knew was that I would be receiving a new sacrament and the gifts of the Holy Spirit would be stirred up within me. I wanted very sincerely to know all about what that meant, but now it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit like I always thought I was. I was very upset and it just didn’t seem right.

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3 things Vermont taught me

Confidence in My Faith

I’ve grown up in Massachusetts my whole life, which happens to be a very liberal and irreligious state, so going to Vermont, the granola republic of America, didn’t seem like that big of a change for me. As it turns out, Vermont is the least religious state in the U.S., with only 22% of its population responding “very religious” in a major survey. Also, Burlington is tied with Boulder, Colorado as the least religious city in the country. However, I don’t need to be in a religious environment in order to still practice my faith.

My point is that although I didn’t experience much “culture shock” by living there, living on my own as a Catholic woman attracted a lot of direct and indirect opposition. It was an overall very positive experience though. I learned how to stand up for what I believed in and really understood what it means for the faith to “become my own.” Being independent brought me a lot of joy. I sought out retreats, bible studies, and liturgy groups; I even got to lead a few discussions with the community about scripture, Advent, Lent, and the Eucharist! I took every opportunity that I could. Still, in these moments though, I realized I was missing something: fellowship.

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“To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly and she is giving. You and I have the gift of femininity… the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified. Be women, be only women, be real women in obedience to God.” –Elisabeth Elliot

I am Thomas: What it means to encounter Christ in the flesh, as He intended, today and always.

The Apostles are hiding away in the Upper Room shuddering in fear behind closed doors. I can just imagine them all sitting around each other, silently clutching their knees to their chest while praying to God and recalling Jesus’ final moments with them before enduring His passion. I can imagine the disciples listening to the voices of people on the street and extending themselves to hear if they’re talking about Jesus. They were questioning. They were confused. They were already starting to go back to their former way of life. Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John are proclaiming His resurrection; but I can also imagine just as vividly that they didn’t know where to begin.

Then, Jesus appeared. He reminded them that He has never left them. The Gospel says that He stood in their midst and spoke words of reassurance and grace, “Peace be with You.” He showed them the wounds in His hands and side.

The Apostles rejoiced at the sight of our risen Lord who fulfilled God’s promise to us. Then said, “the Father has sent me, and I also send you.” He reminded them that their divine mission on this earth is to go out to serve all of creation in the name of Jesus Christ- and He reminds us all of the exact same thing. Jesus breathed on them, similar to how God breathed on all of creation when creating it. This time, Jesus was creating something new, too. The Apostles received the Holy Spirit in order to serve Him and be His witnesses to the ends of the Earth- but you might be asking yourself, “How does this relate to me? I don’t encounter Christ in the flesh. I don’t touch His wounds. I don’t know Him like that.

Yes. You. Do.

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Consecration to Mary

On the Annunciation I consecrated myself to Mary by reading 33 Days to Morning Glory written by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. The Annunciation is important to me for a few reasons- it was a perfect day. After consecration I’ve been so uplifted, noticing my blessings, and recognizing Jesus’ presence more through my growing relationship with Our Lady. I would recommend 33 Days to Morning Glory to anyone! It’s simple, extremely enriching, and Father Michael does a great job at arresting both the heart and the mind in prayer and knowledge. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram about my consecration day:

The Annunciation of The Blessed Virgin Mary. My consecration day. What a GLORIOUS “new morning”! Today the whole world celebrates Mary’s “Yes!” In accepting to follow the will of God and be the Mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m happy to say that I’m joyfully choosing to continue to say “Yes!” each and every day through this consecration. I, Kaitlyn, a repentant sinner, renew and ratify the vows of my Baptism and proclaim the great things that God is doing in my life!

This chain celebrates my consecration to our Lady by learning to rely on Mary’s powerful intercession, experience her tender care, let myself be led by her, having recourse to her in all things, and trusting in her completely because Jesus entrusted her to us in His final moments on the cross (Jn 19:27). I am moved by an desire to live in the closest union with God that I possibly can, and I pray that by consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary I may be united “upward” to the Father with Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Spirit.

But most of all, I desire to imitate the kind of compassion and thirst for love in all souls that Blessed Mother Teresa most gloriously taught us in her own consecration- imitating her in asking Mary to lend me her heart as I unite myself to the perfect will of Christ. There was no one else closer Jesus to on this Earth than Mary. Therefore, I pray that I may stay close to her always, and in doing so, Him. Magnificat! 💙😇

Why I Gave Up Makeup

“The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing women that they looked better in their makeup.”

-Mackelmore

I’ve never had perfectly clear skin, therefore, I’ve done everything I can to strive for that perfection. Washing my face. Going to the dermatologist. Getting prescription after prescription. Benzoyl peroxide. Clean and clear. Proactiv. You name it, I’ve probably considered using it. I started using makeup in the 7th grade and it’s become a crutch ever since for pesky pimples which only ends up contributing more to the problem.

Before this year’s Lent (it’s actually Easter today, Alleluia!) I had my daily morning routine. Wake up. Put on my clothes. Do my hair, makeup, and I’m out the door to breakfast. Seems like the average morning, right? Well, to many women, yes. This is what we do every morning before getting ready for the day. But it takes SO long.

Then one day I got out of the shower and started looking at my skin. I had a few new pimples even after I was well into my new Proactiv kit and thought to myself, “I’m 19 years old and I’m seriously still self conscious about my skin? Well of course I am… acne was supposed to end AFTER puberty, right?” Is Saint Rose playing a trick on me? (Saint Rose was a humble woman who chose to rub her face with pepper until it was red so that people would stop pursuing her. She had already given her heart to Jesus and had no desire to be admired in that way.)

I’m not Saint Rose, but I think what she was getting at was important. She knew she was beautiful, and didn’t want to live her life in vain, so naturally she found the root of her vanity and avoided all sinful distractions. In a similar way, I knew I had to find the root of my vanity, too. Who cares if I had a few zits? And after many frustrated phone calls with my mom complaining about how nothing ever works for me- I started thinking about my makeup. What if I didn’t wear it anymore?

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“The F Word”: A Catholic Woman’s Perspective

***Feminism has become a huge hot button issue recently. In this article I would like to preface that as a woman I do believe that appreciating our femininity is important. In writing this blog I am not intending to take a controversial social stance. There are far too many of those already. Rather, I am simply communicating and upholding the inherent dignity of our feminine souls.***

Feminism is necessary. It is necessary that women have the right to vote, get an education, be empowered, not sexually exploited, paid well, and taken seriously. However, I’m still not a fan of three “types” of feminists that are seen in today’s culture. The first type being those who believe that sexually exploiting yourself will illicit earned-empowerment, the second type being those who degrade a man’s inherent dignity in the process of trying to improve an already gender compromised situation, and the third type consisting of women who call themselves feminists yet are confused about the beauty and meaning behind true, inherent femininity.

Here’s why: I believe that women should recognize that they are to be self-empowered, intelligent, and curious. Women should recognize that they are capable, but still walk humbly. Women are strong, and a woman who is to be praised recognizes her strength. But she is still gentle and convicted while still patient. A determined and feminine woman hopes with joy in spite of every defeat, knowing her abilities are evolutionarily designed to conquer all injustices with grace, affection, and assertiveness.

She is without the need to act aggressively, for she is driven by her necessity to demand respect, and this should always be permitted. A real woman selflessly loves while seeking the greatest good for her beloved. And above all, she recognizes that her beauty isn’t self-made; rather, she is self-appreciative of the already innate beauty within her; which is a God given characteristic that can never be taken away.

These are not oppressive qualities. But here’s the catch, if feminists are speaking for true equality, then naturally this should be the standard for men, too.

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Essay: Youth Conference Scholarship

***This is the essay that I wrote concerning my experience(s) attending the Steubenville East Conference’s in high school. It won me my scholarship for next year! Enjoy!***

I went to the Steubenville East Youth Conference in Kingston, Rhode Island, for the first time in July of 2012 not knowing exactly what to expect. In order to feel His presence I knew that I needed to be willing to trust God, let Him change my life, and be willing to let Him help me become the woman He created me to be, so I did, and it was the best decision of my life. At the conference I realized for the first time that love was a choice. It demands patience, forgiveness, trust, and humility. I realized that Love is a person, someone who died to know me, and someone who still sacrifices all of Himself so that I can live. Steubenville helped me to truly understand and encounter Jesus Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist for the first time through Adoration and the Mass. At the conference, the love I started to have for Jesus in the Eucharist gave me a deeper reverence for it, and I felt called to begin receiving on the tongue.

Because of Steubenville I’ve learned that prayer is the essence of my relationship with Christ. It has brought me so much joy and has inspired me to learn about the Catholic faith, grow in my discipleship, and continue relying on God in all things. It helped me kick off a deeper level of intimacy with Christ as His disciple by bringing love and the joy of Christ into others lives. When I was at LEAD last year I got the humbling opportunity to share my witness talk at the Conference about how I’ve encountered Christ’s love through the sacrament of Reconciliation. In that talk I praised my first Steubenville Conference and invited others to keep their hearts open to trusting God that weekend like I had. Every Steubenville East Youth Conference that I attended displayed Franciscan University in such a positive light, filled with a spirit of fellowship, and I knew that someday I wanted to end up there.

During the conference when they would play the introductory video about Franciscan I felt God saying in my heart, “Apply, Apply, come and see!” However, I never did. During my LEAD week last summer the Franciscan representative talked with us about the school and I started to feel upset with myself because I never accepted that original invitation that I felt God put in my heart all the previous summers to “Come and see.” I’m a Religious Studies major now because I know that I’m called to be God’s servant here on Earth, which is another thing I heard God speak in my heart at last summer’s Steubenville conference when I was praying with one of the teens from my parish. Like Mary, when she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord” I, like her, strive to be devoted to being God’s servant because I know this is what He calls me to.

After being here at school it wasn’t long until I felt that same tug in my heart that I had experienced when I was being introduced to Franciscan University every year at the conference. I know that I have a mission to bring Christ with me wherever I go, and I’ve been making my discipleship an active one, but now choosing to transfer to Franciscan has brought me so much peace. The conferences have truly changed my whole outlook on my Catholic faith, and I’m so blessed that I was enriched in this ministry throughout my high school years.