“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.

Jesus dropped His cross, too.

Imagine for a minute that you are on a mountain with Jesus. You’re both having a great time, Our Lord is telling hilarious jokes, and you feel like you’re on top of the world. The view is magnificent… but then you fall. For some reason you were walking too close to the edge and now you’re plummeting into a downward spiral. One minute you’re waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna!” and the next you find yourself screaming, “Crucify Him!” As you are falling you remember the mountaintop encounter: your relationship with Christ, the beautiful view, and the joy in your heart. You’re upset that you’re falling, but despite your descent, you manage to whisper the name of Jesus.

Then, immediately Jesus stretches out His hand (Matthew 15:31) and tells you to have confidence in Him because He knows what it feels like to fall. He knows what it feels like to put total trust in The Father. He tells you that He will not forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), and that although we may stumble (Psalm 37:24), we will be raised up to new life with Him.

It’s easy to feel discouraged when we sin, especially when we’re really persevering to please God in our walk with Christ. But did you notice what I said before? Jesus Christ, Son of God knows what it feels like to fall! And although He never sinned, it is written that He fell THREE times in the Way of the Cross before enduring His passion.

This, my friends, is a huge testimony of hope for us.

But how do we get back up? Jesus wasn’t alone when He was carrying His cross to Calvary. Sure, maybe He had Roman soldiers whipping Him all the way to Golgotha, but He also had companions that gave Him strength- and so do we!

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