Tag Archives: love

Woman In Love: A Love Story Worth Reading

I’m sort of a sucker for love stories. 

But then again—aren’t we all?  Love is the most basic human need.  The music we listen to, the TV shows we watch… everything about the culture we live in testifies to the fact that we are starving for real love that satisfies.  Because of this, I believe that great love stories—REAL Love stories—deserve to be told and re-told.  The story of Mark and Katie Hartfiel, which I got to read this past week in Katie’s book, Woman In Love, is one of those stories.

Woman In Love

As a highschooler in Colorado, Katie was convicted one week to begin praying in earnest for her future spouse.  She began to keep a notebook in which she would write letters to her “Husband-to-Be” (or simply, “HTB”), assuring him of her love and prayers for him.  Years later, she would discover that the very same week she began her journal and her prayers for her HTB, a young man in Houston, Texas was inexplicably brought to his knees one night in an outpouring of grace that began his conversion to a life in Christ.

Woman In Love tells the story of Mark and Katie’s journey towards true Love, while encouraging young women everywhere to follow in Katie’s footsteps and “get in the trenches” for their Husband-To-Be.  What I especially enjoyed about the book was that it was both a love story as well as a practical guide to living a life of purity.  With each chapter you get a little bit more of Mark and Katie’s love story, but the story is infused with practical advice for young women to live out our universal call to Love.

Every woman can and should be a “Woman In Love”—in love with Jesus and in love with her future spouse (some will even learn that the two are actually one in the same!).

If you are a young woman or if you know a young woman, I encourage you to pick up this book.  Here’s just a little excerpt from the first chapter:

“…Yes, your vocation has a name.  This name was spoken when the Lord breathed you into being within your mother’s womb.  Your Creator set out a perfect plan for your life ending with a triumphant ‘happily ever after’ as you fall back into the Father’s arms at your death…

…Does this mean that there is only one person for you?  Maybe…then again maybe not.  What it does mean is that the Lord knows everything.  He stands outside of time and is intimately aware of every breath you will take.  He knows the decisions you will make.  He knows the man you will marry, and He knows where your Husband-To-Be is at this very moment.  He would love to shower grace upon him in response to your prayers.”

You can read more about Katie, and order Woman In Love, by clicking the image above, or visiting www.womaninlove.org

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Love and Marriage and the Catholic Church

I’ve gotten several questions over the past few months about the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage.  It’s a topic I’ve written on before, but today I wanted to focus on the bigger picture.  Let’s put same-sex marriage aside for a just one second and discuss what love and marriage are supposed to mean to man according to the Catholic Church.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church for all persons—gay, straight, male, female, single, married, what have you—is that we are all called to chastity.

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Let’s just stop for a moment and think about how counter-cultural that idea alone is.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that two unmarried people should live together as if they were married.  I don’t believe that any person—married or single—should look at pornography.  I believe, as Jesus teaches, that any man who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (and vice-versa).  I believe that the marital embrace ought to be reserved for, well, marriage.  I believe that a valid marriage is binding until death.  I also believe that marriage is for both the procreation of children and for the unity of the couple.

Let’s face it, you guys.  In eyes of the world, we’re nuts long before you even introduce the idea of same-sex marriage.

But this is sort of where the problem lies.  Like the frog slowly boiling in the pot, we’ve gradually become accustomed to the way the rest of the world views sex, love, and marriage (and unfortunately, it’s usually presented in the that order).  We invite all sorts of misrepresentations into our homes in the TV shows and movies we watch.  We stand by silently as our friends move in with their significant others before marriage.  Artificial contraception is accepted as normal— even responsible— for the unmarried and married alike.

We excuse our silence in the face of all of this because, “it’s not our place to speak up.”  It’s not our place to impose “our views.”

This could be why the rest of the world is— somewhat justifiably— so confused and so angered by our stance when it comes to things like same-sex marriage.  We don’t make a huge fuss when it comes to all of the other ways in which society has skewed the truth about sex, love, and marriage—why are we picking this one to be so upset about?  It’s a valid question.

Many other people in the Christian blogosphere have already made this point.  And by it I don’t mean to say that we’re so far gone that we should just let this one slide, or even that same-sex marriage is “no big deal” because we’ve already accepted so many other misrepresentations of what God designed sex and marriage for.  It is a big deal—but it’s also in some ways just the next [il]logical step along the slippery slope on which we’ve set ourselves.

So what’s a Christian to do in the face of misrepresentations of the truth about love?

We start living out the truth—the whole truth—of God’s plan for love in our lives.  Instead of opening up a book on what the Bible says about same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of winning the argument in the Facebook comments, let’s open up the pages of Scripture and ask God to write His Law on our hearts.  Let’s begin to speak up when love is misrepresented, and make an effort to stop welcoming the lies into our homes without so much as batting an eyelash.  And let’s do all of this not because we’re angry, but because it genuinely breaks our hearts to see love misrepresented as something less than what it is.

We’re called to be light to the world.  Are we living our lives in such a way that people are surprised to learn that we believe in the truth about God’s plan for love, marriage, and family life? 

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I Just Need Somebody to LOOOOOVVEE

Maybe it sounds cheesy to us when Justin Bieber is singing about it.  It certainly sounded much more rock ‘n roll when Queen was talking about it back in the 70s, but it’s a theme that has stood the test of time:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

This should really come as no surprise, since—the educated Catholics we are—we know that it’s Christian theology 101 that God created us out of love for us, in order that we would love.  Thus, the goal of our life—what we are created for— is to give of ourselves completely in love.  Our life’s fulfillment, true happiness, can only be found in this love.

Of course, life-giving love can express itself in this life in a myriad of ways, but the basic principles are the same.  See 1 Corinthians 13 (hint: it applies to lots more than just romantic love):

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

We’re all created for this kind of love.  Priests, religious, married people, single people, young people and old people: love is the call of the Christian life.

Scratch that.  Love is the call of the human being.  Christianity simply presents you with the reality of it: The Cross.

This is kind of a big deal.  We spend so much of our energy trying to come up with a way to package the Gospel in a way that’s appealing to this generation or to that demographic, but when it comes right down to it, there’s a reason why St. Paul says, “We proclaim Christ crucified.”  We proclaim love: the subject of every artist’s work, the answer to every heart’s longing.  No need to convince people they want it, because it’s the one thing we can’t stop talking, singing, or writing about.

If people don’t recognize love in what we’re offering them with our evangelization efforts, then it might be time to revisit our own understanding of what it is we have in the first place.

Ask Mary: Speed Dating Edition

Oh wait…is speed dating not what you mean by “dating fast”?  :)

Question:

Hi Mary!

I was wondering if you could address dating fasts to grow in your
relationship with God and prepare for future relationships. I have a
few friends who are on them and recently God has put it on my heart to
go one, but there are not many resources out there that talk about
dating fasts. (when I googled it, it brought me to online dating
websites- not helpful lol).
Thanks, and I love your blog!

Answer: 

Thank you for this question!  It’s a good one, and I think it’s very relevant to a lot of young Catholics today.

To be completely honest, this whole idea of a “dating fast” has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.  It could be that I don’t fully grasp the reason for these “fasts”—but then again, that may be precisely why this trend in dating (er—I mean, not dating) amongst young Catholics bothers me so much: I’m not sure that the majority of people embarking on these “fasts” fully understand what or why they are doing what they are doing in the first place.  Usually, the terms are not clearly defined.  What exactly is meant by, “dating” here?  And at what point are you “breaking the fast”?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with not dating.  God most certainly wants to draw us to Himself, and often times dating makes it hard for us to let Him do that.  And if what you’re trying to avoid by beginning a “dating fast” is dating for sport, dating simply to pass the time, or dating to make yourself feel better about yourself, then absolutely.  God is calling all of us to be rid of that sort of dating—forever.

But often times, I don’t think a “dating fast” gets to the real heart of the problem.

Dating is not the same thing as eating, and I’m positive it shouldn’t be treated as such.  I find it somewhat odd to place spending time getting to know a fellow human being on the same level as eating a Double-Double at In-n-Out.  And I think that perhaps placing the two on the same level is what has led so many young people to feel they need to “fast” from dating in the first place.

Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t realize until it was too late is that dating is not supposed to be a given (whereas eating, is).  The purpose of dating is supposed to be marriage (as we learned after the first two or three breakups).  So it would make the most sense if you didn’t date at all until you were at least somewhat close to being ready to get married.  In actuality, most of us started dating in high school—or before!  You can see how, with this background, dating became exactly what we don’t want it to be: a game, something to pass the time, or simply something to make us feel better about ourselves.  So now we feel the need to “fast” from what, like that Double-Double (as good as it may have been), has failed to lead us to lasting happiness.

However, unlike that Double-Double, dating does have the potential to lead many of us to happiness, because dating often leads to our vocation! (for those of us called to marriage, of course)  Denying yourself the passing pleasure of a meal is an act of piety that can strengthen your prayer and devotion to God.  Denying yourself true happiness (i.e. your vocation)?  That’s not piety; it’s insanity.

So how do we solve the problem?  I think the answer is that we return to viewing dating how we should have from the beginning.  For many of us, that may mean we have to break bad habits, and thus some sort of a “break” (or “fast”) from dating may be in order, so that God can teach us how to do date as He intends for us to date (if He intends for us to date).

What we want to be careful we do not do is to treat dating as if it is something that unequivocally leads us away from God.  It’s true that it can do this if we are not using it for its rightful purpose, or if in our dating relationships we are acting contrary to God’s law—but this is not always the case.  In fact, if carried out to its rightful end, dating is meant to lead us ultimately to God, through the vocation of marriage.

That being said, in marriage, God calls us to a specific person—not the abstract idea of the vocation of marriage.  So if you haven’t met anyone yet, then of course you’re still discerning, and should use this time to grow closer to God.  I just personally do not feel that declaring an all-out fast is necessary when it comes to dating.  My thoughts: date when and who you feel God is calling you to date, and not a moment before, and you’ll be fine.  No “Catholic guilt” for having a good time at dinner with a good guy who treats you right just because you said you were “fasting” from dating.

That’s my two cents, anyway.  I’m sure there are many reasons to disagree.  Feel free to [charitably] leave them in the comment box.

Now, fasting from meals as an act of prayer every so often as a way to discern/prepare for your vocation?  I think that is a great idea! :)

Young, Catholic, and Engaged

Okay, first of all…I must apologize for my missing the past two posting deadlines.  Between Christmas and travel and family visiting, things just got busy—not to mention I was graced with a cold that made it difficult to string together complete sentences, let alone blog posts.  But enough excuses.  I’ve been really excited to tell all of you that, as of December 30th, I’M ENGAGED!!!

Tyler proposed last Friday at the beach, and we are planning to get married at the end of this year.  We’re both (obviously) really excited, and though we of course want this year to go by super fast, we’re also looking forward to what God is going to do in our lives over these next several months to prepare us, not just for the wedding, but for the sacrament of marriage.

Anyway, I start winter quarter today—pray for me!  I’m taking Johannine Literature and Christology & Soteriology.

Also, two friends of mine recently started a pretty awesome Catholic blog.  You can check it out here: AllYouCanEatCatholics.blogspot.com.  (They’re both insanely smart converts to Catholicism—one is earning his MA in Theology and the other is a design/graphics genius).

Happy Thursday!