Monday, August 18, 2014

Be Active Participants

Hi ladies! I'm going to try something different. I'm a member of the New Catholic Generation, and thus I {sometimes} make YouTube videos about Catholic things. I'm particularly pleased with the message I was (trying) to convey in this video and I wanted to share it here with you all.

I would give my spiel about how you all should go subscribe/follow me/etc, but I really don't make videos often enough for that. ;)

I hope this video blesses you! God bless.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Together with Mary

Pour forth, we beseech thee O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts,

That we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, 

May, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection, 

Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen. 

Have you ever stopped to think about that second line of this prayer of the Angelus: That we, to whom the Incarnation was made known?

The other day, I was struck by the fact the word we was used there. We all weren't there personally when the Angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus. It was just Mary alone. And the prayer doesn't allude to the fact eventually the whole human race knew about Jesus, but that we were made aware of it by the message of an angel. How can this be if we weren't there?

The prayer reminds us that we are all united under Christ's body. Mary was a real physical person who was assumed into Heaven, and she remains connected, of the same body under Christ, as each of us. She was the fully human link for us to her son Jesus, and thus to our Heavenly Father.

So, in essence, the Incarnation was proclaimed to each of us, through Mary. And through our union with her, we are able to be that much closer to her son Jesus. This is why Mary is such a wonderful friend to have -- not only because of her exemplary traits of femininity and maternity, but because she was God's mother and knows Jesus most intimately. She can share her intimate knowledge of Jesus with us, and then we can only know Him more closely by clinging to His mother.

God wanted all of us to know the message of His son through the Angel Gabriel, and then also through turning to His mother. What a wonderful blessing to be part of Christ's body on earth, united with His body in Heaven, including His Blessed Mother.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

God's Promises

There are a lot of promises from God and our Blessed Mother. The two most obvious that come to my mind are the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart and the 15 Promises of the Rosary.

Jesus revealed these 12 promises to all those who kept devotion to His Sacred Heart:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced..
12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
And Our Lady revealed these 15 promises to all those who prayer her Rosary faithfully:
1. To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.
3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
4. The rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.
6. Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
9. I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.
10. True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.
11. What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
12. To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
14. Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.
Reading these lists gives me a feeling of peace: all I need to do is pray and maintain my devotions and all my problems will be solved. And truthfully, it is this simple.

Lists such as these may make us superstitious, or develop the mindset that we must do certain things in order to gain these protections from God. That's definitely not what God wants from us though. He just wants our trust, and these promises all boil down to one: God will not abandon us when we need His help. He won't let us struggle beyond our capabilities. Every difficulty that befalls us is for our greater salvation or the salvation of others.

It's hard to put all our trust in God. We are rational creatures and God is not a rational being -- His logic is far beyond our grasp. It's nice to know that if we pray Jesus and Mary will take care of us. These lists of promises are tangible reminders of all the graces we receive every day that we remain in God's favor.

I've been reflecting recently about how I can tangibly add more prayer to my life, and small, solid ways to do that. All God wants is to spend time with us and from there all His graces flow. He bestows even more promises than these.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Living Your Daily Apostolate

Without being too specific, I will say that I'm currently discerning my vocation. Thus, in my spare time I've been browsing the websites of various religious orders. Some of the first things that catch my attention at these sites are both the daily schedule and way of life, and also the order's apostolate. Some orders, like the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are involved in education. Others like the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles are cloistered and so do manual labor on the farm, record music, and sew vestments.

In praying about possibly entering an order if God calls me to a religious vocation, I think the apostolate is very important as it makes up the daily life (outside of prayer) of the sisters. The order that is the right fit for you will have an apostolate that is the right fit for you and God's plan for you.

This browsing that I'm doing, however, makes my head spin more often than not. When I'm faced with any important decision, I usually get farther from the answer before I get closer. So in this particular case, as I've been visiting various orders' webpages, I've started thinking about apostolates in general. We think and discern over what God is calling us to do as our life vocation, but we cannot forget that we have an apostolate right now too.

When we were young girls, our "job" or "vocation" or "apostolate" (to use three words synonymously) was to listen to our parents and go to school. Now, I can say that I'm a college student so my apostolate is to go to class, study hard, and educate myself. But I'm looking for something more than just the daily actions of my life. If I look harder, I can say my apostolate is to know God more through deepening my prayer life a little more every day. My apostolate is to be active in the world, and thus I have the opportunity and obligation to take God with me wherever I go. My apostolate is to serve my family when I am blessed to spend time with them, and serve my friends when I am away from home.

If I get too caught up in the future, I will forget about the now, and it's important to remember that God is not telling us to put ourselves in a cocoon while we discern, and then emerge only when we've found our vocation -- whether that be finally dating the man He intends for us to marry, or entering a religious order.  No, He wants us to keep living and running after Him through service to others. I easily get discouraged as I'm searching and praying about religious orders or marriage. This is all in the future, I say, and I'm just stranded here now doing nothing to further God's Kingdom. I just want to hurry up and get settled doing what God has planned for me.

I have an apostolate right now, as do you! Sometimes it's hard to know just what that is. Sometimes the best I can come up with for what God is calling me to do today is as simple as just sitting and spending time with Him. But now that I've been reflecting on various apostolates, I want to put more effort into finding the "micro-apostolates" that God gives me in each season of my life, whether that be a particular week or a particular year or a particular decade. He will tell me what He wants me to do, and even during a period of discernment, I can and must treat this apostolate as seriously as I would that of a religious order. Even if I'm not sure day to day what that God-given task might be.

Our life now, even though we feel caught in an ocean of discernment, not knowing where we'll find land but so desperately searching for any island in sight, is still important -- for God's kingdom and His plan for our future lives too.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seven Years

Happy Summer ladies! I'm just popping in to say hello. This isn't really a coherent post by general standards. Just some reflections of time and change and nostalgia.

I wanted to comment on this fact: The Catholic Young Woman blog is seven years old (7 years and 2 months actually). I remember reading it and loving it when I was a young girl in high school! And then I remember Clare emailing me to ask if I would contribute. What a fantastic privilege that was.

Blogging was a big part of my life during high school -- I'm thinking it may have been partly due to the fact I was homeschooled, and so thrived in internet communities. Since college, I've checked in to my various online abodes far less frequently. I'm slightly unsettled by that. I'm pondering the place social media has or should have in my life. When I started college I actually told none of my new friends that I blogged; I didn't want to seem weird, or antisocial, or fanatical. Now my closest friends know about my personal blog and this blog (though I'm not sure they read them).

I'm sure anyone reading this has noticed things have been pretty quiet here over the past year. It's just a reflection of life for the contributors -- not that our lives have been quiet, but that our lives have been changing. And I've been thinking and praying about how I want to continue forward with the CYW blog in the future. I don't want to see it go away. I still very much consider myself a Catholic young woman. And the struggles we face won't go away with time.

The blog has grown so much over these years. We have over 1,000 followers on Facebook. To me, that's such a large number, and it's such a large number of fellow Catholic friends! Thank you for keeping up with us, and I'm grateful if anything I or any of us has written has been a blessing for even a single one of you.

I wanted to ask everyone reading this: comment and tell me some of the things you like best about this blog, or some of the things you want to see on this blog in the future. Do you have suggestions or advice for the blog? One of the issues I'm currently pondering is that I barely have enough time to check into my personal blog, and thus have far fewer posts here. I wish there were time for everything! {Though if I'm honest with myself it's really the time management that needs work.}

And if you don't want to comment on these issues, or in addition to your much appreciated comment with advice, tell me this: what has been the best part of CYW over the past seven years?

I hope every one of you has a lovely evening and a beautiful close to the summer. God bless!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Advice for Catholic Teens

A reader recently left a comment on either my personal blogInstagramPinterest, or Facebook asking if I have any advice for Catholic teens.  Well that's strange, I thought.  How can I possibly be old enough to offer such insight?  And truth be told, I never actually replied to the comment (or, at least, nothing substantial).  I've thought and prayed a lot about that comment, though, and have come to the conclusion that it deserves a reply.  Perhaps I'm not the most likely source to turn to for answers and inspiration (I'll be the first to admit that one), but I do hope that you can glean some encouragement from these words.

When I was about 17, I asked a friend (who is now a priest; then -- a Deacon) for some very similar advice.  I've still not forgotten his words: "Pray, pray, and more pray.  Also, be a good person.  Don't grow up too fast, but enjoy life as God brings it to you.  If you focus on being the best and holiest woman of God you can be -- your vocation will become pretty clear."  I'll second that for the purpose of this post, but add to it another thought (or, rather, expand on a thought).  In the words of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta: 

"The more you pray, the more you will love to pray

and the more you love to pray, the more you will pray."


Simple as that!  *smiles and winks*

My favorite prayer has always been the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  I began attending Mass periodically throughout the week with my homeschooled family before I ever received my First Holy Communion.  Once I had received my first Communion, I began attending Mass daily.  I've naturally gone through periods of time when I did not want to attend daily Mass (the last time I missed a Sunday Mass I think my absence was due to the flu.  But the part I felt worse about was the fact that it happened -- of all Sundays of the year -- on Easter).  I was in the 9th grade when I made the firm resolution to attend daily Mass unless circumstances prevented it.

Attending daily Mass has, among many other things, given me a much deeper appreciation and respect for my body.  During my childhood and into my early teens, dressing modestly was not necessarily a personal priority.  But I did because my parents held me to their standards (thanks be to God!).  Once in high school and I was attending daily Mass more purposefully, I began to think of it this way: when we receive the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, we are living tabernacles of Christ the King (just as Our Lady was the very first tabernacle, having carried Christ in her womb for 9 months).  When we go to Catholic Churches today, we see the tabernacles decked out in gold to honor the Precious Treasure they are bearing.  I'm probably not going to approach the altar adorned in gold with a diadem placed upon my head, but dressing modestly and appropriately for the Holy Sacrifice is certainly the next best thing. *smiles*


My devotion to daily Mass is purely a choice.  My choice.  My parents aren't making me; they never have and I'm doubtful that they ever will.  I simply believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- is present in the Eucharist.  What further reason do I need to want to attend daily Mass?




In a nutshell, my advice is to attend Mass and Adoration as frequently as is possible.  Masstimes.org is a great place to start to locate Churches and Mass times in your area (at least, in the United States).  
Regular attendance of both Mass and Adoration is also very fruitful along the path of discernment toward one's vocation.  If you simply cannot wait to grow up and be of age for more serious discernment of your vocation: ask Our Lady now to protect your vocation.  The rosary is a great prayer for that purpose and Adoration is a great place to pray.

God bless you!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Catholic Wisdom: St. Therese

This is just a short reflection written by St. Therese, helping us to face each new day with joy because the Lord is always carrying us, even when we feel nothing.

Life is burdensome. What bitterness...but what sweetness. Yes, life is painful for us. It is hard to begin a day of work. The feeble bud has seen it just as the beautiful lily has. If we feel Jesus present, oh then we would really do all for him, but no he seems a thousand leagues away. We are all alone with ourselves. Oh what annoying company when Jesus is not there. But what is this sweet friend doing then? Doesn't he see our anguish, the weight that is oppressing us? Where is he? Why doesn't he come to console us since we have him alone for a friend?

Alas, he is not far; he is there, very close. He is looking at us, and he is begging this sorrow, this agony from us. He needs it for souls and for our soul. He wants to give us such a beautiful recompense, and his ambitions for us are very great. But how can he say, "My turn," if ours hasn't come, if we have given him nothing? Alas, it does pain him to give us sorrows to drink, but he knows this is the only means of preparing us to "know him as he knows himself and to become Gods ourselves." Oh! what a destiny. How great is our soul. ... 

Jesus is asking all, all, all.

Will we give it to Him? 

~~Reflection taken from the June 16th Meditation of the Day, Magnificat®~~