Love is…Tough

First of all, this isn’t what I thought this next post would be on. I was going to do a beautiful and detailed look at some of the best examples of God’s love shown throughout the Bible – and I”ll still do that, just next time.  This post though, is one to remind us that love isn’t all flowers and hearts and bliss. Sometimes love is tough.

 

God has a path for each of us to walk, right? We can choose to follow it or we can choose to take the bunny trails and try to make our own path. If we wander too far away, or wander at all, God starts calling to us, reminding us to come home. The signs can be small, hard to notice, hard to interpret. Or maybe one hits you like losing your voice the day of a performance, and on that same day getting invited to give two separate talks.

That’s what happened to me last Thursday. I had been training and practicing with my two theater class for 10 weeks, we had one night to show off what we learned, and I got sick. (That’s also the reason this post is delayed.)

I think God was making something pretty clear – because I got invited to give two talks that same day to different schools. Which is huge.

It wasn’t what I wanted necessarily. I wanted to perform with my classmates, I wanted my teacher to see what I could do, I wanted to show off, I didn’t want to listen to the little voice in my head telling me that maybe my time doing fun theater is coming to an end. Tough love. Sometimes it’s what we need.

Sometimes we need a reminder that our ideas may not be the ones of God. And we need to step back and reflect on what we’re doing, decide if it’s the same as what God wants us to be doing.

Now is the perfect time for that. Because today is Ash Wednesday.

Lent started today. A season dedicated to penance, to changing our hearts, preparing for the celebration of Easter. Lent is about discovering ways to grow closer to God and show our love for Him, maybe by sacrifice, or by going to adoration, or praying more, or just deciding to dedicate time to discovering who God wants us to be. There are tons of ways to keep Lent the sacred season it is. And it’ll be different for each of us.

My lenten acts will be to dedicate a lot more time to working on Heroic Catholic writing, (study guides, books, posts, etc.) and making myself get out and get to know people at the Catholic Student Center at my college. The latter will be much harder for me than the former, but Lent isn’t about keeping everything easy.

Lent isn’t about piling on as many sacrifices as you can think of either. Any sacrifice you decide to make should direct you to becoming closer to God. If giving up sweets helps you find a way to focus on God and Religion, awesome. IF giving up Facebook means you spend that time in prayer or reading or study of the Faith – fantastic. Maybe you don’t give anything up, that’s cool too.

This Lent I’m trying something new for me. A little sacrifice each day, and adding a little something to enrich my faith life each day. (Like no chocolate one day, and add a decade of the Rosary before I sleep that same day)

This Lent I’m trying to say less “I want” and more of “Your will be done” in my life, words, and deeds. I want to love Him better. To keep discovering what He has planned and follow those plans, letting His love for me be my guide.

Love isn’t always easy. Sometimes love means missing something you wanted to do, so that another door can be opened. Who knows where Love will lead us if we stay open to it? I want to find out.

Keep one another in your prayers this Lenten season, I’ll be praying for y’all too.

~

Catherine

P.S. I challenge you to lay in bed before you sleep and just ask God to speak in your heart. Ask Him what you are called to be and do – then just listen. Place yourself in His presence and know that you are loved greatly by Him and He wants to lead you ever closer to His heart.

 

 

Love is…

It’s February, and this month holds many special days within it. Like Mardi Gras next Tuesday, the beginning of Lent next Wednesday, St. Blaise’s feast day this Wednesday – and St. Valentine’s day as well, two weeks from yesterday.

All very centered around one simple thing, love.

 

I say simple, but the reality is that love is both the simplest and most complicated force at work in nature. The power and magnitude of love is incredible. Last Sunday’s readings focused on love. Let’s look at the second one again – from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

 

“Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it 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.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 COR 12:31—13:13

At first glance love seems so simple. Something easy to do, and it is! But let’s look at what St. Paul says love is – and what love isn’t. What we are with love, and without love.

This passage opens up with St. Paul’s familiar greeting: “Brothers and sisters”, a greeting that reminds us of the fact that we are one family, one body in Christ. And that is a beautiful symbol of love.

He then goes on to say that we should strive for the best spiritual gifts, yet he will show us a better way. The way of love.

I love the next part. Where he writes that without love, it matters not what we say, for we are like resounding gongs or clashing cymbals.  Think about that. If you speak to someone in a loving way, your words go across and are more likely to touch the heart of the person you’re speaking to. Whereas if you speak without love, and instead with something of hatred or anger, you’ll get nowhere.

We are nothing without love. Our faith matters not if we fail to have love. All our knowledge, comprehension of mysteries, prophecies, it means nothing without love.

We gain nothing from giving things away, offering things up, if we do not do it out of love.

Love is God. and God is love.

St. Paul’s next paragraph is one of the best known passages in the New Testament, I think, and I encourage you to go re-read it. It is powerful in how it shows what love truly is. How love should be. What love should not be.

Love is a beautiful thing.

Never discount the power of love. The final part of that reading goes,

So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.” 

Greater than faith. Greater than hope. Love is greatest.

This month, focus on love. The meaning of it, the power of it, think about how much God loves you – because He loves you an awful lot. You are a miracle. You are incredible. You are made in the image and likeness of God – made in the image of love.

Think about that.

Next time we’ll look at more examples of God’s love as shown to us throughout the Bible. Check back soon

~

Catherine

Who are we?

It’s 12:35 at night and I’m trying to go to sleep. But then I feel a need to do something, to write.  And that’s how things happen sometimes. At the strangest times and in the strangest ways, God pushes us to do things.  So, moral of this little story – writers should keep computer or notebook by them at all times – and, if you can’t sleep – maybe God’s trying to ask you to do something.

Anyway, this post is a bit different than what I usually write. But like I said, I feel a need to write it. So here we go:

I don’t know about y’all, but I know that I frequently feel inadequate or not good enough or like I’m not living up to people’s expectations. Then it takes me a bit, but I remember that I am good enough. I am adequate. And the only expectations that matter are the ones God has for me. But the feelings still come and go. Tonight, earlier, was one of those times. I don’t even know why. It just was.  So I started writing a poem that I’m going to share with y’all – read it all the way to the end.

Who am I? 

I am wounded. I am yearning. 

For what I do not know. Many would say I have it all, 

and yet that is not so. 

I am reaching, I am searching. 

A reason there is still to find. They all think I’m wonderful, 

and yet I fall behind. 

I am hurting. I am floundering. 

There must be a way out. Still no one can hear,

no matter how I shout. 

I am broken. I am shattered. 

I hide it all behind my smiles. No one must ever know 

the weight I bear for many miles. 

I am hopeless. I am flawed. 

Show me a reason. Let me want to live. 

Let me know what I can give. 

I am trying. I am learning. 

Aches still fill my heart. Is everyone so blind to 

What they see as art? 

I am wanting. I am shouting. 

Keeping it all very disguised. No pressure put on anyone. 

Let them believe the lies. 

I am fine. I am happy. 

Easy words to always say. And simple enough to prove

In the cheery light of day.

I am smiling. I am crying. 

It appears as joyful tears. No one stops to listen to the 

pain of each and every year. 

I am laughing. I am joking. 

Always ready with the smartest pun. Would anyone notice, perhaps,

if one day I was done? 

I am praying. I am pleading. 

To find an escape, a way to get out. And still I’m locked inside, 

seeming only to pout. 

I am needing. I am thirsting. 

And all my answers are there. I put them upon the cross, 

for He will gladly bear. 

I am tired. I am forlorn. 

The peace I long for never came. He lifts my face to His and 

I no longer feel the same.  

I am seeing. I am hearing.  

A plan for me there now. The trembles disappear as 

before Him I will bow. 

I am peaceful. I am wanted. 

For His love fills every need. Each day I grow in Him, 

now a sapling from the seed. 

I am finding. I am singing. 

Praise to Him on high! My heart will not be troubled, 

I no longer need to lie. 

I am loving. I am healing. 

It never matters what they think. When it becomes too much again, 

on my knees I will sink. 

I am His Child. I am His joy.  

Let me always sing his song. Night and day, day and night, 

in Him I will belong. 

I am Loved

I am loved. And so are you. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your grades in school may be, no matter how many or how few friends you have, what your family is like, etc. remember this: You are loved. I think sometimes we get wrapped up in looking at the world around us that we forget to look inside and see how much He loves us and wants us to know Him. It’s easy to fall into despair or hopelessness if we fail to keep Him in our hearts. Yet if we remain in Him, He remains in us and He will be our source of everlasting peace and joy.

Especially when the world around us is dark and seems to be full of nothing but bitterness, ugliness, death, and suffering, we need to remind ourselves that Love surrounds us and holds us. And if we have His love we must share it with others. Be a light for the darkened world to see. Be hope for those who have none. Be a friend to the one without a friend. Be a light.

That’s who we are. We are loved. We are a people of joy. We are lights for the world to see. We are HIS. And He is ours.

Never forget that.

Pray for those who don’t know His love or try to deny it. I’ll be praying too. And I ask you pray for me, as I will pray for you.

~

Catherine

P.S. Now maybe I’ll sleep…

#2844

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – to be a Catholic is to be Pro-Life. You can’t be Catholic and pro-choice. It just doesn’t work.

That being said, let me tell you a little about what LSU’s Students For Life Club spent yesterday doing.

We were out on campus by 6:30am (which is incredibly early for most of us, myself included!) to set up a huge display on the parade grounds. What did this display consist of? 2844 pink and blue flags. Why that number? Check the picture below and you’ll see:

Why 2844

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast thinks that Louisiana needs 2844 more abortions every year to be “healthy” and they want to provide those abortions at the new clinic they’re trying to build in New Orleans. So each flag represents one child Planned Parenthood thinks needs to be aborted. Isn’t that horrific?

And get this – the new clinic was supposed to be up and running by now. Instead it’s still in the building stages, early building stages. So there are at least 2844 babies who were born in the last year that Planned Parenthood thinks shouldn’t have been born – but aborted.  Isn’t that insane?!

We also had big boards set up with all kinds of information:

photo 4photo 3photo 2-2 photo 3-2 photo 1-2

All day long we had people coming and talking to us about the exhibit, what it meant, and we made a whole lot of people start thinking about what Planned Parenthood is really about. It was a good day.

Here’s some pictures of the flags:

photo 2photo 1

We’re in the middle of 40 days for life right now! Do something to stand for life – whether it be praying outside an abortion clinic, wearing a pro-life t-shirt, or just offering prayers for all those affected by and involved with abortion.

~

Catherine

Back to the beginning

#TBT to when this all started:

photo-5

A board up in my room, with notecards like that one taped all over it. (That’s the only one I still have – wish I had kept the rest!) A flame sparked by the idea that we Catholics don’t know enough about why we believe what we believe. That realization I came to after spending months talking to a non-Catholic friend and having to keep a stack of books by my computer to answer her every question.  Basic questions. Things that I now talk about and give the answers to in my book!

Last year at this point I was happier than I’d ever been on Christmas morning – because the email containing this was sitting in my inbox:

“We are only young once. It’s a time of exploration and excitement, of growth and challenges. Catherine Stewart has done an excellent job helping her fellow young people make the most of this wonderful time of life. Her book, How to Become a Heroic Catholic, will help many grow closer to God, to take on the challenges that face them, to explore their faith, and to experience just how exciting God’s plan for their lives can be. Bravo, Catherine!”
–Jimmy Akin, young-at-heart author of The Fathers Know Best
I don’t think I can correctly describe the joy this brought me, and continues to bring me.  Getting affirmation for my work from one of my favorite authors – that’s something incredible!
This journey has been amazing. Ups and downs? Oh yeah.  Like discovering the second part to this call from God. Not just writing. But facing one of my biggest fears: Public Speaking.
If you’ve heard one of my talks, then you know that one of the first things you hear me say is “I’m terrified of public speaking” or more recently, “I’m slowly getting over my fear of public speaking”. It’s not something that is easy or natural for me to do, in fact its quite the opposite. I couldn’t do it without the courage and strength that comes from God.
If you asked me last year at this point if I thought I could give a 30min talk to over a hundred 8th graders, directly followed by a 30min talk to over a hundred 7th graders, followed still by a 30min talk to over a hundred 6th graders – I’d’ve told you that you’re crazy.
Just like if you had asked me at this point last year how I thought my book would sell, or if I thought that it would reach more than 1500 people, I’d say I had no idea. You see – success for me was having *one* person read my book.  God’s plans are huge and incredible! I’ve been learning how to trust in Him and know that He will give me all I need to do what He has planned. I encourage you to do the same.
This past week I had the opportunity to do that crazy thing I mentioned above – the 3 talks in a row – at a local Catholic school. Oh my gosh, it was amazing! I spent as much time doing Q&A with the students as I did giving my talk! And they loved it as much as I did. They asked tons of good questions, and when I asked them who they thought of as “Heroic Catholics” the answers I got were neat, from St. Joan of Arc, to St John the Evangelist, to their own priest, to a grandma, etc. So cool!
And they got to see how much work it takes to write a book. I brought every single draft I went through of Heroic Catholic and showed them. It was impressive apparently.
I can’t wait to go back there for the school Book Fair and have time to talk 1 on 1 with the students, get books in their hands, and just hang out!  Lots of them are young writers and I want to encourage them. It’ll be epic 😀
OH! And the Pope is here. In the US! I’m thrilled for all my friends and everyone who gets to go see him! Just be careful what you read about what he says in the media – they like to get it wrong.  Be choosy about your sources online, for anything. 😉 Especially Catholic things.
It’d be so cool to get Pope Francis a copy of my book. I’d love to have that happen somehow.
~
Catherine
P.S. Be on the lookout for special events and offers coming up soon to celebrate 1 year! Heroic Catholic’s Birthday is October 17th!

If not Scripture Alone…

then what?

Last week we examined the case for breaking down Sola Scriptura using a collection of quotes, both biblically and historically based:

Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 1 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 2 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 3 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 4 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 5 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 6 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 7 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 8 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 9 Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 10

And it was seen how the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, or the Bible Alone – with its meaning up to the interpretation of anyone who picks up the Bible – doesn’t hold up.

But is there a case for Tradition? Where do we get this belief – Apostolic Tradition- from?

I’ll show you 😉

This week we’ll look at that. The case of Tradition!

I’m not talking about traditions like going to Grandma’s on thanksgiving, I’m talking about capital “T” Tradition.

It’s pretty neat. Our first quote comes from the Bible, St. Paul is commending the Corinthians on keeping the Traditions he has delivered them.

Tradition 1
Share this with your friends! Help each other become Heroic Catholics 😀

~
Catherine

The Best Offense

You’ve probably heard this before: the best offense is a good defense.  And that certainly holds true for a lot of things in life, including your faith life. If you’re prepared and understand your faith yourself – you’ll be able to take the defensive stance where you protect and explain what you believe vs. the offensive stance where you’d be more accusatory and attacking.  The better your defense, the better you’re off. If you’ve read the book this site is about, then you already have a good foundation for your defensive strategies. If not – and you’re interested in the book, just go to the tab at the top of the site and you’ll find where to get it , if you don’t want the book – that’s cool.

In my last post I mentioned this quote:

“Beware of the person of one book”

It’s an interesting quote, to be sure, and I like it.

Why?

Well, that’s actually going to be the first topic of the series I’m launching: The Heroic Catholic’s Toolbox

Sets of images of quotes and explanations for them to further your understanding of Catholic beliefs and how to defend them, as well as deconstructing  some protestant beliefs and showing the holes in them. They’ll be posted daily on the Facebook page – and weekly I’ll do a post here with the full set for that week.

The first week’s topic is directly related to the above quote. It’s called, “Ubi Est Sola Scriptura?” meaning “Where is Scripture Alone?” Sola Scriptura, in case you can’t guess, means Scripture alone. The Bible alone is basis for all truth. No tradition. Nothing else. Everyone is free to interpret scripture as they wish. IF you don’t agree with someone, start your own church. Because then you will be the one that’s right. Yes? no.

Now do you see how it relates to the quote from earlier?

If not – it’ll become more clear throughout the week. Don’t worry.

This set has 10 different quotes I’m going to post and explain over the next week, starting today. Share them on Facebook! They’ll be Pinterest too!

Here’s the first one from the set:

Ubi Est Sola Scriptura 5

From St. Vincent of Lerins, “Since some may ask, “Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient; what need is there to join with the authority of the Church’s interpretation?” For this reason – because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another, so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters.”

He wrote that in the 5th century. Yet it rings true today, especially when you look at all the thousands of different Protestant Denominations of Christianity. They each use the same Bible (not the same one we use – that’s another thing we’ll discuss, don’t worry) but each interprets it in their own way. So you have 30,000+ different ideas for how the Bible should be interpreted. Do you see the problem with this? There’s only ONE correct way to interpret Scripture. That’s what St. Vincent is telling us – the Catholic Church, through the Magesterium, helps us to know what is the Truth and understand the meaning behind each verse in the Bible. We (Catholics) all share one belief in how to understand it. Without the authority of the Church’s interpretation, we’d be lost. No one could know the right way. Think about it. It just doesn’t make sense.  St Vincent is spot on, though.  Don’t you think?

Now:

I encourage you to share what you learn with others, even just by sharing this link on Facebook. It’d also help me out.

You can also just sit back and enjoy your day – I don’t know about you but the weather down here is actually really nice right now. It’s not too hot, breezy, and comfortable for sitting outside.

~

Catherine