Monthly Archives: July 2014

Looking too Far Ahead

Dear Pope Francis,

First Day of School

All set for school!

It’s happening! It’s the end of July, and I’m ready for it to be fall. While, I am really excited to travelling home today, and wouldn’t want to wish the month of August away entirely, fall is definitely on my mind. It has a little bit to do with the fact that the weather has been fall-like here in Toronto the last couple of days, and that I’ve been scrambling to research for papers I need to write while I’m home (summer courses are a great idea, until there are papers to write…)

I am always the person who gets excited for the new thing. When it’s summer, I can’t wait for fall, and when it’s fall, I can’t wait for winter. When I’m on the East Coast, I look forward to going back to Toronto, and when I’m in Toronto, I can’t wait to go east. To some degree, I love living my life this way, because there is always something to look forward to. Sometimes, I run the risk of wishing away things when I’m bored with them (like every summer break for twelve plus years). When I start wishing things away, I have a much harder time enjoying them for what they are.

In addition to looking forward to the next thing, I love countdowns. At one point in May, I had four countdowns happening, one for my sister’s visit, one for Meredith’s first Toronto visit, one for another friend’s visit, and one for my trip in June. I will countdown how many assignments I have left to pass in at the end of the semester (three before September), how many courses I have left until I finish my M.Div. (seven), and just about anything else that seems relevant in my life (the next installment of my favourite book series, perhaps…). Thankfully, I have never had a countdown until I could start counting down (I don’t personally know anyone who has done this, but I believe someone, somewhere has!).

But all of this looking forward, off into the distance, stops me from looking at the ground right in front of me.

I know when I go for a walk, I’m supposed to walk with my head up to keep good posture, but sometimes, I need to watch the ground right in front of me because there are things on the sidewalk that could trip me (or maybe I’m just kicking a stone along and I need to see where it went). Looking at the ground right in front of me, while preventing an immediate fall, doesn’t give me a very good sense of direction, and doesn’t mean that I will notice when I’m about to run into a pole. So, I need to be able to do both, watch the ground and keep half an eye out for the general direction that I’m heading.

Cracks in the Sidewalk

Don’t trip!

I use discernment to help me keep a general direction. Movements of consolation or desolation help me to acknowledge where it is safe to walk, and when there are poles that I need to avoid. Sometimes they also tell me when I need to wait for something, like waiting for the cars before I cross the street. I will ultimately get to where I need to go, but I need some patience first.  In real life These safe places, poles and crosswalks, could be things like knowing that I to go home for a bit, or knowing that taking a certain job isn’t the right fit, or waiting out a tough time. Having a sense of the general direction that I’m going, allows me to recognize the smaller things that might trip me up, all the curbs, rocks and cracks in the sidewalk. I can avoid them, while keeping my general direction.

I think it’s been safe to say that there’s been lots of discernment for both Meredith and I in the last few months. I have definitely tripped up a little bit in the process, but as with anything else, I get up, dust myself off, and try to avoid running into the same pole or tripping over the same curb in the future.

 

Going for a discernment walk,

Lauren

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The Most Important Things I Learned at Day Camp

Dear Pope Francis,

Sailor

Leading an expedition on the stormy Mediterranean Sea to find St. Paul

This is the first summer in four years that I haven’t worked for a day camp. There were two, one on the East Coast that I worked at for three summers, one summer as a councillor and two as director, and one in Toronto, where I was a councillor for one summer. I loved every minute of it! Both were Christian camps, although the one on the East Coast used a distinctly Catholic program.

As I think back over my years, I realized I learned a lot from working at camp. Here are the most important lessons:

  1. Having a plan is important, but so is throwing the plan out the window. When I arrived at my very first day at camp, I was all about the plan. I watched the clock, making sure that my sessions never went over time, and that the kids were always where they needed to be. It is important that someone keeps an eye on the clock, and has a plan, but as I very quickly learned that, when working with 20-60 kids, even the best laid plans get side tracked very quickly. It’s okay though, because usually when the plans get sidetracked is when the fun happens!
  2. Repetition is important. The first three summers at camp, we ran the same program in seven different locations, and by the end of the summer, the councillors could burst into any song, complete with actions, at any time, and act out the daily clip of the cartoon we showed the kids. By the time the end of the summer came, we were glad for the reprieve. But, there were days that those songs and stories would strike me in a different way. I would realize a new or deeper truth in the words I was singing, or connect with the stories differently. Since then, I relish the opportunity to hear my favourite bible passages again, or sing my favourite hymns again, but there is something new to discover.
  3. Full Car

    Packing up after a week at camp.

    Packing up the mess really isn’t the end. Because my first camp ran in different locations, every Friday we had to pack up and move all our supplies, which could sometimes be a pain (working at camp that stayed in one place only further proved this). But it didn’t matter whether we physically moved locations, or stayed in the same place and the kids moved on, the end of a camp session was sad. Every councillor bonded with certain kids and we all wished that we could bring them with us to the next location. But packing up the mess in one location meant that we could unpack it in a new location on Monday morning. Every week was a new adventure, with new kids to bond with, new jokes to share and new shenanigans to get into.

  4. The tough stuff will come and go. It doesn’t matter how big or small the group is, there will always be a few who test my nerves. Some weeks, there’s just a while lot of kids, and I could usually guess which weeks would have larger groups than others. I would dread those weeks, and arrive at camp Monday morning, with grit and determination to outlast these kids. I surviv would Monday and Tuesday, and then (yes!) it’s Wednesday, and there’s only two more days! Thursday would be a blur of prepping, and Friday had its own schedule which made the day fly by. Bam, the week is over! Like the tough weeks at camp, I can anticipate the tough or stressful times in my life (like the end of semester work crunch). Like the tough weeks at camp, I tackle the tough stuff head on. Sometimes, tough stuff lasts longer than a week, but being able to get through the tough weeks, means that I can get through the tough seasons of life, because they will have to end, it’s just a matter of when.
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Breaking out my acting skills for a skit one of the kids wrote

And perhaps the most important thing that camp taught me is:

  1. Sink in and enjoy. The first summer I worked at camp, I was nervous. I wanted the kids to like me, but I was so worried about it, that I didn’t actually get to enjoy being with them. Over the next three summers, I realized that camp was a whole lot more fun when I relaxed and just enjoyed. Yes, I had responsibilities to take care of, but even when I had to take care of those, it all went much smoother when I sunk into the program and went with the flow (whether that included dressing up, letting kids style my hair or playing cards for hours on end). It’s a lot like life. When I stop worrying about who might be watching me (or worse, judging me), and just let myself be and enjoy what’s going on, then I have a whole lot more fun, and I get a whole lot more out of the experience.

 

Those are the five most important things that I learned at day camp. I learned lots of other important things (like how to snap my fingers in a Z-formation, and make friendship bracelets with embroidery string, and play Skip-Bo, one my favourite card game). In all of these things I learned at day camp, I realized that God is calling me to ministry, and that is definitely to most important thing I realized at day camp.

 

Breaking out some favourite camp songs and actions,

Lauren

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Exciting news

Hey Pope Francis,

Thanks for the prayers! I heard back from the thing I didn’t want to get specific about and I’ve got some news to share.

I’ll be writing a few news articles a month for Youth Speak News at The Catholic Register starting this fall. It’s just volunteer, but I’m super pumped about it because it’s an opportunity to get started in Catholic media and meet some of the people who are already doing it here in Toronto.

The other thing I’m really excited about, I don’t have a link for yet. But I submitted a review of Crimes Against My Brother by David Adams Richards to The Catholic Review of Books and the last I heard it was going in to the next issue. I was hoping to post a picture of me grinning and pinning the review on the fridge at my parents like I did with the first article I wrote for The Aquinian, but it doesn’t seem to be out yet and I haven’t seen it on their website. I’ll share the link once I can, I’m really proud of the review I wrote. I know bragging isn’t ladylike, but it’s one of those things … I just want to share it because it feels like a really big step.

I haven’t felt like doing any journalistic writing in so long. I really thought it wasn’t something I was going to do, but I’m starting to wonder if it was just a huge bruise on my soul after all the nonsense with the students’ union fourth year. The last few weeks I’ve been thinking in terms of stories again. Asking questions without having to force it.

I’m still feeling really pulled towards some kind of ministry and thinking about high school chaplaincy as a possibility, and I’m so excited to be teaching catechism to the grade twos at my church this fall. But the part of me that loves writing and mixing sound and sharing stories is coming back. It’s hard, like waking up after a very deep sleep. The muscles are stiff, but it feels good to stretch them again.

Anyways. Mum and my sisters are waiting in the car for me, we’re heading up to the cottage for the week. More when I get back.

Blessings!

Meredith

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Faith Seeds and Hope Dirt

Dear Pope Francis,

I was really excited to hear my hands-down-favourite bible verse in the readings at Church on Sunday: the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)Mustard Seed Faith. Usually when I think of people who love a bible verse, they quote it a lot, or perhaps they have it tattooed somewhere, or written all over their daybooks, notebooks and cellphone case. I have written down lots of bible verses, especially on the inside covers of my prayer journals, but each of those quotes spoke to me in a specific time, while I was going through a particular set of spiritual events in my life.

What makes the Parable of the Mustard Seed different? Well, it’s one of the very few bible passages that pop up randomly, but I immediately connect with it. The first time I heard it was during prayer about four years ago. I was just finishing my first summer working as a camp councillor and realizing that I may be called to ministry. However, at the time I had no idea how that would happen. The response to my prayer was almost immediate: “mustard seed” and, turning to my friends, I quoted that verse almost verbatim, except that I hadn’t thought of it at any recent point before that moment. Since then, it continues to pop up over and over. Most recently it was on Sunday, when I really needed some peace for confusion I’d been feeling.

Another reason why I love this bible verse is that it doesn’t matter when it pops up in my life, it is always relevant. If there is one thing I really struggle with, it’s having faith; it’s the reason why I most frequently relate to Peter when he questions Jesus and Thomas when he asks for proof of the resurrection. This verse always reminds me that having faith isn’t a weakness; it is because of faith that God will do great things through me. It also reassures me that it doesn’t take a lot of faith. When I’ve been feeling unfaithful, it’s really nice to know that I don’t have to come back with a ten-page essay explaining why I doubted and a fifty point action plan for how I will avoid doubt in the future.

SproutFinally, I love this passage because it reminds me that what seems small to me in this moment, can grow into something massive. In that moment four years ago when I first heard this passage in prayer I was teetering on the cusp of where God was calling me. I had ben profoundly impacted by the events of that summer, and knew that God had something in store for me. In the weeks and months that followed, I started my third year of undergrad, switched friend groups, got involved at the UPEI Chaplaincy Centre and began to seriously consider doing my M.Div. Four years later, that little tiny seed of faith that got planted has grown. I moved to go to school, and I’m almost finished of my M.Div. I have done a lot of things that four years ago sounded absolutely impossible – and all because of one little seed of faith.
The most exciting part is that I have a new seed of faith. I have been praying about next steps and discerning where I might be called. This was really stressful for a while. Not that I have any sort of definitive plan or clear knowledge of what is next, but I have hope that God is going to come through, and do something awesome. Now, I need to plant this faith seed, as tiny as it is, in hope, water it with prayer and let it grow, because I know that as it grows it will surprise and challenge me, but when it’s fully grown, it will be beautiful.

Getting my hands dirty,

Lauren

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Controlling and coping

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s been a busy week. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had a lot of hours at work. Over all, it’s still just part time but the individual shifts are long and leave me pretty wiped out the next day. I’ve had a few interviews for other jobs and volunteer positions, but until I have something solid to report I’m keeping quiet on the details. As always, prayers are great!

I haven’t been writing recently, not because my life has been super busy or because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I’ve been worrying about how pretty much the only things I post on Facebook these days are links to mine and Lauren’s posts on LTP, and a lot of what I’ve been thinking about feels very private.

Facebook-Privacy-GuidePart of it is a result of a conscious decision I made to not post so much of my life on Facebook a couple years ago. Sometimes (like once in a blue moon, and none in recent history) I get messages from creepy people, and generally when it happens I get super paranoid about my privacy for a while. I’ll purge my friends list of everyone who isn’t family, who I don’t know in person, haven’t spoken to in the last six months or who I wouldn’t be genuinely interested to catch up with if we ran into each other on the bus. I untag myself in most photos and go through all the pages I’ve liked and the groups I’ve joined and remove myself from everything. I generally try to avoid posting ubiquitous status updates and am often accused of being the slowest person ever in regards to putting up pictures if I’m the photographer at an event with friends.

Most of the time, I ignore the internal contradiction of being both intensely private about my own life and a reporter.

Yesterday, a reporter friend from school posted on her blog about how private her own journey back to Christ felt. She wrote about being nervous of what her Facebook friends would think if she posted the link to her blog, and about how the long-term consequences of being silent about faith aren’t worth it.

Something I really admire about Tara is how upfront she is about being Christian. She posts about things she’s grateful for, bible study, and the ways her car tests her faith. Her online presence is generally really positive, even when she’s having a hard day and I always get the sense that her relationship with Christ is something which really permeates every area of her life.

I’m not trying to compare myself to her or put myself down for being less active on social media than she is. I’m sharing the link to her blog because I’ve been struggling with a similar question lately. Tara wondered what her Facebook friends would think about her posting about her faith. I wonder what people will think if I share the big life stuff which has challenged and informed and deepened mine.

Something I struggle with in these letters is finding the line between being honest about what I’m struggling with in my spiritual life and my experience of being a young Catholic woman in a largely secular culture; and maintaining my privacy. I don’t want my posts on this blog to be like journal entries. The closer something is to my heart the harder it is for me to put it up here.

But at the same time, a lot of what I have to say about my relationship with Christ and why it runs so deep doesn’t translate well to writing without also writing about the big life stuff that’s happened. Even the broadest strokes – two years of crisis after crisis on all fronts leading to a major depressive episode followed by a nervous breakdown, an identity crisis, and a year of going through the motions outside while paralyzed inside by my own anxieties. It’s not like you can just bust it out and say “and that’s why me and Jesus are tight.”

My 17-year-old sister was really upset with me during the drive back to Ontario because I hadn’t told her much of anything about my life in New Brunswick over the last few years and I wasn’t just spilling everything. What she knew was the stuff I shared with my parents, and she was hurt that I didn’t seem to care enough or trust her enough to tell her anything myself.

If you weren’t in the JDH cafeteria during the winter of 2013 when I ran out of money on my meal card and then cried because Jeremy, the Tim Horton’s guy paid the $1.72 for my medium earl grey tea and I couldn’t comprehend why someone was being nice to me; you probably would have thought I had my shit together based on what I put online. I live-tweeted the students’ union meetings and posted status updates about whatever assignments I was working on and the things I cooked when I was procrastinating on those assignments.

Controlling what I put on social media started as a coping strategy when everything was outside my control before I moved away. Over the years control over my information expanded from the Internet to include more and more of the details of my life until it included everything and nothing.

I know being so intensely private offline is affecting relationships. Something’s gotta give, and I suspect it might have to be some of my privacy.

Trying to open up,

Meredith

Source: xkcd.com

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Negativity and Radical Gratitude

Dear Pope Francis,

Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn I am being bombarded with negative messages. There is devastating reports coming from the Middle East, and the Ukraine. My Facebook feed seems to be full complaints, and if not outright grumblings, there are all sorts of negative connotations. In many cases, these posts are meant to be downers, they are simply highlighting the negative stuff happening in the world.Duking it out

As I was thinking about all of this stuff I was surprised to find out how much it has been impacting me. I’ve caught myself complaining to others about the few happy things that people were posting (although I was calling it sappy, which only points out my issues with the content). As a result, I’ve been more attentive to how exactly I’m responding to life in general, both global news stories and my own personal life. For the most part it’s been pretty negative, even the words I choose have a more negative connotation than other words I could have chosen (like referring to the happy Facebook posts as sappy; being sappy is not a bad thing, but I said it with a generous helping of disdain).

So now, I could spend the rest of this post theologizing about negativity versus positivity, or throw around platitudes (see there I go, negative connotation) like “look at the glass half full, not half empty”. I could propose we all focus on finding the happy things in our lives, or better yet, we could all sit around a campfire and sing happy songs, tell jokes and eat s’mores (*sarcasm sign*).

However, when all is said and done, there isn’t a whole lot I can do to address the global events, like war in the Middle East, so I will pray fervently because that’s the best I can do. But I can begin to address some of the negativity in my own life. It’s easier said than done, but I can choose not to engage in it. I have already recognized where I’m being hyper-critical, negative and pessimistic. Instead of dwelling on those, or beating myself up, I can acknowledge that I said them, and move on, hopefully the negative with something, if not positive at least neutral.

This is easier said than done; it has to be a conscious choice, much the same way that I am challenging myself to be radically grateful. Gratitude, like positivity, doesn’t mean that everything is perfect or always sunshine and smiles. It means appreciating what I have in this moment and focusing on those good things, even though there are negative things in the world, I am in a bad mood, or I am being materialistic. At the end of the day, both positivity and gratitude are conscious choices, choices, at least for positivity, that I haven’t been making very often lately.

Trying to turn the frown upside-down,

Lauren

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Space Tells a Story

Dear Pope Francis,

I’m finally starting to get really excited about going home to the East Coast for a while. Aside from the more obvious reasons for being so excited, like seeing my family and friends, going to the beaches (I know Ontario has beaches, but fresh water beaches just don’t do it for me), and quiet. Underneath those things, there’s another, deeper reason. Put simply, my roots are on the East Coast, and there is something very powerful about being in that space which nourishes me in a way that other spaces simply don’t. It is where most of my life story happened. Those spaces at home tell the story of my life in a physical way, that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

IMG_20140617_092602

Stumbling Stones* in Berlin are placed throughout the city as a memorial to victims of the Holocaust

I have been significantly more attuned to the power of space since I returned from Europe. As I walked around Berlin I was acutely aware of the fact that it is a city that is recovering. Missing buildings, walls with bullet holes, and memorials designed to trip you up* tell a sad story in a way that struck me more profoundly than any other rendition of the story I’ve heard. They made the stories come alive in a way that no verbal or written description could do.

Walking in the Auschwitz concentration camps was eerie because they looked just like the pictures I have seen my whole life. For as much as they were the site of untold suffering and death, I still had a sense, standing on the edge of the field where the bodies were burned in Auschwitz II – Birkeneau, that I was walking on hallowed ground; for as much as those people had a final resting place, I was standing in it, and that gave me cold shivers.

We, as a Church have a tradition of recognizing sacred spaces, and using them to tell stories. Pilgrimages to holy sites are really important for some people’s spiritual practice. More locally, Churches are designated as sacred spaces, and their architecture and décor help to make that designation. Icons, artwork, and the Crucifix help to draw the congregation into a reality that is beyond them. It doesn’t matter what church I am standing in, I can sense that this is a space that is set aside for a very specific purpose. The very space itself is inviting me into God’s presence.

The Wansee House

The villa where the Wansee Conference was hosted in January 1942.

All of these spaces invite me into something larger than myself. A church invites me to experience God, travelling in Europe invited me to participate in history in a physical way, and going home invites me to revisit my personal roots, tangled up in the roots of the community. It is precisely this invitation to participate that makes space so powerful for me. I can read books, look at pictures or talk to people who have experienced the place, but they don’t invite me in, or engulf me in that reality. But being there does. Standing at the Wansee Villa in Berlin**, which was arguably the most difficult and unexpected part of the trip for me, engulfed me in the apparent normalcy of what was going on for these Nazi officers (they saw that as a business meeting, not condemning millions of people to death), in a way that no book or lecture or picture could ever do.

Recognizing the power of space encourages me to harness it and help me to recharge and heal. I have been thinking about all the places that are important to me, and I look forward to being able to go back to them, and allow them to invite me back into my own story.

Resisting the urge to pack my bags,

Lauren

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A close up of the stumbling stones

*The Stumbling Stone memorials are located throughout Berlin in memory of the various victims of the Holocaust. They are laid into the street or sidewalk at the home or work place of the person being remembered (usually a Jew who had been deported or escaped the country), and the stones are engraved with the person’s name, date of deportation, fate and date of death (if known).

**The Minoux Villa is the location of the Wansee Conference hosted on January 20, 1942. It was during this conference that various Nazi leaders made plans for the Final Solution as the answer to the “Jewish Question”. The house was converted into a museum in 1992, the 50th anniversary of the conference.

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World Cup 2014

Dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,

Congratulations on Germany’s 1-0 victory over Argentina yesterday. Wasn’t as shiny as the 7 goal game against Brazil, but it was good. I enjoyed following it on twitter while I was looking at houses with my parents.

– Meredith

Dear Pope Francis,

I left for work at 9am Saturday and didn’t get home until 3:45am Sunday. Fifteen hours is a ridiculous shift.

I got up for mass yesterday and then went house shopping with my parents because it’s bad form to be taking a nap while the open house is happening.

I start another 11 hour shift in an hour.

Proper letter coming tomorrow. Right now, I need to iron a blouse and restrain my hair.

Sore and in need of caffeine,

Meredith

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Building a Community of Vocations

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s the middle of July, and I’m starting to get bored of summer vacation. Yes, you read that right, I’m getting bored.Calendar I’m the kind of person that likes to be busy all the time, which provides its own unique set of challenges, one of which is that the four months summer breaks are just too long for me. This summer has been unique in that it’s broken up differently than I had originally thought, but nonetheless, I’m ready to be a full time student again.

As much as I’m trying not to think ahead to September, it is very difficult, because there are some really interesting things happening: new students to meet at school (plus I get to see my other school friends regularly again!), new classes (which I’m really excited to take), and it’s my final year. It feels odd writing that, because for the first time in my life, I don’t see myself going back to school in the near future. Instead of being able to plan a few years of my life at a time because I’ll be in school, I’m taking it small chunk by small chunk. Thinking about these smaller chunks has me thinking about discernment, which almost always goes hand in hand with vocations.

I stumbled across this provocatively named article, “Your Vocation is not about You”. VocationsAt first I was horrified; of course my vocation is about me! But after reading the article, I agree with its basic argument: that my vocation is about serving God and my neighbour. If this is what I believe vocations to be about, then it has some very interesting implications for the culture of vocations I’ve heard a lot about.

Usually when I talk about the culture of vocations, I am referring to the creation of an open culture where people can talk and discern their vocation in a supportive and caring environment. As soon as I affirm that my vocation ultimately is to serve God and neighbour and how exactly I live that vocation (religious, married or single life) will be different, then I can’t discern that vocation apart from my community. I need to be part of community, not just for the personal support as I grapple with the doubt and confusion about where God might be calling me, but because it is only by being part of the community that I can begin to understand its needs and how I can best serve it with my gifts and skills.Community

If I refuse to be part of a community, then I can’t genuinely understand its needs. My ministry would be hollow and more of an autocratic dictatorship, regardless of how warm and welcoming I try to be or what kind of programming I run. There is no way that walking into a new parish and creating a youth ministry based on weekly bingo and cribbage nights would work out well (unless the youth are really into bingo and cribbage). This is a top-down model that really doesn’t respect the unique gifts, skills and needs of people I’m called to serve.

So in terms of discerning my next steps, I’m looking to the communities that I am currently part of: young adult ministry, my diverse school community, and my previous experiences in university chaplaincy and children’s ministry to first discern what my gifts and skills are, and how they might be useful in these communities. As I do this, I’m trying to keep in mind that I hope to be working in a particular community with its own needs and priorities. I know from my own experience that God will call me to surprising places if I’m open-minded about where He is calling me. So, with an open mind, I want to embrace this deeper sense of a culture of vocations by reaching out to the communities I know personally, getting ready to launch from there. 

Counting down the days until school begins,

Lauren

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Dating outside the faith as a route to Christian unity

Dear Pope Francis,

On Monday, I wrote about why I think it’s a bad idea to flirt to convert. What I didn’t really look at was the larger issue of whether or not Catholics should date non-Catholics to begin with.

Looking at it from my own experience, I’ve gone out with a couple of baptized but not-practicing Catholics, a few pick your own protestant Christians, and a handful of atheists and agnostics. I’ve only gone out a couple of times with a practicing Catholic. He was a good date, but we both figured out pretty quickly that we were more suited to friendship than romance. Based on these experiences, I think I’m pretty well-qualified to argue both for and against dating outside the faith.

As someone who aspires to eventually marry and become a mother and foster parent, it’s really important to me to be able to include Christ in a relationship with my significant other. (How exactly it works is yet unseen. God stuff is a lot easier to talk about with Christian girls than Christian boys.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I wouldn’t even be here had my own parents not been open to dating outside their sects. Two friends with upcoming weddings are engaged to Christian-but-not-Catholic men.

My parents at their wedding reception.

My parents at their wedding reception.

When I look at what it means to be a Christian, the things that divide us and the things that bring us together I think marriage is the most unifying thing we can share as Christians beyond the passion and resurrection. When I was 12 or 13, I altar served at wedding masses pretty much every weekend from June-September.

Fr. Maderak had a really good homily he often gave about how a couple can help each other develop the fruits of the spirit, both by consciously trying to be more patient or more kind or more prudent themselves and by striving to see and reward the gains their spouse was making in whichever area.

One of the parts of the ceremony I always really loved was the lighting of the unity candle. Tara, the choir director and soloist at St. Leonard’s when I was there would sing a really beautiful piece which I think was called “When two become one” while the mothers of the bride and groom each lit a candle, and then the bride and groom lit a third candle together with the two flames. (I’d link the song, but I can’t find one that has the same tune as the one I’m thinking of.)

That image of the unity candle and the literal bringing together of two people, with all their faults but more importantly with all their gifts has always stuck with me. When two people get married and start a family together there’s two extended families being brought together too. Those extended families may have different cultures and different faiths, but they get exposed to each other over the years as the couple has kids and they grow up and eventually marry. That exposure helps breed not just tolerance, but acceptance which is I think much better. There’s so many opportunities for learning about what still makes us different from each other, but also about how at the core of it we believe in the same triune God.

In unity,
Meredith

P.S. I got invited to one of those friends’ wedding while I was writing today’s post, so now my face looks like this:all the happy at once

Yes it hurts a little, but only because I’m smiling so big because my heart is so happy. Yes, I would like a tissue thank you.

Categories: Meredith | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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