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Conversion Fasting HHS mandate Lynne Offering your suffering Prayer Year of Faith

Fasting for Freedom

 

It’s the Christmas season: a time of feasting that we anticipate all year.  As much as I want to savor this time, I find myself preoccupied with more penitential thoughts.

Just as God guilted me into praying the rosary, He’s been using His relentless, persistent tactics to convince me of the need for a change in my life.  Rightly is He called the “Hound of Heaven”. After several months of evasion, I finally realize that I can’t run away from Him any longer.  I’m being called to fast.

Fasting is not something I’ve ever been good at.  In fact, I’ve never been able to fast in any meaningful way.  Two smaller meals and one regular meal, offered up a measly two days a year, don’t help me feel especially accomplished in the art.  Outside of Lent, I’ve often considered fasting for a particular intention, only to give up the idea at the sight of a Hershey bar.  The mental conversation goes like this:

Self 1: “A Hershey bar!  Just when I decide to fast!”

Self 2:  “What?  You may never see one of these again!  Eat it.  How is giving up a Hershey bar going to help anyone anyway?”

Self 1:  “But I am fasting….”

Self 2:  “Ha–like you’ll stick with it.  Quit kidding yourself.  You just want to lose weight.”

Self 1:  “It would be a nice bonus….”

Self 2:  “Aha!  You have selfish motives!  The whole fast is useless. ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!’”

And just like that, my fast is over—rationalized away before I begin.

Another complicating factor in my fasts: food is an obsession for me.  More accurately, food is an addiction.  Unlike the alcoholic, I can’t simply abstain; I have to eat to live.  The problem is that I function at the opposite end of the spectrum: I live to eat.

After twenty years as an adult, I stumbled upon the idea that every food is not problematic—only carbohydrates.  Pooh-pooh all you want, but I can personally attest (as can AnnMarie) that when I quit eating carbohydrates, my thoughts about food change.  I no longer nosh all day, sneak food in secret, or eat whole jars of peanut butter with bags of chocolate chips mixed in.  The evil little monkey on my back goes away and leaves me in peace.

Of course, I fall.  I get off track and binge like crazy.  And I hate it.  I hate the gluttonous, out-of-control, shoving-food-down-the-gullet-without-tasting-it maniac that I become.  But most of the time I don’t hate it enough to walk away.  So I spin in the vortex for a while, down and down, until I can manage to break free again.

I have also come to terms with the fact that my son has an addiction, too.  He is addicted to pornography.  It’s a battle he has fought since age twelve.   While he lived at home, we could help filter his life.  Now, as a freshman in college, he swims in a sea of it.  Like me, he has managed to walk away and stay “clean” for a while, but ultimately finds himself drawn in again.  Sex, like food, is everywhere.

I’ve prayed for my son—prayed, cried and prayed again.  But what I haven’t been able to do is fast for him.  Only in the last year have I begun to see a link between my son’s addiction and my own.  I have always looked upon his sin as worse than mine, but how different are we?  Pornography is a twisting of the precious gift of our sexuality.  My food obsession, too, is a twisting of the goods that God has given.  (Dieters can even look at “food porn” online—graphic images of forbidden delicacies, intended to stimulate and tantalize).  Both pornography and food addiction represent a warped, disordered misuse of things that are objectively good—things that God has given us to sustain and enrich life.  My son and I aren’t so different after all.  I can’t help but think: if I could give up my addiction, as a fast for my son, how powerful would that be?

It may sound bizarre, but I feel that God has given me a unique opportunity to help my son, to do him a service that no one else can.  It is as though we share a strange, supernatural bond, and I have recourse to special aid by virtue of our common sin.  If only I (by God’s grace) can manage to break free of my chains, I can help set him free in the process.  It’s like a scene from a science fiction movie—but I know that in the communion of saints, it’s possible.

Moses fasted for the sins of the faithless Israelite people, begging God’s mercy for them (Exodus 34).  So did the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9).  The Israelites fasted for deliverance (1 Samuel 7; Nehemiah 9), as did the people of Nineveh (Jonah 3).  Jesus himself told his apostles that some demons are subdued only “by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

Pope Paul VI, in the 1966 apostolic constitution Paenitemini (On Fast and Abstinence) wrote:“… mortification aims at the ‘liberation’ of man, who often finds himself, because of concupiscence, almost chained by his own senses. Through ‘corporal fasting’ man regains strength and the ‘wound inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance is cured by the medicine of a salutary abstinence.’”  To put it simply, for those consumed by addiction, fasting is a powerful antidote.

Fr. Rich Simon’s, host of Relevant Radio’s Go Ask Your Father, put the Holy Father’s thoughts into more common language, explaining that in our world we are “enslaved” by many things.  Fasting opposes this slavery.  With fasting, we actively, consciously, choose to forego that which we desire.  Thus we are not mastered by our desires, but willfully master them by saying “no” to self.  Fasting, when coupled with prayer, is a hammer striking at the chains that bind us in sin.  As Fr. Rich says, “Fasting is about freedom”.

Of course all this fasting is still theoretical for me.  I haven’t actually done any fasting.  In fact, as is typical, I have been leery to commit myself to it without a very clear sign from above.  I keep hoping to look down and find this:

But as I was writing, God generously gave me the confirmation I craved.  It turns out that our bishops have issued a Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage, And Religious Liberty.  It is a request for “prayer, penance, and sacrifice for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country.”

I’m no genius, but even I can recognize that my son, a well-formed Catholic young man with much good to offer the world, is a prime target in the spiritual battle that rages in our world.  He has an important role to fulfill in the culture of life—as a husband, father, and community leader—and the sanctity of his vocation is under attack.  The bishops are not asking me to fast for a theoretical soldier in a culture war far, far away.  They are asking me to fast for my son.  They are asking me to strike a blow for the culture of life by working to exorcise pornography from the life of one young man—my young man.  Our culture is renewed not through mighty deeds and acts of Congress, but by me being faithful to my personal call, doing my small acts, changing my own life and family in little ways.  I can’t be Joan of Arc.  But maybe I can be St. Therese.

The bishops call to prayer has five components—including fasting and abstinence from meat on Fridays.  The fast begins on December 30, 2012 (the Feast of the Holy Family) and lasts until November 24, 2013 (the feast of Christ the King).  For a complete outline of the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty, visit the USCCB website.

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Feast Days Holy Orders Ink Slingers Lynne Priesthood Sisterhood

Vietnam, Lepers and Vocations

On the eve of the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs, a story of Vietnam seemed appropriate.

About half-way up the Eastern coast of Vietnam, just north of Da Nang, lies the mountain pass of Hai Van—featuring spectacular views of Da Nang Bay and the South China Sea. At the base of the pass sits the resort town of Lang-co, touted by Vietnamese officials as a “lost paradise” and home to a developing eco-tourism industry. But forty years ago, Lang-co was little more than a fishing village. It was here that Peter Quang Ngyen found himself boarding a boat on a mission from his bishop. Destination: unknown.

The only boy in a family of nine daughters, Quang was the family’s honored son. His childhood was spent much like any little boy, playing with friends, going to school, and attending daily Mass with his family. When Quang was in fifth grade, it was decided that he had a vocation. The next year, through great sacrifice, his parents sent him away to minor seminary. It was 1966.

Though intelligent and capable, Quang had no real interest in the priesthood. He was a leader among his peers and excelled in his class work, but he preferred to spend his energy devising pranks. Once—fed up with bathroom politics—he connected a live wire to the metal urinal trough, giving the bullies who pushed to the front of the line a 220-volt zap. As a penance, he was assigned to kitchen duty and given the task of hand-mixing powdered milk for the five hundred seminarians. When everyone except him developed diarrhea, Quang confessed to having added a box of soap flakes to the milk. But though he was incorrigible and often threatened with expulsion, Quang’s bishop made sure that he stayed.

In 1968 came the Tet offensive. Quang witnessed first-hand the carnage and suffering of war. Fortunately, the seminary remained intact, and the seminarians put themselves at the service of the people. Over the next five years, Quang spent his time doing everything from giving haircuts and immunizations to re-building homes and teaching. And though he found much joy in his work, he still had little thought of the priesthood.

Finally, with his studies near an end, Quang made the decision to leave the seminary. The bishop, however, still firmly believed in Quang’s vocation and suggested that he take a year for prayer and discernment while working in some new area of ministry—something he’d never done before. Always adventurous, Quang was intrigued by the bishop’s suggestion and agreed to his plan. Little did he know what the bishop had in mind. And so it was that Quang found himself boarding a boat in the village of Lang-co, with no idea where he was going or what he was to do.

The boat traveled an hour and a half across the open ocean until it reached a small island. As they neared the beach, people on the shore ran to greet them, waving excitedly and shouting with joy. Quang gasped and recoiled in horror as the people came clearly into view; he finally understood the Bishop’s mission for him: serving the people of the Hai Van leper colony.

Leper colony, Hai Van, Vietnam March 2012

 

Some people were missing arms; others had no legs. One person was missing a nose. Quang was at a loss for how to speak or act toward them. He was terrified and felt sick, but despite this gradually found himself responding to their warmth and genuine happiness. The island itself was incredibly beautiful and Quang found it a respite from the war on the mainland.

One evening not long after his arrival, Quang was strolling along the beach when he began to hear beautiful classical piano music. Following the music, he found himself at a little chapel used by the Daughters of St. Paul who staffed the leper colony. He quietly seated himself in the back of the chapel, not wishing to disturb the beautiful nun, playing expertly, her face framed in a spot of light. How strange and unexpected, in the middle of a leper colony, to find this lovely sight! When she finished, the nun introduced herself to Quang as Sister Teresa. They were immediate friends.

During the course of the year, Quang often worked with Sr. Teresa, usually serving the children of the island (These were children born to the lepers, who lived in a separate section.) Through all their different work, Quang always observed Sr. Teresa carefully. She was about twenty-six, though she looked much younger. She was also trained as a medical doctor. She had an angelic smile, and was always gentle and loving. Quang could not help wondering why such a beautiful, smart and talented young woman would become a nun—so he asked her. Sr. Teresa only smiled and went on with her work, but over the months Quang kept repeating the question. Finally, she agreed to explain.

That afternoon during a break from work, Sr. Teresa led Quang to a part of the island he had not yet visited. Eventually they came to a group of grave-stones—the island cemetery. Teresa pointed to two of the grave markers and said quietly, “There lay my parents.” Quang was stunned. This beautiful woman, this sincere and faith-filled nun, this medical doctor, this great pianist, this lover of the poor was a child of a leprous couple.*

Teresa had been born in the Hai-Van leper colony and had grown up with the nuns of the island caring for her. In sixth grade she had gone to live and study with the Daughters of St. Paul in preparation for entering their religious order. But she knew the leper colony was her home, a special oasis of faith and love where she wanted to spend her life giving to those most in need—because she was one of them.

It was in Sr. Teresa that Quang finally saw and understood the meaning of the Incarnation. Christ could have chosen a different way, one of power and might. But he became one of us, because of love. In the same way, Sr. Teresa could have easily used her gifts for earthly wealth or success, but she instead followed in Jesus’ footsteps, loving and serving the poor and using her talents for God’s glory. In quietly and humbly living out her vocation, she helped Quang find his own.

On Good Friday in 1975, after the services with the people of colony, Quang knew that he would return to the seminary and complete his studies for the priesthood. Sr. Teresa told him, “If you want to live in the truth of happiness, then be a lover of Christ, and do not be a winner as the world expects.” He knew he was called to become a “lover of the poor” and to become Christ for others. When he told his bishop of his decision, and of his experiences at the leper colony, the bishop answered, “This is just the beginning, Quang.”

The Hai Van leper colony was closed by the Vietnamese government in 1997 and turned into a resort area. The lepers were dispersed, with many living on the streets. Later, with help from Father Quang, the Sisters of the Visitation established a new camp in An Hoa. Sr. Teresa is buried there.

Monsignor Peter Quang Nguyen was ordained on June 30, 1990, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. He is currently pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes. The story of his life, including his harrowing escape from communist Vietnam, is chronicled in his book All Honor to You (*quoted above).

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Ink Slingers Lynne Spiritual Growth

Running in the Dark

Not long ago, I was mentally exhausted in the wake of a devastating family crisis.  Though I cannot say I felt abandoned by God, I was intensely angry at the injustices in our world.  I wanted to know why—WHY—God allows evil to exist?  I felt defeated and helpless.  I could not see a way to bring hope to my situation.  In this state of mind, I looked to running as a time to de-stress, pray, and think.

In the north, running outdoors at this time of year often means running in the darkness.   I’ve been going out into the chilly dark for a few weeks now; it simply requires a headlamp to illuminate the ground directly ahead.  I have found that running outside through the darkness is profoundly peaceful.  Running, for me, is always a solitary venture, but in the dark I am truly alone, with no visual distractions to preoccupy my mind or provide passing interest.  My thoughts turn inward…and upward.

The morning after our crisis, however, I found it difficult to settle into the run.  In addition to being mentally agitated, my senses felt “off”.  My vision seemed blurry, and I kept noticing strange things in my peripheral view.  Several times I found myself turning suddenly to peer into the darkness at…nothing.  The night seemed to be closing in on me from all sides, and I felt as if I were in a small, black, velvet box.

After a while, it dawned on me that I was in the middle of a thick fog.  I couldn’t see it at all, but apparently it exerted itself on my senses.  Now and then it obscured my view of the road immediately before me so that I felt my vision was blurred.  I was able to see faintest wisps of mist from the corners of my eyes, creating the sense that something was out there, just beyond the reach of my light.

All these things were bearable, if unsettling.  But then I began to realize that other things were strange.  My perception of distance was altered.  Going up one long hill, it felt quite literally as though the road must have been lengthened into a never-ending incline.  Though I knew I must reach the top eventually, I could not shake the feeling that I had been working my way upward for far too long.  After repeatedly slowing and criss-crossing the road in an attempt to get my bearings, I at last I reached the end of the hill and turned into the half-mile stretch toward home.

It was the longest half-mile of my life.  I now understand how a sensory deprivation chamber can cause hallucinations: I was unable to determine where I was on the road and whether I had passed my driveway or not.  In the faint light of my lamp, I saw a reflector.  Surely that must be home?  No, it was only a marker on the edge of a field.  But what field—the one on this side of my house…or the one farther on?  I stopped, ran back a way, stopped again to think, and ran back the way I had come.  Finally I saw a larger reflective sign ahead.  I stopped once more.  Was it the sign on my mailbox, or the road sign on the gravel lane that lies beyond my home?  Even though the answer should have been obvious to me, I was very conflicted and had a difficult time deciding whether I should go on or turn back.  In the end I decided to proceed, and as I got closer was relieved to find my own driveway at last.

My run wasn’t over, but for this day, I called it quits.  The stressful confusion in the fog had put me over the top.  The run had given me no relief—except in this:  running in the darkness, unable to see anything before or behind, unable to know where I was, reminded me vividly of a dream that a friend once shared with me, one that had struck me as quite profound.

In the dream, my friend was with a group of people who were being pursued by a dangerous enemy.  There was a great sense of urgency; their attackers would be upon them.  They came to a large warehouse and went inside.  It was completely dark.  They had no idea how to proceed and were fearful that there were further terrors awaiting them just ahead.  My friend suddenly knew that she must take a step.  She heard a voice within saying, “Trust.”  She stepped blindly into the void of the warehouse and as she stepped, a paving stone lit up directly under her foot.  She took another step and the same thing happened.  She called to the group to follow after her and they made their way across the warehouse to safety.  Their path was never illuminated beyond the step immediately before them.  They could never see where they were headed.  They progressed only step-by-step as the way was revealed.

It was like me, in the dark.  All I knew was the tiny circle of light, of which I was the center.  Beyond me stretched miles of darkness.  Wasn’t this the same place I found myself in life?  I was surrounded in darkness there, too—the darkness of evil and sin.  My little light—my faith—was so tiny, so unable to penetrate that darkness, and I was so lost.  The thing I wanted most of all was to go home, to my Heavenly home.  I wanted to see the way, to be able to have a sure path on which to walk—not the confusion and fear that I couldn’t seem to rise above.  I wanted to see, to know, to understand, so that I could be reassured of God’s love and guidance even in the midst of my trial.  But all I had was darkness.

Being on the road, in the dark, and remembering the dream helped me see afresh what I already knew: right now “we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Cor 13:12)  I don’t see, I don’t understand the situation I find myself in.  But God does.  And above all, He knows me, even better than I know myself.  He knows my pain and grief.   His sadness is greater than I can imagine, and He weeps more tears than I.  I am not alone in the dark.

This “epiphany” has not taken away my heartache, eliminated the tight feeling in my chest and throat, or lifted the crushing sadness that wakes me in the middle of the night.  It hasn’t “made it all better”.  But it has made it more bearable to be reminded that in the darkest night, God is there.  He has a plan, even if in this present darkness I cannot fathom what it is.

My Jesus, I trust in you!

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Sistas Weekly No. 5

 

Welcome to the recap of the Catholic Sistas blog for the week of September 24 – September 29! Hopefully you will find this new feature a helpful assist in keeping up with our wonderfully diverse posts. We wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!  😆

As part of our blogging schedule we have agreed, as a group, that we will not be doing individual blog posts on Sundays. Our week in review, Sistas Weekly, is set to auto-post so that we can keep holy the Sabbath and spend time with our families.

 

How to Change the World (Without Becoming a Missionary to Africa)

18-year-old Katie went on a mission trip to Uganda to minister to the poor there. Five years later, she has made Uganda her permanent residence. She runs a ministry that provides medical care and feeds 1200 children a day, which allows them to attend school rather than working in the fields or begging. She established… Read more »

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Fantasy’s Disturbing Turn

I love fantasy books. Tolkien, Lewis, Terry Brooks, Eddings, McKiernan, Robert Jordan. And I’m always looking out for some good new series to read. So I got on my Kindle and downloaded a free sample of Martin’s Game of Thrones. This is the best-selling series that HBO has now even made into TV shows. Much to… Read more »

 

Understanding Catholicism with Baptist Theology

The Baptist faith community where I grew up deserves most of the credit for making me into the Christian I am today. It was there that I was first introduced to God and His immense love for me, that I learned to faithfully commit myself to the study of Sacred Scripture, and it is where… Read more »

 

Service with a Smile

A few months ago, I visited a friend, a new mother with a four-month-old baby. She talked about how stressed she was and how much she would love to some time with her husband, who works two jobs. “Let me watch the baby for you this Sunday,” I offered. “That way, you can go spend… Read more »

 

Faithful Citizen: Vote with a Well Formed Conscience

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen seems to have been a prophet before his time. His quotes appear to resonate even more today than they did during his lifetime. They certainly belie an almost otherworldly understanding of what the citizens of today will be facing when they vote. We would do well to note that Sheen, like the Church… Read more »

 

Woman in Love: An Interview with Katie Hartfiel

Katie Hartfiel is a 29 year-old wife and mother of two.  She and her husband Mark live in Houston where they are both active in ministry.  The story of how they met and fell in love is chronicled in Katie’s new book, Woman In Love. In the book, Katie writes about the inner… Read more »

 

The Sorrowful Mysteries… Everyday Style

I will admit the Sorrowful Mysteries are the most difficult for me to pray.  I must contemplate my own sinfulness and meditate upon loss in my own life in order to really benefit from the Rosary on Tuesdays and Fridays.  No one really enjoys approaching these topics, but it is so essential to acknowledge our faults and failures, because it sweetens Christ’s resurrection for us and makes us truly appreciate His sacrifice… Read more »

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Conversion Lynne Marriage Matrimony Prayer Uncategorized

Woman in Love: An Interview with Katie Hartfiel

 

 

 

Katie Hartfiel is a 29 year-old wife and mother of two.  She and her husband Mark live in Houston where they are both active in ministry.  The story of how they met and fell in love is chronicled in Katie’s new book, Woman In Love.

In the book, Katie writes about the inner struggles brought on by her parents’ difficult divorce.  At age 17, God gave her a vision to pray for her own future spouse.  She began writing love letters to her unknown husband-to-be (HTB), pouring out her heart to him and covering him with prayer.  The book reveals the dual love story that unfolds in Katie’s life, first with Christ, then with Mark, as she moves from being a girl in pain to a Woman In Love.  Katie  challenges young women to begin praying now for their future spouses, and encourages them to write personal letters to their own “HTB” while maintaining a pure, chaste life as they wait upon the Lord to lead them to the spouse He has set aside for them since “before they were knit in their mothers’ wombs.”

Recently, Katie took some time to speak with the Sistas about Woman in Love.

CS:  Katie, you have a busy life as a wife and mom.  Why a book?

KH: I have been sharing this story with the high school girls in my youth program for years. I always thought it was a neat story, and it was great to see so many of my girls start to journal to their “HTB”. However, I never really thought of it as a hugely impactful testimony. That was until Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei and That Man Is You (and also Mark’s boss), used the story to speak to fathers about the value of purity. Several men approached Mark with positive feedback and one of them said, “Tell your wife to put this into a book so I can give it to my daughter.” The Lord used that moment to put the desire in my heart. The timing has been so beautiful with my recent “retirement” from youth ministry. I am excited to share the beauty of God’s plan for pure relationships as He sees fit!

CS: Katie, it’s so strange to me that during the time when you were going through so much pain, I knew you.  I saw you every week singing in the youth choir.   It was obvious that you were a leader in your group, that you loved being there singing–and that you felt the words deeply.  But (I am sorry to say this) I also remember being offended by your clothing.  You were a distraction–a temptation–to boys and men in the congregation.  I thought about speaking to your choir director about it…but I didn’t.  Now, reading what you had to say about modesty blew me away!  One of my favorite parts of the book was your epiphany of why modesty is so important.

But here’s my question: if you were in Mass today, and you saw a girl much like your own teenage self standing in front of the congregation, how would you respond to her?  Now that I know what you were going through as a teenager, I see how much I could have hurt you by making harsh comments–even if I had good intentions. You’ve been a youth director, so I’m sure you’ve had to deal with this issue.  How do you respond to girls in a loving way that encourages modesty without hurting them?

KH: Honestly, modesty may be one of the less scandalous sub-topics of sexual purity, however it is by far the hardest to express. As I share in the book, I heard an absolute multitude of chastity talks, read many books, and passionately expressed my beliefs on purity all while I was oblivious to its application to my wardrobe. It breaks my heart that you, too, witnessed this naivety! In the last seven years in youth ministry I have witnessed many teenage versions of myself struggle in the same department. Many are teens who are so involved and in love with the Lord yet completely clueless.

As a woman it is just so difficult comprehend the cause and effect of our clothing choices. I saw a quote recently that said, “Men will NEVER understand the agony of childbirth, cramps or removing glitter nail polish.” These are things that cannot be appreciated unless experienced. Similarly, we will never truly appreciate the struggle of men in this department.

I asked several of my teens who exercise modesty where their love and passion came from. I was surprised by their answers. For all of them it seemed that they were given a moment like I had in the dance club several years ago. All of a sudden a switch clicked on and they understood their calling to help men grow in holiness. I sort of relate it to a conversion experience. Someone can explain it all day long, but unless they are open to the Holy Spirit in the timing of God’s plan for them it doesn’t make a difference. Words don’t change hearts, only Christ can do that.

As far as confronting girls about their clothing: personally- I have never called them out individually in that way. I don’t know if that is the correct answer but that is just me. It seems to me that a person who is singled out in that way tends to feel defensive. If an individual isn’t in a position to desire change, they must therefore rationalize their behavior in their mind. They have to either believe the other person is right- resulting in a change in behavior OR become ever more convicted that their behavior is justified.

What I have done instead is seek teaching moments. I hoped to form the girls to help them determine exactly what to look for in modest dress, rather than just inform them that their current outfits were inappropriate. Some of these opportunities have presented themselves in one on one conversations with the girls, but more often I tried to address them as a group. For example, when one of our choir girls wore an incredibly short skirt and an usher wore a strapless dress, I decided to create a dress code to be distributed to everyone in the ministries. Instead of singling the girls out I wrote a loving letter to all members of the ministries about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and how we should approach our wardrobes as if we were preparing for a wedding. Then I gave specific guidelines (similar to the ones in the book). I also gave very detailed modesty requirements for Confirmation. I didn’t allow shorts on retreats and explained that “too short” was too relative, so I modeled knee length jersey skirts at the informational meeting and told them where to buy and for how much. (This literally started a fashion trend with the high school girls!) Of course I spoke to all of our girls about modesty once a year in our Chastity night at our parish.

That is a really long answer, but a complicated question! I think I am still learning in this area, but I DO know I will have a lot to say to my daughters when they are walking out the door ten years from now!

CS: If you had to sum up the main message of your book in one sentence, what would it be?  What’s the most important thing you’d like your reader to take away?

KH:  This is difficult because there are two main themes 1) praying for and writing letters to your Husband-To-Be and 2) pursuing a lifestyle of purity. However, when I was writing I kept asking myself, what is my goal? My goal is that young women redefine their approach to Christian purity. That their life rely on one thing, God’s will for them. I hope that girls will read this book and desire to become Women in Love with Christ and trust Him to lead them to the vocation He has in store for them.

CS: I mentioned to you that I’d like to share this book with my sons.  I think it would help them to see a girl’s point of view, but maybe even more than that I hope it would inspire them to be that kind of guy that you were praying for.  Had you ever considered that your book would be good for guys?

KH: Several of my teen boys have read the book and enjoyed it. I know it doesn’t have the same impact on them whatsoever, but I hope that it helped raise their standards for the woman they seek and who they hope to be. A friend who is a father of two girls and a teenage son told me the biggest lesson he learned was how he wanted to form his son to be the type of man that a Woman in Love would want to marry. I found that pretty incredible!

CS:  In the book, it was especially difficult for me to read what you experienced during your parents’ divorce.  What would you say to girls who are suffering through a painful divorce?

KH: You are not your mother and your future spouse is not your father. Your love story can end very differently. When your parents fail you, look to the ones who never did, your Heavenly Father and Blessed Mother. Never forget that they are crying with you. Be Christ in your home, even when it seems impossible.

CS:  Not everyone goes into marriage so ideally as you and Mark–in terms of being so fully aware of Church teaching, so chaste, so united in their faith, so equally committed to Christ.  Do you have any words for women who find themselves in difficult marriages?

KH:  In the spiritual life, we find our answers at the cross.  The cross is the rule and not the exception.  Christ honored His promise to His Bride even when she deserved it the least. When His people crucified Him, Christ remained faithful. The fruit of this is the salvation and of us all. I would promise this woman that her endurance and prayers will also bring about great fruit. She may see it manifest or she may not but the Lord will always answer those who love Him. In difficult times one may find themselves echoing his very words, “Father let this cup pass… not my will but Thy will be done.”  Faced with great trials, one must grow closer and closer to Christ.

I know this is easier said than done, but I would advise them to never forget that our wedding vows point toward ourselves and are unconditional toward our spouse’s actions and disposition. As I often remind my teens, “you can only control one person: yourself.” In marriage we promise to honor, be faithful and love our spouse in good times and bad.

CS:  Now that the book is finished, what do you do with all your spare time??

KH:  Through much discernment the Lord has recently called me to stay at home with my two daughters, Maria, 4 and Clare, 6m. It has been SO wonderful thus far and every day is such an experience of God’s goodness! In the meantime I am pursuing speaking engagements and am excited to see what doors the Lord opens for the spreading of the message of Woman in Love!

If you are interested in learning more about Woman in Love, you can check out Katie’s website, www.womaninlove.org .  Copies of  Woman In Love can be purchased on the website by clicking bookstore.   If you do not have a PayPal account, you may pay on PayPal as a guest or call 832-217-4440.   You can also “like” Woman In Love on Facebook to receive Katie’s updates.