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Current Events Parenting Victoria K

Children Versus the World: Reflections on “It”

A couple of notes before I start. First off—I have recently begun teaching at a elementary school, so my interest in topics pertaining to childhood, growing up, and family have really caught my attention (you can see that in my post on “Hatchet”).  This one is in a very similar vein.

Second off—Spoilers below.  Also, “It” was terrifying.  I spent most of the movie with my eyes closed or my head buried in my husband’s shoulder.  Overall, it was a great Halloween-season horror–great horror without being excessively gory or gross.   Don’t see it if you can’t handle horror—I’m glad I saw it, but it was definitely great material for nightmares.

Overcoming Fear

The movie It focuses around a group of outcast children faced with the terrifying reality of a killer clown (I mean, no big deal, right?).  And this clown is scary.  I never really thought that clowns were all that scary but man this clown convinced me.  The clown feeds off of the children’s deepest fears: illness, fire, clowns (conveniently enough), and death.

I actually cried at the end of It.  Like, not out of fear.  In the end, the children band together and overcome their fears.  I was bawling bold, emotional, tears.  

Why? Because, there is so much truth in It.   Truth be told, the world swells with terrors for children: the unknown, loss, abandonment, abuse, bullying, all stings the heart of a child.  

In both Hatchet and It, we learn that overcoming your fears is something that you must do internally.  It is a personal choice.

But It takes it a step further.  It shows that the greatest lesson we can learn is how to love—how to struggle for each other, how to sacrifice for each other, how to overcome our fears for each other.

When I’m teaching these students, students with real, overwhelming struggles, I should work to foster their independence, their strength, their confidence.  But It has taught me something important: when I see a group of kids running around at recess, when I see a kid reach out to someone that’s left out, when kids are working together to solve their own conflicts…when these kids are at work at the school of love, they make the world a little less scary for each other.

 

Where are the adults?!?

So all that stuff about kids working together to overcome fear is all well and good.  Awesome.  But I have one major critique on It.

Well, maybe not a critique.  You could call it an internal debate.  In It, there are zero, absolutely zero adults who positively impact these children.   There’s the over-controlling, paranoid mom, there’s the angry dad who can’t cope with his grief, there are a couple abusive fathers, there’s the creepy guy working at the pharmacy, and there’s the grandpa whose brand of “tough love” may’ve forgotten about the “love” part.

There are no “good guy” adults, which doesn’t sit well in my stomach.  

 

The Debate

On the one hand, I think I see what the movie was going for.  These kids are called to be strong as individuals.  They need to face their fears on their own.  Some kids really are out on their own and need to overcome

On the other hand, I think that this negates the importance of adults working to support and encourage children.  For many of my students working through tough situations, they have awesome adults working to support them.  They have single parents struggling and sacrificing each and every day to give their children opportunities at a better life.  They have grandparents and friends who have reached out in support.  At my school, we are really blessed to have a team of loving faculty and staff who are mindful of each child’s individual struggles.  

Sure, kids need to learn how to overcome challenges.  Kids need to learn how to rely on each other. But that doesn’t change the fact that they also need the stability to know that they are loved unconditionally in face of these challenges.

For this reason, children need to be strong, but adults need to be stronger.   We need to face our fears, but our fears might not be clowns, they might come as money, work, friends, family, failure, rejection, depression, anxiety, the list goes on.

I’m more than a little tired of media that touts the power of children and disregards the importance of family and adult community.  Do you know what keeps children Catholic more than anything?  It isn’t Catholic peers or Catholic social gatherings. It’s parents first.  Another is having strong Catholic adults around them who are concerned about their life and encourage them in their faith.

 

My Horror Movie

I want to make some kind of horror movie where a group of parents and guardians are being pursued by monsters and they find that the only way to defeat the monster is by giving sacrificial love to their children.  Anyone with me?

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Charla

On being a Catholic school teacher

classI have been in Catholic education since 1996– actually since 1977, when I started first grade at St. Mary’s Catholic School and continued to graduate from high school and then back again in graduate school. I taught elementary school one year – first grade: I can teach anything to anyone now, middle school for one year– sixth through eighth: I shaved years off Purgatory, and the remainder of my time has been spent teaching high school. I definitely found my fit and I feel blessed with the students with whom I have been entrusted.  The highlight of my job is my students, and I love teaching literature, so I feel I have been even further blessed. There are great things about teaching on a Catholic school and these far outweigh the difficulties.

The best things about my job are:

  • I get to express my Faith openly. I pray with my students and going to work involves Mass and Adoration. What could be better?
  • My students are well-mannered, mostly, and kind and really want to learn. They have been raised with values, mostly, and I get to not only teach them, but I get to love them too.

However, there are many trials that we Catholic school teachers face, and I think it is important for others to understand these challenges:

PARENTS

  • I am one, so I fully understand the position. Parents are generally cooperative and supportive, but there are those few that make it difficult. The hyper-vigilant, helicopter parent is always going to exist and as long as you have their child’s best interests at heart, those parents will support you. The “more Catholic than the Pope” parents pose a challenge.  I teach everything from a faithful Catholic perspective, even the questionable stuff; I find it my duty to help my students navigate the waters of life and anything they might encounter along the way armed with morality. These teens are not sheltered and they need to know how to deal with the harsh amorality of the world using their Faith.
  • A frustration also lies in the parents who do not reinforce the Catholic Faith we are teaching.  They do not facilitate or encourage their children to go to Mass on Sundays, nor do they attend Mass regularly themselves.  We are expected to fully catechize these students with no support at home.  There are those parents who outright defy what we are trying to get across to the students.  I had a graduate tell me her mom said, “Well, I don’t really believe all that stuff.  It was a good education for you and a nice environment.” This discussion was all in the context of her mother encouraging her to abort her unborn child at the age of nineteen, which sadly she did. There are also those parents who profess Evangelicalism and do not take their kids to Mass, but rather they attend “praise and worship services” where they hear rock bands and play at the skate park at their church instead of receiving the Sacraments.  These are difficult pills to swallow for someone who is trying her very best to convey the Truth to those in her care.

SOCIETY

  • These students nowadays so belong to the world instead of to God. Issues such as same sex relationships, premarital sex, and divorce, among others, affect these students who are innately loving and accepting of people. Society has convinced them that in order to love people, they must accept their sinful behavior. If they do not condone or encourage “happiness” for others they feel badly.  It is a difficult thing to comprehend the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  The tangible, concrete Corporal Works make sense to them and they perform these willingly with a joyful heart.  The Spiritual are most perplexing because they involve taking a moral stand that they do not have the courage to do, up against a society that tells them not to be “haters.” As well, these kids have people in their lives, whom they love, whose lives or behavior do not reflect Catholic moral teaching.  This makes it extra difficult and they are internally conflicted.

The other challenges inherent of the teaching profession fade in comparison to the benefits of being a teacher at a school that encourages community and service and goodness.  I truly feel God is at the center of everything I do.  It is also a great responsibility.  I must strive to be extra moral and maintain a virtuous lifestyle.  Eyes are always watching and taking in my example.

csI love Catholic education; that is why I have devoted my life to this vocation.  I truly believe God has called me to strive to be not “of this world, but in this world” in this way. I am afforded an opportunity to strive for holiness every day.

Categories
Allen Domestic Church Perspective from the Head

Dating with Purpose

What is the Goal of Dating?

Most of us have grown up with dating being a part of our lives or a part of the lives of people we know and love.  When we think of dating many may consider it to be an integral part of finding a spouse and for the most part that is what it used to be and perhaps our society has lost sight of that end goal in the past 20 years.  Today it seems that dating has evolved into a purely recreational activity with no clear goal in mind.  Maybe it could best be described as a game that two people play where they are both trying to figure out what the other person’s goals for the relationship are.  I propose that dating needs an overhaul, a redirection of sorts back to the goal that each young Christian should be aiming for, the discovery of their vocation.

What’s Wrong with Dating?

So why mess with the cultural norm of dating? It’s all fun and games, it is a necessary rite of passage, is the normal way to find your spouse and we all did it when we were young and we turned out just fine, right?  Well, I am not much for quoting studies, but currently about 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many couples today are not even opting to enter a marriage.  I have also observed that people who are in a dating relationship seem to be very happy at first, but then relationship drama sets in with ups and downs, friends gossiping, suspicion about fidelity and finally someone ends the relationship leaving the other person feeling rejected. Dating has become less of a search for marriage and more of a game played where there are winners and losers.  Too often it is more about how much you can get for yourself before getting hurt than what is best for all parties involved.  Avery Utz, a high school senior in Round Rock, TX, said the following, “I have found that relationships during high school are very trivial, unromantic and seemingly pointless, as in they have no goal. Kids just date to date, using it as a social status and not realizing the real purpose.”

What we need is a return to the original purpose of dating, therefore I am issuing a call to all parents to assist our youth in taking a more mature approach to finding their spouse.  There are few more important tasks that we can undertake as parents.  Our child is looking not only for their future spouse, but a new member of our family, and the mother or father of our grandchildren.  While many of you might be thinking that your youth may not want your help with such a personal part of their life, this is simply not true in our experience.  Our teenage son and daughters have each sought our advice and assistance in navigating the complex waters of relationships. As our children grow older, entering into the teenage years, they have a natural desire to find someone to love and someone to love them back, unfortunately our societal structures have delayed the age of marriage to much later in life, and so our teenagers need to exercise the cardinal virtue of temperance and the secular virtue of patience.

What are the Benefits of Dating with Purpose?

The benefits of Dating with Purpose is that you get to approach potentially the most important relationship of your life with honesty, clarity, respect and maturity.  Imagine if you will, a relationship built on friendship where the two people approach each other without ulterior motives.  Each person views the other with all the dignity that comes with being made in the image of God.  They approach each other not for what the other person can do for them, but for what they can do to assist each other in achieving the plan God has for their lives.  That is a very mature way to approach a relationship, and not something that is seen very often in our society, but it is sorely needed.  When most movies, TV shows, and music portray love as purely based on feelings and what the other person can do for me, a mature selfless love is needed in order to transform our society into the City of God.  It is not impossible, in fact, it is essential to our happiness and success in relationships. Even if a relationship doesn’t end up in marriage, it should help both individuals grow closer to God and to transform themselves into that image of God in which we are all made.

The first phase of any relationship is one that is purely based on a Christian friendship.  One with a guarded emotional attachment and without any sort of romantic intimacy.  This initial phase of the relationship is critical to setting a solid foundation.  I have seen too many relationships that skipped this phase and jumped straight into heavy emotional attachment and frequently physical intimacy as well.  When the romantic feelings waned for one person in the relationship, they believe that because the feeling is no longer present that this must not be the “right person” and the romance quickly ends with many hurt feelings. Marriage, the ultimate goal in dating with purpose, is a relationship based on a decision to love for better, for worse, in sickness, in health, for richer, for poorer and thus we will not always feel like we love the other person, but because our relationship is not based solely on the way we feel or what the other person can do for us, we are able to work through those dry times. Dating with purpose is practice for marriage, it is an exercise in self control and true love for another person without expecting anything in return.  On the contrary, dating without purpose is practice for divorce (many failed relationships built on selfishness and a “what have you done for me lately” attitude).

friends
Photo by Victoria Hebert

When Should a Young Person Begin Dating?

One of the traditional teachings of Christianity is to avoid the near occasion of sin.  This makes sense even at the purely secular level, if you have a tendency to fall into a particular sin, you should avoid situations or people who may make it easier for you to commit a transgression.  With this good advice in mind, we now venture into the very practical question of when is it appropriate to begin dating.  I would propose that there is no lower age limit, but once you ponder the following conditions for dating, you will likely set the age a bit higher than most people you know.  To enter into a dating relationship prior to meeting the following conditions would put one or both individuals in the near occasion of sexual sin because of a prolonged dating relationship with marriage being an option at an undetermined time in the future.  Dating with Purpose should be entered into with a realistic timeframe for determining if God is calling the two people to marry each other.  If during this discernment period one party hears God speaking very clearly that this is not the person, that should be discussed openly and honestly with the other individual and perhaps any marriage mentor couples that may be assisting you during this discernment period.

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Photo by Sunday’s Child

Discerning your Vocation

The first condition is that the young person has prayerfully discerned that they are called to the married life.  Obviously, to discern a call to the married life, one must have a firm relationship with the Lord and have a consistent life of prayer and contemplation.  I have heard it said that you should give God first dibbs.  In other words, you should offer yourself to God completely and see if indeed he is calling you to serve him with your whole being as a member of a Religious Community or as a Priest.  This really is a beautiful way to approach your vocation, there is no shame if you discern that God isn’t calling you to be a worker in the vineyard, in fact most people are not called to the consecrated life.  When we enter into this intimate dialog with the Lord, it will only serve to draw us closer to Him and equip us to be better individuals and spouses.  If you discern that God is calling you to the Married life, then you are ready for step two.

Are you Ready to Get Married

Discerning might be the easy part of this process, the next step is to take a mature look at where you are in your life and determine if you are mentally, spiritually and economically ready to get married and provide for your family.  Marriage is a life full of responsibilities, for a majority of teenagers and young adults, they have relied on someone else to provide for life’s necessities and at some point, they will need to take over that responsibility for themselves.  No one else can really judge this for them, there are many people from whom they may seek advice, but in the end this is a very personal decision.  It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the decision tree involved in deciding if someone is ready to leave the nest and be self sufficient.

Finding the Right Person

After you have discerned that you are called to the noble vocation of marriage and you are pretty sure that you are ready to undertake this high calling in the immediate future, what now?  You must have developed a friendship with a member of the opposite sex (I did say this was Christian relationship right?), and there should be a mutual interest in discerning marriage together.  If you don’t have any friends that you would consider marrying or would consider marrying you, then don’t stress over it and double down in your prayer life and perhaps get involved in some different social activities that may help you to find the person God has picked out for you and perhaps revisit the religious life and see if you missed something in your initial discernment, when it comes to discernment, no one is perfect.  In the end, God has a perfect plan for your life, and you will find true joy and peace when you follow His plan instead of your own.

Blues Dancing
Photo by Samuel Chang

Here are a couple of quotes written by my 16 year old daughter, Victoria Hebert, and a link to a great video about true love.  I believe that our young people desire more than what the culture is offering, they long for authentic love and their hearts are restless until they find it.

“Everyone was made by love, to love and to be loved. It’s a truly beautiful God given desire. We all long for that love. It is important to seek this love in Christ before anyone else. You can never put someone, or something above your relationship with Christ. To love the way He did, is to put others before yourself, that is selfless love.”
“We as humans, all have this tendency to place our trust in others. To truly love someone, is to trust that they won’t hurt you. You should always guard your heart. No man will be worthy of your love until he puts a ring on your finger. You must die to your spouse, every day. Laying down your life for another. That crucifixion like love.”

A CRUCIFIXION TYPE LOVE

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Ink Slingers Mary Rachel M Testimonials

How God Pursued a Soul

During this month of Mary, I always find it inspiring to spend time in prayer contemplating her great “yes” to God. Though I can never know Mary in this life, the amazing gift she gave to all mankind shows just how selfless, pure, and Holy she is. The kind of mother to Jesus and to all humanity that every mother strives to be.

In thinking of Mary’s yes to God, I questioned if I could or would ever be able to say yes and give Him all that He was asking for. I thought of my conversion story, how my heart has been changed by Him, and I realized in my own small way that I have already given Him my yes.

When you’re a child, the world seems so small. You can be anything, do anything, you have infinite time to see the world. You know that all you have to do is think something, and you can make it happen.

I knew I wanted to be Catholic from the moment I smelled the old sweet mahogany wood and incense in my father’s church. As a young child, I remember walking into St. Cecilia’s parish in Hastings, Nebraska with my father and just feeling more at home there than almost anywhere else in the world. There was this thing though, I couldn’t be Catholic.

My story is the same as too many others, a child of an unhappy marriage which led to divorce. A child not unwanted, but a constant reminder of the mistakes that two people had made. My father was Catholic and my mother Methodist. Neither of them practicing, but both absolutely sure that their religion was right.

I lived with my mom who soon remarried and had more children, every other weekend and two weeks in the summer I saw my dad who soon remarried and had more children.

I distinctly remember on one occasion asking my step-mother if I could become Catholic. She looked at me with more love in her eyes then I had ever seen her show for me, but replied that my mother wouldn’t let me. It was then at 7 or 8 I knew I would never be allowed to be Catholic, because just like so many other things in my life, it was something my parents could use to hurt one another. My dreams could never come true, because they were still bitter about their dreams not coming true.

Time went on, I grew, but my parents didn’t. Their hatred toward one another raged through my childhood and adolescence. I occasionally attended Mass with my dad and his family when I visited, and envied my step-brother and step-sister as they came home from school wearing uniforms and toting religion assignments.

But, there was this moment, a moment that changed my life in ways that I can’t describe or explain. A second when time stood still, and I knew that God was real and good and answered my prayers. My anti-Catholic mother, who in every sense of the word hated Catholics decided to send me to a Catholic high school! She of course had her justifications. I was turning into a bad seed in public schools and making the wrong friends. But this one seemingly insignificant decision, is the beginning of my conversion. The beginning of the most beautiful story I can tell in my life. The story of how God purified hearts, dug souls out of the deepest pits of sin, and brought his children close to his bosom.

As I entered the building that would shape my destiny, I was terrified. I wondered if everyone could tell I was a Methodist simply by looking at me. Maybe they would notice that my brand new Bible had never been opened, let alone read. I of course had the regular fears any freshman might have, and I was terrified to start at a school where I knew no one, but mostly I thought they’d sniff me out and soon kick my non-believing behind out of there.

Days and months went on, I was an awkward teenager and so was everyone else, though of course I can only see that in retrospect. It was clear that I was far behind in Religion class, and I remember dreading group work, review days, anything where it became apparent how completely ignorant I truly was. I had joined the school choir, and as we prepared to sing at school Masses I found myself moronically thumbing through missal pages and trying to hold back the tears as I stood when I was supposed to sit. I longed to know the divine secrets these other people knew, and as I watched them go to Jesus in the Communion line my heart ached.

More time passed, and it became easier. I learned the routines, and was soon much better at faking my way through things. I eventually made friends, joined clubs, finished classes and became a “normal” high school student. Fast forward to junior year, and a certain young man, Eric, met my eye. We started a relationship, and lucky for us, we were young and stupid. We didn’t know the things of this world, and so we entered a serious relationship totally in love with one another and completely devoted. Did I mention this man became my husband?

Eric and I dated through high school, and went to college together. He and I knew from very early on that we would be married, but we both wanted to wait until we graduated college. It was also completely understood that if I wanted to marry Eric, his parents expected me to convert. Of course I was ecstatic at this idea, and so the summer before Eric’s senior year as an undergraduate, I decided it was time to begin RCIA. I distinctly remember telling my mom what I had planned. I knew she wouldn’t be happy, but I also knew that I was an adult and it was finally my choice. The thing about family is they know you so well, and this is usually a great thing, but in this case, my mom knew exactly what to say to break my heart.

She said, “Your great-grandmother will roll over in her grave when she hears of your conversion.”

It hurt. It hurt a lot. I idolized my great-grandma, and my mom knew it. My mother knew she had already lost the battle, so she went for the gut. I don’t know what I expected her to say, but that wasn’t it. It didn’t matter though, it was finally my choice and not hers and so I excitedly began RCIA.

I was catechized by two loving deacons in our parish, and became Catholic during the Easter vigil in 2004 with my husband as my sponsor. I chose St. Adelaide, a patron saint of parenthood and second marriages which I felt was fitting based on my childhood. I remember that moment, when I first consumed Jesus in the Eucharist, and I expected to feel different….feel something. And yet, nothing. Shouldn’t this be the end of my story? How could it be that I was finally Catholic, yet my heart was still not whole. I didn’t understand, and I honestly felt as if God was angry because I didn’t obey his call sooner. I feared that all along my mom was right, that I should never have become Catholic. I had lost so much of that wonder and awe for The Church with age, and I so deeply wanted it back.

However, I quickly pushed these feelings to the back of my mind, and dreamt of wedding plans, our future careers, and our lives together. We became barely practicing Catholics as I found that when you surround yourself with “lukewarm Catholics” that that is what you become. Sometimes we attended Sunday Mass, sometimes not, and that was it. We made choices that were a slap in the face to the Mother Church, because we thought we knew better. But, Eric and I were married in the Church that December, and began our lives together.

My husband became a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and I started looking for a teaching job. I interviewed several places, but wasn’t getting called back. I was nervous. I applied for anything and everything I could find. One day, I received a call to come interview at North American Martyrs School in Lincoln, Nebraska. This day, the day of my interview with Sr. Patricia, was the first day of my real conversion. If I thought it was difficult to become Catholic, I was wrong. The real work began when I saw that my heart needed to change to actually be a Catholic woman.

As I drove home from the interview I called my husband. I told him that I would never ever accept that job, that the pay was laughable. I mean really, what self-respecting college graduate would start at $23,000? My husband was in grad school, there was no way we could live off of that. Plus, I was certain that I’d be getting called back from the other schools at which I’d interviewed. But, I didn’t.

A week went by and no one else called. I was scared I wouldn’t have a job at all. And so, when Sr. Patricia called back to ask if I’d decided, I said yes to her. I was just relieved to have a job after I got off the phone, and yet here’s the best part. That same day, after she called, I had two other job offers both for much more money and with the opportunity to earn my Master’s degree in 18 months during my first year of teaching. It was in this moment, that I accepted divine intervention. Though nowhere near as awesome as Mary’s “yes”, this was the beginning of my yes to God. I allowed Him to direct my life’s path.

Now, I wish I could recall every detail of my three years in this holy place, but alas after five children my memory often fails. I can tell you that never having been to Rome or the Holy Land, Lincoln Nebraska is the holiest of places I’ve ever been. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz is a holy man, and leads his sheep with a rod and staff.

As part of my job I was required to take the students to daily Mass every single school day. We had prayer time in the church as a class once a week, adoration and benediction on the first Friday of every month, confession once a quarter, stations of the cross every week during Lent and that was just the beginning.The altar boys (boys-only) deserved their nickname: “The Knights of the Altar”. The girls respected them for it. Dozens of men in the parish served as acolytes. The idea of unvested extraordinary ministers or even permanent deacons were unheard of. There were actual religious sisters teaching in our school, and twice a month our parish priest came to teach in our classroom. The students in the school knew the faith better than anyone else I had ever met, and could defend it to any well spoken adult. The priests were amazing, and the diocese has one of the highest priest to parishioner ratios. They gave homilies about the tough issues, and didn’t apologize for it. The priests inspired everyone in the parish to do more, give more, pray more, love more.

Sometime during this amazing experience, I began to hear a whisper. A whisper I didn’t want to listen to because it was scary, but I knew it was from God. I heard it, “Rachel, put aside these Earthly things and follow Me.” And worse yet, I knew exactly what He was talking about: contraception. Through much prayer, my husband and I agreed that we needed to stop using birth control and begin using Natural Family Planning, as our hearts were not yet ready to welcome children into our family. Soon after I gained the courage to go to confession and pour out my guilt for this sin, and words cannot say the true forgiveness I felt. I knew I would have to battle this mistake my entire life, but as I left the confessional, for the first time ever, I felt like a child of God.

My husband and I started using NFP in November of that year, and immediately realized from the charting, that something was not right. A story to be told some other time, but we soon discovered with the help of an amazing NaPro doctor that I had polycystic ovaries, and possible fertility problems. In fact I was told that it may be difficult to impossible for my husband and I to conceive. Information that is crushing to any woman, and especially to my 23 year-old self.

This led to THE moment, the moment of my true conversion. The moment where I could no longer be the person I used to be and instead had to be who God made me to be. Where I would have to die to self and live in Him, the culmination of my “yes” to Him.

And it is in the spirit of the diocese that my husband and I decided to participate in a Lenten retreat. The retreat had it’s ups and downs, but we found of course that the more we poured ourselves into it, the more we got out of it. During the last week of the retreat, the Sunday before Holy Week, we were called to participate in Eucharistic adoration. Our small group knelt in the front pew and prayed. But then, our priest did something amazing. He brought Jesus to us in the monstrance. He came down the row, and one by one each person was allowed to touch Him. I prayed with more fervor than I ever had before. I asked God to come into my heart, and for the courage to make a true dwelling place for Him. Then, Father Kilcawley stood in front of me, and in his hands was Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist. This was the moment that my life had led up to, the culmination of my journey finally at hand. I laid my hands on Him and began to cry tears of true joy and love. I heard his voice more clearly than I ever had or have since, and I heard Him tell me to be a mother. I knew He had used this retreat to purify my soul, bring me to Him, and remind me of my purpose in life. That one single moment in time was my conversion.

Needless to say, that Easter vigil was the most beautiful Mass I have ever attended, and God’s amazing love continued to follow me. A few weeks later, I discovered that I was pregnant with our first child! A year later, at Easter Mass, I welcomed my mother into the Church. Yes, you read that right, my anti-Catholic mother.

I realized that being dubbed a Catholic just wasn’t enough. God wants all of you, your whole heart and soul, and he won’t rest until he has it. Our family has continued to grow in love and in number through Him as I listened to his whispers in my life. Most recently, I answered God’s call in my life and said yes to veiling at Mass, and as always when I listen to Him I am sublimely happy.

And, this is how I picture Mary, sublimely happy. Yes, she was human, and laden with daily tasks as any wife or mother is, but I know her “yes” to God must have radiated from her everyday.