priorities: live and die tryin’

World Youth Day Mass 2013 at Rio de Janeiro... millions of youth yearning for God to fill their hearts-- for the Eucharist to feed their bodies and souls!

World Youth Day Mass 2013 at Rio de Janeiro… millions of youth yearning for God to fill their hearts– for the Eucharist to feed their bodies and souls!

Those days. I remember those days. When I would lay in bed at night and think and pray that if I only had a boyfriend (hopefully, a very potential husband), I would be happy.

Those mornings when I would wake up in the morning, look at the light hitting my pillows and sheets, and dream about cuddling with a baby, or maybe even five kids (LOL– typical devout Catholic girl dream?), and a hubby, too.

Well, guess what? Those days and mornings are here. Marriage. Family life. And yes, life is beautiful. And I am happy in many ways. All thanks be to the Providence and the goodness of God the Creator. AMEN.

Yet… surprise! (No, not really– knew it was coming!!) I still have this deep longing in my heart, this restlessness that I cannot explain. I still have that “God hole” that nothing and NO ONE (not even my husband or son) can fill… but God.

As Saint Augustine stated so eloquently: “You have made us for Yourself, O LORD, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” (Happy feast day today, St. Auggie!)

I also still dream. I dream of saving souls. Not so much in a “preach-y till they all convert” way, but in an “indirect, let the Holy Spirit use me somehow” way. Call it the spirit of the New Evangelization teeming from within. It’s what gets me up in the morning!

Yet tonight during prayer, my husband reminded me of something very important: Prioritization.

While we were praying, I prayed to the LORD that my husband would excel in one of his life’s ambitions.

Then my husband did something funny. He smiled. He laughed. He looked at me. And he changed that prayer. He quipped, gently, “And LORD, that I might be the BEST DADDY in the world!”

Oh so true. This is why I married this man. Because before being an engineer, he is a father and a husband. And before being those roles, he is a son of God. A soldier of Christ.

The same goes for me. First, a daughter of God, a disciple of Christ. (That “God hole” will always feel wanting, and that’s a good thing.) Second, a wife and a mother. Third, a __________ (fill in other roles pertaining to my unique vocation or “calling” here).

My primary goal: to get myself and my hubby and my son to Heaven.

All other goals are secondary.

Priorities…

Just tryin’ to get ’em straight. I do fail sometimes, ’tis true. But…

Hope I live and I die tryin’.

Culture of Life vs. Culture of Death

Evening Prayer (“Magnificat” version) this evening included James 1:15: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”

This reminded me of Blessed John Paul II’s term, “culture of death,” which includes sins of concupiscence / the flesh.

Such sins in particular destroy the human individual, marriages, families, and society at large. Via unchastity, the using and abuse of others, inordinate and excessive emphasis on worldly pleasures, a plethora of addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, masturbation), self-deprecation and mutilation, hatred, murder… the list goes on… the human soul no longer teems with life, but is blackened by death.

Even when it might “feel good” at first, the soul is slowly… being killed… dying. One day, it’s dead. It’s over.

And like James 1:15 says, it all starts in small, subtle ways. Very lovely-seeming ways. Our inordinate desires can deceive us. Satan uses them to steer us off course from the Giver of LIFE… from a Culture of LIFE.

But you know what is so beautiful?

Jesus Christ has already won the battle! By His Passion and His Resurrection.

Jesus assures us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11).

The question is: will I let Him conquer my heart?

O, if I but let the thorns of his crown pierce my hardened heart… it will become flesh again. It will become alive again.

I must think this over and over in Lent! How can I continually let Him give me life as He is wanting? More and more abundantly?

As Jesus said “no” three times to Satan, who was tempting Him in the desert (when He was famished from fasting), I too can say “no” to Satan.

I have nothing to fear! Only my mediocrity, my own lack of courage.

By saying no to my (inordinate) desires this Lent (with which Satan so subtly plays), I can let the Culture of LIFE triumph in this battle in the world of LIFE vs. death.

LIFE will win. Christ Jesus assures me of that!

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WHERE ARE ALL THE REAL MEN?: what a WOMAN wants

ImageOK, so recently my girl friends and I… I mean my women friends and I… have been discussing the aspects and characteristics in men that we desire.

Some common aspects (NOTE: by no means is this an exhaustive list) are the following – just thought it’d be fun to write out.

REAL MEN that women HOPE to be PURSUED BY…

Have intention, intention, intention – all rooted in respect! The key foundational words behind real men are “intention” and “respect.” Yes, real men open doors for you. But, they do so much more as well!

COURAGEOUS & BRAVE

FIRST OF ALL, they have the courage to contact you personally (step one), without the help of anyone else, to show you that THEY want to pursue YOU.

They have the guts to fearlessly approach you, taking the chance to be rejected by you, but also taking the greater chance to get to know your GREAT MYSTERY within!

And, if you acquiesce…

They call you up and tell you about where they would like to take you.

When that will happen.

And how it will all go down.

(Ladies, you don’t have to keep looking at your phone wondering, “When will he call / text?” If you’re doing this number, he’s probably not worth your time.)

GOOD DATE-PLANNERS: QUALITY TIME

Real men will take you out on dates that they think you will enjoy.

Moreover, they will have you meet people that they may think will be important to know or have you engage in activities that are personally meaningful. It won’t just be one-on-one mushy time all the time. It will be getting to know their friends and family, your friends and family, and you in all of your various “settings” and “activities”!

Real men plan activities that you can serve others through as well as get to know one another through.

Real men plan activities that you can bond, laugh, smile, and play through – but also seriously see one another’s true colors through.

EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY

Real men will ask and answer questions that they believe will lead you two to become closer.

Real men will be open in conversations, and not want to play games by hiding things, being manipulative, etc. They are healthily assertive, and are not domineering, passive, nor passive aggressive (watch out for all of these!).

Real men will be careful with their words, i.e. the first time they say “I love you” (is it too soon? that could be a red flag!).

Real men will also be careful about thinking about the first time they broach the subject of marriage and babies, as this can REALLY play mind tricks on a young woman.

(Think: oxytocin. Real men respect the oxytocin levels of women!)

Intention… Ah, what an attractive quality for a young man to have! Truly, intention can woo and whisk a young woman away. And respect in that intention is what makes it so golden!

– Get to really know you and have a long term objective in courting you. As illustrated above, real men have gotten to know you well before courting you. Yes – courting, not dating – read on for the difference. Real men become a friend first.

This “friends first” mentality and carefully thought-out courtship, versus spur-of-the-moment dating, helps protect the woman’s heart.

COURTING VS. DATING

Women are emotional beings. When men haphazardly date a woman, emotions usually end up mired and hurt. But when men intentionally court a woman, emotions are better protected and the woman usually feels truly cherished and cared for.

Now, I know this “dating” versus “courting” is a toughie, because a lot of men meet women and are just *taken* by them right away (who can blame them?). Thus, most men start chasing right away.

However, is this really being prudent about his heart or the woman’s heart? How often does this blind “chase” ever end up in a lasting marriage?

Rather, real men woo women by spending quality time with them – and especially in friend and family settings – to really get to know the woman.

What is her character? Her interests? Her hopes? Her dreams? The way she operates? Real men study.

ATTENTIVE NERDS, STUDYING THE ELUSIVE WOMAN

YES, real men are NERDS: they study the woman they love like it’s their job! Yes, even though women seem like all-too complicated, elusive mysteries to men.

The most important questions in her mystery”to be explored may be: “What are her beliefs, values, and morals? In what is her faith? What gets her up in the morning?”

Sharing the answers to these questions, and really growing in sharing those convictions and living them out, together, proves for a sturdy foundation that will last.

AIMING FOR A PHD

AND, when real men want to “go in for the PhD” in their woman – that is, when they have really gotten to know her, prayed for and thought about her, and believe she is marriage material – then and only then do they begin to pursue!

Mere “dates” actually turn into a relationship. An already-close friendship is taken to the next level. And that next level is not just a relationship; it’s courtship!

Know how to provide financially. Real men save the courting for when they actually have a steady source of income and/or a career.

Why? Yes, because they want to make sure that they can pay for all those activities and dates. But moreover, because they yearn to support that “long term objective” of marrying the woman they are pursuing!

ACTION PLANS

Real men have action plans about turning a relationship into a courtship and into a marriage.

A steady income, a house, health insurance, a car, car insurance, grocery bills, Internet and phone bills, electric and water bills… the cold hard realities of LIFE are endless.

Real men take these necessities into consideration because they want to make sure their princesses can eventually feel like queens who are well taken care of.

[NOTE: Of course, women often work and pitch in (or are even the main breadwinners), but real men don’t want that to be the case unless the woman has consented and agreed to do so.]

Know how to provide emotionally. I am not saying that a real man always has to “be in touch with his feminine side” or talk about his feelings 24/7.

All I am saying is that women have emotional needs and ups and downs, and sometimes emotional times make a relationship seem like the craziest new roller coaster at the local Six Flags.

Real men know how to ride the roller coaster.

RESPECT, WONDER, & AWE FOR GENDER DIFFERENCES

Instead of just “dealing” with the emotions, and going along for the ride with a groan in his voice, a frown on his face, or a flaring temper – a real man appreciates that a woman is wired differently than he is: including her emotional workings.

Emotions are part of her beautiful design.

Instead of making her feel guilty or inadequate – or like she just needs to “man up” – a real man bears with his woman in patience, fidelity, and love, especially in her most emotional times.

Yes, sometimes she may ask very silly-sounding questions that just beg for some affirmation from her man. But her real man answers promptly and lovingly.

No mind games. No joking. No manipulation. Just love.

– Know how to lead spiritually. Real men are loyal – not only to their woman, but moreover, to their LORD Jesus Christ. [NOTE: Or, to their faith value system of choice. But do bear in mind that this is a Catholic/Christian blog :-).]

There is nothing more attractive than a man who says, “OK, we should start morning prayer!” or “Let’s pray night prayer before we’re too sleepy.”

PEACE OF SOUL

A man who has a close relationship with God has peace of soul.

And a man who has peace of soul is not just a “man.”

He is a man of God.

He is a soldier – a warrior – fighting for Truth and Beauty.

And what is Truth? His Faith.

And Who is Beauty? Our LORD Jesus Christ, but also… his beloved beauty: his girlfriend, fiance, or wife!

There is nothing more attractive than a real man who wants to bring his woman to God – to present her, holy, pure, unblemished! A real man wants to carry his woman to the gates of Heaven, and in the end be able to say:

“Here she is, LORD. I’ve loved her to the best of my ability every day of my life. I’ve tried to place her above me every day of my life. I’ve tried to die to myself for her every day of my life.” What, oh what, is more romantic than that?!

YES, a real man wants to help his woman to be as fruitful as her Creator has designed
her to become.

A real man wants to help his woman to be FULLY ALIVE in Our LORD Jesus Christ.

– Knows how to protect. Especially in terms of chastity. There is no questioning and there is no joking about chastity or “chastity rules”, respectively, for it and they are no laughing matter.

Who cares if the world thinks you two are prudes, or “not in with the times”?

Real men know they have a battle worth fighting for: true love.

Real men know who they are fighting for in this battle: their souls, and the soul of their woman. All for the glory of God: for Love Himself.

NO “FLIPPY-FLOPPY” OR SNEAKY “CONVINCING”

Chastity-wise, in times of passionate encounter (which in any healthy relationship there will be!), real men ask no questions like, “Can I do this?” or “What about that?” re: obviously unchaste acts.

Real men do not finagle their way around their woman’s moral code regarding her physical boundaries.

In the heat of the moment, a real man does not get her to “change her mind.”

BOTTOM LINE: A real man does not want his woman to feel used at any cost!

RATHER, real men know what their physical boundaries are, and they establish them by discussing them with their woman at the beginning of the relationship and all along the way.

MASTERY OF DISCPLINE & SELF-CONTROL

Turn a woman on, and you’re playing with her heart.

Real men understand this and remain gentlemen by not intentionally igniting their woman’s passions in a very tempting way.

Real men always strive to protect their woman’s purity. And when they mess up, a quite human thing to do, they step it up a notch. Pretty simple.

In conclusion…

Real men DO NOT just immediately say (or text, Facebook message, and/or e-mail) empty words of affection to the woman to whom they are merely attracted. Instead, they save that for when they really have decided to love the woman.

Real men DO build up to the point of “I love you” and “Will you marry me?,” so that when they finally do say those words, they mean it.

Real men DO NOT lay around with their woman’s minds or hearts, emotionally or physically. (Kind of a no-brainer.)

Real men DO make sure that they are not careless with their woman’s mind or heart, emotionally and physically. Real men DO truly cherish their beloved woman by saying, “You’re worth the wait.” Real men save passionate sexual expression and sex for marriage for they ardently believe that…

Only a forever vow from a real man can earn a woman 100% body and soul.

Yes, a real man courts a sought-after woman like a real gentleman!

“SHE’S GOD’S DAUGHTER FIRST & MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER SECOND”

And a real man does not think “she’s mine,” but rather: “I am going to pursue this daughter of God in order to earn her. Then, and only then, after my pursuit and my fight for her, do I have the right to call her mine as well as God’s.”

DEVOTED & VALIANT WARRIOR: “MY WOMAN IS WORTH THE FIGHT”

Real men protect their woman, provide for their woman, and love their woman.by devotedly and valiantly chasing their woman as if she is standing at the top of a castle turret! Yes, real men know that they are standing at the bottom, professing their love for her, but moreover, climbing, tooth and nail, to the very top!

[Think: a man literally using his front teeth to climb that stone wall! YES. THAT IS A REAL MAN.]

Real men heroically love their woman by showing her that she is worth being fought for, and earned, via virtue and strength.

Well, I may have missed many things, but…

Real women, I know that you know what your FEMININE HEART wants. Do not be afraid to look for that courageous man who will be gentle with you, respect you, pursue you, and fight for you, every day!

Do not be afraid to look for a man who will be selfless enough to know that love is sacrifice.

In a world of boys, it’s hard to find real men, but it’s worth waiting for that real man. Your dignity and true love are calling.

AMEN.

#TheEnd

“Make me a channel!”

In light of the new pope, Pope Francis, I’d like to share a “Culture of Life-ism.” As coined by my youth minister friend, a “Culture of Life-ism” is a short catchy saying that someone can use to promote, you guessed it, the Culture of Life.

Culture of Life-ism for today: “Make me a channel!” A short, handy-dandy saying that you can pray all throughout YOUR day so that you can be fully alive.

So when can you use “make me a channel!”? Why, any time!

In the morning, when you wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. Hop out of bed, and onto the floor on bended knee. Clasp your hands together, and pray: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re talking to someone who’s challenging your Faith and your beliefs, and you’re about to loose your cool, or you’re just at a complete loss for words. Smile at that person and silently pray: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re sitting in front of a pile of textbooks that you have been dreading cracking open. On the top of that juxtaposed pile of lined paper, write: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re on the job, filling out some tedious paperwork, get out the sticky notes and write: “Make me a channel!”

When you find yourself at your wit’s end with either your significant other, or a parent, or a child. Whisper under your breath: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re having a bad, bad day, and someone does something that really irritates you, like cut you in line or cut you off on the road. Start to hum: “Make me a channel!”

Sanctity is not about doing great things. Sanctity is about letting Our LORD use you as His channel in the smallest things imaginable, and in your every day life happenings!

Sanctity is everyday discipleship.

Grace is the life of Christ in us. We can only be fully alive in Christ (as St. Irenaeus says) if we first let Him use us in the littlest of ways. Only then can He use us in big ways! Let us always let Our LORD make us a channel of not only His peace, but moreover His eternal life!

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love, with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

–The Prayer of Saint Francis (song version)

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This one is mad that Pope Francis is in the Chair of Saint Peter.

YOUNG ADULTS: YOU ARE “MARTYRS OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM”!

WE are the martyrs of the third millennium! That’s exactly what Blessed Pope John Paul II said when he greeted the young adults at the first World Youth Day in 1989. He proclaimed: “I have come to greet the martyrs of the third millennium.”

Teens and young adults, WE are called to live a “culture of LIFE,” showing the world that Jesus saves, the Gospel can come alive, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Instead of writing about it myself, I want to share a snippet from a blog post I found online– it’s too good to pass up!:

“Why Martyrs of the Third Millennium?
In 1989, young people from around the world gathered in Spain for the first ever World Youth Day, around 500,000 to be exact. The world watched in complete and total atonement. What had all these young people come to see? What did they plan to receive from such an event? A journalist asked Blessed Pope John Paul II what he had come to see. Like many saints before him he had a way with words and responded simply yet with great power, “I have come to greet the martyrs of the third millennium.”

We are the change we wish to see in the world. Christianity started with 12 men and it is now the largest religion on the planet. How much power lies in God? Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can be the change the world needs, with Christ all things are possible!

This blog is going to be mostly about my journey in my faith and my life. Everyday is a learning experience and that is wisdom from God! This wisdom is something that needs to be shared. My hope is that through my sharing of my journey it may inspire those around me and those reading to take the first step on theirs! If you are already moving forward than maybe it will be encouragement to continue through the hard times.

In Christ immense Love and Compassion,
Nickolaus Burns”

I want to be a saint in the making… I want to be a martyr of the new millennium. As the prophet Isaiah said: “Here I am, LORD! Send me!”

God will decide how I will “be the change” every day that I live. “My” vocation is not set in stone… because it’s actually His vocation. And He will call me wherever He wills; the Spirit will blow me wherever He wills! (John 3:8) (“vocare” = “to call”)

Perhaps Our LORD will call me to do the same thing every day, or a different thing day by day, moment by moment. In any case, I hope always to follow Him, to help renew the face of the earth!

Step 1: Live a Eucharistic life… and, with Him as my source and my summit… my all in all… to rest in Him… to live in Him… to let Him renew me!

A picture is worth a thousand words…

World Youth Day MADRID 2011. TWO MILLION teens and young adults ALIVE in Jesus. ONE pope. Pope Benedict XVI, our PAPA BENEDETTO… we will miss him! We weathered the storm that night on a gigantic air field. I remember nearly freezing to death while I slept with millions under a bright clear moon. It was simply amazing. We are the saints in the making and the martyrs of the new millennium!

 

Prayer After Vegas

I found this little prayer that I wrote after going to Vegas during the summer a couple of years ago. I had a great time with family and friends, but the culture there — a culture of death — left me confused and disheartened.

The world expects me to flaunt my body, but I know God calls me to take pride in my dignity.

Thought I’d like to share just in case any other young women felt the same way as me. Following are a few snippets.

Monday, August 31, 2009

O Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,

I come to You today empty and confused. I went to Las Vegas this weekend and I felt so much cognitive dissonance. The world wants me to be beautiful, sexy, young, wild. I know you want me to be beautiful in my purity, sexy in my virginity, young in my faith, hope, & love, and wild with the passion of the Holy Spirit that has so touched my life! Drinking and dancing aren’t sinful to You; they are both gifts from You that can be properly used. Getting drunk and dancing provocatively would be abuses of those gifts. I think perhaps You are revealing Your Holy Will to me now.

I love Your, Lord, and I want to serve You. I pray for the grace to see as You see, to hear Your voice, to speak Your words, to serve and glorify You, and to love as You love.

Give me the grace that my heart might ache daily for You, for Your love, for You in the Eucharist!

love,

Rosanna Noelle

Lord Jesus Christ, as I reflect on this prayer that I wrote 2 years back, help me truly and genuinely to live a culture of life!

Purity & the Purifying POWER of Confession: Living a Revolution Against Sin

When following Christ, is there no hope for someone who has fallen in their pursuit for purity, or who has given away his or her “V-Card” — virginity — sleeps with their boyfriend/girlfriend, or lived life promiscuously?

Is there no hope for someone who continuously falls to the sins of the flesh, such as willfully entertaining impure thoughts, masturbating, looking at pornography, etc.?

No. Absolutely not!

There is enduring hope found in genuine repentance, the willingness to change… and the Confessional.

Matthew 5:8 reads: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”

Obviously, if God never thought we could be clean, He wouldn’t torture us so with the thought that we could never see Him. But as baptized children of God, we are called to imitate Christ’s holy purity and given the power to do so: Christ’s very grace within us!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph #2345 states: “Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.”

We will never be able to escape our fallen will or our concupiscence, including our inclination to lust. However, we CAN grow in our virtues and in our holy purity; we CAN grow more inclined to fight off these temptations! Better yet, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession to freely return to sinners the gift of sanctifying grace that they reject when they sin.

When we commit mortal sin, we willingly reject the life of God within our soul (the very definition of “grace”). A mortal sin is only considered “mortal” when we know it is a grave sin and can cut us off from God and we fully decide to commit the sin anyway.

Yet during Confession, Christ Himself– via the priest who acts “in persona Christi”– infuses His grace, His very LIFE– back into the penitent!

Jesus Himself exhorts us: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Striving to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect is only possible when we have the sanctifying grace of Christ within us as our strength to choose what is right and to reject what is evil!

After we sin, we may think: “Well, I still believed– I just went the wrong way, and sin/darkness overcame me, and now I’m sorry and I’m coming back to You, LORD.” Yet such a prayer to reconcile with Him is not enough if a sin is mortal; we must Confess in a sacramental prayer, to a priest, a representative of God.

This is pointed out in the Bible. St. John says: “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray” (1 John 5:16-17).

It is for these “deadly” sins– these mortal sins, including most sins of impurity– that we must go to Confession.

Again, we must not worry, just be aware, and take ardent hope!

As we repeatedly commit sin, including sins of impurity; Christ Himself longs to unite us to His Cross and repeatedly purify us via Confession, that we may be always be ready again to give ourselves as pure offerings to one another and to Our Father.

Just as the “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary can mysteriously permeate all time and space in the perpetuation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist (the timeless Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ), so too can this “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary mysteriously permeate all time and all space in the timeless perpetuation of the Sacrament of Confession (the timeless Mercy & Justice of Christ!).

Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So, too is the Power of His Cross: in the Eucharist, when the Sacrifice of Calvary is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age, and in Confession, when the cleansing of sins and re-infusion of grace is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age.

Our Savior Jesus Christ died 2000 years ago on the Cross, and His sacrifice was a “once and for all” redemption, but Christ’s saving graces permeate all time and all space and save us in mysterious ways.

Yet Jesus Himself warns of our ability for sin to separate us from Him when he heals the paralytic on the exterior (his illness) and the interior (his sin), but still warns the paralytic: “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:16).

Jesus posits that sin can indeed make something worse happen to us after He heals us: we can willingly separate ourselves from Him if we sin again; we sin again over and over.

Yet Jesus is more than willing to purify us again and again in Confession, that we may truly be clean of heart, and so blessed as to be able to see Him (Matthew 5:8)!

LORD Jesus, blessed be the Sacrament of Confession, which allows the redemptive power of Your Cross to work mysteriously, outside of time, to perpetually save us from ourselves, when we willingly separate ourselves from Your saving Cross. You alone can save us, o LORD!

Holding Back Your “V-Card”: Sex as a Sacrifice

The vast majority of young people in my generation say that they are willing to give their “V Card” –their virginity– to someone that they genuinely love, within the context of marriage or not. Sex itself is no longer reserved for marriage; it is reserved for someone who has earned your trust, or perhaps who you would consider marrying– or perhaps just anyone, for no reason at all.

One of the biggest aspects of my own falling in love with Christ circa my college years was seeing the beauty and the value He places on sex, sexuality, and their meaning.

After learning about the “Theology of the Body,” Pope John Paul II’s exposition on human sexuality, I better understood why we were created as complementary men and women and why sex was so sacred as to save for marriage. As of late, however, I have had some new thoughts on purity and virginity to add to my former understanding. So, here goes:

God the Father in the Old Testament wanted families to offer Him lambs as a sacrifice. At the time, lambs were considered the finest livestock; they were of utter value and importance to families. And not only did God the Father want just any lamb– He wanted a family’s most pure, holy, and unblemished lamb.

To give up such a perfect lamb was a sign from a family that it truly loved the LORD above itself and its own interests. The purity of the offering, of the lamb, increased its worth exponentially and was a stronger offering that spoke of genuine love to our LORD.

In the Holy Eucharist, our LORD Jesus Christ offers Himself as the Lamb of God on the altar. Jesus Christ makes of Himself a most pure, holy, and unblemished offering to God the Father. In fact, His sacrifice of Himself was so pure, holy, and unblemished, that it will forever be known as the One Perfect Sacrifice– the sacrifice that granted all of humanity salvation! He is THE Sacrifice whose blood wiped away all of our sins, and saved us from ourselves.

My realization?

In Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman are called to live in purity before offering themselves up to one another and to GOD. Just as Christ gave Himself as an unblemished sacrifice for all on the altar, so too in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony are we to give ourselves as unblemished sacrifices for our spouses, on our wedding night on the marriage bed. Just as a church has an altar, the domestic church (the family) has an “altar”: the marriage bed itself. This is where we lay down our bodies for one another, and together, for God.

Just Christ says, “This is my body; it has been given up for you,” so too shall spouses say this to one another, as well as together to the LORD: “This is our body (now “one flesh”) which has been given up for You.”

Marriage reflects the familial, one-in-three, triune nature of God. Accordingly, the marital embrace (sex) is called to reflect the perfectly holy and pure nature of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, makes for the Church, His Bride (both on the Cross and till this day in the Holy Eucharist). Purity before and during marriage is thus of immeasurable worth! Striving for purity proclaims: “I love you… and You, LORD!” with an individual’s entire body, heart, and soul. Purity is the mark of the sacred romance of marriage, a sacrament that only Our Romantic Creator Himself could design!

Just as a family in the Old Testament was to offer their most perfect lamb to the LORD, so are those who are called to married life asked to offer up their most perfect selves to one another and to the LORD: before marriage, when they get married, and throughout their marriage via sacrifice– such as that which Natural Family Planning demands– and lifelong fidelity.

What wondrous beauty! Human sexuality is called to speak purity, sacrifice, love.

On Deciding to Love

The culture I have grown up in has told me that love is a feeling. It just happens. You fall into it. Then you drop out of it. Love is a state of being. A noun.

But Jesus Christ, in His living and dying for me, teaches me that love is a decision. And more importantly, love is a verb. Love is something that you do.

According to Jesus, love is not something that you receive, fall into, or drop out of — all of which are out of your control. Love is something that you are always capable of freely doing.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph #1766 defines love as a verb as well:

To love is to will the good of another.” All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good. Only the good can be loved. Passions “are evil if love is evil and good if it is good.

The Catholic Church has also taught me that love is Someone. It is Jesus Christ, He who lived and died for me! One of my favorite chapters in Scripture, 1 John 4:7-8, reads:

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

The culture that I live in has taught me to live for my own success: for my achievements and a prestigious career.

But my achievements and a prestigious career can only take me so far. How much recognition, wealth, and power will it take till I am finally satisfied, if those are the only things I live for?

The culture that I live in has taught me to make a significant other or a spouse, or even my parents or children, etc., the very center of my world and the core of my being.

But if I make those that I love the center of my world, how long will it be before I go crazy from realizing just how badly they can fail, because humans always fail– even the best of us? At times, I will fail those that I love quite miserably as well.

These very reasons are why my hope lies not in the culture of death before me but in the culture of LIFE. My hope lies in Jesus Christ, Love Himself! In Him and in His promise, I will never find disappointment, depression, or death, but only fulfillment, joy, and LIFE. Only He can fill my very center; only He can fill my core.

As a Catholic young adult in a world that increasingly shuns the Divine, I am excited and invigorated and ready! The Black Eyed Peas in their smash hit ask: “Where is the Love?” I want to shout it out to my generation: “Love is right here, in the Holy Eucharist! Jesus Christ is Love.”