You know, I never took people seriously when they said that exposing yourself to negative, morally questionable content brings you down spiritually. Kind of stupid of me, right? All I know is that over the past week or so, I’ve … Continue reading
Just a reminder that you and I serve a wonderful, merciful, omnipotent God. His love is unconditional and all-consuming. He also knows that we, as mere human beings, cannot begin to understand the implications of His love and mercy, so … Continue reading
I really feel like I need to write about my experiences at CAMP-of-the-WOODS, a Christian camp in upstate New York. I worked there for three weeks in August, and it was an eye-opener in many ways. I think while there, I finally heard that call from God I’ve been waiting on, but strangely He was calling me away from the camp. I’ll elaborate, I promise.
So, my family has vacationed in Speculator, NY, for the last two summers. We spend a week at the aforementioned CAMP-of-the-WOODS, an outdoorsy, evangelical experience one man described as “Christian Disneyland.” My parents had been bugging me to get a job, and they thought a faith-based place like COTW was my perfect niche. I had some concerns about the camp’s “nondenominational” Christian affiliation because experience has taught me that “nondenominational” is a misleading synonym for “assorted Protestant”. Still, I agreed to go on the camp site and fill out the application. That in itself was a daunting task. Lots of essay-style questions about my faith, my current relationship with Jesus Christ, favorite Scripture verses, etc.—I had to stop myself from citing Tobit at one point, hahahaha. But before I could hit “submit”, I had to agree to the Seven Non-negotiable Essentials of CAMP-of-the-WOODS. Yep, they pledge allegiance to sola scriptura, sola fide and all sorts of Catholic no-nos in there. You don’t know how badly my conscience ached clicking “agree”, but I gave in anyway.
They were excited to hire me as a teaching assistant for the Christian Education program. I was specifically designated as an aide to special needs children, but in the absence of special needs kids, they had me work as a floater, taking on a few different jobs. My first week, I worked as a teaching assistant with the kindergarteners. I loved them all, they were so precious and sweet. I thought the week would go by without incident, but one day, the Bible lesson was about the Last Supper and Crucifixion, and what the teacher said made my skin crawl. She explained to the children how Jesus was speaking figuratively when He said that the bread and wine were His Body and Blood—a way of foreshadowing that He was about to die for us on the cross. I was half-tempted to give in to instinct and aggressively defend the truth of the Eucharistic Mystery, but I knew that would be wildly out of place. I sat there silently, red in the face and shaking with unspoken conviction. That was a painful day. Another time, some girls gossiped about who was and wasn’t “saved”. It seemed to me that putting so much stock in predestination, by necessity, indicated little faith in God’s gift of free will. I saw other, lesser offenses over the course of my time there, but the ones that stick out to me are the ones I have listed.
In any case, being at COTW made me anxious—homesick, actually, not for Baltimore but for my Catholic Church and the truth She offered. My work schedule was jampacked, and I hadn’t been able to attend Mass in weeks. I didn’t even have a Rosary or a Catholic Bible with me. I did take comfort in singing hymns like Ave Verum Corpus and Haily Holy Queen, but I had to sing those quietly. I could feel my faith being stifled and suffocated in a place where things as innocent as Crucifixes and making the Sign of the Cross are taboo.
Then one day, things got better. This is an excerpt from my diary:
Yesterday was beautiful. I heard Your call, and I only pray that You will give me the grace to answer it.
I don’t know where to begin. I do know that a) you spoke to me very clearly in that empty church yesterday, and b) You want me directly in Your ministry, somehow. Also, I understand that CAMP-of-the-WOODS has been a learning experience, leading me to a greater destination. My decision to work here this summer has been absolutely crucial to my spiritual development, though it has told me that COTW is not my place. I’ve learned exactly what I’m not.
I took a long walk yesterday, through the empty town of Speculator. I didn’t know where I was going, but something deep inside me knew that if I walked far enough, I would find You. Here at COTW, they speak Your name, they sing Your praises, they read from Your own words, and yet they don’t know You. They don’t know what they’re missing, but being here, I felt that nagging absence eating at me and challenging my faith.
Lord, I was so inexplicably afraid and desperate while I walked. I knew that I needed to find a Catholic church, that somehow that would bring me back home. On the way, I just prayed to myself, over and over:
O my Jesus,
forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell,
and lead all souls to Heaven,
especially those in most need of Thy mercy.
I’m not usually one for repetitive prayer. Now that I think about it, the only other time I remember praying like that was that infamous night on a red-eye flight to Los Angeles with Dad. I was so scared, Lord. I couldn’t stop crying, and all the while, I could do nothing but pray to You and beg to be sent home as soon as we arrived to LAX. You didn’t send me home, Lord. You kept me there all week and strengthened my resolve. By the time I got back home, I knew I was not going to see my dad for a long time. It’s a harsh thought, but I know it was Your will. You gave me healing in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Lord, You’ve never failed me.
Yesterday, I went into the empty church, and immediately, I knew I was home. The smell of holy water and offertory candles brought me back and put my restless soul to rest for the first time in years, I think. I cried a little in the pews, Lord. I heard You, I felt You, and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I cried because I’d forgotten the feeling of Your mercy and unconditional love. I cried realizing that You would choose me, a pained, wayward sinner like me, to serve You. The fact that this has been Your plan all along, Lord…incredible. In some ways, I think I really did believe that I was too far gone. Your grace is real, Lord, without a doubt, and it has the strength to melt the ice I’ve been holding in my heart for the last few years. I’ve found You again, and I love You, really and truly, not with words or with fuzzy feelings but with the whole of my existence and personhood. You have enraptured my soul, and I really, truly do sing Your name in the depths of me. I thought You were gone, a pretty fancy of my earlier years, but HERE YOU ARE. You’ve been here all along.
Lord, let me be only Yours.
Long and rambling and incoherent, I know. But God came to me, and I want everyone to know that He will not hesitate to come to You if you just let Him. Take the time, make the effort, sit in an empty chapel or quiet yourself with a Bible. You will hear His voice.
Followers of mine, I love each and every one of you. Have a wonderful night and remember that Jesus loves you.
I love this article! It hurts when people say that the Church hates gays, and whenever I try to explain my position, I feel like all these misconceptions lead others to put words in my mouth. Gershom says it all pretty well here.
Another Tumblr post from last year. I’m proud of this one. 🙂
So, as you may know, I go to an all-girls Catholic high school run by the Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. I absolutely love my school’s religious curriculum. Juniors take Church History, and we’re all reading Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel. If you don’t know, Weigel is a distinguished Catholic apologist from my own hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Bl. John Paul II actually handpicked the guy to write his biography. This guy is incredible. Mind you, I don’t usually read heavy apologist writings. I mean, I’ve read some stuff from Peter Kreeft, but for the most part, my Catholic supplemental reading revolves mainly around Jason Evert, Mark Hart, and the like. c: You know, light Catholic material intended for people my age.
Anyway, back on topic.
I haven’t yet read any of Weigel’s other dozen or so books (I plan to), but I can see why he, of all the Catholic apologists, won the late and great Pope’s favor. He has a very unique style of writing that helps him to gently ease the reader toward his intended message.
In this book, he’ll start each chapter with a little history lesson or tell us a little about a place that holds significance in the Catholic world. Chapter 2, for example: “Rome —- The Scavi of St. Peter’s and the Grittiness of Catholicism.” Weigel begins the chapter with some background information on St. Peter’s Square.
The Vatican Necropolis, also known as the scavi, is a series of underground excavation sites that hold the ruins and remains of many early Christian martyrs of of Roman persecution, among them St. Peter. Archaeologists have uncovered all of Peter’s remains, except for his feet, which lead us to believe that he lost them during his martyrdom at Caligula’s Circus.
Weigel does not, however, aim to simply give us a lesson about history: at this point in the chapter, he changes the subject to martyrdom itself and what it means to give your life for Christ.
Peter…is being told, gently but firmly, that his love for Christ is not going to be an easy thing. His love is not going to be a matter of “fulfilling” himself. His love must be a pouring out of himself, and in that self-emptying he will find his fulfillment.
All in all, the chapter is really about the “grittiness” of Catholicism, the reality that faith means suffering and sacrifice. Weigel tells us that, especially in the secularized modern world, it is vital that we are willing to make these sacrifices to defend our faith. ”Catholics have relearned that lesson the hard way, in the scandal of clerical sexual abuse and the crisis that scandal caused when it was so badly handled by some bishops—-the successors of the apostles.” Even today, Catholics face the same persecution that the early Christians faced, and more than ever, we really are called to be martyrs, His witnesses to the Truth.
He closes the chapter with a message that really strikes a chord in me, and hopefully it will inspire you, as well.
“Weakness and failure, too, are part of the grittiness of Catholicism,” but “failure is not the final word.”
I didn’t really find God until my freshman year of high school. At my school, all freshmen take Doctrinal Foundations as an introductory course to the Catholic faith. As you can imagine, that class involved memorizing a lot of Greek- and Latin-based vocabulary that only Catholics use. That’s how I learned the word metanoia, Greek for “change of heart.” I’ve never forgotten that word. It was just so applicable to everything I was going through at the time, and everything I still go through on a regular basis.
Right now, though, metanoia is applicable to the theme of conversion, one of the most wonderful things I can name. Just recently, I came across this article about Leah Libresco, a former atheist blogger who experienced a beautiful conversion to Catholicism. In popular culture, actor Mark Wahlberg speaks openly of the personal experiences that led him to become a devout Catholic who attends daily Mass with his wife. Do we all see how incredible metanoia is?
One of my favorite Scripture verses is Psalm 130:6: “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for morning.” Every soul thirsts for Christ and His love. Often, we just don’t realize it, so we end up searching elsewhere for something or someone to take the edge off our longing. I tried too damn long to drown out that emptiness before I found God. Nothing worked. God came to me in the peak of my depression and self-loath, and He blessed me with metanoia. That change of heart has made all the difference in my life.
Goodnight, you guys! I hope you all sleep well, remembering that Jesus knows your lowest lows and loves you all the same. Turn your heart towards Him, and He’ll never let you fall. ♥
~ katy, thelightiswhite
I think I’m onto something. You know that feeling you get when something you’ve heard countless times finally clicks? That might be what this is. Dear Jesus, please let it be that. The realization is something so simple, something I’ve had to teach myself time and again because I always seem to forget: IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.
I registered on WordPress about an hour ago believing that God was telling me to do it. I had to pick a username, something that’s just second-nature to me. I have accounts registered on more sites than I can count, and there are about three possible usernames I might choose. They all have my name, like “katybliss”, “KaleidoKaty”, etc.. Well, maybe it was just the desire for anonymity (I don’t think that’s the case), but today I felt compelled to pick something less about me and more about Jesus, about my faith. I decided on “thelightiswhite” (see last post). I’m really glad. Also, I have to choose a Gravatar, or whatever you call it. I could just use the pretty selfie I use on every site, but no, I think that when the Gravatar picker thing actually works for me, I’m going to follow suit and choose a photo of my dear patron saint, Maria Goretti. Or something like that.
Yeah, these are little things, just a username and a profile photo, but for me, that’s a big deal. What I’m thinking about right now, as I type these words, is how much stock I put into myself, how damn much I care what everyone else thinks about me. That’s the problem with my Facebook, my Tumblr, my Wanelo. My online profiles are “Katy domain,” places where it’s all about me, what I think, what I like. I do my best to reblog Catholic stuff when I can, but it’s always outweighed by the bobdylanopinionsclotheshumorartmovieshorrorpsychologymusicfandom content blob that seems to take up most of my self-identity, online and in real life. Oh, and when I do post stuff about prayer, chastity, saints, Catholicism and the like, it’s more to remind my online audience, “See, guys, I’m a Catholic.” It’s pride more than anything.
I’m really insecure and overwhelmed, you guys. I’m dealing with severe anxiety disorder, the recent death of my grandma, the aftermath of my parents’ divorce and the huge strain it’s had on my relationship with both parents, this incredible burden of guilt and inadequacy…and most recently, a secret eating disorder. I’m not listing these issues to gain sympathy. I’m listing them because I’ve been neglecting them for so long, and it’s occurring to me just now that instead of going to Jesus for help, I’ve shoved them inward and masked them with narcissism.
Lord, I’m done with being two different people. I’m done with pushing aside my problems and silencing them with self-destruction. I’m ready to instead lay them at Your feet. I know that You told me to create this blog for a reason. When I feel tempted to make myself throw up, when I want to hurt myself, please, Jesus, give me the strength to post it here instead, to pray about it and trust that You, my Savior, will carry me in my weakness. Amen.
Hey, I’m Katy! I’m a 17-year-old girl from Baltimore, MD. I’m creating this blog because I love Jesus and my Catholic faith. God has blessed me with the talent and passion for writing, and I’ve decided that I need to use those gifts for good. This blog will just be a record of my spiritual growth, my feelings, thoughts, prayers and whatnot. Music, books, movies, sites, quotes, stories that I find inspiring. Typical Catholic teen blog, I guess. (:
I spend so much time on sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Wanelo, just seeing how many likes/follows/reblogs I can get. My hopes are that this blog will be an escape from that, a place in the digital world where a Christian girl like me can speak her mind, find strength of faith, hopefully make a difference in someone else’s life. Right now, I’m just struggling with everything, I guess. God’s the one I’m running to in my fear and pain, and I feel Him telling me that this blog is a good idea.
Sorry for that little rant, but if you plan to follow my blog, I guess you’ll just have to get used to that. Anyway, I really hope I can be consistent in posting. And…that’s about it. God bless! ♥