A Catholic Teen’s POV: Religious Sisters & Habits

I’ve been struggling to find topics to right about and also the time to write them, so I’m hoping this blog post will be somewhat interesting and detailed enough. Among the many drafts I’ve started, a few of them are related to the religious life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the most clearest idea of where this blog post is headed, but I’m sure it’ll be somewhat interesting anyways!

So, this morning I went to Mass and since our parish is the only one with Mass on Saturday mornings out of six parishes in our city, there’s typically a large crowd reaching almost 150 people. As I was looking around (yes, I get distracted…a lot) I noticed there were three different women religious orders being represented. There was a young Nashville Dominican, four sisters in a blue habit and white veil (I still haven’t figured out their order, but our pastor calls them the “blue sisters”), and several sisters belonging to the Rochester Franciscans. While I was observing these women, I gleefully noticed that the ones in habits were probably half the age of the ones without habits.

Now, to explain why that’s significant to me. For those that do not know, I have been thinking about the religious life since about second grade. After writing about that in an essay, my teacher made me pen-pals with a friend of hers– a Nashville Dominican. This Nashville Dominican’s parents are at the same parish as I am, so every summer I’m able to talk with her while she’s home on a home visit. She was and still is such a vibrant part of my discernment. When I grew a little older, there were several years in which I did not want to take part in any discussion about the religious life. My extended family always liked talking about the religious life and would encourage my cousins and I to discern the religious life or holy orders (for men). So through all that discussion, I did not want to hear them constantly talking about the religious life, and tried to get rid of any thoughts of the religious life.

But, I really couldn’t. I started going to immersion retreats at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in LaCrosse hosted by Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. For multiple years, I went to the retreats, and every year I left with my heart being a little more open to the religious life. And I do have to say, I admire the FSGM sisters a lot, and think they’re really really awesome.

So now, going back to a more general topic! All the schools I’ve attended have all been influenced by the Rochester Franciscans. As I was recently reflecting on which Sisters had impacted my discernment the most, I realized that I had never once thought about becoming a Rochester Franciscan. Many say that the habit does not make a religious sister, and I would agree…but it is the habit that can be a subtle sign of Christ and His love in the world. Also, I’ve honestly understood why someone wouldn’t want to wear a full habit. I mean, you’re basically proclaiming to the world that you’re married to Christ!! But even if it relates to humility or that’s a reason, there’s something about a religious sister in a habit that makes people revert their thoughts to God, even if just for a small fraction of a second.

On the retreat that I go to with about 10-15 other girls in the summer, one thing we all were looking for in a religious order was that they wore a full habit. As we searched through bins of religious orders, we focused our gaze on those with full habits. In this time and age, it’s harder to outwardly show that you love your faith without the fear of being persecuted. I mean, just a few weeks ago, someone related to me that I could be seen as intimidating to others since I talk about Catholicism and our faith too much. Although at first I thought that made perfect sense, I then realized it didn’t. Why should I be afraid to express my faith? After all, should I deny the wonderful Lord just because I wish to be accepted by everyone? No, because God deserves the best from us and the best does not include being afraid of expressing our faith.

Back to the topic of religious habits, I’ve heard people talk about how LCWR orders are receiving the same amount of vocations as CMSWR orders. But if you take into account that LCWR accounts for about 80% of religious sisters, then the numbers going into each CMSWR order would definitely be higher than those entering LCWR order. There’s got to be a reason why right? One thing for sure, is that the youth of today yearn for the truth. Our world is so filled with lies and innuendos about what happiness really is. It isn’t the material possessions or lustful relationships. That’s why those that realize those things bring about nothing but temporary happiness, try to find the Truth.

So what should anyone take from this entire blog post, mini rant (maybe?) of mine? It’s that young women and girls are thinking of the religious life. But to prevent these people from seeing more “traditional” sisters in their full habits, is something that should never occur. Most people appreciate the full habit because it is such a beautiful sign of a bride of Christ! Also, I don’t mean to be negative of any sort, but to share my experience and perspectives on this. Of course, not all religious sisters in one order or another may share the exact same views.

Also, it was another glimpse at my life and my ongoing discernment process. I would really appreciate all your prayers, and please let me know if I can pray for you! I found out this morning that the parochial vicar at my parish passed away, so prayers would be very helpful once again.

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Being a Catholic at a Catholic School

You’d assume this would be easy. “You’re a Catholic at a Catholic school, what’s so difficult about that?!” But my answer to you would be, it’s actually very difficult. Before you wonder how knowledgeable I am about this topic, let me tell you that I’ve been attending a Catholic school ever since Kindergarten…So, yes. I do know what being a Catholic at a Catholic school is like.

There are definitely positive aspects of going to a Catholic school as a Catholic; Mass is offered once a week or a couple of weeks, theology classes, freedom to openly pray, and the list goes on and on for awhile. But, it’s not always positive being a Catholic at a Catholic school. The majority of teenagers that I know at my school have grown to the point where they simply don’t understand Church teaching, and are living in a state of “I’m Catholic, but…”

Just yesterday I witnessed classmates criticizing how the school would not let a same gender couple be in the Grand March if that happened. I heard the very popular, “It’s 2016 now! I don’t understand, they (the Church) need to change.” If you know me somewhat well, you’ll realize that I didn’t leave that alone. Afterwards, I remarked on how the Catholic Church does not need to “change with the times,” as if two thousand years doesn’t testify to the fact the Church does not need to get with the times.

So, what exactly am I trying to pull out from that experience? At my specific Catholic high schools, and possibly others, are either not doing a good job of catechizing the students or there’s something wrong with the students themselves and their faith. But no, the second option would totally make sense simply if many are not able to be catechized well in their Catholic schools. From my own experiences, kneeling during the Consecration might obtain reactions entirely negative, even from the campus minister, too!

I’ve tried to speak to those in charge of campus ministry at my school, and they simply do not listen! All I’ve been hearing is “trust me, I have a lot of experience in liturgy.” But does experience equal correctness? It’s as if I played a piano piece for ten years, but always played it incorrectly. Over time, motor memory would prevent me from correcting the mistake or even realizing I made the mistake. To take in the perspective of the students that you’re serving in your ministry is something that should be the highest in your list of things to do. Disregarding students’ opinions or questions is simply another form of pride, one of the seven deadly sins!

Whenever I speak out in defense of the Catholic Church at my school, half of the time I get eye rolls or sarcastic remarks. No, I am not trying to be “holier than thou,” but because I invest the majority of my time into learning my faith and trying to live it out, I can’t help myself defending the faith when I see it attacked by other students at my Catholic school. From my experiences with other classmates, there’s only about ten to twenty percent of students who are actually invested in their faith to the fullest, although there are others who are somewhat interested, but simply are afraid to do so because of peer opinion.

As I mentioned earlier, my school joins together for the Mass once or twice a month as one school community. There tends to be a lack of reverence at these Masses, and although I’ve brought up these concerns, no one seems to care. Although there is a morning mass before school, there’s about 3 or 4 students that go every time, including me. Since the chapel has windows all around, it’s easy to make judgement about those on the inside. Other people probably label me as a judgmental, traditional, and close-minded Catholic obsessed girl…but, I don’t care about their opinions necessarily. The one opinion that I spend my life worrying about is God’s. That’s why I follow God’s moral laws, not the laws or social norms of the world.

There’s a chapel located in my school as mentioned before. Some students take some time to go in there to pray, while others on the other hand do not. I’ve walked by the chapel seeing couples go in there just to talk with one another or go on their devices. But…they don’t pray. One of my best friends and her boyfriend go in there to pray, and I’m thankful for their beautiful witness to the faith! That’s not the only thing, everyone passes by the chapel every day when the whole school gathers together. Students walk past and across the chapel with no sign of recognizing the Blessed Sacrament is indeed present in the tabernacle located in the chapel. I’ve recently began to bow my head every time I pass, or genuflect if there isn’t a lot of people walking down the hallway.

This might just be a first part since this problem cannot simply be explored in one blog post that I write. Being a Catholic in a Catholic setting today is something that is quite difficult depending on the environment. I’ve been a Catholic school student for twelve years, but not all of those years have been easy since I’ve had to dealt with negative reactions and commentary from those who are supposed to lead me in my faith, not disagree with me when I ask for more reverence, or when I try to promote vocations (maybe another blog post for later)!

And I’m definitely not saying this is something that all Catholic students go through at their Catholic high school. These were just thoughts from my own personal experience of being at a Catholic school who typically focuses on sports and fine arts more than the faith of their students. Also, these were from the perspective of someone who is not as quiet when expressing their faith compared to those who are more subtle about their faith.

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Discernment/Vocations

Discernment…I’m mostly going to focus on discerning your vocation in life.

Once, a very wise seminarian told me, “You’re never too young or too old to start discerning.” And I think that’s something that everyone should keep in mind. Even if you’re only in middle school or already have a stable job, it’s never the wrong time to listen to what God really has planned for you.

I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the process of discernment and meaning of their vocations. Often times, when the word vocation is mentioned, only religious life is thought of. But, that’s not true since vocations includes all states of life; married, consecrated single life, holy orders/religious life.

Discerning a vocation is something I think everyone should spend some time in their life doing. To be honest, I was scared at first of discerning my vocation. What if it’s not what I want it to be? That’s the biggest question I had for a number of years, but through the past year I realized something. True happiness and joy doesn’t come from doing what I want, but it comes from doing the Lord’s will in whatever he wishes for my life. Even if I become what I want, but without considering the Lord, I’ll never be truly happy.

After I got through the stage of fear, it came to the point where I had to consider how much I trusted the Lord. For my confirmation saint, I chose St. Faustina. One of the most important sayings from her is “Jesus, I trust in you!” Taking from that statement, I devoted myself to put less trust in worldly things and trust more and more in the Lord and his incredible plan for my life.

One thing I think is crucial in remembering while thinking about discernment/vocations, is that all these things are revealed through God’s time. There’s a purpose to everything, even if we can’t tell what it is. Discerning our vocation is one of those things that takes time and trust, we can’t expect to get answers quickly. Sometimes the answer might be something we didn’t expect, but it’s the right one.

Some tips I’ve been learning as I’m still figuring out my vocation:

  • Find a spiritual director (most likely a priest, religious sister would be best. But, there’s also great lay people that can really help your spiritual journey)
  • Prayer and trust…always!
  • Adoration and speaking with the Lord can really help you develop communication with the Lord.
  • Mass and the Sacraments are other great ways to develop a better relationship with the Lord.
  • Talk to people! (Discerning the priesthood? Talk to the vocations director of your diocese! Discerning the married life? Talk to possible future spouses that will bring your closer to Christ!)

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you have any other thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments, or contact me! 🙂

Just know I’ll be praying for your discernment and vocations as well! Please pray for me also, since I’m still unsure of my vocation.

Have a wonderful day, and possibly just say, “Jesus, I trust in you!” And really mean it.

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: “Appealing to the young people”

(Part 1?)

This phrase is thrown out quite often when spoken by those who believe that “praise and worship” or “glory and praise,” along with interesting and fun things are needed to interest young people about their faith. But, honestly, this is a phrase I tend to dislike.Why is there such a need to “appeal to the young people” about the Catholic faith? In some common circumstances, this leads to watering down of our prime Catholic beliefs.

Honestly, it would incredibly prudent to ask young people themselves what they want. But, if that might be difficult…here’s a few things that would appeal to me as a young person of the Catholic Church. For some, it may or not be surprising to comprehend the things I’m about to list. Maybe you’re agreeing with my thoughts, or maybe you’re vehemently shaking your head. I don’t entirely know.

Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. Yes, young Catholic people actually like these two things very much. (I myself play the pipe organ, so I especially appreciate it). The pipe organ is the “king of instruments!” It seems like other Protestant denominations put more emphasis on the pipe organ than Catholics sometimes. Some might consider Gregorian chant to be boring or too slow for millennials, but honestly, if millennials wanted upbeat music, they might just easily turn on the radio to the nearest pop music station. Many do really think Gregorian Chant is great! The reason? Because it’s beautiful, the immense history and depth of Gregorian Chant is something young people appreciate. In the world today with the busy noise and beats, when someone hears Gregorian chant, it’s possible that they stop a little and take time to think or pray. Just because something may be old in the number of years it’s been around, it doesn’t mean that it’s worse. The Catholic Church has a rich and meaningful heritage, and some of those things include Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. And just a gently reminder that in the Vatican II Ecumenical Council document, “Musicam Sacram,” it is stated:

“Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal.” (50. a)

“The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.” (62)

Mass. Yes, young Catholics like going to Mass. The more reverent, the better. But, of course there are those that are simply bored whether they’re at a Mass with guitars or a Mass with a magnificent choir singing Gregorian Chant. It is more likely for them to find the Mass with Gregorian Chant more fascinating though, simply because it truly takes them closer to the deep beauty of our faith. Please don’t make Mass more focused on community than God. If the Mass is made into a performance or community event, it will be harder for teenagers to understand why they’re even there. Performance? They’d rather be at their favorite artists’ concert. Community event? They’ll prefer hanging out with their friends.

The more reverence those leading the congregation portray and expect, the congregation (even the youth!) will reflect the reverence expected. If the expectations are low, it’s easy to lower those expectations and not receive wanted results. But, I’m pleading all those in charge of liturgy, music, priests, and others trying to engage the youth during the Mass. Let us experience the Mass! Face the correct way (cough cough ad orientem), create a reverent moment through music, and most importantly is to direct our focus during the Mass to Jesus and His sacrifice, not about the people next to you.

Truth. Honestly, please tell us things about the faith truthfully and straightforward. We don’t prefer hearing sugar-coated versions of dogma. We’re all striving for the truth, especially young people who are at a stage of their lives when we hope for authenticity. Sometimes it seems hard to be blunt about something, but it’s better to clearly explain than to glaze over the topic. Yes, it may not sound pleasing to the ears, but that’s not what is important. Truth is important. Two thousand years of Scripture and Tradition shouldn’t be watered down and made to sound less “offensive.”

Value our opinions. I do know many that value the youth opinions, but at the same time, there seems to be some adults who only value certain opinions; those that agree with them. Most of the people that try to appeal to young people are obviously not millennials. Simply put, find out what it is that young people want, not just your own perception on what it is. Please! Just because something is fun or in with the times doesn’t automatically make it attractive to the young generation!! If we looked at a reverent person versus someone shaking their head back and forth, “having fun,” we would easily get bored looking at the second person, but there will continue to be something attractive and appealing about the person being reverent.

Prayer and Adoration. And Silence. There’s the common notion that young people need to be doing something every minute to stay engaged. That’s not true at all, it’s imperative that young people and adults have quiet time to pray. It’s a lot harder to pray and think when there’s background noise, it can become a lot easier during silence or adoration. Although, the mind can tend to wander, it would be wiser to let young people experience the silence that can help them listen to the voice of God.

This honestly feels like a “Part 1” of something. So, that’s it for today, please please please take this message into account!! I’m not only speaking for myself, but there are many other millennials who will think the same, too.

(Also, if anyone would like to correct my citations from the document, please let me know!)

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Priest on a hoverboard

Although I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post this soon, I was scrolling through comments about this, and felt that I should write this up.

Ah, where do I begin…

Many comments wrote that the priest might’ve been doing this to appeal to the young people. But, then he was suspended, and people said that the church officials are complaining about church attendance and, “I wonder why…”

As someone who’s considered to be a “young person” at mass…I wanted to say how I felt about this situation. First off, if my parish priest decided to try and do this one day at mass, I would do either of two things at that moment; kneel down and start praying for more reverence, or simply walk outside/away.

To some extent, I can see where people would say it can bring in young people, but I think the idea that the Catholic Church needs to “be/fit with the times” is unnecessary. Just a year ago, I’d totally be on the bandwagon for modernizing things in the Catholic Church, but now I’m more informed.

The mass does not exist for there to be a performance or show of any sort. When we gather for mass, we should be focusing on Christ. I personally do not think a priest on a hoverboard would help us focus on the True Presence of the Eucharist. Some might argue that there are already other distractions in the mass. I agree, but, that doesn’t mean we should allow for more.

When the sacrifice of the mass is made into a performance or a simple event of fellowship, we lose sight of why we are there. Not to hear someone sing, or to see our friend, but we are at Mass to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

The priest might be attempting to relate to the young people, but I believe that there is greater power in the beautiful Tradition that the Catholic Church has. For many years, the Catholic Church has stood firm without needing to adjust to the ideals and beliefs of the current times, so, there isn’t really a reason to incorporate popular culture into the liturgy.

I don’t think the diocese did wrong in suspending the priest. It might seem harsh, but I believe that the priest will reflect on having more reverence to the Eucharist. Honestly, I think we all need to! This is a time that we should pause and see how much reverence we actually have and should have for the Eucharist.

There is an increasing amount of disrespect and lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and this is simply another example of one. Many have gone unnoticed, but I’m glad this one was brought to light and dealt with appropriately.

I pray that there will be increased reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Women Ordination

Let’s get some facts out here before I start: I’m a Catholic, and I’m a woman. Now let’s continue on.

I didn’t know this recently, but a woman in my diocese had excommunicated herself in 2008 when she became “ordained.” I read about several articles on the topic here. I was surprised to hear about our emeritus bishop’s reaction and the four priests who had supposedly supported her.

Anyways, I am in no way educated theologically enough to give opinions on that. But, I do have humble opinions on this matter and topic.

I’ll admit, I’m a former altar server, accompanist, and am involved with other activities at my parish. And most of the time, 75% of the volunteers are women. Which brings me to a thought? How are women being oppressed in the Catholic Church if they do so many ministries? The matter of women ordination seems more like an issue of pride to me.

So, here’s my take on it: I don’t think women should be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Honestly, it’ll never happen. But, I should say I’m not bothered by that at all.

In my everyday life, I hear of numerous people bringing up the fact that women still are not considered equality in today’s society, yet. I agree, the fact that women haven’t fully obtained equality is true. I dare to say I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in women equality.

But, becoming ordained is not something to be grasped by earthly hands with prideful fingers. I’ve seen stories where it seems as the problem lies in a person’s pride more than the actual idea of “equality for both men and women.” Many argue saying women are prohibited from fully serving the Church, but I disagree.

There’s various ways that I see women fulfill their want of serving their Church without the need of thinking they should be ordained. Women are now given many roles that were not given to us before, but it seems greedy that many are trying to take the sacred role of priesthood reserved for men. Men and women are both important in the ministries of the Church, although the roles are different, they are equal.

The majority of volunteers are women, and I’ve witnessed the importance of women in a parish. While I understand that some women state they want to do more by becoming ordained, I wonder why those women don’t accept that the priesthood was instituted by Christ for males.

I’m not bothered by this, or angered by this at all. I accept the roles I’ve been given, and more importantly, I see no particular reason as to why certain women have such a want to become ordained. I think there are other ministries that are equal, and they’d be able to serve the Church in those ways as well.

“Female altar servers might want to become priests,” this is something I’ve heard. But, maybe you’ve seen my blog post on my experience as an altar server, I wanted to reiterate that altar serving did not inspire any want to become a priest from me or other females that I knew. But, it is possible that is where certain women put their basis of their argument.

In conclusion, I see more pride in this issue than a problem about equality. If you have any other thoughts, please let me know, I’d be delighted to know your thoughts and response. Although I didn’t provide any theological aspects about it, there’s a great link talking about it found on catholic.com: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/women-and-the-priesthood 

 

With decreasing involvement from Cultural Catholics what do we need to do to revitalize faith?

This was originally supposed to be a one paragraph assignment, but I ended up going a little overboard. We were discussing Cultural/Cradle Catholics. These were just my views that I compiled together.

There are many ways to revitalize faith among Cultural Catholics. For example, DynamicCatholic has started to make their Rediscover Catholicism book for a lower price so parishes will be able to hand them out during Easter or Christmas masses. The lack of faith in Cultural Catholics comes from the loss of tradition in many parts. Reverence of the mass is lacking in many parishes and churches, and that is one of the reasons why there is a lower mass attendance. Cultural Catholics need to see true examples of vibrant Catholics in the world. We ourselves need to be Catholics, true Catholics, in order to revitalize the faith in other Cradle Catholics, and even in converts and those who are not Catholic.

    Religious sisters and brothers in traditional habits are good examples of the joy in Catholicism. Traditional habits are a sign of the vows of religious life. There is an increase in religious orders with traditional habits, and a decrease in the orders without habits. This means that young people are now finding something more special in traditional orders. They can see the joy and youth of those in traditional habits, and they’re an example for Cultural Catholics to know that there’s joy in the Church. From my personal experiences, I have not met any traditional religious sisters or brothers who have not been joyful. There is misconception on the religious life and how only those who are “not good enough for the secular world” waste their life and so decide to enter the religious life or priesthood.

    Traditional religious life needs to be shown to all, to let them see the inspiring joy that’s possible. Instead of showing orders without traditional habits, we should show the immense beauty in those orders with habits. How else are we going to show the world that people choose this radical way of living and following the evangelical counsels. Also, we should find ways to promote the priesthood, by publishing vocation stories or having conversations with seminarians and priests. In the Diocese of Peoria, seminarian trading cards were made to create a “culture of vocations,” and it was a successful idea in spreading awareness of the call to the priesthood.

    Many cradle Catholics think that mass is repetitive and they find no interest in attending. The focus shouldn’t be on gaining higher numbers in mass attendance, but to have a fire burning in every Catholic’s soul that won’t be easily blown out. Often time, music genres like Praise and Worship are used at mass as an attempt to attract people. Unfortunately, Praise and Worship fails to give true respect and glory to the sacrifice of the Mass. It strikes a series of feelings at that moment, but then the person will not be able to participate in Adoration, since they will find that not as interesting. Traditional music forms such as Gregorian Chant bring more reverence to the Lord. Modernism can ruin the image of the Catholic Church if it gets too out of hand, there needs to be reverence. When a cradle Catholic goes to mass, they should be able to experience that reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, so that they, too can show the same amount of respect. If we instead incorporated modern ideas and and concepts into the liturgy in order to “keep up with the times,” in what way would we be different than the Protestants?

    Events such as Steubenville conferences are targeted to bring a rediscovery of one’s Catholic faith, especially among the youth. They sound like a great idea, but often times, it  just end with a “retreat-high,” and end quickly, but of course, there are exceptions to it. What really needs to happen is a way to make known the reverence and “genius of Catholicism” as Matthew Kelly often states. There needs to be more promotion for adoration, liturgy of the hours, discernment retreats, etc. Although at first they might seem boring, but in the long run, it is from those hours in adoration that many vocations to the religious life have sprung to life. Cultural Catholics need to have a lasting impact of Catholicism, not something that is quickly found and gone.

    There is a Catholic community on Instagram and another one on Twitter, which many have joined and in the big picture, it’s all a part of the New Evangelization. Others and myself included have used our Catholic twitter accounts to reach out to those who many not be accurately informed about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Social media is one of the ways that many have utilized in trying to bring a revitalization among cradle Catholics. There are priests, religious, and laypeople who have incorporated Catholicism into their social media. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the “MediaNun” on twitter is a religious sister of the order of the Daughters of St. Paul, an order that has a habit. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that orders keeping the habit are old-fashioned and can’t get with the times, it means that Tradition can still be relevant in all time periods.

    One of the most important reasons why many have strayed away from the Catholic faith is because of the recent scandals that have caused many to be heartbroken and confused. There’s a large number of uninformed cradle Catholics who still do not know the true teaching of the Catholic Church and this causes problems. There needs to be more individuals who can show the faith authentically, not by false actions deceiving others. Cultural Catholics are sometimes waiting to see those living authentically and striving for true holiness, and Pope St. John Paul II has often said, “Be not afraid.”

    Ascension Press is a very good example of the New Evangelization, especially Fr. Mike Schmitz. When Fr. Schmitz gives a talk, people can see his eyes light up with the Holy Spirit. This is how every Catholic should look to everyone, we need to be the first ones who have that excitement about our faith. Only until then can we inspire other inactive cradle Catholics and non-Catholics to explore the Catholic faith more deeply.

Female Altar Servers? (Update)

This was previously posted on my blog on blogspot, but now I decided to post it on here with a few updates.

Certainly, there have been numerous debates among the Catholic community everywhere on different topics. The one topic I’d like to discuss today is the topic of female altar servers. I’d like to first say that this could be very controversial and each person may have their own opinions, but in this blog post, I’d like to talk about my own experience as one and my views. Thank you, and I hope you will read this blog post in its entirety.

I grew up in a parish in the Diocese of Winona, and female altar servers were very normal to me. My older female and male cousins were at one point servers, so it just seemed like a very normal ministry in my church that I could do. After receiving my First Holy Communion at age seven in second grade, I had to wait until I was in 3rd grade in order to be trained as a server. I remember the first time I was being taught how to serve and how anxious and nervous I was on the first mass I was to serve at. My parents constantly reminded me that the altar was very sacred and I had to be extremely respectful and reverent.

My experience as an altar server was not only limited to Sunday masses, but I started attending daily mass in which I participated in serving everyday. The congregation who attended mass never said anything about how females shouldn’t serve, so I still found females altar serving to be very normal. I expanded my daily mass ministry by playing piano or organ for a communion reflection, and then returning to serve afterwards. I was surrounded by people who never said a thing about why females shouldn’t serve at mass.

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a High School Immersion at a religious sisters’ house of formation. It was in a different diocese than my own and there was no one else from my diocese there. It was there that I learned so many other young females my age had the thought that females shouldn’t be serving at mass. It was very eye-opening and all though the view on the subject was very different from mine, I still appreciated and tried to understand their view.

After that retreat, I spent time looking up the topic and reasons why females shouldn’t be altar servers. Among those reasons, one that stood out to me was that altar serving was to try and inspire vocations to the priesthood to males. There’s concern that females might interfere with that vocation, or that they themselves might think it’s possible for females to become priests. I didn’t quite agree with the thought since I myself had never had the intentions or belief that females can be ordained in the Catholic Church. My cousin is a seminarian in our diocese, so I’ve gotten to know some seminarians quite well…and let me tell you, I support the priesthood more and more everyday. I pray for those in the seminary, and I take any opportunity to explain to people why women shouldn’t be ordained.

I do understand that female altar servers are still a topic of discussion within and outside the Catholic Church. I think the main point is the difference of the diocese. If a girl grows up in an environment where female altar servers are the norm, there is a very small percentage that the girl will think that females altar serving is wrong. I personally have decreased my time altar serving and have instead played piano/organ during daily mass for communion, or accompanying on Sundays.

The few points I wanted to make was that not all female altar servers think that women should be ordained. I think that altar serving was something that brought me closer to God and a clearer understanding of my vocation. Because of the close proximity to the Eucharist, I’ve found myself more conscious of the actions, thoughts, and things that I say.

In a way, I could say that altar serving has brought me to be more open about becoming a religious sister. Although, there’s still a lot of time and prayer before I know what God is truly calling me to be, many other female altar servers and I know that ordination to the priesthood is not one of them.

As for the update, I hardly serve anymore because I discover that there is reverence in tradition. I don’t usually serve unless the parish priest asks me to when there’s no other servers there. But truthfully, females are actually not supposed to be servers/acolytes!
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

Humility

Humility is something that I find difficult. No matter how hard I try, there will still be times when I notice my failure in being humble.

I struggle with this a lot, but it’s not that I think I’m greater than anyone. Sometimes, I realize I’m not humble because there’s finally something that I can do well in. So with that enthusiasm, I end up bragging about this certain thing that I can do well (and assume I can do better) to others.

But I’ve realized that I do need to be humble. Humility is something that mostly everyone struggles with. It’s not a concept that can be accomplished once and then it’ll naturally be that way. It takes practice…and a lot of prayer.

We aren’t worthy for everything we have, and that’s one thing we should remember. Humility doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to put yourself down when you’ve accomplished something good. It also isn’t about faking a sense of humility. True humility is when you are simply aware that there is someone greater than you in all that you do.

The fact that this secular world is about bragging your accomplishments is something that is detrimental to the beautiful way of humility. Our everyday lives are consumed by this idea of “I need to be the best,” and “Look at how great I am.” But when we meet someone with humility, there’s something special about it. It is not that they are not aware of their accomplishments or talents, it is in that very act of acknowledging their gifts and talents that they have realized they are still to obey the Lord.

Everyday there’s a constant struggle between thinking we are right and knowing that we are not always perfect. Even in tiny arguments with our peers, we may end up easily assuming that we are better than them when they’ve done something wrong, and we got the right answer.

Of course there is no clear solution as to how to be humble. But that does not mean there is no way to achieve humility. One of the best ways is to go to Adoration and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting on God’s marvelous works. Pray for that humility, and surely one day it can be accomplished.  Beware, it might even be possible to be not humble by their humility. This can take forms in “fishing for compliments,” or simply “denying it (but they actually aren’t.”

So my friends, let’s all try to be sincerely humble!

(Also, I’d love to hear your thought on this…please let me know in the comments, etc.)

A Catholic Teen’s POV: How to Pray

First topic and post for this blog series…let’s get started. We’ll talk about prayer. It’s sometimes considered easy, but other times considered hard. It all depends on the person and the method of their prayer. But, today, I’ll tell you my thoughts on prayer, and what prayers I usually pray.

I think it’s always good to have prayer be a part of a person’s life from a young age. This can mean teaching a child to say a Hail Mary or a Glory Be at night or in the morning. I believe that by doing so, a child will have a very good foundation of the faith. It’s obvious that many will resolve their thoughts about prayer as just “being repetitive and monotonous.” Although that may sometimes seem like the case, there are ways to get out of that mindset.

The rosary has been something my family and I have been praying together everyday for as long as I can remember. There became a period of time when it seemed boring to me, and I thought of it as a task that just needed to be done so I could continue on to other things. When I went to a retreat, I had spiritual mentoring with a religious sister. This religious sister was the person that had helped me with my prayer life at it’s “slump.” She advised me instead of just saying the rosary and being distracted about other thoughts, that I should take that time to reflect on the mysteries and other Bible stories. I took her advice, and it has helped me immensely when I feel distracted about other things.

It was at this same retreat that I discovered the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours. There were about four religious sisters there, and the other female teenagers, the religious sisters, and I would chant the Liturgy of the Hours. It has been some of the most beautiful moments of prayer in my life.

Prayer will only be boring or repetitive, if you make and think of it that way. My advice? Be positive about prayer, look forward to when you can pray, and start small if you’re beginning to pray. Don’t overwhelm yourself when first starting to pray. It takes time to pray.

I suggest that you could start with just talking with God or reciting the Our Father or Glory Be, then as you progress, maybe say the Divine Chaplet or pray the rosary. Then, maybe you could think about the Liturgy of the Hours or the Examen Prayer. Also, going to Adoration is a beautiful way of prayer.

The above suggestions are somewhat the process of how I’ve prayed. Even though I suggested that, in no way is that the correct way to pray. There’s so many forms of prayer out there, that there’s no absolute method for how to pray. I had someone ask me once, “How do I pray?” At that moment, I didn’t know how to answer them, because honestly, I had never thought of the question or answer. Although I had also struggled with my prayer life, I know that there is always a possibility to escape from that struggle.

If you are having difficulty in your prayer life, it would be extremely helpful to talk to a priest or a religious sister from my experience. Please know that you are all in my prayers, God bless you!

~VibrantCatholic~