Tag Archives: obedience

Christian Discipleship

How do we become a Disciple of Christ? This is one of the greatest questions to ask.

Leonard Porter’s rendition of Jesus taking up His cross for the Stations of the Cross commissioned by the Church of Christ the King in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Firstly, the etymology of the word ‘Disciple’ referred to the people who used to study under great Rabbis and Teachers in the past. Thus, the essence of Discipleship means, ‘to become like the Master’.

Secondly, a Disciple of Christ requires one to be interiorly conformed to the Father’s Will. To be like Christ. How though? Answer: A RELATIONSHIP. The most fundamental criteria which everything rests on. If we think about it, being in a real relationship always entitles one to RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITY.

1) RIGHTS: Being in a relationship with Christ gives one rights. Yes, we can ‘appeal’ to God to help us whenever we need Him. And we should all the time.

2) RESPONSIBILITY: Being in a relationship with Christ also requires us to grow responsibly. If not, why bother at all? For example, we must pray, mortify ourselves, go for mass and confession, etc. Again, not just exteriorly, but interiorly. Being truly present in heart, mind and soul.

3) CONSISTENCY: Inevitably, a Disciple of Christ must have consistency. This word is derived from the Biblical Word ‘Faithfulness’ or ‘Steadfastness’. A Faithful Disciple will always consistently persevere.

Back to the concept of a Relationship: Ultimately, when we say we want to be a Disciple of Christ, we are telling God, “We honor Your Holy Covenant.”

We are to be obedient to ALL the commandments and teachings of Jesus, not cherry-pick them. Only then, would we ‘remain in His love’, as He commanded us.

Do you still want to be a Disciple of Christ? If yes, are you cooperating with His Grace to grow responsibly and consistently?

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Originally posted on Instagram.

Sell Everything

I began my discernment journey 11 years ago with these two words that kept coming up in prayer, but I wasn’t sure what it really meant.

Months later, I attended a Vocation Discernment Retreat, hoping for God to give me an affirmation that I wasn’t called to the priesthood, so that I could get a confirmation on marrying the girl of my dreams then. But God instead revealed a path that immediately gripped my heart with excitement and joy, even amidst the pain of knowing I would have to leave the one I love with all my heart. I then realized: God was asking me to sell my dreams of marriage, for a higher calling to the priesthood.

Many years later while in my 6th year of seminary formation, I went through a vocation crisis. I was experiencing desolation in prayer, unworthiness in sin, and even an attraction towards someone. I thought God changed His mind, and I was close to calling it quits. That’s when I learnt that just as love is more than a feeling, but a choice, so too is my vocation dependent not just on my feelings, but on a choice to remain faithful regardless of how I was feeling. At this stage, I was asked to sell my need for spiritual consolations.

Recently, after having completed my seminary formation and waiting for my ordination, I went through another round of crisis, feeling frustrated and disappointed with things that seemed to obstruct what I wanted to do in my eventual priesthood. It wasn’t till someone challenged me if I had fully given up my life to Christ that I realize I had placed so much emphasis on my priesthood as the pearl of great price, that I hadn’t really fully given my life to Him who ought to be my pearl of great price. This time, God was asking me to sell my attachment to the vocation of priesthood in order to more fully give my life to Him and really do whatever He tells me. And when I did, all desolation was removed, and I felt immense peace once again.

For now I’ve learnt, that seeking one’s vocation is not about the WHAT, but about WHO am I giving my life entirely to, so that I do whatever He tells me to, even if it means SELLING EVERYTHING.

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Originally posted on Instagram.

Jesus and the Rich Youth

Mark 10:17-27

The Gospel on the rich young man is rich with meaning. It is noteworthy to point out that Jesus still loved the youth despite knowing that he wouldn’t give up his possessions to follow Him (c.f. Mk 10:21).

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hofmann (1889)
Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hofmann (1889)

This young man had observed the laws from his youth (Mk 10:20). Although he did not choose to take on the path to perfection (give away all his possessions and follow Jesus), he did not suffer a lessening of Jesus’s love.

It is amazing how intelligent and philosophical Jesus is as he brilliantly draws from Eccl 5:10 to illuminate the path to our perfection; “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity.”

As St. Augustine comments: “Although he did not pass the bounds of humanity, nor follow the perfection of Christ, still he was not guilty of any sin, since he kept the law according to the capability of a man, and in this mode of keeping it, Christ still loved him.”

This passage corresponds to plenty of us today, for most of us are the type who would do our best to keep away from grave sin and obey basic Gospel precepts, but we would REJECT the idea of following the Spirit’s Counsel towards Perfection.

There is a stark difference therefore, between the Perfect and Permissible Will that God has planned out for each of us.

Let us remember; when we listen to God, it becomes possible, but as long as we keep our human notions, it becomes impossible (c.f. Mk 10:27).

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Originally posted on Instagram.
Image: PD-US

Belonging to Christ — Salt of the Earth

Mark 9:41-50

In this Gospel passage there is seemingly a huge disjuncture between the 1st and 2nd half of the Gospel, but dig deeper and you will find a gem.

In the first half of the Gospel, we see that Jesus says:

“If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.”

The keywords here are “who belong to Christ”.

What does it mean to BELONG TO CHRIST? It means that our whole life is about Jesus: every thought word and deed draws others to Jesus and allows Jesus to shine!

So what does all this have to do with cutting off your hands and being salt of the earth, as seen in the second half of the Gospel?

The answer lies in these two ideas:
1. Turning away from sin
2. Rooting our identity in Christ

Everything that stops us from belonging to Christ must be removed. If we are the obstacle, then we are better off dead (being thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around you pretty much equates to death). If we are living a life of sin that causes scandal, or living a wayward life that draws us and others away from God, we need to STOP.

Jesus appears harsh by telling us to cut off the body part that causes us to sin. Let’s look deeper.

Are we willing to cut off whatever draws us away from Christ?
We ARE the salt of the earth. If salt loses its saltiness, it’s worthless. If we lose our identity in Christ, it renders us useless.

NEWSFLASH: We didn’t need to exist! We were created for a reason and purpose — we are created by God for God, in His image and likeness.

Fulfilling the will of God will help us to live a life of peace. It will never be a peace that the world can give. Nay, they will persecute and condemn, claiming us to be holy.

God’s peace is offered to us daily. We can only do that by being the salt of the earth, by belonging to God, and by doing God’s will.

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Originally posted at Catholic Rambles.

Obedience in the Year of Mercy

Obedience is an incredibly merciful virtue.

It is one that everyone, especially Millenials, need to learn how to embrace again.

I say Millennials specifically in part because I am one, and in part because our generation tends to take a condescending and patronizing tone, especially towards those we disagree with or those in authority over us. When Millenials are told to do something, we spend more time explaining why we think we shouldn’t be required to do that rather than just shutting our mouths and doing it.

More astoundingly, I find those Catholic Millenials who preach the most about the importance of reverence, sanctity, and tradition often have the greatest offenses against obedience.

Today’s Catholic youth long for Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and a rightly ordered life – all good things. Yet, they become overly suspicious when something doesn’t seem to align with their specific form of Catholic aestheticism. Whether it be a change in the annulment process, a Bishop moving tabernacles to the middle of the Church, or a call to integrate divorced Catholics more fully, the Millenial’s first reaction is regularly one of suspicion and skepticism, critiquing the actions of the Holy Spirit on Earth, rather than embracing all the ways the Church makes Christ’s love and mercy known.

Indeed, the youth, in their desire and search for the Truth, are often not merciful or charitable at all to the very institution that holds the Truth they so desire – the Church. Too often, in their vigor for objective Truth and morality, Millenials rail against that which provides them avenues for the spiritual growth they long for. A priest who dislikes communion rails because he feels that they distance him from his congregation, a Bishop who encourages openness to refugees, and a pope who works to encourage proper respect for the environment all become fair game for dissent and disrespect by the Objective-Morality Millennial.

Yet, in his haste to prove that the Tridentine Mass is the only Mass that can possibly create Saints in this day and age, the Millennial looks right past all of the opportunities that Christ is presenting him in his local parish down the street. The Catholic faith is an uncomfortable faith, and it doesn’t matter how much you know about it or how much in line with doctrine you are – or think you are. If you are truly engaging with the Catholic faith, eventually it will make you uncomfortable. Liberal Catholics may have to deal with the discomfort of rightly ordered sexuality, but conservative Catholics will have to deal with the discomfort of Mercy and the discomfort of being corrected. Simply because conservative Catholics understand the pro-life argument, doesn’t somehow make them the “good kids,” who never get corrected or chastised. Indeed, all Catholics must learn an openness to all the ways the Church works, else they risk becoming the modern day Pharisee: calling out our priests and bishops for “not doing it right,” while they pat their own backs and congratulate themselves for knowing more than those silly priests!

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” –Luke 18:11-14

The lost virtue of obedience allows us to embrace the fullness of Church teaching because it forces us to be uncomfortable and wrestle with what the Lord is asking of us right now in the challenging request of this certain priest/bishop/Pope. What good would it do us if we could recite the whole Summa, yet found ourselves incapable of saying to our spiritual Father “I will do as you ask.” Without submission to those in persona Christe, how can we expect to grow in obedience to Christ Himself? What good is it to man if he gains the world, but loses his soul? Growing in knowledge of those doctrines we find discomforting becomes Christ’s means of challenging us to becoming better, wiser people.

Obedience is a virtue of mercy, and one that should be practiced now more than ever in this Year of Mercy. To be obedient to a priest or bishop (or pope!) you find frustrating, you must have mercy toward him. If we grow in mercy towards our leaders, we necessarily grow in humility as we begin to understand our right place in the grand order of things. In the book Roses Among Thorns St. Francis De Sales states that the virtue of humility “sees to it that we are neither troubled by our imperfections, nor in the habit of recalling those of others, for why should we be more perfect than our brothers? Why should we find it strange that others have imperfections since we ourselves have so many? Humility gives us a soft heart for the perfect and the imperfect: for the former out of reverence and for the latter out of compassion. Humility makes us accept pains with meekness, knowing that we deserve them, and good things with gratitude, knowing that we do not.” Does this not sound like mercy, especially as Pope Francis has discussed it? Yet how can we expect to grow in humility if we do not first humble ourselves to be obedient to the Magisterium out of reverence for the Lord, His work, and His Church?

There may be a time for challenging corrupt orders. Certainly there have been – and continue to be – bad priests and bad times in the Church. There is certainly room for discussion and dissent of opinion. However, all and any dissent must be undertaken after serious prayer and in true humility. We must never challenge the Magisterium rashly out of pride or discomfort. When we are confronted with a teaching to which our immediate reaction is to dissent, we ought to check ourselves. Our first response should not be the prideful approach of “he is wrong!” but rather the humble and reverent approach of “I am wrong.” Let us look into these teachings and ask ourselves how the Lord may be calling us to grow through them. We have no need to fear because the pope declared that we should serve the poor betteadam_eve_snaker! “Be not afraid!” for the pope is Peter, the rock, upon whom the Church is built and against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail. Fear is from the Devil, who desires us to sew discord in Christ’s institution. Don’t let him get the better of you, but rebuke him and his fear mongering and embrace those teachings which scare you, thanking the Lord for His goodness and mercy all the while!

In this Year of Mercy, let us focus on building up the kingdom of God on earth so that others may come to know, love, and serve Him. Let us embrace the forgotten virtue of obedience, the lack of which separated Adam and Eve from God, lead Martin Luther to destruction, and brought the world to its current divided and confused state. Truly, we need obedience to remain one with the Church, learn proper humility, and open ourselves to the graces that flow from God’s merciful heart.

Living at the Ends of the Earth

Growing up, I heard two things.

One was that I could be and do whatever I wanted if I put my mind to it. The other were stories about saints. The former spoke to my work ethic, high ideals, and diligence. The latter sparked my desire to do great things, be something great, and impact the world for the better in a bold and dramatic way.

Since stories about saints often involve romantic notions of leaving everything behind to go to the ends of the earth in service of the Lord, they also served to energize my natural wander-lust and implant the idea that it is only in great big sacrifices that holiness is realized.

The combination of these two culminated in a very impassioned desire when I graduated college. I wanted to give my life to God, and I knew that that was possible because I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard enough! I knew (or thought I knew) that I was supposed to leave everything behind and gallivant off to the yet undiscovered rain forests of Cambodia to serve the natives there (because that’s how you become holy, duh!) and by golly, I was ready to do so.

However, soon after graduating, I found myself working a retail job in Columbus, Ohio. Then I found myself living in a small, heavily depressed town in southern Michigan. Newly married, away from my friends and family in Ohio, and most certainly not at the farthest ends of the earth feeding the homeless of Transylvania.

For a while, I kept telling myself that this was just the first step in the grand plan to bring the Eucharist to the natives of Madagascar. Yet, my husband and I became more established in Michigan and the plan seemed to change. As I slowly began to realize that Iceland and I were not going to meet anytime soon, I also had to ask myself the question “how do I become holy here?” and then the insecurities had to be dealt with: “why am I not good enough for the Lord? Why doesn’t He want to send me to the ends of the earth?”

As I searched for the answers to these questions, the same stories of saints from my childhood kept popping up. As I got to know many of these saints better, I also began to understand that the stories of the saints paint an incomplete picture.

These stories make the saints’ lives out to be a great adventure, and surely they are, but the stories never delve into what the saints were truly experiencing during their great sacrifices. Sometimes the stories told mention that Saint so-and-so didn’t really want to go to China/Indonesia/Africa/you-pick-the-place, but it is usually presented as “but that’s why this person is so cool.” No doubt it is cool, but this approach cuts short the nature of their sacrifice.

The places considered to be at the ends of the earth several centuries ago were not at that time the hip, trendy, social justice places they are today. As I learned to live in (and even love!) my small, depressed town, I began to realize that when St. Francisco Álvares went to Ethiopia, he wasn’t going on a Christian Safari. He was going to the equivalent of my Michigan town. Ethiopia wasn’t some neat, exotic place to travel to, it was a place of loneliness, poverty, and distance from all that was known, familiar, and comfortable to him.

My little Michigan town is, perhaps, the absolute lowest on the list of places one wants to travel to. It is poor and distant from my family and friends in Ohio (even hostile at times to a natural-born Ohioan!). It was, consequently, lonely when I first came here, and certainly not comfortable.

As I began to put my situation next to the those of the saints, I slowly began to realize that my dream had, really, come true. As we live four hours away, I have in a sense, been asked to “give up” my friends and family, and live in a small town that in many ways, I didn’t at first want to be in. I consider my situation to be living at the ends of the earth in many ways. There is no good place to get a hair cut, no good date places, and we are surrounded by cornfields. Yet I am also living in a town that desperately needs love, mercy, and the Eucharist.

The ends of the earth aren’t in some far-away country. They are right here in our own nation. Africa isn’t the ends of the earth, Flint, Michigan, Hillsdale, Michigan, Cranks Creek, Kentucky, Harlingen, Texas and numerous other towns like them are. What’s more, the work the saints did wasn’t glorious in and of itself. It was – and still is – glorious because it made Christ present in the world in a place and a manner which He previously wasn’t.

That is glorious.

The work the saints did was really hard. It wasn’t, to them, the most romantic thing in the world. It probably stunk a lot of the time. No doubt, they asked themselves “am I really going to live the rest of my life here?” Yet knowledge that you are doing God’s will provides peace which surpasses such earthly discomfort.

Sometimes, it is really hard for me to be joyful or to believe that what I am doing is good and important. It is really hard to be away from a state, family, and friends that I love. Yet, holiness isn’t dependent on where you are, but rather who you are and how you respond to where God put you. Holiness isn’t about some misguided passion, it is about being passionate about your faith even in the smallest, most overlooked, most forgotten towns in America. Holiness is about trusting that God put you there for a purpose, and that if you can love this small town with great love, and do little things with great charity, then you’ve done more good than any mission trip you could have done to Australia. When it comes down to it, these humble towns and seemingly invisible callings do more for the development of humility, the interior life, trust in God, prayer, faith, hope, and love than any great work I could do elsewhere. Moreover, the peace and subtle, yet strong joy that comes from this town far surpasses any worldly comfort I could gain elsewhere. Indeed, I have fallen so hopelessly in love with this place that I wonder if I could ever leave, if given the choice. Indeed, how great is our consolation when we do the works of the Lord and allow Him to be present to us!

So, let us not be misguided by the shiny, exciting “calls” to Japan or India. No doubt, some are called there and God bless them. But for the rest of us, stuck with a “mediocre” calling in a boring old town, embrace it! The Lord has chosen you to go to the ends of the earth and make Him known there! The greatest adventures, and the greatest joy, await you right here, in the homes of your neighbors and the backyards of your neighborhoods.

radical-obedience

Blessing is in Obedience

It was my last class of my senior year of college, and I listened intently as my professor wrapped up his final lecture. I sat amongst my fellow Catechetics majors, all of us eager to begin setting the world on fire with love for the Lord. All semester, our professor had been teaching us how to handle various situations we would encounter in our ministry, whether it be a parish, school, or some other religious education setting. Now, at the end of our formation as catechists, our professor declared, “If you remember anything from this class, remember this…”. My ears perked up. This was going to be good. He was certainly going to unlock the secret of boldly conquering the world for Christ.

“If you remember anything from this class, remember this:”, he said, “Blessing is in obedience.”

“That’s it?” I thought, “That’s so simple”. And as I sat there repeating the phrase over and over in my mind, the truth of it sank deeper into my heart, and completely altered the way I see the world.

As humans, and particularly as Americans, we often believe that our way of thinking, our opinion, and our way of doing things is the most correct. We tend to struggle with humility and taking direction, especially if it conflicts with our own preferences. When someone in authority over us makes a request or demand of us that we do not personally care for, our initial reaction is to list off all the reasons why they are wrong and we are right (unless you’re a saint, then you can stop reading this because you’ve got it all figured out; but I am not that, so I trudge onward).

But blessing is in obedience. Even if what is asked of us is annoying, inconvenient, or inefficient.

When we are obedient to those who are in proper authority over us, we grow in great humility and love. We obey  our earthly authorities out of love for our ultimate Authority.

Jesus even backs this whole notion that blessing is in obedience. In many of His apparitions to different saints, particularly in His chats with St. Faustina, Our Lord describes how much obedience please Him. Not only does obedience to Him merit us great grace, but obedience to those in charge over us pleases the Lord more than if we were “correct” or “better”. We honor the Lord when we are properly ordered, when we recognize true authority and seek to humble ourselves to accept whatever is requested of us.

Because blessing is in obedience.

Sometimes we are asked to obey in massive ways, like when our parish priest begins an initiative that doesn’t seem important to us, or when our confessor assigns us a penance that we don’t think will be very fruitful, or when our spouse declares that it’s time to have another child when we don’t think we’re ready.

These pills are hard to swallow, but blessing is in obedience.

blessing-in-obedience

Most of the time, however, we have the opportunity to obey in many small ways each and every day. We obey the law by driving the speed limit, even if we are in a hurry to get somewhere. We work diligently on the task entrusted to us at work, even if we believe it’s meaningless. We suck it up and do that thirteenth load of laundry in one day, even though we’re certain suds are coming out of ears.

Because blessing is in obedience.

Finally, and this is perhaps my favorite, we are able to grow in virtue by applying the above truths to things that are asked of us by those who are not in authority over us. For example, heeding the “Enter” and “Exit” directives at your local grocery or retail store. There are doors that you are meant to enter through, and doors you are meant to exit through. Isn’t it tempting to go in through the exit doors? Isn’t that the quickest and easiest way most of the time? And let’s face it, we could do that and get away with it. Wal-Mart doesn’t have authority over me, they’re not going to punish me if I go through the wrong door. But by simply being obedient in small matters, we are training ourselves to be obedient in the great ones.

You see, the tiny, seemingly insignificant moments in our day to day life are constantly forming the disposition of our hearts.

So let’s strive to happily complete what is asked of us, both by proper authority and TJ Maxx, because these are the acts that lead to great love. These are the barely detectable hands of the Potter making us into saints; and that, my friends, is the blessing that flows from obedience.

Why I Hate “Faith Alone”

Expounding on the importance of our actions for salvation is, I suppose, my primary “thing.” I have been in so many informal debates over the issue that I have started to lose count of them. I have written about the topic many times. And often, I become angry (like God in 1 Kings 11:9-10) at the mere thought of sola fide (“faith alone”), because I know that it is completely contrary to “what the Lord [has] commanded.” But why?

“Faith alone” was, without a doubt, the primary reason that I left Protestantism. Even though I was ill-educated in theology at the time, I knew that it was illogical.

I like to think of sola fide in terms of criminal law. Imagine that someone went before a judge and was proven guilty of heinous crimes, but then pleaded to the judge that he believed in the judge’s authority to convict him and so the judge should not do so – and had that as his only defense. Should the judge convict him – to any degree – or should the judge completely let him off, and then give him a reward?

Do you find the “faith alone” argument compelling in such an instance? I do not. Of course, a “faith alone”-r would say that there is some sort of significant difference between such a scenario in terms of temporal law and such a scenario in terms of eternal law, but there really is not. Protestant arguments for the belief simply do not stand in the face of such scenarios or substantial scrutiny.

I strongly believe that sola fide is at the heart of many Western problems. Self-professed Christians have used it as an excuse to not care for the disadvantaged, to engage in profane sexual activity, etc. – the list goes on and on.

Martin Luther told his followers to “sin and sin boldly” (among other things, as I have documented) because he taught that we are saved solely by our faith in the power of Jesus Christ, apart from our actions. This method of thinking has been adopted by millions of Protestants since his time. But is it supported by the Bible? No. See Hebrews 10:26-27:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”

“Faith alone” has had a terrible impact on society. People often now shy away from discussing religion or morality with others, fearing conflict. Take, for example, something that transpired between a Lutheran family member and me. After I privately and politely informed her that she had committed a grievous sin (like we are called to do – see Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1, and Ephesians 4:15), she immediately jumped to the “Who are you to judge?” defense and paired it with the “Jesus paid the price” line. I am sure that, for many Catholics, such occurrences are unfortunately familiar.

God has written in our hearts (Romans 2:15) that we should serve Him and others, not our selfish desires — and we will be punished if we defy Him. The necessity of both good works and abstinence from grave sin gives our lives concrete meaning. If someone takes away the eternal significance of our actions, they rob us of any real purpose: we all just become random, faceless, unimportant beings.

Sola fide does not work either logically or practically; it fails on all counts. Now, you know why I hate it.

james_2-26

(All verses are from the NASB translation.)

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Obedience to God through People (ouch!)

I always thought that I could never be a nun because of the vow of obedience they have. Obey a mother superior that tells me what I have to do and what I can’t do? What a limitation. Even priests, having to obey the bishop on where to go and what parish to move to, seemed like an intolerable cruelty to me. “This must prove that I have vocation for marriage, so that I can do WHATEVER I WANT!” I thought.

So last summer, when I felt my “freedom” was being limited by an unfulfilling job, I decided… all by me, myself and I… to quit and do what I really wanted to do. This was all decided in one evening when I had two friends over for dinner. Right after dessert, I sent an email asking for the job I wanted. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t happen, but if it did I was determined to go for it. Well, the answer was yes and before anyone could stop me, I quit my job. My boyfriend, who I thought would be indifferent, freaked out and advised me against quitting my job. I felt like everyone was against me. Even my mom, who tried her best to support me, confessed a year later she was never really for it. I went ahead anyway, without consulting anyone.

It was only with this decision that my boyfriend and I realized we were polar opposites. We almost broke up… several times. I was a dreamer, head-in-the-clouds, going for what I wanted and he was a realist, valuing stability and accepting life’s terrible conditions. I was going against him and against all others close to me who thought it was a bad idea because I knew what was better for me!

Well, a year later that job didn’t work out. Not only that, but I learned A LOT and completely changed my perspective. I realized that job wasn’t good for me after all and I had committed completely to the unknown. And you can’t really love or dedicate yourself to what (or who) you don’t know. It’s been pretty humbling to tell people, “yeah, I messed up” and “you were right”, but I’m also thankful for the “mistake” I made. I see how necessary (although painful) it was for me to learn what I did.

And the main thing I learned? Obedience. Thankfully, throughout this year, my boyfriend and I stayed together and grew alongside each other. It’s true, we’re opposites… but I realized that’s part of God’s plan! We got to know married couples who are also “opposites” and we learned that really just means COMPLEMENTARY. I’m one extreme, it’s true, and he’s another, but we both become better people when we balance each other out. It was one of God’s intention when he gave Eve to Adam as an “adequate help”. It’s a lot of work, but it happens when husbands and wives are obedient to one another. When you realize the other has something I don’t have and he or she helps me and is my complement. And OBEDIENCE comes into play here just like in a religious community. In marriage, spouses vow to be obedient to one another… it’s the mutual submission that Ephesians 5 talks about. You trust that the other will be God’s instrument in balancing out your extreme, and in this way helps you follow the right path. I imagine that just as a priest prostrates himself at his ordination (a very profound and touching expression of obedience), spouses metaphorically prostrate themselves at their wedding to one another, promising to see God in the other.

(Source: http://iccdenton.org/holy-orders/)

My main mistake last summer was deciding alone. I got lost along the way, mistakenly doing my will and not God’s. I experienced dramatically that I don’t know what’s best for me, only God does. And usually my plans go against His (“My thoughts are not your thoughts…” Is 55:8). So my best bet for happiness and salvation is to be obedient to God’s will, and so in an incarnate way to be obedient to His Church, and also to be obedient to those who know and love me disinterestedly and might be there to guide me. Not to say I shouldn’t listen to the still, small voice inside me, but our faith is incarnate and there are very tangible means to help us. Really, obedience isn’t a limitation at all, it’s an incredible gift… and I guess it isn’t only for nuns after all!