Saints have a way of interceding in your life even when you don’t ask for their intercession.
Whenever I scroll through my dashboard on Tumblr, one thing that keeps popping up is this thing called “Nice Guy Syndrome.” “Nice Guy Syndrome” is (according to the Tumblr hive mind) when your average guy complains about his lack of relationships even though he acts nice to women. Most guys with “nice guy syndrome” complain about being stuck in the friendzone.
A good example of “Nice Guy Syndrome” or being stuck in the friendzone can be seen in “Prophecy Girl” (Buffy season 1, episode 12). Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd analyzes this scene in his Buffy Episode Guide. The scene I’m talking about starts at the 2:23 mark and the analysis of said scene ends at 4:17 so if you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I recommend you stop the video at that point to avoid spoilers.
I totally get Xander wanting to ask Buffy out, but at the same time, I understand why Buffy turns Xander down, too. It’s not even that she has a crush on Angel, which Xander complains about later, but she sees him as a friend, plain and simple. (Also, kudos to Willow for refusing to be Xander’s rebound.) Xander thinks with his passion, but he lacks clear judgment and empathy, an issue that continues on for the rest of the series. One major thing I hated about the show is that they never showed Xander getting over Buffy. Even when he moved onto relationships with other girls, Xander still interferes in Buffy’s life, namely pushing her to stay in a relationship with a guy named Riley even though they’re all wrong for each other. (Not to mention the crap that went down in Season 6 but that is a completely different blog post.)
Now while it’s true girls fantasize about bad boys (I’ve mentioned my drooling over Spike on here, right?), they also fantasize about having the perfect gentleman as a husband as well. (Exhibit A: Mister Darcy from Pride and Prejudice) I don’t like guys who only act nice just so they can get a girlfriend. Guys should be nice to girls because you should love your neighbor as yourself, not as a means to an end.
But unfortunately, girls are just as guilty of acting bitter over guys they can’t have. Trust me when I say I’ve been there and done that. My boy-crazy phase was basically like Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” I would see this cute guy and immediately think that I’ve fallen in love with him. I’d act all nice to him, doing my best to flirt (usually with spectacularly awkward failure), but the minute something goes wrong, I start panicking. I start seeing any girl he’s friends with as a rival. And yeah, I’d eventually write the guy off as all wrong for me, spend some time single and then boom, onto the next guy.
Things have thankfully changed since then. I hang out with my friends, which consist of both guys and girls, but I don’t expect anything out of the guys. Even the cute ones. This is because I’ve accepted my life as a single person and don’t feel entitled to having a relationship just because I want one. Believe me when I say that I get lonely and I miss being in a relationship sometimes and I hope to have a good relationship sometime in the near future. The difference between now and then is that I recognize that the guys in my life are people too, not just means to an end.
The thing about the friendzone is that it comes from an entitlement mentality. People act nice as a means and think that they can have the perfect guy or girl if they act a certain way. But a relationship built on the expectations of getting everything you want isn’t healthy. A good example of that can be seen in Buffy and Riley’s relationship during Season 5.
Buffy is the Slayer, which means that she has super strength and speed and can kick a normal guy up and down the curb without breaking a sweat. Riley, being a normal guy, felt emasculated by the relationship. It eventually led to him seeking pleasure from prostitutes and giving Buffy an ultimatum when she finds out. Riley was never considerate of Buffy’s real life issues and constantly made her feel like she had to carry the weight of their relationship. In other words, he felt entitled to having a certain kind of relationship with Buffy that she couldn’t give him. He decided to return to the army and left Buffy picking up the pieces, thinking that his leaving was her fault.
America tends to have a major entitlement mentality when it comes to things. You can see that in prosperity gospel or in the Law of Attraction. But as the Rolling Stones said “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need.” I think if people realize that love isn’t something you’re entitled to, we can start treating each other with more respect.
Screenshots from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are copyright to Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.
Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us twogethow today.
When you’re in your 20s and early 30s, the world of “married life” looks like an amusement park. The newlyweds are on a merry-go-round while other couples are on a roller-coaster and many couples end up leaving the park altogether, choosing to split up after over a decade or so of marriage. It’s one thing to hear about celebrities divorcing, but some people grow into adulthood and watch as friends who married in college decide to call things off. What’s even worse are the couples who marry within the Church, doing the Sacrament of marriage a great dishonor.
So with all the statistics on marriage and the option of cohabitation and “free love” available, how can young adults believe in marriage, let alone start discerning it?
It starts by knowing what marriage is and what it isn’t.
Marriage IS NOT…
1) A Job.
Like the vocations of priesthood and religious life, marriage isn’t a 9-to-5 thing that you can clock out of. It’s a lifestyle, one that demands your all. Being married takes work, but it’s not all work and no play.
2) A Fairy Tale.
Or a Nicholas Sparks movie. Or a romantic comedy. Or a Hallmark movie. Marriage isn’t going to be a story where people will fall in love at first sight or start bickering constantly and end up falling in love with each other. The story of every marriage is different. There will be boring parts. There will be exciting parts. There will be parts that don’t really fit into any kind of movie or “romantic” story. The point is, though, that marriage is the story belonging to the husband and wife and God and as Fulton Sheen said, it will take the 3 of them to make the story a good one.
3) Just About Being Each Other’s Best Friends.
There’s a song by Calvin Harris called “How Deep is Your Love” (no relation to the BeeGees song of the same name) that has a lyric that goes “So tell me how deep is your love, can we go deeper?”
Married love goes way deeper than mere friendship. According to the Theology of the Body, marriage is becoming one flesh with your spouse, giving yourself body and soul to someone you trust with your life and your heart. It’s not always about treating your spouse the same way you would treat a friend. Many of my married friends don’t have everything in common with their spouses. (Example: My friend’s husband watches Game of Thrones while she prefers musicals.) The friendship between spouses is just as special as “BFF level” friendship. It’s just different.
4) Going to Complete You
Like many young adults, I wanted to be in a relationship for the sake of just having somebody. My anthem throughout college was Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” And I’m very certain many young adults are still singing that as their anthem. Or “On My Own” from Les Miserables. Or “All By Myself.” But here’s the thing, people. Your spouse is a human being. The reason Fulton Sheen says “It Takes Three To Get Married” is because God needs to be a part of marriage in order for it to be complete. The spouses both pursue Heaven together with their eyes towards God and not just on each other.
So don’t seek out a relationship just because you want to have somebody or you want to have the experience of going out. A friend of mine recently started dating again for the first time in years and while she’s having a great time going to new places, she genuinely likes the guy that she’s going out with. She’s not using him as a meal ticket or a placeholder until a better guy comes along.
5) About What We Want
Marriage isn’t what we get out of it. It’s about serving each other. I’m pretty sure all of us, married and unmarried, have rolled our eyes whenever we heard this passage from Ephesians.
Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
But look harder. It’s not asking for a woman to be doormats and for husbands to be dominant. It’s a passage about mutual surrender. Christ gave his life to His Bride, the Church, and the Church ideally does the same for Him. This mutual surrender is a part of being married. “You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours.” (That’s from Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.)
So what is marriage then?
1) It’s more than a wedding.
I have a joke that I’m saving for whenever somebody says that Catholic weddings are too long. “Honey, Catholic weddings aren’t too long. It’s just that every other wedding is too short.” I get the appeal behind having the perfect wedding. But life goes on long after two people say “I do.” Marriage is a path to sainthood, just like every other vocation. Which means that there will be times when you find yourself screaming “This is the last time I’m asking you this, put my name at the top of your list.” There will be times you’ll want out. There will be times when the two of you will fall apart. Fight for each other. Ask God to help you fall back together. Whatever problems you have, you’ll come out stronger and more in love than ever. That beats a million dollar wedding anyday.
2) It’s a matter of fidelity.
We don’t just choose our spouse when we enter into a relationship and eventually say “I do.” No matter how hard we may crush on celebrities and athletes, the fantasies have to be put aside for the reality that is our spouse. A happily married actress (who’s been with her man for over a decade and married for four years with him) said “The grass is greener where you water it.” Cultivate your marriage and let it grow. When God enters into the marriage, faithfulness to Him can increase faithfulness between spouses. (Results may vary, of course.)
We choose our spouse every day when we choose to stay with them over the cute hired hand or a fictional character or the young intern in the cubicle next to us. We choose them when we stop thinking about “What if I was married to so and so?” We choose them when we let ourselves be vulnerable to them and let our armor down.
3) It’s just as much about children as it is about each other.
Ideally, marriage is about creating a family. Some couples aren’t blessed with children, but can be called to adopt or become foster parents. Then, of course, there’s the old Catholic joke about having 7 kids and homeschooling them until college. (Rebecca Frech, I am looking right at you, sister!) But it’s not just about procreation. Mark Hart and his wife still go out on dates to renew their love for each other. There needs to be just as much investment in each other even after kids come into the picture.
4) It’s going to be different from every other relationship.
I’ve said before that real love is one where we maintain our authenticity and integrity. It’s not going to be the teenage love where we feel like our significant other is all we know and we would die without them. Love isn’t obsession or something where we lose ourselves in the other person. We mutually surrender to our spouse and make ourselves vulnerable, but that love should not come at the cost of losing our souls. Real love is something that leads our souls closer to heaven.
5) Marriage is beautiful.
We all stand in awe at the sight of a bride in white. There are many words to describe her, but beautiful is the one that comes to mind the most. Couples out together, parents with kids, families with babies in church? All of these things are beautiful as well. And it’s through the beauty of marriage that we can evangelize to the world.
Fr. Robert Barron said that it’s hard to resist the power of a beautiful thing. When we are drawn to a beautiful thing, we want to be a part of it. It starts changes us. The more we understand the beautiful thing, the more we understand what makes it beautiful (the goodness of it) and eventually, we find the truth.
Funny how that sounds so much like falling in love. Marriage starts with finding a beautiful person. The more we get to know a person, the more we understand what makes them beautiful and eventually we find the truth that we want to spend the rest of our lives with this person.
Through the beauty of marriage, people will wonder “how do they do it?” Through understanding marriage, people will realize what makes marriage good. And eventually, the truth comes out: real marriage is about the other person and about God.
There are so many books and resources that can give you advice on what being married is like. I found this wonderful list from Word on Fire while working on this article. I also recommend studying the Theology of the Body and reading The Jeweler’s Shop because that play captures love in all its stages and kinds. If you want to find examples of good marriages, there are saints out there who were married, like St. Gianna, or the soon to be canonized Louis and Zelie Martin.
But even with all this knowledge, we ultimately won’t know what marriage is like until we are married. Deciding to get married is the biggest leap of faith, the same kind of leap of faith it takes to enter into any vocation. Because it takes a leap of faith to fall in love with anything in the first place. That leap of faith, though? It’s a very beautiful thing.
So can young adults really believe in marriage? Yes.
There’s this funny commercial from Match.com that kind of sums up the three paths people tend to go when it comes to dating.
The first extreme, as you can see in the commercial, is that people want sex and they want it now. Think Sex and the City or Girls (which is really a poor man’s Sex and the City, in my honest opinion). Teenagers especially are filled with lust. I still remember listening to Leah Darrow’s testimony about how her friends were pressuring her to have sex after Homecoming back when she was just fifteen years old. Many Catholic chastity speakers like Jason and Crystalina Evert preach about the importance of being chaste. Arleen Spenceley said that chastity isn’t abstinence but “a virtue that aims to integrate sexuality with the rest of the stuff that makes us human.” The thing is, though, learning how to be chaste is only the beginning.
The other extreme people go, and this applies to people who misunderstand chastity, is an overemphasis on marriage. Marriage is beautiful, marriage is important, and yes, young adults should date with the intention of eventually getting married. But marriage shouldn’t be a be-all, end-all when it comes to starting out. The way people meet will always be different and I can’t speak for everyone on how one should start out a relationship aside from the fact that you need to treat the other person with respect because they are your brother/sister in Christ, not the fulfillment of your fantasies or someone you’re entitled to have.
Dating as a young adult is vastly different from dating in high school or even dating in college. In this new stage in life, some young adults are already getting married and having babies while other young adults are searching for full-time work and binge-watching shows on Netflix and aren’t ready to settle down but are still going out on dates. I’m gonna be addressing the latter group here. This list is for those who are just starting out in the weird world we call “dating.”
1) Don’t stay stuck in the past. The first thing people need to learn when it comes to dating as an adult is that this will be an entirely new experience so don’t compare the person you’re dating to past relationships. You don’t want to compete with the ghosts of your significant other’s past so don’t put them through the same comparison process. Also don’t compare yourself to how you were in past relationships, either. Learn from the past, but move on from it.
2) Don’t be pressured to go the whole nine yards. If you’re just starting out, it’s good to go out on group dates where there’s less pressure or meet the person at events where there will be lots of people. You don’t have to start out with the whole flowers and dinner kind of date. Go bowling or play laser tag or volunteer together. If it doesn’t end up working out with them, at least you had a good time.
3) Don’t let your relationship define and consume you. Love as adults isn’t obsessing over the other person the way you would over your favorite TV show or sports team. Adult love means that we come into the relationship as ourselves and the best kind of love is one where we maintain our authenticity and integrity. You shouldn’t bend over backwards to try and please the person you’re with. Real love is the kind where the one we love stands beside us instead of making our choices for us or trying to take the parts of us that they like and putting the rest of us in a box. If the person you’re dating seems to be a control freak, get out of that relationship ASAP!
4) You are not entitled to have a relationship just because you want one. Let’s say that you have a crush on somebody and you’ve had feelings for them for a long time. Then you ask them out only for them to turn you down. As someone who’s been “friendzoned,” here’s some advice. When the person you want rejects you, you have to accept it and move on. Don’t beg or lash out at them or take your anger out on someone you see as “competition.” Your heart is going to break, but you can’t hate a person for not wanting you.
5) It’s okay to avoid exes. If you had a particularly awkward rejection or particularly sucky breakup, you do not have to talk to your ex if you run into them somewhere. On a related note, don’t stalk them on social media either. Defriend and unfollow ASAP from every social media you have connected with them. Delete their number. You can’t heal from the hurt if you keep thinking about the person who caused it.
6) Don’t put so much importance on being “official” right now. Give the relationship time to grow before anything becomes “Facebook official.” Chances are that you’re still getting to know the person you date. Take it easy on yourself and start out as friends. Life isn’t like a Nicholas Sparks or a Hallmark movie where you meet the right person right off the bat. Some relationships take time to grow.
7) Don’t be a perfectionist. Girls especially have a tendency to read into every minute detail and action that goes on during dates. I implore you to put aside the worry. There’s also a tendency for people to hold the one they’re dating to impossibly high standards. Don’t write off a person just because he showed up five minutes late or you don’t agree on everything. Focus on what’s important. It’s more important that the date showed up at all rather than promising something and not showing up without a very good reason for standing you up. It’s more important that you agree on, say, what beliefs you share and how much you actually value those beliefs than whether or not DC is better than Marvel.
8) Chastity is still important. You don’t have to hold hands or be touchy-feely with the person you’re dating if you are uncomfortable with that kind of affection. There are many ways that people can express their love for someone else. That being said, physical and emotional chastity are always going to be important when it comes to dating, even when you’re starting out. This is why you need to take things easy because putting your whole heart into something that’s just starting out will have major consequences later on.
9) If you’re dating someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, proceed with caution. While flirt and convert is a very popular catchphrase amongst Catholics, you don’t want to date someone with the sole mission of trying to change them. You can’t force someone to change unless they themselves want to change. The person your dating is still a person, not a project. It’s good to hope that the life you lead will inspire the person you’re dating and if you’re like me, your faith is probably part of everything that you do. But when you just start out with a person, it’s better to keep evangelizing off the table for the time being.
10) Pray through everything. When you first meet someone, pray. When you’re just starting out as friends, pray. And regardless of whether things progress into something more than friendship or if things stay platonic, you need to pray. God is the one who created your heart and He will get you through whatever happens. Offer your heart to Him so that if it breaks, He will fix it. Pray for the person you’re dating so that they will be led to whatever God wants from them.
The point I’m making from this list is that real, authentic, grown-up love isn’t about getting what we want all the time. It’s not about the emotional highs or kissing or being “Facebook official.” It’s about wanting the good for the other as other. It’s about learning more about who we are when we’re around other people. And when we start out in this weird world we call “dating,” we still have marriage in mind, but it’s not an urgent matter. The more important thing is to treat the person we’re dating as just that, a person, an equal.
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift. I really hope I’m not jumping the gun when I say this, but as I showed in a previous post, I’ve been very supportive of Taylor Swift’s recent relationship with Calvin Harris. Her recent posts on Instagram (as well as one post from Calvin Harris) has only made me all the more excited. But what makes this particular relationship interesting, aside from the fact that Taylor is being open about it, is that before they met, Calvin Harris didn’t consider Taylor Swift to be his “type.” Given what I know about Taylor’s relationship history, Calvin wasn’t someone she would’ve considered dating in the past, either.
We all have this image of the “type” of significant other we want to have. We have an idea of what love is and what the perfect relationship is. If you asked me what my type was, I would show you a picture of my favorite vampire from Buffy, the one with the bleach blonde hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and bad boy attitude all wrapped up in a black leather duster. My relationship history, however, has been very different from that. I dated different types of guys in the past: a dry-witted boy next door who liked The Godfather, a wild-eyed bad boy that always made me laugh, and a guy that I met in a ballroom dance class who couldn’t sing on-key to save his life. Growing up, my “type” was similar to the one I still have, except I wanted a nice, romantic guy who was taller than me and a big brain. There were parts of my “type” in each of the guys I crushed on and/or dated, but none of those guys were everything I pictured in my head.
It’s one thing to have standards when it comes to dating. We need to make sure that we’re safe, after all. But life can’t be like The Ugly Truth or Hallmark’s The Wish List, where a girl has a long list of things she wants in a guy and judges every guy she meets based on that one list. When it comes to dating, you gotta be flexible to some extent. What exactly is a “deal breaker” for you? There are things to keep in mind, like making sure that we stay chaste when dating and not go after married men, but we shouldn’t turn down a guy just because he doesn’t dress nicely or likes a kind of music that we’d rather not listen to.
Dating in the 21st century has turned into a balancing act: making sure you stay safe, but at the same time being willing to risk your heart. You have to think ahead, but enjoy the moment at the same time. Most of all, you have to be sure that you still love God and yourself and not make an idol out of the person that you’re dating or the ideal relationship you have in your head.
Relationships aren’t fairy tales that end with a happily ever after. They’re messy and broken and change as we get older. Relationships are a lot like this spoken word poem by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye:
The best advice I can give about dating and relationships is to offer it up to God. Just when you start to accept that you’re single and not ready for a relationship, He’ll probably turn around and surprise you. After all, as they say “Man makes plans, God laughs.”
The first part of Chapter 1 of Laudato Si talks about the everyday pollution we deal with as well as the more unhealthy stuff that can be found everywhere. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (Paragraph 21)
Pope Francis links this to what he calls a throwaway culture. starting with something as simple as throwing away paper instead of recycling it. This entire chapter then goes into detail about how the throwaway culture extends beyond merely not recycling paper. “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” (Paragraph 23) However, this chapter shows that at the moment, people aren’t treating the Earth like it should be treated.
Most of this chapter feels like something out of a college-level environmental class, with Pope Francis explaining the environmental damage that is going on in our world. He also says that climate change especially affects those who live in poor areas. The problem, according to him, is that those with the resources to change things would rather mask the problem and conceal symptoms. He suggests investing that money towards things that can consume less energy and constructing and renovating in ways that increase energy efficiency.
There’s an entire section in this chapter that focuses on the issue of water. Paragraph 28 explains why having fresh drinking water is an important issue and points out that many areas are especially affected by lack of access to safe drinking water. Paragraph 29 explains the dangers of not having safe drinking water. Paragraph 30 admonishes making water a commodity.
Part 3 of Chapter 1 is entitled “Loss of Biodiversity.” He spends about eleven paragraphs explaining how human activity affects various ecosystems. He also stresses the importance of protecting ecosystems such as the rainforest. (Cue Captain Planet theme. And yes, I did grow up watching that show.) Two paragraphs focus on ocean environments. Again, this entire section feels very much like a textbook. Too bad nobody likes to study.
It’s no surprise, then, that I like Part 4 of this chapter the most because it finally brings in the human factor. He points out how artificial things are. It brings to mind, at least for me, the contrast between the ostentatious and meticulously maintained estate of Rosings and Mr. Darcy’s wild and vast estate of Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. He also looks into the social impact the environment has. Paragraph 47 particularly stabs at my heart because it looks into the pros and cons of being a world immersed in technology.
I’ll look into the second half of Chapter 1 tomorrow. For now, I’m going to share some parts of Chapter 1 that particularly stood out for me.
Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality.
From Paragraph 34:
We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.
From Paragraph 42
Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.
From Paragraph 43
Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.
The way I make friends has changed since my days of wearing a school uniform and playing out in parking lots. I don’t have the safety net of a college campus and I don’t work in an office, so my circle of friends consists of two categories: People I meet through retreats and church-related activities and people I meet through the internet.
Internet friendship is a tricky thing. On the one hand, the internet gives off the illusion of safety. You don’t have to deal with small talk, it’s easier for you to find people who share a common interest, and since they don’t know the people in your real life, you can vent to them about anything. On the other hand, the internet is also forever and if a friendship goes wrong, it can backfire in the worst ways, such as rumors being spread about you, your secrets being leaked out to complete strangers, and your entire reputation being ruined by posting the wrong picture on the wrong social media outlet.
Usually, when I’m on the internet, I don’t talk about family issues or give away private information. But in spite of the dangers and risks, I still feel close to my internet friends as much as I do to my friends in real life. My fellow Patheos bloggers and I, for example, have an amazing camaraderie. They’re all willing to dispense of advice and I learn so much from them. I also know that I can always count on them to pray for me. The same goes for the Catholics I met through Tumblr and Facebook. Through them, I learn that even though we are Catholic, we may not agree on everything. I learn about forming my own opinion on things and not just go with the crowd the way I did in high school and college. If it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t be writing on this blog or for the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship. I’m constantly challenge to learn more and write more through these new avenues.
But the strangest place I’ve found friendship is through my Instagram accounts. Yes, accounts. As in more than one. I’m such an Instagram addict that I have multiple accounts. Tumblr is okay, but I find myself spending less and less time on there because of the hive mind nature of the site. It’s through fan accounts on Instagram that I found a safer environment for expressing my love for my #1 fandom Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Most of the people I’m friends with on Instagram are younger than me and they live all over the world, but we all share a love for Buffy even though we may disagree on minor things. Mostly shipping.
Sometimes, I open up about my faith on there and everyone was surprisingly okay with it. Nobody judged me or saw me as being closed-minded. And I’ve even said that I was against gay marriage and followed all the teachings of the Church. In spite of whatever differences we have in our beliefs, I’m always there for my friends and whenever I need them, they come around for me.
It was through my internet friends that I managed to get out of an anxiety attack that I had a few months ago. Granted, Tumblr (and college campuses everywhere) have turned the phrase “trigger warning” into an excuse to make everything into a Political Correctness case, but many people talk about their serious and real anxieties on the internet because they have nowhere else to go. My anxiety got triggered because someone I used to consider my best friend tried contacting me again.
I used to think that having a best friend meant having someone you can talk to about everything and go places and do things with. But that’s not always the case. The person I used to consider my best friend had their own problems and ended up almost dragging me down with them. Worst of all, they act like everything’s fine and nothing ever happened even though I’m still left with the emotional scars.
It’s a bit like this awesome Taylor Swift song:
And yes, Taylor, band-aids don’t fix bullet holes. Real friends do.
When I had that anxiety attack (the first time in almost two years), my internet friends from Patheos and Instagram came to my rescue with prayers and reassurances. I prayed harder than ever in spite of my entire body shaking and knew that I wasn’t alone. Some of my fellow Patheos bloggers understood the pain because they’ve experienced it before. My Instagram friends said that I was brave to walk away from that toxic friendship. A few episodes of Buffy and a major stream of prayers later, I calmed down and found peace.
A few months later, one of my Instagram friends opened up about being cyber-bullied and shared a picture of himself crying. I gathered my fellow Instagram friends to show him our support and asked some of my friends online to pray for him. The prayers and emotional support paid off as my friend came back, undeterred by the cyber-bullies.
I don’t exactly evangelize on my fan Instagrams the way that other Catholic Instagrams do except for when I post on my personal Instagram, but I still feel like I’m reaching out to my internet friends in a way. The internet and our fandoms bring us together in a reflection of the Mystical Body of Christ and someday, I hope to see them, either in real life or in Heaven.
My latest meditation from the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship is up!
I am always fascinated by conversion stories. I envy converts to the faith because they came to the Church out of their own free will. Although I went to Catholic school for most of my life, I didn’t have full knowledge on how awesome being Catholic was until college. But even cradle Catholics are called to love the Church they grew up in. Most of us have a crisis of faith at some point or another and that always changes us, for better or for worse. We also know many people who suffer a crisis of faith and end up leaving the Church. It’s a heartbreaking concept. But somehow, by the grace of God, some people find their way back home.
Please pray for fallen-away Catholics today.
The worst part about falling in love
is that it makes you forget
about everything that happened before
The scars from a backstabbing
becomes smoother than silk
The cracks in the broken heart
are just chinks in the armor
And every new love that comes
Feels like the first time, every time
You want to tell the whole world
but instead, these feelings are hidden and secret
And when the love of your life walks into a room
your mouth is sewn shut
and you wish he could read the secret in your eyes
Instead he sees right through you.
Every emotion piles up inside
The desire to say what’s on your mind
The fear of his rejection and the inevitable fallout
The anger towards anyone who comes close to him
The jealousy of the women who own the room
The sadness and hopelessness of never getting a chance
And yet on the surface, everything is fine.
You wait until you are alone
And then you let the tears come down
Nobody comes to help
because nobody can hear the silent screams
or the shattering of your broken heart.
And no matter what you’ve felt before
The pain is still new
because you thought that this time
it would be different
Instead it just becomes another broken heart
another cycle of self-loathing and unanswered questions
All hidden beneath the surface
All kept secret
Because you’re the girl who keeps smiling
Even when inside, you’re silently screaming
In the world of fandoms, there is something called OTP also known as One True Pairing. It basically means “the relationship that fans of a show love the most.” In the Bible, there are many beautiful relationships. My OTP is Joseph and Mary
I only gained a devotion to the Holy Family recently, but I would sometimes talk on Tumblr with other Catholics about what Joseph and Mary’s life could’ve been like. These speculations are called “headcanon.”
An example from a past Tumblr post:
- Who decorates the house: Even though Joseph made all the furniture in their house, Mary is the one who always makes sure that the house is filled with flowers and little things she gathers from walking around town.
- Who does the cooking: Mary does the cooking as per tradition. She taught Jesus how to cook, too.
- Who kills the spiders: Neither of them kill spiders, but instead release the spiders to a safe outdoor area as far away from their house as possible.
- Who is more organized: Mary. I’m very certain that she came up with the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
- Who wakes up first: Joseph. He always smiles at his wife and child before getting up.
- Who has the weird taste in music: Given that they had limited means of listening to music at the time, they both take what they get.
- Who spends the most while out shopping: Joseph. He wants to make sure that what he gets is perfect.
- Who sings in the shower: Mary. Joseph does hum, though.
- Who cries during movies: Given that the closest thing they had to movies was folk tales and stories from Scripture, neither of them.
- What’s their favorite non-sexual activity: Since neither of them have sex, Mary and Joseph pray. A lot.
- Who is more protective: Joseph.
- Who’s the cuddler: Also Joseph. He’s not much for words, after all.
- Who’s the big spoon/little spoon: Joseph always spoons behind Mary. And it’s always my headcanon that they share a bed even though they don’t have sex because they love each other romantically.
- Who kisses more roughly: Neither of them.
- My rating of the ship from 1-10: 10! They’re 2/3 of the Holy Family!
I’ve written about my personal Joseph/Mary headcanon before. But my friends on Tumblr and I are not the only ones who love speculating on
My dad, who has an amazing devotion to St. Joseph, has a book called Joseph the Silent by Michael Gasnier, O.P., which goes into detail about the kind of man St. Joseph was. There’s also a famous story of how Joseph became betrothed to Mary as described in the Protoevangelium of James: when it came time for Mary to find a husband, the priests of the temple called on all the eligible men to place their rods in the temple and the owner of the rod that would flower would become Mary’s husband. Joseph’s was the one that bloomed. However, the Protoevangelium of James speculated that Joseph was an old widower.
Rachel and Kateri made this video about what Fulton Sheen said about St. Joseph, who thought that St. Joseph was probably a young man, closer to Mary’s age (14):
Even fellow Patheos blogger Rebecca Frech goes into her headcanon on what Mary was like (or at least her kids do). Hopefully, we’ll see what her kids have to say about St. Joseph soon.
Which brings me to the question everyone’s asking: Why speculate about Joseph and Mary if it’s not in the Bible?
Headcanons are a very weird and funny thing. I think the reason we love speculating about Joseph and Mary is because headcanons make the characters (or in this case Biblical figures) feel more human. We can imagine Mary and Joseph as people and not just as images depicted on stained glass windows or statues that are part of a Nativity set.
We can imagine 14 year-old Mary turning to the handsome, young possibly 17-year-old Joseph for comfort and strength when she couldn’t deal with everything on her own. We can imagine the two of them trying to raise Jesus even as they deal with the constant mood changes that come with adolescence and young adulthood. We can imagine Joseph dying at a young age, in the arms of Jesus and Mary, and realize how short life can be.
St. Joseph, bring us closer to Jesus and Mary and grant us the grace of a happy death.