Vocations: Destiny or Free Will?

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As someone who grew up reading fairy tales and watching anime, I began to notice something in the way that people see vocations.

Many of my married friends believe in the idea of pre-determined “soul mate” love and how God planned for them to marry a specific person. The story of their love life is essentially like the chorus from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”: “You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess. It’s a love story, baby. Just say ‘Yes.'”

People who discern religious life, on the other hand, have vocation stories that resemble the typical anime “destiny plot.” In a typical adventure anime, the main character goes on a long journey or goes to school while trying to figure out what their purpose in life is. Either way, the protagonist finds their destiny and the story focuses on them working towards becoming a priest or a nun, with the perfect gang of friends who accompany them on this journey.

I’m speaking in generalizations, of course. I know that every vocation story is different. But in the years I spent going to vocation-related events, it seems like people see marriage and religious life as a pre-determined destiny and all they have to do is “discern” which one is right for them. In reality, marriage and religious life are not as cut and dry as that.

Yes, God creates each and every person with a unique personality and skills, but he also gave us this strange thing called free will. We have the ability to choose what to do with our gifts, for better or for worse. Our lives are more like those video games where the choices you make effect the way that the game ends. (Just think of Mass Effect or Infamous.) It doesn’t mean that we can just do whatever we want. The power to choose comes with the responsibility of making sure we choose to do God’s will. In an ideal life, we work with God to help us to choose the right thing. Eventually, our choices help reveal what God wants us to do with our lives.

The best example of this can be seen in the movie Moana. Although Moana was chosen by the ocean to voyage out and return the heart of Te Fiti, her journey was not an easy one and at one point, she gave the heart of Te Fiti to the ocean, wanting to return home after Te Ka nearly killed her. The spirit of her grandmother was supportive of Moana’s decision to turn back, but at the same time, Moana was hesitant. She had to choose to take the heart back herself and not just because the ocean or her grandmother told her. She did that by remembering who she was, where she came from, and reflecting on how far she has come.

So how does free will play a role in discerning marriage or religious life?

When it comes to marriage, I have a bit of a bias. For one thing, I don’t believe in soul mates. Now before you clutch your pearls and start citing the examples of Tobias and Sarah as well as Mary and Joseph, know that I wrote a Bible study on Tobit and I have a great devotion to the Holy Family. Tobias was worried about having to marry Sarah. He was free to choose to fulfill the promise he made to his father. Thankfully, Raphael guided Tobias to understanding how they would save Sarah from the demon that killed her previous husbands. If Sarah and Tobias’s marriage was predetermined, God would’ve found a way to have Tobias marry Sarah first and also expel the demon from her house at the same time.

In a similar way, Mary and Joseph still had to choose to say “Yes” to what God was asking of them. And their life was anything but a fairy tale, with Mary having to deal with at least three months of pregnancy alone (even while she was helping her cousin Elizabeth) and Joseph almost choosing to divorce Mary when he heard about her having a child.

God creates each and every person with a unique set of personality traits and skills and in our lives, we find people who we’re compatible with and some that we don’t get along with. But everyone we meet teaches us a lesson. Every relationship we have is a unique experience because we fall in love in different ways, depending on the person. It’s not going to be an instant-love-at-first-sight kind of thing that we see in romantic comedies and fairy tales. We choose who we love and then, once we marry, we can choose to stay with them in good times and in bad.

On the flip side of things, I know people who are still waiting for their lives to start, who have an idea on what God is calling them to do, but still have to choose the path they need to take in order to get there. The good news about these people is that they’re not just waiting around waiting for an answer to come on a silver platter. These people might have to pave their own paths or consider options beyond the norm. Regardless of where they head, God will always be with them.

I’m not saying that God doesn’t have a hand in our lives, but when it comes to our vocations, we can’t make the idea of finding our calling the end all-be all. We are called to ask God to be the compass of our hearts and then we choose the paths we walk down. There is no grand destiny where we save the world from an apocalypse. Most of us are called to live our holiness in ordinary lives. But is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so.

tl;dr: Our path towards our vocation, whatever we are called to be, is not a straight line. It’s a path we forge with God guiding us through each and every choice we make.

Not Just Good, but Beautiful: A Book Review

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In light of Pope Francis’s recent visit to the US, I am gonna look into Not Just Good, but Beautiful, a compilation of interfaith talks from Humanum: An International Interreligious Colloquium. This book gives perspectives on marriage from Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu perspectives.

Since the Humanum Colloquium was organized by Pope Francis, there are more Catholic perspectives, but the beauty of this book was that while the theme of of the colloquium was to show the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman, each Catholic had a unique way of showing how marriage is beautiful. Pope Francis begins the colloquium with the word “complementarity” which a word that gets echoed in the subsequent essays. To Pope Francis, “complimentarity is the root of marriage and family.” In this day and age where love and marriage seemed to lack concrete definitions aside from feelings, Pope Francis says “Family is an anthropological fact-a socially and culturally related fact.” Pope Francis’s love for the family was easily seen in his visit to the US and I pray that people will look further into it and realize the truth, beauty, and goodness that the family has to offer.

Gerhard Cardinal Muller looks at marriage from a theological perspective and sees that the differences between man and woman as “an essential element to understanding the human being and our journey toward God.” Sister M. Prudence Allen looks at “complementarity” from a philosophical perspective. Jean Laffitte’s perspective looks into marriage as a sacrament and how marriage reflects Christ’s relationship with His Church. Ignacio Ibarzabal looks at marriage from a millenial perspective.

BC_NotJustGoodbutBeautiful_1The perspectives from other faiths were equally beautiful. I love how Jonathan Sacks looks at marriage from a historical and anthropological perspective, tying science and history into his Jewish faith. Penecostal director Jacqueline C. Rivers also looks at marriage using a lot of history and the perspectives from African-American culture as well as the Pentecostal beliefs. Kala Acharya, a Hindu, looks at marriage combining history, philosophy and the beliefs of Hinduism. Johann Christoph Arnold, an Anabaptist, looks into his personal life and shows how marriage can have its ups and downs when playing out in the real world. Henry B. Eyring, a Mormon, does something similar with his essay. Wael Farouq (Muslim) and Nissho Takeuchi (Buddhist) look at the languages of their faiths for insight on how their faiths see love and marriage. Reverent Nicholas Thomas Wright looks at marriage from a strictly Biblical perspective while Rick Warren gives a good practical “how to” perspective. Tsui-Ying Sheng’s essay is one of my favorites because it looks at yin and yang beyond the coolness of the symbol and actually applies the philosophy of the symbol to her life. Russell D. Moore, a Baptist, also ties in the theologies from the Baptist denomination into how things are today.

Complementarity is the overall theme in this book. Many people look at marriage and family and think that it’s just about feelings. But from observing my married friends, I realized that you don’t have to have everything in common with your spouse. The best relationships I know (fictional and in reality) involve two people who aren’t exactly alike but still work together perfectly because they balance each other’s needs. Men and women are always going to be different, no matter how many times people on tumblr and the media say otherwise. But it’s not a bad thing.

I highly recommend this book for people who want to understand marriage on a deeper level.

Visit the Patheos Book Club on Not Just Good, But Beautiful here.

Virgin Shaming: It's A Thing That Exists

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Warning: This post is gonna sound like I’m being a bit-ca. Not my usual sweet tone. But that’s what happens when I get on the soapbox.

I will be the first to admit that this country isn’t perfect. We fought over the color of a dress and think that “Deez Nuts” is an actual person that could run for President. We also think that a guy who’s more famous for his hair, beauty pageant and reality show than for any actual actions relating to politics and philanthropy is presidential material. But last week, I came across an article that made me think this country just hit a whole new level of stupid: The Catholic Response sharing the internet’s confused and hateful reactions to Jessica Hayes becoming a Consecrated Virgin.

I’ve written about consecrated virginity on this blog before. Heck, one of my friends became a consecrated virgin this summer. So why is it that the internet is going nuts now?

I guess it’s because Indiana was prominent in the gay marriage debate and Jessica Hayes happens to be from Indiana. But seriously, people, women marry Jesus more often than you think. Most of them do so by becoming nuns. Jessica Hayes, however, chose to remain a lay person and devote her entire life to serving Christ. It’s no different than a man choosing to be a diocesan priest instead of entering a religious order.

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I don’t understand why people don’t give a hoot about the Dalai Lama being celibate but yet want priests to be married. I don’t understand why gays demand to be married in a church that won’t comply to them and sue people who refuse to bake cakes for them instead of taking their business elsewhere. I don’t understand why people aren’t arguing for civil unions. And think of the divorce rates!

It really stems from a misunderstanding of what love and marriage mean. Society these days sees sex as the be-all, end-all with marriage being just a “bonus.” Marriages aren’t about big weddings and exotic honeymoons or even about being with somebody until you can’t take it anymore. Love and marriage are about sacrifice. And love can manifest in a million different ways that have nothing to do with relationships.

Being a virgin isn’t a disease or something to be ridiculed. At the same time, people shouldn’t put such an emphasis on “purity” that they have entire dances revolving around it. Being a virgin means simply to embrace a life of chastity, which means putting one’s desires aside for a greater cause.

 

When I first read about Jessica Hayes choosing consecrated virginity, my first question wasn’t “Why isn’t she getting married to a man?” but “Why isn’t she going to be a nun?” She answers that question in an article she wrote in Our Sunday Visitor.

“Miss Hayes, why did you want to become a consecrated virgin instead of a religious sister?” posed an inquisitive student in my Women’s Dignity class. “Because I wanted to stay with you,” was my immediate and honest response. Without missing a beat, she replied, “We wanted you to stay with us, too.”

Hayes is a teacher. She wants to devote her life to serving the church through her teaching. She’s not denying herself sex or children.  The bishop who consecrated her goes more into this in his homily that you should seriously read. While many, many nuns out there serve as teachers, the life of a nun belongs to her convent first. By choosing to marry Christ and stay a lay woman, Hayes has a bit more freedom than a religious sister. Her time can be her own, to do whatever she pleases. She’s giving her love to the diocese she serves and to the kids that she teaches. I think that pretty much trumps whatever stuff a certain HBO show can come up with in regards to sex in the city.

So yeah, people. Stop shaming Jessica Hayes for choosing to stay a virgin. Learn from her. And learn what love and marriage really mean.

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Images by Joseph Romie. Posted with permission.

 

Can Young Adults Really Believe In Marriage?

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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.

Men of Christ Monday: Timothy Quigley

Timothy Quigley is an actor and filmmaker based in Lancaster. He is the creator and star of the sitcom, “Ordinary”.

“Ordinary” is a sitcom about a fresh-faced newly-ordained priest assigned to a parish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When his rascal little brother Josh shows up at his new home, Father Anderson finds himself facing more challenges and surprises than he could have anticipated. From handling erratic staff to wrestling restless catechumens, he’ll need to summon all the patience he can to get through his ordinary day. You can donate to the Season 2 Kickstarter in the link
Timothy volunteers as a videographer and editor at Lancaster Community Television (LCTV66) and is actively involved in community filmmaking and local theater. He will next be seen on stage in the musical, “Absolutely Anything” produced by The Creative Works of Lancaster, March 5-8.

First of all, tell me (and my readers) exactly who you are and what you currently do for a living.


I’m Timothy Quigley, cradle Catholic, from a happy family of 10 children happy to keep the Irish-Catholic stereotype alive. I am an actor, a filmmaker and local television producer. Those three jobs keep me quite busy.


I take it there are some Irish twins in your family?


None, as a matter of fact!


So you have a family of your own now. Describe a typical day in your life, balancing your family and the jobs you have.


I have been married for almost 7 years, no children (pregnancies but no births). My wife and I both come from large families and wanted to have one right off the bat, but our Father had other plans. We’ve seen this as a time to find ways of ministering where we might otherwise not be able. My wife, Carolyn, is a nurse who works a number of places but primarily as a school nurse at the local high school, JP McCaskey. Monday through Friday, she’s doing her work and I’m doing mine, touching base with each other regularly. We get up early, get ready for work together, then split up until I come back from the office to go to bed. Saturdays we get housework done and Sundays we chill.


What inspired you to create Ordinary?


The first inkling of an idea came from working around the rectory and observing how similar it was to any other workplace. It started as a joke that NBC’s “The Office” could easily do a spin-off called “The Parish”. Years later I returned to the idea and started to write, but it morphed into something very different than what I thought it would be. I didn’t want to fashion a “Father Michael Scott”, if you will. We have plenty of them elsewhere in visual media, and they’re just not representative of the majority of priests I know. This led to centering the show on the priest and his story. The vocation of the priesthood has always fascinated me, and there’s a lot to work with when your character is in persona Christi, with elements both very human and very divine.


Tell me more of your personal vocation story.


I started discerning the priesthood when I was 10 as an altar boy, attending daily Mass. At that time, the only other thing I wanted to be was an actor, but when I learned that movie and TV actors don’t get to write their own lines or direct the movie/show, I said “Forget it then, I’ll be a priest”. I went to a school in New Hampshire for boys wanting to become priests, run by the Legion of Christ. I was with the Legion for a short time but discerned away from there thinking I was perhaps called to diocesan and parochial life instead of the life of a religious community like the Legion, so I entered diocesan seminary at Saint Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia. It was there that I watched the short film, “Fishers of Men” from Grassroot Films. My friend, with whom I had confided my recent doubts about my vocation, turned to me and said, “Doesn’t that just inspire you to want to be a priest!?” I said, “No, it inspires me to become a filmmaker.” I left seminary in 2006 and started studying the craft. Now I’m an actor who does get to write his own lines and direct his own show. Heh, a show about a priest at that. Everybody wins!


What led you to marriage?


It didn’t take much thought or spiritual agony on my part. In 2007, a year after I left seminary, I met a really cute girl at the Saint Gertrude’s 20s Group in Cincinnati and I asked her out. My first girlfriend! I married her 10 months later. Transitioning from pursuing a priestly vocation to a marital vocation was relatively seamless. Because while I discerned I didn’t have a vocation to the priesthood, I was certain I still had a vocation to fatherhood. My whole life changed when I altered my vocational discernment approach to basically, “Pray and just go with your gut.” There’s way too much vocational analysis paralysis among our young Catholics.


What advice do you have for those who are discerning vocations and struggle with “vocational analysis paralysis”?


I think everyone discerning their vocations understands they were created for a purpose. We know that we each have a unique way we are meant to know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can be happy with Him in the next. That puts pressure on us to make sure we don’t muck this up!! But it’s really not that complicated. Our Father has no interest in making our vocational discovery a PhD in aerospace engineering. (Unless of course he is calling you to be an actual rocket scientist then… yeah.) What He really wants from us is to enter into prayer with Him and stay close to Him. Whatever I am made for is what I am MADE for; it is part of who I am, right there in my gut and will become clearer with prayer. So what is the thing that drives you, motivates you to be the saint you’re called to be? Do that thing. Don’t focus on vocational discernment as a, “What do I feel called to eventually be?” You already know: a saint. Ask instead, “What do I feel called to do today?”


Who are your go-to saints?


The Blessed Mother is number one. I chose the name Mary at my Confirmation. Others I go to regularly are Saint Joseph, Saint Timothy, Saint Raymond Nonnatus. When I’m in the middle of filming, I go to Saint Jude and Saint Rita.


What do advice do you have to young adults who want to pursue a career in film and television? How do you balance your faith and your work?

 

I can’t speak to the challenges of keeping your faith while working in Hollywood. That’s one avenue some take, but I’ve decided to stay in my lovely hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With the ubiquity of the internet and the low cost and wide accessibility of equipment, there aren’t any good excuses to not just do it. Surround yourself with talented people, which becomes easier the more you do and the more you pay attention to what everyone else is doing. And don’t ever make the mistake of thinking other filmmakers are your adversarial competitors. They’re your allies. One thing that is very cool about our production of the second season of Ordinary is the great team of local filmmakers we’ve assembled. None of them are even Catholic, but they love what they do and they love the show. It’s not worth it to compromise your artistic vision or your religious conviction in an effort to be liked. People value authenticity of character and work that is genuine.

 

Please donate to the Ordinary Season 2 Kickstarter! Season 1 is available for On-Demand on Vimeo.

Women of Christ Wednesday: Marriage Edition

Diana is the creative force behind The Faithful Traveler, as the show’s co-producer, writer, host, second cameraperson, and editor. She is also The Faithful Traveler’s entertaining and vivacious host, imbuing the series with an exuberance that attracts viewers of all ages and backgrounds and makes them excited to join her on her travels. Diana explores the art, architecture, history, and doctrine behind shrines and places of pilgrimage around the world, and hopes to encourage people to visit these spectacular locations themselves, armed with the information provided in The Faithful Traveler. For those who can’t make the travels themselves, Diana hopes to bring these amazing sites into their homes, and enable them to virtually make pilgrimage with her.
Born and raised in San Diego, Diana is a lifelong Catholic who uses her knowledge of her faith, her English and legal degrees, and the marketing and publicity skills she has honed in the last seventeen years as a book editor in trade and professional publishing markets in all of her roles with The Faithful Traveler. Diana received a BA in English at Pepperdine University and a JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School. She has been a book editor since 1998, and currently edits books for a publisher in New York City.

Today, I interview Diana von Glahn and ask her about her show and her marriage with David. I ask that you pray for both of them, since David was recently hospitalized.

 

What inspired The Faithful Traveler?

The Faithful Traveler grew out of seeds that were planted in my childhood, and which grew throughout my youth and young adulthood. I’m a cradle Catholic, and i grew up in San Diego, where Father Junipero Serra built the first of 21 missions in CA. I grew up loving the saints and learning about them. As i moved from my home to go to school, wherever i would go, i would seek out a Catholic Church because that was home.

As I travelled around–Malibu for college and South Bend for grad school with a year in London, my world view was growing, and I was encountering different styles of architecture and churches. I found them fascinating.

At Notre Dame, at the time, it was the only Catholic university with a chapel in every dorm. They all differed architecturally based on when they were built. I wanted to write a book about them, calling it The Chapels of Notre Dame! That idea was eventually scrapped because of life, but I continued to explore churches in my life, moving from San Diego to Mississippi to New York City.

In NYC, I met David. we moved to PA and eventually got engaged. As we planned our honeymoon, I wanted to include both Catholic and touristy things in our itinerary. We were watching a lot of the travel channel, and we’d often talk about how awesome it would be if there was a travel show on tv that went to catholic places, but that didn’t talk about Catholics like we were a bunch of nutters.

(Sometimes, non-Catholics can sound a little TOO skeptical when talking about things like incorruptible saints and eucharistic miracles. but really, who can blame them?!)

I wanted to watch something that had the production values of the Travel channel and the History channel, but that actually talked about Catholic things and places. Eventually, we decided that we had to create that show ourselves, and so The Faithful Traveler was born

 

Tell me about how you met.

 

David and I met shortly after I started working at a legal publisher in NYC

Apparently–or so he tells me–he thought I was cute and wanted to meet me. Unfortunately for him, the first thing he said to me was some snide remark about me being a lawyer (I was a legal editor), and I immediately decided I didn’t like him.

So for, like, a year, he would come by and try to talk to me, and I would be so rude!

It was horrible. I often say it was like Pride and Prejudice. Eventually, it got to the point where I would tolerate being in his company. (I was such a jerk!)

One day, I REALLY wanted to go see opera in central park, but all of my friends were all, “WHAT?! You’re crazy!”

No one would go with me! One of my friends said, “David von Glahn likes opera!”

I was desperate–this was a huge event and I didn’t want to go alone, so I asked David if he’d go with me and he said yes. I guess that was our first date. He bought wine and took me to a very nice restaurant. He made me laugh all night long.

The opera was horrible but we had fun and then we stayed up talking in Central Park until, like, 3 am.

He wanted to know what kind of guy I’d date, and I told him, “I’m only dating Catholics from now on, sorry.” He wasn’t Catholic, and I had just had years of dating non-Catholics and I eventually got tired of always compromising on my faith

David said, “well, what if I’m interested in converting?”

I said, “My kind of Catholic is too hard for you.” But by this point I liked him, and so I prayed about it

It occurred to me that there are many Catholics who aren’t too stellar about practicing their faith and so why would I deny this one person the opportunity to rise to the occasion? We started dating, and David went to Mass with me every Sunday. He LOVED it. He went to adoration with me at St. Patrick’s Cathedral one day early in our relationship.

 

Wow! The classic flirt and convert story.

I know, right?! But I really wasn’t flirting with him. Anyway, we dated for about 1 month and then Sept 11th happened. David was supposed to be flying to LA that day. I saw the whole thing from the windows of our office on 6th ave and when they closed the bridges, I gathered my girlfriends and we walked up to David’s apt on the Upper West Side. It changed everything. The tenor of our relationship. Our happy courting days were cut short. Eventually we moved to PA and got married.

We were engaged on the feast of the annunciation and married on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a beautiful winter wedding.

 

What’s your marriage is like now, especially since you work together on the show?

We’ve been married 11 years and to be quite honest, my brand of Catholicism is hard for him sometimes. (My brand being cradle Catholic.) I love everything about the church and don’t ever question anything. He’s a New Yorker. He questions everything. For many years, this caused problems in our marriage, but we grew and learned. Now we do our best to make our differences work for us as opposed to against us

Marrying a convert isn’t easy, but you know, marrying anyone isn’t easy. I know many cradle Catholics who have married other cradle Catholics who have crises of faith or who get divorced. The key is being committed. Really committed.

 

Who are your go-to Saints?

 

The Blessed Mother, always. St Michael, St Joseph, St Rita of Cascia, and St Anthony, when I lose something.

 

What advice would you give to young married couples? And what advice would you give to singles?

To both, I would say read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

 

For the singletons out there, I’d say, read that book and identify what kind of love language you speak–what kind of love you need  to feel loved. Then go out there and find someone who can give that to you. Don’t settle. Pray all the time. Don’t get impatient. A lifetime of being married to the wrong person is way worse than a lifetime of being alone because you can also be alone in a marriage and that is very painful

For the young marrieds or soon to be marrieds–my niece is among this list–I would say read the book together. Identify what love languages you speak and do your best to speak those languages to one another

The key to staying married is this: Forgive. Pray. Don’t ever quit. And don’t ever settle, either. Remember that your spouse is your vocation. He or she is your ladder to heaven or to hell, and you are the same for him or her. Let your spouse make you holy.

I once had a friend say something to me that made me laugh but which was so real, so true. “We all have rough edges, but its only in bumping up against one another that those edges are smoothed out.” That’s what marriage is like. You will bump up against one another and it will hurt, but don’t let that chase you away from one another. Don’t let the answer be the creation of space. You have to allow the bumps to smooth you out, to make you holy. It’s part of the purification process that God allows us to go through. We can’t be afraid of or run away from the purification if we want to get to Heaven.

One more thing: Don’t ever think someone else has it better than you. Everyone carries a heavy cross. you just don’t always see it.

 

 

Woman In Love: An Interview with Katie Hartfiel

Copyright Monique Ocampo.

Copyright Monique Ocampo.

Katie Hartfiel is an author and speaker dedicated to sharing the intense love of the Lord. As a teenager, Katie fell in love with Christ at a Steubenville youth conference in her home state of Colorado. She received a degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she now resides with her husband, Mark, and two daughters. In 2012, Katie released her first book, Woman in Love. This work coaches young women as they strive for purity through praying for and journaling to their future spouse. She has been blessed to watch hearts come alive with the realization that our faithful God hungers to exceed our deepest desires.

I first met Katie and her husband Mark when they gave a talk at my school. It was part of a series of lectures called Bottom of the Cup. Katie’s testimony inspired me to address my journal entries to my “Beloved,” which could apply to a future earthly husband or a godly one.

 

What was the inspiration behind the Woman In Love book and the brand as a whole?

 

Woman In Love is a term that was coined by the girls in my youth program and I as an alternative to the phrase “Woman of God.” We tended to associate the thought of being a “Woman of God” with images of churning butter. There is nothing wrong with such an image, but we felt that what really described us was that we were women who were madly, deeply, passionately in love. This love radiates into everything we think, do and say. We are defined by this love. This is the heart of being a Woman of God… being a woman who loves and who is beloved. The book focuses on the fact that when we accept Jesus as our First Love, He is free to mold us for our second love- whether that be the Church or a spouse.

 

 

What are you doing nowadays?

 

I was a full time youth minister in Houston for seven years and left my position about 6 months after my second child was born. I am now a full-time stay-at-home-mom. My kids and I sleep too late and them stumble around getting ready for our day. I homeschool in the mornings, play in the early afternoon and work on my ministry in the late afternoon. Evenings are usually spent on my holey couch with my husband and a hot beverage. On the side I do some speaking and writing which allows me to be with teens and share my passion.

 

What do you have to say to those who think young adults aren’t participating enough (or even at all) with church activities?

 

It is hard to find a home in parish life when you are a young adult. Many programs are geared toward youth or families… and let’s be honest– a lot of old people. The truth is that the church will benefit from an awakening of the young adult demographic! Their gifts are endless! I have so many young adult friends who have given so much to our parish through heading fundraising efforts, teaching and serving. The truth is that when we give to our parish we receive.

 

 

What do you think is the best thing about being married and being a mother? How different is it from being single or a religious sister?

 

The best part is the experience of meeting God in my kids and husband. They teach me all the time about God’s unconditional love for me. At least once a day, usually more, I find myself looking at their faces and feeling overwhelmed in adoration of God’s generosity. When we find the path God is calling us on, He WILL encounter us. He does so in a particular singular way through marriage, and He does so in a particular singular way through single life and a particular singular way through religious life. He knows the place that will set our hearts on fire.

 

 

Who is your go-to saint for things relating to motherhood? Who was your go-to saint when you were waiting for your husband-to-be? Any saints that you designated for your daughters?

 

I spend a lot of time shooting arrow prayers to the Blessed Mother during the day. I often like to ask her to come and take over so I can have 5 minutes.

 

A saint that has really introduced herself into my life beginning during my Husband-To-Be prayer days is St. Philomena who is the patroness of purity for the 21st century. She stood up against her country, family and the most powerful man in the world in the name of purity and she is a powerhouse. She has been very faithful to me in her intercessions! My daughters both have a love of St. Philomena and St. Clare, but they are particularly partial to St. Therese.

 

 

What advice would you give to young women and their mothers about discerning vocations and relationships?

 

Trust. God will never be outdone in generosity, and if we are generous with God He will be generous with is. I heard before that faith is knowing that when you step off the cliff you will either be given solid ground to walk on, or be given the wings to fly. We tend to rush things in discernment, but young women- you aren’t waiting for your love story to start- you are living it RIGHT NOW. Today is an important day in your formation for your vocation. Worry about today and live one step at a time.

 

 

If you could go back to when you started writing letters to your HTB, what would you tell her?

 

I think about this a lot actually. I would say, “Katie, put your head down and just make it. It’s all going to be better than you could imagine on the other side. God is hiding you in His wounds and sharing tears beside you- He is sharing in your cross, but He will also share with you His Resurrection.”

Danielle Rose: Culture of Life

In the spirit of the marches and rallies for life happening all across the country, I want to bring attention to music missionary Danielle Rose and her album Culture of Life.

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Copyright to Monstrance Music and Danielle Rose.

 

For those who don’t know, Danielle Rose is a Catholic singer/songwriter. She’s been making music since 2001. My personal favorite album is I Thirst, but I also like the tracks from Mysteries and Pursue Me. However, Culture of Life is by far her best album yet.

I don’t consider many real world people to be role model material, so believe me when I say that when I see Danielle Rose as my role model, know that my statement carries a lot of weight. One thing I’m noticing in all these songs is that God is always included in the story. None of these songs could be considered “praise and worship” in the traditional sense, but instead are more meditative, thought-provoking.

  • Little Flower: I love the Chinese flute intro, for starters. I also love the emphasis on God’s provision. “God provides” rings throughout, as if to say there is no need to worry about caring for the child in question. (In other words, take that one-child policy!) The music video is amazing, too. Watch it and please raise awareness of the Little Flower orphanage. Donate if you can.
  • Just One Life: Covering two instances where life hangs in the balance, with the bridge of Mary saying “yes” to the life God wanted to give to her. I can almost see a music video of my head of the stories getting happy endings, even though they don’t get any closure in the song. But maybe leaving them more open-ended is a good thing, since it makes you think of how much value one life really has.
  • You Matter: Living in Texas has made me a sucker for fiddles and steel guitars. It sounds like a wonderful, beautiful country-style song. The lyrics convey a love song, but it’s not one dedicated to a romantic interest in particular. Instead, it’s general enough to apply to anyone. It could be about a love interest or a child or a dear friend, but it’s a love song nevertheless. It’s a song you can dance to. If only country songs these days were more like this!
  • Waiting For You: It’s kind of crazy to think that the same lady who wrote ”Nothing Compares to You” is writing this love letter for her future husband. It’s a song of lovely longing worthy of being compared with the other epic love songs out there. This song does not beat around the bush about the importance of chastity, but it paints the waiting in such a beautiful light. What I love most, though, is that God still has her heart. St. John Paul II would be proud.
  • Make Love With God: Once again, this song does not beat around the bush about the sanctity of marriage. Too many songs about sex these days don’t really talk giving yourself to someone else. Instead they talk about what they’re getting out of it. And many, many people will probably laugh at the lyrics, but be honest. How many songs do you know talk about sex in such a beautiful way that respects both parties and includes God in it? And talks about family?! It’s not just making love, it’s making life.
  • A Mother’s Communion: This is every mother’s song to her child. It echoes what Pope Francis said about motherhood being a type of martyrdom. Never have I connected motherhood to the Eucharist until I listened to this song. My pastor said yesterday that our lives and our bodies are not our own (in reference to yesterday’s second reading). How often have we heard that phrase: “This is my body…” associated with justifying an abortion. How unaware they are that having that child is a call to surrender and selflessness. Pray for them.
  • Joseph’s Prayer of Adoption: It’s only natural that a song about motherhood would be followed by a song about fatherhood. This isn’t the first time she wrote a song in Joseph’s POV before and the lyrics feel like something Joseph would say to the child Jesus, like a father telling a bedtime story. The best part of this particular song, in my opinion, is when it extends from St. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus to God’s spiritual adoption of all of us.
  • Can You Hear Me: A lamenting song of the kind of loss that only abortion can give. Her vocalizations sound like crying, but in such a tragically beautiful way. The melody as a whole is haunting. This song provokes prayers for all those affected by abortion and I pray that it also invokes compassion. Danielle sounds like she’s really crying in this song, especially in the end. And heck, I’d probably be crying along with her.
  • Psalm 51: Okay, this lady obviously has some country roots in her. If “You Matter” reminds you of the upbeat country songs, this song is more akin to the strong, steady ballads that aren’t heard as often. Even though the lyrics speak of surrender and being sorrowful, the melody of the song speaks of strength.
  • Glorious Wounds: Another country-sounding song with fiddles and guitars. The uplifting tone also makes this song the closest thing to what’s typically recognized as “praise and worship.” It praises and worships the holy wounds of Christ, but also brings in the “felix culpa,” the blessing that comes from the brokenness. We may have our scars, but Christ still has His and we can use the scars of our lives to heal those who still have open wounds.
  • Not a Burden: I can see this song being sung as a round. I love the drums used. It inspires the hand-clapping and swaying kind of dance you would see in a charismatic Mass. It kind of reminds me of old spirituals like “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” The chorus is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
  • Sharing Calvary: I can see myself listening to this during Lent. This song acts like an Ignatian meditation that takes you to Calvary and makes you feel like you’re really there, watching it or being a part of it. We can see ourselves as either thief or a spectator, sharing the pain that the ones crucified are experiencing. I love that it carries the theme of the previous song, that good things come from the pain and suffering that life brings.
  • The Saint That Is Just Me: This was the first song from the album I heard and I related to it instantly. I want my life to be just like so many other people, wishing I was someone else. The reason I have very few real life role models is because I’m more inclined to follow the example of the saints. But in the end, this song reminds me that God created me as I am and gave me this particular life for a reason. The first call will always be to holiness. How we live that call to holiness is up to God, but we need to answer that call to holiness first.
  • Reborn: I remember a movie night I had with my second graders where we watched a movie that included a scene of an old lady attending Mass. It was later revealed that the old lady was dead all along and her soul was attending Mass, preparing to enter Heaven. When I saw that scene, I thought of my dear friend Fr. Keon who passed away. I could easily see him saying these lyrics. Sometimes, I see him at Mass, celebrating with the priest. And other times, I think he’s still in the cafeteria at my old college, watching over the students. I still miss him, but this song makes me smile.
  • I Love Lifeland: It almost sounds like a children’s song, but I started laughing with joy as soon as the song started. It’s basically the song you would sing on a long road trip or at a summer. It’s like the Catholic version of Taylor Swift’s “22” or a throwback to “My Favorite Things.” There’s a little improvised scatting that acts like the bridge and just makes me wanna dance. The laughter in the song is absolutely contagious! What a beautiful way to end the album. It celebrates life with all the little moments and how the little things add up to a lot. And yes, this is my favorite track! How can you beat lyrics like “Daily Mass is the cat’s pajamas”?!

So if you haven’t done so already, get this album. So many of these songs can be anthems for the marches and rallies for life while other songs can apply to other aspects of life. I hope that at least one of these songs speaks to you the way they have spoken to me.