Responding to a “Triggered” Culture

By Ava Hill

Trigger warning! Not necessarily, but let’s take a look at the meaning of “being triggered.” The concept actually originated in the field of mental health with the intention of aiding victims of trauma or disorders such as PTSD. For instance, a “trigger warning” may be placed on content involving suicide to prevent those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts or have experienced loss as a result of suicide from reentering into an unhealthy state.

Now, most of us who are familiar with popular culture know that this is not how the concept of being “triggered” is often used. In fact, the popular usage diminishes the real purpose of what it truly means to become triggered. Just scroll through the comments of any Instagram post—it does not even need to be politically controversial—and it is very likely that you will find someone who has been “triggered.” It is almost impossible for anyone to share their thoughts online without allegedly offending others. This may not be news to anyone, but this offense I am speaking of is more nuanced than your old friend from high school unfollowing you because you tweeted about your support for a particular candidate. As this habit of being triggered occurs most often on the political left, it often involves an accusation and questioning of the other’s morality merely because of their religious or traditional viewpoints.

I attended a liberal Catholic Jesuit high school. I met many wonderful people and, most importantly, received a stellar education. I could not, however, simply speak my mind or think out loud in any of my classes. It was not for the fear of others disagreeing with my viewpoints, but the worry that I would be deemed as a less-than-charitable Catholic. Yet, this is precisely what happened. In a very social justice focused Catholic school, I could not speak openly about how birth control distorted the theology of the woman’s body because classmates and teachers claimed that my privilege kept me from understanding why birth control is supposedly so necessary. Furthermore, students would stand up claiming to be triggered because of their personal experience with birth control. Now, contraception is another topic, but I assure you that the Church’s stance is one of the utmost charity and beauty. Like other topics that people become “triggered” by, it must be taught, discussed, and understood properly—which is rarely done.

Another distinction between finding offense and being “triggered” is when one is supposedly triggered and shuns the other person because of the apparent infraction. The response to the offending statement is no longer, “I am offended so I shall have polite discourse or leave the conversation until this blows over,” but rather, “I am offended so I shall create a permanent rift between this person and I.” Many of us have seen this when our long-time friends unfollow us or start social media arguments because we shared our thoughts on a controversial topic, and it is a sad reality.

Let us make one thing clear, when people become triggered, it is most likely because they have a personal tie to the topic at hand. This is vital to recognize, and it is one’s Christian duty to be present to simply listen to someone’s testimony of hardship. Our responsibility, however, does not end when we listen.

Additionally, social media is hardly ever a place for productive dialogue. Therefore, we cannot sit back passively as we watch the morals of our world crumble down and the souls of our brothers and sisters be lost. We must continue to speak for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Furthermore, as social media is a realm that seems to emit a great amount of darkness into our world, we ought to be the light source. If all Catholics were to delete their social media because they believed it to be a source for evil, it would only be because they let it become one. Thus, all the lost souls left on Instagram, Twitter, and the like would be left with no illuminating presence.

Ultimately, it is paramount that our prayer lives fuel our words. It is useless to babble on about God, the Church, and politics on our social media timeline if the Holy Spirit does not have time to fill us with His words. Then, if we feel passionate about and called to highlight a particular truth, we can feel confident that we are doing so out of Spirit-filled inspiration and charity, rather than arrogance. If people are “triggered” by our words, we can discern the true intention behind their meaning and act accordingly with kindness. As Christians, it is a grace, for we cannot go astray if we remain in the Lord and speak boldly and in love.

How to Start a Relationship with Jesus

By Ellie Pierre

July 3rd of 2019, Catholic Youth Summer Camp: I walked into a room filled with worship music, and before me stood Jesus in the monstrance. This was very new to me given that I’d never had an encounter with Him. I’d heard about Him, and I didn’t really think I needed Him. But I knew I wasn’t happy where I was at, and something needed to change. So I knelt down and held out my hands. I started to let the words of the song take meaning in my heart, and as I did, tears came—tears of repentance, tears because I wanted to change, tears because Jesus was real, tears because Jesus’ love for me was stronger than I could ever comprehend. I felt so close to Him at that moment, so loved, known, and held.

Let me say before all this took place, I was in a bad place. Long story short, I would make bad decisions that felt good at the moment, but once that moment wore off, I was left feeling more empty, lonely, and hopeless. I felt a longing in my heart for something more that I tried to cover up with things of this world. This longing was left unsatisfied until I started a relationship with Christ.

We can all have an encounter with God. But it is up to us whether or not we are going to let it change us. To have a relationship with someone is not just a one-time thing: it takes time, effort, and persistence. An encounter is only the start, just like meeting a person for the first time. If you want to start a relationship with a person, you have to take the time to get to know them. Here are things that have helped build my relationship with Christ:

Prayer

Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When a person prays, he enters into a living relationship with God.

CCC 2558-2565

You can’t get to know a person until you talk with them. Take time every day to talk with Him, being open to Him and everything He has to offer. It’s all free for us to receive. It’s just our choice whether or not to take that step to come to Him to receive it. He is here right now, patiently waiting for you to turn to Him so that He can shower you with His gifts and flood you with His grace.

The Bible

Above all, the Gospels sustain me during my hours of prayer; in them, I find everything that my poor little soul needs.

St. Therese of Lisieux

By reflecting on the Gospels, we understand how Jesus lived and how we are called to live and treat others as He did—not just by reading the words, but by praying them. This is called Lectio Divina. It involves reading attentively, reflecting on what phrases speak to your heart, resting in the silence of His loving embrace, and responding to what He is calling you to do.

The Blessed Virgin Mary

To love Mary is not to take love away from Jesus. It is to multiply, amplify, and grow in love with Jesus.

Fr. Mike Schmitz

If you are looking to build a relationship with Christ, Mary is the one to turn to for help. She was given to us to be our Mother and will point you right to her Son. Much like how the moon reflects the light of the sun, Mary reflects the love of her Son. Pray the Rosary, and meditate on the mysteries of Christ.

Eucharistic Adoration

The soul hungers for God and nothing but God can satiate it. Therefore He came to dwell on earth and assumed a Body in order that this Body might become the Food of our souls.

St. John Vianney

Eucharistic adoration will bring you into an intimate relationship with Jesus. You can come to experience this intimacy just by sitting in His presence, truly believing in your own heart that before you stands your Savior, the One who bled and died for you, the One who knows you more than you know yourself, the One who has a love for you that is greater than anything you have ever experienced before. Just resting with Him in the silence of your heart will allow intimacy with Christ to flourish. Take the time to listen to what He is speaking to your heart.

I pray this helps you to start a relationship with Jesus—to experience a love, peace, joy, and freedom that exceeds everything this world has to offer. There is a hole in everyone’s heart that only God can fill. He created us to be in a relationship with Him, so why would we want to do anything other than what He created us for?

Loving God with the Heart of a Child

By Theresa Moore

Do you ever miss the simplicity of being a child? Those carefree, candy-licking, nap-taking, running barefoot in the backyard kinds of days? Most people have reminisced over these moments at one point or another. What is it about these moments that keeps drawing us back? I believe the part of those memories that is so attractive to us is the simplicity of them. And if we could remain this simple as we grew older, our love for Christ would increase remarkably.

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Hard Christmas

By Rebekah Hardy

Christmas can be such a dreamy time of year: houses and churches take on new beauty with the lights and garlands, love seems to be in the air as couples post romantic pictures, we give and receive gifts–all of this is bright and merry and beautiful.

What happens when the most wonderful time of year is crossed with suffering? With loss? How can we navigate a time of great joy when it is overshadowed by great sorrow?

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Am I Good Enough Yet?

By Catalina Morales

I have struggled with whether I’m “good enough” all throughout my teens and into adulthood. Like me, you may often ask yourself: “Am I good enough yet?” And yet, when reflecting on this question, we must dig deeper and ask ourselves: Who exactly are we questioning we are good enough for?

For me, it was my family, my friends, the boys I dated, and myself. Whenever someone disappointed me or walked out of my life, I questioned my self-worth. With every heartbreak, I questioned whether I was good enough. Every friend that was no longer my friend, every F on a test, every failure, every disappointment made me question my worth: “Am I not smart enough? Am I not pretty enough? Am I not skinny enough?”

And yet, are we not more than our accomplishments and failures? Are we not more than the numbers on the scale? Are we not more than the way we think people perceive us? Wouldn’t it be nice if every time we had this thought of not being enough, someone would be there to say that we are—If every time we met ourselves with doubt, someone would assure us that we were created for more than this?

Jesus does. He says that He made us; we are made in His image. Jesus reminds us every day that we are enough—in fact, we are to die for. To question our worth is to question His sacrifice. He says not only that we are worthy, but that we have purpose. You are here for a reason, you are blessed, you are beautiful, and you are enough.

One of my favorite lyrics comes from “He Has Time” by Common Hymnal and Jamie MacDonald. It reminds us that “Jesus runs after the broken ones, weeping with those who weep,” and “crowns them with purity.” The great thing about Jesus is that we don’t have to look too far to find him. He see us in our darkest places, in our doubt, in our sadness, and in our failures, and still says we are worthy. He meets us where we are in life and heals us. Once we realize this, we stop putting our worth in other people; we stop looking for our worth in other people. We become set free, we become made new—the only person we put our worth in is Jesus. The only person we question if we are “good enough” for is Jesus, and even then, we know the answer because He answered it when He died on the cross for us.

The answer is, yes, we are enough. If we put our worth in worldly things, we will surely be disappointed. Nothing on this earth is perfect, but if we put our worth in the one thing—the one person—who is perfect, then we will not be disappointed.

Jesus has all the time in the world to remind you every day: You are more than the scale, more than the A’s or F’s you get on a test, more than what people say about you. You are not made of this world, you are made of Him. You are worth dying for, and He did—because you are worth it.

The Power of the Eucharist

By Taylor Fielder

When I was a little girl, my mom would drag my little brother and I to adoration. The chapel was dark, lit only by the candles that framed the tabernacle. While we didn’t fully understand yet what we were experiencing, we knew there was something different about this space. My mom would go before the Lord praying for my dad’s conversion. For eighteen years I watched her fast and do penance so that our family would be unified in the Church. The diligence and manner in which she prayed showed my brother and I that what she was praying for was real. Our Catholic faith was and still is the most important thing to her, and my dad knew that. Before they married, he agreed to raise us in the Catholic Church. I have never been so thankful for a promise kept. We knew he had questions and hesitations about the Church, but he made sure we were there every Sunday as a family, because that’s what he promised my mom. Every day I prayed for my family to someday sit in Mass together.

The summer before junior year of high school I went on an adventurous trip to Colorado with my youth group. I was not one that liked to spend time away from my family, so I dreaded this trip. After about eight hours in the car, we stopped at a little convent in the middle of nowhere in Kansas. The sisters were having adoration before Mass, and we had the opportunity to celebrate with them. We filed into the humble chapel where they were praying before the Blessed Sacrament. From the moment I crossed the threshold of the door I could feel the Holy Spirit drawing my soul in. I believe that time spent in adoration that day is the closest thing to ecstasy I will experience this side of Heaven. Tears overwhelmingly filled my eyes—I was truly in the presence of Christ. It was that day that my love for adoration began, and I understood why my mom had spent so many hours there. After mass we were able to mingle with the sisters. I was introduced to one in particular, and I couldn’t even look her in the eyes. She was the most holy woman I had ever seen, radiant and beautiful. I quickly went out the door and climbed into the van. She followed me all the way to the back seat to speak to me. Knowing that I was moved by our experience, she grabbed my face and said to me: “Sometimes Jesus squeezes the heart.” And He was. I was so humbled. I felt so unworthy to be loved so much.

Junior year of college, I met a boy. Not just any boy, but the one I knew I wanted to marry. He was handsome and charming—everything I had ever prayed for. He was not Catholic, but I was okay with that. I had seen it work with my parents (and seven other couples in my family who married non-Catholics that are now converted and in full communion with the Church). I was working for our football department and he was playing at a school a few hours away. He knew he wanted to go pro and spent lots of time training, so this made seeing each other difficult sometimes. When I missed him, or when we were going through challenges in our relationship, I would go sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and tell Jesus everything. My hurts, my wants, my fears, my frustrations. Sometimes I would go and sob, sometimes I would just sit and feel His embrace.

After college, he moved to California to start training camp. We got engaged outside of the Cathedral in my hometown where we planned to be married—the same church I have dreamed of being married in since I was a little girl. It was the most beautiful day full of blessings and family, and we could not wait to start our future together. We went through our marriage prep, I bought a dress, and I prepared to make the move to California after the wedding. A few months into our engagement, he decided he was unsure about the Catholic Church and raising our family in this way. While I never expected to marry a Catholic, I knew I would never force my faith on anyone either. But I do feel a sense of responsibility to make sure my future children experience every part of our faith—and not be pulled in two different directions. We decided to call off the wedding.

Heartbroken and confused, I ran to the only place I knew to go—the same place I had been hundreds of times. The only place that could heal my very broken heart. I was so angry with God (and I let him know that too). I told him—“If it wasn’t for You and Your Church, I would be marrying the man I love.” How could he give me everything I had asked for and then take it away? Looking back, maybe this was the point. I was stripped of everything I thought I could ever want and was left with no one else to turn to but Him. And I did. Humbly, desperately, daily, I would find my strength in the Eucharist. There were days it was the only thing that got me up in the morning.

Friends, there is power and healing in the Eucharist. As Catholics we have the opportunity to experience Christ in the most intimate way that no one else can! He has made himself present to us through the Eucharist, and there is nothing else like it on this earth. He eagerly waits for us to come be with Him–to share our hopes and our struggles, to weep and rejoice. He is always there and always waiting. Run to Him–He alone will heal you.

Surrendering Our Hurdles

By Joanna Roessler

From a young age, I have been very independent. I had the mentality that I knew it all, that I could achieve anything on my own if I tried hard enough. I lived out in the country with lots of hay fields, and every year, we would spend hours playing and jumping on the hay bales. When I was little, they were dauntingly big, forcing me to give up my independence and allow someone to help me up. Eventually, I grew, and it became easier and easier, until I could take a running start to jump on them. What once was daunting and seemingly impossible, became normal, doable, and even easy. What I’ve realized is that this is often how I approach the Lord, assuring Him that I can overcome this hurdle without His help, and relying on my own strength.

In my junior year of college, I transferred to a new school and was starting over. This was the first time that I had moved away from home and was stripped of the support system that I so heavily relied on my whole life. I was stripped of comfort and thrown into this new season. Many nights were filled with feelings of loneliness, restlessness, and fear of where the Lord was calling me. With chapels in every building and the best community that only wanted to build me up and lead me to the Lord, I wondered why I was still in such a hard season. Later I realized that this might have been because I was not running to the Lord with my struggles. I was only telling Him the blessings in my life, which did not seem like many during this season.

I think many of us fall into the trap of only telling Jesus about the good parts of our lives, or of making requests and treating Him more like a vending machine than a friend. Lately, I have been feeling anxious, uneasy, and unsure of what He might be calling me to next. I have been ignoring my underlying unrest and attempting to fix my problems on my own, denying Jesus’ hand that is reaching for me. I have been failing to tell Him what is on my heart.

Like a friend, Jesus wants to hear about our suffering and our pain, and He wants to guide us in the right direction. Jesus wants us to be vulnerable with Him and is waiting to cover us with His love and comfort. Growing up, I felt the need to be strong for everyone and to set my struggles aside to deal with later. I put others first, never speaking for myself, assuring them that I was fine and that I was there for them. I did this with Jesus as well, telling Him that all was well, that I had everything under control and that I didn’t want to be a burden while others might need Him more than I. It took many mid-semester breakdowns and many friends to tell me that my pain is not a burden to Jesus. I am not a burden. Jesus yearns to hear what is on my heart, whether that be blessings or sorrows. He wants to grace me with His presence in every season. He wants to hear about every part of my life and every part of me.

As my first semester at my new college ended, I knew something needed to change. I needed to change. I finally saw that I was not fully trusting the Lord and was denying what He was offering me. The next semester, I found a wonderful sisterhood that not only taught me to run to the Lord, but also held me accountable, physically dragging me to the chapel when I didn’t want to go. They showed me that I cannot do everything on my own, but that I need to embrace the cross every day. They taught me that I am not “too much” for the Lord. This fruitful sisterhood transformed how I spoke with the Lord, how I loved, and how I received. Now that I am capable of jumping up on those hay bales on my own, I have to remind myself that it is okay to surrender that independence and learn to depend on the Lord.

If this season has sucked, turn to God and tell Him. Allow yourself to mourn, and give Him permission to comfort and heal your heart. Give yourself permission to receive His healing. Allow yourself to be dependent on Him. Allow yourself to give up control. Allow yourself to simply be—and to be His.

Regaining Intentionality

By Katie Dell

How can we grow closer to our Lord when it seems like many avenues for that have been taken away? With Masses and events being limited, we might feel that it is impossible to enter into a deeper relationship with God, but it’s actually the opposite. We are being invited to enter into our relationship with Him in a new way this year. This new way holds a lot of beauty because we are able to dive deeper into the way of life that Christ was living right before His Passion. Christ, removed from His community, hung on the cross for the good of all. He endured the pain and the suffering because He knew it would be given back to the world as grace. Jesus was removed from His community and held in captivity, and in a way, we are being asked at this time to do that as well.

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