Trusting in God’s Promises

By Angela Postage

I think oftentimes the most difficult thing in the Christian life is not necessarily prayer, zeal, or discipleship—it’s trust. Trust that our worries will be taken care of, prayers answered, and that He will provide in His time, not our own; trust that God is a promise keeper. The personal doubts I have were not made clear until this past spring semester of my sophomore year of college. It was as if suddenly I was always anxious about tomorrow, stressed about the to-do list I make up in my head, and worried that I was just “too much” for God to handle. In prayer, I was no longer simply thanking Him and asking for intercession for my personal prayers, but also asking Him to put trust in my heart. 

That semester, I began to dive deep and truly develop a personal prayer life. I prayed especially hard for a certain special intention—it was at the forefront of all my prayers. I started spending at least 30 minutes in adoration every day, reading scripture and consecrating myself to different Saints, specifically Saint Joseph and Saint Michael the Archangel. It was after I completed my Saint Joseph consecration— on his Solemnity—that my trust in God began to waver. I began receiving signs from Him about my intention that I did not understand and that I could not comprehend on my own. I knew He was speaking to me, and deep down, I knew that I was His beloved daughter and He had always taken care of me, but doubts still filled my mind. I started asking Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux for aid in understanding what exactly God was speaking to me. I also asked God to speak to me through the different passages of scripture I read every night.

However, during this time, I was always on edge throughout the day. I was seeking out anything and everything that could be a possible answer to what God was telling me. I would go into prayer hopeful and excited just to come out frustrated, let down, angry, and most of the time, in tears. After prayer every night, I would no longer want to pray the next day. I felt worthless, hopeless, abandoned, and like I was just a pawn in a game. I felt as if God was the game player—and I was the game. 

I was not doubting God was speaking to me, I was doubting what He was speaking to me. I was not turning to these saints to spite God— I was simply seeking their intercession for a clearer understanding and someone to lean on in my confusion and hurt. Because here is the thing—when the Word of God is spoken to you through signs, dreams, or people, you want to make sure you get it right. We are human, flawed by our nature from the Fall, which means our interpretations can also be flawed. Since I recognized that, I also saw that with the help of those that are closest to God who have been made perfect in heaven and by the Holy Spirit, I could better understand what God was speaking to me.

One significant takeaway I had from this spiritual battle is that developing a personal prayer life is key to growing in trust. I myself did not understand the impact of personal prayer until I made a daily commitment to it. Create your own flow, start small, and stick to it every day. Next, pray through the intercession of specific saints, grow closer to them, and do not be afraid to share any worries or feelings of uncertainty with them. 

“The cross is the gift God gives to His friends.”

Saint Philip Neri

The closer we are to God, the more trials we face—the saints faced them more than anyone, so be vulnerable to them. Finally, look in scripture. I promise there is a verse describing God’s involvement in every fear, panic, or unease that you have in life somewhere in scripture. 

Here are just a few examples of applicable Scripture verses to start…

Anxiety: Philippians 4:6, Romans 15:13, 1 Peter 5:7, …
Fear: Isaiah 43:1, Psalm 118:6, Luke 14:27, …
Death: John 11:25-26, Romans 14:8, Proverbs 14:32, …
Loneliness: Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20, …

It was not until after I finally fully trusted God with my intention that everything unfolded. I knew exactly what He was speaking to me and it surpassed all my own interpretations I made up by myself. I felt refreshed, relieved, and as if I were made new. You know the feeling you get after you leave a good and heartfelt confession? That describes it. I felt as if I had come out of hiding from God, that somehow before I was ashamed to stand before Him with my intention. I learned not only that there is no reason not to trust God and be vulnerable with Him from my experience, but also that what He has planned is so much better than what we have planned for ourselves in life. 

This is to show that He is indeed a promise keeper and that it is okay to struggle with trust. Moses struggled when he saw the burning bush and even after the Exodus in the wilderness. Even after he was made the rock of the Church and had been a follower of Jesus, Peter doubted. Thomas had to touch Christ’s wounds to believe. All of them wrestled to fully and completely believe. All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed. And if you have more faith than that and think you have a good, strong relationship with Jesus, I challenge you: Ask yourself this question I heard on a podcast the other day that stopped me in my tracks: Are you willing to give everything?

The Sacrificial Nature of Authentic Worship

By Claire Walker

The highest form of worship in our Church, is the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. The epitome of this celebration is the moment that the host becomes the body of Christ. It is the moment that the sacrifice is made by us and received by the Father. The source and summit of our faith hinges upon a sacrifice.

I had always known the importance of what was taking place on the altar. I always knew that it was a time of reverence. The bells ring, people are on their knees, and the host is elevated. What takes place is not of the flesh, but of a heavenly reality. Reverence is the response that we have to the presence of our God. When we are not participating in the Mass, how are we to worship Jesus?

I had always asked myself this question. Even so, I did not have the urgency to seek an answer. I did not see my fellow Catholics pursuing lives of worship. That is the kind of life we should live, isn’t it? A life that worships the Lord. Recalling my first experience with praise and worship, I was uncomfortable. Why were people so animated? What was all of this about?

I came to realize that it is about Jesus and it always has been. If the highest form of worship we know and participate in is the celebration of a sacrifice, what would become of the songs I sang if I incorporated sacrifice? It was in that moment of confusion that I had the thought, “If Jesus gave me His body, I can give Him mine.” I started small and opened my hands in front of me. I lifted my voice knowing that I was probably off-key. Halfway through the song, my hands went from in front of me, to lifted high and wide open. By the end of the worship set, I was experiencing freedom in a way that I never had before. I was overwhelmed with the joy that a child experiences when their dad comes home from work. God the Father was being magnified in my life as I partnered with the citizens of Heaven and sang His praise. 

After this experience, my soul experienced a shift. I realized that I had been closing off part of my heart from so many opportunities for encounter. There are so many instances in scripture where worship is used in times of triumph and joy, but also times of uncertainty, and battle. I have picked up on the notion that some are under the impression that praise and worship is reserved for times when one “feels like it.” However, I would like to raise some questions to refute that response. Did not Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego praise the Lord while King Nebuchadnezzar tried to burn them alive? Did not King Jehoshaphat fall to his knees in worship when battle was on the horizon? Did not the Levites proceed in front of the tribe of Judah to lift high their voices against the encroaching enemy tribe? In each of these instances, the people who sacrificed their time to worship their Lord in their distress were protected, saved, and redeemed. In the Lord’s infinite goodness, He extends grace to us when we exalt Him, opening ourselves to trust in and receive that goodness. He fights our battles.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives beautiful insight into worship. It writes:

To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the “nothingness of the creature” who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2097

By nature of the fall of man, we are selfish. Humans tend to look inward and act out. How beautiful is the reality that worship releases us from that reality. 

It is a prayer of mine that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would experience this freedom in worship. Authentic worship is biblical. Authentic worship is what God desires. Authentic worship is sacrificial. Authentic worship is Catholic. Come and behold our Lord and encounter Him with the hymn of Heaven.

Get In Touch With Your Desires

A friend once asked me if I have any good advice, I thought for a moment, then I responded:  “Get in touch with your desires.”  

I know many people who fulfill all of their Catholic obligations and consider themselves “good Catholics” for following the rules. However, there is more to the faith than simply following the rules; our faith is about an encounter with the Infinite, who calls you on an adventure beyond your wildest dreams! 

I have spent time in Catholic circles, and it seems many people go through the motions and try to put up pretenses that they are devout because they are doing “all the Catholic stuff.” Being Catholic is not about acting a certain way or following rituals for their own sake— rather, it is about participating in traditions that allow us the opportunity to get to know the God-man, Jesus Christ, and have Him transform, heal, and love us.  

So, what does it mean to get in touch with one’s desires? Some people in life—myself included—can have trouble looking forward to Heaven because why would we want a God who feels so far away as we’re wrestle with boredom during prayer? Why would we want eternal bliss if it merely means what we typically associate with it— chilling on clouds and not doing anything all day? I want to go on adventures, parkour, carry a sword, drink terrific drinks, eat delicious food, hang out with my friends, watch movies, make art… Not peacefully sit on a cloud for eternity.  

And if this is calling you out—good. I am not scolding you; I merely want us to acknowledge the truth about our dispositions and work with what is in our hearts.  

This is where our desires come into play.

Pope John Paul II talks much of this in the Theology of the Body. He uses the word “eros” over and over. Eros, properly understood, means: 

The upward impulse of the heart towards anything that is good, true, and beautiful.  

We all have desires, whether they be good or distorted by sin. Often when we encounter one of our desires, we have this reaction in us that feels as if our heart is being lifted up. That is Eros. Because God, our infinite and awesome father, is the source of all goodness, truth, and beauty, when we experience eros, we are experiencing a piece of God and being called by Him. So, if we acknowledge our desires, we can realize that our desires are good, (not necessarily what we desire, but the actual passion in itself) and that somehow God is at the foundation of this desire, because he is the source of all good. God did not create anything evil, he created all things good.

When we realize we have a misguided desire, we should give it to the Lord and ask Him to heal and sanctify that desire. He wants to turn it into something awesome, budding with eternal sweetness and goodness, and we just have to be open for Him to do so. This purification can be painful, but through the healing power that Christ brings, those twisted desires become untwisted, and the healing light of Christ shines through them anew with His glory!

Therefore, if we get in touch with our desires, realize God that is at the heart of them, and ask Him to reveal Himself through our desires, those same desires will carry us to Him because those desires were made for Him in the first place. We will find that He is the source of everything we love and will actually understand (as far as we are able to) that every beautiful and good thing in this life is merely a glimpse of Him— our ultimate desire. This allows us to look forward to Heaven with incredible hope because we realize that God is greater than our wildest dreams, and He is the manifestation of our greatest wants. 

This is such a beautiful mystery of our faith, but don’t only take my word for it— ask Christ.  Better yet, tell Him. Be honest with Him. Go to Him with your greatest desires and greatest dreams— no matter what they are— and He will show you His glory. What will that look like? Well, that’s for Christ to know and you to find out.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Not My Own: How I Discovered—and Said Yes to—Consecrated Virginity 

“There must be something wrong with me,” I decided as I dodged the advances of yet another unfitting admirer. “Why don’t I ever get asked out by a decent guy?”  

Eventually, the “decent guy” I had grumbled about did turn up, more or less. However, this time, my interior response to his persistent (and often grandiose) attempts to convince me to date him were immediate and surprising: My heart is already taken.  

To put it simply, I couldn’t say yes because, well, Jesus.  Little did I know, this was the beginning of a beautiful love story the Lord was unfolding in my soul.  

The first stirrings of a divine calling came in high school, when I was certain I was destined for the convent. I told my mom over a massive plate of Oreo s’mores (yes, these do exist), and yet even as I poured out my heart to her, I was just as wary as she about leaving my family and those I was helping to care for. Did God really want me to abandon the ones He had entrusted to me? What was I missing here?  

Over the course of the next few months, I scoured the internet for an alternative to religious life, one that would satiate my desire to go deeper, while still allowing me to remain in the world. But nothing spoke to me. If my vocation was not to be a nun (and Christ was making that clearer every day) and I didn’t feel the call to live as a Third Order Carmelite (and I didn’t), what did the Lord want from me? 

The answer wouldn’t come for nearly a decade. During this time, the Lord asked me to serve Him in other ways, from aging grandparents to exuberant godchildren. An inner yearning to escape to a convent would surface at times, but I knew I was needed at home and that God would one day unveil my true calling, whatever that might be.

Then, in the summer of 2019, I began a 33 Day Consecration to Merciful Love with my parish. This self-guided retreat is a transformative journey based on the spirituality of St. Therese. Making the consecration was a true catalyst in my walk with Christ, and mid-way through the retreat, I was left with a burning desire to give Him everything.  

By this time, I was certain I was not called to live in community, so when the idea of making a private vow of virginity started to surface in prayer, I pondered what my life as a “celibate single” would look like.  

Once again, I began researching options for women who desired to belong totally to Christ while still living in the world. That’s when I discovered Consecrated Virginity. As I read about this ancient and little-known vocation, an inferno of joy and yearning blazed in my soul. This is what I had been searching for my entire life.  God had planted a seed, but I still felt the nudge of the Spirit to make a private vow.  

After this prompting, I attended a Catholic women’s retreat in Dublin, Ireland. On the last evening of the retreat, Jesus, ever the gentleman, spoke so clearly and tenderly to my heart during adoration that I promised myself to Him forever.  

Fast forward two years. I am now an official Candidate for Consecrated Virginity, the first woman in my diocese to embrace this vocation. 

You may not know what consecrated virginity is (most people don’t!). Despite this, consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church.  A consecrated virgin is a woman who has been consecrated by her local bishop to a life of perpetual virginity as a Bride of Christ. Consecrated virgins are dedicated to prayer and the service of the Church, but continue to live in the secular world as witnesses of their radical love of Christ.  

To this day, I’m not sure why the Lord kept this vocation hidden from me for so long. All it took was a simple Google search to discover what my heart had always hungered for. But looking back, I can see Christ’s hand in everything. In His perfect order and perfect timing, He was gently preparing my heart to belong exclusively to Him.  

When I turned down that determined suitor, the Lord was preserving me to be His spouse. Truly, I was never meant to belong to anyone but Christ. He is is the first, the last, and the only, Love of my soul.  

And for all eternity, I am His; I am not my own.

On the Role of Women in the Church in the Modern World

By Brendan Slovacek

In celebration of the May Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven, Born Dignified is blessed to share an academic article titled On the Role of Women in the Church in the Modern World written by our Ministry Director, Brendan Slovacek. Brendan serves as the High School Youth and Young Adult Minister in Steubenville, Ohio, where he also serves as the Program Coordinator of the Sycamore Youth Center. He also proudly serves as a Religious Affairs Specialist in the United States Army Reserves. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned two Bachelor’s Degrees in Catechetics and Theology. He is currently studying for his Masters of Arts in Theology from the same university. This article was written in conjunction with a graduate course titled The Church in the Modern World. For written permission to republish or reproduce, email For citations, please reference Born Dignified as the publisher, listed as May 1, 2022 for original publishing.

On The Role of Women in the Church in the Modern World

By Brendan Slovacek | Franciscan University of Steubenville | Masters of Arts in Theological Studies Candidate

            A prevalent question in the Catholic Church deals precisely with the role of women in the Church. The question has been formed by centuries old arguments regarding the prior roles of women in the Church (such as the mention of deaconesses in the Pauline texts of the New Testament) to the inclusion of women in both pastoral and liturgical role in the Byzantine rite, as well as the continually evolving role of women in modern day society. The main historical role of women in the Church has been that of the lay people and consecrated religious sisters. Despite calls for women to be ordained to the priesthood, the Catholic Church has affirmed the role of priesthood as being reserved for men. Despite criticisms of this doctrine, women hold an important role and place of respect in the Catholic Church.

            The role of women in the Church has been a contended issue for centuries, as renowned sociologist Dr. Ruth A. Wallace points out in her article Catholic Women and the Creation of a New Social Reality. The author writes, “Before the changes legislated by the Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, women, like children, were seen but not heard in the Roman Catholic Church. Even during the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council, women were almost invisible.”[1] Dr. Wallace expounds on her belief that there was little influence from women in the Church prior to the implementation and years after the council. Her argument stems from the initial lack of invitation of women to the council, to their lack of a vote or freedom of speech without permission of the bishops present, to the little to no women in lay person leadership roles within the Catholic Church.

            However, Dr. Wallace also felt that the societal changes in the secular world led to an increase in an openness to women in leadership roles in the Catholic Church. According to Wallace, “A study of Catholic parishes  in America found that 52 person of members of parish councils, 60 percent of eucharistic ministers, and half of the lectors (who read the scripture lessons at Mass) are women (Leege and Trozzolo 1985, pp. 56-57). In addition, when asked who were the ‘most influential parishioners’ exclusive of the pastors, the respondents produced a list that was 58% women.”[2] Dr. Wallace goes on to speculate that the lack of male leadership (outside of priestly roles in parishes, or even the lack of priests assigned to just one parish) resulted in the uptick in the place of women in lay leadership positions within the Catholic Church.

            Development of the role of women in the Catholic Church has seen an increase in the past 57 years since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. The Church Fathers at this council affirmed the role of women as lay persons, mothers, and religiously consecrated individuals with a place of great respect and dignity within the Church. In the years following this council, the Church has defined specific roles of leadership and ministry within the Church that are open to women, including those of lector, catechist, and heads of dicasteries and other offices within the Church.[3] To best understand the role of women within the Church, we must recognize several distinct (and possibly dual) roles that women may hold: Consecrated Religious, Lay Minister and Leader, and Wife and Mother.

The Role of Women as Consecrated Religious

            A woman who pursues the role of a person consecrated to the religious life has chosen to seek a more perfect lifestyle for themselves that more closely aligns to that of Jesus Christ. In this role, they take Jesus Christ as their spouse and live vowed to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This vocation is the complete and total dedication of one’s life to the mission of Jesus Christ and his church. The Second Vatican Council Fathers gave insight into the life and role of these consecrated religious in the text Perfectae Caritatis: “While holding in high esteem therefore this way of life so useful to the pastoral mission of the Church in educating youth, caring for the sick and carrying out its other ministries, the sacred synod confirms these religious in their vocation and urges them to adjust their way of life to modern needs.”[4] While affirming the inherent good of this vocation, the Church encourages women religious to see their work in light of the needs of the modern world.

            According to Religious Studies scholar Kenneth Brian Nauert Jr., there was a contrast between the vocation of consecrated religious life before the Second Vatican Council and following its conclusions:

“Before Vatican II, the dynamic of female religious life was based around a life of seclusion and commitment to God. Women often cut ties to earthly and secular life and entered into secluded communities and convents focused on intimate relationship with Christ. Women entering into convents and religious communities gave up all earthly possessions and wore habits that were designed to enhance personal modesty and sacrifice as an outward physical sign of their devotion to God and their profession of poverty.”[5]

            Seemingly, Mr. Nauert is arguing that many religious sisters were cloistered, or near cloistered, prior to the Second Vatican Council. It is worth noting, however, that many religious orders such as those led by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Mary MacKillop performed missionary works that led to the education and religious formation of many youth. Nonetheless, the Second Vatican Council further defined the role of consecrated religious women. In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ,Lumen Gentium, the Council Fathers declared “Therefore, this Sacred Synod encourages and praises the men and women, Brothers and Sisters, who in monasteries, or in schools and hospitals, or in the missions, adorn the Bride of Christ by their unswerving and humble faithfulness in their chosen consecration and render generous services of all kinds to mankind.”[6] The role of consecrated religious women in serving the Church through the fulfillment of the evangelical counsels and expression of the theological virtues have served as pillars of Catholic mission and models of the faith for all generations.

            Of particular note, it is important to recognize the great influence that religious sisters have within the Catholic Church. Beyond their example of solemn faith and virtue, it is within the doctrinal beliefs of the Catholic Church that orders of consecrated religious women should be consulted on matters of evangelization. In the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes, the Council Fathers wrote that in regards to the Office of the Propagation of the Faith, that “Institutes of religious women, regional undertakings for the mission cause, and organizations of laymen (especially international ones) should be suitably represented.”[7] Thus, one can see the indispensable role women religious play in the mission of the universal Church.

The Role of Women as Lay Ministers and Leaders

The Church has more clearly defined the opportunities for women to serve the Church in both pastoral and liturgical roles in recent years. Previously, biblical and historical texts have referred to female “deaconesses” who served the church in her early years. Origen of Alexandria, in his Commentary on the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 10:17, expounded on this historical matter, writing the following, “And thus this text teaches at the same time two things: that there are, as we have already said, women deacons in the Church, and that women, who have given assistance to so many people and who by their good works deserve to be praised by the Apostle, ought to be accepted in the diaconate.”[8] The use of the terminology of deacon (diákonos in Greek) has been contested as meaning “servant,” however, Origen also used the word “instituted,” and (in some translations to English) “ordained” as a description of the ministry of Phoebe. However, the practice of including women as “deaconesses” and servants in the Church was seemingly lost at some point until recent times.

Under Pope Francis, canon 230 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law was changed to say that “Lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.” This change was made as a direct result of a months of discernment by a commission instituted by Pope Francis to explore the possibility and legality of ordaining women as deacons. This change in the Code of Canon Law allowed for women to assume the non-ordained role of “lector and acolyte,” which was previously officially reserved for men, and in particular deacons. However, this role was unofficially carried out by women for decades within the Church.

Furthermore, Pope Francis recently released a new Apostolic Constitution, Praedicte Evangelium, in which he opens the doors to the possibility of lay person leading offices of the Church: “It cannot be ignored in the updating of the Curia, whose reform, therefore, must provide for the involvement of lay people, including in roles of government and responsibility.”[9] Even preceding his own decree, Pope Francis appointed various women as administrators in multiple Vatican offices, although no major office as of yet has seen the appointment of a woman as its executive officer.

Finally, besides the various volunteer roles that a lay woman may take on in the mission of the Church, Pope Francis has officially instituted the Ministry of Catechist as a formal role within the Catholic Church.[10] This role is available to both men and women and serves under the authority of the Magisterium, particular church Bishop, and ordained clergy. Through this ministry, the doctrines of the faith may be explained by lay persons to those awaiting initiation into the Church. This development signifies a formal opportunity for both lay men and women to be recognized as having a sub-role as teacher of the faith in the Church in the Modern World. While the ultimate teaching authority of the Church rests within the Magisterium, the formalization of this role allows for the expanding definition of the role of a lay woman within the Catholic Church.

Altogether, the role of a lay woman in the Church is no small task. Much like consecrated religious women are called to a particular task of upholding their vows to the evangelical counsels and the fulfillment of the theological virtues, lay women are called to practice these same virtues and minister through the allowed governance of the Church and teaching of the faith. The formalized role of women as lectors and acolytes in the participation of the liturgy further expands the life of the Church to include the special gifts, talents, and faith life of God’s children. Ultimately, each baptized person (whether a man or woman) inherits and is called to live out the three-fold office of Jesus Christ as priest, prophet, and king. While women may not be ordained in the Catholic Church, the Church has continually discerned the development of doctrine to better define the roles that are allowed for women to participate in.

The Role of Women as Wives and Mothers

            From the primordial existence of the woman, her most basic role is synonymous with her most dignified and exceptional role: that of a wife and mother. Sadly, the modern-day synthesis of the vocation of marriage and motherhood has often been corrupted. There are people who posit that being a wife and mother are subject to a patriarchal system and are lesser vocations, thus placing things such as careers and personal ambitions above the second highest vocation (second only to the vocation to holiness). However, the role of a wife and mother are solemnly proclaimed by the Catholic Church, so much so that even the act of marriage is sacramental. These roles are ancient, yet also have been defined further through the Second Vatican Council and the teachings of the Catholic Church following this council. This development of doctrine has allowed for the faithful to have an expanded understanding of these roles.

            First and foremost, it would be neglectful to not mention the reflection of God’s beauty on earth found in women. Both men and women have been created in God’s own image and likeness, and have both been instilled with their own respective qualities found in the likeness of God. While men and women may both possess similar qualities, God has often made certain qualities more dominant in one gender over the other. Thus, women embody what is commonly known as the feminine qualities of God. These qualities allow for a woman to provide a motherly instinct to nurture children in ways that are typically uncommon to men.

            In Eve, the human race found its primordial mother. While Eve’s sin led to the fallen nature of mankind, she was created in perfection for the sole purpose of love and fruitfulness. Because of the Original Sin committed by her and Adam, God foretold from that moment of another mother who would participate in the redemption in the world: Mary, Mother of God. It was by the sin of a woman that the fruit of the world was tainted, and it was by the fruit of the womb of a woman that the world was redeemed. These two significant events bear many striking resemblances and determination for the course of mankind. Through Eve, the primordial sacrament of marriage to Adam was made evident, while through Mary, the fruitfulness of Motherhood was fully realized. St. Pope John Paul II brings together an understanding of the special significance of being a wife and mother in his Apostolic Exhortation Mulieris Dignitatem:

“The ‘woman’, as mother and first teacher of the human being (education being the spiritual dimension of parenthood), has a specific precedence over the man. Although motherhood, especially in the bio-physical sense, depends upon the man, it places an essential ‘mark’ on the whole personal growth process of new children. Motherhood in the bio-physical sense appears to be passive: the formation process of a new life ‘takes place’ in her, in her body, which is nevertheless profoundly involved in that process. At the same time, motherhood in its personal-ethical sense expresses a very important creativity on the part of the woman, upon whom the very humanity of the new human being mainly depends. In this sense too the woman’s motherhood presents a special call and a special challenge to the man and to his fatherhood.”[11]

            This role of motherhood does not stand in opposition to the role of a husband and father, but rather enriches it. It is in keeping with Biblical tradition that “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”[12] The role of a man and a woman in a family are meant to be harmonious and cannot stand without one another. Through the physical requirements of fruitfulness to the spiritual symbolism of a union that reflects the Trinity, both man and woman have special and equal roles and dignity in a family. Furthermore, the education of the children produced is the responsibility of both parents, as well as different elements of nurturing and providing for the family. In the Sacrament of Marriage, man and woman serve as ministers to one another. Rather than one person dominating the other, they serve as co-equal actors of the sacrament and are both infused with sacramental grace, which binds them together.

Since the Second Vatican Council, this role has been affirmed numerous times, especially in the works of St. Pope John Paul II. In his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, he further defines the role of a woman as a wife and mother in relation to other vocations. “The true advancement of women requires that clear recognition be given to the value of their maternal and family role, by comparison with all other public roles and all other professions. Furthermore, these roles and professions should be harmoniously combined, if we wish the evolution of society and culture to be truly and fully human.”[13] Some in the modern day society struggle to recognize that a woman may be called to both vocations of a secular career and a (higher) vocation of marriage and motherhood. However, these vocations do not lay in opposition to one another, but rather one is at the service of the other. Secular careers may provide financial stability, service to a community, and using one’s gifts and talents for the sake of furthering God’s Kingdom on Earth, while the vocation of marriage and family life ultimately leads one to greater fulfillment of a holy vocation. These primordial roles of a woman remain at the core of the Church, from their beginnings in Eve to their perfection in Mary, Mother of God, to their continual realization found in each modern day wife and mother. These are vocations of the highest dignity and fruitfulness.

In Conclusion

            The multiple roles of the woman in the Catholic Church have always held a special significance and dignity. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, these roles have seen a development that has led women to a greater fulfillment of their purpose as daughters of God and heirs of Jesus’ priestly, prophet, and kingly offices. The Second Vatican Council shed new light to the purpose and role of the woman in the Church of the Modern World and the continual apostolic works that have been largely based on the works of the council fathers have furthered this understanding. By no means did the Church necessarily neglect the role of women prior to this council, however, the Second Vatican Council and subsequent works enriched the Church’s doctrine on womanhood.

The highest perfection of womanhood found in Mary, Mother of God, highlights the special role the female plays in society. At times in Scripture, Jesus intentionally refers to his mother as “Woman,” which is born out of a deep respect and veneration of his understanding of the protoevangelium: that God “will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.”[14] His use of the term “woman” refers to his understanding of the role of his mother as a woman, in particular the woman who would serve as Co-Redemptrix of the Church. The title of “woman” is one that holds a special place of honor. The Catholic Church’s doctrines have maintained and further developed especially since the Second Vatican Council that the person of a woman is unique, cherished, and above all a reflection of God’s own image and likeness. Women are valuable members of the Catholic Church and the fruitfulness of their works and vocations allow God’s kingdom to abound even more so on this Earth.

[1]WALLACE, RUTH A. Catholic Women and the Creation of a New Social Reality. Gender & Society 2, no. 1 (1988): 24–38.

[2] ibid.

[3] Pope Francis. Praedicate Evangelium. Costituzione Apostolica “Praedicate Evangelium” Sulla Curia Romana e il suo servizio alla Chiesa e Al Mondo, March 2022.

[4] Paul VI, Pope. Perfectae Caritatis. Second Vatican Council, October 28, 1965.

[5] Nauert, Kenneth Brian. After Vatican II: Renegotiating the Roles of Women, Sexual Ethics, and Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church. Western Kentucky University, 2018.

[6] Paul VI, Pope. Lumen Gentium 46, November 21, 1964.

[7] Paul VI, Pope. “Ad Gentes.” Ad gentes. Vatican, December 7, 1965.

[8] SCHECK, THOMAS P. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Books 6-10. Catholic University of America Press, 2002.

[9] Pope Francis. Praedicate Evangelium 10. Costituzione Apostolica “Praedicate Evangelium” Sulla Curia Romana e il suo servizio alla Chiesa e Al Mondo, March 2022.

[10] Francis, Pope. “Apostolic Letter Issued ‘Motu Proprio’ by the Supreme Pontiff Francis ‘Antiquum Ministerium’ (10 May 2021): Francis.” Apostolic Letter issued “Motu Proprio” by the Supreme Pontiff Francis “Antiquum ministerium” (10 May 2021) | Francis, May 10, 2021.

[11] John Paul II, Pope. “Mulieris Dignitatem 19 (August 15, 1988): John Paul II.” Mulieris Dignitatem (August 15, 1988) | John Paul II. Vatican, August 14, 1988.

[12] Holy Spirit. Genesis 2:24, RSVCE. (Beginning of Time). Published by Moses.

[13] John Paul II, Pope. “Familiaris Consortio.” Familiaris Consortio 23 (November 22, 1981) | John Paul II. Vatican, November 22, 1981.

[14] Holy Spirit. Genesis 3:15, RSVCE. (Beginning of Time). Published by Moses.

Time to Forgive Yourself // Dealing with Guilt

By Brendan Slovacek

If God forgives me, why do I still feel this way? This question that I was asked through the tears of a young woman perfectly encapsulated one of our strongest negative emotions: Guilt is a punishment we give to ourselves, even after God has forgiven us.

Each person has been given a built-in meter of “Right or Wrong” known as our conscience. God didn’t give us free will without giving us a way to know what’s good! Our conscience is there to balance out our desires, inform our will, and help us follow the natural laws that are written on our hearts. But what about when we don’t choose what’s good?

Guilt is a pain inflicted by yourself, to yourself, and a lot of times to another person. I learned this the hard way after I met a woman who I fell into a deep romance with. However, it was a long distance situation and (to be blunt) I felt insecure in her ability to love me from afar. I didn’t see myself as worthy of her love. So even amidst all of my affection for her, I started to see someone else who was a “safe option” because there wasn’t a distance. When she told me “You hurt me,” it was like a knife had been stabbed into my heart, except I was the one holding the knife. It took almost a year before I was able to come to terms that I hurt someone I loved. Even though I reconciled with God, I still felt the weight of my guilt burying me every day. But I realized that if I truly wanted to be a better man, I couldn’t let guilt control me. I had to take control of my guilt and shame and let my future actions speak louder. I learned it was time to actually forgive myself.

I don’t believe bad people exist; just good people who make bad choices, and sometimes a lot of them. Sometimes our bad choices are momentary without thinking; sometimes they have been planned out and are intentional. Regardless of the circumstances, we still bear the pain of having fallen. Yet Jesus showed us there is redemption for each person, if we so choose it. But if you keep embracing your past mistakes, your hands will be too full to let Jesus take you into his arms. It doesn’t matter what your mistakes are. Maybe you slept with someone. Maybe you cheated. Maybe you said something hurtful to a close friend. Maybe you got too drunk. Maybe it was an accident. No matter what you did, it’s time to forgive yourself.

There’s no perfect solution to overcoming your guilt, but in my struggle to become a better man in the face of my past mistakes, these things have helped immensely: 

1. Admit your guilt to yourself and to God.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. It can be hard to recognize this, especially if you feel you got something out of whatever bad choice you made. But eventually, you have to see the reason why what you did was wrong and admit it to yourself to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

2. Remember your bad choices don’t define you.

Your guilt is actually proof that there’s good inside of you! You wouldn’t be able to feel guilt if you were evil. Since God made us with a conscience, that means we need to know what good is in our own hearts in order to make choices! This goodness comes from being children of God, created in His own Image and Likeness. At times, we fail to be like God, but He still made us with the capacity to be like him. Thus, who you are is about God’s choices, not your own, and He chose to make you with goodness!

3. Even if someone can’t see past your bad choices, God can (and so can you).

Sometimes, the other person won’t forgive you – and that’s okay. You may have been the cause of their pain, but it doesn’t mean you will always be able to heal them. Sometimes, they need to heal on their own. However, don’t think for a moment that just because you couldn’t fix what you broke, God can’t fix you. God wants to forgive you, and you need to forgive yourself too. Likewise, if you feel ready to forgive someone for hurting you, don’t make them wait. Sometimes, the closure of your forgiveness can help them heal from their guilt too.

4. Reconciliation doesn’t always look the same for everyone. 

It’s okay to heal in different ways. Don’t let others try to dictate to you what needs to happen for you to reconcile with God, others, or yourself. However, no matter how your journey goes, always remember to ask yourself, “Is this really helping me to grow as a child of God?” If the answer is no, it’s not a healthy method of trying to heal.

5. Remember all the good qualities about you, and make a list toward the good qualities you want to grow in.

If you want to truly move past your guilt, then it’s important to remember all the things you should be proud of. Then, in the areas where you have shortcomings, set goals of what you want to work on and make action steps to make it happen!

Finally, know that I’m praying for you. Whatever brought you to this article, burdens of the past can be heavy, but with God, you can lift them off and rise higher than ever. Jesus, Victor over Sin and Death, pray for us!

Transformed Through Suffering

By Savannah Pawley

Christ is present with us in each moment of our lives, but so often we only turn to Him during our times of suffering and despair. Within this past year, I have faced some of the biggest struggles of my life and felt as if I was stripped of everything except my relationship with the Lord. In that, I came to realize how little I relied on God until I was in the midst of great suffering.

I first want to preface this by mentioning that everyone suffers as a consequence of mortal sin and being part of a broken world. Each and every individual suffers but it may look different for each of us. Regardless of whether you feel that your suffering is insignificant or that other people have worse situations than you do, your hurts and feelings are still entirely valid, and Lord sees and knows them. For me personally, it wasn’t until I was faced with suffering that I was able to see where Christ was with me in my sorrow.

For most of my life I struggled to comprehend how Christ could possibly relate to my life. I wasn’t able to see the ways His earthly life was similar to mine in any way. But a few months ago as I was reading scripture. I began to reflect on the simple verse, “Jesus wept,” in John 11:35. What I find to be most moving about this scripture is how Jesus still weeps for the loss of someone He loves, even though He knows He will soon resurrect Lazarus from the dead. He weeps out of pity and sorrow for those mourning the loss of someone they loved dearly. Jesus’s heart is moved with pity for each one of us. He does not look at our suffering and tell us to move on, but rather, He sits with us and weeps. And so much like the reading in John, after He weeps, He raises us from the dead. He makes us new and gives us more than what we had lost previously.

In C.S. Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, he mentions how Christ allows suffering because it wrecks our “house of cards.” Suffering causes our priorities to shift and forces us to examine our lives and see what is preventing us from being rooted in Christ. The Lord does not cause suffering, but He allows it to happen in order to guide us unto a deeper union with Him and a conversion within our own lives.

About six months ago, I remember sitting in the chapel asking the Lord why he would allow me to suffer so greatly, and He reminded me of how there cannot be a resurrection without the crucifixion. The Lord cannot make us new if we do not allow ourselves to suffer. Even more importantly, Christ cannot transform us if we do not allow Him into our suffering. Knowing that there is a resurrection after the crucifixion allows for each of us to endure our suffering with the hope that the Lord will bring beauty and newness out of it.

Finally, we must also root ourselves daily in Christ and recognize how we always need Him, even in times of abundant successes and blessings. If we humbly remain steadfast in our reliance on Him, then it will truly strengthen our fortitude and our capacities to remain faithful to Him through times of great suffering. May we exude the same radical trust that led Job to cry out, “The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD,” in Job 1:21, no matter the circumstances.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:17

Women Who Struggle With Purity: You Are Not Alone

By Katie Collin

In a world that oftentimes promotes sexual promiscuity, it can feel especially lonely and isolating for Catholic women who struggle to live out the virtue of purity. It comes as no surprise that the devil distorts our desires when we try to live out that virtue. My struggle began in middle school with pornography and masturbation, and later involved wrestling with intrusive lustful thoughts and a difficulty viewing others chastely. Whether you are tempted by this or any other sexual sin, you’re not alone. I don’t know your story exactly, but I share in common the loneliness and shame that many women feel when tempted by sins of impurity.

I was exposed to pornography in middle school and sadly my curiosity led me down a rabbit hole. I felt trapped and didn’t tell anyone for five years. I attended Catholic High School, went to church weekly, and enjoyed participating in youth group and many retreats. But I felt so alone, like I was the only one fighting these demons. While at retreats, men’s talks were full of practical resources on how to combat temptations of impurity but women’s talks didn’t address it, making me feel even more helpless. Eventually, I decided to watch some of the men’s talks on YouTube. I felt so alone in my addiction. What made things worse is what people would say about women who struggled with impurity- that they are “disgusting” and “gross.”

I want to pause right here and say that you are not disgusting, and you are not gross— any voice that tells you otherwise is from the Enemy. You are a beautiful, beloved daughter of God. You were worth dying for. If the God who created the universe says this, why should you believe anything else?

Ironically, it wasn’t until I told someone about my struggle with impurity that I truly started to experience freedom. This was the most vulnerable I had ever been. In the fetal position and bawling, I told my friend of my struggles with purity. She looked at me with such love and acceptance- the way I envision Christ looks at us when we come to him. Then she just sat by me. I’m convinced her presence was God being present to me through her. She encouraged me to open up more about my struggles, and I did.

It wasn’t easy but I began to give my witness to others, I went to confession often, I asked people for prayers and advice, and I started to combat my sin with prayer. It was not easy. Shame had its hold on me for years. However, it is truly by the grace of God that I was able to fight this fight. The devil wants us to internalize our struggles, so I did the opposite. I began sharing my experience with people in hopes that they would help me, and as a result, God worked through these friends, and it became easier. I am forever thankful for these people’s prayers.

Was I perfect in my fight? No. But I didn’t stop and I am much closer to freedom, and I now can better control my temptations. Jesus wants us free, that’s why he redeemed us by the cross. Don’t lose sight of that.

Today, I am no longer trapped by sins of impurity. Although, temptations hasn’t totally disappeared, and Satan will occasionally try to tempt me, the devil has no power if we don’t give it to him. When I feel spiritually attacked, I immediately turn to Mary, Our Mother. I reach out to a support group I lead for women who struggle with purity. It is comforting knowing there are other women carrying this cross and knowing that I am not alone.

You are not alone in this fight either.

I encourage you if you struggle with impurity to tell someone you trust. Laying out your sinfulness to others can be one of the hardest things to do, but from that you will start to experience the freedom only God can give. He wants you to bring this into the light. Telling someone you trust provides accountability and prayerful support when you need it. It can be difficult to find resources just for women, but keep looking, even if you wind up utilizing information intended for men. You can cater them to yourself, which is okay. I have listed some resources below. In the end, your efforts will pay off. You can do this! Put your armor on and keep fighting the good fight. I will be praying for you.

Prayer is a Relationship, Not a Wishlist

By Sydney Lorentz

“Our Father who art in heaven…”

“Hail Mary, full of grace…”

“Glory be to the Father…”

If you’re like me, you could rattle off these words at the drop of a hat. We’re taught these prayers from our childhood, and the importance of prayer is continually drilled into us. We’re taught that prayer is a conversation, essential to developing a relationship with God, a person. However, we can often discover a disconnect when trying to draw the parallel between these memorized lines and a real, authentic conversation. Because of this, when many of us who are seeking to know God better try to develop a life of prayer, we’re often left in the dark as to where to begin.

St. Alphonsus Ligouri once said, “Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.”

Although I am far from being an expert on developing a daily prayer life, here are three of the biggest lessons I have learned when it comes to talking daily with God:

1) If prayer doesn’t come first, it doesn’t come at all.

One of my favorite professors once told me, “The only mistake you can make in prayer is to stop praying.” I’ll be quite honest with you— this is something I have been far from perfect at remembering. Just as in any important relationship, our relationship with Christ requires commitment and investment. If we desire to grow in relationship with someone, we will make it a priority to spend time with them. One married couple I have come to know well has told me that they make it a priority to set aside time every week to spend together. In the same way, we must always set aside designated time to pray each day. Every single person prays better at different times every day. I personally like to start my day in prayer. It really centers and focuses my day. However, you have to decide what time of day works best for you to pray. When you find that time, stick to it and don’t compromise.

2) Prayer looks different for everyone.

One of the most beautiful things about prayer is that there is no “one” way to pray! One part I love about being Catholic is the treasury of devotions and traditions of prayer that the Church has to offer. Personally, one of my favorite ways to pray is through Scripture, especially through the Church’s tradition of lectio divina, which involves praying with the words of the Bible and applying them to one’s life. However, one of the worst traps to fall into is the lie that one person’s prayer life may be better than the prayer life of another. Since every individual’s relationship with God is unique, every person’s prayer life is going to look different. While I know I pray well through Scripture or spiritual reading, another friend of mine prays well by saying the Rosary every day. You just have to find the method of prayer that is best for you in order to help you connect to God.

3) Prayer looks different in every season.

Over this past summer, I served as a summer missionary in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. During this time, we were given thirty minutes of protected prayer time every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as attending Daily Mass. This was a tremendous blessing that really solidified the value of daily prayer in my own life. Going into the following semester, I was excited to continue this outside of camp. However, I soon discovered that it proved difficult to maintain this same level of commitment with an intense academic load, as well as with the responsibilities of being a college athlete. While you should never do away with your commitment to prayer, prayer often will, and should, look different in every season. For example, many times my prayer this past semester looked like ten minutes of praying with Scripture with my coffee in the morning, or praying a rosary on the way to a cross country meet with my teammates. It’s important to not become frustrated when prayer may look different from another period of your life, but to adjust that commitment to the season you’re in.

In conclusion, prayer is an indispensable part of the Christian life. Jesus wants to be in relationship with you, so I encourage to get to know him through meeting him daily prayer.

Pursuing God In The New Year

By Anna Mahoney

Every year, my family gets together with our extended relatives and friends for a New Year’s Eve party. One tradition at the party is creating vision boards for the coming year— we each take old magazines and cut out the pictures and words that best represent our vision of what we want to do, who we want to be, what we want to accomplish, and so on.

Last year was unique because this activity just involved my immediate family. We all sat down at our table with a piece of white copy paper, a pencil, some pens and one magazine. All the past years, I would scour through dozens of magazines, picking words and pictures that caught my eye, then ripping them out, pasting them together, until voila—my vision board was complete! Last year, however, our only magazine was a fishing magazine, and although I love fishing, the lack of magazine variety required me to reflect on the various areas of my life before springing into action.

I took a cup, placed it in the center of my page and traced a circle around it with my pencil. I stared at that circle for quite a while, as I went through all the endless possibilities to focus on that year…


I came to realize that prayer life was much farther down on my list of priorities than I’d expect. Automatically I thought, “Well shoot, I’m a bad Catholic.” As reluctant as I was to admit it, I’d fallen away from God. And until that moment, I hadn’t even realized it…

I knew it wasn’t enough to simply write God, my Catholic faith, and my prayer life in the center of the circle. I had to take action.

I got my calendar out and began to map out my days, scheduling in time for confession, Mass, and prayer. I asked my friend who had the same goals in mind if they would like to be my accountability partner (as I knew I wouldn’t initially have the discipline to make this a habit).

One lesson I’d learned the previous summer, during my internship with Southwestern Advantage, is that nothing in this life is ever owned— it is rented, and the rent is due every day. For example, your health or fitness is never owned; it is rented and the rent is due every day. A great marriage is never owned; it is rented and the rent is due every day. Likewise, a strong faith is never owned; it is rented and the rent is due every day.

Acknowledge where you are. Define where you want to be. Create a plan. Pay the rent.

A vision board isn’t meant to stay a vision. A vision board is a plan. All you have to do is take action and remember that with God, all things are possible.