“The Three Do’s”

By McKenzie Gamache

Don’t think of a pink elephant. What did you just think of? Yep, a pink elephant.

Growing up in the Catholic Church, even as uncatechized as I was, I constantly heard the “don’ts” of purity and chastity: “Don’t have sex before marriage. Don’t be alone at night with a person of the opposite sex…” I wasn’t a rebellious daughter in middle and high school by any means, but since I heard the “don’ts” without much else accompanying them I tended to stop paying attention and instead grew curious. Later in high school, and now in college, I have found that the “don’ts” have been detrimental for many people, especially myself for years.

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Gratitude for the Body You’ve Been Given

By Katie Sommers

I have been struggling with body image ever since I was in middle school. It seems like a pretty common issue among young women. Back then, I thought none of the boys liked me because I was “too fat.” (I was nowhere near “fat,” but I came up with this lie about myself, thinking there must have been something wrong with me.) This lie has stuck with me even through college.

I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but when it comes to my body, I can be pretty critical. When I look down at my stomach or my calves, I don’t see a beautiful gift from God, or limbs that move at my command—I only see the negatives. I notice that when I look down, I often don’t see good. Rather, I saw fat, faults, and flaws that I regard as pathetic results of my carelessness. Why is it that I easily can point out the beauty in others, but when it comes to myself, I cannot help but pick out the faults?


And to make it all worse, I constantly compare myself to others. When I see someone tall and slender, I suddenly feel short and fat. When I see someone with skinny legs, arms, and abs, I suddenly feel lazy. And the list goes on. Why am I like this? Why can’t I just rejoice in the beauty of others without forgetting my own?

But really— each body is so amazing. Not only is every body unique in so many ways (fingerprints, hair texture, eye color, etc.), but every body is truly a miracle made in the image and likeness of God. Every body has so much potential. When you see a baby, you can see how the baby’s legs are likely going to grow and how the human body is made to get stronger, to stretch, and to transform.


I think if we saw the full potential of our bodies, we could start to see the full potential of our whole selves—our souls, how we spend our time, and our relationships.


Bodies heal themselves, they fight for our health, they can get tan, they give you endorphins, they can sit for hours. Bodies can leap, run, lay, swim, crawl, dance, twist, bend, sit, kick, squat—the possibilities are limitless. Bodies can even be art (i.e. through dance, sports, or makeup), and bodies can even express a language.

I think it really sad how easy it is to misuse our own bodies— whether that be using them to do evil, or doing nothing with them. Either way involves not trying to achieve their full potential to do good.


So many times we neglect our bodies. We find ourselves spending hours idly sitting on our butts, comparing ourselves to people on Instagram. It is so easy to take our bodies for granted. Think about all the people who would love to spend a day with a completely healthy body with all of its parts moving fluently— the elderly who cannot walk any more, the amputees who would love to just walk normally again, etc.

Your body is a gift, so next time you look at your leg and only see fat or some other insecurity, think for a moment about who else in the world would long for functioning legs, or to be young again, or to have the great capacity for healing and cherishing that beautiful instrument.

Deepfake: When the Nudes Aren’t You

By Rebekah Hardy

A few years ago, I was sitting at my teacher’s desk while my students took their religion test. I was going back and forth between grading papers and checking my email when suddenly I saw one, then ten, then twenty friend requests come in to my Facebook inbox from men that I didn’t know. I checked my page to see what was going on and if I was getting spammed. When I checked my inbox there were messages… gross ones. 

I didn’t know what I did to bring all of this creepiness into my life. I ignored the messages and just deleted them thinking it was some kind of awful mistake that all of these people were messaging me. The next day I received even more friend requests and then finally a message that made my heart stop. Someone was kind enough to send me screenshots from a couple of popular sites… it was a picture of my face photoshopped onto a naked woman’s body with all my contact information listed. I couldn’t believe it.

I was struck with absolute horror and my stomach turned in disgust that someone would do this to me. I had never taken a naked picture in my life! I felt so shameful knowing that all of these men in my friend requests were looking at a picture of someone who they thought was me. People were lusting after this picture of someone they probably imagined was a consenting adult. I was horrified at the thought that one of my students, my boss, my friends, would come across this and how much damage that would produce- even though it was fake. 

I felt like it was real. The person who sent me the screenshot to me said they were so sorry someone had shared my pictures… but they weren’t even mine. Somewhere in the world, however, there was someone who did take that picture of herself. My heart broke at the thought that she was also being exploited through this. I felt for my poor sister in Christ.

For weeks I would report these pictures and they would be taken down only to pop back up a couple of days later with more raunchy captions. I felt like I wasn’t safe when I would think about the ill-intentioned people who might be on these sites seeing the place I worked next to the naked picture of “me”. I would have nightmares about them showing up at my work and following me through the parking lot. Out of fear for my safety, I told the priest who was my boss at the time about what I was going through. Thanks be to God, he took me under his wing and immediately reached out to the police in our school district to report everything that happened. He told them to keep an eye on me and make sure I was okay- and told me to call him if I ever felt unsafe.

That same day I went to my hometown police station with my dad and received so much kindness and concern from them as well. I got several calls from the lieutenant who took down my story over the following days to ensure that all was well and to give an update of the status of things. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t do this earlier. It was partly out of shame. I was so embarrassed at the thought that they might not believe my story. For fear of being misunderstood or disbelieved, I suffered in silence.

The whole time this was happening, my only consolation was that I knew it wasn’t me. Even if everyone else didn’t know that, at least I did. However, something else was weighing on my mind at the time… I thought of everyone in the world who this actually happens to. Revenge porn is a real thing and I know people who have actually had their real nudes circulated online by an ex or a spiteful friend. To this day, I pray for those men and women. The human body was never made for this.

To all of the women and men who have been lied to and made to believe that sending nudes is a normal thing- I am sorry. To all of the women and men who have been exploited because of nudes they have sent- my heart breaks for you. To all of the people who are reading this and are tempted to judge those who ask for and those who send nudes- don’t. None of us are perfect but all of us can be better.

For anyone who might be feeling pressured to send nudes, I would just like to encourage you and tell you that it isn’t worth it. I promise you that anyone who’s love or attention might be hinging on the requirement that you show them something so personal and sacred as your naked body is not the kind of “love” or attention that you deserve. While that may sound arbitrary, believe me, I know. I have had pressure to do the same thing from people I’ve dated and people who weren’t even looking for a relationship with me. Looking back, I am so thankful that I didn’t give them what they were looking for.

If you’ve sent nudes before and you feel like you can’t turn back now- that’s a lie from Hell. We know from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians that “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). It is never too late to start over when you have Christ. Start today. Let Him make you new. That isn’t you anymore.

Finding Freedom from Same-Sex Attraction

By Emmanuel Gonzalez

Growing up, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the Catholic Church. Since I experienced physical attractions towards other men, I felt far too broken and “dirty” to ever find myself sitting in the pews at Sunday Mass. I despised God. I despised His Church and its “restrictive” teachings on homosexuality. And yet, even amidst the deep distance that I drilled between the Lord and I, Jesus patiently waited for me to return home to Him.

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A Woman’s Story of Healing from Porn

By MaryGrace Straub

I saw porn for the first time when I was six. I was visiting my dad in Florida with my sister. We were watching TV late at night, unsupervised, when we came across a channel that showed two people having sex. I knew that we should change the channel, but I didn’t want to. I was intrigued and wanted to watch longer. A brief exposure was enough to impact me deeply.

After that I was really tuned in to sexual images in magazines, movies and shows; it was like I had developed a radar for it all. I knew that it was not good to be looking at those things, so I kept it secret. Another thing I kept secret was that I learned to masturbate in the third grade. In high school I got a laptop and had access to porn videos online. Nobody knew that I was watching these things and that I had this hidden life, because for a while on the outside I was a “good girl.”

One of the ways that porn influenced me was making me think that guys wanted to use me. I wasn’t aware I had acquired that way of thinking, but when I started to party and become promiscuous in high school, I allowed myself to be used by boys. I learned from porn that that’s what they want and that I could have a sort of power over them by letting them use me.

The biggest impact that viewing porn at a young age had on me was that it introduced a deep sense of shame that I carried with me for almost two decades. When I had a conversion back to Catholicism in college, my new friends were interested in knowing the real me and knowing my story. The fact of the matter was I didn’t know the real me and I hadn’t looked at my story. When I started to, I uncovered this place of shame. I discovered a belief firmly cemented in my mind and heart that I was no good, that I was broken beyond repair and that I was perverted at the core of my being. I eventually connected these beliefs to the early experience of not only watching porn but wanting to watch porn. I thought: Why would someone, especially so young, want to watch something like that unless there was something seriously wrong with her, unless she was perverted and just kind of off?

One thing that was helpful was learning that it’s actually pretty normal that if a child is exposed to porn or has any kind of sexually inappropriate experience there often is a curiosity that later becomes very confusing and shameful for the individual. I also learned that it can be a normal response for a person to become interested in sexual things after an early exposure like that. It turns out that what I experienced was not unusual given what had happened and what I had seen—and that lifted a lot of the shame from me and made me feel a lot more normal and a lot less messed up.

Something happened several years ago that further touched and brought healing to this part of me. I was in prayer on a retreat and was feeling very in touch with the sense of shame and brokenness, unworthiness and perversion. The memory of the first exposure to porn popped into my head and I saw a scene play out. I saw myself and my sister lying on the ground in our sleeping bags in front of the TV, soon after seeing the porn, and we were sleeping. I saw Jesus kneeling on the ground by my head and leaning over me, weeping. I sensed that He was not mad at me and He was not at all interested in punishing me. I sensed that He was sad for me because He knew what this experience would do to me and how long it would take me to heal from it. I also saw in Him a very real and righteous anger at my dad for not protecting me from this. This experience was very healing; it was really important for me to see how Jesus responded to me in that moment, and it allowed me to see the memory and myself differently. I was finally freed from the shame I had carried for so long.

Healing from Sexual Abuse

By Dani Kuhl

**Trigger Warning**

The topic of this content can be triggering to some readers. That is completely understandable. I’m not going to go into detail and will focus on the healing more than the trauma itself, but if you need to stop reading here, that’s okay. Also, if you have been in a similar situation, please remember to surround yourself with people that you can talk to—other brothers and sisters in Christ, family, priests or religious, or even counselors. There is nothing to be ashamed about, and there are people here for you.

I went through a few years of sexual abuse between age 7 and 11. I knew the person quite well, and they were very much a part of my everyday life. I think that when someone so close to you hurts you in this specific way, it really messes with you. A priest once told me sexual abuse can be one of the worst things to happen to a person because it will affect them physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. However, I am blessed to say that where I stand now, I am healed in ways I didn’t think I could be. Being healed from something doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten it, though, or that it doesn’t still affect certain areas of your life. It might not be an open wound anymore, but the scars are still there, and that’s okay. Unfortunately for me, the healing process didn’t begin until I was about 16, because the way I coped with it beforehand was hiding it and never talking about it or dealing with it. And trust me, if that’s where you are right now, that isn’t going to help you and it will only make it worse in the long run.

The first step that I took was acknowledging it to myself and being brave enough to bring it out into the open. It was hard to talk about it and bring myself back to that place. At first, the best way for me to work through it was with someone else who was either trained to handle it or someone who related to the situation in some way. I tried to do it this way for a while, and it definitely helped a lot, but ultimately, the Lord was the one who really helped me heal. It was once I let the Lord into that part of my life that I began to experience peace and acceptance within myself. I had to learn that Jesus wanted to sit in those wounds with me—and as with every wound or cut, when you need to clean it, it hurts. Pouring on that hydrogen peroxide or using an alcohol pad is going to sting like crazy, but it’s cleaning it and getting it prepped to begin to heal itself.

I know that without the ways that He worked in me and spoke to me, I would still be in a very wounded place in my life. I had to let the Lord into some very dark places, and let others into those places with me too. One thing that I didn’t realize was how long it would take to get to the point of freedom and peace. I would say that for me it took at least four to five years, and it is still something to this day that I need to fight for. Because the evil one wants to use this type of situation to unravel you and separate you from God. There were so many times I had to forgive over and over again, but I would honestly go through the whole process over again to be where I am today.

Let the Lord heal you. Let others into your life to love you and be with you. Talk it out with trusted people. Don’t get discouraged or lose hope and think that you have to stay in a wounded place forever. That’s not what I want for you, and that’s definitely not what the Lord wants for you.

Chivalry Is for Women Too

By Hadley Adair

Valentine’s Day was approaching, and I, being the haughty, single woman I was, had adopted a new motto. I began to tell everyone I encountered: “You know, guys cannot complain about being single on Valentine’s Day. That’s all on them.” This phrase led to my reasoning that if they want a girlfriend, then they have the freedom to ask a girl out, but us poor women are simply maidens in waiting. Poor us, striving for authentic, Christ-centered relationships, yet living in a time when chivalry is far gone. I had reduced my vocation to the mere passivity of waiting to receive, while at the same time demanding of men immediate and heroic action.

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Healing from Impurity

By Anonymous

When I was eleven years old, I discovered pornography. What began as curiosity transformed into an ongoing, hidden wound for seven years. The devil took hold of my feelings of isolation and insecurities, feeding me lies. As is common in any form of habitual sin, I felt there was no way out. But that was a lie. As with any lie, it has since been overshadowed by Truth.

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