Discernment & Decisions

Do you know who God wants you to be in your life?  If so – that’s awesome! If not, then you’re probably in the process of discernment. Even if you have an idea of who or what God is calling you to be – you’re still probably discerning things.
The process of discernment is continual and lifelong. It’s not something just for those wondering if they’re called to the priesthood, or to religious life, marriage, etc. Sure – you discern your overall vocation. That’s a given. But you also discern more. A lot more. And it can be the little paths of discernment that take the most time and the most out of you.

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Look at CCC Paragraph 2826

By prayer we can discern “what is the will of God” and obtain the endurance to do it. Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing “the will of my Father in heaven.”

We use prayer to discern what the will of God is for us in our lives. LOTS of prayer. I remember how much I prayed as a highschool sophomore, trying to figure out what I needed to do to help my own peers be able to know and grow in their faith, and how it was through that prayer that I came to know I needed to write.

And sometimes, our process of discernment can lead us to figuring out that we were trying to force things that aren’t part of our calling at all. They might be very good things, very great things even, but not what God actually calls us to do. In discernment, we can distinguish from our actual calling, what we want to be called to do, and what we’re making ourselves ‘be called to do’.

Think about those three things:

What we want to be called to do. This is a tough one. We all have these hopes and dreams, these ideas of what our lives would be like if we lived in our perfect world, right? We look for those opportunities and struggle to give them up when they don’t work. This figures into our process of discernment….because our discernment can lead us to letting go of those dreams. Not saying goodbye, not giving up, but letting go of what isn’t for us or what isn’t for now. For me that included letting go of the idea that I’d be able to be a screen-writer. Seems kinda silly, I know. But I had to let go of that when I decided which college I’d go to, because I had two options that would have taken me drastically different places. I let go of the one that would have allowed me to pursue that dream – to take up the one that brought me closer to my calling from God.
It’s not easy. Discernment isn’t easy. But it’ll help lead us to joy.

Now for the next one, what we’re making ourselves ‘be called to do’, it’s one I struggle with a lot in deciding how I’m going to spend my time.  And it means some tough decisions are actually coming up, very soon. Sometimes when we pray or when we think about our future, we take note of things we’ve seen or heard of – that might not be top on our list of favorite careers, but they sound good and like something we could do. So we start picturing ourselves in those roles. We start looking for signs and signals that it’s what we’re “called to do”, anything can fit and we become certain that we’re doing exactly the right thing.

And then it’s not. As T.S. Elliot put it, “The last temptation is the greatest treason. To do the right thing, for the wrong reason.”

I’ve given into that temptation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been noticing I do that a lot. I make myself “be called” to do x, y, or z, because maybe it’s what my friends are doing? What other people want me to do? The reasons differ, but they’re never a right reason.

Often, what we make ourselves ‘be called to do’ is something incredibly good. Something that society needs or that people need, and it’s a need we can help fill! So we fill the space like a puzzle piece that’s not correct – forcing ourselves into the mold that is shaped for another. And, like those tricky puzzle pieces, it’s hard to tell that we don’t exactly fit because – at the moment – everything else looks right. 220px-sky_puzzle

As my mom puts it, if she was to spend hours every day volunteering at the soup kitchen – it’d be a good thing. But if doing that meant she couldn’t be at home with her kids – it isn’t the right thing. Her calling right now is to be here for her kids (all 6 of us) and to homeschool my little siblings.

What we make ourselves hear, or make ourselves feel ‘called’ to do, can be something good.

But it’s not our place. We fit in God’s plan somewhere else.

Discernment is ultimately about figuring out what God is calling us to do. For us to have the endurance and courage to actually do what it is we’re called to do, able to do the right things for the right reasons.

Most of the time it’s framed in the discussion of priesthood and religious life. Which is awesome, and we do need to discern that – but we also need to discern other things. What degree should I pursue? What is God calling me to right now? What do I need to remove from my life so that I can devote myself more fully to being who God wants me to be? 

praying-the-rosary-724621Tough questions. Sometimes with tough answers. But we can trust. We can find peace in the process and understanding through prayer. And maybe get over the fear that those around us will judge us harshly for changing something about what we do.

For me – I’ve been praying and asking God to show me the next step, because I’ve been running away for a while now and want to stop. I just need to know which direction to go. And not be scared to give Him my continual ‘yes’.  Sometimes I think I figure it out and then a rug gets pulled from my feet, or 5 metaphorical doors seem to open at once – and I can just choose 1. It’s hard. But, like I said, we can trust. He won’t abandon us, and He always calls us back to the path we need.

Pray every day to be open to hearing God’s call. He can call us in all manner of ways, in all manner of actions, we just have to listen.

~
Catherine

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All because…

…Two People fell in Love.

Yesterday my family celebrated something major. The 50th Wedding anniversary of my grandparents.

Over 70 people were at my house, we had delicious food, music, just a good time.

This past week my parents and brothers worked day after day helping those who were in need. This past week I was the one at home, cleaning, prepping for a party with my sisters, babysitting a cousin so his parents could clean out their house, cooking dinner for when everyone came in tired and hungry, and everyone was pitching in in their own ways.

We all filled a place, took a part in what needed to happen, all because of what?

Love.

We’re not a people of despair.

We’re not a people of desolation.

We are a people who  live with Hope and Faith.

We are a people who pitch in and help our neighbors, not out of duty, out of love.

We are a people who celebrate. (Especially us down here in Louisiana. Laissez les bon temps rouler! )

We are a people of Love.

We are a people who want to pour out the Love God has given to us into those around us, lifting them up and showing them what it means to be like Christ.

For many who came it was a break from the work. A time of peace among the storm.

We all came together as family and friends to celebrate love.

The impact that love has on the world is astounding.  I think it’s something we tend to see as a cheesy message instead of truly thinking about what Love actually does. And what our love does.

All because two people fell in love, I have the 20 aunts and uncles, 20 (and counting) cousins, I have my own siblings, and who knows how many more generations – from those two people falling in love.

The impact each of those people has had on the world is incredible. The sheer number of lives touched by each one of us – including you – is unthinkable. How different would life be if you weren’t here? Think about that for a minute.

All the people you’ve met.

All the friends you’ve made.

Your family.

You make a mark on each heart you encounter, whether you realize it or not.

If you weren’t here, the world would be a different place.

If my grandparent’s hadn’t fallen in love, the world would be a different place.

If God didn’t love us, the world wouldn’t be here.

So when my family gathered together to celebrate the marriage of my grandparents, we celebrated the love they have for one another, the example of being Christlike that they have shown to so many, the joy that comes from being overly full of love and sharing of that love, and we celebrated one another. We simply celebrated love.

All because God is love, we are here. You are here. And that is a beautiful thing which we should never, ever, forget.

 

“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

 

(And, if you like cake, here’s a picture of the cake I made for my grandparents! That’s their original cake topper on top 😉 )Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 1.08.44 PM.png

A Catholic Geek’s Birthday

Today I’m celebrating something special.

It’s Embrace Your Geekness Day! 

(seriously - check it out: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/embrace-your-geekness-day/ )

And, perhaps more importantly,

my 19th Birthday.

The beginning of the end of my teenage years. It’s been during my teenage years that I’ve really fallen in love with this beautiful faith I hold deeper in my heart than anything else – and I continue to fall in love with Catholicism every single day when I wake up and I see the crucifix hanging over the door in my room.

When I was 13 I first realized that my love of learning about my faith wasn’t something very normal. Because, you see, it was that year that I was first enrolled in my church parish’s Parish School of Religion (PSR) program. Two weeks of education in the summer – I was about to start 8th grade. The subject of study? Church History.

I stuck out. Your stereotypical geek. Socially awkward, (thanks homeschooling! [just kidding. Homeschooling was the best thing that happened to me.]) quiet, and a know-it-all. But I was okay with it. I knew how important faith was and I was determined to learn what I could.

Skip ahead to 9th grade year. Age 14.  In PSR we spent more time on a skit off a Dr Seuss book (The Lorax) than we did learning about our faith.

I continued to study on my own and through homeschooling. Learning about things like the history of the Old Testament and how to weave together Biblical and Non-Biblical history into one, getting a more complete picture of the world back then. My mom and I made this cool timeline, I think it was that year, where we put all major events and people on it – from Genesis to the time of Christ. It had a section for Europe, China, India, etc. I was growing more and more in love with my faith.

That love and learning continued into 10th grade year. Age 15. I started studying history of the early Church, which is now my favorite period to learn about and discuss, and realized that I knew next to nothing about why we believe what we believe.

All I knew was what we believe. I had vague ideas of the ‘why’, but when (non Catholic) friends would ask me specific questions or point out what seemed like a hole in my Faith – I couldn’t answer them.

This faith I loved and was learning all about, this faith I had built a foundation for my life on, it began to shake a little.

I’ll be forever thankful to my Mom, the Catholic Answers website, and my friends – Gina and A.

When my other friends would question and sometimes attack my faith, I could turn to them and they’d help me find the answers and remind me of the Truth I was in love with.

My foundation stopped shaking – and grew stronger and stronger.

Age 16.

I had spent 6 months talking to a non-Catholic friend for a couple hours a day about our different faiths. If you’ve heard me give a talk anywhere, you know the story from here, but this friend showed me a lot and helped me learn the importance of being an apologist and how being an apologist means being a geek about your faith.

I started writing the summer before 11th grade. After praying and asking God what to do, He just told me over and over again to write.

So I did.

I spent a while doing research. Immersing myself in my faith and loving every second of that.

The Church Fathers? I’m their fangirl. I love reading anything I can about them, learning things like St. Ignatius of Antioch and Polykarp of Smyrna were friends – and that Polykarp actually learned about Catholicism at the feet of St. John the Evangelist.

I began collecting books on my Faith, and when I was Confirmed at the end of 11th Grade, I actually received St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica from my Grandparents. Incredible work, by the way.

My Confirmation Saint? St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

Age 17.

I became a published author and continued to love and learn about my faith. For my senior year of high school, my mom let me do a deeper study of the early centuries of the Church as my history program.

I started to go around and give talks to youth groups, confirmation classes, schools, etc. about the importance of loving and learning about your faith. It was awesome.

Age 18.

College started. I didn’t get to learn and study as much as about Catholicism this past year as I would have liked, because balancing 15 hours of class and 12 hours of theater a week took up a lot of both mental and physical energy.

Yet I still grew stronger in my faith. I started keeping a list of reasons I love my faith. I began writing another book.

And God has truly been amazing.

Now I’m 19.

I don’t know what the future holds. I have a stack of books I want to read and study, a book to finish writing and hopefully get published before I turn 20, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

19 Things I’m Thankful For:

In no particular order. I do not apologize for the random nature of this list.

  1. My Catholic Faith
  2. My Mom and Dad
  3. My siblings, all of them.
  4. The sun that fills my room each day
  5. Theater – and the confidence, family, and friends it gave me
  6. The ability to sing
  7. Dark chocolate.
  8. Coffee!
  9. Books – without them I’d be lost
  10. The color yellow
  11. Friends. I don’t have many, but I treasure each one.
  12. Violets, one of my favorite flowers
  13. G. K. Chesterton and his works! His quotes are the best, and often hilarious.
  14. Paints and canvases and brushes
  15. Netflix
  16. Socks
  17. Being done with math classes
  18. The Internet
  19. You. For taking the time to read all the way to the bottom of this post.

 

Alright! Well, I hope you enjoyed reading that – I enjoyed writing it – and I’ll try to post again soon!

Don’t forget to embrace being a geek today – be a Catholic Geek!

Need help getting started?

How about a Catholic Geek Starter Kit?

For the budding Catholic Geek I’d recommend…

Aquinas's Shorter Summa - written by the Dumb Ox himself
Fathers Know Best  - Your guide to the Church Fathers, by Jimmy Akin
Several notebooks - because you're going to want to take notes
A feather pen and ink - To take notes will
Daily prayer. The true key to being a Catholic Geek is being so totally, completely, and unabashedly in love with your faith. Achieve this through prayer. 

 

Now – I’m going to have fun celebrating today, I hope your day is fantastic too!

Here’s a Chesterton Quote to finish things!

“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

 

~

Catherine

 

In the Garden of the King

(Because poetry is cool)

In the Garden of the King

I am just a little blossom

In the garden of my King

I do not grow too tall or strong

Or do fantastic things

 

I am just a little blossom

Swaying in the breeze

Moving with the sunshine

It’s like praying on my knees

 

But still this little blossom

So humble, meek, and small

Can sing to all creation

Of the most wondrous King of all

 

He sends the rains to lift me up

He showers me with love

He moves the clouds to send the Son

Letting me see up above

 

I am just a little blossom

In this garden of my King

Not strong like the lilies

Who do amazing things

 

I am just a little blossom

Not beautiful as the rose

They have colors deep as oceans

Yet more beautiful than those

 

This simple little blossom

Has a thirst for what is right

Singing to the sun and stars

Listening to the light

 

One day I may grow taller

And find myself above the rest

One day I might shrink down

If I fail to pass the test

 

I put my trust in Him

For Him above all things

This little blossom’s voice

Ringing praises of the King’s

 

When the weeds grow up

Surrounding us all

He comes with His great power

Pulling them, making them fall

 

He cares for each of us

No matter what we do

He loves us all the same

And for you it’s true too

 

You are a growing blossom

In this garden of our King

You have a place to fill

So His praises you can sing

 

You are a beautiful child

Living in a world so cold

Look up to those around you

Join with them, be bold

 

You are someone He loves

He made you who you are

Little blossom, giant rose

You are still His shining star

 

We are just some little blossoms

In the garden of our King

He hears our voices, loud

As we sing this melody…

Ending a Chapter

When reading a book, particularly a work of fiction with a storyline that grabs your attention from the first line on, the end of a chapter can be seen as something thrilling. Perhaps it ended on a cliffhanger – with a hero (or heroine) in mortal danger. Perhaps it ended on a (this would be incredibly rare, I know) happy note – with a sense of wonder and intrigue. Yet all the same, the endings of chapters come with a slight taste of bittersweet. This book you’ve been reading is now so many pages closer to being done. You’re moving on from what you read, and you feel like you just started. It can’t be over yet! Then you realize something.

The story can’t continue if the page doesn’t turn.

The hero can’t be rescued if the chapter refuses to end.

The page has to turn. You have to find out what happens next.

And so it is with life. Each day begins a new page – maybe each day fills up 5, 10, 20 pages (depending on how long you like chapters to be. I like long ones, meaning I like to think of each day filling up quite a few pages in my book of life). Chapters begin. Chapters end. They don’t have to be chronological, you could be working on several chapters at once. All in sync with one another. They’ll end at different points.

Elementary school might be one. And your time playing a sport. Middle school. High school. Prom could have it’s own chapter. It’s your book!

Maybe you’re like me. And your chapters lately look something like this:

Writing Adventures

Day-to-Day Life of a Catholic Geek

Best and Worst Coffees

Improv: What’ll happen next?

Theater Things

Reaching for the Skies (Singing)

And many more. I’m the kind of person who has many pots on the stove at once, so there are always ideas and chapters opening and closing in my life.

Which brings me to the real point of this post.

The past few weeks have been especially notable for the number of beginnings (and endings) taking place in my life. More-so than when I graduated from Highschool last year.

I began a new chapter in my Heroic Catholic work, moving from just being an internet presence to actually working with a couple local youth groups and finding out how to get involved on my college Campus.  Those pages are already getting filled with things like the trip I took to San Antonio, the Apologetics Workshop I was able to lead, and much more on the way. IMG_2463.JPG

In the Preaux Life aspect of my life, I’m going to be getting much busier. Those pages will be filling up quickly and I’m excited. My pro-life club on my college Campus elected me President for the upcoming school year. I have the chance to make my mark and help spread the love for, uphold the dignity of, and respect for life in all stages. It’ll be incredible!

IMG_7240.jpg

 

 

 

 

But with new beginnings, pages had to turn. Chapters had to end.

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I just returned home (last night, around 11:45) from a sojourn to San Diego with my Improv team and my theater group.

I’m officially done performing with Christian Youth Theater.

I’m officially done with participating in their Improvathon.13483122_10207001095961128_1048731548144857955_o

Last night, getting off that last plane and saying farewell to what really became part of my family (no kidding – they all called me ‘Mom’ the whole trip. It was quite humorous.) IMG_2582
closed that chapter of my life.

This is where the bittersweet taste kicks in.

I didn’t cry. I’m not going to mourn for those days. Instead I’m deciding to look ahead and place myself in the hand of God, because He’s been leading me my whole life and I know He’ll continue to do so.

Will I miss those chapters? Oh yeah.

That’s what the pictures, memories, and relationships are for. To remember. To hold dear. And to celebrate the fun times.

 

 

When you read a book the end of a chapter is a wonderful thing. You’re getting one step closer, one step further, on the journey of the hero. Anxiously awaiting what comes next and knowing that the Author of it all has the perfect plot, perfect plan, you just have to trust.

My Author is God.

He’s been telling me what I need to do. Who I’m called to be. Closing chapters and beginning new ones means I’m saying ‘yes’ again and again to Him.

My Author is God.

That’s all I need right now.

~

Catherine

Saint Luigi?

What do this guy:

836B

And this guy:

Luigi_(NSMBU)

Have in common?

 

(Hint: It’s not an abnormally large nose, or a love for the color green, or the ability to jump really high)

 

Their names!

I learned a few years ago, when doing some research on teenage saints, that Luigi is an Italian form of Aloysius – which is Latin.

 

Cool, right?

 

Anyway. I love St. Aloysius for more than just the fact that he can be called St Luigi – his story is one that I think is neat. Because, you see, St. Aloysius’s father was a high ranking officer serving under Phillip II. Yet Aloysius, from a young age, loved the Church. He decided around age 9 that he was called to be a religious. His father didn’t want to hear of it and Aloysius wasn’t allowed to join the Jesuits until he was 18.

He loved to study and learn. When he was growing up he studied under St. Charles Borromeo (really cool guy himself, look him up!) and he could often be found discussing theology and religion with peers and teachers. (A real #CatholicGeek).

The very first words he spoke as an infant were the names of Jesus and Mary. His last words, on his deathbed at age 23, were the Holy name of Jesus. I find that pretty interesting.

So that’s the life of St. Aloysius in a nutshell. Look him up and read more if you want, he’s cool. He’s also the patron saint of the Church parish where I’m one of the leaders in the youth ministry.

~
Catherine

Hello there!

 

My name is Catherine Stewart. This blog will be one where I can go on and on about my love for my Faith, the history of it, apologetics, books, anything. If you’re looking for my professional website and information about my book – go to Heroic Catholic.

But, for this first post, let me talk about why I love my faith so much.

A while ago I started working on a list of reasons and I came up with more than 100. I’ll share a few of them here (in no real order, just as they came into my head I put them down)

Reason 1: Knowledge.

The sheer amount there is to learn about the Catholic Church is incredible!  The more I learn, the less I know. If that makes sense. I fear it doesn’t, so let me try to explain it another way.  It’s like the universe. We keep learning more about the universe – and yet everything we learn leaves another hundred questions to be answered. It doesn’t take away from the glory or power of the universe as a whole, rather it enhances it even more. We realize we’ll never know all there is to know, and that knowledge leads us to keep learning. That’s how our Faith is. Every time you learn something, discover something, it leads to wanting to know more. That thirst for knowledge, for truth, is a huge reason I love my faith.  The more we learn and study, the more I find myself truly confident in the fact that the Catholic Church is the one true Church.  So. Reason #1: Knowledge. It only leads us closer to God.

 

Reason 2: Love

Love. It’s the strongest force in the world. God’s love knows no bounds. He loves us so much that He pours His love into us until it overflows. That love we then share with the world, everyone we meet, everyone we know, there’s always an abundance of God’s love to share. When you read in 1st Corinthians, it shows just how important love is. We can have everything in the world. Without love, it makes no difference.
Our faith is filled with love. The greatest gift of love is shown every time Mass is celebrated, during the Eucharistic Celebration.
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)

Reason 3: Joy

The sheer joy that comes from knowing, loving, and serving God. Whenever life gets tough or I get down in the dumps, all I have to do is think about my Faith and my heart becomes filled with a joy. It doesn’t make all the problems go away or issues dissolve, yet it fills me with peace and lets me remember that I can find Joy in all things with God. My faith is the source of Joy that never fails. It’s incredible.

 

So, that’s just three reasons why I love my faith – I have over 100 of them that I’ll share when the time is right – but, in a nutshell, that’s why I’m a Catholic geek.

~

Catherine