Now that I sit down to write this post, which has been floating around my head today and yesterday, I of course can't think of what to write... *sigh* I guess the only way to do it is going to be to just write and see where it goes.
This past week has been a very interesting one, and I think I grew a lot (not physically...haha). It all culminated in an awesome spiritual direction meeting with Fr. F. on Friday that answered so many of the questions that have been floating around in my head for months! It was great...I'm coming to understand so many things lately with my heart, as well as my head.
I've always had very high expectations of friendship, which is of course setting yourself up for disappointment. I'm not saying I don't love my friends...of course not, you're all amazing people! But the way Fr. explained it is that deep down, what we're looking for in friendship is understanding, and we are never going to be completely understood by anyone on this earth. The only One who will ever understand us as we desire to be understood is God. We enjoy the friendships we have on earth with people who understand and agree with us on one or two, or maybe many things, but the thought of seeing God face to face and being completely understood by Him gives us hope for heaven.
Romantic Love and Marriage
Understanding is also the thing people are seeking, even if they don't fully realize it, when they are looking for a spouse. Fr. said that the meaning of romantic love has been terribly corrupted by modern society into something that means merely seeking pleasure. That's something that I've only come to realize lately - that the modern world's view of love is not what it's really all about. I think I began to understand that matrimony is truly a holy and noble calling about a year ago (you can read the post I wrote the subject here). I guess I'd always been of the opinion that it was somehow lesser than the religious state. Important and necessary, yes, but not as good as living your life entirely consecrated to God.
I'd actually wrestled with the question of how could one who was married would be able to give God all their devotion and love, and live entirely for Him, for a long time. It seemed to me that it would be far too easy to become distracted, and that only in the religious life would one be able to find full union with God. Only this past week did the answer suddenly become clear - you live for God by seeing Him in everyone! Your spouse, your children, your friends are all the visible manifestations of God, and in serving them with faithfulness and love, you are serving God Himself just as entirely as you could if you were a religious. I was so happy and relieved when I realized that. It had always seemed as though I would need to forfeit some portion of hope of a perfect union with God if I was married, but that's not the case at all. I would serve and love Him by showing that love and service to "the least of His brethren".
At Mass this morning, I was thinking about the family, and how incredible it truly is. Where else can you find such a perfect metaphor for the Trinity, or for the love Christ has for His Church? Who else can participate in God's Own work of creation? I forget where I read it, but I remembered reading a quote somewhere to the effect that what a parent helps to build is so much more incredible and long-lasting than anything else...the soul of their child will last forever. What a great privilege - to cooperate with God in the forming of a new person, a new potential saint, another human being to love God and help His people.
Marriage is a calling, I've finally realized. It's not a last resort - it's the great work that some people are called to do. It's interesting when one little thing that someone says helps you to realize a truth. My mom, sister, three ladies, and Fr. F. were at breakfast at the priory on Friday for a planning meeting of the needlework group at church that my mother is heading up. In the course of the meeting, one of the ladies said, "I'll try to come to the meetings, but my vocation is at home." She said it very simply and matter-of-factly, but it was as though a 2x4 had hit me over the head. Marriage is a vocation! Marriage is a beautiful, noble, awe-inspiring calling from God!
I finally asked Fr. F. a question that has been confusing me for years. Parents and The Catholic Girls' Guide tended to say nay, peers and the world had a tendency to say aye. So I asked, "Is it a good idea for boys and girls of my age to be close friends and talk much?" And he said no! Then he explained why, and it makes such perfect sense now.
He said that there was, of course, the whole issue of hormones, and the fact that when boys and girls of my age (about 15 to 17) spend a lot of time together, they're bound to start thinking in ways that it's just not the time for yet. This is the explanation that I think most of us are pretty familiar with, but there is more. He said that this age is the critical period when you're forming yourself into the person you'll be forever. It's the time for a girl to develop her femininity, because God created her to be feminine, and when the time comes for marriage, men truly do want femininity in a woman. It's a time to just enjoy being a girl, to have lots of female friends, to grow up with as little turmoil or distraction as possible, and that is why it works best if boys and girls just primarily keep to themselves.
Fr. used the example of trying to cook when people keep coming and taking your ingredients. It's very frustrating, and you just want to say, "Go away and leave me alone for now, because when you come back the dish will be finished and we can all enjoy it!" It's the same way with people. The growing up years are, after all, a comparatively short portion of life for most people, and there will be time enough in later years to mingle. By that time, the person will be complete, they won't be confused and they will know exactly who and what they are.
I was talking to my dad that evening, and he said he definitely agreed and wished someone had explained that to him! So often, when people are advised to not have close friends of the opposite sex until they're at least 18, the advisers just leave it at the hormones issue and the people end up feeling that they just aren't trusted. But there's so much more to it, and it really makes perfect sense. My dad said that he thinks the best year of high school was his sophomore year, when he basically ignored girls and really concentrated on schoolwork and sports - he said he was happy and peaceful and content.
However, Fr. said that once one reaches 18, 19, 20, that is the time to begin mingling, to start friendships, to begin discerning marriage. It alarmed me when I realized that I'll be at that point in only a little over a year. :O But I'll trust that God will give me enough maturity and courage to handle whatever comes! It can sometimes seem like rather a worry when you think, "What if my vocation is marriage? And what if I decide not to go to college? Where am I going to meet him...and is there anyone out there who truly is "him"?" But you never know how God is going to bring people into your life, and you never know if someone you already know will turn out to be "him"! I guess that's the exciting part of life...you just never know! That's why I'm not making any big plans at this point in my life...like my dad said, who knows, in two years or so I could end up sweeping someone off his feet and decide to forgo college and get married! haha Or I could decide on college, or I could visit the sisters and realize it was my calling. You just really never know - things have a way of changing quickly.
So, those are some of the things that have been occupying my thoughts lately. I hope you found it at least somewhat interesting and informative...maybe it even made you think a bit about something.
Oh, and speaking of friendship! I've made a wonderful new best friend this week...its name is COFFEE! :D It tastes good, it smells good, and it wakes me up...what more could you want? My dear coffee, I have a feeling we have many years of true and devoted friendship ahead of us! heehee