Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Too Scandalous for Hollywood

You could categorize me as: the girl with Dad wounds. This has affected a lot more of my life then I usually care to express. I've never been very emotional; there wasn't time for that when I was a kid. I had to be the strong one, the adult at a very young age. I needed to take care of my siblings when our mom was gone for work and dad decided to let addiction lead him down a destructive path.

Place of prayer and Adoration
Portiuncula Replica at
 Franciscan University of Steubenville 
When I was a freshman in college my parents were finalizing the long awaited divorce and one night I received some heartbreaking news. I felt like no one would understand. I didn't know what to do. After my tears ducts stopped leaking I literally ran (in my pj’s) to the chapel for prayer and Adoration. I broke, in the soothing presence of the Lord.

One moment I was eye to eye with the Monstrance, the next I was resting in the peace of the Spirit with Jesus. I was looking around, no longer in the chapel, but on a sandy beach. The Lord gives us the desires of our hearts, and I was just beginning to realize this truth, for I love the beach. I’m basically a sunshine child.

As I looked around this beach scene I was startled by beauty. The fall seasonal, crisp, salty wind (my favorite season) was blowing the waves in to crest perfectly, and the greenest grass I had ever seen blew just so. I still had no idea why Jesus wanted to show me this place, so I looked for some sign of a lesson I could learn or take comfort in.

After a moment of seeking, I saw a man and rushed towards him because my heart knew him before I could fully make out who he was, my Beloved, Jesus. Overwhelmingly, joy burst through my soul, by being in the physical presence of the Lord. He just held me in his arms for what felt like forever. We walked along and explored the beach, as the waves sang a lullaby of peace, putting to rest all my worries, helping me to trust in the Lord who was leading me.

I shared my experience with a priest friend of mine because, yes, I know, this seemed crazy. I promise you it is real, so stay with me. He just smiled and said, “Ah! You two have a place.” What a delight it was to go to my place with Jesus and talk. Not every prayer time would lead me to rest in the Spirit and go to this place, but sometimes I was given the gift of being with him there.

Fast forward a few months… I went on a retreat to grow in becoming the Beloved’s through a deeper understanding of womanhood. Sitting in Adoration, my place with Jesus kept coming to mind. I had to figure out why. As we walked beyond the beach to an archway that seemed to have no end, outlined by dozens of trees, I asked Jesus. On one look I could tell these trees had been there for a very long time. They had a shade of soft, blush pink leaves that covered the whole sky forming a tunnel of beauty like I had never seen. My favorite color is pink.

As I starred in awe at these trees, Jesus got down on one knee, took my hand into his own, and looked right at me. He said, “Chloe, I love you. I am yours and you are mine… Will you let me be enough for you?” This was his proposal to me as my Beloved, of course I said yes! Then we danced. I stink at dancing, yet love to be a part of the intimacy of a dance; somehow Jesus was the perfect teacher.

In the midst of dancing he whispered, “Chloe, this place, our place- the fall air, the beach with the peaceful waves, the wonderful aged pink leaf trees- where you can always find my presence, is the beauty of your soul. I cried as I realized how the Lord really knows my heart better than I know myself and how he took the time to romance me exactly how I needed to be healed of past wounds.

If it is true that our hearts and soul are made for God, then we starve for beauty.

http://www.akiane.com/store/
I heard in a homily once that we are not defined by our own wounds but by the wounds of Christ. This stuck with me as a lot of times in my past, out of anger; I let my wounds define me, but no longer. Just to remind myself of this I even sign my letters/emails with “In His Wounds, Chloe.” I am the Lord’s and I will remain hidden, taking comfort in his wounds rather being crushed by the weight of my own. He makes me whole, new, and beautiful. The things that have broken my heart are actually the ways God shows my unique beauty.

We are all made in His image and likeness, yet our own sin twists and distorts our view of ourselves and others making it difficult to see one another truly in the light of Christ.  But this is something we so deeply need to recall in the presence of each human person.

Know that God is revealing himself more and more to you through your daily lives and how wonderfully perfect he is guiding you to discover yourself anew. You are, right now, just as he desires you to be. Hold onto the truth that he has not created a flaw in you, he never leaves you.

People ask me all the time about why I work in the ministry field. My experience lit a fire in me to help others notice just how lovely the Lord sees them. Honestly, I am so drawn to the beauty of the broken souls, through sin, we are all broken souls. At the same time I stand in awe of the healing hand of the Lord in our lives. I love the broken, in that I strive to see Jesus in each of you, and to respond in kind. If I can share and show the loving mercy of God to one person I encounter on this earth; that is when I am doing his will. We all have to keep a stubborn, tenacious faith in the mercy of God; which if we let ourselves, we often see through others around us.

Our calling as authentic men and women is to be beautiful from our souls, reflect the Lord, so that others may know him.

P.S. A common question I have received upon telling this particular story of my faith journey is: are you going to enter the religious life? No, I have discerned, with the Lord, that I am called to the vocation of marriage!    



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Naked Notification

             
Photo Credit: Boise Tech Mall
I was babysitting eleven kids a few weekends ago at a hotel. Every child was under the age of 11, and all of them were well versed on how to use technology. They knew how to work smart phones better than I did. They just assumed that the hotel TV had On Demand movies recorded already. They had no idea what I meant when I explained that the TV only had basic cable. Even the one-year-old knew how to turn the iPad on with the button and a swipe of her little finger.

Technology has been pretty helpful in my own life. I remember plenty of times being lost while studying abroad in Europe. When in Paris, we were able to use my Smartphone to find the best viewing spot of the Eiffel Tower.  Or when at the Head and the Heart concert (that happens to be one of my best friend’s favorite bands) the option to record a song was a wonderful way to include her in the memory. Also, being able to connect with family and friends overseas has been a blessing!

But at what cost?

The social media world seems to be finding convenient ways to help us all stay plugged in and connected. We have Instagram, where we can take and edit pictures so people only see the best side of us. We have Snapchat, so that others can view our stories through images. We have Twitter and Facebook, where we share all the great things about ourselves. And many more Apps and websites are available to draw people closer to the amazing details of our lives.

We are now supposedly more connected with each other than ever before. We thrive on the amount of followers we have and the amount of likes we get for each update or photo we post. I would venture to say that instead of technology connecting us, the reality is… We are losing the ability to connect with others. Beyond all the ways we share with our “friends,” we actually end up feeling isolated, instead of feeling more connected.

As part of my job, I talk with teens about chastity and the beauty of God’s plan for our sexuality, but as you can imagine there is some down time when we can talk with the teachers as well. This past week I was able to talk with one teacher on this subject of technology and social media. She has been a teacher for many years and has noticed a very interesting shift in her students’ behavior. She said her students’ attention spans have decreased since technology has become more and more “at our fingertips.” She even noticed her students need more review in order for them to retain any information. They have little desire to remember anything because they have the ability to ask Siri or look it up on Google.

In college, I studied the Catholic faith and how to pass it on. During one class on youth ministry my professor predicted that in the future he has a concern that teens won’t ask, “Who is Jesus?” but rather, “What is a relationship?”  At this point, here is our dance with technology.  With all the ways we seem closer through our Apps, we are missing out on the truest form of intimacy we all crave by establishing REAL relationships.

Plugging into our digital lives more and more could cause us to forget how to form an actual relationship with another human person face-to-face. What a scary thought. If one day, people can’t form relationships they will be unable to find authentic love. Our hearts long for authentic love and the fleeting attention we receive by the number of likes in our media will not fulfill our desire for this love.

The solution? Silence. 

All the technology in the palm of our hands has caused a growing problem. We don’t like silence. We can’t just be still anymore. We fear the silence. Maybe we want to avoid the truth that we would have to face if we allowed ourselves to reflect inward on the longing of our hearts. This might sound extreme but we are numbing ourselves to reality. Avoiding the unpleasantness, loneliness, sufferings, anxiety, boredom, we use the noise or the notifications to fill the false need instead of the real need of being wanted and loved. 
Photo Credit: Nashua College 
 Silence creates the room for us to hear God. For me this was not an immediate thing I woke up and did. It takes practice. We must begin to discipline and train ourselves. The more we grow in prayer, the more natural it will begin to feel to rest in the stillness. The most important relationship we need to grow in is our relationship with Jesus Christ and silent prayer time is a great starting place. As we become more rooted in Christ we can more fully shed the things of this world. Letting go of the earthly things “connecting” us gives us the freedom to give our lives and connect our hearts to God. So I pose this question to you:

           Is logging into your technology logging you out of true intimacy? 

Friday, October 3, 2014

DJ's Introduction


I would like to take a moment to formerly introduce myself to the PCE community. My name is D.J. Hueneman and I am honored to join such a dedicated staff here at PCE.  I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Cincinnati and attended Elder High School. I went on to earn degrees in Secondary Education and Paramedical Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. I currently hold an Ohio teaching license and Ohio paramedic certification. I enjoy speaking with young people about God and have had the privilege of leading several retreats. This has been an exceptionally exciting start to the school year as my wife and I await the birth of our first child.

The call to ministry came later in my life after pursuing several other careers. I have worked as a paramedic, firefighter, and science teacher for several years before arriving at Pregnancy Center East. My previous job experiences gave me a direct look at lives devastated by poverty and broken homes. I’ve noticed that many young people have a distorted view of love, and there are few options offering God’s view of love.  I am excited for the opportunities I will have to spread the word of God to young people with PCE. Kelly and I had an amazing opportunity to speak to 147 High School students about True Love and the Dangers of Pornography at the beginning of the school year. This was a unique assembly style talk we hope to continue in addition to our In Control and Theology of the Body classes. Kelly and I continue to work hard finding new and exciting ways to reach our students.

Chloe's Introduction


My name is Chloe Morrill and I am happy to introduce myself as Pregnancy Center East’s newest Chastity Educator. I hail from a little town named Fruitland, Missouri, which is located an hour and a half south of Saint Louis. I earned bachelor degrees in Theology and Catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Most of my family lives in Missouri, but as my mom says, “Although Cincinnati is far from Missouri, you will love working in the pro-life movement.”

I was involved with the middle school and women’s ministries at Franciscan University, which deepened my understanding and love for the dignity of the human person. I have been blessed to speak with women, men, and teens about the truth of their respective identities as sons and daughters of God. I have walked with many as their lives have been transformed by the Lord. These moments took my breath away and gave me a desire to work in a faith filled environment upon graduation. I hoped to work in a ministry that upholds this dignity and fights on the front lines of the pro-life movement.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered Pregnancy Center East! During the summer I helped teach the Theology of the Body for Teens summer classes while training to present our chastity programming in 22 elementary schools, 4 high schools, and 7 parishes here in my new home, the beautiful city of Cincinnati. I look forward to the opportunity to tell many more young people how wonderfully they have been made in His image and help them discover the beauty of the Catholic faith through Chastity Education.

So far, this journey has been an adventure of humble growth. I have two degrees and a little experience under my belt, but I am so excited about all the things I am going to learn as we continue through the school year. I have big shoes to fill, and the opportunity is a great honor. I am diving in with all that I am to serve the Lord and the members of the Pregnancy Center East family. Please pray for me!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Choosing the Rite Outfit


Until about 4 years ago, I usually wore jeans and a hoodie/sweater to Sunday Mass. After all, jeans were nicer than my usual soccer shorts or sweatpants, and I was comfortable in that. I figured that the point was not what I wore to Sunday Mass, but rather that I was there every week, participating fully, actively, and consciously. My parish seemed to be on my page, wardrobe-wise. Some people dressed up, but most people dressed casually, and it wasn't uncommon for some kid to show up in his or her full soccer uniform, right down to the cleats. "Come as you are," was my policy and that seemed sufficient.

Junior year of college, I transferred to a school where everyone dressed up for Sunday Mass. Girls wore skirts, dresses, heels, cardigans, and jewelry. Boys wore dress pants and collared shirts. A guy in a tie and blazer would be much more on the bandwagon than a guy in a tee shirt. It was different than what I was used to.

It made me think, though. Which is better? "Come as you are" or "Bring your best to God"?

Both.

...Kind of. I thought a lot about appropriate Sunday Mass wardrobe and here's what I've got. There are pretty much 3 basic questions I ask:

Is it modest?
This is the most basic one. If my clothes invite anyone to lust, then it's not appropriate to wear anywhere, including Mass. Disqualifications include skin tight, too short, featuring cleavage, or words on the butt.

Does it reflect the importance of the event?
When people do or attend something important, we dress up. Think of an audience with the Pope, a graduation, a wedding, meeting the President. The most important day in the liturgical calendar is Easter Sunday, and we've always dressed accordingly. Every Sunday, year round, is a "little Easter." Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent because we are celebrating the Resurrection. Every Sunday is a re-celebration of Easter Sunday. That's a big deal, so I wear something nicer than I would wear if I were going to the mall or a friend's house.

Is it reverent?
What the heck is a humeral veil, you ask? It's the cloth over Pope Benedict XVI's hands in this picture.
What the heck is a humeral veil, you ask? It's the cloth over Pope Benedict XVI's hands in this picture.
Mary, Jesus' Mother, always magnifies the Lord and leads us to him. John the Baptist announces and prepares the way for Jesus' ministry on earth: "He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease." Did you ever wonder why priests wear a humeral veil during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament? Part of the reason priests wear that when they handle a monstrance that holds Jesus' Precious Body, is to draw attention to the Eucharistic Lord and away from themselves. We are all called to direct everyone's attention to Jesus, and what we wear speaks even when we're silent. If my clothes will encourage anyone to look more at me than at him, I won't wear it to Mass.

The end result is that I wear a dress or skirt (sometimes dress pants/dress shirt) Sunday Mass. Cardigans are key. My shoes are a little more casual: usually Toms (not flip-flops), and sometimes I wear heels. If, due to some unfortunate, unavoidable, unforeseen circumstance, I am not able to dress up for Mass, then I go with the "come as you are" principle (For that reason, I give people the benefit of the doubt. For all I know, they were out of town the night before, had car trouble, couldn't get home to change before Mass, and can't go to any of the other Masses because Great Aunt Ruth needs their help all day.).

In closing, here's an interesting video about what priests wear to Mass, what the vestments symbolize, and what priests pray when they vest. Enjoy!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxxYLmD8T_U&w=560&h=315]

Do you have any tips on Mass wardrobe? Is appropriate attire for weekday Mass different than Sunday Mass?



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Modesty Matters: Humility


Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on how leggings can’t replace pants and bikinis encourage lust that we forget why modesty matters. Following specific rules when getting dressed is great, but styles come and go, so I stick to principles that I can apply no matter what. I’d like to share some of those principles, beginning with (drum roll, please): Modesty is part of humility.
Conquering my desire to be desired is, for me, the most challenging aspect of practicing modesty and chastity. Wanting to be wanted is not bad: it helps us seek and find community, experience intimacy, and be drawn to the Lover of our souls, who desires us more than his own life. Only the divine can fulfill our desires. Everything else the world offers, even good things, leave us wanting more. Nothing finite satisfies us because we were created for eternal life. Therefore, all of our desires must be oriented towards holiness, or we’ll never actually be satisfied. Humility is seeing myself as God sees me; no more and no less.
Inextricably linked to confidence, humility flies in the face of “flaunt it if you’ve got it” as well as the lie that I am unworthy of love. A humble person knows that she is a wonderful reflection of Beauty himself and does not need to prove it by exposing her body. She knows that the gift of her sexuality is so precious, that the only person to receive her must first lay down his life before God and his Church, and she refuses to cheapen that gift or allow anyone else to preview it. She does not compete with others for attention because she is secure in who and whose she is. Want to be humble? Check out the Litany of Humility.

Prom Pick: I love bows, pink, and other girly things, so I love this dress from Delia's! If you have long legs, it might be too short, but their return policy is pretty good. $39.50
Challenge yourself. Ask why you want to wear that dress, tell that joke, discuss that topic, or buy those shorts. Is it to draw attention to your body? Turning heads is not bad—you’re beautiful!
But showing too much of your body can distract others from seeing the rest of what makes you wonderful: your smile, sense of humor, silly expressions, compassion, strength, etc. It is tempting to choose clothes that show off your body, but I urge you- overcome that temptation! Humility is dignifying, pleasing to God, and reveals your unique beauty in ways immodesty simply cannot.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

Monday, May 14, 2012

Masturbation: What's the Big Deal?


As the Creator of sex, for which I think we’re all grateful, God knows the absolute best way to use it. When we choose to express our sexuality as it is intended to be expressed, tremendous graces and blessings enter the world.
Sex is the marital vows, translated into body language. My anatomy expresses the reality that I am someone’s gift. Sexuality is not meant to be self-serving. Sex is designed to be a complete, life-giving, faithful, free gift of self, and its purposes are the built-in results: babies and bonding.
Masturbation, however, turns sexuality in on itself. Masturbation is all about me: my pleasure, my desires, my loneliness, my stress, my sleepless nights, my gratification, my “whatever.” Masturbation is incompatible with love (doing what’s best for the other person), and that is why it’s a mortal sin. There is momentary pleasure, but no openness to life, no giving, and no receiving. It is a band-aid approach for whatever struggle the person hopes it will relieve him or her. What appears to be a remedy only brings shallow and temporary relief, but never healing.
In fact, it usually deepens the wound, especially because masturbation is so addictive. Addiction is an assault on freedom. Between fixes, an addict (to drugs, masturbation, cigarettes, pornography, alcohol, or anything) may feel stressed and on edge, consumed by her craving and anxiously seeking an opportunity to get the next fix. An addictive behavior limits a person’s ability to love, because she cannot give what she does not possess. Until she dominates her own desires, they enslave her.
If you are struggling with an addiction, talk to a counselor or priest who can help you overcome it. You are not a freak, a loser, or a lost cause. You are also not the only one who struggles with your addiction. God—who desires to free you from every entanglement so that you can experience true love, joy, peace, and happiness—loves you. God’s grace is bigger and stronger than masturbation and/or any other addiction we face.

Although I don’t struggle with the temptation to masturbate, it has burdened friends I love very much, both male and female. For added perspective, here are some other Catholics who are talking about this issue:
“Natural” by Steve Gershom
“Light of Hope” by Steve Gershom 
“Love Life Podcast – Not Quite Sex” by Matt Smith at Life Teen