Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Faith Life: Part III

Whatever it was that had propelled me through my life as Catholic, would certainly not be enough once college came around.

I tried. I attended a state university and immediately tried to get as involved as possible with the Catholic student center. I went to daily Mass, and confession often. I tried to stay close to youth group friends I knew there. This brought me to the actual, real life application to teach Totus Tuus. The prospect of choosing between living with my mom or my dad over the summer was not ideal. Constantly traveling for eight weeks was, so I applied. I was surprised to find a former teacher was now heading up the program, and the interview was cake. I used to talk about forming a team to teach with friends in high school. I could not believe that I actually was given the opportunity to actually be a Totus Tuus team member. It was incredible and yet the hardest thing I ever had to do. The structure of the program has an incredible prayer life built into it. If not for the daily Christian prayer, the rosaries, daily Mass, weekly confession, those eight weeks would have swallowed me whole.

My first year teaching, I was also put on camp team. I was given the important task of addressing modesty at the high school girls camp. I was nervous. I did not want to give them a speech about duct tape. I wanted to bring a new perspective, and talk about modesty in a different way. I spent most of my limited free time preparing for the talk.

My teammate and I posing with a high school student.
Yep. He's mocking the modest talk from the previous night.

The first week of teaching, I ran into an unfortunate situation. I had this really great, orange, sarong-style maxi skirt, and a purple shirt I had packed to wear on Sundays. At the last minute, before the first high school session, I changed into jeans, but grabbed the wrong jeans. They were lower-waisted, and I have a long torso, so when I sat down I had to almost constantly adjust to pull down my top so there wasn't a gap. It was a complete accident. At the end of the night, my team leader pulled me aside because a former teacher told him to talk to me about my inappropriate wardrobe. I was in tears. The other female on my team had already been dubbed the modesty police because of a talk she had with a teen that had been overheard, so the camp director asked us if we would switch talks: she was clearly in a better place to address modesty, and I could take over her talk about Mary. He let us have a few days to talk about it.

I avoided the conversation like the plague. I was insulted, and felt as though I had already failed at my dream job. The two of us went shopping one night and we finally discussed it. I remember blurting out something like, "I don't want to change talks please don't make me!" and was relieved to hear her share my sentiment. She felt as though she was being told she was not intellectual enough to give the Marian talk, and felt as though I was being told I was not cool enough (or modest enough) to give the modesty talk. We stood firm in our decision.

My time as a Totus Tuus team member brought me many great memories and friends, but it also taught me how to use the resources of the Church, and how to be a catechist. It taught me that not understanding something means I need to spend more time trying to understand. I also learned that the teachers I had looked up to when I was younger, were just like me. I did not have to be perfect or know everything there was about the Church to teach others or to engage others. I just had to want to know the truth.

Now that I am "all grown up" with a family of my own, there are still things I learned while teaching that apply to my daily life. I am constantly trying to rearrange my days to include Christian Prayer. I take deep sighs and wrestle children for 90 minutes every Sunday at Mass in the hopes that my efforts allow them to get something from Mass. I try to tell myself that the graces I receive from Mass during these years are still there, even if paying attention is impossible. I don't have any A-Ha, GOD! moments these days. It feels more like following logic than faith.

I pray that my children experience God in simple moments the way I once did.


  1. I agree that we as Catholics need to be more understanding and less judgmental. We have no right to judge an action that took place if we don't have all of the facts. And obviously we may never judge a person's heart. I can totally relate when you talk about not getting much out of Mass with little ones. I went to Mass this evening and I can't tell you what happened there. All I remember doing was wrestling my toddler and feeding him Cheerios one by on because that was the only way he wanted to be fed. And I had a splitting headache so all of that equaled me not getting anything out of Mass today. I keep trying to tell myself that I am in this season of my life now with little ones, and this season will pass. There will be a time when my kids are older and not a bother at Mass, and perhaps I will be a little sad then. Hmm. God bless!

    1. What strikes me as funny, is when strangers come over and tell me how wonderfully behaved my children are on the days I feel like I have just been through the ringer! It does help to get that support though!


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