Bright Maidens: Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!
 
Topic: Emotional Chastity
 
Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters

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It happens all the time.  You bump into a man on the street.  He smiles charmingly and holds the door for you.  You walk away, maybe shooting him a backwards glance, and can’t help but think, “Maybe he’s the one.”  What a kind, cute gentleman.  Good qualities for your man.

You daydream as you eat your lunch, and the day passes by in a blur of warmth, hope, and affection.  He could be the one.  You imagine your first dates, his proposal, your glorious wedding.  The laughter of your kids as they run through the house.  His hand in yours as your face life, together.


It doesn’t seem so wrong to pass the time daydreaming like this, but in reality, it is frightening: you are building an emotional bond with a man to whom you haven’t spoken more than three words!  Sometimes with a man who doesn’t even exist!  I’ve been emotionally invested in many fictional characters, and the age of middle school and high school was ripe for idealized obsession of pop stars, actors, and the boy in my science class!  What is the fruit of that emotional bond?  Usually disappointment, hurt, and worry. It is better to have not built that bond in the first place.
 
The danger of emotional chastity does not stop there.  It can worm it’s way into dating relationships and marriage.  A woman in a dating relationship may amplify her beloved’s qualities to the point that she no longer sees him for who he is.  Her “love” is not real and is not based in reality.  As Edward Sri explains in Men, Women and the Mystery of Love, “The most tragic effect of sentimental idealization is that we end up not really knowing the person we find so attractive.  A man in sentimental love may seek to be close to his beloved, spend a lot of time talking with her, and even go to Mass with her and pray with her.  If he has idealized her, though, in reality he remains quite distant from her: The powerful affection he feels depends not on her true value, but only on the ideal values that he has projected on to her.” (50)  
Like sexuality, emotional attachment has to be integrated into the fullness of the person, otherwise it can be disastrous.  A couple who takes idealized versions of each other into marriage will have a serious crisis upon realization they married someone they do not know and do not authentically love.  They may then be open to the temptations of emotional cheating and adultery.
What can we do to safeguard ourselves from false love and dangerous emotional intimacy?  Edward Sri (57) suggests pondering these questions:
Am I committed to this other person for who he is or for the enjoyment I receive from the relationship?  
Does my beloved understand what is truly best for me, and does he have the faith and virtue to help me get there?  
Are we deeply united by a common aim, servicing each other and striving together toward a common good that is higher than each of us?  Or are we just living side-by-side, sharing resources and occasional good times together while we selfishly pursue our own interests and enjoyments in life?
I would add: Guard your heart.  When the temptation to fantasize about life with a stranger presents itself, pray for that person instead.  Identify what prompted that temptation.  Are you lonely?  Tired?  Frustrated?  Jealous?  Take those emotions to Jesus.  You don’t have to guard your heart around him!  Reach out in kindness and interest in getting to know the other as person.  Take things slowly.  Pray for wisdom and grace to authentically see and love each other.  Invite your beloved to spend time with your family and friends.  Value their opinions on your relationship.  
We are called to love as God loves, and not to love for our own sake, but to glorify the Lord.  Avoid being an emotional disaster and a daydream believer: love people for who they are.

Bright Maidens: Believe Me If You Like

 The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Topic: Fr. Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Julie at The Corner With A View 
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Believe Me If You Like
 
Q: How do you know that it is Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine who speak to you?

A: I have told you often enough that they are Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine – believe me if you like.
Transcript of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc by Bastien-Lepage
As a young girl born during the Hundred Years’ War, St. Joan of Arc heard the voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine instructing her to dress like a man and save France.  Joan bravely sought the dauphin, the future King of France; predicted French defeats; and in April of 1429, requested to free Orleans, a town which had been English-occupied for months.  She was successful, though wounded, and celebrated as the Maid of Orleans.

Soon after, she was captured by Burgundian troops and sold to the enemy English.  She was then imprisoned for a year and tried by the Catholic Church on charges of witchcraft and heresy.  An inaccurate summary of her statements was drawn and she was convicted.

In a moment of panic, she felt overwhelmed in front of the large crowds, and recanted her position.  Once she reached her rooms, however, she gained confidence and once again professed the truth of her statements. Joan was condemned as a relapsed heretic and burned at the stake.  Her last words were “Jesus, Jesus!”

Asked if she knows she is in God’s grace, she answered: “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.” She added, if she were in a state of sin, she did not think that the voice would come to her; and she wished every one could hear the voice as well as she did.

St. Joan of Arc is an example of authentic Christian witnessing.  She properly and humbly defended herself from her interrogators, who happen to be Church clergy! If you read the Transcript of her trial (link above), you will find her to be a devout, simple peasant girl who took on an insurmountable task at the urging of Saints, Angels, and the Lord Himself.

We are all called to witness in the same way, although our tasks may not be as bold as Joan’s, nor as life-threatening.  As the Body of Christ, our actions must mirror Christ’s in all we do, and when we face opposition from even our own Church, we must humble ourselves, trusting that God works in His own time.  The truth will always come out.

In a July 5th statement the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. John Corapi’s Order, insisted that although Fr. Corapi inspired “thousands of faithful Catholics…he is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”  This is the danger of false witnessing: it misleads others and often damages their trust, their hope, and their courage.  It sows seeds of discord instead of seeds of peace.


If the Body of Christ jeers, mocks, lies, and hurts other…can we really say we’re the Body of Christ?  Will we really move others to want to know Jesus?  Will we shower others with Christ’s love when we don’t act like him?  

Fulton Sheen told a story about an encounter he had with Mother Teresa.  He asked her how she catechized so many men and women.  She replied that as she cared for the Poorest of the Poor, she would ask them if they wanted to know about Jesus.  “Is Jesus like you?” her charges replied.  “No,” Mother Teresa would tell them, “I’m trying to be like him.”  With that statement and Mother Teresa’s love, the hearts of these men and women were opened to Christ.

Again, most of us do not have the same call as Mother Teresa, but we witness in other ways.  When we participate in Sacramental life; when we care for children,the elderly, or the home-bound; when we offer friends encouragement; when we pray for our enemies; when we give to the needy; when we welcome strangers; when we share hope; and when we offer support, we point our friends, family, and others to Christ’s love.  As long as we do this, we authentically witness to Him.


I will never forget one night in college when I did not feel like going to 9 p.m. Mass in the University Chapel.  “I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I don’t want to go!” I complained to God.


I got dressed anyway.


As I put on my shoes, my phone rang.


“Trista, what’s goooood?” 


It was one of my transfer students, a baseball player with a good heart, lots of smarts that he wasn’t using, and a penchant for partying.

“What’s up?” I asked him.


“I’m sending up the bat signal,” he said, an inside joke about how my transfers could send signs, and I’d be there to help.  “You, like, go to St. Vinny’s for Mass right?”

I sighed.  So funny, Lord!  “Yep, I’m actually heading there in a few.”

“Great, cuz I was thinking…I don’t know anyone who goes to Mass…and like, I wanna go tonight, but I don’t wanna sit by myself…so I thought, oh yeah!  Trista goes!  I could sit with her.”  He was silent for a second.  “Right?”


I tried to digest the fact that he was asking me to help him find a place in the Church.  I felt a heavy, but not uncomfortable, weight on my shoulders.  Whether I realized it or not, others were watching my actions and coming to me to better know Christ’s love.


“Yeah, of course!,” I replied.  “Meet you there in five minutes!”