Monthly Archives: September, 2015

Not Alone Series: Love Languages


Dr. Gary Chapman has outlined five ways people give and receive love in his book The 5 Love Languages. Take the quiz at to discover yours!
What is your love language? How does that affect your approach to romantic relationships, family relationships, and friendships? How do you give and receive love with people who have different love languages?

Whew! I am just under the wire with this post. The link-up closes in just a few hours. I am so glad to have Rachel as my co-host!

I initially suggested the topic of love languages for NAS because I find it fascinating how much sense they make. As I mentioned last week, a friend of mine is highly skeptical of the love languages because he sees them as too limiting. (Interestingly, I often remind him not to put me in a box; he doesn’t know me as well as he thinks he does. We really are friends, I promise.) On the contrary, I find them useful for understanding the different ways people show and feel love.

The key to the love languages is understanding that some people will not feel loved if you don’t speak their love language, and understanding in tandem that you might feel that someone doesn’t love you because that person is not speaking your love language. For years, I met people who would say, “I’m just a huggy person” and think them certifiably insane and kind of mean for invading my personal space with such clear joy. I am not “a huggy person,” and I didn’t think that was really a thing until I encountered love languages. Now, I get it.

I have a different friend whose love language is definitely Physical Touch. He is a huggy person. If we were out somewhere together and he didn’t shake my hand, clap me on the back (not hard), or put his arm around me, I would think he was mad at me. He’s married; he’s not into me. That is just how he shows the love of friendship. I have always struggled with physical touch in general, but I get now that some people are just inclined to touch the people they love. I understand that they show me that they love me by hugging me.

My love languages are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. In preparation for this post, I dug up my first Love Languages profile, from back in June 2012. (I keep things. I’m that girl.) I scored equally in those two languages. I took it again before I started writing this post, and Quality Time came in higher by just a few points. If you’d asked me to guess, I would have predicted that result.

Words of Affirmation used to be my “thing.” I still well up with tears of joy thinking that, not only do I know my parents are proud of me, but I also know specific instances when they’ve told other people how proud they are of me. I know they love me.

These days, I build intentional friendships. I invite people I care about to spend time with me. I make the effort to see them, to talk to them. When my friends check their phones while we are having a conversation, I feel hurt. It makes me feel like they don’t care even though they do care. Doing chores is never going to make me feel as loved and appreciated as Quality Time does.

But this is not just a post explaining my love language(s). It’s about how I relate to people based on love languages. I have never been big on gifts. I like presents; everybody likes presents. But I would rather spend significant time (preferably pre-planned, but spontaneous is okay) with someone I love than get a token. However, I have learned to see the love behind the gifts. I can carry my own suitcase, but my dad likes to carry it for me, so I let him (and I don’t begrudge him if he’s carrying something else, so I have to do it). I can open my own doors, but it makes gentlemen feel like they’re being polite and manly and good people when I let them open doors for me. They are showing their love for me through Receiving Gifts and Acts of Service even though I don’t feel as clearly loved that way.

My takeaway from knowing what little I do about the love languages is how important it is to know someone’s love language and to speak it, even if it is not your love language. Looking at all five, you could probably guess yours. But could you guess the dominant love language of each of your family members? Your significant other or spouse? Your best friend? Can you think of ways to speak every love language? Imagine how much richer your relationships could be if you knew that mowing the lawn would be a much better gift than a tennis bracelet, or a birthday phone call would be met with more joy than a card, or kisses hello and goodbye speak much louder than texts throughout the day.

Now we just have to make love languages an even bigger “thing” so people will start sharing theirs the way they’ll share MBTIs and learning styles.

Next week’s topic: Dating

What is a date? How do you define “going on a date” with a man versus “hanging out” with him or “talking” with him?

Check our Facebook Page for regular alerts about upcoming topics.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real… um, in the next two hours. I will be on time for my first hosting post next week, I promise.

What I Wore Sunday: Sarah, Pizza, and a Rose


I knew intellectually that Chicago is “the Windy City,” but it really never occurred to me that “windy” is an accurate description of the basic meterological conditions. It really is windy! This weekend was my first trip to Chicago (instead of just through Chicago). Here’s what I wore:

What I Wore Sunday, September 13

Dress and shirt: Target
Shoes: Old Navy (they look black in the photos, but I promise they’re navy blue)
Sweater: Old Navy (barely visible in the two-person selfie)
Earrings: high school graduation gift
Necklace: holy medals

I picked this dress last week. My most recent travel tip is to start packing right after you do the last load of laundry before the trip. I do my laundry every two weeks (single girl perk), so I decided to try that out this time. I highly recommend it; it was much less stressful than trying to make an outfit out of leftovers the night before my trip. I haven’t worn this one in a while, and I knew it would travel and layer well, so it was ideal.

Also pictured is my lovely friend Sarah. She lives in Chicago. I was in town for a wedding, so I spent the rest of the weekend with her. That water tower is in the city of Rosemont, Illinois, very close to O’Hare Airport and right in the parking lot of Sarah’s favorite pizza place, Giordano’s. Sunday was my first time trying Chicago deep-dish pizza. I don’t know how I missed out on that my whole life! It was a little weird to have the sauce on top and eat with a knife and fork (out of necessity), but the intense flavor and almost-illegal amount of cheese made the awkwardness more than worthwhile.

But before we had pizza, we went to church. We got a little delayed leaving Sarah’s apartment, so we went to a different church than we’d originally planned. That was ideal because we were on time (hat tip to Chicago for having so many parishes in such a small geographical area) and because we heard a spectacular homily.

This is Chicago. Catholic churches everywhere.

Fr. What’s-His-Name (I don’t remember, and I don’t usually say here) said he was doing something different than usual. He was standing behind the altar, so that was a nice point of clarification. He connected the Eucharist with Good Friday and Holy Thursday, as usual. He also noted that, since we don’t approach the altar until we’ve first exchanged a sign of peace, we are also re-presenting Easter Sunday, when Jesus brings peace to his understandably terrified apostles. Fr. What’s-His-Name even demonstrated that, when he raises the freshly-consecrated host for a moment of adoration (to silence or to bells), the True Presence of Christ in his hands is perfectly aligned with the altar crucifix depicting the perfect sacrifice of the same Christ. It’s hard to see the alignment unless you’re actually in the main aisle, but I love almost seeing that when I’m kneeling at the right angle.

He went on to note that Christ’s sacrifice was made for all of us, even the ones who feel least worthy. (The rest of us just don’t feel how unworthy we are all the time. That’s why we have to declare it before receiving.) He met a homeless man on the L one day who said he was raised Catholic but wouldn’t go to Mass because he was smelly and dirty. The priest told him that, for a smelly guy, he was a very considerate smelly guy. And after all, there is a big chunk of space up front where you can sit and no one will smell you. I don’t think anyone else in the church got the joke, but I did.

It was a lovely weekend overall, not the least because I had my best friend by my side. Now we just need to find the kind of best friends we can marry and we’ll both be set (single girl non-perk).

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

Catholics Drink Like Saints: A Response to Discussions of Catholicism and Alcohol

I was blessed to attend a college friend’s Baptist wedding reception (and the wedding) once, and I had a fantastic time. These many years later, two details stick out (three if you count the bride’s lovely, cap-sleeved gown). First, the reception ended very quickly and much earlier than I expected, and second, the desserts were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know for sure, but that might have been the case because there was no dancing and no alcohol.

At every Catholic wedding reception I’ve been to, there has been dancing, and there has been alcohol. I attended my first Catholic wedding in 2012, so my sample size isn’t very big, but I’ve found that to be true across the board. (There also tend to be babies.) Not so for other Christians. Due to the Temperance Movement’s longstanding legacy in evangelical and Baptist Christianity, Christians and alcohol have a tricky relationship. As in other areas, the Catholic point of view is different, and I like it.

Catholics Drink Like Saints: A Discussion of Catholicism and Alcohol at

I was inspired to reflect on this topic by multiple sources:

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

7 Quick Takes on 9/11, Captain America, and the Death Penalty


— 1 —


Never forget.

— 2 —

On a much lighter yet still patriotic note, I have learned that Captain America is the most Catholic superhero. (Yes, I’ve heard of Nightcrawler; he seems to be struggling with forgiveness and acknowledging that he is forgiven.)

I’ve been following the Ascension Presents video series for a few weeks. Fr. Mike Schmitz is such a great presenter that I follow basically everything he does. His argument contains references to several classic heresies, so there’s definitely some deeper theological insights within the discussion of men in tights. Check it out.

— 3 —

I was practicing the “survival dance” I mentioned a few weeks ago when I had a sudden epiphany: it’s bachata! The basic step in bachata is exactly the one James Joseph demonstrates in that video. Bachata can also go forwards and backwards, and you can add some turns along the same line (an invisible dance line; not “in the same line of thinking”).

So there’s a bonus to the survival dance: if you learn it and master it, you can also learn some other bachata moves to spice it up.

— 4 —

“Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime of the condemned. It is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person that contradicts God’s plan for man and society and His merciful justice, and it impedes fulfilling the just end of the punishments. It does not do justice to the victims, but foments vengeance.” —Pope Francis, Letter to the International Commission Against the Death Penalty

— 5 —

I had to go back to heavy things. I am openly against the death penalty. Although I acknowledge that Catholics are allowed to support it, I don’t think we should. Accordingly, I follow the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Death Penalty. It needs a less clunky name, but its goal is one I believe in.

The CMN editors recently shared a response by Dale S. Recinella addressing three common myths about why the death penalty is necessary: that it lowers the murder rate within prisons, that it is a deterrent to terrorism, and that it is a deterrent to homicide (in general and of law enforcement and judicial employees). He also offers economic data to show that executions are not less expensive than life imprisonment (both in terms of court costs and prison costs) and the theological truth that no one is beyond redemption. It’s worth reading.

— 6 —

I watch TV while I eat. Since we don’t have cable and I only follow so many TV shows, I sometimes watch YouTube videos instead. Ave Maria Press has an archive of recorded webinars, so I watched their young adult ministry roundtable from last year. The presenters made some excellent points. Having worked in ministry and been involved in various cities, parishes, and phases of my life, I am convinced that there is no cookie-cutter approach to any age-specific ministry.

The Church is great at youth ministry because it’s so much like school. We can do school. Adults aren’t always interested in school-like faith formation, though. It can be tough when you’re unmarried and don’t have children, or you’re married and don’t have children, or you’re married with children, and you get lumped in together with everyone else because you’re roughly the same age. The first group tends to like happy hour, but the third can only attend child-friendly events or ones with babysitting. Not every parish is big enough for a young adult group. Not everyone likes groups. Not every young adult is even registered with a parish (that tends to happen at marriage or the baptism of a child).

“Every parish doesn’t need a young adult group, but every parish had better minister to young adults.” —Jonathan Lewis, Archdiocese of Washington

I don’t have any solutions, but I’m glad I’m not the only one wrestling with the questions. One size does not fit all.

— 7 —

I went to a friend’s private karaoke party on Sunday, so I now have “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” stuck in my head. You’re welcome for the throwback.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

My Thoughts for Pope Francis, Part Nine: Conclusions from Listening, Looking at Christ, and Confronting the Situation


Intro | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

It took me so long to work through all the questions that the synod finished long before this series did! That’s not because the questions are badly written or too theologically intense. You don’t need a theology degree to consider these questions. I don’t have a theology degree. I do have:

  • an undergraduate degree in English,
  • a master’s degree in secondary English education,
  • one year of part-time volunteer experience in high school youth ministry,
  • two years of full-time experience teaching high school English in Catholic schools, and
  • three years of full-time experience as lay pastoral staff in campus ministry.

If anyone can wrap their heads around this stuff without a theology degree, it’s me.

Last fall, I purposely avoided reading the interim relatio (the document that sparked all the media scrutiny, premature celebration, and premature panic). I was always waiting for the final draft. I’m sure the rough drafts of many classic stories would scandalize the most devoted reader!

So, after what seemed like forever, I read that final draft. Here are my summaries of the 3 parts of the concluding document, the relatio synodi. This is just what stuck out to me. I glossed over things I expected to see and focused on what was new and unusual. Section headings are from the original.

Part One, Listening: Context and Challenges of the Family

Loneliness and unemployment keep young people from forming the families they desire. Without the certainty of the knowledge that God is present and the security of premarital relationships (e.g., relationships with friends and family), the ability to enter into a Christian marriage is weakened. Without work, it is difficult to support a spouse, children, or aging parents. That keeps potential parents from getting married, welcoming children, and caring for their own parents. (number 6)

The idolization of emotions hurts the ability of people to enter into marriage or stay married. Marriage demands turning away from individualism and self-centeredness (because it’s no longer all about you) and requires commitment to your vows (so you can’t just leave if you’re not “feeling it” anymore). If you’ve spent your entire youth, adolescence, and early adulthood “finding yourself,” it’s no wonder you can’t “find” and commit to your spouse and future generations. (n. 9–10)

Part Two, Looking at Christ: The Gospel of the Family

Marriage as a lifelong, total, sacramental union is relatively new in the scope of salvation history. After the Fall, the ideal of marriage was lost, leading to Moses’ permitting divorce and remarriage. Christ, however, forbade divorce and remarriage in his own teachings. Scripture is organized in such a way that the story of God and man, Christ and the Church, begins and ends with a marriage: first, the original union of Adam and Eve, and finally, the wedding feast of the Lamb of God and his spotless Bride. (n. 13–16)

Although it’s true that many Catholics are only civilly married, divorced and remarried, or cohabiting, the fullness of the truth is sacramental marriage. We must speak the truth in love, which is more than mere compassion, just as Jesus did when he told the woman caught in adultery to “go, and sin no more.” (n. 24–28)

Part Three, Confronting the Situation: Pastoral Perspectives

Catholic families who are following Christ are the best method of evangelization about the gospel of the family. (n. 30)

Preparation for marriage and for initiation (e.g. RCIA and adult Confirmation programs) should include teaching on the family and the experience of real families. This connects the sacraments to one another and emphasizes the presence of families in the church community. In the first few years of marriage, we should offer liturgies and prayer opportunities focused on developing and showing examples of family spirituality. (n. 39–40)

The primary goal of the annulment process is to determine the truth about the marriage. That remains even in proposals to eliminate the court of second instance1 or to use a shorter process when “nullity is clearly evident.” The faith of the individual spouses might be considered as a contributing factor to validity. (n. 48)

The discussion about allowing people who are divorced-and-remarried to receive Confession and the Eucharist remains unresolved, although it would require a suitable penance determined by each person’s bishop. Whether re-admittance would be on a blanket or individual basis is also unresolved. The difference between spiritual and sacramental Communion needs further study to determine how they can be applied to this situation. (n. 52–53)

Same-sex marriage is not equal or even substantially similar to sacramental or natural marriage. When organizations tie economic aid to the requirement to legalize gay marriage, they’re doing a grave injustice to the poor. (n. 54–55)

My Final Thoughts

I have plenty to say regarding two of the hot-button issues discussed at the synod: communion for the divorced-and-remarried and revising the annulment process. I actually have some professional experience with the latter2, and now that the motu proprio has been issued, I have to work through everything again! I’m not quite ready to share that on the Internet, though. The Internet never forgets. If you know me in person, I’ll talk with you about it. For now, I’ll let those thoughts stay offline.

In general, I was pleased with the relatio synodi. The regrouping of topics makes it clearer that these discussion are focused on the Church’s primary mission: evangelization. People are facing real problems, so we’re listening. The family should point toward Christ, so we’re looking at him. He is our shepherd, so we’re examining the flock and maybe bringing some wayward sheep back into the fold.

I also want to direct you toward a few other post-synod writings that caught my eye.

First, read the message the synod fathers published to accompany the relatio synodi. It’s beautiful. It paints a picture of the pain families face today, and it offers a vision of the ideal. It also includes a prayer for families. If you haven’t been praying for marriage in general, for families, or for our Church leaders, you should be.

Second, Cardinal Dolan blogged a reflection on his experience of the synod. He was actually there and knows exactly what happened. He suggests that anyone who thought Church teaching would change due to the synod should read Catholicism for Dummies. That’s a real book, by the way. I own it, and I like it a lot.

Third, if you are wondering what this week’s motu proprio on annulments means, the best answer is “no one is 100% sure.” It doesn’t take effect until December 8, and I don’t know whether the new canons (laws) will apply to annulment petitions that have been started already or only to new ones submitted on or after that date. My best advice for anyone who might be interested in petitioning for annulment is to approach your pastor and make an appointment to talk about it. All annulments start with that step.

The media response to the synod was less than ideal, to say the least. The Church’s response should be one of relief. These important questions are being asked in an official and appropriate context. Answers are being proposed, discussed, and argued over. As Cardinal Dolan mentioned, the apostles did the same thing in Acts. There should be no battle between clergy and laity. We can work together to get everyone to heaven, united with Christ forever.

What was your response to the synod? Were you relieved, worried, or confused? Do you think it was a waste of time? Are you frustrated that there were no definitive answers or major changes in Church teaching?

  1. Currently, for all positive declarations of nullity (a.k.a. “getting an annulment”), the first tribunal’s positive decision (“this marriage is null”) automatically has to be confirmed by a second tribunal. The second tribunal is called “the court of second instance.” That court also has first-instance cases.

    If the second tribunal agrees, the former spouses receive a positive declaration, “get an annulment,” and are free to marry. If more than one marriage is being investigated, the next marriage can then be evaluated. (That happens more often than you might think.)

    If the second tribunal disagrees (“no, this marriage is still binding”), the former spouses receive a negative declaration, do not “get an annulment,” and are considered to still be married to each other. The declaration can be appealed to a higher tribunal: the Roman Rota. That is rare and expensive, but it happens.

    Pope Francis’s motu proprio references the court of second instance, but I have already read completely contradictory commentary about what the text actually says, so I will refrain from commenting. 

  2. I was trained as a field advocate for the Diocese of Austin, so I know exactly what is involved in “getting an annulment” here. I probably know more than I ought to. It makes me really fun at parties. 

tl;dr September 2015


Where did the year go? This is shaping up to be a pretty good year, but I did not expect it to blow by so quickly. If you missed some things and want to catch up on my life, here’s the short version:

  • I turned an unspecified age that is still under 30. I am still in denial about how close I’m getting.
  • I advanced to Level 3 in my West Coast Swing class! My studio only has 4 levels, so that is exciting.
  • I learned a handful of bachata and confirmed that I need to stop taking beginner salsa lessons. On the other hand, I can nail that right turn.
  • I ended a long, long streak. It’s too personal to say what here, but I am gloriously happy that it’s officially over.
  • St. Maria Goretti’s relics are coming to Houston this fall! I’m so excited that I haven’t fully registered how excited I am.
  • I wrote a rant an essay about the phrase “capital-T Tradition.” It’s been doing really well stats-wise, which is encouraging and also a bit unsettling.
  • I took over co-hosting the Not Alone Series. Surprise!

This was kind of a big 4 weeks. I can hardly believe that all that happened myself! How was your August?

Thanks to Jenna for the genesis of tl;dr. Visit her at Call Her Happy.

I am now co-hosting the Not Alone Series!

NAS News + Announcements

We’ve had it under wraps for a while, but now the news is public: I am one of the new co-hosts for the Not Alone Series!

I honestly can’t remember how or when I found NAS. It was probably through another link-up. I participate in a lot of link-ups. My rule is that, after linking up my post, I visit at least the post linked before mine, and I try to leave a comment. Bloggers love comments. If I have a few extra minutes, I will click through to a few related posts or popular posts at the same blog. (Blogger tip: Find a way to display related and popular posts. Internal links are gold!) So I think I found someone’s NAS post that way.

The rest is history. I’ve been participating with blog posts since October, and I joined the closed Facebook Group soon after. Since NAS is such a small community, I don’t just read the post linked before mine: I actually go back and read all of them! Most of the participants for a given week have linked up by Friday, so the weekend is a good time to read the other posts. It’s been amazing to share in a community of other single, female, Christian bloggers. If you fit that description, please join us!

Morgan (of Follow and Believe) and Jen (of Jumping in Puddles) have faithfully traded off hosting duties for two years. They are being called elsewhere now, so it’s up to me and the lovely Rachel Fogarty of Keeping It Real to carry on the NAS torch. I think we’re ready. We’re probably ready.

We’ll find out for sure next week! NAS is starting off Year 3 with a topic dear to my heart: love languages.

Next week’s topic: The Five Love Languages

Dr. Gary Chapman has outlined five ways people give and receive love in his book The 5 Love Languages. Take the quiz at to discover yours! What is your love language? How does that affect your approach to romantic relationships, family relationships, and friendships? How do you give and receive love with people who have different love languages?

Note: I have one friend in particular who sees “five” and thinks “five and only five,” like it’s a math problem. Not true. If you happen to have more than one primary love language, (a) write about both, and (b) know that I am with you.

Rachel will be hosting next week. Stay tuned to her blog and to the NAS public Facebook Page for the link-up. Have fun!

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