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A Catholic Woman’s Search for a Holy Spouse

Fair warning for any non-Catholic reading my blog. This is a very Catholic post, as I’m a very Catholic woman. And keep in mind, this is my personal experience. I can’t speak to every woman’s experience. This is simply the way I know worked exceedingly well for me to find my wonderful husband.

This title is the goal of many Catholic women. For those of us who aren’t called the religious life with a vocation as a nun, many of us anxiously await to find our future husband. I’ve found mine, which means I am removed from this search, but I still vividly remember it, since I am only recently married and only met my husband just over a year ago.

I had been thinking about finding a husband since I was young. Most little girls want to be wives and mothers and I was no different in that aspect. I was a tomboy as a child, but I still had a strong desire to get married and have a dozen children. Since childhood, my Catholic upbringing has emphasized the necessity to discern God’s will for your life. So I decided to pray about it as much as I could.

With much prayer, I discerned that God did indeed want me to search for a spouse. I spared a few prayers across the years for my future spouse, but other than occasionally praying to reaffirm this conclusion, I didn’t think too much else about it until I was about 15 years old.

At fifteen, I had really begun to feel the desire for my future life as a wife and mother. I began to pray every day for my future spouse. I prayed for his safety, that God would give him whatever he needed, and that God would keep him close to Himself.

This continued for a few years. In high school, I began a devotion to Saint Edmund Campion, one of many English martyrs during the reign of Elizabeth I. I felt an immediate connection to this saint after reading a biography of him. Something about him clicked with what I needed and I latched myself onto St. Edmund Campion’s intercession. He’s been my great helper in the years since then in every sort of trial I’ve faced.

Nearly six years ago, just after Christmas that year, I was praying in the pews at church and felt a very strong call to do something I hadn’t expected. I knew I needed to entrust my future spouse and our future courtship to my favorite saint. Usually, people choose saints like Raphael, Philomena, Anne the mother of Mary. I’d never heard of anyone going to St. Edmund Campion for intercession for a future spouse.

But I still did it. I made a promise to St. Edmund Campion that night. I asked him to specifically protect my future spouse, bring him to me when the time was right, and intercede for our courtship to be a beautiful, holy, and chaste one. Not out of sense of need, but in my love for the saint, I promised to name my firstborn son after him as a public show of my devotion.

It would still be years before I would meet my future spouse, but it turned out that my husband was on a journey of conversion that started around the time I entrusted him to my favorite saint. I can’t make the certain declaration that Saint Edmund Campion’s intercession did this for my husband. But I am a woman of faith and I believe this timeline is too perfect to be a coincidence.

Here’s my advice to all you Catholic women still in search of a spouse (and even any Catholic men too). Ask your patron saint to watch over your future spouse. The timeline of when you’ll meet them isn’t guaranteed (it was five years for me), but I think you’ll find it more than worth it. I promised a name to my favorite saint in return for his care of my future spouse, but I don’t think that’s required. I did it as a show of love and thankfulness for a gift I hadn’t received yet.

If it is God’s will that you find a spouse and get married, He’ll send him to you at the most opportune time by His count. But your prayer in the meantime can help ready both you and your future spouse. Your patron saint wants to help you, especially with something as important as this. Ask them! They’ll be happy to help, I assure you. You’ll grow closer to your favorite saint and you’ll help yourself and your future spouse.

Take it from a woman newly married to the man of her dreams. God and St. Edmund Campion brought me my future spouse and he was even better than I could have asked for. The waiting is worth it and the praying works!

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Is 2020 the Worst Year Ever?

A cliche title this year, I know.

But we’ve had other “worst years” before. There were plenty of people who hated 2016, whether for the political climate or the fact that there were clowns running around frightening people. Or maybe they just had a bad year, everything seemed to go wrong for them.

2020 has been a similar – if not worse – year for most people. But let’s spend a few minutes to think about why.

A global virus hit and regardless of your political opinion about how it has been handled, it has drastically affected people’s lives in various ways. Some people have lost loved ones, many people have lost their livelihood in the form of their job or their business, and all of our lives have been made complicated by the way this situation has been handled.

On top of that, a hurricane has devastated a large portion of Louisiana, my home state (though I’m not currently living there and am not personally affected). I personally know many people who have endured damage to their home and had to see their hometown largely reduced to rubble in some areas. Hurricane Laura was devastating, y’all. Please pray for Louisiana and send help if you can.

But there have also been other issues this year.

The spring semester of everyone’s school year had to move online. This caused problems for many teachers, students, and parents, as we all struggled to cope with the change. I was affected by this myself, experiencing my last semester of formal classes as a graduate student this way. I was also a teacher’s assistant and had responsibility to my students as well, so I experienced the issue from both sides of the school dynamic.

Many people’s weddings have been postponed or effectively cancelled as a result of some of the other events of the year, mainly the COVID regulations. My own wedding (particularly the wedding reception) was nearly cancelled as a result of our governor’s mandates.

There has been more than our fair share of stress going around this year. The fact that we were isolated at home only increased our consumption of media, including news, which I believe largely hurt more than helped us. Some news is necessary, but we were cooped up in our houses for weeks, even months, with really only the internet and our immediate family members to distract us. Of course we’re going to end up reading the news more than usual. Many of us were scared and hoped it would bring consolation. When in actuality, I believe it simply increased the mental burden we were all already carrying.

There were protests, which turned to riots in some cases. I’m a supporter of the right to peacefully protest. It’s riots I have an issue with. Just because you have a grievance, even a legitimate grievance, doesn’t give you the right to take it out on others or their property. Regardless of the reasons they had for rioting, there was still fear and destruction that resulted from rioters’s actions. This didn’t help with the overall climate of stress and fear we were all already experiencing.

This seems like a perfect storm right? 2020 MUST be the worst year ever.

Some may not like what I’m about to say. I don’t say it to belittle your struggles or to remind you of the despair that has knocked on the door of many of our heart’s this year. Remember I say it out of a position of hopefulness.

As far as the human race goes, we’ve seen a lot of “worst years”. This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. There are plenty of places to look for these other terrible years.

Every year is the worst year if you consider abortion, thousands of babies are killed every day, every month, every year.

World War II was devastating for everyone involved. There were countless deaths of soldiers and civilians on all sides of the war. There was also the Holocaust during WWII, when millions of people were killed in concentration camps.

There’s been genocides and wars across the past centuries, almost since humanity came into existence.

Christians were massacred by Romans in the early years of the Church, mirroring Christ’s own death.

Our lives have always been hard, in varying degrees, across the entirety of human history.

I don’t say this to scare you. I say this to inspire and encourage you. The human race has experienced so much trouble, hurt, fear, and death. This isn’t the first “worst year”, but it is OUR “worst year” and that’s okay. Because guess what the human race has also been doing all this time?

Surviving, improving, learning. If we let it, trials and terror can teach us. OR we can let it rule our lives. We can either let it cause us to despair or bring us closer to God and make us better people.

But also: beauty and good can still exist during times of great tribulation.

I got married to the love of my life, surrounded by friends and family. We have a beautiful new home and are making our life together. I’ve seen others of my friends getting married as well.

My cousin and several of my friends have had children during all of this. New little babies, bundles of joy, which brighten the worlds of all who get to see them, especially during these hard times.

Love, children, sunshine, flowers, and beauty all still exist.

We can let 2020 be the worst year ever if we want to. Or we can put our lives in God’s hands and choose to focus on good instead of evil. Just because there are bad things in the world, doesn’t mean they have to rule our lives and condemn our hearts to despair. We can do what is required of us to get through, pray, and help each other instead.

God gives true peace and joy if you turn to Him, no matter what hardships you may be mired in. And there is incessant beauty in His creation to remind you of His Providence.

Really this article should be titled “Finding Good in 2020”.

I leave you with a quote from St. Joan of Arc: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” We were born in our time for a reason. We are all meant to be here. I think that is a very encouraging thought. As another wise – though fictional – person has said, “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us.”

Stay joyful and I pray God blesses you with the consolations you need in this difficult year.

Of Courting … Online? – Pt. 1

This subject warrants a few posts about it, since the story is a long one.  I wanted to talk about how I met my husband, Max.  We met online on Catholic Match, in April of 2019. 

Dating apps like Tinder have been very popular within the last several years.  But traditional Catholics like myself aren’t likely to find the spouse they’re looking for on apps that depend more on superficiality and the pleasure of trivial encounters with the opposite sex.  However, sometimes the internet is where young Catholics have to turn, in order to find a spouse.

Personally, I was very skeptical of online dating in general, at first.  I knew of one friend who had found love over the internet, but others I knew had been unsuccessful and I’d heard enough horror stories on the internet to be concerned about who might be on such a website.

But in early 2018, I was graduating with my Bachelor’s degree and our local community had no prospects for me, in terms of a spouse.  When I say nearly all our young men were either married already or entering seminary on the path to the priesthood, I’m not really exaggerating.  

By April of 2018, I was also set to be leaving my home for two years in order to attend graduate school. Truthfully, I didn’t want to take the chance of marrying someone from so far away from my own home. (Little did I know, since my husband’s home is literally halfway across the country).

Despite my doubts – and admittedly somewhat at my mother’s prompting – I joined Catholic Match. I was on it for a few months with no real luck. I had a few short conversations with guys who always turned out to be not quite the right fit for some reason. Many of them were genuinely good men, but who I simply didn’t have a connection with, though sometimes the conversations would end because of differences of opinion.

It wasn’t until early 2019, sometime in March, when I decided I would no longer look through the website and initiate contact with any of the men. I decided I would wait for God to send my spouse to me. I began a novena in hope of this, that my spouse would find me and make contact first and that I wouldn’t have to search any longer.

There were several reasons for this decision, none of which being that I believe a woman can never make the first move to begin a relationship with a man. Firstly, I decided I needed to trust in God’s Providence to send my spouse to me. Secondly, I was becoming a little too superficial when it came to searching the site, paying a bit more attention to physical beauty than I should. Thirdly, I was tired and becoming discouraged. I decided to give my troubles and my search to God (and my favorite and adopted patron saint, Edmund Campion to whom I entrusted my future spouse and courtship many years previously).

It wasn’t even two weeks later that my now-husband sent me a message. We hit it off almost immediately, even though all we knew were those few pictures of each other and all the texts we’d sent. We talked for a little over a month before finally doing a Face-Time call to see each other’s faces. I admit I knew even before I’d heard his voice that if he felt the same, I wanted to marry him. It only took us about three Face-Time calls to officially decide we were beginning our courtship, our road to marriage.

We had no concept at the time of how long that would take, since we were both still in school and lived so far away from each other. I laugh a little as I remember this, since at first we thought we might have to wait until 2021 to get married, but here we are now, just over a month into our marriage.

In other words, sometimes online dating can be a frightening disaster. Other times, it can lead you to find the love of your life. Much like dating in real life. In all cases, I advice discernment of God’s will and your own heart. Don’t depend too heavily on looks (yours or theirs) and don’t make too many assumptions about what sort of person you want to marry. Max’s personality was a surprise to me in many ways, as I’m sure mine was to him. It’s with God’s help and guidance that we found each other and made it to marriage.

If you’re about to embark on a similar search (online or otherwise) I wish you as much happiness as I’ve achieved in my marriage.

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Love – During Coronavirus

For those of you who know me, you may be aware I got married one month ago. The road to marriage for us has been a wonderful one, though not without its obstacles, from outside our relationship rather than within.

Our wedding was an Extraordinary Form Tridentine High Mass, by which I mean: we’re Catholic, the mass was in Latin, and in the old rite.

Though when we got engaged in December of 2019 we didn’t know we’d be getting married during the time of Coronavirus and other turmoil, when such troubles arose, we didn’t delay our wedding. We decided it meant more to us to be married.

So as I’ve said, I’m married and my new last name is Dugan. It’s still taking some getting used to saying that, since I took great pride in my maiden name and I’ve only been married for a month yet. But I’m just as proud of my married name and I’m thrilled every time I get to write or say “Elizabeth Dugan” now.

On the way to becoming so, we encountered discouragement, as well as actual difficulties in getting married, thanks to all the restrictions that were in place (and still are to my knowledge).

One week before the wedding, our state’s governor declared that only 50 people were allowed in a building at a time. This essentially canceled our reception, since based on previous rules, we’d invited three times that many. We had only one week to find a solution. We also had a week to figure out who we could still invite to the reception (thankfully the ceremony itself was exempt from the regulation).

Thankfully, we have some of the most wonderful people on the planet as our friends, who came to our rescue, helping us decorate my parent’s house and set everything up. I’m unendingly grateful to all of them.

Though this was perhaps the biggest trial we had to face prior to the wedding, we came out of it on top. Our reception was possibly the most wonderful we could have had, outside of being able to have all of our loved ones there. This may have been one of the worst obstacles in our path, but there were others too.

My husband’s family and mine live across the country from each other. And the wedding was to take place closer to mine. This meant that there were many of my husband’s family members who would have had difficultly traveling so far, even without fear of the virus, restrictions, or other problems due to it. In fact, many of his family members, and even some of mine, were unable to attend at all because of it.

And still we chose to get married.

I tell you all of this for a few reasons. Simply because there is turmoil in the world is no reason to stuff yourself in a hole and avoid doing the things that are the most important, even if they “won’t be what you wanted” or “how you imagined”. I don’t say this to belittle anyone’s struggles. Quite the opposite, as I empathize in the extreme. However, I do say this to remind you that there are far more important things in life than having everyone you know see you make vows to the person you love most in this world. I am more pleased that I married my husband when I did, rather than wait in uncertainty for things to “return to normal.”

Don’t put these things off, simply because they’re hard or they’re not going to be what you expected.

I also say this because I received many reactions, even and especially from strangers in regards to our wedding continuing, regardless of the hardships. There were so many people who seemed amazed and even uplifted by the fact that our wedding went on even during all of this madness in the world right now.

My husband and I are desperately in love and I’d like to think it’s easy to see. There were a few people, particularly some we encountered on our honeymoon who were uplifted by a win for love, during coronavirus.

When you do your best to follow the Will of God, He’ll give you the peace you need to accomplish what he’s asked of you. Since my husband and I met, we’ve made a point to pray together daily. We constantly seek after God’s Will in our lives.

And now here we are, married and couldn’t be happier. So here’s my advice to you.

Pray, don’t wait, and don’t worry. I know it’s cliche, but give your troubles to God. Put your hand in His and He’ll guide you where you need to go, through hardships and turmoil perhaps, but the destination? It’s worth every struggle.