For Love Alone

I have been waiting with great anticipation to announce this news, and am so excited to finally share it! On September 8, 2020, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will be entering a religious community of Catholic sisters in Ottawa. What exactly does that mean? In simple terms, I’m moving to a convent to become a nun. So in some ways, this is the equivalent of an engagement announcement. Unlike typical engagements, however, this one lasts for 6 to 9 years, until I eventually take final vows as a religious sister and bride of Christ, God willing.

Religious formation and preparation for a life of consecration is a long process, and requires a great deal of discernment, growth and trust – both before entrance and after. This was not the path I initially expected my life to take, and may be a shock to some of you, so I would like to share a little of my journey, from resistance and denial to joyful anticipation. But first, to provide some context, I’ll give a very brief explanation of what religious life in the Catholic Church is, on a broad scale.

(FYI… There is so much more I could have written in this post, so please feel free to ask any and all questions you might still have after reading – big or small! I can’t promise I’ll have all the answers, but I’ll do my best.)

Religious life is a form of Consecrated Life within the Church. For something or someone to be consecrated means to be set aside for a specific service or purpose, in this context, a sacred service. Consecration literally means “to associate with the sacred,” ie. God.

The Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to his Church through the Holy Spirit. By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus — the chaste, poor and obedient one — are made constantly “visible” in the midst of the world and the eyes of the faithful are directed towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven.
        In every age there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father’s call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to him with an “undivided” heart (cf. 1 Cor 7:34). Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be with Christ and to put themselves, as he did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters. In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the Church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society.

Vita Consecrata, 1

Religious life is meant to be lived in community, and all religious profess vows to live out the Evangelical Councils of poverty, chastity and obedience, with some communities professing a fourth vow relating to their unique charism. Some of the most well known religious orders include the Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, Carmelites, Salesians and Augustinians. The community I’m entering is called the Queenship of Mary Community, founded only 13 years ago, with 12 current members, so they are still in the very early stages of development.

My community recently released their new website, which you can find here, and on Victoria Day, they hosted a virtual celebration which you can find on YouTube here. The first half has some great information about their founding, who the Queenship is, and how their apostolates (works of service) are developing, so please check it out if you’re interested. The video and website give a far better overview of the community than I could provide here, and you’ll get to ‘meet’ the Sisters.

Here is what I can tell you. I was one way, and now I am completely different, and the thing that happened in between was Him.

Mary Magdalene, The Chosen

If you had told me in high school that someday I would become a nun, I would have thought you were crazy. I hadn’t yet met Jesus (that happened at the very end of grade 12, just before I turned 18), and even after that first encounter, it still took years for God to soften my heart enough to consider what He might be asking of me. 

My journey towards religious life began in the fall of 2013. I was riding the city bus one morning on my way to class, reading Where There is Love, There is God by Mother Teresa. As I sat, reflecting on the gift of her spiritual motherhood and my own deep desire to love others in the way she had, I heard God whisper these very clear, unexpected, and frankly unwelcome words in the silence of my heart, “You could be a mother to far more people as a nun than you ever could be as a biological/adoptive mother.”

For years afterwards, I tried to dismiss those words but I never fully managed it. I resisted partly because religious life didn’t seem like a real option, but more because my life-long desire for marriage and children had been so strong, I was actually unable to consider another possible vocation. It took a few years and several conversations with actual religious sisters and other consecrated women, to realize my natural desires for marriage and children are actually necessary in order to live out the fullness of religious life. There ultimately came a point when I could no longer ignore the persistent tug I felt from the Lord to surrender my plans to Him.

You might well wonder why on earth a young woman living in the 21st century would give up marriage, children, a career of my own choosing, financial stability, and many other things to pursue this path in life. From a human/worldly perspective, it really makes no sense. All I can say is when I came to believe Jesus Christ really is who He claimed to be, I began to ask Him what more I could give. Despite growing up in the Catholic Church and receiving all my Sacraments as a kid, it took a powerful personal encounter for me to finally take Jesus at His word. When I came to believe that He is a real, living person, who walked the earth, freely gave His life out of love for me, and then rose from the dead, pursuing me into eternity, I realized He was worth giving everything for. Despite my initial enthusiasm as a new believer, it still took years for me to open up to the idea of a vocation to religious life. I could fill a book with the story of that journey.

As my relationship with Christ deepened, and the Lord brought people into my life who were living witnesses to a life of total consecration, my perspective on religious life completely changed. This did not happen overnight, but it is one of the most evident signs of the Lord’s work in my life. He literally transformed my heart, and after years of patience, He re-presented an invitation I no longer wanted to resist. I came to recognize God as the true fulfillment of all my desires, who wants nothing more than the totally unique love of my heart, and I began to long for a life of total surrender to Him and His beloved children – whatever that looked like.  

Before I go any further, lest it seem like my journey from that moment forward has been smooth sailing, let me assure you, it has not. When I began seriously discerning religious life (back in 2017), I thought the biggest hurdle would be to let go of the longing I felt for marriage and family life, and all the plans I’d been dreaming of since I was a little girl. Then came the mutual discernment process with actual religious communities. That was a whole other hurdle, at times very painful and difficult, as I searched for the place and the religious family God intended for me. Very few people speak about that part of discernment. It is not as simple as showing up at the door of your nearest convent and saying “OK, I think I have a religious vocation! I’m ready to join you!” In this process, there are more parallels to a dating relationship than people might realize. It is very much a two-sided process of discernment. 

As I’ve let God more fully into my heart and mind and allowed Him to lead the way in my life, I have come to see that Christ wants every part of me – my plans, hopes, dreams, gifts, talents, as well as my fears, sins, lies, inadequacies, and failures. Yet in my surrender, He always returns infinity more than I can give. In the words of one of my favourite women, Mary Bielski, “there’s a beauty in laying your life down for Love itself, because love requires something of us. It’s not always easy. […] But the truth is, there’s a Lover and a God who will set us free” (LoveLife Conference 2020). This is true for each of us, my dear friends. God longs to redeem and transform our broken places so they shine with light, love and glory. This has been my reality, and I know with absolute certainty that despite any challenges that will come, I am gaining far more than I am giving up in offering my life to Him as a religious. I have long had a missionary heart and a desire to “choose all” like my saint-sister, Thérèse of Lisieux. For loved ones worried that I am throwing away my education and the future I could have had pursuing a career designing, travelling, teaching, etc. – God is not asking me to give up the many passions I have dedicated my life to. He has asked me to surrender them to Him so He can bring them to fulfillment in a way that, yes, might look different than what I’d planned, but will actually be better than I could ever have imagined. I believe this with every fibre of my being. He calls each of us to a unique and epic adventure with Him. This is mine. 

The relationship I have with Christ, from its very beginnings, has radically altered my life. There is nothing I desire more than to love Him wholeheartedly and make His love known to others. He is my “pearl of great price” – worth giving everything for. A religious vocation is not a mark of holiness. Each one of us is equally called to sanctity, in whatever vocation God intends for us, whether that’s marriage, the single life, consecrated single life, priesthood or religious life. As Cardinal Collins emphasized in one of his recent homilies, “it’s a universal call to holiness, not to mediocrity – we are all called to be saints!” The Catholic Church has been loudly proclaiming this since the Second Vatican Council. I know so many incredibly faithful and holy people living out the vocation of marriage, and it is beautiful to behold. This just happens to be the particular way God has made my heart to love. My heart belongs so completely to Him, I could not give it to another man in the way marriage requires. I have come to believe that He made me for Himself alone.

September is just the continuation of my “yes” in response to God’s love. There is still a chance He might ultimately lead me in a different direction, but right now, this is how I’m being asked to follow Him, and in imitation of Mary – who, more than anyone else, has been the one leading me ever closer to her Son – I say, fiat mihi (let it be done unto me)! 


A few practical things…

  1. Come September, I will no longer be using any social media. Unfortunately, that means this blog will also become inactive. However, I will still have my email address, andreaquinn94 [at] gmail.com. I sincerely hope many of you will remain in touch with me that way. Also, if you know me, you know how much I love snail mail – both sending and receiving it. I will definitely be keeping up written correspondence and would love to receive letters, cards, postcards, etc. from anyone who wants to send them. Please contact me if you want my new mailing address.
  2. Second, I would love to pray for any intentions you might have. Please feel free to reach out anytime. Once I enter the Queenship, I can have my sisters pray for you as well. We have several hours of prayer throughout the day, which provides lots of opportunities for intercession. I would also very much appreciate your prayers leading up to September 8th and beyond, as I continue to discern God’s calling on my life and progress through years of religious formation – that I might be a vessel of God’s Merciful Love.
  3. Finally, if you would like to support me in other practical ways, you can check out my newly-launched small business on Instagram, Magnificat Anima. Along with my friend Emily (who will take over the page in the fall), I’m selling many different handmade items (rosaries, prints and original drawings, jewellery, paintings and commissions). Entrance into a religious community requires the candidate to be debt-free, so this would help cover the last bit I have left from grad school. Covid caused problems with my full-time architecture work this summer, so I’m getting creative with ways to earn money. Since I’ll be getting rid of nearly all my clothes, I’m also considering selling certain pieces, so keep an eye out for those on my social media.

Again, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Love Pt. 3: Sexuality and Morals

[NOTE: This is intended to be read as the third post in a series of three. Please click here to read Part 1 and Part 2. Also, it would be remiss of me to present this particular perspective on human sexuality as the only one among Catholic theologians. This is influenced by John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, which I personally believe contains much beauty and truth, but there is a great deal of other theological scholarship on this topic. If this is an area that has kept you away from the Catholic Church, I would implore you to please read more for yourself, and seek out the vast Catholic scholarship on the topic. It doesn’t change the ultimate teaching, but differing perspectives can be a very good thing.]

Have you ever been wounded by the Catholic Church? Have you ever been disgusted by the seeming hypocrisy of many Christians? Have you ever been angry at God?

I have. I would imagine most, if not all of you reading this have as well.

This topic was very intentionally selected to be the last addressed in this series. I think the Church, or at least many of its members, are unfortunately often guilty of proclaiming all the moral teachings before we’ve built a firm foundation of love. It’s very difficult to accept the ‘what’ without first understanding the ‘why’. And sometimes even the ‘why’ doesn’t seem satisfactory. This is a significant part of what kept me from actually taking Christianity seriously for so many years. I grew up being drilled with all the rules and teachings without an understanding of why they existed. Think about this for a moment – usually, we are only bitter about laws when we desire to break them, but we are much more likely to want to break them if we believe there’s no good reason for their existence in the first place. As Michael Gormley (a well known Catholic speaker) so intelligently observed, “when we remove Christ from the centre of the [culture, teachings, etc.], but we still have elements of Christianity left over, we’re pointing out the woundedness but we don’t have anyone to heal the wounds”. This is the state of the culture in North America. It is only when God is in the picture, and we are able to recognize His love for us and who He created us to be as human people, that we can come to deeper understanding of the moral teachings of the Church.

As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Love is the foundation upon which everything must be built, the spring from which everything else must flow forth.

Before I go any further – even if it’s not worth much coming from one person – I want to apologize, on behalf of all Christians, to anyone who has been wounded by the teachings of Christ communicated in a far-from-loving way, in particular members of the LGBTQ+ community and those who have gone through divorce. I am so very sorry for all the ways members of the Catholic Church and the Christian faithful – through our actions or language – may have caused you pain in the past, and for the ways you may have felt shunned, disrespected, unwanted or rejected because of your lifestyle choices or desires. To anyone who has been persecuted or harassed by those who have failed to communicate Christ’s true message, I’m sorry. If we have failed, first and above-all in loving you, we have failed at our primary mission as followers of Christ, who is Love.

This does not mean I am advocating that all Christians simply become cheerleaders, encouraging those around us to do whatever they want, simply because they think it best. We must love each other, and that is not real love. This is why I despise the expression, “you do you”. What happens when ‘you doing you’ results in death, not just physically but emotionally or spiritually? Shouldn’t we care about each other enough to want and be willing to do something to help, if we believe the path someone is choosing leads to self-destruction and a great deal of pain? Even if it won’t necessarily lead to pain and destruction, if we know of an even deeper joy and an even greater fullness of life, should we not care about each other enough to at least do our best to share that?

Our modern world has a very distorted notion of the meaning of the human body and the purpose of sexuality. Just look at the artwork depicting the body in the past hundred years compared with more historical artistic depictions (ancient Greek sculpture, ancient Egyptian and Chinese paintings, works of Michelangelo and Bernini, paintings of the Renaissance, among others). There is also a pervasive idea that body and soul are separate, that our bodies really aren’t ‘us’ in the same way that our soul is, so what we do with it doesn’t actually matter – particularly in the realm of sexuality. When stated outright, we may claim not to believe this, but so many of the actions taking place in our post-sexual revolution culture indicate otherwise. There must be harmony between our body and our soul because who we are as individuals is equally both, and what is good or bad for our body is also good or bad for our soul. They are inextricably linked.

This is why the information unfurled in John Paul II’s writings on the Theology of the Body are so powerful and needed, particularly at this time. It seeks to restore an understanding of the meaning of the human body, intended from the beginning. As stated in the introduction to Man and Woman He Created Them, the “[T]heology of the Body is not primarily an admonition to follow the law of the body, but a persuasive proclamation of the gospel of the body”, and it is good news. It will certainly take work to understand and implement in our lives, but the ‘law’ of the body comes naturally once an understanding of the body is reached.

In the beginning, humanity was made male and female. Each sex has a very particular purpose, communicated through the form and function of the body. Just as our ears were made to hear, our tongue to taste, and our heart to pump blood, our genitals exist primarily to generate. Their primary function is to bring forth new life. Gender means the manner by which you generate. This is not to ignore the pleasure that comes from sex, but the purpose of sexual pleasure for humanity is that it gives us a “little glimmer” of the joy of Trinitarian love. We are not simply animals – sexual pleasure for humans is not just to procreate. As Christopher West says, “God did not need to dangle a carrot in front of us to get us to procreate“. This obviously does not mean that sexual activity is our ultimate fulfillment, but God has chosen to give us a glimpse into the experience of His own infinite love through human sexual union, and that is beautiful.

Due to the pervasiveness of sex in our modern culture, homosexuality and same-sex topics are constantly brought up in the media, particularly in conversations about Christian moral teaching, forcing the Church and faithful Christians to repeatedly address the topic, seemingly indicating condemnation of the lifestyles lived among members of the LGBTQ+ as one of the primary messages of our faith. I think this is painting a very skewed image of who Christ is and what the true teachings of the Catholic Church are. Yes, the Church declares the reality of sin and sees certain lifestyle choices as sinful, but sexual desire for someone of the same sex is just one of a whole myriad of potentially destructive desires possible within each of us. It is just one tendency to sin among many. (Please see my previous two posts exploring the purpose of sex, according to Christian teaching, to better understand why certain acts may be a distortion of this gift.)

We all experience potentially problematic desires. They may lead to a great deal of pleasure in the moment, but if followed through too their end, they will never lead us to true, long-lasting fulfillment or thriving. If we cannot say no to our desires, no matter what they may be, sexual or otherwise, that is not freedom. It is slavery.

I want to make it clear when I say that myself, or anyone else, has problematic desires, I am not saying that myself or anyone else, in themselves, is problematic. This is a very important distinction. Our desires and emotions do not define who we are. Because of our fallen state, there is a tendency to sexual disorder within each of us, the question is whether we choose to act on it or not. We must understand the worth and value we possess simply because we exist, and the radiant beauty of our own soul, so we can come to recognize the worth, dignity, and beauty of others, and then to respect and love each other, willing the greatest good.

Though certain sexual acts may, technically, vary in their degrees of disorder, that is not my point here. For the purposes of this post, I am talking about sin as the great equalizer. We all sin, each and every one of us, every day, and we are all in need of redemption, whether we’ve personally come to that realization or not. But that is why Jesus came! That is why the gospel is called the “good news”, because in the moment we realize and recognize or sin and brokenness and our need for redemption, in the same moment we can then realize, with profound relief and gratitude, that God knew this long ago and provided the redemption we so desperately needed through the sacrifice of Himself. This is a God who submitted Himself to the worst suffering possible out of love for us because of His desperate longing and desire for each of us, regardless of our life choices or past mistakes. God feels eros for us. The Creator of the universe has an infinite longing for you. He came so He could spend ETERNITY with YOU.

In the ocean of God’s mercy, sin loses its uniqueness. No matter the depth or breadth of sin, the Father’s mercy is more than enough to cover it, to wipe it away and restore brokenness to beauty. It is only in acknowledgment of our brokenness and need that we touch the depths of God, where we find unending love and mercy. This takes humility. We must come to see clearly who we truly are to know who God truly is, and what that actually means for us. What good, good news that is.

Before [God’s] gaze all falsehood melts away… All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation.

– Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

This is the truth the Saints knew so well. It wasn’t that they were perfect human beings, never making mistakes or hurting others. It was their total awareness of their sin and weakness that allowed them to be such exceptional vessels of God’s love.

Disagreement with someone’s life choices does not mean we can’t still have friendship, communion and love. That seems to be a pervasive idea within our current culture, that if we disagree fundamentally on issues of morality or religious beliefs we must divide and good relationships can’t exist between us. That is absolutely false, and becomes a failed opportunity to stretch our capacities for love, and to foster diverse and open-minded community. Disagreement is not synonymous with hatred or dislike. We have to stop slapping on labels for other people and sticking them in boxes based on pre-conceived notions which have little or no basis in fact, without getting to know them at all. While I may not respect a choice or action itself, I will always, by the grace of God, respect the person who made it.

My dear brothers and sisters, if you have ever experienced or do experience same-sex desires, if you have ever felt out of place within your own body, if you consider yourself gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender, genderfluid or anything else, know first and foremost that you are loved by the Church (even if we have failed abismaly in the past at demonstrating this), and that your chosen lifestyle, whatever it may be, does not at all detract from the beauty and dignity I recognize in you. I see you first and foremost as my brother or sister and a beloved child of the heavenly King. I desire your greatest good. I want to know you, to walk with you, to hear you and spend time with you. I do not view you as a project or an object in need of fixing. I look at you as I seek to look at all others: through the eyes of Jesus. You are a potential saint.


As discussed in the first post in this series, God is Love, equally eros and agape – self-sacrificial and desirous. He is the Life-giver, as He desires that all of humanity be unified with Him for eternity in His life-giving, Trinitarian love. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote so beautifully in his encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est:

God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape.

The greatest expression of the unitive, life-giving love of the Trinity is marriage and the family. That is why Catholic Christians so fiercely proclaim the truth of what marriage actually is, because any deformation or distortion of it distorts the image of God’s love. The meaning and value of sex is inherent to the act itself, regardless of how we may feel about it. This means that any sexual act which deviates from its true purpose is a distortion and a disordered desire, no matter the sexual orientation of the person. But it is important to note, as Christopher West says, that “the ultimate orientation of human sexuality is towards something infinite, something eternal”.

“We talk about different ‘sexual orientations’ in human life,” says Lorenzo Albacete, a physicist turned Catholic priest and a beloved professor of mine. “But the ultimate orientation of human sexuality is the human heart’s yearning for infinity. Human sexuality, therefore, is a sign of eternity.” This means sex is not just about sex. As we learn to “read” the story our bodies tell as male and female, we discover that sex is meant to point the way to the ultimate fulfillment of our every desire.

Christopher West

That ultimate fulfillment is God.

By the way, if you’re curious who Christopher West is, since he’s been quoted several times in these posts, you can find out more about him here. He is one of the world’s most prominent teachers of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and is a renound speaker and authour.

Love Pt. 2: Human Life and the Theology of the Body

You are very good.

In case no one has ever told you that, I want you to know. No matter what your life experience has been, where you come from, what you’ve done or what has been done to you, what your disabilities are, what you believe, who you support, or who you love – you are very, very good. There is no one else who can fill your particular place in the world, no one who has been given the unique set of gifts and quirks you’ve been given, no one who can love in the uniquely personal way you can, and I am glad that you exist. Even if we’ve never met or if we have and you don’t like me, I am glad you are here on this earth.

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth’. God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them… God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good.

– Genesis 1:26-27, 31

John Paul II in his writings on the Theology of the Body (TOB), points out this passage from Genesis and dives into its profound depths. He examines this part in particular: “God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them”. Here in Genesis, man in the beginning is referred to as both male and female. “It is further significant that the first man (’āḏām), created from the ‘dust of the ground,’ is defined as ‘male’ (’îš) only after the creation of the first woman” (TOB, General Audience, October 10, 1979). So, in the beginning, in a very real if mystical way, man (male and female) was profoundly unified in God. This is the totality of the union we were created for. This is the destiny which awaites us in eternity. We were always meant to be one in Him.

Please, follow with me here. I know this may sound a little far out for those not familiar with TOB, but I promise you, there is powerful truth and radiant beauty here, if only we could be given the eyes to see it.


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

As I mentioned last week, God is a union of Persons – Father, Son and Spirit. He desires to bring us into this unity, into Himself, but He also desires that we may be unified with one another, in communion as one Body. Just listen to the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John:

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:21-24)

We were created in His image. In His image – His loving, unified image. Read that passage again. See how much he loves you!

The redemption of the body is closely connected with “the spousal meaning of the body.” In fact, the definitive redemption of the body is nothing other than the final and glorious realization of the spousal meaning of the body in the resurrection and beatific vision (see TOB 67–68). From the very beginning, the spousal meaning of the body is “sacramental.” It is a sign that manifests and communicates holiness (see TOB 19:3–6). It signifies the covenant between God and his people, between Christ and the Church, and ultimately the mystery of mysteries, namely, the communion between the divine Persons in the Trinity.

– John Paul II, Theology of the Body

God wants to wed humanity, to marry us, to consummate His love and be united to us for all eternity. This is why you were created. This is why, in Revelation, heaven is referred to as the wedding feast or marriage supper of the Lamb. It is an eternal celebration of this consummation, the marriage between Christ and His Bride, the Church. If you have been baptised into the Christian family (and for those who haven’t, we are waiting to welcome you with open arms), then you are this Church. She is made up of human persons, each destined for eternal union with Christ, the Bridegroom.

Now, let me clarify something before misconceptions arise. God is not a sexual being. When I talk about spousal union in the context of His relationship with us, I am not referring to a sexual union. When male and female unite in marriage as human persons, they are a sign of the spousal, generative love of the Trinity, but as Christopher West often says, human marriage, as beautiful and life-giving as it can be, only gives us “a little, little glimmer” of the union awaiting us in heaven. This union we will experience is infinitely deeper and more complete than human marriage. This is the great beauty and hope witnessed to us by those who have consecrated themselves totally to God here on earth through vows of celibacy or perpetual virginity – either in the priesthood, religious life, or the single life. These people are signs of this heavenly union awaiting us.

Both married and celibate life are two equal yet different signs of the love of God. This brings up the point I mentioned last week about the difference between chastity and celibacy. Those consecrated to God live out the virtue of chastity through celibacy, but we are all called to live chaste lives, that is, rightly ordered sexuality, whether married or not.

Everyone, regardless of his or her state in life, is called to the virtue of chastity. How many of us have heard admonitions to remain chaste until marriage? This, of course, is to equate chastity with abstinence. If we remain here, we will end with a terribly stilted and dangerously misguided understanding of chastity, not to mention marriage. This misguided understanding of chastity is dangerous because it sets up a very legalistic paradigm of repression and indulgence without training us in the ways of self-mastery and self-giving. Be chaste until marriage translates: I need to ‘cage’ the unicorn (eros) for now, but once I’m married I’m ‘allowed’ to open the cage. If this is our approach to chastity, get ready to be gored.

– Christopher West, Fill These Hearts (p. 134)

We must correct these misguided understandings which have wounded so many, so deeply.


I don’t know if any of you have ever shared this frustration, but for a long time I was extremely annoyed/upset by the scripture passage where Jesus states that, “at the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). What if I would rather be married than be like the angels?

I never understood the point of forming deep relationships here on earth, especially at the depth required in marriage, if we are all just going to love each other equally, as family, in heaven. But this line of thought was based on the assumption that the spousal love in marriage would somehow be lessened in heaven, to become equal to all other human relationships. This really didn’t make sense to me. Why would God, who, throughout scripture, is such an advocate for marriage – the union between one man and one woman in their totality of personhood – encourage the exclusivity and incredible commitment and effort of such a relationship in our earthly life, and then take it away as soon as we die? How could that be a good thing? It wasn’t until I heard Bishop Barron respond to a question about precisely this issue on one of the Word on Fire podcast episodes, that I finally heard an explanation that dispelled my former confusion/frustration:

“[In heaven] we will be connected with everybody in such an intense way that the exclusivity involved in marriage here below will not obtain there… but it doesn’t mean it’s anything less than you experience now. It’s more. It’s greater. You will of course know your [spouse] in this very intense way, but the institution of marriage which exists here below, with all its exclusivity… that will not obtain in the same way in heaven because something much greater will be the case.” (Bishop Robert Barron)

In other words,  not only will the relationships between husband and wife be deepened in heaven, but all other relationships will be raised and far surpass the intensity of earthly marriage. In heaven, you will know and love every person even more deeply, intimately and passionately than you now know and love your spouse. This is a spiritual union, the depths of which we can barely catch a glimpse of in this life.

In the divine homeland, souls are completely united to God. They are nourished by the vision of him. Souls are completely taken by their love for God in absolute delight. There is a great silence because souls have no need for words in order to be united to God… Nothin exists except the unique heart-to-heart with God. The embrace of souls and God is eternal. Heaven is the heart of God… Paradise is like a huge burning bush that is never consumed, however forcefully the love that burns spreads. There above, love burns with an innocent flame, with a pure desire to love infinitely and to plunge into the intimate depth of the Trinity.

– Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence

Heaven is not a physical place, as it is so often referred to, but rather a state of being – a state of total union with God, and through Him, with one another. As the Catechism states, “This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity… is called ‘heaven.’ Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). Cardinal Sarah puts it beautifully when he says, “Heaven is the heart of God“. How we reach this state in the physicality of our bodies is part of the mystery of eternity, but when we reach this eternal union, there is absolutely nothing – no power above or below – that can separate us from this burning love of God. If we know this, it is much easier to understand the existence of hell. Like heaven, it is not a physical place, but a state of complete separation from God – a result of our rejection of Him. God, who is Love itself, will never force Himself on anyone, but instead constantly invites us into His love. It is up to us to listen and respond. We choose, through our own free will, our state for all eternity – with or without Him.


One can say that Genesis 2:23-25 speaks about the first feast of humanity, as it were, in the whole original fullness of the experience of the spousal meaning of the body: and it is a feast of humanity that draws its origin from the divine sources of Truth and Love in the very mystery of creation. And although over this feast the horizon of sin and death… was very soon to be extended, nevertheless, we draw a first hope already from the mystery of creation: namely, that the fruit of the divine economy of truth and love, which revealed itself “at the beginning,” is not Death, but Life, and not so much the destruction of the body of man made “in the image of God,” but rather the “call to glory” (Romans 8:30).

– John Paul II, Theology of the Body

This feast of humanity points us toward the eternal feast of heaven. Eternal life has now been restored and redeemed through the Incarnation and Resurrection, our eternal Garden of Eden is even greater than it was in the beginning before the Fall because out of evil, God always brings a greater good than would otherwise have existed, even if we can’t see or understand how. Keep in mind, we have a very limited view in the scope of eternity.

The image of the human person in the beginning is a “call to glory“, as John Paul II writes. In the mutual giving and receiving of their person, body and soul, male and female, man becomes an image of the life-giving love of God. Because of this image we still bear, every human person is supremely dignified, and it is crucially important that we recognize and remember this dignity, both in ourselves and in others.

There’s no such thing as an ordinary person. You’ve never met a mere mortal. Aside from the Blessed Sacrament Itself, your neighbour is the holiest thing presented to your senses.

– C.S. Lewis

I believe this with my whole heart, even though that holy gift of another person can sometimes be very difficult to receive and live with. I once heard an analogy about this that I think is quite accurate… Sometimes the gift is wrapped in duct tape and it takes a little while to pull off, but it is there.

The gift of each human person is staggering.

Isn’t it true that when we heard someone’s story, we are much better able to understand their current circumstances or recent actions? This is why we have such a fascination and love for fictional villians with a history that tugs on the heartstrings. Even if we still know what they’ve done is evil, to hear their story is to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’. Once we hear these stories, it shatters the boxes we’ve put people in, and makes us (hopefully) much less judgemental of their actions or beliefs. If we are to truly respect the ‘other’, we must search beyond the outer packaging, however appealing or unappealing it may be, to reach the gift within. As Pope Benedict XVI said in a homily in 2012, “If I am truly to communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to listen to him and look at him lovingly.” We could certainly use more of this in our world today.

Even before this though, we must recognize our own value and dignity. If we don’t understand our worth and the depth of God’s desire for our thriving, it will be difficult to extend that understanding to all people. We will be challenged to recognize another’s beauty if we cannot see our own.

The story of Genesis in the beginning, before the Fall, is a story primarily of LIFE, not death, and it reveals, in a whole myriad of ways, the radiant beauty of the human person – who we truly are as man, and Whose image we bear.

“Word” does not quite convey all the richness of the Greek Logos. “Logos” refers to the rational principle governing the universe—the ultimate meaning, reason, logic, and beauty behind everything. And the astound­ing claim upon which all of Christianity rests is that the human body is God’s chosen vehicle for communi­cating his Word, for communicating ultimate meaning, and for communicating who he is, who we are, and his final plan for the universe….For those with eyes to see, our bodies are not only biological; they’re theological—they reveal the logic of God; they reveal the ultimate meaning behind everything.

This is why St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, despite how it is typically framed, is not merely a papal teaching on marital love and human sexuality. It is that, to be sure, but it is also so much more. As John Paul II himself said, what we learn in his TOB “concerns the whole Bible” (TOB 69:8) and plunges us into “the perspective of the whole gospel, of the whole teach­ing, even more, of the whole mission of Christ” (TOB 49:3). Through the lens of spousal love, John Paul II’s Theology of the Body leads to “the rediscovery of the meaning of the whole of existence . . . the meaning of life” (TOB 46:6).

– Christopher West (COR blog #251)

[NOTE: This is the second in a 3 part series on love, life, and the body all grounded in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Please check back next week for part 3. Click here to read part 1.

(All emphasis added to quotations is my own.)

Love Pt. 1: Eros and Ecstasy

You were created for bliss and ecstasy.

Read that one more time. Has anyone ever told you that? It’s true – bliss and ecstasy.

Have you ever experienced something so beautiful that it actually hurt? In those moments – a sunrise over the ocean, stars filling the nightsky, the crescendo of an orchestra, a moment of intimacy with a loved one – our hearts ache with longing. We never want the experience to end.

It reawakens one’s sense of wonder where one enters into the eternal “I AM” of God. When the heart encounters beauty, time ceases and only the present matters. The thought of forever can often bring a feeling of fear, entrapment, or boredom. But when one’s heart, in an instant, is pierced by a glimpse of beauty, one does not want that particular moment to end, but rather the heart aches for that beauty to last forever – it pleads to go ever deeper into that one newly opened prism, because the heart knows there is no way one could ever fully exhaust the mystery. It keeps on giving and giving. An encounter of beauty is one of discovery and learning – it never remains stale or static, but thrusts one forward into ever new surprise. Beauty opens a portal into the eschaton where we can behold in awe the One who is ever ancient, and ever new, one who is present with us now as the Eternal Present.

– Br. David Brokke SOLT, Created: Bridging the Gap Between Your Art and Your Creator

The Greeks had a word for this – one of the dimensions of love called EROS. However, the Greeks considered it largely a kind of madness or intoxication, usually associated with sexual pleasure, but a significant purification of eros occured through the Jewish faith of the Old Testament. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes about this extensively in his first papal encyclical Deus Caritas Est. The English word erotic comes from the Greek eros, but unfortunately has not yet been redeemed, and remains very twisted and misconstrued in its meaning, being almost exclusively associated with sexual desire and pleasure, so for the purposes of this post, I will continue with the use of the Greek.

Eros – love as desire; desire for everything true, good and beautiful; seeking union; a yearning for infinity

Modern counterfeit eroticism seeks to possess the beautiful by means of sexual frenzy. The difference for Plato is that true eros desires to be possessed in the beautiful… Man’s desire for the Beautiful arouses his hope that his satisfaction is not in this world; his quest is not yet complete.

– Nathan Goebel, Cruciform Eros

Father Nathan Goebel (one of the priests on the popular podcast Catholic Stuff You Should Know) wrote an excellent thesis called “Cruciform Eros” on the importance of eros in the priestly life, which is really significant to the point that eros is a necessary element of love for all people, including those who will never express or experience it in a sexual way. Eros is not limited to sexual or physical love – it is so much deeper and broader. As Fr. Nathan quotes D.C. Schindler (The Redemption of Eros):

[S]exuality is not the same thing as eros, which is a more universal and thus comprehensive desire, but is rather a physical image of eros… If Plato, and indeed the Christian tradition itself, resists the reduction of love to its physical expression, it is not necessarily because of a contempt for eros… but is rather an insistence that it be accorded its integral significance.”

Eros and lust are not the same, just as chastity and celibacy are not the same (more on that in future posts).

God’s love is often referred to exclusively as agape, a descending, self-sacrificial, selfless love, but Pope Benedict argues, “eros and agape can never be completely separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized.” He continues further: “Fundamentally ‘love’ is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love.” We see these two dimensions of love in the beautiful poetry of the Song of Songs, which as Benedict says, “ultimately describe[s] God’s relation to man and man’s relation to God”.

You ravish my heart, my sister, my promised bride, you ravish my heart… I come into my garden, my sister, my promised bride, I gather my myrrh and balsam, I eat my honey and my honeycomb, I drink my wine and my milk. Eat, friends, and drink, drink deep, my dearest friends. I sleep, but my heart is awake. I hear my Beloved knocking. ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one… Then I rose to open to my Beloved, myrrh ran off my hands, pure myrrh off my fingers… I opened to my Beloved.

– Song of Songs 4:9, 5:1-2, 5-6

Ecstasy, from the Greek ekstasis (to be taken out of oneself), is eros experienced to the full. Experiences of ecstasy can be found throughout the writings of the Christian mystics. One of my absolute favourite works of art is The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini, where he strove to capture in marble the moment of ecstasy St. Teresa of Avila experienced when her heart was pierced by the love of God, who is Beauty. Recounting this experience in her own words, St. Teresa concluded by proclaiming: “the soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.”

God is a communion of Persons, a Holy Trinity, and He experiences eros for Himself. He exists in relationship, and therefore human beings, made in His image and likeness, are also made for relationship. The three Persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, desire each other so deeply as to be one, completely united in an eternal exchange of love. This is the truest and purest form of communion, and God wants to invite us into it. As William K. Riordan puts it, “we see God in His goodness attracting Himself in His eros to come forth from Himself in an eternal ecstasy in which new beings are created, sustained, and perfected“. Those new beings are us. You and me, all human persons.


Your desires are good. Let me repeat that… your desires are GOOD.

For anyone else who (like me) is a very passionate person, this is particularly good news. For most of my life I thought there was something wrong with me, that I needed to beat down or somehow get rid of the intense passions and desires I felt. This was a lie, and I believed it for far too long. It was through Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that the desires of my heart were finally affirmed as inherently good (though in need of purification). This was something I’d always hoped and intuitively felt must be true, but couldn’t quite believe until recently. I don’t know if I can adequately articulate what a radical change this realization has brought about within me, personally. My desires were intentionally placed in me, by God, to direct me towards Him who is the ultimate fulfillment of all human desire. This knowledge has freed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed to be freed, and I hope that sharing it might bring about this freedom for others.

We all, moreover, need to set out on the path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims, heading for the heavenly homeland, toward that full and eternal good that nothing will be able to take away from us. This is not, then, about suffocating the longing that dwells in the heart of man, but about freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When in desire one opens the window to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God.

– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, General Audience, November 7 2012

We can’t forget about this key of purification and healing. Though inherently good, our desires must be purified. Saint Augustine referred to life as a “gymnasium of desire”. A gymnasium is a place to train, so to follow the analogy through, life is the training ground for desire, where it is directed towards ultimate fulfillment. Unfortunately, when misdirected (as is often the case), these deep desires lead us to unhealthy and dangerous ends (addictions of all kinds, hook-up culture, emotional dependency, etc.). Our desires are infinite. They cannot be ultimately satisfied with earthly pleasures because we were not made for this world. Christopher West often says, “when we take our desire for the Infinite to something finite, we are always left wanting” and further, “God wants to awaken our desires at their depth and redirect them towards ‘the stars’ [Himself]”.

We all have disordered hearts. Before the fall, our desires were pure, but because of original sin, that purity was lost, which is why Adam and Eve clothed themselves – not because their desires or their bodies were bad but because the desire of the one looking had become impure. In his fourth homily on the first Epistle of John, St. Augustine states: “The whole life of a good Christian is a holy desire… Let us desire therefore, my brethren, for we shall be filled.” We shall be filled. As my favourite saint, Thérèse of Lisieux wrote, “God would never inspire [us] with desires which cannot be realized”. He will fulfill us.

God loves us where we are and how we are, but He loves us far too much to leave us there. He is always calling us higher, to a more full and vibrant life than we can even imagine. At the root of every human desire is some good and truth because desire is good. Our desires must be mastered, not repressed or allowed to run our lives. We must order them – point them in the right direction. Sexual desire was created to fulfill the very commandment to love as Jesus loves… “This is My Body, given for you.” In order for desire towards other human persons to be rightly ordered, it must mature from an attraction to a person based on what good they are for us, to love as goodwill (selfless love), a longing for their good above our own. This is difficult. It takes time. We cannot do it by ourselves. But this is the fantastic, life-transforming good news of Jesus Christ! He wants to purify our desires even more than we do, and He actually can. All we have to do is let Him.

[E]ros captures the sense of transport of man’s being as such far better than does agape, and this constitutes for Denys as aesthetic as well as a soteriological statement. For man’s transport to God does not stop at Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic… but grounds the latter in an antecedent and con-descending divine ekstasis in which God is drawn out of himself by eros into creation, revelation, and Incarnation. But we must listen to the whole passage:

‘And the divine Eros also brings rapture, not allowing them that are touched by it to belong to themselves, but only to the objects of their love… And hence the great Paul, constrained by the divine Eros, and having received a share in its ecstatic power, says, with inspired utterance: ‘I live, and yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me.’ These are words of the true lover, of one who… was beside himself… and unto God… not posessing a life of his own… but the life of his Beloved, a life surrounded on all sides by an ardent love. And we must dare affirm (for this is the truth) that the Creator of the Unvierse himself, in his beautiful and good Eros towards the Universe, is, through his excessive erotic Goodness, transported outside of humself, in his providential activities towards all things that have being, and is overcome by the sweet spell of Goodness, Love, and Eros. In this manner, he is drawn from his transcendent throne above all things to dwell within the heart of all things in accordance with his super-essential and ecstatic power thereby he nonetheless does not leave himself behind. This is why those who know about God call him ‘zealous’, because he is vehement in his manifold and beneficent Eros towards all beings, and he spurs them on to search for him zealously with a yearning eros, thus showing himself zealous for love inasmuch as the things that are desired are considered worthy of zeal and inasmuch as he allows himself to be affected by the zeal of all beings for which he cares. In short, both to possess eros and to love erotically belong to everything Good and Beautiful, and eros has its primal roots in the Beautiful and Good: eros exists and comes into being only through the Beautiful and the Good.’”

– Hans urs van Balthasar, Theological Aesthetics: Seeing the Form

[Note: The is the first in a 3 part series on the love, life, and the body all grounded in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Please check back over the coming two weeks for parts 2 and 3.]

(All emphasis added to quotations is my own.)

Marriage: Sacramental Beauty

Please check out my original post on Project Illuminate here.

Earlier this month, one of my closest friends got married. In anticipation of her wedding day, marriage has been on my mind a lot in recent months as I prayed for her, and her now husband, and helped with preparations. It has been my great joy and honour to witness the blooming and deepening of this couples’ relationship over the last several years, and it was a delight to be a part of their day. Their’s was actually the first Catholic wedding I’ve ever attended, and I couldn’t help comparing the ceremony to others I’ve been to. Though each wedding was beautiful, there was a tangible difference this time. Both the bride and groom knew that they were entering into a sacramental union, with God at its centre, and the importance of this fact and the significance of the sacrament remained the central focus in all the planning beforehand and throughout the day of. There was a tangible peace and joy in the Church that day.

My favourite moment of the Mass was the exchange of vows, followed immediately by the invocation of the Holy Spirit – not just because the vows are the moment the sacrament actually takes place, but also because the choice to follow them with a pleading for God’s grace in the Holy Spirit was so powerful. I had the privilege of seeing the groom’s face during the vows as he gazed at his bride, vowing himself to her for life and she to him. As I took in his facial expression, tears rolled down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the love I was witnessing – a love they had both chosen to commit to until death, no matter what it may require. There are moments when beloved gazes on beloved and the gaze is so intense you almost want to look away, but the beauty of it draws you in. It’s radiant, and reminds us of the gaze of Christ on us, which is always one of love and desire. I could practically hear the rejoicing in heaven.

It struck me that during the vows, all of us faced the bride and groom as they faced each other, but during the invocation of the Holy Spirit, everyone, including the priest, turned towards the crucifix at the front to gaze at Jesus. We sang together, praying that His Spirit would come and be present among us, especially in this union between the newly married couple, and it didn’t matter that it was in Polish and I couldn’t understand a word of what we were saying. I could literally feel the grace. That was the real reason we were all there, because of Jesus, because He had called these two people together for His purposes, and they knew it.

When a couple loves each other in such a deep and pure way, their love in a way becomes inclusive instead of exclusive. We are drawn to them. The love they give and receive from each other spills over in love for others and in its greatest intesity, brings forth new life.

“Love then is not a utopia: it is given to mankind as a task to be carried out with the help of divine grace. It is entrusted to man and woman, in the sacrament of matrimony, as the basic principle of their ‘duty,’ and it becomes the foundation of their mutual responsibility: first as spouses, then as father and mother. In the celebration of the sacrament, the spouses give and receive each other, declaring their willingness to welcome children and to educate them. On this hinges human civilization, which cannot be defined as anything other than a ‘civilization of love’.”
(St. John Paul ll, Letter to Families, no. 15)

No one defends, honours and respects marriage more than the Catholic Church. It places more value on this relationship than any other organization or group in the world and will not yield in its defense despite immense cultural and societal pressure in many places. This is an incredible testimony to the beauty and sacredness of the marriage union.

I think it may be helpful here to clarify a few terms and practicals of a marriage bond, as understood by the Church. Marriages can either be valid and sacramental, or valid and non-sacramental. If a marriage is annulled it means it’s been declared invalid and was never actually a marriage in the first place. The Church assumes every time a man and woman exchange vows willingly, with the intention to remain faithful to each other, commited until death, and are open to children, there is a valid marriage. One exception is when a Catholic is married outside the Church, in which case no authentic marriage bond is recognized. God graces all marriages because of His love for us but when they are valid yet non-sacramental, they don’t receive the extra special sacramental graces. A marriage is considered sacramental when it occurs between two validly baptized Christians, as baptism is the only way through which to receive any sacrament. Nothing but death can break a valid sacramental marriage bond.

In the sacramentalization of natural marriage, two people are called together by God for the salvation of their souls. They are not just drawn together through mutual attraction, but by God for His purposes, and will not just find fulfillment in each other’s presence, but will find salvation. In a sacramental marriage, a person’ spouse is their path to holiness. Their vocation here on earth helps them achieve their ultimate vocation of sanctity.

In the sacrament of matrimony, it is not about what we receive, like in the other sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, etc.), but about what we become. The vows exchanged are the sacrament, and through these vows the couple becomes a sacrament of Christ’s love for His Church. They are a sign to the world of His love for us.

“Marriage and family become for us a sacred revelation of the inner life of the Trinity… It’s within the family that we learn to love, to believe, and to pray. It reveals Christ’s love to us as His bride and gives us a window into and a tangible example of what our relationship with Him will be like in the next life.” – Bishop Donald Hying

Married couples are living witnesses to the love of Christ the bridegroom for His bride the Church.

In our relationships, when we are unified under a common passion and purpose, and are striving for some high ideal, when we fall in love not so much with each other but with a transcendent third (love for the truth, love for a country, love for God, etc.) we are actually drawn closer together through this shared love. This is a concept that can be traced all the way back to Aristotle, and is discussed by others in more recent history such as Venerable Fulton Sheen and Bishop Robert Barron. As Bishop Barron states in one of his Word on Fire podcast episodes, The Spirituality of Marriage, a married couple must look beyond just their spouse towards the transcendent third, who in this case is God. It is through this gaze, this falling in love with God, that their love for each other deepens and their bond is made stronger.

Christian marriage, as Fr Hugh Barbour, O. Praem. (Chaplain at Catholic Answers) put it, is an invitation to maturity and to a moderation of passions. It is the ongoing spiritual battle to be like Christ. Marriage is meant to draw us out of ourselves and into a higher space. It is a journey towards sanctity, and is the vocation most people are called to in this life.

This all being said, marriage is far from easy, which is why the graces of the sacrament are so important. No one, no couple, can live this vocation without help, particularly from God. We need His grace. It is His love which enables spouses to love each other, and their children, in the first place. I have been very blessed to grow up with an example of many strong and long-lasting marriages around me, both in my own family and in friend’s families. As a result, I have experienced first-hand the gift this sacrament is to a family, when fully lived out. Though imperfect, the marriages of my parents and grandparents, especially, have been a living sign for me of God’s love by their love and fidelity through so many years of life’s joys and sorrows. If human beings can love each other so much and can continue to choose each other day after day, year after year, no matter what, how much more does God love and choose us?

This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1615)

The gift of marriage and family is the highest earthly good the Lord has given us. May we continue to recognize, defend and celebrate its beauty.

Let’s Talk – Mental Illness

In honour of #BellLetsTalk today, I thought I would share a quick blog post with some thoughts on mental illness. The images I’ve included in this post were chosen because they depict mental illnesses that either I’ve personally struggled with or that people I know and care about have struggled with. The sketches were done by an artist named Shawn Cross. I first came across them last year and was very moved. He does an excellent job of depicting experiences which are very difficult to describe in words. You can view the original post here.


To all of you reading this who currently have, or have ever had, a mental illness, you are not alone. Please don’t ever feel ashamed for your illness. You are not your illness. It is not your identity. It is not your fault, you did not cause it, and you did not ask for it. It is simply a sickness of the brain which needs treatment just as any sickness of the body does. But please, do not keep it in the darkness. You cannot heal, cannot improve, cannot regain peace, if you don’t first acknowledge that there’s something wrong, and seek help. Illness should never be shameful.






For those who do not have personal experience with mental illness, please don’t jump to conclusions and don’t ever let your first assumption be that a person is making up an illness to get attention, or for some other reason. For those who truly suffer from these illnesses, I assure you, we do not want them.

It is high time we, as a society, take this seriously. Change starts with individuals. Each one of us has the power to create this positive change through the way we love and act with others in our own lives. Next time you hear that a co-worker or acquaintance has gone on “stress” leave, do not role your eyes and assume they’re being dramatic or just want time off. Many mental illness are silent and invisible. We have no idea what someone else might be suffering, and it is not ok to assume that just because we haven’t seen any evidence of illness does not mean it isn’t there. We must work to be compassionate, and give the benefit of the doubt. Please try your best to truly listen if someone opens up to you about their pain or struggles, regardless of your own feelings about it. It takes courage, especially initially, to share with even one other person one’s mental sufferings. They can be confusing, terrifying, and isolating.

There is hope, there is freedom, there is treatment for these illnesses. Again, you are not alone. No man is an island. We need compassion, open-mindedness, and understanding, but most of all, we need each other. Together, we can stop the stigma. #BellLetsTalk

Daring to Hope

Sometimes, there are things I read which must be shared. A full year after writing my last blog post, the words of Katie Davis Majors have compelled me to write again. Katie, whose first book ignited the spark in my heart for foreign missions, for loving those in distant lands, who led me to Engineering Ministries International and through them, to her home of Uganda (to read more about that story, click here), has again penned a story that speaks right to my heart.

So much has happened in my life over the past 12 months, a semester in Rome, a work term in Prince Edward Island, and the completion of my final term of architecture school and my undergraduate degree. There is so much I could’ve written about, but never made time to. Now that I’ve been selected as a member of the launch team for Katie’s new book, Daring to Hope, I vowed to spread the word in as many ways possible, which includes my blog. And oh, how I want to share this with you.

Given the current state of the world, the tag line of Daring to Hope might hook you on its own: How do you hold on to hope when you don’t get the ending you asked for? But just in case it doesn’t, let me share what a gift, yet again, Katie’s book has been to me, and so many others who are also part of this launch team.

This is a story of hope, as you may have surmised from the title, and of healing. It is a testament to the faithfulness of the Father. Katie shares her heart, revealing parts of her journey as a mom and missionary over the past ten years in Uganda, striving to find joy in situations that seem hopeless and dark, when prayers were not answered in desired ways, and stories had hard and unexpected endings. This story is much more about God’s faithfulness in the everyday, than it is about a radical missionary in Uganda. It speaks to everyone. It’s about the ways the Lord can work in extroardinary ways through simple acts of faith, icing cupcakes, reading with your children, laughing over bowls of spaghetti, replacing a bandage, mopping the floor. It’s about the healing power of gratitude when we give thanks for the seemingly insignificant, and creating beauty from ashes.

“Some blessings were big and some were small, but there was no denying that they were everywhere. I knew His presence in a way that I had not known previously. Gratitude was healing me. Giving thanks to the One who both gives and takes away, and remains my Saviour in either circumstance, refocused my eyes and made me strong…. Gratitude brought me into communion with God.”

“Our God is not too big for the small and is glorified in our ordinary moments as we invite Him in.”

Katie is often called brave. I have also been called brave, for the choices I have made and the places I have gone (though they have been far less radical than Katie’s), in my striving to follow the will of the Lord. But what we long for you to know, is that Jesus is the one who makes us brave. We are only brave because we have a Father who we know will never let us down, who is always there when we collapse in weariness, who is our guiding hand when we don’t know which way to turn. He is relentless in His pursuit of us. I trust my Father more than I trust myself. This is what it means to be a “prisoner of hope“, to trust Him even when we can’t see any good resolution. Katie puts words to this beautifully, “… I do not know His ways, but I know Him. I know Him”. Christ is our bravery and our courage. He is our strength.

Something that has always struck me most about Katie is her openess to community, to welcoming everyone into her home, whether it’s convenient or not, whether she wants to or not. In Daring to Hope, she writes, “our house is always full, but it never really feels too small. Over the years we have made a habit, a lifestyle really, of opening the doors wide even when we feel like we can’t possibly stretch any more, of making ourselves available to those God brings into our loves and all the ways He might show us His goodness as we open our arms to Him and to others… He has filled our lives and our home with beautiful, broken people, and He has shown Himself to be the God who mends the broken and uses the cracks to reveal His glory.” Isn’t that beautiful? I long to have a home like this. It’s what God calls us to, this sharing of lives, this openess to others, but it is hard and often inconvenient.

Daring to Hope is a testament to the ways the Lord is working through one woman’s willingness to trust in Him and take the next step, and who He has shown Himself to be amidst the pain and heartbreak, because He can work everything for good, even the most horrific and tragic circumstances. That is the major message of the book, “that we would know the true Hope found only in His Son Jesus, the Lamb, who never, ever stops reaching out for us, who cups out pain in His nail-scarred palms and cradles our hearts close to His. He wants to be our reward.”

“No one loves wounds… But when we love our Saviour we can trust that sometimes the ugliness of life draws us to Him.”

All of us know trials in our lives. In the loss of classmates and loved ones, and struggles with depression and loneliness, I have known sorrow and despair, but these experiences have also given me an intimacy with the Lord that I couldn’t have experienced any other way. I don’t enjoy the pain, but I thank Him for grieving with me and for His heart breaking with mine. He never leaves us. “In our pain, He is near.” As Katie writes, “He has taught me His secrets in the darkness. He has taught me true and unwavering hope in Him.”

Katie talks a lot about hard goodbyes in this book. Over the past five years of university, moving to a new city every four months, Christ has shown me how to be open to love, to share my heart with others, even knowing, in such a short time I would have to say goodbye, even when it felt like I was ripping off little pieces of my heart as I boarded each plane and that in spite of promises to keep in touch, with most, the relationships and closeness would never be the same again. It is hard. The goodbyes don’t get easier, but I have learned, in the stretching and the breaking, that it is worth it, every time. With each new friendship, each life that crosses paths with our own, we have the priviledge of bearing witness to another’s story, even if just for a short time, and in so doing, as Katie says, we bear witness to God. To the unique way He reveals Himself in each of us.

“‘I know you are tired, child, but I am not. I do not grow tired. I will never become weary. Lean on me, for in your weakness, I am strong.’

‘I believe in you,’ I whisper.
‘It’s enough, child,’ He answers.”

This book sings of His faithfulness. It seeps through every crack and crevice, every one of Katie’s stories, and the stories of others woven into hers, in the cracking open of Scripture, and the insights shared.

“Certainly God places each of us in situations that, though others look on with support and love, they cannot fully understand. In the past year, loss and life had left a big void that only He could fill, and He did. In His presence, I didn’t have to explain mysef or recount the struggles of the day; I didn’t have to describe my feelings in all their complexity. He knew. I didn’t have to sumon up trite answers or insincere piety. He knew me, and He loved me, and I could rest in Him even when my mind raced.”

I could go on. I swear I have underlined half of this book. There’s a lot to soak in. I’ve already been through it twice. I will not reveal the closing lines, though they are my favourite, because they will be more impactful after you have read the whole book. They sent shivers down my spine as I let them soak in. I hope you will discover them for yourselves, dear friends, and let these words of hope and healing wash over you.

Katie’s book, Daring to Hope, comes out exactly two weeks from today, and is available for pre-order now!

Me Before You or You Before Me?

Having completed my internship with Engineering Ministries International in Uganda, I plan to keep this blog going, continuing to be a place I share my thoughts, experiences, and faith, but also using it to speak out on important issues and to share or process thoughts. I hope my writing provokes thought and feeling, but more than anything I want everyone reading this to know that everything I write comes from a place of love. Really and truly.

I actually wrote this post over a month ago now, but haven’t made the time to mold it into a cohesive whole until now.

Last month, I watched the film “Me Before You”, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, and after reading the book a couple of weeks later, by Jojo Moyes, I have done a lot of thinking about it, its characters, and the beautiful, complex, and occasionally disturbing and heartbreaking messages it communicates. I both loved and hated the story.

As I mentioned, I’ve been working on this post for several weeks now, before I started the book, in the effort to try and communicate my thoughts clearly and kindly, while keeping an open mind and being respectful of the many different viewpoints around these topics. I’m glad I read the book before posting this. Unsurprisingly, the characters are better developed and the novel gives more insight into, and information about, quadraplegics, their caregivers and loved ones, assisted-suicide, euthanasia and the complexities around all of those things.

All of us have pain in our lives. We all know suffering, to varying degrees of course, but a person cannot go through life without pain and hardship. Each of us has a cross, some obvious and visible, some hidden and silent, none less real than another. As a Catholic Christian, I know I was never promised peace and joy in this life, those things can of course be found, but not without the burden of our cross. For those of us who are Christian, we know this. We know that just over 2000 years ago a man loved us so much that he came to suffer and die for each and every one of us, so that we might live, and in doing so guaranteed for all eternity our eternal and everlasting joy, should we choose it. He warned us that this life would be difficult, but not to despair because he conquered suffering and death forever.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

But for those who are not Christian, it is often much more difficult to grasp the purpose of suffering. I know there are countless different systems of belief in the world, and many of them try to tackle the problem of human suffering, but for me, none of it made any sense until I began to dig into my Catholic faith for answers. Without Christ and his Passion, no suffering really makes sense to me. There is just no way to justify any of it, so of course we should try to avoid it at all costs, even if that means death. Why wouldn’t we, if it has no purpose?

Something that was stressed so much throughout this whole film was the right to choose. “It’s his choice”, was spoken multiple times over the course of the story in reference to Will. Of course they’re right, we all have the right to choose. Our free will gives us choices, always, whether they be insignificant or life-altering. It us up to us. That does not, however, mean that we should encourage others in all their choices if we know what they’re choosing will hurt them and hurt others.

Every single choice in our life matters. We have no idea what part we are meant to play in this great story, but each of us does play a part, an important part. Our lives have meaning, we have meaning, and we have purpose. You have dignity and worth, no matter what state your mind or body might be in simply because of who you are. Not for all the things you can do or the things you’ve done, but for you. Just you. You are inherently valuable no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do with your life. You were made in the image of God, who actually loved you so much that he became human for you, to be able to fully understand your suffering. Physical, mental, emotional, he knows it all, and what hurts you hurts him. Never doubt that he understands your pain. Apart from him, suffering is meaningless, but when we choose to unite our suffering with the Passion of Christ, it has the power to redeem. I know many do not believe in redemptive suffering, and I am truly sorry for that, but it is real. I have lived it and I have seen it.

There was a blog posted on Salt + Light several weeks ago that discussed this film as well and there was a particular line that stated an often overlooked truth, which you’ll find below.

“In the case of medically assisted dying, it affects not just your loved ones, but your doctor and the whole medical system and the legal system too. No act is really ever a completely autonomous act because we are not completely autonomous. We are relational.”
– Deacon Pedro (Salt + Light Media)

In this particular story, it is obvious that Will’s choice affects the people in his life, especially his parents and Lou. Lou’s love throughout the film is a selfless love. It’s beautiful. She is a servant, for her family and for Will, something we are all called to be. She constantly puts others before herself. Seeing the way she puts everything aside to love him in the best way she can is inspiring. She sets a powerful example. She fell in love with Will after his accident, when he couldn’t see anything lovable about himself anymore, when he believed that anything special or valuable about him had been taken away. I wouldn’t say she “sees past” his disability because that disability makes him the man she loves, and she loves all of him, even in his weakness.

Will inspires me in many ways as well, not as much in the movie, but definitely in the book, however, he also breaks my heart. He fails to see all that life still has to offer, and is unable to put the will of others before himself. I know he believes that he, those who love him, and really the rest of the world as a whole, are better off without him. That is tragic because it is such a lie. He is not simply a burden on society who should be disposed of or dispose of himself so that others are free from service. We are called to service. Saying service isn’t always easy is an understatement, but it’s what we are called to do, to lay down our lives for others. The greatest human who ever lived came as a servant; he healed, he listened, he washed feet, he died, all in service. When sacrificial service is freely given it is the greatest and most powerful form of love.

I have a very deep-seated belief that all human beings are inherently good, and were not born wanting to inflict pain on others or on ourselves.

We were each given free will and we always have a choice; a choice that should never be taken away from us ragardless of how others may feel about it, or whether we ourselves know that our choice breaks a moral law. I have chosen things that I know are bad for me more than once in my life, making decisions knowing their negative consequences and choosing them anyway, because I can be single-minded in my pursuit of happiness or peace, outweighing the temporary for the eternal. Sometimes I wish someone had been there to stop my actions, because I was only causing myself (and sometimes others) harm, but then would I have stopped the next time? Probably not. It needed to be my own will, my own desire to choose what is right or good. We were all given choice, not because we deserve it or are entitled to it, but because our Maker chose to make it that way, for better or for worse.

At one point near the end of the story, Will says to Lou that she is not enough, that her love for him is not enough for him to live for. He’s right, it isn’t. Sometimes our love for people or their love for us is just not enough to keep us here. When we have reached the point when we honestly do not believe we can ever feel true happiness again, when we are in such despair that for us life has truly lost its joy, how do we find the will to live? If there is nothing beyond this life, nothing greater than this, then what is the point, especially when we are forced to endure such incredible suffering or to watch those we love endure pain we can hardly imagine? There has to be something more, something greater, calling us to life. Without Christ, no suffering makes sense. It is meaningless. If I did not have my faith, I probably wouldn’t be here. I honestly don’t know how people without any faith in something greater than this realm can endure the pain in this world, can bear suffering, and still find the will to get out of bed every day.

To tell my story is to tell of Christ, so please, even if you don’t share any of my beliefs, just hear me out for a minute. In the moments when I have been in the deepest pits of depression, when I was truly unable to see even the opening at the end of the tunnel, I really didn’t see the point of any of it, of all of this. For me, it was not until my faith became real to me again, when I actually heard the truth Christ was speaking to me, and listened to loved ones reminding me of His truth, that I was pulled out of that place, that I was able to find joy and purpose and passion again.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” – Isaiah 49:15-16

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
– Jeremiah 31:1

“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.” – Isaiah 43:1-4

I have much to live for now, but without Him, and the people who love me, in that long dark season, I truly don’t know if I would’ve been able to escape the grips of depression. It is so overwhelming, so suffocating and dominant, whether it creeps up slowly or suddenly consumes you.

Will too suffered from depression, because of his pain, his injuries and illnesses, his lack of freedom, and the life he lost. “That there was no evidence of mental illness”, which the author writes in some of the last pages of the novel’s text, referring to Will, is completely untrue. Depression is a mental illness. When someone decides to take their own life, assisted or not, as a result of depression (I’m not discussing any other potential reasons/causes of suicide here), it is not because they are unbelievably selfish, as many seem to think, and even I once thought. It’s not that it is not a selfish act, maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean that the victims of depression and suicide are selfish people. They are suffering from an illness that is beyond their control. We can’t just “snap out of it” or “think/look on the bright side”. The thing is, we can’t even see a bright side anymore.  Depression is a horrible, debilitating illness, and often a silent killer.

In the darkest moments, we can’t see past the bleakness, the numbness, the despair. For me, it was like the world had drained of colour, without even the vibrance and contrast of true black or white, just grey. It felt like losing everything and gaining nothing. It was a suffocating loneliness, believing if I talked to anyone about what was going on, I would simply become a burden. I hate being a burden, or inconveniencing people. I know I’m not alone in that. Will didn’t like it either, constantly needing people waiting on him night and day, but more than anything, he hated having his freedom taken away. I can only imagine what it would be like not to be able to move, to eat, even to go to the bathroom without someone else’s help. I hard as I might try, I cannot truly understand what that is like. I see the reasoning behind his decision. In the book he even says it, “this is the first thing I’ve been in control of since the accident”. Having freedom taken from you is a horrible experience, especially in such a violent and abrupt manor, but does it really mean we should stop fighting, trying to regain some of what we’ve lost, adjusting to a new reality? Our life does still have meaning, even if it’s not the life we ever would have wanted.

The ending is what ruins the entire story for me. The whole thing has such a pro-life message, with everyone fighting to inspire Will to live, until the very end. Imagine how powerful, how truly brave and inspiring it would have been had that final scene been different. Imagine if Will had made a different choice, if he had been sitting next to Lou in Paris, enjoying that coffee and warm crousiant, and saying those words in person. He gives her a beautiful and wonderful piece of advice, but completely fails to follow it himself. To me, it seems somewhat ironic that the hashtag coined for the story is #liveboldly.

This story is a powerful one. The acting is excellent, the film is beautiful, and the novel deeply thought-provoking, but sadly, no matter what the author or actors or media might say, it ends in tragedy. Choosing death, in this way, is not a happy ending.

My hope, is that it will encourage deep thought, spark conversation. All human life has dignity and worth, no matter the state it may be in. We were never meant to walk this journey alone, but we were given the gift of free will and therefore the choice of what to do with ourselves, who to spend time with, where to go, even whether to live, is our own. We cannot force others to do or believe what we know to be true or right. We can repremand people for doing wrong, committing crime, and contradicting moral law, and we can try until our dying breath to convince those we love, and really everyone we encounter, of truth, particularly as Christians, however they will always have their own free will and I think we need to remember that, as much as it might break our hearts, and might force us to have to go up against the decisions of those we love the most. When those we love are hurting, in pain, struggling to find joy or meaning in anything, it will always be their choice, in the end, how to deal with and react to their situation, but through it all we must lift them up, fight for them while they cannot fight themselves, and sometimes even fight against them for their good. We must love them, in the best way we know how.


‘You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.’
– Miriam Adeney

Now that I’ve been home for one month, I figured it was about time to write again. There have been several things I’ve felt inclined to write and reflect on over the past several weeks, but I’ve landed on what is probably the most obvious topic, home.

Having moved back to Canada last month and being back in my hometown for the summer for the first time in three years, it still feels kind of odd to be here, but lovely at the same time. I’ve loved being able to spend time with loved ones I’d been missing for so long, to go to mass at my home church for more than two weekends in a row, to visit some of my favourite places in the city, and go for runs almost every morning in my favourite park. Getting together with my friends and not having to say goodbye for several months after just one visit has made me very happy.

It’s true that I now have little pieces of my heart scattered all over this country and other places around the world, and though I might spend more time than I should missing people I cannot see, I count it all as gift. The longing for homes around the world means I’ve been blessed with love in so many places and by so many people. Each person in my story was placed there for a reason, and I’m so grateful for the blessing to have been able to travel and learn and develop relationships with such varied and unique people.

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Just hours after stepping off the plane in Toronto… our family is reunited!

Two of my very best friends who I missed dearly… Katie and Em

‘It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you.’ – Eric Roth

I feel like I’ve been reconnecting with my roots, fitting back into place here. Every time I return, I’m a little different than the last time. There are differences at home each time too, but the rates of change are not the same. Adaptation is a skill that has definitely been rapidly developing in me since beginning university four years ago. I certainly have more to learn, and I haven’t always been grateful in the moment for the times I’ve simply been forced to adapt, but I’ve come to like being forced out of my comfort zone. There is nothing quite as effective to help me learn and grow. I seem to have lost my contentment with comfort.

As I was preparing to leave Uganda, I said that to a friend of mine, and she asked me to clarify what I meant. It’s not that I don’t appreciate comfort. I do. Don’t we all? However, I’m not longer content to live a life of comfort when I know so many people don’t have that luxury, and I have the power to do something about it, even if it is one small thing at a time. Katie Davis once said, “sometimes working in a third world country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eye-dropper”. Just generally trying to eleviate suffering in the world feels like this. But it all matters, one more drop, one more life touched. It’s worth it every time.

So, as my next move rapidly approaches and the summer flies by, though minor stress about school in the fall is beginning and thoughts of all the things I still have left to do before moving to Europe threaten to steal my peace, I will remain rooted. Rooted not just in my home for this short season, so close to many I love, but most importantly, rooted in my best friend and my God, who always remains faithful, who never changes, who is my true home and the source of my peace and my joy, always.

Journey’s End

 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.’ – John 15:12-17

On this, my final day in Uganda, I couldn’t help put wake up this morning for the last time in my shared room with Siima, in our little intern house, with a bit of a surreal feeling. It’s very odd to think that the next time I wake up in a bed, it will be in my bed in my parent’s house, halfway across the world. This term has been too much, too impactful, too transformative, too full to try and do justice to in the very limited time I have today. So instead, I’ve included a bunch of photos below, until I can write a longer reflection once I’m home.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the past couple of weeks, trying to process all that’s happened, and is going to happen, as we transition back into life in North America. There have been some really deep and meaningful conversations in the last little while with people here who have become such good friends, and really a family here in Uganda, and I’m so grateful for the ways God is using every last minute I have here to continue teaching me and growing me. Goodbyes are hard, especially when we don’t know when we will see the person, if ever, again. However, as a colleague and friend wisely said to me the other day, in this kind of work, among Christians, goodbyes here are never truly goodbyes. We are part of a larger family, a Body, universally linked, and because of that we have hope. Whether in this life or the next, we will see each other again.

The single greatest thing I hope to take away from this entire experience is how to love better, how to love others visibly, through everyday actions. I want to love with abandon, lavishing the love of Christ on those I come in contact with. The people here love so well. Because many Ugandans don’t often express their feelings in words, they seem to express them through actions instead, and it is powerful. I have learned so much from observing and living in community with these people. They have really given me a better understanding of the verse I quoted above from John 15. I pray that their ways, in this regard, have rubbed off on me while I’ve been here, and that as I return home to Canada, I won’t lose that new way of being, continuing to improve as time goes on.

I will truly miss the family I am leaving behind here, but I know you go with me in spirit no matter where in the world we each may be. Thank you Engineering Ministries International, for the experience of a lifetime, and for giving me the opportunity to witness and be a part of the hands and feet of Jesus at work through others. I am excited to see what the future will bring, both immediate and distant. This coming season will be one of new beginnings.

To my family and friends back home… I love you! I’m coming for you!


** Support update… I still have $800 CAD left before my support is complete. If you are willing to contribute, and to be a part of the incredible work EMI is doing in Uganda, please click here, or click the “support my mission” link at the top of my main blog page. Please don’t forget to fill out my name (Andrea Quinn) in the “Purpose” field, so it is counted as part of my support. No amount is too small. Thank you so much to all who have already supported me financially through this. You are in my prayers!