This post is part of a monthly series called PRIESTS & NUNS ARE COOL! in which I interview a priest or a nun about his or her vocation — and about how adults who haven’t discerned a vocation yet can discover their own. This edition features Sr. Theresa, a Daughter of St. Paul who lives in Miami.
Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, who professed her first vows as a Daughter of St. Paul earlier this year, used to be an atheist.
Now, she is author of the book The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church, a guide for Catholics who have loved ones who have left the Church and an interest in inviting them back. Sr. Theresa spends time talking to parish groups about the book and helping people apply what she wrote in it.
She describes her life as apostolic and contemplative, busy but peaceful. She lives in a convent in Miami, evangelizes in a Paulinas bookcenter, drinks café cubano, bakes bread, and blogs. She is gracious to discuss her vocation for this series, and to tell us how an adult who doesn’t know his or hers yet might discover it:
I AM THE WORST AT PRAYING. I typed that confession, mildly hyperbolic and wholly rooted in frustration with my apparent commitment to distraction, while I half-watched the Olympics on a giant flat-screen TV.
I do not need to watch the men’s slalom more than I need to sit with Jesus, but I picked it (and even for a distraction, showed up with divided attention).
Then I thought of God, Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer – the book my friend and fellow blogger Edmund Mitchell recommended in a post he wrote about it awhile ago. I bought it the day I read what Edmund wrote. I read most of it shortly after.
Then grad school got hard until graduation. Then I wrote a book. Then I wanted to hibernate.
But I stood. I stepped away from the slalom. I searched my room for the book. I found it, buried beneath others, and finished it. The book, by Jim Beckman, who works as faculty at the Augustine Institute, is simultaneously a swift kick in the pants and an empathetic hug for whoever is “the worst at praying.”
“Faced with today’s problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape.“
St. John Paul II
Today is St. John Paul II’s feast day, which we celebrate for the first time since he was canonized earlier this year. In honor of it, today’s post features what I learned from St. John Paul II about relationships.
I pulled a cardboard package out of my mailbox, carried it into the house, and tore it open. Out of it, I lifted what I had waited for, for days: A copy of the book Love and Responsibility, written by St. John Paul II before he was pope.
I had heard of the book before I ordered it. “A must-read for Catholics, married or not,” friends of mine called it. So I–single and mingling–curled up with it that night in 2009, expecting to pore over page after page, and pumped to be edified.
But what I read was over my head before I finished page one. I wanted to whisk through it like I would any other book, but this book would require commitment, and it would require time, because it would require thought. So, I shelved it. But then, I tried again.
Syndicated columnist Carolyn Hax responded in a recent column to the following letter, which she received from a 19-year-old woman who has never had sex before:
“I am a 19-year-old freshman in college. I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. Is it okay to not tell the guy I’m a virgin? It’s come up before and it seems to bother guys. I also hate the idea of someone knowing they were my first; I (irrationally, I know) feel like it gives them power over me. I sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way.”
These are my thoughts on that:
The letter’s writer’s decision to lose her virginity is rooted in her resistance to divulging her virginity. She doesn’t want to be a virgin so that she won’t have to tell somebody she is. But that turns what she wrote into a catch 22. … How? Click here to read the rest of my thoughts in a post on Quiner’s Diner.