Austria is beautiful!

This blog for the next four months might become a little bit of a travel blog…but not your typical travel blog. For those of you who do not know, I am studying abroad in beautiful Austria this semester! Rather than bore you with all the details I could share, I plan on trying to record the beauty I encounter as I “travel the world.”
As I write this post, I am sitting in the Kartause, which is an 800 year old former Carthusian monastery, at the foot of the Alps. I arrived here four days ago and I still can’t believe the fact that this is seriously my home for the next four months. So unreal.
I don’t really have anything profound to say with this post, but I would like to share with you some of the beauty that is the Kartause… I think the best way to do this would be to just share some of the photos I have taken. It has been snowy since we arrived here, and last night we got at least a foot more of snow! It is seriously a winter wonderland. I hope you enjoy the pictures! :)

The Kartause
Another view of the Kartause, with
the mountains in the background 
The view from our window
Also from our window 

Beauty in Singleness

Relationships.

It seems that everything in our society is focused on them. Commonly, happiness itself is linked to relationship status. And honestly, this makes sense because the way we were created as human beings is for communion. We are created to be in relationship with other people. However, sometimes the desire for a romantic relationship when one is single can be really difficult. It is easy to look around at all the people in relationships, and wish you have what they have. At times there is definitely a degree of loneliness in being single. Right now, I would consider myself in a period of waiting. I am not in a relationship and clearly do not know who I am meant to marry. And I am at peace with that, considering I am only 20. I definitely have plenty of time and do not need to rush anything. But more importantly, I have high standards for myself and when it comes to these standards, I am not willing to compromise. I will and am content waiting until the proper and suitable man comes into my life. But sometimes this period of waiting can get to me. Sometimes I feel lonely.

And clearly, based on the number of songs written about it and the conversations I have had with other women in the same situation, I am not alone in this. Others feel the same exact way.

I have seen this pattern with friends in the past, that during a time of loneliness in singleness, it is so easy for girls to settle for relationships that they really shouldn’t be in. Although a girl may have an idea of what she wants her future husband to be like, if she is feeling lonely, she is much more likely to enter into a relationship with a man of whom she has no intention of even considering marrying.

Photo Credit: madeinHisimage.org

But what most people don’t realize, is that there is a very unique opportunity and beauty in singleness, that is not present at any other stage of life. The thing is, as a Catholic, we believe that every moment can be an opportunity to grow in holiness. And so it struck me the other day – even this moment of waiting and loneliness – can be used for good. Redemptive suffering involves taking something negative – suffering – and uniting it to the suffering of Christ and offering it up for a greater good. And I realized, through a conversation with a household sister of mine, that even this waiting can be used for a greater good.

The purpose of dating is to find your spouse. The purpose of marriage is to get your spouse to heaven. One day when I am married, in order to help my spouse get to heaven, I am going to have to sacrifice much and love much. But what makes me think that this love and sacrifice for my spouse will be a switch that I can simply turn on on my wedding day? I don’t see any reason why I can’t start practicing this now. After all, I am dealing with the eternity of the soul of my beloved. This takes serious preparation. And so I realized that in these moments when I get impatient, when my heart aches for a romantic relationship, when I feel lonely – I can offer them up for my future husband. Rather than increase my loneliness by watching sad romantic movies or blasting Taylor Swift, or even worse entering into a relationship that I shouldn’t be in, out of love for my future husband I can allow this suffering to be offered for him, his needs, and most importantly, his salvation. I can face this cross with radical sacrifice and love. Offer it up for him. And not only that, but as my household sister pointed out to me, this small sacrifice I make now, could very seriously be what he needs at this very moment. My small sacrifices can be making a difference for him even though I don’t know him yet! How cool is that!

I have no intention of settling for less than my worth just to appease this fleeting time of loneliness. And my dear sisters in Christ, I am urging you, please do not settle either. You are worth so much more. Use this time and this ache wisely. It is a beauty. It is a blessing. It is a gift.

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem…that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please.”

                                                                                                       – Song of Songs 3:5