The Collegiate Catholic Box

I am not being paid to write this post, nor am I receiving any portion of the sales of this box. Thank you to Liz and Allison from the Collegiate Catholic for partnering with me on this post! None of the links I share are affiliate links. 

Hello, everyone! It’s been a little while since I last posted, but classes have kept me very busy this semester! I’ll write an update on my sophomore year soon, but for now, I’m back with a new post! Subscription boxes are so much fun to receive in the mail, and there is a new one that just hit the market specifically for Catholic college students. When I heard about this box, I knew I had to see what it was about. Read on to see what I got in the first box of the Collegiate Catholic Subscription box and what my thoughts are on it! Thank you to the lovely ladies at the Collegiate Catholic, Liz and Allison, for reaching out to me on Instagram. I am so excited to be partnering with them for this post!

Before I launch into what I got in my box, I’m going to share a little bit about the mission of the Collegiate Catholic Box. The mission of the box is “to share the faith and to be a means of encouragement while supporting Catholic religious orders and artisans. The college years are a pivotal point in one’s life. It is our goal to cultivate their faith through prayerfully curated care packages and other Catholic goods.” The box is not monthly like most subscription boxes are. During the fall 2017 semester, the box will be shipped out twice before the team starts shipping out three times a semester after Christmas break. Each box will contain a devotional, a bunch of snacks and treats, Catholic items, a practical item for school, and Catholic art.

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I got my box in the mail at school a few weeks ago and I was so excited to pick it up from the post office on campus. I nearly ripped open the package when I got to my room (I’m glad I didn’t- Otherwise, there would have been blue paper stuffing all over my dorm room!) to see what I got inside.

At the top of the box sat a devotional book titled “Veritas” which means truth in Latin. Each page has a few questions to answer and think about with a Bible verse. I’m really looking forward to sitting down and diving into this devotional now that my schedule has calmed down!

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The next item was a print of St. Joan of Arc. This print is really cool because the shape of it is made up of quotes from St. Joan of Arc. The artist, Kathleen Caswell, can be found on Instagram! Check out her page: @kcaswellco

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Next, I got a beautiful handmade cross made by Rough2Rustic and an image of Our Lady of Consolation in Lezajsk.  Lezajsk is a town in Poland where the Blessed Mother appeared in 1578. My mother’s side of the family is Polish, so receiving this image and prayer was really exciting especially since I had not heard of this image of Mary before I received this box.

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My practical items were pens and a highlighter, which are always handy to have when taking notes. I forgot to take a photo of them, but I think we all know what pens and highlighters look like!

This box contained a lot of snacks! Snacks are always a great thing to have, but I think there may have been a few too many snacks. I got a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn; a bag of Synders mini pretzels; a package of Milano cookies; a pack of Orbit gum; a packet of honey peanut butter (which I am so excited to try); a spiced apple cider drink mix; a caramel apple pop; and a bag of granola made by the Little Portion Bakery. I’m really excited to try the honey peanut butter (if you know me, you know I LOVE peanut butter!) and the granola. Granola is one of my favorite things to eat at breakfast so now I have one or two day’s worth of breakfast, courtesy of the Collegiate Catholic box!

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Overall, this is a really nice first box for the Collegiate Catholic box. I’m happy with everything I received in it, and all of them serve a purpose for college students, whether it be spiritually nurturing their mind and soul or (literally) nurturing their stomachs. The box is originally $50 so this is something I’m putting on my wishlist for my birthday or Christmas (hint hint, Mom and Dad 🙂 ). I really love the concept of this subscription box and I cannot wait to see what the ladies at the Collegiate Catholic do next!

Thanks again to Liz and Allison for partnering with me for this post! Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

Being Catholic in College: 8 Months Later

Hello, everyone! I know it’s been a month since I last posted, but I’m now home from UMW for the summer so I’ll have some more posts hopefully going up soon. In the meantime, enjoy today’s post! 

About 8 months ago, I published the short essay that started Adventures of a Catholic College Girl, titled “Being Catholic in College: A Freshman’s Transition from Catholic School to a Public University”. Since publishing that post, I finished my first year at the University of Mary Washington! I have learned a lot about myself and living out my Catholic faith on campus since September.

First of all, I’d like to mention some of the changes since the first essay: my wardrobe has expanded quite a bit! Before, I was worried about having enough pairs of shorts to wear to class by Friday morning. Now, I have plenty of pants, jeans, and shorts to last me through the week and then some! I have shifted away from a lot of the high school spirit wear (I say that as I sit here writing while wearing one of my House of Dominic t-shirts) and I can now be found wearing some form of UMW spirit wear at least two or three times a week. However, there are some days where I wonder if I put my high school uniform on, go back to John Paul, and sit in on a school day, would anybody notice? Catholic school will always be part of who I am, but UMW has quickly become part of what makes me who I am today.

Talking about my faith to my friends at school has come very naturally to me, especially to my friends who are Christians or who do not practice any religion. I am very comfortable sharing events the Catholic Campus Ministry is hosting with my friends and dance team teammates who are not part of the community, whether it be Supper Social on Thursday nights, a Friday Fun Night activity, or another special event like our Mass Under the Lights or the power breakfast during finals week. Even if those I invite cannot come, I always make it known that they are welcome at any time to stop by the CCM!

Since I started at UMW, I have faced a few situations where I was uncomfortable with a discussion topic or a presentation in class. My faith has helped me through those tough situations, especially when they were during my Intro to Education class. As a teacher, I’m going to face very tough situations in many ways. I will need to think quickly and assess situations to make smart decisions. The Serenity Prayer is a short prayer I try to say each day to help me “accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Short prayers like that one give me peace of mind during the day- any challenges I face can be changed, but sometimes I can’t change the hard situation, so it’s up to God to turn something bad into something good.

I have met so many great people through UMW’s Catholic Campus Ministry. The friends I have made are so inspiring, bubbly, and enthusiastic about their Catholic faith. Their example of holiness has inspired me to increase my prayer life and get more involved in the community. I joined the communications committee and serve as a photographer and am in charge of sending out weekly email updates, as well as a lector at daily mass. My involvement has given me the chance to grow in my faith life throughout my freshman year, and it can only go up from here.

My freshman year has come and gone, and it’s hard to believe I have three years of undergrad left! There is so much left for me to experience in college, and with my faith behind and before me, I’ll be ready to take on the world and what it throws at me.

Silence is Golden

A few weeks ago, the Catholic Campus Ministry held an all-night adoration service in preparation for Holy Week. I was only able to stay for the first hour since my friend Emily and I were walking a 3K for a fundraiser at our high school the next morning, but it was still a great way to prepare my heart and mind for the events of Holy Week.

Father Vaccaro, the CCM’s chaplain, spoke briefly during praise and worship about silence. We can build an intimate relationship with God if we make time to go to adoration and be with Him. However, time is not easy to give up, especially as an adult. Sometimes I feel like I need to add time with God to my schedule, which isn’t a good thing. God isn’t someone I should have to write into my schedule like it’s a rehearsal, meeting, or special event!

Silence is something very hard for me to reach. My mind is constantly buzzing with new choreography ideas, organizing my schedule, and trying to complete assignments. I’m always surrounded by noise of some kind, whether it be music from Spotify streaming from my speaker, the noises outside my window from the Vocelli’s Pizza delivery guys riding around campus on their bikes with cart attachments, conversations floating down the hall from my hallmates, etc. When I went to adoration tonight at St. Mary’s down the street from campus, I was surrounded by silence.

When I went to adoration tonight at St. Mary’s down the street from campus, I was surrounded by silence. It was amazing. The silence allowed me to stop, take a breath, and focus on prayer for a little while. Father Vaccaro said that silence allows us to calm our racing hearts and minds and focus on God.

With the end of the school year quickly approaching and finals beginning next week (AHH), I am bound to be stressed. I think I have had a good semester academically (with a few hiccups at a couple spots). Next week is going to be packed with writing papers, submitting assignments, and studying for exams but if I take a few moments to sit in silence, I think I’m going to be fine.

“… And to Dust You Shall Return”: An Ash Wednesday Reflection

This post is a few weeks late, but I am posting it anyway! Have a blessed Lent, everyone! 

Every year for as long as I can remember, I have always gone to mass on Ash Wednesday and heard the words,”Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” as a priest draws a cross of ashes onto my forehead.

In the past, I’ve never had any problems with wearing my ashes during the school day, but that was because I attended Catholic school since Pre-K, so everyone got them during the all-school mass on Ash Wednesday. However, this year was different. I’m no longer at a Catholic school where everyone gets ashes on their forehead on the first day of the Lenten season.  In the past, my classmates and I would walk to class and try to figure out what shape our ashes took on. (They almost never looked like a cross. They always looked like a blob.) My friends and I would joke around and say “On Wednesdays we wear ashes!” Everyone at school would have ashes on their foreheads, so there was no judgment or questions about what that smudge was on our heads. However this year, Ash Wednesday was a different experience for me.

This year, I’m at a public university where some of my peers may have never seen someone walking around with a dark smudge on their forehead. I ended up going to the local Catholic church for mass on Ash Wednesday due to time conflicts, and I’m convinced that the priests at the church practiced their ash cross-making technique the day before because everyone’s ashes looked like a cross. As I walked back to campus with a big cross made of ashes on my forehead, I definitely got some weird looks. No one questioned me about it, but as I walked down Campus Walk to meet my roommate for next year, Rosie, for lunch and then into class at 2:00, I definitely noticed their confused facial expressions.

Did I really care about the weird looks I got? Nope. The cross on my forehead showed the UMW community that I am a Christian and I’m not afraid of being judged for it.

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There Are Not Enough Hours in a Day…

Hey, everyone! Good grief, it’s been over 3 weeks since I last posted. I promise I haven’t forgotten about blogging, but my goodness, life has been keeping me BUSY. My schedule has kept me super busy with class, assignments, dance team and PAC practices, basketball games, and starting my practicum! I feel like there are just not enough hours in a day for me to accomplish everything I want or need to do, which brings me to tonight’s subject…

Father Vaccaro, the CCM’s chaplain, brought up something in his homily last weekend that has stuck with me since and I feel like I need to talk about it: we need to make time for the Lord outside of Sunday mass. This semester, I haven’t been able to get to daily mass very much during the week because I’ve been so busy with class, practice, and homework. I was able to go at least once or twice a week last semester, but I have practice on Mondays when the Catholic Student Center has their weekly Latin mass, and I haven’t had the motivation to go before Supper Social on Thursdays after I finish my classes for the afternoon. I don’t like making excuses for why I can’t go and quite frankly, I don’t have any. Making the decision go take time out of my schedule to attend daily mass is tough because I have to readjust my to-do list for the day and figure out when I should work on homework, eat dinner, etc.

Just because I don’t like to reorganize or add another item to my already busy schedule doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. Mass is important, and going will build my relationship with the Lord. With spring break approaching, I think I need to take some time to re-organize my schedule to make more time for me to attend mass during the second half of the spring semester.

Next week is my last week of classes before spring break, and I am so excited! Over break, I have some exciting things planned with my real life friend and fellow blogger, Ginny, of The Ginny Beth Blog that I can’t wait to start working on! Be on the lookout for some new stuff here in the near future, but in the meantime, make sure to stop by Ginny’s blog and check it out.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

#WhyIMarch For Life

Today is the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. As someone who has attended Catholic school for all of her school days, I’ve had the opportunity to go to the March a few times in previous years. I was not able to go last year due to an incoming snowstorm and this year, I did not attend either. With it being the second week of class for the spring semester, I decided that it would be better for me to stay here on campus and not miss class today. I would rather not miss class now so if I get sick during the semester, I can miss class and have it count as an absence.

Just because I’m not attending the March in D.C. doesn’t mean that I won’t show my support for the movement. Here’s why I march for life today and every day:

  1. I march because life is beautiful.
  2. I march because every life is a gift and is worth saving. This doesn’t only apply to the unborn. This applies to the poor, the elderly, and the disabled.
  3. I march for my friends in my high school’s special education program. Their parents chose life, and because of their choice, I want to work with students like their children.
  4. I march because my parents chose life and had me and my brothers.
  5. I march because there are other options besides abortion. Adoption allows the child to live a full life and it allows a couple who may not be able to have children to raise a child as their own.
  6. I march because abortion is not just a religious issue. It’s a human right issue. We have a right to life. That right needs to be respected and upheld for everyone, even the unborn.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, which is something I totally and completely respect. However, this is my opinion and I stand by it. If you disagree with me, that’s cool but don’t attack me because of what I believe in. I’m open to discussion about this topic; I’m not open to verbal attacks on me or my beliefs. With that, thanks for stopping by and reading!

Featured image taken by me in 2014

Honest Barre Class, Adulting, and Retreating to Lake Anna- What A Week!

Hey, everyone! It’s been a few days since I last posted anything, but I’m back with a recap of some things I did last week (September 25-October 1).

Last week was a pretty exciting week for me! I went to a pop-up barre class that campus rec was holding on Thursday. I have never taken a barre class before, but I have taken ballet lessons for most of my life. For those of you who don’t know what barre is, it is a combination of ballet, stretching, light weights, and core work. I have been needing to get a really good workout in lately since I’m not taking dance classes twice a week anymore so my friend Colleen and I went to the class together. Wow, was it a great workout! I had not worked that hard in a few months and my legs felt like jelly after, but it was worth it! I tried something new, and I got a great workout in!

Being a college student requires making adult decisions- I like to call this “adulting.” If you’re reading that and thinking, “There is no way ‘adulting’ is a word,”  I Googled it and a page from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary came up. If Webster’s dictionary comes up as a result, then it must be a word. Anyway, back to my adulting: last week, my absentee ballot for this November’s presidential election came in the mail. I voted for the first time in the primary back in March, but this time around, I am actually choosing who I want to be the next president of the United States- scary, right? Um, yeah, it is. Besides voting for the next president, I went grocery shopping with Colleen Friday afternoon. Hey, sometimes I need to have some healthy food and snacks in my dorm room for those days when I’m not up for going to the dining hall (which happens to be located next to my dorm)!

Finally, the highlight of last week was going to Lake Anna for a freshmen retreat with CCM. I had never been to Lake Anna before and it was beautiful! I got to meet more of my freshmen classmates who are part of Catholic Campus Ministry. We had mass, a few talks, confession, and some time to hang out down by the lake. The house we were staying in for the night was right on the lake so some of us went swimming (not me! I didn’t bring my bathing suit!) Overall, the retreat was great and I am really glad I went! I’ve got a few photos below for you all to check out!

Thanks for reading, everyone! I’m meeting my friend Amber from high school to go shopping in a little over an hour, so I need to get ready to go! Have a great weekend!

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Friday Fun Nights and a Trip to Carl’s!

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I feel like I got so much stuff done today, and I know I did just by looking at the to-do list I made! I had class in the morning, adoration from 1:30-2:00, got all my wash done for the week, emptied the trash, completed two math assignments, finished a study guide for an exam I have on Monday, AND I went to play bingo at CCM for Friday fun night followed by a trip to Carl’s! Now if you have never heard of Carl’s, that is just really sad. Okay, no it’s not. But if you ever stop in Fredericksburg, you cannot leave until you stop at Carl’s. You never were truly in there unless you stopped there.

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Being Catholic in College: A Freshman’s Transition from Catholic School to a Public University

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Photo taken by Lori Elizabeth Fowlkes

I’m two weeks into my freshman year of college at the University of Mary Washington, and I’ve come to realize something: college is nothing like high school. I’ve attended Catholic school for all my school years, from Pre-Kindergarten to my senior year in high school, so the transition from attending a private Catholic high school to a public university has been quite the adventure, to say the least.

For starters, I have no clothes- okay, yes I do have clothes, but I’ve had to wear a uniform every day to school from first grade to senior year, so I never had worry about what to wear every morning. Now I do have to worry about what to wear every day. Before, I had to wear the same thing every day- black shoes, knee highs, a green plaid skirt in middle school or a black kilt (yes, a kilt. That thing was HOT in the spring and summer!) in high school, and a polo shirt or white button up with a sweater or sweater vest (that was not fun to wear either, especially when it was super hot outside and the AC decided not to work in school that day. We were all dying that day.) These days, I’m just hoping I don’t have to wash my clothes more than twice a week just so I have enough shorts to wear to class by Friday morning. #CatholicSchoolProbs

The next thing is that I’m not having mass once a week with the rest of my school. Now, you might think that is a very weird thing, but I have grown up going to mass with the rest of my school once a week for over 14 years. Yes, that is how long I attended Catholic school for. But attending mass is my choice- I don’t have my mom telling my brothers and I on Saturday evening that we are going to 10:00 mass the next morning. I don’t have to go to mass if I don’t want to, but I choose to go because my faith is something I want to hold on to. (insert Dierks Bentley’s song “I Hold On”– “I hold on- to the things I believe in, my faith, your love, our freedom, to the thinks I can count on to keep me going strong, yeah I hold on.”)

Next, praying in college just feels weird if I’m not in mass or at another CCM event. I realize that most people might not be paying attention to every person’s moves while sitting in the dining hall, but it just feels weird to be making the sign of the cross to say grace before I start eating.

The last thing I want to mention is the what prompted me to write this essay in the first place: my college is a public university. There is no religion affiliated with UMW, but there are a number of religious organizations on campus. Tonight, CCM had its second annual Eucharistic Procession followed by Adoration until 9 am tomorrow. My fellow Catholics and I walked down campus walk following our chaplain, who was carrying a monstrance, to Ball Circle, which is in the middle of campus, while singing “O Sacrament Most Holy”. During the walk across campus, I couldn’t help but notice the people around me who were walking past. Many of them stopped and respectfully stepped aside for us all to walk by. Others kneeled, and those on bikes, especially the Vocelli’s pizza delivery guys, stopped and waited for us to move ahead. (I really hope those guys didn’t have to follow us because they would have been stuck behind us for a few minutes waiting.) My university peers respect what we do as Catholics, and I think that respect is deeply rooted in our Honor System, which requires that all members of the UMW community conduct themselves honorably at all times and in all dealings with others.

Being Catholic in college may be a challenge, but it has been easier since I found Catholic Campus Ministry. To my friends who are high school seniors, I strongly encourage you guys to get involved in your campus ministry wherever you may choose to attend next year! Thanks to CCM, I know that I can still be an active Catholic while still being involved in other campus activities.

Post originally shared on Facebook on September 8, 2016