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If you would like to make a prayer request, please submit a comment in our weekly prayer request thread stickied at the top of the main page. This is a place for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to present and respectfully discuss news and other content about the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church, inquire regarding questions about the faith, and grow in spirituality, mutual encouragement, and community. In sum, remember that "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. Our much larger sub is actually devoted to discussing Catholicism.

FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students. Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and one-on-one discipleship. Jul 02,   FOCUS doesn't ask its missionaries to fast from dating because dating in and of itself is bad, but rather FOCUS asks its missionaries to fast from dating because if we are not careful dating can become something we just have to have. And for those who are not currently dating, this fact can turn into something they just have to obsess about. FOCUS loves to share the good news. We also love to share the good news that others share! The Church is full of compelling videos, relevant blog posts and other tidbits, so we have created this space to pin them to. Here you'll find interesting reads and informative websites to fuel your curiosity and make you a well-rounded Catholic. Holy.

And for those who are not currently dating, this fact can turn into something they just have to obsess about. I call that a pretty undesirable side effect. Sounds a lot like our espresso, huh? Below are just a few of the desirable side effects of a dating fast. If you choose to take the fast on, you just might experience some of these yourself.

If you want to be free from always having to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you have learn to live without one. This is not to say that we should isolate ourselves from others and learn to be independent, but rather, learn how to be in true community. In a community you have a variety of relationships, not just a significant other. When you step back from dating you can better look around at the bigger picture and see where you can strengthen your relationships and ultimately where you can better serve.

When you go on a dating fast you stop seeing every person of the opposite sex as a potential date. This frees you to get to know them without analyzing them and to love them as a sister or brother in Christ. Learning to not NEED a relationship while on the fast helps you to make better decisions about entering into one after. If you are comfortable with your single life, you are less likely to jump into the first opportunity for a date, and thus you increase your chances of avoiding the wrong relationship.

A dating fast can be an amazing opportunity to discern more intensely your Vocation. This time can provide an opportunity for you to listen freely to God, without the distraction of potential relationships.

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Oftentimes it is easy to want a relationship because you feel like something is missing in your life, and you think a boyfriend or girlfriend can fix that. While if you are called to marriage, there will be a special place in your heart that only your spouse can fill, your spouse will never be your Savior.

A fast is the perfect time to allow Jesus to pursue your heart and take His proper place in there, so when that special person comes along you are ready to welcome him or her, without putting the pressure on that person to fulfill some of your fundamental needs of security and purpose that only Jesus can satisfy. Finally, many of us have scars and regrets from past relationships that haunt us and prevent us from the freedom Christ wants for us. We were made to love and be loved, not live in guilt with hard hearts.

But, I've never been directly involved with anything else mentioned in this thread that could be counted against them. I could delve deeper into each concern of yours or of others on this thread but instead I'll try to address just one. Just because they aren't clergy doesn't mean they aren't directly participating in the mission of the Church.

FOCUS's ideals are deeply sacramental and they turn out huge numbers of vocations all of them each year. It's worth donating to. Therefore, it shouldn't be using my Catholicism to incur a sense of duty to give them money, but should instead be speaking to their efficacy as an organization to bring Catholicism to college students. The money thing is definitely weird. I just wanted to strike a hard position that I think it's important to distinguish that FOCUS deserves to be called part of the Church even if it's not the whole Church.

Thanks for the post. While I didn't have that kind of stuff at my own school, I have heard of many, many other stories of a lack of oversight. The fact that it took a year to address that issue is unfortunate. I'll offer a defense for this practice. This is something I did at the perpetual adoration chapel hear me for a very long time.

While I was investigating Franciscan orders, mainly more traditional leaning ones, this was very common, though some never wore shoes in the friary at all for a different reason.

Even Cardinal Sean in Boston has spoken about this. Apparently during his formation as a Capuchin it was the practice to even remove footwear for receiving at mass. From a Christian perspective, the practice evolves from imitating Moses approaching the burning bush where God commands him to remove his sandals because he is on holy ground.

From a cultural perspective, removal of footwear is common in many places of worship the world over, normally as a sign of honoring the place, so it has a human element as well. Think of Mosques, Hindu temples, and Shinto shrines; most require the removal of footwear. I think the reason we might see it as weird is that as Americans, we don't remove our shoes for many things that aren't going to shower or bed. I know many families who wear their shoes even in their house.

So removing shoes indoors in the US is often seen as odd because, even though our feet mainly only touch socks, it makes people think we're making a mess indoors.

The only reason I started putting my shoes back on in adoration chapels was because the people running the cleaning of the places asked me to. It seemed fitting to me that devotion should take the backseat to humility in this case because humility here was for the benefit of the community while devotion would only potentially benefit me.

I was a student at a school that had a FOCUS team before I transferred to a different school and I had nothing but good experiences with them.

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They do a great job at reaching out and inviting students to a deeper relationship the person of Jesus Christ. My mens bible study was a great for formation and we pushed each other to live lives of virtue. I am friends with a lot of missionaries and have much respect for them.

They passionately seek the Lord and strive to lead other to Him. So while the entire organization may not be perfect, there is still a lot of good going on within it. If you trust that the missionaries you are donating to are genuinely following God's will, I don't see why you would stop your donations. I agree - On the ground, what I see is pretty great. However, it is near impossible for me to get a good breakdown of where the money is going, and every penny sent to the organization, rather than directly to the missionaries' work, pains me.

I could say so many things about them. They are extremely emotionally manipulative. The missionaries just give off this vibe - it's inevitable when your personal life is totally tied up in your job, in making money.

I hope this won't be the case for you, OP, but we lost friends when we stopped donating because of how tightly money and friendship are tied together. Just recently, we had an old friend, a missionary, reach out asking my husband to hang out, and then mentioning he'd like to present to him to ask for donations. If we didn't have so many good friends and were feeling socially lonely, this would have been incredibly painful. I've seen people who make being a missionary their lifelong career goal - they never want to leave.

You can see the stunted growth that comes from never fully growing out of the college experience, of always relying on others for money. So many other things are bringing back memories for me. FOCUS mishes getting weird about alcohol. Being weirdly charismatic. The strange dating fast stuff. Getting involved with students. Intervening in your personal relationships and 'speaking into' what they don't like about your life.

All that money stuff. Acting kind of Protestant-y. It's nice to hear I'm not 'crazy' for feeling this way. Good luck making your decision, OP, I hope you can maintain your friendship through all of this! I think that, in general, you are correct in smelling something foul in the organization, however, I would criticize your point about inclusiveness. Jesus' ministry while on Earth was by no means equally inclusive to all. He often spoke His teachings in parables, the meanings of which He did not disclose to everyone equally note how He sometimes takes His disciples aside and explains one, and some He leaves simply with "if you have ears to hear".

He also was pretty skeptical of non-Jews, and hesitant to include them. Consider how closely He quizzed the Samaritan woman at the well, or how He initially denied another woman, calling her and her people a dog trying to steal the children's food, before she begged and He relented.

It also seems like He may have excluded or wanted to exclude Pharisees in some way e. Who told you brood of vipers to come down and get saved? Thus, we see that some people were outside of Jesus' attention unless they imposed themselves in and begged like the denied woman and some Phariseesothers were part of the crowd that followed Jesus, others were chosen disciples with insider knowledge, and still others were close friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus whose relative place is a bit hard to judge.

We even see that certain disciples are trusted with more inner knowledge than others. Note how Peter, John and James are selected to accompany the Lord to the Transfiguration, for example.

However, as I say, I think you are right to be wary of them for other reasons. It's culty, the concept of 'discipleship' taught within is sort of mercenary. I agree it can get culty. It follows many of the behaviors Fr. Longenecker warned about in Catholic communities here. While I understand that people can treat the 'discipleship' concept poorly, I always thought it did a good job of showing how we should really be as Christians.

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And isn't good to encourage them to do the same with others? They didn't make any effort to get to know us, and demanded we change our prayer meeting structure for them which they did apologise for but I just didn't exactly like em. I don't really have a ton of personal experience with FOCUS, they're at the public university in my city and seem to do good work.

For the issue of fundraising, yeah that sounds pretty bad, though I feel like I've seen that for other things before as well.

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It's probably as old as the alms slot outside of an old Church with a picture of souls in purgatory and a coin slot. Not saying its wrong but it does probably walk a fine line. As for the handbook thing, I admit I don't know the specifics but it may be a development of how someone who follows Franciscian or Opus Dei they might seem more of that group than Catholic in general. I might be totally off but that's my first take on that. Rather, we used the Evangelical Catholic group based in St.

Paul, Minnesota. They're much smaller and they usually follow through on the whole only making enough money to live kinda deal. If you're interested, I know an EC missionary. I could get you in contact. Like everyone else though, this should be a prayerful decision.

And thanks for donating what you can to aid the church. I, and everyone else, could do a better job in trying to do what you do! With any organization, there will be instances where abuses occur.

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For example, take our Church. There are clergy scandals being discovered every single day within the Church. You can go into a church anywhere and discover liturgical abuses, lack of fervor etc.

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However, does that make the Church bad? Therefore, abuses will happen within organizations regardless because we are human. When I first started, I was a little weirded out. Commit to prayer everyday? Doing a Bible Study? Sounds so damn Protestant. Isn't Catholicism just a bunch of prayers that we recite every day? A relationship with Jesus Christ? NO WAY. That was my line of thinking. However, through my interactions with them my life has truly been changed. I see Christ as a person, who has a direct impact on my life, who loves me infinitely and wishes for me to spread that love.

The FOCUS missionaries do not sit with me speaking about doctrine and debating with me about the truths of the Catholic faith. They learn with me. They attend theology classes with us; they read books with us. They have no ulterior motive in their own agenda and work closely with the priest in order to guide others back to Christ. Discipleship is also a very Gospel concept. Jesus chose 12 specific apostles in order to help him start his mission. Christ invested his time into 12 apostles; these guys lived with Him, walked with Him, learned directly from Him.

There is no new worldview except the worldview which Jesus gave his Church: to be witnesses to His love. We run bible studies in order to become more attuned to His Word and to draw others closer as well. The student leader handbook contains ideas such as lectio divina or presenting the gospel or leading a bible study.

I believe they are great resources to use in order to grow as a Catholic. They are not the end all be all. Just like we use the Rosary or our prayer books, FOCUS also has resources that students can use in order to evangelize.

The discipleship model is for students who wish to evangelize; there is no better Catholic status because one decides to be leading a bible study. Some people just don't have time and that's okay. Their resources for bible studies and how to evangelize make it easy for students who wish to do so to have the ability to do so.

They encourage prayer, love, and being a witness. I think too many Catholics nowadays have the idea that there is no need to evangelize; all we have to do is sit in church and pray.

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But we are meant to do more than that. We are meant to be out in the world, talking about Christ through our words and our actions.

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I have never felt more alive than I do now talking about Christ with friends who are hungering to learn more and want a personal relationship with Christ and a communal relationship with the Church.

This being said, as I stated above, every organization has its flaws and its craziness. I personally have never heard of crazy charismatic stuff in FOCUS or of long retreats where you fast for days on end. We as a Catholic Center run things at our university; they are there to help us run things. I am sorry that you have had a bad experience with them, and it is entirely up to you whether or not you wish to donate! This is the kind of sentiment I have towards donation in general- I don't know where the money goes.

For example, I've been quite leery of giving to a parish since our parish priest was removed from his post for embezzling money from the parish coffers. Like FOCUS, this may not be indicative of typical behavior, but it does belie that not all the funding is going to a pure cause- not that I ever expect it to. Granted, I am also a poor college student who has little to give, too.

That is why I either donate my time to something of which I can directly see the benefits or if financially feasible donate money in a similar fashion. That way I know exactly what it's going toward and can discern if it is the best use of my time and money. I fail to understand the "own worldview" that is apparently present, because all I see is an organization that, however flawed, is striving to bring lives to Christ. And it has, at least on our campus, so it is doing some good.

I've never heard of the issues that most of the other replies refer to, so I'd say it's largely anecdotal- which means that the organization puts a lot of trust and decision-making power in its missionaries, both a good and bad thing.

On the one hand, giving that amount of trust is a phenomenally difficult task, and it shows the position of responsibility that FOCUS missionaries are entrusted with. On the other hand, the relative lack of accountability enables FOCUS missionaries to stray from Catholic teaching in favor of their own agenda.

That said, on our campus, we have a very solid priest who made sure that the FOCUS missionaries are equally solid theologically and pragmatically. Perhaps having a priest on campus who can guide the missionaries in their day-to-day missions is needed so missionaries don't start doing their own thing.

FOCUS does great things for the Church and has had helped foster numerous men and women to the priesthood and religious life. So, I am grateful for what FOCUS missionaries do on campus even though they can be immature and come across as snobbish or better-than-thou approach. Overall, I think they have a good heart and sacrificing a few years for building up the Catholic church.

All that being said, the compensation can be scandalous. But both came to him separately and expressed emotional trauma and guilt over past memories. Eric expressed similar feelings. When I see her, the hurt comes back, he told his former youth pastor. The wounds still havent healed. When the youth minister had finished telling this story, you could have heard a pin drop. We all sat waiting for some sort of solution.

We knew the reality of the story he told. Some of us had made the same mistake or watched it happen in the lives of our friends. We wanted something better. We wanted the pastor to tell us what we were supposed to do instead. But he gave no alternative that afternoon, Evidently the pastor thought the couple's only mistake was giving in to temptation.

He seemed to think that Eric and Jenny should have had more respect for each other and more self-control. Although this pastor encouraged a different outcome saving sex for marriage he didnt offer a different practice. Is this the answer? Head out on the same course as those who have fallen and hope that in the critical moment youll be able to stay in control?

Giving young people this kind of advice is like giving a person a cart that swerves and sending him into a store stocked with the worlds most expensive Chinaware.

Despite the narrow aisles and glass shelves laden with delicate dishes, this person is expected to navigate the rows with a cart known to go off course? I dont think so.

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Yet this is exactly what we try in many of our relationships. We see the failed attempts around us, but we refuse to replace this cart called dating. We want to stay on the straight and narrow path and serve God, yet we continue a practice that often pull us in the wrong direction.

Dating has built-in problems, and if we continue to date according to the system as it is today, well more than likely swerve into trouble. Eric and Jenny probably had good intentions, but they founded their relationship on our cultures defective attitudes and patterns for romance. Unfortunately, even in their adulthood they continue to reap the consequences. The following seven habits of highly defective dating are some of the swerves dating relationships often make. Perhaps you can relate to one or two of them.

I know I can! Jayme was a junior in high school; her boyfriend, Troy, was a senior.

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Troy was everything Jayme ever wanted in a guy, and for eight months they were inseparable. But two months before Troy left for college, he abruptly announced that he didnt want to see Jayme anymore.

When we broke up it was definitely the toughest thing thats ever happened to me, Jayme told me afterward. Even though theyd never physically gone beyond a kiss, Jayme had completely given her heart and emotions to Troy. Troy had enjoyed the intimacy while it served his needs but then rejected her when he was ready to move on. Does Jaymes story sound familiar to you?

Perhaps youve heard something similar from a friend, or maybe youve experienced it yourself. Like many dating relationships, Jayme and Troys became intimate with little or no thought about commitment or how either of them would be affected when it ended. We can blame Troy for being a jerk, but lets ask ourselves a question. Whats really the point of most dating relationships? Often dating encourages intimacy for the sake of intimacy two people getting close to each other without any real intention of making a long-term commitment.

Deepening intimacy without defining a level of commitment is plainly dangerous. Its like going mountain climbing with a partner who isnt sure that she wants the responsibility of holding your rope. When youve climbed two thousand feet up a mountain face, you dont want to have a conversation about how she feels tied down by your relationship. In the same way, many people experience deep hurt when they open themselves up emotionally and physically only to be abandoned by others who proclaim theyre not ready for serious commitment.

An intimate relationship is a beautiful experience that God wants us to enjoy. But He has made the fulfillment of intimacy a byproduct of commitment-based love. You might say that intimacy between a man and a woman is the icing on the cake of a relationship headed toward marriage. And if we look at intimacy that way, then most dating relationships are pure icing.

They usually lack a purpose or clear destination. In most cases, especially in high school, dating is short term, serving the needs of the moment. People date because they want to enjoy the emotional and even physical benefits of intimacy without the responsibility of real commitment. In fact, thats what the original revolution of dating was all about. Dating hasnt been around forever. As I see it, dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, disposable-everything American culture.

Long before Seventeen magazine ever gave teenagers tips on dating, people did things very differently. At the turn of the twentieth century, a guy and girl became romantically involved only if they planned to marry.

At Catholic Singles, we help you get to know a person who shares the same faith and values. We focus on a person's interests and activities and not just your picture. Swipe left swipe right. That's how most dating sites view online dating. At Catholic Singles, we foster deeper relationships because we focus on your interests and. Most Christian parents tend to fall into two different camps when it comes to teen dating. Some believe that dating is never appropriate and encourage their children to follow a courtship model. Others feel that dating can be a positive experience for teens provided they are mature enough and the parents know and trust the dating partner. The Catholic church itself MIGHT have the authority to make this kind of appeal, but FOCUS is not the Catholic church. Instead of a (at least) moderately humble request for assistance, noting the actual concrete ways in which the organization will use such a gift to better the lives of college students, FOCUS invoked the faith directly.

If a young man spent time at a girls home, family and friends assumed that he intended to propose to her. But shifting attitudes in culture and the arrival of the automobile brought radical changes. The new rules allowed people to indulge in all the thrills of romantic love without having any intention of marriage.

Author Beth Bailey documents these changes in a book whose title, From Front Porch to Backseat, says everything about the difference in societys attitude when dating became the norm.

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Love and romance became things people could enjoy solely for their recreational value. Though much has changed since the s, the tendency of dating relationships to move toward intimacy without commitment remains very much the same. For Christians this negative swerve is at the root of dating problems. Intimacy without commitment awakens desiresemotional and physicalthat neither person can justly meet.

In 1 Thessalonians KJV the Bible calls this defrauding, ripping someone off by raising expectations but not delivering on the promise. Pastor Stephen Olford describes defrauding as arousing a hunger we cannot righteously satisfy promising something we cannot or will not provide. Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick. Jack met Libby on a church-sponsored college retreat.

Libby was a friendly girl with a reputation for taking her relationship with God seriously. Jack and Libby wound up chatting during a game of volleyball and seemed to really hit it off.

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Jack wasnt interested in an intense relationship, but he wanted to get to know Libby better. Two days after the retreat he called her up and asked if shed like to go out to a movie the next weekend. She said yes. Did Jack right move? Well, he did in terms of scoring a date, but if he really wanted to build a friendship, he more than likely struck out. One-on-one dating has the tendency to move a guy and girl beyond friendship and toward romance too quickly. Have you ever known someone who worried about dating a long-time friend?

If you have, youve probably heard that person say something like this: He asked me out, but Im just afraid that if we start actually dating it will change our friendship. What is this person really saying? People who make statements like that, whether or not they realize it, recognize that dating encourages romantic expectations, in a true friendship you dont feel pressured by knowing you like the other person or that he or she likes you back.

You feel free to be yourself and do things together without spending three hours in front of the mirror, making sure you look perfect. Lewis describes friendship as two people walking side by side toward a common goal. Their mutual interest brings them together. Jack skipped this commonality stage by asking Libby out on a typical, no-brainer, dinner-and-movie date where their coupleness was the focus. In dating, romantic attraction is often the relationships cornerstone. The premise of dating is Im attracted to you; therefore, lets get to know each other.

The premise of friendship, on the other hand, is Were interested in the same things; lets enjoy these common interests together. If, after developing a friendship, romantic attraction forms, thats an added bonus. Intimacy without commitment is defrauding. Intimacy without friendship is superficial. A relationship based only on physical attraction and romantic feelings will last only as long as the feelings last.

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