Looking Outward

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The-Catholic-Woman-Justine-Morris-Letter-Saint-Veronica

Sister, 

I’ve always had a rather strong character: ever ready to fight my way to the front of a line for the next great adventure. So after a young life of self interest, boyfriends, pretty clothes and partying, I naturally found my 24-year-old self searching for a new stint to add to my diary of exciting activities. 

I signed up to volunteer as a pro-life advocate for a year, in Los Angeles - only knowing that I’d be living with a nun and other volunteers in a community, while doing some sort of pro-life work. I thought it’d be "cool" to travel to Los Angeles, and live with a nun to be able to talk about it afterward. The fact that it was pro-life was a bonus, because after all I was a cradle Catholic, and respected the dignity of life, so it would all be a win/win. 

Well Los Angeles wasn’t as shiny as the movies made it out to be. With crime, trash and homelessness abound, I knew on day 1 this would be different than expected. 

Life made a pretty quick 180: Friday night partying turned into putting together a puzzle on the kitchen table with a cup of tea, a volunteer stipend didn’t leave much room for clothes, make up, or tanning, my concern for boyfriends had to be dealt with on a very real note of understanding chastity and true femininity. And community life was a denial of self I was unused to. It wasn’t until all this focus on myself was stripped away that I could begin to look outward. 

This outward gaze allows me to use my given character to build up and encourage those along the path. 

I frequently think of my Confirmation saint, St. Veronica, to help me stay true to this lesson. She used her strength of character to fight through the sneering crowd to gently wipe the face of our Lord. She used her feminine veil (I like to think of it as having delicately laced edges) to remove the blood and dirt that accumulated from His travels. Like her, we are uniquely called to use our femininity, not by giving up on adventures, but as a strength for the good of others.

His peace and strength be with you!

Justine.


My name is Justine Marie (Veronica) Morris. My first name came from an actress (Justine Bateman) that played in a sitcom (Family Ties) while my mother was pregnant.

I’ve never put much stock in that – but have felt a sense of gratitude for my name because “Justine” meaning “justice,” one of the cardinal virtues. In the Catechism, it’s described: 

"Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. 'You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.'"

Marie, a variation of Mary, our Mother, and my grandmother’s name.

Morris is an English name. I take this name gratefully because it grounds me in knowing I am my father’s daughter. He is one of the most respectful, joy-filled and sincere men I know. When I take my husband’s name, I will be sure that he has these qualities as well. 

Veronica is my Confirmation name. Known for wiping the face of Christ during His Passion, she is the patron saint of laundry workers. Yep. That’s a thing. My household chore growing up was folding the laundry and I looooved it! I still do. Give me your laundry, I’ll gladly fold it. 

I’m 30 years old. How did this happen? 30 was always put-together, established, adult. I wear the same pair of socks three days in a row. How am I 30?