Mary Claire in Louisiana
Full name: Mary Claire Lagroue
Occupation: freelance journalist and designer at Paper Garden Goods
Educational background: B.A. in English literature, master’s in journalism
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
The Catholic faith has taught me that all people deserve respect, regardless of religious beliefs, politics, orientation, abilities, birthplace, whatever. It’s taught me that, even if I don’t approve of their choices, I never reject the person. Respect for life is huge, but it begins with small steps—walking with others in spite of our differences, hearing someone out, lending a hand, restraining a hurtful remark. That’s holiness, that’s the goal. I’m learning to take these small opportunities for love. Still, I struggle to choose love when it’s inconvenient or respect when someone irks me. But I’m working on it, taking a cue from St. Therese and offering it up to God.
Tell us about a moment in your life when your Catholic faith transformed your understanding of yourself, your purpose and others.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. I used to look for self-worth in what I could do and how well I could do it. I mistook grades, talents, and achievements for measures of worth. Then I read Fr. Jacques Philippe’s Interior Freedom and had a lightbulb moment. This little book taught me that our abilities do not define us. Our worth is inherent, independent of what we can do. Our worth comes from God.
What lesson did you learn from that moment?
I learned that I’m more than what I can or can’t accomplish. But I also began to understand that everything is grace, including our abilities. The Lord continues to teach me this lesson—that no matter our deficiencies, no matter our merits, He loves us as we are. Leaning on the Lord’s love frees us from having to prove ourselves. His grace suffices. I find so much freedom in that.
How do you grow in your Catholic faith?
Real talk: Growing in faith takes work. Making a habit of attending Mass during the workweek and confession once a month or so has been a faith-life game changer for me. It’s that sacramental grace. Spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament with a spiritual book or scripture has been powerful, too. And I need intellectual stimulation. Reading does it for me, as does listening to programs like Catholic Answers Live when I’m driving, cooking, and so on. Also, I can’t thank the Lord enough for blessing me with friends and a few close cousins who point me to Heaven.
What do you do for fun?
I have the best time at art museums or cute little bookstores—but the ones I love the most are in other states. More often, I’m going to dinner and out to hear live music with friends, and I promise I have a blast doing that, too.
Three words that describe you — go!
Creative, determined, compassionate.
Fill in the blank:
My morning routine consists of: Scribbling in a gratitude journal, spending time with the Mass readings and reflections I get via email, glancing over an excerpt from The Way, and pondering what the Lord seems to be telling me through it all. In between, I’m downing a glass of apple cider vinegar water, sipping roasted dandelion root tea with a dash of ashwagandha, and eating breakfast.
I’m currently obsessed with: Stranger Things! Just a little late to the game.
I feel most inspired when: I’m traveling.
My favorite part about my life right now is: How close I live to my closest friends. Being back in the same city as some and just an hour from others makes life good.
The advice I would give to the millennial Catholic woman is: There’s no such thing as having faith and never having to work at it. I’ve heard one priest say that for years now, and I can always use the reminder. Keep working at it, even when people at work or school or home speak out against Catholics. Keep working at it, even when you doubt, even when God seems distant, even when it’s hard. It’s so worth working for.