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Gratitude Workshop #1: The souls in purgatory

November 2, 2014

During the month of November we’ll be having a series of gratitude workshops.

“Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards this Divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us, in deigning to accept our help to make Him known, loved and honored; He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work.” –St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

We’ll start by being thankful for those who have gone before us. We know that we should pray for the souls in purgatory, and that they can pray for us. Think about the people in your life who have inspired you and shaped who you have become. Who do you miss? Whose advice do you wish you could still ask for? Pray for this person, and do something charitable in their name today.



Shannon & Steven

April 9, 2014

Shannon joined AveMariaSingles in the summer of 2011 and shortly after met the man who would become her husband. They were married October 6, 2012. Shannon and Steven have one daughter. 

There were many things I liked about Ave Maria Singles versus other Catholic dating sites. I loved the fact that members must provide a detailed explanation regarding their spiritual beliefs and values. I desired to find a man who would one day be the spiritual head of the household. Because Ave Maria required that he make explicit exactly what he believes, I didn’t have to waste time getting to know a man who was not 100% Catholic and loved the Lord above anything else.

I also liked it that a membership fee was required. The fee showed that the men on the site were serious and committed to finding a Catholic woman with whom they would enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. The one-time fee was also appealing to me. A monthly fee would have made me feel as though I was on a time crunch to locate my future spouse. With a one-time fee, I was able to be patient as I waited upon the Lord to reveal him to me.

I know that one downside to Ave Maria is that there aren’t as many members as compared to other sites. I understand that this may reduce your chances of finding the one God has for you. However, God has ONE for you! This is where prayer comes in. If you are feeling the Lord lead you to join this site, this may very well be the place you find that one person! That was the case for me and my wonderful husband.

Joining Ave Maria Singles was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I would recommend this site to anyone who is serious about discerning the vocation of marriage.

Italy pilgrimage October 2014

March 31, 2014

This October, Ave Maria Trips is hosting a Eucharistic Miracles tour through Tuscany. Explore some of the most beautiful towns in Italy  – home to St. Francis, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Rita – as well as these four powerful Eucharistic Miracles:

#1 – The Miracle at Orvieto

A priest who had doubts about the Real Presence was saying Mass when blood began to drip from the Host. Pope Urban investigated this miracle and had the Host and the blood stained corporal placed in the cathedral of Orvieto. Tradition holds that this miracle prompted Pope Urban to request that St. Thomas Aquinas compose the official prayers for the feast of Corpus Christi.

#2 -Eucharistic Miracle of Siena

In preparation for the feast of the Assumption, consecrated hosts were left in the tabernacle. Thieves broke into the Basilica of St. Francis and stole the golden ciborium filled with the consecrated hosts. Three days later, all of the hosts were found. Not one had been lost. These hosts remain perfectly preserved and have never deteriorated. Pope John Paul II went to Siena in September 1980 to venerate the miracle in honor of the 250th anniversary of the Miracle of the Hosts.

#3 – Eucharistic Miracle of Cascia

Instead of placing the Eucharist in a ciborium to bring to a gravely ill man, a priest placed the Host in the pages of his breviary. When he opened the book he was shocked to see that the Host had turned into a clot of blood and had stained the pages of the breviary. The pages are preserved in the lower chapel of the Basilica of St. Rita. The Basilica also holds the incorrupt body of St. Rita

#4 – Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

Tradition has it that the centurion who stuck a lance into the side of Jesus at the Crucifixion was from this town. After seeing the events that followed the death of Jesus, he believed Christ was the Savior. He is known now as Saint Longinus. His feast day is celebrated on March 15.

A monk, who struggled with the Real Presence, was saying Mass when the host turned into flesh in his hands. The wine turned into blood. He said,

“O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in this Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes.Come, brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ.”

The miracle is ongoing. Without any preservative, the flesh and wine are still present in the Church of the Franciscan Friars.

Space on this pilgrimage is limited, so visit Ave Maria Trips today and complete your registration.



Meditation on a Crucifix for Singles

March 17, 2014

Reposted with permission from

For Catholics, the Crucifix is essential for living our daily lives. The Crucifix is the symbol of Christ’s ultimate act of love for us. The Crucifix depicts Jesus nailed to the cross and dying for our sins. We hang a crucifix on the walls of our homes and wear a crucifix on a chain around our necks so that we will be visibly reminded of Jesus’ love for us and our redemption.

For those who desire a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, the Crucifix also serves as an ideal focus of meditation. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said that the summary of all our sins can be found on the Crucifix. It is, therefore, the perfect way to examine our consciences.

Examining our consciences while gazing on the Crucifix will differ from person to person primarily depending on our state in life. For unmarried Catholics who are open to marriage and are dating members of the opposite sex, an examination of conscience while meditating on the Crucifix should include considerations related to the desire and efforts toward marriage.

The things Jesus suffered on the cross are have a direct correlation to the sins we all commit, and he suffered through His body for them all. The following is an example of what a single Catholic might consider at they meditate on the Crucifix:

The Sacred Head crowned with thorns – The sins we commit in our mind
The head containing the very mind of God with all wisdom and knowledge is used for a sick joke to mock Him as king by the crowning with piercing thorns.

Do I allow and foster impure thoughts?
Do I allow myself to think ill will about members of the opposite sex?&
Am I still scarred from past relationships that my attitude going into a new relationship is to be close minded
Do I harbor resentment for those who have hurt me in the past, and allow that to affect my current relationship?
Am I thinking about other things while with someone I am dating?
Do I think about someone else I would prefer to be with?
Do I date people I already know I would never be open to love and marriage with just to have someone to go on a date with?
Do I think about inappropriate sexual things while on a date?
Do I try to think of ways to get the person I am dating to have sex with me?

The hands nailed to the wood of the cross – The sins we commit with our hands
Hands that touched and were raise for healing and performing miracles are nailed to wood like common parchment.

Have I tried to touch a person I am dating inappropriate or impurely?
Have I ever physically hit someone I am dating?
Have I avoided doing things for the person I am dating like cooking for them, or doing works of charity?
Do I masturbate while looking at images of the opposite sex or thinking about the person I am dating?
Do I type dishonest information about myself or send uncharitable messages on dating websites?

The feet nailed to the wood of the cross – The sins we commit with our feet
The feet that took Jesus all over Judea so that so many people could experience the Incarnate Word among us and come to believe are now made stationary with one nail through both feet.

Have I used the gift of walking to go to places I do not belong?
Have I walked into places of pornography?
Do I avoid going out on dates because I would rather indulge in my own selfish interests?
Do I procrastinate going to places or into environments that offer me a chance to meet a quality person of the opposite sex?

The body of Christ stripped of His garments – The sins we commit of the flesh
As if He is not humiliated enough from the scourging and the carrying of his cross, Jesus is made to be fully exposed in body as His clothes are removed.

Have I exposed myself to a person I am dating inappropriately, which is harmful to both of us?
Have I tried to remove the clothing of the person I am dating in an attempt to engage in pre-marital sex?
Do I show too much of my body publicly?

The Sacred Heart pierced with a lance – The sins we commit in our heart
Blood and water bursts out from Jesus’ side after his Sacred Heart is pierced, showering the crowds with the fullest extent of His love and cleansing those who would be splashed with the graces of mercy.

Am I protective of the heart of the person I am dating?
Am I careful not to break the heart of the person I am dating through insensitivity or selfishness?
Do I see the heart of the person I date as something to win and make feel safe?
Am I too quick to allow my heart to feel love for someone I am dating as to make it vulnerable to heartbreak?
Is my heart closed off and too guarded as to not allow a nice person I am dating to get to know me and to foster love?
Am I patient and gentle about creating an atmosphere in my dating relationship that makes the other feel safe to share themselves with me?
Am I a good friend, or am I hard to get to know and too quick to cut someone off when things go wrong?
Do I lust after members of the opposite sex in my heart?
Does my heart desire things that are incompatible with true love and marriage?
Do I allow my heart to be attached to someone I am no longer dating or whom I could never be married to?

The outstretched arms – The sins we commit of being unwelcoming
Jesus’ arms are pulled out as far as they can go, as if to show us that God loves us that much (both arms held out in full extension). Who among us can ever extend our arms out in full and say we love anyone that much?

Am I a welcoming person and make people feel comfortable?
Are my arms always outstretched and open to comforting those who need it?
Do I offer my arms to give hugs?
Do I offer the person I am dating chaste hugs to show my affection and care?
Is my attitude in life to smile and open my arms to receive, or do I always look miserable and reserved and keep my arms to my side as to be stand offish?

The suffering in silence – The sins we commit with our lips and our speech
Amidst the chaos of the crowd shouting at Jesus to save Himself and come down from the cross, He silently endures, speaking very little, and only when necessary.

Am I quick to talk and slow to listen?
Do I speak without thinking or consideration for the other person?
Do I enjoy complaining to friends about bad dates or the opposite sex?
Do I remain silent and accept annoying things on a date, or do I have to make comments? Do I look for positive things to say about the person I am dating, or do I only have negative things to say?
Do I say “I’m sorry” when I have said or done something wrong?
Do I say things that will help resolve problems with the person I am dating, or do I remain silent and allow things to get worse while waiting for the other to make things right?
Do I say the words “I love you” too prematurely or without backing it up with actions that prove love?
Do I speak kindly and with self control, or do I raise my voice or shout to make my points? Do I do all the talking?
Do I keep to myself too much and make the other uncomfortable trying to find things to talk about?
Am I abusive in my conversations the person I am dating, making them feel bad, hurting their feelings, or trying to manipulate them?
Do I have a sincere desire to use the give of speech to build up others and not tear them down?

The eyes impaired by blood and closing from death approaching – The sins we commit with our eyes
The blood from Jesus’ pierced head drips into his eyes, which now have only a distorted vision of the world.

Do I look appropriately at the opposite sex?
Do I realize that my eyes are the windows to my soul and everything I look at affects me?
Do I lack the will power to guard my eyes from those things I know are wrong?
Do I partake in looking at pornography?
Do I watch too much television or too many movies?
Do I partake in too much media entertainment, or watching the news?
Do I feel I need to see the things I allow myself to see?
Do I look at the person I am dating when I talk or listen to them, or do I look away a lot?
Do I make my date feel uncomfortable by looking at him or her inappropriately?
Do I look at members of the opposite sex while I am out with my date?
Am I wise and prudent about what I watch and read?
Do I criticize the person I am dating when I observe what they do?
Do I dress modestly when I go out on a date so I am not an occasion of sin?
Do I do inappropriate things to get the attention of members of the opposite sex?
Do I observe the needs of the person I am dating and do what I can in charity, or to be a gentleman or lady?
Do I pay close attention to the things that are unique about the person I am dating and their interests so I can really get to know them?
Do I do things for the person I am dating that shows that I have been paying attention to who they are?

The blood poured out from every part of the body The sins we commit from holding back giving our life to others
Jesus is visibly unrecognizable as He is covered in His own blood from head to toe, showing that love holds back nothing, willingly goes to the furthest extent, and can affect our our outward appearance as well as our inner being.

Am I the kind of person who will do anything for anyone without counting the costs?
Do I desire to pour out my life for the person I will eventually marry?
Do I practice the concept of total self giving through the people that are in my life?
Am I selfish?
Am I overly concerned with looks when discerning a suitable partner, or do I understand that love goes beyond outward appearance?
Do I understand that looks change as love is lived over time?
Do I make sure I always have what I want and do what I want, even before service to others?
Do I get upset when things do not go as planned?
Am I impatient with the person I date and don’t give the relationship a chance to develop?
Am I only looking for someone who will serve me and please me in every way when I am dating, or for someone whom I can serve and give my entire self to?
Do I have the capability of loving someone with all their faults and imperfections, or am I only willing to consider marriage if I know I the other person will always make me happy and never hurt me?
Do I see myself giving in marriage as Jesus gave in love for us on the cross?
Am I willing to choose a suitable partner and move forward with a loving marriage, or am I always making excuses for why I should not give myself completely to one person?

These are but a few questions to consider. As you pray before the Crucifix, allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you with further details of your life. It is all there on the cross for you to discover.


The two most fatal online dating profile faux pas

February 19, 2014

Last month during the annual Ave Maria cruise, we discussed two of the most fatal mistakes people make in their online dating profile. These seem like obvious Things To Avoid, but trust us, close to 20 years experience would indicate that these tips bear repeating.

online dating

Without further ado: What not to do on your online dating profile.

1. Leave your profile picture blank. 

If you have no photo, you quite literally may as well not be there. No one can see you. Yes, people should love you for who you are as a person. Certainly, beauty is only skin deep. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless. You must have a photo, or no one is going to pause in their scrolling of hundreds of profiles to stop and see the person of you. Or your inner beauty. You must upload a photo. It must be a recent photo. It should be captioned with the year it was taken. If you don’t have a recent photo of yourself that you like, ask a friend to take one. Take one with your cell phone. Any photo in which we can clearly see your face is better than no photo.

And speaking of photos:

Your profile photo should not have your best friend, your sister, your mother, or any other human being in it. Don’t place yourself in the embarrassing situation of someone being more interested in your buddy than in you. And NEVER EVER, under any circumstance, post a profile picture of yourself with someone of the opposite sex. Lastly, it’s wonderful that you love your nephew/godchild/grandchild. My nephew is the cutest baby on the face of the planet, I think. But no babies or kids in your profile picture.

It is perfectly fine to share a great photo of yourself with someone you love in your extra photos. That shows your personality and is very fun for prospective matches. Just keep your loved ones off your profile picture. Seriously. No exceptions.

2. Leave your opening statement blank. 

Your opening statement is the first thing people see when viewing your profile. In some most cases, it is the only thing people see. Leaving this blank is just as bad as having no photo. Only the first couple of lines appear in searches, so make it pop! Start out strong. This is a great spot of your profile to share about YOU. Make people smile or laugh – that makes you stand out and keeps the reader browsing the rest of your profile .

People need something to respond to. 

A common complaint is: “I don’t receive any messages.” You will certainly not receive any messages if you do not have an opening statement. This is because there is nothing to respond to. If you share a bit about yourself, your interests, what you’re looking for, why you can be reached online, it gives people something interesting to message you about. Remember: we aren’t meeting each other in person, where we can often use environmental circumstances to strike up a conversation (e.g. Isn’t this band just awful?). All I have to go on is what you give me. So give me something. Anything! If you are having trouble writing about yourself, ask a friend. They can certainly help sum up your personality.

And please. Don’t mention that you enjoy long walks on the beach. Keep your beach walk commentary off your opening statement – unless you loathe walking on the beach. Now that? That I would write to you about.

Upcoming Events: summer retreat and October pilgrimage

April 12, 2013

Make sure to visit for upcoming events for Catholics of all ages. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged, or married, Ave Maria Trips offers trips for everyone.

Matt and Lillian Vogl

September 24, 2012

Matt and Lillian met each other on the Alaskan cruise in July 2005. Matt had just finished his first year of teaching, and Lillian her first year as a lawyer in a large law firm. Both wanted a vacation and neither expected to meet someone – let alone the person they would marry. Immediately after getting on the ship, Lillian saw this cute guy (Matt) walk into the Ave Maria registration room. Lillian noticed that his badge said that he lived in Potomac Falls, VA, so Lillian said to him with excitement, “I’m from Virginia, too!” Being interested, Matt tried to publicize the excursions he was planning to go on when Lillian was in a larger group planning out her week. Lillian took note of those excursions, and was able to schedule a couple of them, such as Ketchikan where they had plenty of great conversation while eating crabs in the lodge. In the evenings, Lillian did her best to teach Matt how to swing dance at the club.

The cruise was like a “dating marathon” moving their relationship along much quicker than if they had met at home, getting together once on the weekends. They had many opportunities to have deep conversations about family and life throughout the cruise, and when they traveled with Anthony and friends in Seattle waiting for their flight home to DC. How did the story end? After dating for two years back home, Lillian and Matt got married. They now have two children, Felicity and Mark, who will one day hear the story about how their parents met on the high seas!