Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Beyond Commercialism

We Catholics are still in the Christmas season, so I thought I would share the full text of Pope Benedict's Christmas Eve homily. These addresses are traditional "Urbi et Orbi" speeches-- to the City and to the World!

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus that we have just heard begins solemnly with the word “apparuit,” which then comes back again in the reading at the Dawn Mass: apparuit, "there has appeared."

This is a programmatic word, by which the Church seeks to express synthetically the essence of Christmas. Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways. God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind (cf. Heb 1:1 Mass during the Day).

But now something new has happened: he has appeared. He has revealed himself. He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells. He himself has come into our midst. This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared. No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words. He has “appeared”. But now we ask: how has he appeared? Who is he in reality?

The reading at the Dawn Mass goes on to say: “the kindness and love of God our Savior for mankind were revealed” (Tit 3:4). For the people of pre-Christian times, whose response to the terrors and contradictions of the world was to fear that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary, this was a real “epiphany,” the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness.

Today too, people who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good and the beautiful which we encounter in radiant moments in our world.

“The kindness and love of God our Savior for mankind were revealed:” this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas. In all three Christmas Masses, the liturgy quotes a passage from the Prophet Isaiah, which describes the epiphany that took place at Christmas in greater detail: “A child is born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end” (Is 9:5f.).

Whether the prophet had a particular child in mind, born during his own period of history, we do not know. But it seems impossible. This is the only text in the Old Testament in which it is said of a child, of a human being: his name will be Mighty-God, Eternal-Father.

We are presented with a vision that extends far beyond the historical moment into the mysterious, into the future. A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God. A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father. And his peace “has no end.”

The prophet had previously described the child as “a great light” and had said of the peace he would usher in that the rod of the oppressor, the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood would be burned (Is 9:1, 3-4). God has appeared as a child. It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace.

At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours.

Christmas is an epiphany the appearing of God and of his great light in a child that is born for us. Born in a stable in Bethlehem, not in the palaces of kings. In 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas in Greccio with an ox and an ass and a manger full of hay, a new dimension of the mystery of Christmas came to light. Saint Francis of Assisi called Christmas “the feast of feasts” above all other feasts and he celebrated it with “unutterable devotion” (2 Celano 199; Fonti Francescane, 787). He kissed images of the Christ-child with great devotion and he stammered tender words such as children say, so Thomas of Celano tells us (ibid.).

For the early Church, the feast of feasts was Easter: in the Resurrection Christ had flung open the doors of death and in so doing had radically changed the world: he had made a place for man in God himself. Now, Francis neither changed nor intended to change this objective order of precedence among the feasts, the inner structure of the faith centered on the Paschal Mystery. And yet through him and the character of his faith, something new took place: Francis discovered Jesus’ humanity in an entirely new depth.

This human existence of God became most visible to him at the moment when God’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The Resurrection presupposes the Incarnation. For God’s Son to take the form of a child, a truly human child, made a profound impression on the heart of the Saint of Assisi, transforming faith into love.

“The kindness and love of God our Savior for mankind were revealed” this phrase of Saint Paul now acquired an entirely new depth. In the child born in the stable at Bethlehem, we can as it were touch and caress God. And so the liturgical year acquired a second focus in a feast that is above all a feast of the heart.

This has nothing to do with sentimentality. It is right here, in this new experience of the reality of Jesus’ humanity that the great mystery of faith is revealed. Francis loved the child Jesus, because for him it was in this childish estate that God’s humility shone forth. God became poor. His Son was born in the poverty of the stable. In the child Jesus, God made himself dependent, in need of human love, he put himself in the position of asking for human love our love.

Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light. Francis arranged for Mass to be celebrated on the manger that stood between the ox and the ass (cf. 1 Celano 85; Fonti 469).

Later, an altar was built over this manger, so that where animals had once fed on hay, men could now receive the flesh of the spotless lamb Jesus Christ, for the salvation of soul and body, as Thomas of Celano tells us (cf. 1 Celano 87; Fonti 471). Francis himself, as a deacon, had sung the Christmas Gospel on the holy night in Greccio with resounding voice. Through the friars’ radiant Christmas singing, the whole celebration seemed to be a great outburst of joy (1 Celano 85.86; Fonti 469, 470).

It was the encounter with God’s humility that caused this joy his goodness creates the true feast. Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find that the doorway five and a half meters high, through which emperors and caliphs used to enter the building, is now largely walled up. Only a low opening of one and a half meters has remained. The intention was probably to provide the church with better protection from attack, but above all to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback. Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down.

It seems to me that a deeper truth is revealed here, which should touch our hearts on this holy night: if we want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our “enlightened” reason. We must set aside our false certainties, our intellectual pride, which prevents us from recognizing God’s closeness. We must follow the interior path of Saint Francis the path leading to that ultimate outward and inward simplicity which enables the heart to see. We must bend down, spiritually we must as it were go on foot, in order to pass through the portal of faith and encounter the God who is so different from our prejudices and opinions the God who conceals himself in the humility of a newborn baby.

In this spirit let us celebrate the liturgy of the holy night, let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart. And let us also pray especially at this hour for all who have to celebrate Christmas in poverty, in suffering, as migrants, that a ray of God’s kindness may shine upon them, that they and we may be touched by the kindness that God chose to bring into the world through the birth of his Son in a stable. Amen.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Etymologicon Guide to Christmas (Drinking)

Do you read Mark Forsyth, the Inky Fool?

You... don't? For shame! He's an admirably witty etymologist.

Watch here and be smitten:


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Triple Christmas!

Merry Christmas! May God bless you, every one.

Here is the video my sister made last year of our family's Christmas:

This year my fiance's family is spending Christmas with us, so I am feeling extra blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'm Engaged!

B. popped the question yesterday!

After the big YES!
Hooray! I'm so happy and blessed. Story to follow soon. Happy Christmas Eve, y'all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Et tu, Santorum?

Friends, Catholics, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury our Catholic presidential hopefuls, not praise them.

That is, not literally bury them, but submit an argument thatthose who are Catholic in faith only and not action are not fit to lead America.

I am speaking, of course, specifically about former Speaker of theHouse Newt Gingrich and Senator Rick Santorum. Both respectable men, decent men even, but not presidential material. True, they’re more Catholic than the late President Kennedy, this country’s first Catholic president, but that gives them few points in my book.

The big sticking point for many conservatives is their pro-life stance. Another is their support of marriage between a man and a woman. This is something I strongly support as well, but the way both men wish to go about it is wrong, and why I cannot endorse either for the presidency.

Thomas Peters wrote in the Washington Post,
On the question of the definition of marriage, Gingrich has distinguished himself inhaving zero patience for activist judges who attempt to redefine marriage unilaterally. He supports a federal marriage amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Santorum also supports federal mandates for marriage, and said during the October 18th Republican debate that "the 10th amendment [is] running amok":

Read more at Creative Minority Report >>>>>>>

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Amazon, How I Love Thee

"O Amazon, How I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Scalia

Amazon's unofficial motto for gift buying!
O Amazon,
At Christmastime
indeed I pledge my gratitude

Your canny stock
and shipping speed
begs my undying gratitude

Of Almond Paste
the local shops had
a most plundered inventory

Rainbow cookies
without the stuff
would bring this cook no glory

You shipped it
(overnight no less)
and for a mere three dollars

Thus insuring
a dessert met
with gustatory hollers

O Amazon,
your service doth
set fine new precedents

True service
we do sorely need
Would you run for President?

H/T The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia herself!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kiss the Girl!

TBM Topic 22: The Virgin Diaries on TLC

"Kiss the Girl!" by Julie Robison
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Virgin" by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
"Chastity Carnal-val" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

There's a new reality series in town, and... well, it's no different than any of the others out there. It's extremely personal. It's humiliating. It focuses on the exterior of people rather than the interior. It makes everyone feels awkward. It portrays its subject matter poorly. It makes people and their belief target practice for everyone else, which does not lead to toleration and understanding of others.

The show is called "The Virgin Diaries." It is on TLC (which should change its name to TMI). A headline from ABC News says TLC is celebrating virgins because losing one's virginity is a big deal. The show is getting a lot of press, though, with the exploitation of a video clip of the couple whom had never kissed each other before their wedding. It was, to say the least, disturbing. If I had never kissed a person and I knew the cameras would be on me, I would certainly have been more timid.

To write this piece, I'll make the following three disclosures:
A) I couldn't bring myself to watch the show, so my critique is general motifs rather than serving as a review;
B) I think losing one's virginity is a big deal, and TLC has hurt rather than helped hold such a belief;
C) I'm an adult virgin.

That last one felt weird to type since I'm only 23. I hardly feel like an adult, minus the paying for self, school and taxes part of my life. My sex education came from being the oldest of six kids, religious ed. discussions about sex in the 5th and 6th grade, my biology courses in high school and college, and devouring Theology of the Body resources in college. I've had my heart broken, but never more than that.

For most, though, that's enough.

The romance people are looking for in their life is not sex. The companionship people are looking for is not sex. The intimacy people are looking for is not sex. These are, to be sure, all aspects of sex. But sex is an outward sign of something deeper, which is why girls are annoying and want to cuddle after: they want to be held and know they are wanted, and that their feelings are reciprocated. Sex is reassurance for men that they are wanted and needed, but that does not mean that are emotionally (and chemically!) bonded like the girl.

Virgins used to be more revered. In mythology, virgins goddesses like Athena held power because they did not need to sway men by luring them to bed, like most other women in the stories. The vestal virgins in Rome watched over the sacred fire and, freed from an obligation to marry and have children through their pledge of chastity, were considered important and needed members of society.

Beatrice catching Hero from fainting at her wedding.
In Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, Hero, a female protagonist, is wrongly accused of unchaste behavior. As a result, her marriage is called off, and she dies. Not literally, as the audience finds out later, but her staged death makes her betrothed realize the severe consequences his false accusation (based on false information given to him by a seemingly trust-worthy person).

Even in these sophisticated modern times, sexually promiscuity stays shameful. It may be justified, it may be more acceptable, but it is still something people get a twinge when mentioning, even if flaunting it. People are quick to say, "Don't judge me!" and yes, no person should be judged by another person. But actions can and should be judged, because they determine a person's character.

A man who seeks sexual relations with a woman he does not intend to marry is not honoring or loving that woman. A woman who allows herself to be thus wooed by a man is not guarding her heart or her body. There are logical consequences to these nights of passion too, like a rise in abortions, single-parenthood, absent fathers, STDs and other health predicaments, and poverty.

B. et me
What people actually want is someone who loves them for who they are; to love, and to be loved in return. When B. and I were working through a marriage book, we had to talk a lot about our selves, our beliefs, our families, and what we want. It was a very emotionally exhausting exercise, but the fruit produced was worth it: to know that someone wholly loves me for exactly who I am, and to thus love him in the same way in return.

And when the time comes for us to be married and consummate our relationship, there will be nothing more wonderful than knowing we waited to share our bodies only with our future spouse. Perhaps we will both need a lot of help, perhaps we will both be awkward, perhaps we will make the usual rookie mistakes: no matter! We will learn together, we will laugh together, we will love together, and we will share in the experience together.

Melinda Selmys at Sexual Authenticity wrote an awesome post called "Just Sex" on how it isn't always going to be mind-blowing. But then again, neither is life:
There are two sides to the modern North American hysteria about sex. One is the side that we get to hear about all the time in the Catholic press: the hysteria about how sex is so great, so much fun, so liberating, so all-pervasively important to human life, etc. etc. That is, the hysteria that fueled the sexual revolution. 
The other side of the coin, however, is the Catholic over-sanctification of sex. A problem that I’ve encountered enough times to think that it’s probably a quiet, underground endemic within the Catholic community, is the problems of Catholics – especially Catholic women – feeling that sex is somehow wrong, dirty, or dehumanizing if it is anything less than the scintillatingly personalistic vision of fleshly union that appears in the writings of John Paul II and Christopher West. 
It’s just sex. If you don’t have it, it’s not the end of the world. If you do have it, and it’s rushed, mediocre, and half-asleep, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of the time, you end up with a situation where there is a strong biological imperative to make love on the part of one spouse, and a total lack of interest on the part of the other. This isn’t reductionistic and selfish, it’s just biology.
The Virgin Diaries misses the point about those who hold out: it's not that we don't want to have sex, it's that we don't want to have sex with someone we are not deeply in love with and committed to for life. All the smooth moves, fancy words and romantic settings in the world cannot make up for a lack of real connection with another person.

Sure, there are some people who may have missed their chance to have sex "that one time" in college. Then there are those crazy religious folks who apparently bring up being virgins on first dates (really, TLC?). But to be chaste by choice? Maybe even wearing chastity rings as a sign of their outward commitment to themselves and their body? Inconceivable! If you don't have sex in high school, this show says, you're going to get married a virgin and end up awkwardly sucking face in front of the entire congregation. And when I say awkward, I mean viral-on-the-internet awkward.

It doesn't have to be that way.

"Cortona Annunciation" by Fra Angelico
TLC, in an effort to celebrate chastity in an overly pre-marital sexualized culture, gave people another reason to laugh. This Christmas, we remember the birth of our Savior by the Virgin Mary, the most revered woman in Christendom. Hers was not an easy life: she conceived a child before she was married; she lived in total chastity with her husband; she bore a child while a virgin.

Who is laughing now?

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Blessings of Bunny Slippers

I’m wearing bunny slippers as I type this post. My late Aunt Tracey gave them to me two Christmases ago (her last Christmas). I wear them, but I don’t even like slippers. I’m not a fan of slip-on shoes. They always slip off. I wear them because Aunt Tracey gave them to me.

The author and her bunny slippers
Aunt Tracey was the super-super-glue of my Dad’s side of the family- the one who always had get-togethers to make sure we got together. She and my Uncle Mark were high school sweethearts, and she was one of my Dad’s best friends. You couldn’t help liking her. She made mostly accurate character judgments, had a sassy sense of humor, was always up-front and kind, and loved her family. The last five years of her life were spent in her home, as she battled various diseases and cancers that she would ultimately succumb to in April of 2010.

Read more at Ignitum Today>>>>>>>

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For All The Days I Am Reminded Of How Much Further I Have To Go Towards Heaven

"The Ascent of Mount Carmel" by St. John of the Cross (whose feast day was yesterday)

On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings
-- oh, happy chance! --
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised
-- oh, happy chance! --
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday,
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me
-- A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Here's the original Spanish (for fun!):

En una noche oscura
con ansias en amores inflamada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
salí sin ser notada
estando ya mi casa sosegada
A oscuras y segura
por la secreta escala, disfrazada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
a oscuras y en celada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.
En la noche dichosa,
en secreto que nadie me veía
ni yo miraba cosa
sin otra luz y guía
sino la que en el corazón ardía.
Aquesta me guiaba
más cierto que la luz de mediodía
adonde me esperaba
quien yo bien me sabía
en parte donde nadie parecía.
¡Oh noche, que guiaste!
¡Oh noche amable más que la alborada!
¡Oh noche que juntaste
amado con amada,
amada en el amado transformada!
En mi pecho florido,
que entero para él solo se guardaba
allí quedó dromido
y yo le regalaba
y el ventalle de cedros aire daba.
El aire de la almena
cuando yo sus cabellos esparcía
con su mano serena
en mi cuello hería
y todos mis sentidos suspendía.
Quedéme y olvidéme;
el rostro recliné sobre el amado;
cesó todo, y dejéme
dejando mi cuidado
entre las azucenas olvidado.

Have a blessed Thursday, folks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking For Love in a Hope Filled World

In this season of Advent, I’d like to propose a new song to add to the usual Christmas carol repertoire: Rhianna’s latest single, “We Found Love.”

The song is catchy, but to warn the studio audience: the music video is not for PG-rated and is an excellent example of everything Christians profess love not to be. Nonetheless, it is the refrain which caught my attention: “We found love in a hopeless place” is repeated over and over again.

When I first heard the song, I immediately thought of 1 Timothy 1:1, where Paul greets Timothy “by [the] command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope” (emphasis mine).

This world can seem like a hopeless place. Catholic persecution is becoming more apparent at home and abroad, the economy is hurting families, infancide is seen as a choice and not a crime, and the majority of politicians offering themselves to potentially lead our country are a joke.

It is no coincidence that the first week of Advent is hope. It’s more than a campaign slogan: hope is a theological virtue. St. Thomas, in the Summa Theologica, wrote “the object of hope is a future good which is difficult to obtain, yet possible.” This is precisely why we Christians have a whole season devoted to awaiting Christ, whose Incarnation brings joy to the world, peace to all people, and, most importantly, hope.

Continue Reading at Creative Minority Report>>>>>>>

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Hope You Dance

It's amazing how one life can touch so many.

A few weeks ago, a girl from my high school died. It was completely unexpected. She died of a brain clot in her brain. She was a dancer, and her youth and good health helped save eight other lives through organ donations. The level of mourning, the outreach, and the expression of love for Morgan Judd is amazing. The girls at my high school wrote "MJ" on their hands. Her brothers' high school held a Mass for her, in addition to her funeral Mass. Her body is no longer with us, but her tremendous spirit goes on:

As we approach Christmas, let us remember that one baby, both human and divine, changed the entire course of history, as well as the joy he has given us here on earth, and the hope.

Just as Morgan was a dancer, so is our Lord!

Pray for all souls!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Is the Brightest Idea Told To You in 2011?

IgnitumToday has begun hosting a "Socialis Saturday" to bring the writers and commenters together in one forum. Today's topic is

What is the brightest new idea
that you had this year that
you would give as advice
to someone else?

Join us!

IgnitumToday is the new name for Virtuous Planet. For those who do not know, VP faced legal problems if the name was not changed, so change it we did! Please follow us (again!) on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Life Doesn't Have To Be Easy To Be Joyful

Jen at Conversion Diary gave an awesome talk on her journey from a lifetime of Atheism to orthodox Catholicism. Listen/ watch here:

What are y'all doing this weekend? I'm going to an office party with B. and his parents to meet Dr. B.'s colleagues and play Twenty Questions! I'm also writing-writing-writing, et cetera. You know. The usual.

Have a blessed Friday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Make 'Em Laugh!

Some times, life can be touch and go. It's going your way, and then it's not. I'm currently practicing joy in darkness. My philosophy? When in doubt, make 'em laugh.


Or smile!
Yep, that's my leg.

Life is better when joy is shared. Have a blessed feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can't Get No Satisfaction

"Sationes" by Julie Robison

It amuses when you talk of doing things
As if our calender was thus dictated, like the days of kings,
and instead of replying, I let my mind wander:
Feeling sorry for those who fill the clock and don't ponder
The un-amusing and ordinary act of eating ice cream
Perhaps bought after watching your team;
Staring at the headlines, but ignoring the news
and I smile and think, yes, this is what I choose:
An organic transition (not yet the flower, but beyond the seed),
not letting the Word get buried in the lede.
No! I decide where and when I want to fly a kite;
happily study the Cross to better understand humanity's blight;
at some point I'll wash the dishes and use too much soap;
talk to God and try to cope.
The sun does not always shine bright,
but it's possible to know wrong, and choose right.
There is a stigma today to say, "I am satisfied"
and so much of history cries out, "At least I tried!"
Made flesh, our Lord hung upon a tree
so that we can freely be.
If this is so, then how can we accept mediocrity, or ever be bored;
and how can there be people who so arrogantly deny the Lord?
I know there are children who are born of parents who never danced,
and those who can't be happy without their features being artificially enhanced:
so I can't accept mankind's dispassionate pleas for more,
when all they do is see living as a chore,
to be completed in the appropriate time
and, in the meantime, waiting for a chime.
How is that living? To only live for one:
less convinced of him, and more seduced by fun.

Last weekend: blessed by these two godly and goodly women
As originally published at The Imaginative Conservative (on Tuesday)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This Little Piggy

TBM Topic 21: "The Parable of the Lost Sheep."

"This Little Piggy" by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

To answer the prompt of the Lost Sheep, I advert your attention a few verses down in Luke 15 from verses 1-7 to verses 11-31 and the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is an old favorite: the son came, went, strayed, repented, and came back. The older brother gets mad; the father shows how his love is even. The take-away message is, Even if you go away, God will welcome you back with open arms. But if you're excited about God's mercy, you're only seeing the denouement and missing the best part: the turning point(s).

We Americans should be able to sympathetic to the younger son, going off to enjoy his youth in the city, sowing his wild oats. But perhaps we do not understand the kind of shame he feels upon becoming bankrupt. It's the kind of shame which leads to repentance. It's the kind of shame that aches, spiritually and physically. It's the kind of shame that feels no shame in wanting to eat pig scraps. I'm not sure exactly what pigs eat. But you know life is hard-knock when you're salivating over livestock grub.

This is God's grace: it knocks sense into you. It's the Holy Spirit saying, let me in! This life isn't enough to satisfy you!

I could relate personal stories, but I'd like to try a different approach: I'm issuing a challenge. I think every life has one aspect of this story constantly on repeat.

Are you a lost son? Are you on the road to repentance but not quite craving pig scraps yet? Or are you the older brother with your righteous anger and resentment against another's seemingly undeserved good fortune? Perhaps you are like the Father, waiting with open arms. Or could you see yourself as one of the pigs, giving someone else a wake-up call?

No part is too small is this great life. As my friend Gina so aptly reminded a few of us this weekend, one person's "yes" can be a domino effect for more yeses. Faithfulness in small matters reaps great reward and trust, as the Gospel of Luke reminds us.

More over, when will your soul awake? When will you stop searching and realize that Christ is enough?

H/T Kortni
The Parable of the Lost Son is a closer look at the Lost Sheep parable; it gives that one sinner a face. It reminds us that we're all sinners, and we all want God to search for us and rejoice upon having us back. Moreover, we all have need of repentance. Constantly. Hellooo sacrament of reconciliation.

Moreover, we need to be praying for the non-believers who do not desire our prayers as much as we should pray for those who ask. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and we must desire it to have it. Does that mean we'll always get it? No. Does that excuse people for not believing? No.  But our desire for God's pig scraps will lead to even great rewards. He gave us the will to desire it, now seek Him we must!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Just Came To Say Hello!

I parked on the highway last night and had a pop-techno dance party by myself in my car. Here's one of my new favorite songs. Also, the music video is tres awesome and occurs at a French tennis match:

Here's a more uninterrupted version of the song if short white shorts, neon colors and a few Royal Tenenbaums allusions don't appeal to you:

If you need me, I'll be dancing.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Far is Too Far?

Vivian asks a question I think about all the time:
I’m now entering my third week at the restaurant, and one of my favorite things that we do is to have a weekly discussion about different books, videos, etc that chef wants us to learn more about. It’s definitely unique to the restaurant because it allows us to get to know each other better, and it allows us to bounce ideas off one another and become a better team to produce better food. 
... As in any craft, especially crafts that leave a lot of room for creativity, it’s easy to allow yourself to become engulfed. You allow your craft, your passion to take over your life. You can call it being a workaholic or a perfectionist, whatever you want; you could even go so far as to call it idolatry. But the question that it brought to my mind was how far are you willing to go for what you do? Your craft? 
Would you give up a family for it? How about your parents, your siblings? What about your friends, would you give them up too? Would you ever allow yourself to become to consumed by your passion that you came to disregard all else?
Read the whole thing here.

Vivian and me, almost a year ago 
Do you ever find it hard to balance? There are times when the road seems to straight, and other times where I'd rather wander off in the forest.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Best of Times Ain't Happen Yet

My friend Maria (and fellow American Studies major!!) sent me this song- beautiful words and images. Truly good:

"Field Song" by William Elliott Whitmore

A little fun history fact: did you know, during the Great Depression, the government paid farmers to produce less food by working less land? Except, they didn't anticipate the farmers using the extra money to invest back into their fields, producing more crops on less land. The result was there were watchers being paid to watch the watchers over the farmers because they thought the famers were cheating the government! A whole lotta bureaucratic nonsense is what I calls it.

Oh, the good life:

"Good Life" by OneRepublic

I'm traveling up north this weekend- please pray for my safe travels! Have a blessed weekend, y'all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Better Resurrection

"A Better Resurrection" by Christina Rossetti

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.