Thursday, March 31, 2011

Practice Resurrection

In case any of y'all do not have the Magnificat's Lenten companion reader, here is the beautiful opening poem:

"Death and Love" by Rita A. Simmonds

Is it possible to love to the point of death,
Willingly, I say willingly?

No healthy balance.
No give and take.
But death --
One's final breath?

I do not talk of suicide,
an act of hate
that sees nothing
and cannot wait.
Nor Romeo
who couldn't see
that death was not
love's enemy.
I talk of death
love's secret lover,
who reveals the essence of the other.

A grain of wheat,
small, separated, fallen, alone,
that hits the ground without a sound
can remain consoled
knowing what it carries,
why it fell,
and when it's buried
what it still carries --
(and years from now
the field's glory
that sways the story
will want to know and tell).

But if we see no resurrection,
no golden field above the ground,
how do we die now?
And how can we say we will it so
when death is no true lover's goal?
Yet have we seen a heart let go
if love is what it holds?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saint Who?

Week Four: Patron Saints

"Saint Who?" by Julie Robison
"Budding Hope" by Trista at Not A Minx
"Less is More" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fourth post of the Bright Maidens. 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!


When I was little, I was given my first book of saints. I love reading about the saints and their lives: the martyrs, the virgins, the consecrated religious, the lay people, the Doctors of the Church, and thousands of witnesses to the power of Christ in one’s life. I love the litany of saints at Mass, and I love that the communion of saints is still hustling and bustling in the vibrant body of Christendom. Saints were fallen humans too, who faced the same world, and still rose to the challenge of following Christ. They sanctified themselves, in order to help sanctify the world, to paraphrase St. Francis.

The saints, through my now 23 years on this green earth, have been my constant companions. St. Anthony and I have a special bond. I lose things, send up an intercessory request for him to help me, and I usually find it within moments.

Then there’s St. Thomas Aquinas (patron saint of academics) and St. Joseph Cupertino (patron saint of test-taking), whom I was frequently begging for help. Don’t forget St. Maria Goretti, the patron saint of young women, or St. Philip Neri, the patron saint of Rome (and a prime example that holiness can have a sense of humor), or St. Thomas More (patron saint of civil servants and large families) or St. Francis de Sales (patron of writers and journalists), more favorites. There’s even a St. Julie Billiart! She founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Those are only a few; there are hundreds of thousands of saints! My confirmation saint is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, another favorite saint. She is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides.

You can imagine my excitement then, when Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary posted her Saint Generator, and my anticipation of who my “saint of the year” was going to be.

Want to take a gander at which saint I got? No really, guess!

Did you guess St. Hyacinth?

Have you heard of St. Hyacinth?

Say it with me: Hy-a-cinth.

My disappointment was palpable, to say the least. I might have even frowned.

I know! That was naughty of me, and ungrateful. To make matters worse, everyone was talking about which saints they got. Jen got St. Francis de Sales. Elizabeth got St. Thomas More. Lisa got St. Jane de Chantel.

Enter the green-eyed monster and a grumpy demeanor; I was feeling seriously dejected. Why didn’t I get a cool saint like them? (I know, I’m breaking the 10th commandment at this point.) I looked up St. Hyacinth and found barely anything. Well, he was a Dominican. That made me happy. I love the Dominican order.

Scroll, scroll, scroll. Click, click, click. I was determined to find something.

Now- don’t get me wrong. St. Hyacinth is a neat saint. He’s called the “Confessor of the North.” He spread the Faith until his death in 1251. He brought the Faith to Poland, as well as evangelizing in Denmark, Greece, Norway, Russia Scotland, Sweden, and Turkey. One of his miracles include saving the blessed Eucharist in a Monstrance and a statue of the Blessed Mother during an attack on a monastery in Kiev, with the very heavy Monstrance and statue becoming weightless so he could run away with them.

He’s the patron saint of Lithuania, I read. I could feel my spirit sinking again. None of this really "applied" to me. I was confused. But I, a non-Lithuanian, am also a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Why did I get this saint, I kept thinking.

Then I saw it: patron saint of those in danger of drowning.

When I was little, I used to go up North to my cousins’ house for a week. Once, my sister and I were playing Frisbee outside. She accidently threw it over the fence and it landed on the neighbor’s covered pool. Being the big sister, I volunteered to climb over the fence and retrieve the Frisbee. We thought our cousins would be so angry that we lost their Frisbee.

So over the fence I climbed. The neighbor’s pool was disgusting. I could see the algae the way you look at the ground and see grass. They barely used their backyard, let alone cleaned their pool. They were an older couple with older children. The pool was covered with a tarp.

I reached my little arm out toward the Frisbee. There was nothing, not even a branch from a tree (well, maybe a branch, if I had snapped one off), to help me inch the Frisbee closer. My little sister was watching me with expectant eyes, but my arms were not long enough. My finger tips gripped the cement edge of the pool, and I reached farther, and fell into the pool.

I used to think that my fear of dark water and not being able to see into the depths was caused by my sister and I watching “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (the zombies coming out of the dark water episode, specifically, even though our parents forbid us to watch that show), but now, as I write this post and remember, it may have been from falling into a dark pool, filled with algae, and covered by a tarp.

I remember grasping the Frisbee in the water, panic filling my body as I tried to find an opening in the tarp. But under the covering, it was all dark. I pushed up against the heavy plastic and it gave me no out.

So I prayed for God to help me see my parents and siblings again, and I asked for help to get out, because I didn’t want to drown. I was no Russell Kirk, who fell out of the boat and sank to the bottom, calmly sitting there at the bottom, legs crossed, as if he was in a waiting room, until the homeless man out fishing with him swam to the bottom and saved his life.

No, I was flailing. I wasn’t ready to die. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a part of something big, important, honorable, and worthy. I wasn’t ready to die for a Frisbee. I prayed harder, and hit my hand against the tarp, and tried to stay focused as water was filling my little lungs.

Then I saw the light, and I breathed oxygen. I threw the Frisbee out of the pool, towards the fence, where my little sister still stood, trembling. It had only been a minute or two, but to us, it felt much longer. I pulled myself out of the pool, covered in algae, and climbed back over the fence.

Then I went upstairs and took a shower.


I don’t remember what happened after that, or how we told our cousins, or when we told our parents, but 12 or 14 years later, when I got St. Hyacinth in the Saint Generator, that was no mistake. It happened for a reason, and now, I am aware of his presence in my life. I have no doubt in my mind that St. Hyacinth helped intercede on my behalf; that he helped save my life; that he assists and will assist in my pursuits to helped spread the Faith. He's also helped me increase devotion to the Blessed Mother, Eucharistic adoration and frequent communion, not to mention further convince me that the Dominicans are still, and will always be, my favorite order.
 
St. Hyacinth, pray for me!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Midwinter Spring Is Its Own Season

At the end of RCIA tonight, one of the team leaders was talking about when the catechumens were going to receive their first reconciliation. It is scheduled to be the Monday of Holy Week.

"That's April 18," said S.

S. sits at the front right table with the girl I am sponsoring and me. He is one of my favorites, if I am allowed to have favorites. He absolutely fascinates me, and I've learned so much from him, and about him. He used to be a Fundamentalist Christian, turned New Age, turned more orthodox Christian and found his way to the Catholic Church. He used to be an English professor, used to be married, is getting an annulment, is extremely well-read and very sharp. He now lives with his cat, and works for an insurance company. His Protestant parents can't believe he's becoming Catholic, but he's very good-humored about the whole thing.

"Yes," said someone from the back, finally confirming his date, "it's April 18th."

"Nice job," I whispered to him with a smile, "knowing the date so fast!"

"I was hoping it was that day," he whispered back.

"Why's that?" I asked.

He started to write something on the top of his paper. I barely contained my curiosity, but some handwriting cannot be read upside down. He slid the paper towards me. It read, It is my daughter's birthday.

"Your daughter!" My whisper was getting louder, and my smile broader. "I didn't know you had a daughter! How old will she be?"

"She would have been five," he said. "She was born stillborn."

I instinctively put my hand on my heart, and smiled at him. My heart ached and simultaneously rejoiced for a man whose daughter died, and, on the fifth anniversary of her death, will be released from his past sins through his future- membership in the Catholic Church and participation in her life-giving sacraments.

My hand felt my heart leap, and I reflexively prayed the Magnificat:"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"

I smiled at S., and he smiled back, as the team leader continued to talk about our retreat, confession and the preparations before Holy Week: before S., the girl I am sponsoring, the resident med student, the married couple, and the two soon-to-be-Catholic husbands in RCIA at St. Gertie's, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other soon-to-be-Catholics around the world, finally come home and join the Church at Easter.

God's grace in people's lives never ceases to amaze me, and how, even on the crooked paths of our lives, he gives us glimpses of the final victory. Even death, you see, isn't absolute.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
--T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Feel Like The Maid! I Just Cleaned Up This Mess!

Week 17:

 
one

This Lent, I'm going to confession at least once a week. It is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

First, I have to find time to do it. Confession is offered in the evenings on Wednesday and on Saturday morning and afternoon. The opportunity is there, but the schedule fills up fast. Knowing I have to go makes me plan my time better.

Second, I am much more aware of my thoughts and actions because I know I will be talking to a priest within days of sinning. How humbling! "Bless me Father, for I have sinned... it had been one week for my last confession." Fortunately, no priest has said (yet), "Seriously? It's been a week?" The Dominicans are kind and firm. Confession is a dialogue. I'm not just ticking sins off my fingers, I'm really talking them through with the priest. It has been so rewarding and enlightening, and I always catch myself smiling as I say my penance.

I really encourage all of y'all to make the time to go to confession. I know the longer I wait to go, the more dread I feel. But God already knows your sins! This is you owning up to them, which, admittedly, is the hardest part. But pray for peace and pray for wisdom, and God in his mercy sees your heart.

If anything, think of confession as the "spring cleaning" of your soul!

two

Archbishop Timothy Dolan is the bomb-diggity. Seriously, the Catholic Church is so blessed to have such a man serving us, let alone as our current USCCB president. He gave a kickin' interview on CBS then wrote this fantastic piece called "An Airport Encounter" after a man approached him, asked if he was a Catholic priest, then said all he can think of are the words "sexual abuser." The whole thing is worth a read, but here's an excellent part: 

"Well then, why do we only hear this garbage about you priests," he inquired, as he got a bit more pensive. 

"We priests wonder the same thing. I've got a few reasons if you're interested."

He nodded his head as we slowly walked to the carousel.

"For one," I continued, "we priests deserve the more intense scrutiny, because people trust us more as we dare claim to represent God, so, when on of us do it – even if only a tiny minority of us ever have – it is more disgusting."

"Two, I'm afraid there are many out there who have no love for the Church, and are itching to ruin us. This is the issue they love to endlessly scourge us with."

"And, three, I hate to say it," as I wrapped it up, "there's a lot of money to be made in suing the Catholic Church, while it's hardly worth suing any of the other groups I mentioned before."

Elizabeth Scalia wrote a great piece called "Church is Holy, Scandals are of Man" that is also fantastic! May the Church continue to be blessed with such faithful members and defenders of the faith.

three

These lines from Arrested Development have been making me giggle all week:

 Lucille: Buster can do it. He's had business classes.

Buster: Wait, 18th century agrarian business. But I guess it's all the same principals. Let me ask you, are you at all concerned about an uprising?

four

NPR's 'This American Life' had an AMAZING story- listen here for this true act of heroism and redemption.

Synopsis:

James Spring read about two missing girls, thought to have been abducted to Mexico by their parents who were wanted for murder. Spring had wanted to do something that helped someone else, as he turned 40 years old. He decided to try to rescue Viana and Faith Carelli in Baja. He helped return them to their grandparents in Soquel, but the story is more complicated than that.

five

I was recently asked if I was in Debate or if I studied speech at school.

"Nope," I replied. "I was raised by a lawyer."

Dad and 3/4 of his daughters

six

Join me in:
--Praying for the situation in the Middle East, especially the Christians being martyred.
--Praying for Japan and all people affected.
--Praying for 40 Days for Life, which is happening right now. (And probably in your area! It is Day 17 and 132 lives have been saved! Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!)
--Praying for my family, who are all still grieving the death of my aunt, while dealing with family politics.
--Especially praying for the souls in Purgatory, including my grandmother Jean, great-grandmother Tillie, Aunt Ann and Aunt Tracey.
--Praying for all those struggling to conceive, that adoption may be a viable option.

seven

Last but certainly not least, this week's Bright Maidens' posts on dating exploded across the internet. As of this morning, my "Hillsdating and Other False Realities" has flown over 600 views, which, I admit, surprises me. I did not think this would be a popular post. I was obviously (and happily!) wrong. I think I got the most glee out of all my fellow Hillsdalians full-on support and hilarious comments to me; yes, this is the real world, folks! One friend even offered to print it off and stick it under freshmen doors, as a preventative measure.

Many thanks to Tito Edwards for featuring Elizabeth's "Christian Commitophobia" (my life story?), Trista's "Friendship That Lasts" (amazing and Aristotelian) and my 10 Commandments for Dating to The Pulp.It and National Catholic Register! Also, many, many thanks to the numerous other plugs (shout outs to Tony and Marc!) we've got this week, and to Peter, et al. for asking me out via the internetz. Thank you!, but I must decline. In a slight twist of fate, today is also the birthday of the guy I am seeing; I think it would be cruel and heartless of me to accept such an invitation on his birthday!

As a consolation prize, you can like The Bright Maidens: Young Catholic Commentary on Facebook. If you like me, like us!

Happy Friday! See Conversion Diary for more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

With All Due Respect

"The Farmer and the Queen" by Shel Silverstein

“She’s coming,” the farmer said to the owl.
“Oh, what shall I what shall I do?
Shall I bow when she comes?
Shall I twiddle my thumbs?”
The owl asked, “Who?”

“The Queen, the Queen, the royal Queen
She’ll pass the farm today.
Shall I salute?” he asked the horse.
The horse said, “Nay.”
“Shall I give her a gift?” he asked the wren.
“A lovely memento for her to keep?
An egg or a peach or an ear of corn?”
The wren said, “Cheap.”

“But should I curtsy or should I cheer?
 Oh, here’s her carriage now.
What should I do?” he asked the dog.
The dog said, “Bow.”

And so he did, and so she passed,
Oh, tra lala lala,
“She smiled, she did!” he told the sheep.
The sheep said, “Bah”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord

Let us go a step further. In the human dream of a perfect world, holiness is always visualized as untouchability by sin and evil, as something unmixed with the latter; there always remains some form or other a tendency to think in terms of black and white, a tendency to cut out and reject mercilessly the current form of negative (which can be conceived in widely varying terms). 

In contemporary criticism of society and in the actions in which it vents itself, this relentless side always presents in human ideals is once again only too evident. This is why the aspect of Christ's holiness that upsets his contemporaries was the complete lack of this condemnatory note-- fire did not fall on the unworthy, nor were the zealots allowed to pull up the weeds they saw growing luxuriantly on all sides. 

On the contrary, this holiness expressed itself precisely as mingling with the sinners whom Jesus drew into his vicinity; as mingling to the point where he himself was made "to be sin" and bore the curse of the law in execution as a criminal-- complete community of fate with the lost (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). He has drawn sin to himself, made it his lot, and so revealed what true "holiness" is: not separation, but union; not judgment, but redeeming love. 

Is the Church not simply a continuation of God's continual plunge into human wretchedness; is she not simply the continuation of Jesus' habit of sitting at the table with sinners, of his mingling with the misery of sin to the point where he actually seems to sink under its weight? Is there not revealed in the unholy holiness of the Church, as opposed to man's expectation of purity, God's true holiness, which is love, love that does not keep its distance in a sort of aristocratic, untouchable purity but mixes with the dirt of the world, in order to thus overcome it? Can, therefore, the holiness of the Church be anything else but the bearing with one another that comes, of course, from the fact that all of us are bourne up by Christ?

--Introduction to Christianity (1968), Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hillsdating and Other False Realities

Week Three: Dating

"Hillsdating and Other False Realities" by Julie Robison
"Friendship That Lasts" by Trista at Not a Minx, a Moron, or a Parasite
"Christian Commitophobia" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the third post of a Lenten blog post series called "Bright Maidens." 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!



Where I went to college, there were three prominent types of relationships: there were people who dated, people who were “just friends,” and people who Hillsdated.

Hillsdating, as defined by THE Urban Dictionary dot com, is a “relationship where a guy and a girl who like each other, spend every waking moment together, but refuse to admit or agree that they are dating.”

Let's avoid this.
Hillsdating came about precisely because, unlike many college campuses, dating is looked at as a step towards marriage- not as serious as courtship, and more commitment than friendship. Dating, rightly understood, is getting to know another person more intentionally.

But a well-known side effect of Hillsdating is regular bouts of awkwardness. Awkwardness is usually caused by emotional limbo, which can only be cured by the boy acting like a man and acknowledging the amorous feelings to the girl’s face.

 Last night at RCIA, we began our discussion on the Ten Commandments. Matt, the seminarian leading the discussion, made an awesome point: God didn’t give us rules to restrict us from doing what we want. He gave us these laws to us out of love, so that we can have a loving relationship with him and with other people. Looking at the natural consequences of breaking the Ten Commandments, our actions would result in offending God and/or hurting the people around us, either emotionally or physically.

There are boundaries to every relationship, which protect the dignity of each person as a whole. Married people are faithful to each other; single people are faithful to God; friends are respectful of each other. In addition to these boundaries, God is just asking you to respect your fellow humans, so as to avoid any awkwardness (“er, sorry I lied to/ cheated/ stole from/ killed you”). He’s just being honest! Can’t fault the guy for being straight-up with his people.

Which brings us back to Hillsdating, which is not just a phenomena of my alma mater, but really, an extension of the hook-up culture. Even though most Hillsdating couples might resent me saying this, because most of them really are chaste relationships, emotional limbo can be worse than dating badly.

Fortunately, this is why my Father is the best man I know: he has always been completely honest with all his daughters about males. He set our expectations not to look for Prince Charming, or Mr. Charming, but just Char, who will make us laugh, and make us think, and love us for who we are, just as we will love him for being him.

Dad definitely knows best, and his wisdom and advice to his four daughters through my 23 years of existence has led me to pen these:

The Ten Commandments for Dating

The first commandment of dating: Like a person for who they are now, not who you’ll imagine they’ll be, or want to be, or aspire to be.

This means getting to know a person, spending time with them in different situations and around different people. Dating, in its purest form, is just getting to know another person. Wishing a person had different interests, or different thoughts, or did things differently means you're more concerned with the idea of that person, and not the actual person.

Evey Hammond, in the opening lines of V for Vendetta, says it best: "Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot... But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I've seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them... but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it... ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love... And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man... A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget."

The second commandment: Communication.

Gentle lads, let me clue you in: if you like a girl, I bet she knows. For example, I am a decently oblivious person. I can look back on my college experience and regularly face-palm myself for not properly understanding a boy’s motives for talking to me more than usual until the situation was at an extremely awkward place. Therefore, bring it up. Tell her you like her. Then ask her what she thinks and stop talking.

Yes, it really is that easy. This can only end well:
A) She likes you back. Hoo-rah! Y’all can now discuss pursuing a relationship.
B) She likes you back, but you’re not going to date for x, y, or z reasons. A happy, chaste friendship can properly begin if the boy can first honestly admit his feelings. If the girl is too immature for such a friendship, then good riddance.
 C) She doesn’t like you back in a more romantic way. Oh well! At least you’re able to start the healing process that comes with rejection and your confinement to Afriendistan.

I really cannot stress the importance of this enough. If the boy does not step up, some kind of awful awkwardness is going to happen. My sophomore year, a guy friend of mine and I were getting really close. I knew we weren't going to date, but the awkwardness was getting too obvious for comfort. After he finally brought up that "people say 'just friends' like it's a bad thing" (and I heartily agreed!), he admitted he thought I was going to cry. I told him he could cry, but I was fine. See? Communication, people. As the Godfather says, it's not personal, it's business.

I clearly love to talk.
Which leads to the third commandment: Be honest.

There is nothing worse, in my opinion, then when you’re out with a person and you can tell they are trying to say what they think you want to hear. But if I am going to actually like you, it is because of you and your own beliefs, not you and my-own-beliefs-repackaged. Also, it tells me that you don’t trust me with your thoughts. I’m not a delicate doll; be honest with me and we’ll have a nice conversation, regardless of how I feel about the subject.

Jack Kerouac, in On the Road, wrote, "Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk--real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious."

The fourth commandment of dating: Take it easy.

Don’t stress! Dating should be fun. Don’t think about whether or not you are going to marry this person tomorrow. I realize that the end of the world is scheduled for May 21, 2011 (and 2012?), but if you’re meant to be with the person you’re dating, you will, because it’ll be right in your heart and the other person’s too. If it doesn’t work out, that just means God has something else planned for y’all. It’s not personal. It’s not “what-could-I-have-done-better,” it’s “what-does-God-have-planned-for-me”! Marriage is a vocation, so take it easy and take it slow. Once you're married, it's for the long-haul, and there is no need to rush into that.

Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) says to his patient, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray), in the fantastic movie What About Bob, “Baby steps, Bob! Baby steps.”

The fifth commandment: Don't settle.

Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, "She's beautiful, and therefore to be woo'd;/ She is a woman, therefore to be won." Dating is a two-way street. Just because a guy likes you does not mean you have to date him, and the same goes for guys. There has to be interest on both sides, and not just out of convenience, but a desire to commit.

Therefore, again, this is where males will need to step up and act like gentlemen; if he is actually interested, he will. If he's not, you (the girl) do not have to put up with it. Even in modernity, there are certain boundaries and expectations, and not unreasonable ones either. Opening the door for you does not mean he thinks you can't handle yourself in the real world: it is just a nice and respectful gesture, as is paying for your meal. Not necessary, but certainly appreciated.

Also remember, as my parents said to me after I was lamenting accepting an invitation to a dance, "It's a date, not a wedding proposal." Give the person a chance (or two), but going on a date does not mean you are dating or in a relationship.

The sixth commandment: Give each other space.

In a poem called "Separation," America’s current poet laureate W.S. Merwin wrote, "Your absence has gone through me/ Like thread through a needle./ Everything I do is stitched with its color." Spending a lot of time with your significant other is a good thing, in the sense that you are able to observe them more and get to know them better, but don’t lose perspective.

Stay involved with things outside your relationship with that special someone. If it doesn’t work out, your entire world isn’t shaken up, for one, and two- who wants to be with a person who has no interests outside spending time with you? Not me. What would we talk about? What would we do?

Relationships should push you to better become the person God intends you to be, not be stagnant, and that means living in the world, not your own happy-cuddly corner. Too much time together can also be overload: everyone needs alone time to re-charge their batteries. Besides, as Clucky says to Maid Marian in Disney's Robin Hood, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder!"

The seventh commandment: Don’t date for the sake of dating.

Dating is a discernment period. If you’re dating a person just because you want someone’s time or affection, you’re wasting both your times. That person could be with someone who actually cares about them, and not someone who just wants a free meal. Elizabeth says you should know whether or not you want to pursue a relationship with someone by the third to fifth date, and I agree. Don’t drag along another person past that point! It’s not considerate to either party involved.

The eighth commandment: Be respectful. 

This includes in conversation, in actions, and in intimacy. If someone is sharing their thoughts and opinions with you, do not shoot them down, make fun of them, or be overly critical. Be grateful that they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about something personal.

Don’t disrespect people’s personal bubbles! Get to know them first, and observe their body language. My best friend from college, for instance, does not like being touched, while her sister gives the biggest and best bear hugs ever. I don't mind being touched, but I do get very uncomfortable when people start to overly touch me, especially when I do not trust them with my heart. For example, I freely hug my family, my friends who are girls, and my few excellent guy friends, but not most guys (if that makes sense).

Sexual ethics aside, chaste dating relationships are important because pressures from girls and boys can lead to disappointment and a break in trust. It also opens up more avenues to get to know a person, to pursue romance, and leaves the relationship free from complications which come with premarital relations.(Cue the Venerable Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body!)

The ninth commandment: Include others in the dating process. 

Family and friends is the obvious solution to this one. You and your "special friend" are not living on an island by yourselves. At the risk of getting overly attached before y'all can properly discern where dating is leading you two, it is important to get feedback from the people you trust most, which is typically family and good friends, especially since they de facto have known you longer and, ergo, better.

Besides, who doesn't want to get to know my quirky family? I mean really, let's just get it all out there:

After putting on Midsummer's Night Dream for our parents
If someone doesn't get along with my family and friends, I'd say that's a decent indicator that the relationship is not going to develop in a romantic fashion. We're a pretty fun bunch.

And finally, the tenth commandment: Include God in the dating process.

Dating someone makes me pray more. It makes me ask for help from God for wisdom. I ask that my heart be protected; I ask that the guy I'm seeing properly discerns where this is going; I ask for God's blessing and that his will be done.

He is, after all, God! Our God loves us and wants the best for us. Offering up your thanks, questions, discernment and sorrows gives due respect and honor to him. In trusting God, who knows and wants the best for you, you will be more easily lead by the Holy Spirit in your actions, thoughts and words. Involving God is the best way to give a solid foundation to any type of relationship. 

"Let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:8-11)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do People Actually Eat Bran Flakes?

Week 16, yee-haw! Another really busy week, so my compulsive information sharing side is especially showing today.



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First, I must shamelessly plug the Bright Maiden series. This week's topic was contraception. My piece is "Evil Don't Look Like Anything"; Elizabeth's piece is "Beyaz Yourself"; Trista's piece is "Wearing Crucifixes and Condoms." Many thanks to Tito Edwards at The Pulp.It for not only plugging my piece, but putting it on the top slot!



If you're enjoying this series, you're in luck: you can now like us on Facebook. Yeah, the Bright Maidens are going high-tech! Help us spread the good news about Christ and his Catholic Church! Two of us are in journalism, all three of us are products of Catholic education in some capacity, as well as non-Catholic education, so we know keenly the anti-Catholic prejudices and general misinformation out there, among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

I also made an informational Bright Maidens page on my blog. Please humor me and look at it; compliments accepted at any time and place!

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Fr. Barron on the last acceptable prejudice, anti-Catholicism:



Have I mentioned how awesome Fr. Barron is? PURE AWESOME.

H/T Marcel LeJuene at Aggie Catholics

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Do you know who else is wonderful? Sen. Rand Paul: "You busybodies always want to do something to tell us how we can live our lives better; keep it to yourselves. Try to convince us through persuasion, but don't threaten to put us in jail or put us out of business if we don't accept your way of thinking."



H/T Thomas Peters at CatholicVote

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Some of you may remember me mentioning yesterday that my mother is not at home this week-- she is in Florida, celebrating her mother's 75th birthday with her parents and sisters. Which is dandy and all, but we, the left behind children, have no cereal in the house. Correction: no edible cereal. Dad bought bran flakes by accident two weeks ago and no one will touch them with a ten foot spoon. I would have gone to the store, but, seeing as I did not get home till after 10 p.m. last night and did not discover how desperate we are on the cereal front until I was starving this morning, alas, just the last of the rice krispies for me!

Moral of the story: I love my mom. She never lets the cereal run low. Have you thanked your mom lately for being great? (Dads are great too, even though mine called me "pokie" this morning [as in "slow poke"].)

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Warning: this next video is beyond cute.

Michael Barber, a professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, and a blogger at The Sacred Page, posted a video of him and his wife asking their two year old son (also Michael) theology questions, like, you know, on transubstantiation. Not only does the two year old shame most Catholics and get them right, but, seriously, he's adorable:



H/T The Sacred Page (has a transcript on the post too)

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Look what happened on St. Patrick's Day in Sydney, Australia...



Happiness! H/T Mary DeTurris Poust at OSV Daily Take

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I am so excited for this weekend! I have work to do, yes, but after the to-do list is completed-ish, I get to see a few favorite people!! Including:


And tomorrow is St. Joseph's feast day; I hope you will all be drinking wine!

Happy Friday! See Conversion Diary for more.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go mbeannai Dia duit!

Go mbeannai Dia duit means "May God bless you" in Gaelic. The Robison clan is all wearing green today, and wishes you all a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.


May luck be our companion
May friends stand by our side
May history remind us all
Of Ireland's faith and pride.
May God bless us with happiness
May love and faith abide.

The High Kings singing "On the Rocky Road to Dublin":



May those who love us, love us
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!


May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
St. Patrick is important to we Irish Catholics not only because he is the patron saint of Ireland, but because he is the Apostle of Ireland- he brought Christianity to the blessed isle. It is a holy day of obligation in Ireland, so if Dad isn't in a meeting, I'm going to bring him to Mass with me today. At the very least, more people should see his shamrock tie and wonderful green plaid pants; although, Kato was teasing him this morning because we've turned his red hair gray! I'm wearing a kelly green cardigan and gold ballet flats. We're quite the festive bunch today! My mother and aunts are currently in warm, sunny Florida celebrating my grandmother's 75th birthday today too. May she have many more birthdays!

Here is a literal translation of St. Patrick's breastplate prayer, from the 5th century: 

I bind to myself today The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity: I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism, The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial, The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension, The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today The virtue of the love of seraphim, In the obedience of angels, In the hope of resurrection unto reward, In prayers of Patriarchs, In predictions of Prophets, In preaching of Apostles, In faith of Confessors, In purity of holy Virgins, In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today The power of Heaven, The light of the sun, The brightness of the moon, The splendour of fire, The flashing of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of sea, The stability of earth, The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today God's Power to guide me, God's Might to uphold me, God's Wisdom to teach me, God's Eye to watch over me, God's Ear to hear me, God's Word to give me speech, God's Hand to guide me, God's Way to lie before me, God's Shield to shelter me, God's Host to secure me, Against the snares of demons, Against the seductions of vices. 

St. Patrick, pray for us! Happy Thursday, Irish and non-Irish friends alike! Erin go bragh!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Evil Don't Look Like Anything

Week Two: Contraception

"Evil Don’t Look Like Anything" by Julie Robison
"Beyaz Yourself" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"Wearing Crucifixes and Condoms" by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the second post of a Lenten blog post series called "Bright Maidens". 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!


Today's blog carnival is hosted by Fire of Thy Love
This week’s discussion of contraception is not a judgment of people who take it, or meant to belittle or dismiss its helpful medical benefits. But it is false to claim that most women currently on hormonal birth control are not on it to prevent pregnancy, and it is folly to defend any contraceptives as a safe way to have sex.

First of all, sex isn’t meant to be safe. Holding hands is safe. Sex is supposed to be exciting and the ultimate sign of love and commitment between two spouses in the marital bed. Sex is a risk; every act of love may result in a new creation. Sex is a bond, physically and emotionally. Contraception attempts to take away all the risk, lessen the bond, and leave the sensual excitement. There is no longer a need for commitment, just mutual consent.

At the beginning of this year, I was assigned to write an article for Our Sunday Visitor on a poll sponsored by Human Life International America and done by the polling company inc./ Women’s trend. I thought it was going to be very cut and dry. The teleconference press conference was a half hour, and I was the only journalist who asked any questions. Total weak sauce on the side of the journalists; the information was fascinating and the women speaking were fabulous—like Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon and co-director of the Sanofi Aventis Breast Cancer Center at the Steeplechase Cancer Center.

She said, “It’s long been known that estrogen/ progestogen combination drugs such as the pill does cause breast cancer. In fact, in 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, put it as a Group I carcinogen.”

From what I've read by the Mayo Clinic (Dr. James R. Cerhan, 2006), the question of this connection between hormonal birth control and breast cancer should not even be a question any more. But I've now discussed it with multiple friends in med school and found other results. My mom is a cancer specialist too, and this topic has fascinated me since high school. I had only heard snippets of this growing up, mostly concluding in “inconclusive results.” But did y’all know that a woman’s risk for breast cancer is increased by 52 percent if she takes the pill for four years before her first pregnancy? The National Cancer Institute, according to its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data, shows a 400 percent increase in non-invasive (“in situ”) breast cancer in premenopausal women since 1975!

And this poll, which surveyed over 800 women between the ages of 15 and 44, revealed that only 19 percent knew about the links to breast cancer. Of those participants, 3/5 admitted to using birth control to avoid pregnancy. My article, "Most women unaware of birth control pill health risks, poll finds," continues to be republished in newspapers, the latest being San Diego's Southern Cross. The research I did for it, the people I talked to and encountered, not only changed my perception and understanding of contraception, but my attitude of its noxious hold on society and the pedestal it arrogantly enjoys.

Even before this article, I had done a lot of research on the family and family planning for my senior thesis on the degradation of the family with the expansion of government (focusing on the black American family and the Moynihan Report). Did you know that the black community saw the work of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood as an attack on the black community for decades? As they rightly should have- it's an unfortunate part of American history that the black community was targeted by "family planning" centers to lessen the amount of black people.

Even today, it was recently released that, in New York City, 41 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that’s 87,273 abortions. More than half of those were black babies. And that is only one major city, in one country. This is happening all over the world, to babies of all colors!

Which brings us back to contraception: yesterday evening, at RCIA, we talked about temptation and sin. The thing about temptation is that the Devil is taking something good and twisting it for his own, malicious ends. Temptation isn't the bad thing- it's how one chooses to respond, in what we do or fail to do.

For example, at one turning point in the movie Down With Love, Renee Zellweger has let Ewan McGregor's character think he was tricking her into bed the whole time, when really, she had him him fooled: 

Then you, the great Catcher Block, would know that you'd been beaten at your own game... by me, Nancy Brown, your former secretary. And I would have, once and for all, set myself apart from all the other girls you've known, all those other girls that you never really cared about, by making myself someone like the one person you really love and admire above all others: you. Then, when you realized that you had finally met your match... I would have at last gained the respect that would make you wanna marry me first and seduce me later.

This, of course, is not how people should date, but Zellweger has it down: marry first, seduce later. Unfortunately, the Devil knows people lean towards the good in this world. So what does he do? He turns people's hearts so that evil appears good, or at least, equal to the good. Because seducing is just as good as marrying, right? This is why free will is so important and our capacity to freely choose the good over the bad. Contraception- which starts with contra, meaning against- is detrimental for sex and the people who use it because of its very purpose, which is to disconnect the physically and emotionally sacred act from the physical and tangible formation of little souls.

Sex while using contraceptives outside and inside marriage (the current statistics say 85 percent of sexually-active Catholics use some sort of birth control) has taken its toll on the very institution of marriage, weakening its foundation and meaning, as well as being linked to health issues like breast cancer, and a substantial increase in infertility, divorce, and abortion over the past half century.

One of my favorite songs is a murder ballad by Okervil River called "Westfall":



The song is about a boy and his friend who kill two girls. The end stanzas are the ones which give me absolute chills, when the band really speeds up and the passion is almost pleading--

And when I killed her it was so easy
that I wanted to kill her again.
I got down on both of my knees and...
She ain't coming back again.

Now, with all these cameras focused on my face,
you'd think they could see it through my skin.
They're looking for evil, thinking they can trace it,
but evil don’t look like anything.

C.S. Lewis said, "By mixing a little truth with it, they had made their lie far stronger." Contraception claims to free women, free them from their “biological repercussions.” But when you compare men to women, they are functionally the same. One's masculine or feminine vocation aside, men and women have very different natures, while retaining the ability to do similar tasks and activities.


The difference between men and women, without oversimplifying the matter, lies in the woman's ability to create (with the man), carry and then give life to another human being. That is why women must defend this gift and calling: bearing children is the ultimate litmust test- it is the one thing men cannot do! They do not have the inner tools for it, medical procedures and flukes aside.

While doing research for my senior thesis, I had the pleasure of reading many fantastic documents like Pope Pius XI's "Casti Connubii". Delivered in Rome on December 31, 1930, this is a very important treatisie on Christian marriage, especially since it followed the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which loosened the Protestants' historical rejection and objections to birth control. I wish I could share more of this wonderful encyclical, but this passage held me particularly rapt:

This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.

This is why contraception, with its outer appearance of helping women and relationships, actually does the opposite. It cheapens sex. It alleviates commitment. Contraception, like drops of water wearing down a stone, lessens the dignity of the human person when used to avoid becoming pregnant. It reduces romance and equalizes love. Even more so, the attitude of an “unwanted pregnancy” attempts to relinquish the newly created child’s dignity. But a person does not have worth because its mother wants it; as the Lord says even when your mother forsakes you, I will not.



Yes, God. I know, my rosary is getting near your ovaries! But people forget that their rights are not more important than right and wrong. People don’t want to be reminded that God’s law is eternal and, in the end, we all must answer for what we have done, and what we have failed to do. Contraception does not deliver people into more freedom, it decieves and corrupts charity.

This, I suppose, is my biggest problem with contraception: it warps people’s minds about what is life and what is not. It darkens the intellect. It takes the grave and moral matter of life and turns it into a gray matter. But anyone who has an abortion or uses contraception admits de facto that sex results in babies. Why else would they use contraception? If it’s actually a clump of cells growing rapidly, you might want to see an oncologist, not an ob/gyn.

Russell Kirk, on the object of human life, said,

Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that "they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate."

May we all look upwards, without fear, and towards hope in the Lord's already given gift of life. Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Younger Than That Now

I have a fair share of editing to do, so today's week 15 actually will be fairly quick...



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Yesterday, I gave Eli the gospel according to The Black Keys. Join him in love them as much as I do:



He says I'm his new best friend. What says you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Out of the Depths

Please tell me you read her and read her often....

"De Profundis" by Christina Rossetti

Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.

I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.

I never watch the scatter'd fire
Of stars, or sun's far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:

For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bring It On!

This morning, I hit my snooze button three times. Un, deux, trois. And it was raining outside. Delicious sleep. Then I remembered it was Ash Wednesday and leapt from bed. Then I realized it was too late to make 8 a.m. Mass.

Rats.

Part of my Lenten goals is to get up when my alarm goes off, on the first try. It's a self-discipline thing; when it comes to the morning hours, I am severely lacking. At least in college, when my sleep hours were highly erratic and I wouldn't think twice about pulling a week of all-nighters (we called them "graveyard shifts" among the Americans Studies majors), I could bounce out of bed at the thought of being late for class or not being productive enough. Since entering the Real World, however, those short sleeping hours do not cut it. I cling to every minute I can spend horizontal, with my eyes closed and my blankets piled on top of me.

Thus, for Lent, I am giving up hitting my snooze button.

Do y'all ever feel that way? The comfortable tide of living your life, even when you know you're being naughty (ahem, abusing my snooze button), continues to roll you through the days until... you hit Lent.

Things I am giving up for Lent:
1. hitting my snooze button
2. keeping my crackberry on my desk/ near me
3. sweets (especially [girl scout] cookies and [birthday] cake, but not fruit pies)

I will also be going to confession and adoration at least once a week as a spiritual exercise, as well as multiple Masses during the week, not just Sunday.

On the plus side, Dad and I got fish and chips for lunch today as our one big meal (Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting in the Catholic Church), and it was delicious.

Last night was fun too! With 5/8th of the family home, the Robisons had a little Fat Tuesday party at dinner...

Boo made a cake and decorated for March!


Boo and Mom with the king cake Boo baked! Mom was the "king" of Fat Tuesday!

Even our cat donned some beads! Then demanded his Fancy Feast.
I'll go to Mass tonight. I really love the Ash Wednesday service, and I look forward to getting ashes on my forehead. I didn't always, but a few years ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. on Ash Wednesday. I was terribly nervous about traveling and being so public with ashes on my forehead. I suppose I could have wiped them off (there is no rule about keeping them on), but then, I would have felt ashamed of myself. Like I was ashamed of being a Christian. So off to the Detroit International airpot I went, large ashes on my forehead, and my suitcase behind me!

The experience was transforming. The way people treated me, the conversations I got into, the kindness I experienced from strangers on that day has not been forgotten.

One man, while we were going on security, started talking to me about how he fell away, but how he wished he had gone today; how he was going to reunite with his brother in South America. As he left, we both turned to each other, smiled, and said "God bless."

A little girl from L.A. asked me if I had a tattoo on my forehead, and I explained that, in my religion, today was a day of repentence as we prepare for Lent, and the coming of Jesus. That might have been over her head, but I smiled and I hope a seed was planted. I might have been the first Christian she met!

Even last month, when I went to Georgia, I usually pray a rosary on my flights. I'm not super-showy about it, but the man diagonally behind me still tapped me on the arm and said, "Thanks!" I smiled and said, "for what?" He sort of pointed at my hands, where my rosary was wrapped around my left hand, and said, "you know, that. Extra protection and all!" I thought that was funny, and reassuring how people still find comfort in the power of people praying.

By having the visible signs of repentence (e.g. the ashes in the sign of the cross on one's forehead), it humbles a person before the eyes of others. I found out on Monday that anyone- non-believers and other Christians- can receive the ashes. It is not a sacrament, but rather, a visible sign of mercy to those who wish to repent. I am glad we can all share in this.

Giving up stuff for Lent can be seen as superfluous and simply a false offering, but it is meant to draw the person closer to Christ. The discipline it takes to not eat candy or volunteer at the shelter every week or not hitting one's sister while riding a bike shows an attitude towards God's grace. Conversion becomes a reality, every day.

In terms of a Lenten sacrifice, one of the ladies at RCIA on Monday told the group this and I love it:

If you are having problems with God, focus on prayer.
If you are having problems with you, focus on fasting.
If you are having problems with others, focus on almsgiving (charity).

And a very happy Ash Wednesday to you all! For two good reads, check out "Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday, 81 years later. Timeless. Sacramental." by Brad Birzer and "Why We Need Lent" by Fr. George Rutler. Many blessings on your day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How It Feels To Be Catholic Me

Week One: Women and their Relationship to the Church

"How It Feels to be Catholic Me" by Julie Robison
"Grandmother Kaleidoscope" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"A Relation of Love" by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the first post of a Lenten blog post series called "Bright Maidens". 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!

Also, today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day! May we all rejoice in our feminine vocation, and properly appreciate the males in our life too.


I was born a poor black child. No, wait; that was Steve Martin. I was born a Catholic girl, which is kind of like the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Think about it: I’m oppressed by celibate white men who make rules about my body, say I can’t hold leadership in my Church because I happened to be born female, and tell me to accept my place in this world as a child-bearer.

At least, that’s how the World-at-Large phrases it. I am here to refute commonly misconstrued claims about Catholicism as a Catholic woman who not only adheres to the traditions and teachings of the Church, but freely follows the Pope, reads Scripture (and thus delights in dogma), and rejoices in her feminine vocation.

The modern world is full of choices and possibility, and today’s women are indiscriminately exposed to birth control ads and unrealistic expectations, like the need to be sexually desirable in both body and dress. Intellectual development is checked off the To-Do List once a woman graduates school. Morals are now synonymous with personal decisions.

Women are not more or less than men. They are equal, but their equality does not lie in a power tug-of-war or numbers game. If so, then it is not equality women seek, but liberation from their very femininity. A woman rejects that she is equal, compatible and complementary to man when she relinquishes the only power woman has over man: the ability to create life.

A Catholic woman has three possible vocations: religious, single or married life. All three are great and noble; all three have different limits and aims. A religious woman gives her life to serve God; a single woman serves those around her; a married woman serves her family. The modern woman seeks a fourth option- to serve herself- and, as a Catholic and a woman, I reject that.

The Catholic Church has protected the dignity of women since it was founded over 2,000 years ago. The Church, the Bride of Christ, encourages a sacramental life of beauty, truth and goodness to help women, not hinder them, in their pursuits. It was Pope John Paul II that said the problem with pornography isn’t that it shows too much—it is that it shows too little.

A Catholic woman can think, read, laugh, run, study, dance, play, talk, and drink alcohol, just like a Catholic man. Catholic women cannot divorce, use birth control, have sex outside marriage, have abortions or curse-- and neither can Catholic men. Now do they? Of course. Catholics are human and therefore fallen. But that doesn’t make it right or okay. Catholicism is not a democratic institution, and neither is truth.

What binds a Catholic woman may seem harsh, but in practice, it is liberating. It is not easy to be defined by beauty of body and soul. The Church provides life guidelines and supports true feminism. When a woman respects herself first, so will others. A Catholic woman is not perfect. She suffers and bears hardships; she appreciates good things; she serves those around her; and, most importantly, she remains constant in her faith and trusts the Church, even in turbulence.

It has been said that the Catholic Church has benched women to the back pew. I say, if a Catholic woman is sitting in the back pew, it is only because the view is so much better!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gov. Cuomo Follow-up

Not that he has any say in the Gov. Cuomo matter, but the new Auxiliary Bishop in Indianapolis, Bishop Christopher Coyne, recently said that he would never deny communion to anyone.

In a newspaper interview with The Indianapolis Star:

On denying Communion to politicians whose votes conflict with church teaching:

"I would never deny someone Communion unless they were absolutely deranged or something like that and it is obvious that they shouldn't be receiving Communion. The Communion line is not the place where you deal with whether or not someone should be receiving Communion."

(tip o' the hat to Creative Minority Report)

I discussed this last week with a seminarian friend of mine, and he said that, before any priest denies communion, they have to explicitly tell the person why they are in danger of being denied communion in order to go to confession and amend their life. He says this needs to happen at least 2-3 times.

Which raises the question: should a priest be able to bring up personal issues like this to light?

Friday, March 4, 2011

He wasn't really Irish, but he went to Notre Dame

Happy Week 14! We're finally in my favorite month of the year: March!


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I have a huge weakness for Irish drinking songs. They make me really happy because
A) it's a kind of kinship with my dad's side, who came straight off the boat during the potato famine
B) it's a reason to drink and/ or sing
C) do you really need more reasons?

In my family, Ireland is referred to as "the Motherland." Kind of like how Jews say, "next year in Jerusalem," we're constantly promising to make the pilgrimmage back to County Cork. My sister Kato is actually traveling to Europe this summer, so she gets to see the blessed isle.

Irish drinking songs can range from sad songs like "A Pub With No Beer" to more impish woes of "Whiskey, You're the Devil."

Although, I'm a particular fan of "Whiskey in the Jar":



And "Wild Rover" is just great:



This one is more of a spoof and, for a love of all that is holy, take it with a grain of sea salt and be warned it isn't for children's ears. But for us Irish, "Another Irish Drinking Song" by Da Vinci's Notebook is just full of giggles: