Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Second Best Christmas Present

Happy feast of the Nativity of our Lord, dear readers! Happy birthday Jesus!!!! I love Christmas. If you want to be more in the mood, Pandora's Christmas Carol station will do that too. Wunderbar!

The second best present (after the birth of our Lord!) is that I am spending it with my husband in Arizona (where it is snowing because of elevation). That's right, last Friday, I got married!

More on that later - I'll be in touch in the new year! Merry Christmas to all, and to all- God's blessing in 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is Advent?

"What is Advent? Many answers can be given. We can grumble and say that it is nothing but a pretext for hectic activity and commercialism, prettified with sentimental clichés in which people stopped believing ages ago. In many cases this may be true, but it is not the whole picture.

We can say the reverse, that Advent is a time when, in the midst of an unbelieving world, something of the luminous quality of this lost faith is still perceptible, like a visual echo. Just as stars are visible long after they have become extinct, since their erstwhile light is still on its way to us, so this mystery frequently offers some warmth and hope even to those who are no longer able to believe in it.

We can also say that Advent is a time when a kindness that is otherwise almost entirely forgotten is mobilized; namely, the willingness to think of others and give them a token of kindness. Finally we can say that Advent is a time when old customs live again, for instance, in the singing of carols that takes place all over the country. In the melodies and words of these carols, something of the simplicity, imagination and glad strength of the faith of our forefathers makes itself heard in our age, bringing consolation and encouraging us perhaps to have another go at that faith which could make people so glad in such hard times...

Being awake for God and for other people—that is the kind of “waking” that Advent has in mind, the wakefulness that discovers the light and brightens the world."

 —Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), from “Seek That Which Is Above: Meditations Through the Year”

The Bright Maidens are hosting a forum on Advent - join us!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let's Give Chivalry Another Chance

As seen at The Atlantic:
Chivalry is about respect. It is about not harming or hurting others, especially those who are more vulnerable than you. It is about putting other people first and serving others often in a heroic or courageous manner. It is about being polite and courteous. In other words, chivalry in the age of post-feminism is another name we give to civility. When we give up on civility, understood in this way, we can never have relationships that are as meaningful as they could be. 
If women today—feminists and non-feminists alike—encouraged both men and women to adopt the principles of civil and chivalrous conduct, then the standards of behavior for the two sexes would be the same, fostering the equality that feminists desire. Moreover, the relations between the sexes would be once again based on mutual respect, as the traditionalists want. Men and women may end up being civil and well-mannered in different ways, but at least they would be civil and well-mannered, an improvement on the current situation.
Read more here!

Oh, and here's one more gem: "There's No Perfect Time to Start Having Kids"

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Second Best Compliment I've Received

After four Irish men asking if I was Irish too because of my "beautiful Irish complexion", this comment (on this post) may be my second favorite compliment:
"My goodness ... an imaginative, contemplative, even daring, conservative thinker! I thought Rush Limbaugh had rounded up all you guys & had you shot & buried in a mass grave somewhere in the countryside. Maybe someday the conservative movement can look at itself in the mirror again without shame, thanks to thoughts like yours. I'm not saying I *agree* with everything you wrote, but the quality of thought is so high ... it takes me back to the '60s & '70s, when some conservatives were actually smart, & proud to be so."
Not shot and dead in a mass grave, folks -- just preparing for the wedding! 11 days!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Creating Order, Or Working in Order?

Today at the Austrian Economics and Literature blog:
"However, writers are wrong to think this. First, language is not chaos. The language they use evolved in a spontaneous order. That language follows the rules of grammar and syntax -- a deep grammar which is instinctual and, thus, genetically inherited; an evolving surface grammar and syntax which evolves more quickly in the linguistic order."
--Troy Camplin, "Creating Order, Or Working in Order?" 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Belatedly I Loved Thee

From St. Augustine's Confessions:
“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.”
May you seek Truth today! And not just good deals. Happy Black Friday, y'all! Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

To See A World

I give my Thanksgiving reflections at The Imaginative Conservative.

And in the spirit of giving, I leave you with some James Joyce, excerpted from 'Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist':
—And thanks be to God, Johnny, said Mr Dedalus, that we lived so long and did so little harm.
—But did so much good, Simon, said the little old man gravely. Thanks be to God we lived so long and did so much good. 
Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tarzan: Son of Man, Son of Prog

I now write for another awesome site: Progarchy. I've technically been a contributor for a month or so, but I'm so behind on life (but not wedding planning!!) that I am just getting around to publishing the post now. This site is a project of the amazing Brad Birzer, whose books people should buy and work people should read. I'm blessed to call him a friend, and so excited he brought me onto this project!

Here is my inaugural post on Tarzan, Phil Collins, my informal and formal introduction to prog rock, and hearing it in the mainstream.

Anyone else here a prog lover? Do share!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Will Wait For You (And Other Comforts and Converts)

The Convert By G. K. Chesterton

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Patheos blogger and super-awesome human being Leah Libresco on joining the Catholic Church today. Three sacraments in one day ain't too shabby. Welcome home, darling girl!

Here's a little Mumford, just because:

God bless you Leah! And prayers for my mother, whose birthday it is today. Cheers!

Monday, November 12, 2012

In Flanders Field

"In Flanders Field" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD - Canadian Army (1872-1918)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

An original proof.

Happy Veterans' Day to all soldiers and those who serve our country!

Monday, November 5, 2012

TIC: Iron Ladies

Over at The Imaginative Conservative, folks! I'm talking Margaret Thatcher, birth control and the election, and a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

(It got picked up by New Advent too. I guess you should read it now.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Fool's Guide To Weddings

I interrupt all debate chatter to discuss a much more exciting happening in my life. Today, I received my first wedding present and it is divine. The first of my wedding china.

Who's coming to tea?
I almost did not put wedding china on my registry. B. didn't want most of the things we have on our registry for practical reasons. I didn't want to have to eat off plastic plates. That wouldn't feel "married"; that would feel like we were roommates in college.

Today is 60 days till the wedding. Yesterday was the two month mark. I think I am still in elation at the thought of marrying B. and denial that I've been wedding planning for the past ten months (not going into event planning in the near or far future, that is for sure) and once I send out those wedding invitations, bam! It's really-really-really happening!

Wedding planning is possibly one of the hardest things I've ever done. To say it's time consuming is an understatement. If you dislike being put on the spot or making huge decisions based on personal preference like I do, this is not the activity for you. If you are addicted to Pintrest, this is not for you either.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with a Type A mother, three sisters, a beyond helpful future mother-in-law, obliging vendors and a need to plan, plan, plan!

Here's what I've learned, and so, without much further adieu, A Fool's Guide To Weddings:
1. Engaged? Congratulations! Start planning now. You're not early, you're late. Get started on pre-cana too; you'll be amazed how that whizzes by you! Also, NFP: learn it, love it, live it. 
2. Shop around for vendors. What people say and what people do are two different things; you're paying them, so choose carefully. 
3. Be flexible on the "vision" of your wedding. People love this topic of conversation. I have no idea what it means, except that your wedding might not be Pintrest-y enough, and that is okay. Save those mason jars for canning and bacon fat. 
4. Every time someone sends you something or helps with your wedding, send a thank you card or just say thank you. If someone offers to help, include them. You can never be gracious enough or thankful enough that these people are supporting you as you prepare for your wedding and marriage.
5. Whenever I get stressed, B. says to me, "I think, at the end of the day, we'll be married." Does that help me with flower arrangements? Does that help me make a decision? No. But it gives me perspective, and that is worth its weight in gold! You're going to be married as well as get married. Both are important. 
6. I said "okay!" to my dress. I'm feeling good about the table decorations. I'm glad the church will be decorated for Christmas and that is one less thing off my To Do list: in other words, don't let the details drag you down
8. If you are a friend of the bride or groom, nothing is going to put them more on edge than presuming you're invited. It is a sad fact of life, but there it is. If you're invited, grand! If you're not, it is so not personal. Weddings are expensive, especially when you're from a big family. 
9. Be prepared to disagree with your significant other. So far, I have vetoed "Hot in Herre" and Nickelback from our wedding reception, and B. will not be dressed in a canary yellow vest. Sometimes, I do have an opinion. A very, very strong one. 
10. Continue to date your significant other. I can loudly say that I am more in love with B. now than when he proposed (10 months ago tomorrow!). Our communication level is possibly the most beautiful thing we have; there is nothing I cannot talk with him about. We pray nightly, support each other at work and at school, laugh a lot, and plan together. We prioritize the other, which makes wedding planning more of a joy than a burden. I am so happy to do it, as I plan for the big day, just as I plan for our marriage.

Us at a good friend's wedding last month

It is thus with a good conscience that I celebrate my wedding china; it is more than a pretty pattern. It is will be used to celebrate holidays and birthdays and days we like to remind our children that they are so important to us that we use the nice plates just because. It is a collection I may one day pass down to a daughter or granddaughter.

They are beautiful, and fragile, and they are ours.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poem: Examination of Conscience

Examination of Conscience by Sally Thomas

Yes, I've done that. Yes, I've done that, too.
In fact, if we review the Deadly Sins,
We see my name on them, their name on me:
Wrath, Greed, Pride, Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.
And Envy. I wish now that I were you,
Strange to myself. Each examen begins
With yes, as if I'd come to claim my own
Cold body on its slab. Yes, yes, I know me.
That pink wrinkle of a scar on my right knee
Gives me away, an error on my skin's
Clean record, one lie I told when I was nine.
Just skinned, that's all. These Band-aids? Nothing . . . Only
The mouth beneath them told the truer story.
I peeled them off me, one by painful one.

From the Patheos Year of Faith series.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

January Wedding

B. and I toyed with a January wedding, and my reasons may have been more in line with this song instead of a timing factor. Thus, a December wedding for us!

"True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down."

I love you, Avett Brothers! Yes, let's get married.

By the way, did y'all know that my Bright Maiden compatriots BOTH got engaged last weekend? It's true! Three cheers for Elizabeth and Trista and their loves! Here's Elizabeth's version of the story.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: The Newlywed Cookbook

Sarah Copeland has given readers, beginner cooks and sous chefs alike, another delicious treat. Her first book, The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas & Modern Recipes for Cooking with and for Each Other, is a wide blend of homemade and heirloom dishes. She is motivated by the advice of her grandmother, Virginia Edwards Copeland, to "learn to make his favorite things."

From an aesthetic view, the book is divine. Gorgeous photography by Sara Remington is paired with a charming lay-out. Her sister, Jenny Goddard, designed the "Sips" tag on the iced tea in the "Embellishments: Snacks, Sauces & Sips to Enlighten the Table" section. Sarah's knowledge on seasonable fruits and vegetables, organics, picking out meat, how to stock one's kitchen, what kind of tools to have on hand, and all questions in-between are abundantly given.

Sarah introduces herself as much as her book in her writing. She tells us,
"There's a moment in a marriage, whether two days or two hundred and twenty-two into it, where you're standing side by side in the morning barefoot on the cool kitchen floor. Everything is quiet but the hum of him making you coffee just the way you like it, with all that frothy milk and sugar. You're stirring his favorite pancakes, sprinkling a few blueberries in the batter, and then it hits you: these simple moments are somehow the best in life. This could happen over a fork fight for the last peach in the jar, or playing rock-paper-scissors for whose turn it is to do dishes. It can happen, and will happen over and over again if you let it. That is the essence of this book."
Sarah is a self-described "writer, urban gardener, passionate cook and curator of good living. She is a six year veteran of the Food Network and co-founder (and former spokesperson) for their charitable initiative, Good Food Gardens. She thrives on "homegrown veggies, stinky cheeses, chocolate cake" and her little family, made up of her husband Andras and their baby, Greta."

As a bride-to-be myself, and one who does not cook often (or ever), I found myself time and time again with this cookbook, pouring over it with fascination and hope. Sarah inspired me to cook for my fiance B. and his parents, and I don't take that impulse lightly. Before fixing Shrimp Saganaki for them, I had cooked for B. exactly once.

On a page labeled "Strategies," Sarah confesses that, though there may be dozens of rules to good cooking, she's probably broken most of them. She gives "ten strategies to make your kitchen the spirited and well-seasoned center of your nest." I took numbers 1, 4, 6 and 8 ("Get Smart, Get Fresh," "Learn the Art of Reading Recipes," "Be Flexible," "Don't Panic") especially to heart.

Sarah gives just enough instruction (though I would have preferred more in a few cases, as a novice), as well as insight into fresher ingredients, preparation advice and alternations for individual recipes. For meals, she makes specific suggestions of what to serve the dish with, be it the wine, bread, or greens.

I fixed the Shrimp Saganaki, which turned out so well that I decided to try another recipe. In this instance, Sarah and I are a culinary match: we both eat carrot cake every year on our birthday. This birthday, I made my own cake, as well as the cream cheese frosting. It was delicious, and only got better over the few days it lasted.

This book is wonderful, warm, and inviting. It reads like a good conversation and gives encouragement through Sarah's perpetual optimism and care toward both cooking and life. 

Originally published in The Key.

Book published by Chronicle Books, www.edibleliving.com

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Founders Day!

In 1870, six women came together and formed Kappa Kappa Gamma. 142 years later, we sisters continue to be blessed!

Happy Founders Day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Emptying My Closet

As my wedding in 70+ days, I've started packing.

First, my papers. Papers from grade school. Papers from high school. Papers from college. Newspapers I've been published in and edited. Post-it notes. Letters. Spirals full of notes. Journals full of memories. Three garbage bags and many, many boxes from The Container Store later, they were packed and placed in the basement.

Next, my books. When B. and I were first discussing moving, he looked around my room and asked, "Are all these books coming with us?"
I started at him. What's wrong with five bookcase packed full and spilling over into different stacking styles with lovely books?
"Yes!" I told him, incredulous he would ask such a question.

Well, that is no longer true. I decided to be the bigger person and go through all my books and really discern which ones should come and which should stay and keep some soul in my to-be old room. I'm not saying I wept to leave a few books behind, but... books are like friends, right? Six boxes packed, four or five to go.

Now, clothes. This is a more serious problem. I realized that I have a lot of old t-shirts. So does B. They have more sentimental value than anything else; if they were a plain shirt, they'd be tossed in a minute.

My question is this: How do you get rid of clothes you've had forever? What kind of basics should I start looking into to buy for B. and me/ make sure we have? We both have a lot of clothes but... we're grown-ups now. I don't think I should keep my old lacrosse and sorority t-shirts around forever...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prayer for the Tzar

"Rabbi, may I ask you a question?"
"Certainly, Leibesh!"
"Is there a proper blessing for the Tzar?"
"A blessing for the Tzar? Of course. May God bless and keep the Tzar... far away from us!"


Friday, October 5, 2012

Proverbs 31: Woman of Action

There is a great fear among women that we are being under-appreciated. It’s not that we women want all the power; we just want credit for sharing it! In Amanda Mortus’s “To Be Used or Appreciated?”, she laments how tired a Proverbs 31 woman seems, and wishes more of those holy verses spoke intimately of her heart and character.

“Yes, she does all these things, but who is she?” implores Ms. Mortus.

Two Sundays ago, we heard “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14). The September 2012 issue of The Magnificat focuses specifically on work as the blessing of the month, and features a passage from Blessed John Paul II:
“Work is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man’s dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it… Work is a good thing for man – a good thing for his humanity – because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed in a sense becomes ‘more of a human being.’ (Laborem Exercens #9) 
 The Proverbs 31 woman may be tired, and she is also satisfied. She has “strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come” (Prv 31:25), which directly correlates to all the mentioned work she does. And why is that? Because she has joy in serving others; she “works with willing hands” (Prv 31:13). She is an ordinary woman who respects her husband and has his utmost trust, loves and is celebrated by her family, whom takes responsibility for the running of her household, and knows where she can be of use. She may have worries, but she “does not eat the bread of idleness” (Prv 31:27).

Women have the amazing opportunity to share their gifts and talents with their family and in their community. Whatever a woman’s role, may she speak out of “her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Prv 31:26). In contrast to Ms. Mortus’s speculation, these verses are not so outwardly focused but rather inward; her character is shown through her actions. It is a classic “faith with works” collaboration. Without a woman’s love, her actions would not yield laudable results. Without a woman’s actions, her love would grown barren.

As St. Paul wrote, “We urge you, brothers, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instruct you” (1 Thes 4:10-11). This is the essence of such a virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 and is not meant as a disheartening load, but an encouraging example.

This is the beauty of a Proverbs 31 woman: she gets the job done. She doesn’t complain or seek recognition for her deeds; she does what is necessary out of love and she moves around from her flax to the fields to the merchants to her family. We are shown her character – she has discipline, patience and perseverance – and her heart: she seeks no reward outside God’s provisions. She laughs at the future because she is content today.

How many of us can claim such inner peace?

Originally posted at Ignitum Today!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not So Complicated

Flying home, the college lady next to me mentioned she was in a “complicated” relationship with someone back home. I smiled and said I’d been there.

“Make sure you draw clear lines,” I said. “Relationships don’t have to be complicated.”

Perhaps this sounds too simplistic – as I fear the lady took it – because life itself is full of complications. But if it’s the wrong time for one person, it’s the wrong person for both parties. If this is the case, it is time to step back and seek perspective on what God could have planned for us during this season of our life.

In Isaiah, God says that he knew us before we were knit in our mother’s womb. In Tobit, he speaks of putting two people together before they were born. Yet, this is not to say that one specific person is destined to only be with another specific person. A highly romantic notion, to be sure, but also an unlikely one. That idea puts limitations on God’s creation and takes away the beauty of two people who choose to marry, verses two people whom accept that they are destined to be married.

Love is of God, and God allows people to be compatible with more than one person, just as people could be happy and able to do many different jobs or live in a variety of locations. God works between the cracks of choice and acts of free will. God has plans for us: follow his commandments, love and be loved. The rest is expendable.

It is easy to talk about the hook-up culture, tsk at the people who participate, explain intellectually why playing with such emotions through a physical relationship is damaging in the long-term; but in the short-term, it is much, much harder to break out of it. The people involved are not looking for easy love – they’re looking for any kind of love. They want authentic love and they’re scared it might pass them by. They have a hard time grasping an emotion without a touch, a pursuit without a guarantee, a promise worth forever.

The place to start is yourself and with the company you keep. When you ask your friends for advice, do you often turn to God as well? He is no fair-weathered friend. He may know all, but he still wants you to ask and show that you value him. Make time to pray and find quiet within so as to listen better. Frequent the sacraments for grace and read the day’s mass readings. God talks to all of us through the Holy Scripture.

The more we turn to God as our friend, the more readily our complicated situation will have more light shed upon it and the right road shall be easier to tread.

Originally posted at Ignitum Today

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Would You Write To A Baby?

Meg at Held By His Pierced Hands wrote a fantastic note to her new baby niece, part of which is excerpted here:
 Because, sweet one, you are so loveable and you are so loved. Your parents have loved you since the moment they knew about you and maybe even longer. They have longed for you and ached for you. You are a miracle. And oh, darling girl, this life is going to be so hard on you. People will hurt you and ignore you.

You will fail in ways that seem earth-shattering. There will be days when you don't know why you bother. But I have seen through to the other side of suffering and I know that there is joy. Through the darkness of heartbreak and mourning, dawn breaks again, brighter even than before.

Hope, dear one. Trust that there is meaning in life, in suffering, even.When you can't see the purpose, step back to look at the beauty of this world. Sit in a dimly lit room with Nora Jones and a cup of peppermint tea. Keep company with Claude Monet and John Donne. Just once, climb a mountain by yourself to watch the sunset from the top. And when your heart aches beyond imagining, Rachmaninov.

Fight for the weak (I know your daddy will teach you that), rejoice in beauty, read till your eyes hurt (Mommy will be proud), and oh, baby girl, love until you have nothing left. That's what makes life great. As you take on this world, I wish you passion and joy, a cause to fight for, and a home that comforts your weary heart. I wish you a life filled with beauty and laughter and music and simple pleasures. I wish you a love that calls you out of yourself and makes you greater. I wish you an open heart and an open mind and the wisdom to cling to what is true. I wish you strength to endure suffering and loving arms to hold you up when your strength is gone. I wish you loyal friends who challenge you. I wish you peace but never complacency, success in many things but not all, and a life of laughter tinged with tears. I wish you a road that sometimes seems too steep, sometimes too rocky, sometimes too dull, and I wish you the determination to press on. Dear heart, I wish you a wild, mixed-up, terrifying, joyful, confusing, incredible life.

Sweet girl, I love you already! I'm counting down the days. 
 I think this is a lovely idea. I only have one married friend couple whom have a baby, and then one of my best friends is preggers and skipping my wedding so she can have her peanut. I just visited the aforementioned couple last weekend, and I have until December for the second - so I think it's time to start writing letters to babies!

What would you write to a baby?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Crying and Dying, And Life In Between

Tonight, I came home from work, too tired to even eat dinner, and decided that I was going to watch part of a movie for laughs. I picked Big Fish. Two hours later, I emerged, sobbing wildly and starving.

Big Fish is the story of an estranged father and son. The father, Edward Bloom, is a teller of tall tales (well, they're certainly not short) and the son, Will, would prefer the facts. Will feels he does not know his father, and he holds a grudge against him for not being around more when he was younger.

Three years after one-story-too-many, they come back together as the father is dying, and it is through this passage of time that more is revealed. The movie is itself a tall tale, truth mixed with imagination, fantastical, and shows the power of love and kindness to overcome any situation.

I've already spoiled it for some of you, if you like guessing endings, by knowing that I sobbed and sobbed and could hardly breathe I was crying so hard.

But life isn't about the ending to the story, and neither is this movie. It's the journey Edward Bloom had and the adventure he made his life into. It's amazing and it's worth crying over. The beauty of his life is what touched me and moved me to tears.

I used to be embarrassed by crying. It took many years and not enough tears to teach me differently. I no longer, for instance, think it is a weakness to cry, though I still try to resist. When I told my fiance I probably wouldn't cry at our wedding, he kindly reminded me that I cry during P&G commercials. (Those were happy tears! Yes! Happy!)

So what changed? What makes me [more] okay with crying now?

Would you believe me if I told you Christ made it okay? Could you see a genuine conversion if I said he broke open my heart and poured in his forgiveness? He softened my need to be strong for me; now, he cries with me, and laughs with me, and is always with me, even in despondency.

I cried because I saw my own dad in Edward Bloom -- a teller of tall tales, a warm smile and quick laugh. I cried because of all the people whose stories we also saw in the movie - people whose lives were made better by Edward Bloom - were there at the end.

Isn't that what we want to imagine Heaven is like? A giant coming home gathering, where everyone is there and everyone is happy to see you. And God! God is there, and God is love, and you are completely enveloped and overwhelmed by that love. It's just too much. So you cry.

I think about death a lot. I know this sounds morbid, and maybe it is, but bear with me. I think about death because I value my one scrawny life so much. I think about death because I miss people whom have passed from this life and into the next. I think about death because it's real, just like the judgement I'll face after this life is real. I think about death because there are people I can't imagine living without, and I have to remind myself to pray for them so as to never, ever, ever lose hope.

If there is one thing Christ gave us, it's hope. Hope for the future, hope for our lives, and hope for renewal of all. Nothing is out of his reach and nothing is outside his redemption. I cling to that hope when I'm having a rough day. I rejoice in that hope when I think of my fiance and my elation that we are joining our lives together. I am blessed by the hope that my family will all be together in Paradise when the day comes that we cannot be together here on earth.

Big Fish is a movie worth watching. It is thoughtful and charming, and the cast is excellent. It is more than a story worth telling: it is a story worth hearing. Death is never the ending. If you watch it, I hope it touches the crags of your heart; and if you're moved to smile and laugh and cheer and cry, you're in good company.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from. (T.S. Eliot, from "Burnt Norton")

Thursday, August 30, 2012

War on Women, What? Way To Go Condi!

"And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America - her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State. Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect. But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values."

--excerpt from former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's speech at the GOP 2012 Convention

Wow. Pretty powerful stuff.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sesame Street for Lawyers and Cookie Enthusiasts

I love this clip of Kermit and Cookie Monster:

Happy Tuesday, y'all! And happy, HAPPY feast of St. Augustine! I am going to see Restless Heart tonight -- review to follow!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don't Pay No Mind To The Demons

Here's Phillip Phillips' "Home":

Back from a whirlwind trip driving with my fiance down to Hotlanta for his next EM rotation and then flying immediately back up for work tomorrow.

Today: 117 days till our wedding.

Tomorrow: B. begins to discern if this program is one he'd be interested in and if this town gets priority in the application process.

Please keep us in your prayers as we move towards our life together- there can be a lot of demons looming around good things, trying to distract from the blessings we all have in our lives. Remember, the Lord is with you! Blessed is his name! Let your witness in this world be a candle upon a hill.

Here's an awesome vocation video by the Dominicans (a.k.a. my faves) too. Pray for all religious and all discerning too! May we lay people support them through our generous hearts, prayers, time and wallets.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christ, My Wingman

The morning after my future sister’s wedding, my fiance and I attended the family brunch and were asked the question: short or long engagement?

B. said “short” and I said “long” – the listeners laughed.

Fiance and me
We’ve been engaged for eight months now; four more months to go. It’s been a struggle intertwined with the joy of deepening our relationship and connections. As B. prepares to apply for residencies, I’m working, planning our wedding and preparing to transition into married life. We’ve made budgets and meshed five year plans. I’ve decided to delay grad school and he’s studied for and taken test after test following each rotation.

And that’s love, we’ve been told – let each struggle bring you closer together and closer to God, they say. But those practicalities are not even the hardest part for us. No, the hardest part of our engagement is that we’re still single people.

Continue reading at Ignitum Today>>>>>>

To be cross-posted at The Spiritual Workout

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Go And Make Disciples of All Nations

World Youth Day 2013 is in Rio:

Gave me chills!

I went to WYD in Canada in 2002 and saw (and got a picture of!) Blessed John Paul II go by in his pope mobile, which made up for getting caught in the rain for 3 hours, et cetera. Anyone else have a memorable experience at WYD or hear of anything awesome connected to WYD? I think this event is possibly one of the most important evangelization and witness opportunities for the Church. I'm so excited to see the fruit of this one!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Free Classical Concert!

The Detroit Symphony has a free live webcast playing - today is the last day! LISTEN HERE!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Women Speak For Themselves

Helen Avare sent out a press release and well, dang. It's so good, I just had to share it!
Women Defy “We Are Women” Rally Claims; Say Let Women Speak For Themselves 
Washington DC, August 18—As some women gather at the Nation’s Capitol today for the “We Are Women” rally, members of the advocacy group, Women Speak For Themselves (WSFT; womenspeakforthemselves.com) are making their own voices heard. WSFT began with an open letter to the White House, Congress and Secretary Sebelius in February 2012, demanding respect both for religious freedom and for an understanding of woman’s freedom and equality that goes beyond “free contraception.” It now has over 31 thousand signatories from every state. 
“It defies reason that a few groups could speak for all women on issues of life, family, sex and religion,” said WSFT founder, Helen Alvaré. 
“The 31,000 plus women who have signed onto our open letter will no longer sit silently by while a few political figures and their allies insist that religious freedom has to bow to the theory, the ideology really, that the centerpiece of women’s freedom is sexual expression without commitment,” continued Alvaré. 
Catherine, a woman in her twenties living in New York City and a signatory, wrote to WSFT: “Out of respect for themselves and others, many women choose to live a life of sexual integrity…Many of my girlfriends and I have found this approach to our sexuality to be freeing, empowering, and constitutive of a deep sense of happiness.” 
“I’m a pro-choice woman who respects the rights of other women to hold different views,” wrote another WSFT member Carol, from Vermont. “More specifically I expect the government, in compliance with the Constitution, to protect every person from being coerced into acting in a manner contrary to his or her conscience. The HHS mandates are a fundamental violation of our rights to free speech and religion.”
Hundreds more women wrote to WSFT to express their strong opposition to the message of the Saturday rally. 
“Our women come from diverse political, ideological and religious backgrounds,” Alvaré explained. “But they are united in their opposition to a ‘one size fits all’ version of what women really want, particularly a version contradicted by decades of data and women’s experience in the new sex, dating and marriage markets formed by the idea that contraception, with abortion as the backup, is the sum and substance of women’s equality." 
Jennifer from Indiana, for example, a signatory to the WSFT letter says: ”Women and reproduction are not things that need to be fixed, medicated, sterilized. To equate women’s rights and health to these things is to do an incredible disservice to the rights and health issues that women do face today.” 
“An honest ‘We Are Women’ rally would acknowledge the diverse views held by women. It would acknowledge the science about the decline in women’s well-being associated with the world view this rally represents.” Alvaré says. “No one speaks for all women on these issues. Let women speak for themselves.”
They're on Facebook and Twitter, y'all. All I'm sayin'.

Does it look like I have a problem speaking for myself?
Share, share, share! Get the word out! Women speak for themselves!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

And These Thy Gifts

Earlier this week, I spoke with a financial planner with no real idea of why I was meeting with him. I had a couple hunches, though, to why my friend recommended me to him:
1) I'm getting married;
2) my betrothed is still in school;
3) I will be the only bread winner for the first half of our first year;
4) Our finances and budgeting are going to have to adjust over marriage, moving and any other life changing events that start to come our way.
Where does one even begin??

Fortunately, it begins now, and it begins with honesty.

Look at your finances. Even if you feel crunched under the amount of debt in your life, it isn't unconquerable. In the short term, perhaps, but not in the long, if you are willing to cut down and save.

More importantly, however, finances are more than just a save-here, spend-there mentality. Finances correlate to faith, and not in the Prosperity = God Loves You kind of way. Rather, it begins with an acknowledgement that we owe everything to God. Not our rent check, but our lives, and one way we can show gratitude for the gifts he has shared with us is to give back to the Church. This is called tithing.


The recommended amount one tithes is 10 percent of your income. How you tithe, however, is up to you. For instance, most of my tithing goes into supporting Catholic organizations. I help sponsor my friend Gina in FOCUS (since they have to raise their own salary) and give to the Dominican sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor. I also give directly to the Church.

10 percent is actually quite a small chunk of change in one's budget, especially since we're playing the honesty card and realize that one's finances tend to be spent more at Amazon.com or the coffee shop than such a good cause of supporting our Church.

If money is quite tight, another way to give to the Church is through one's time and volunteering at Catholic charities or within programs, like RCIA, being a Eucharistic minister, teaching little children, visiting the elderly and infirm, or even helping with the rectory's upkeep!

The point of tithing is not just offering up a sacrifice; it is combined with the genuine intention of giving thanks. When Mary and Joseph went to give an offering at the temple when Jesus was born, they gave a pair of doves. That was a very humble offering in comparison of what they could have made, but it was a noble one in the eyes of God.

Savings and Debt

The best advice I've heard of this subject came from my aforementioned friend (the one who recommended me to see the financial planner, and works for a big finance company himself). He told me to just cut out the amount you want to save and need to pay right from my budget and pretend it's not there to spend.

This should happen every month to make it into a habit. I repeat: every single month, put those dolla-dolla bills into savings!

Savings does not need to happen in large chunks. Remember piggy banks? Never a bad mentality. Collect your loose coins and dollars and tuck them away for later. The excitement of finding $20 in your pocket will be nothing compared with the realization that you have hundreds of dollars in loose change!

So, to reiterate: X - Y = Z

I made X amount, subtract Y (monthly savings + monthly debt payment) and Z is what I have left over. This equation can (and will!) be made more complicated with more and varied payments, like car payments or rent or food. This means we should talk budget.


I've made a lot of these. They never seem to pan out the way I mean them too, but either way, they are an absolute necessity. A budget is a plan and a guide. Your savings and checking accounts are part of that budget. Your debt is part of that budget. Your semi-annual car payments and oil changes every 3,000 miles are part of the budget.

Budgets say, You can't plan for everything but you can try, and maybe take the edge off when things cost more. This in an invaluable and essential part of having financial savvy. Those numbers don't lie either: find out how much you're really making (after taxes), how much you're spending, and what's left.

Money Matters

You don't have to be making the big bucks to make smart money decisions, nor do you need to go to a financial planner (although it's not a bad idea - and not an expensive one, either!). You absolutely do, however, need to be honest with yourself.

In the film Yours, Mine and Ours, Lucille Ball has 8 kids and Henry Fonda has 10 kids. Then they get married. (That's right, 18 kids.) One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when they are at the grocery store, piling up food into carts and pulling them behind them while discussing each of them adopting the other's children. They didn't have the money and so Fonda made the symbolic and literal sacrifice of putting his beer back as a way to save money.

My parents and their greatest assets!
(Seriously, where have all the good movies gone?!)

Money can be a good thing, although it is not a good unto itself. Money is for spending - but how you decide to do so is what makes a personal financially responsible and secure, not the size of your income. People all across the wealth spectrum are making great and crummy money decisions. You don't want to pay for health services but you want a new pair of shoes and the latest album? Priorities are all askew, yet finances need to be one of them - especially in this age of financial uncertainty.

In tithing, we give back to God, from whom all blessings flow. In savings, we prepare for sun and stormy times ahead. In paying off debt, we honor another's trust. There may be a system (how to pay, when to pay, who pays), but to have any of the above is a gift. Personal financial responsibility helps society just as much as giving unto other can do.

How do you make financial decisions?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Alfred Hitchcock!

From fellow director Peter Bogdanovich:

"My own favorite memory of Hitchcock comes from an incident at the St. Regis Hotel in New York in 1964. After some frozen daiquiris had left me a bit tipsy and Hitch quite red-faced and cheerful, we got on the elevator at the 25th floor and rode in silence to the 19th, where, when three people dressed for the evening entered, he suddenly turned to me and said, ''Well, it was quite shocking, I must say there was blood everywhere!'' 
I was confused, thinking that because of the daiquiris I'd missed something, but he just went right on: ''There was a stream of blood coming from his ear and another from his mouth.'' Of course, everyone in the elevator had recognized him but no one looked over. Two more people from the 19th floor entered as he continued: ''Of course, there was a huge pool of blood on the floor and his clothes were splattered with it. Oh! It was a horrible mess. Well, you can imagine...''  
It felt as if no one in the elevator, including me, was breathing. He now glanced at me, I nodded dumbly, and he resumed: ''Blood all around! Well, I looked at the poor fellow and I said, 'Good God, man, what's happened to you?'' And then, just as the elevator doors opened onto the lobby, Hitchcock said, ''And do you know what he told me?'' and paused. With reluctance, the passengers now all moved out of the elevator and looked anxiously at the director as we passed them in silence.  
After a few foggy moments, I asked, ''So what did he say?''  
And Hitch smiled beatifically and answered, ''Oh, nothing -- that's just my elevator story.''
(H/T to my good friend Anna)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Be Transfigured

Happy feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord!

Beloved: we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

We ourselves heard this voice from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

-- 2 Peter 1:16-19

(Today's second reading; see all of today's readings here.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hildegard of Bingen: Saint, Future Church Doctor, Baller

RomeReports did an awesome little video on the Bright Maidens' patron saint, St. Hildegard of Bingen, a future Doctor of the Church. Watch here:

These videos always make me think, what will my legacy be in the world? How can I humbly contribute? We are not all called to be Doctors of the Church, but we're certainly all called to be saints.

p.s. Have you liked the Bright Maidens' FB page yet? Do you follow us on Twitter? Join in the conversation! We have some exciting news coming up, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Catholic: What Up!

"So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated." --G. K. Chesterton

Monday, July 16, 2012

The night Dickens had a Marian vision

William Oddie writes in The Catholic Herald:

Though Dickens hated all displays of religious feeling, he had a distinct and sincerely held religion of his own, possibly influenced by the Unitarianism of his friend and biographer John Forster. In 1868 he gave a New Testament to a son setting out for Australia, “because it is the best book that ever was, or will be, known in the world”; and he wrote to him in order “most solemnly [to] impress upon [him] the truth and beauty of the Christian Religion, as it came from Christ Himself”. “Never,” he went on, “abandon the wholesome practice of saying your own private prayers, night and morning. I have never abandoned it myself, and I know the comfort of it.”

This was the Dickens who in 1844 underwent a religious experience (rarely written about), which he described vividly in a letter to Forster. “Let me tell you,” he wrote from Venice, “of a curious dream I had, last Monday night; and of the fragments of reality I can collect; which helped to make it up … In an indistinct place, which was quite sublime in its indistinctness, I was visited by a Spirit. I could not make out the face, nor do I recollect that I desired to do so. It wore a blue drapery, as the Madonna might in a picture by Raphael; and bore no resemblance to any one I have known except in stature … It was so full of compassion and sorrow for me… that it cut me to the heart; and I said, sobbing, ‘Oh! give me some token that you have really visited me!… Answer me one… question!’ I said, in an agony of entreaty lest it should leave me. ‘What is the True religion?’ As it paused a moment without replying, I said – Good God in such an agony of haste, lest it should go away! – ’You think, as I do, that the Form of religion does not so greatly matter, if we try to do good? or,’ I said, observing that it still hesitated, and was moved with the greatest compassion for me, ‘perhaps the Roman Catholic is the best? perhaps it makes one think of God oftener, and believe in him more steadily?’

“‘For you,’ said the Spirit, full of such heavenly tenderness for me, that I felt as if my heart would break; ‘for you it is the best!’ Then I awoke, with the tears running down my face, and myself in exactly the condition of the dream. It was just dawn.”

Was this a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as many Catholics will naturally assume? During the course of the dream, Dickens made the assumption that he was speaking to his wife’s sister, Mary Hogarth, who had died in 1837, and whom he had dearly loved (though he also perceived that the spirit “bore no resemblance to any one I have known”). But he also explained the dream afterwards in explicitly Catholic terms, pointing out that there was “a great altar in our bed-room” where Mass had once regularly been said, and that he had been “listening to the convent bells (which ring at intervals in the night), and so had thought, no doubt, of Roman Catholic services”.

“Put the case,” he wrote to Forster, “of that wish” [the ambition he had expressed in an earlier letter, to leave in his writings his “hand upon the time … with one tender touch for the mass of toiling people that nothing could obliterate”] “being fulfilled by any agency in which I had no hand; and I wonder whether I should regard it as a dream, or an actual Vision!”

Read more here>>>>>>>

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Bird Song

Peaceful morning in Michigan as Baby sleeps and the rest of the Fantastic family is out to putt-putt. I'm taking advantage of the quiet time... Sunday tunes:


May creation sing out its glory to you today!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Date the Fat Guys, Ladies

In what can only be described as “true love,” I agreed to marry my fiance without ever dancing with him.

Perhaps this seems impossible, improbable, or a smallish point in the grand scheme of our love. But I tell you, it is not. I come from a dancing family. My mom and dad fell in love in college through dancing (and homecoming committee), and continue to swing around the floor with passion and laughing, grooving to the music. We six kids have no formal dance training, but we have natural rhythm and a blatant disregard for awkwardness. We’ll have impromptu dance parties at home, in the car, and even public places, if the music is right. It is a pathway of love for us Robisons.

I mention B.’s and my lack of dancing during ten months of courtship because this was how I approached our relationship: taking him for who he is, accepting his limits (as he accepts mine), and letting God’s love for both of us lead. He said he wasn’t a dancer. I didn’t push him into a dancing situation until weeks after our engagement, a wedding, when I then found out he can dance. And all I can think now is, What a glorious gift from my God!

Too often, we gals imagine the most perfect looking man for us. We want our handsome knight, and we want him with a six-pack. But what of his character? Does he respect you? Is he interested in spending time with you? Could you grow together and be friends? Do you see potential in him as your life partner, through difficulties and diaper changings?

Continue reading at IGNITUM TODAY >>>>>>>

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Belloc: Ballade of Modest Confession

"Ballade of Modest Confession" by Hilaire Belloc

My reading is extremely deep and wide;
And as our modern education goes—
Unique I think, and skilfully applied
To Art and Industry and Autres Choses
Through many years of scholarly repose.
But there is one thing where I disappoint
My numerous admirers (and my foes).
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

I ride superbly. When I say I 'ride'
The word's too feeble. I am one of those
That dominate a horse. It is my pride
To tame the fiercest with tremendous blows
Of heel and knee. The while my handling shows
Such lightness as a lady's. But Aroint
Thee! Human frailty with thy secret woes!
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

Painting on Vellum: not on silk or hide
Or ordinary Canvas: I suppose
No painter of the present day has tried
So many mediums with success, or knows
As well as I do how the subject grows
Beneath the hands of genius, that anoint
With balm. But I have something to disclose—
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point

Prince! do not let your Nose, your royal Nose,
Your large imperial Nose get out of Joint.
For though you cannot touch my golden Prose,
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The World of Wes Anderson

Michael Specter in The Wall Street Journal:
There aren't many directors one can identify simply by looking at a brief clip of his or her work. Alfred Hitchcock comes to mind; so do Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard. Their films, constructed wholly on their own terms, create singular, unmistakable worlds. In America today, there is at least one director who does this too: Wes Anderson.  
Whether Anderson is telling the story of a family struggling with ghosts of its past and future (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited), portraying the absurdist adventures of a Cousteau-like adventurer (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou), or, as in his new film, Moonrise Kingdom, presenting a tale of twisted innocence, his work is impossible to mistake. His signature is apparent even in commercials—from his classic self-parody for American Express to recent ads for the Korean automobile company Hyundai. Anderson doesn't pander or create market-tested characters; nor does he see the point in cleaning up reality. (Warping it is a different story.)

My favorite Wes Anderson films are The Royal Tenenbaums:

and The Darjeeling Limited:

I'm still excited to see Moonrise Kingdom!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Up North

I'm up north with my family and and then will be traveling till almost the end of the month. Will hopefully catch up on all my belated posts, etc. while writing out addresses for wedding stuff.

Today's sunset!
Any topics you're interested in seeing me write on? Let me know!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Country Tis Of Thee

Happy Independence day, y'all!

From Catholic World Report, "10 Things You Should Know About the American Founding":
None of this should suggest, however, that all Americans held anti-Catholic views. Some of the most prominent Americans held absolutely no tolerance for intolerance. The most important was George Washington who accepted, without reservation, Catholics and Jews as fully republican citizens. In a March 1790 address to the Roman Catholics in the United States, he stated:

"As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed. . . . And may the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity."

Constitution Convention with George Washington
Another critic of anti-Catholicism was one of the least religious of the founders, Ben Franklin. In the spring of 1776, Franklin, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Jacky Carroll (Charles’s cousin and close friend) traveled to Canada in a failed mission to convince the Canadians to join the American cause. Along the way, Franklin and the two Carrolls struck up a strong friendship. After the success of the American war for Independence, the Vatican decided it was time to name a bishop in North America. No bishop, not even Anglican/Episcopalian bishops, had ever stepped foot in the thirteen colonies (or, states, after 1776). Hoping not to offend republican sensibilities, the Vatican contacted Franklin through two agents. Franklin said the man for the job was Jacky, and the Vatican consequently appointed John Carroll as the first archbishop in the United States.
From The Imaginative Conservative, "Americana Res Publica: No Revolution":
Despite our post-modern tendency to distort and mock the true meanings of words, America never has been, nor really can it be, a democracy. Indeed, as several founders made clear, democracy was a great evil, necessary perhaps in some manifestation, but not as the ruling element of a balanced government or a stable society. In the opening days of the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787, several participants described the havoc caused by too much democracy.
Gerry of Massachusetts lamented,
The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue; but are the dupes of pretended patriots [“demagogues” in the original; later corrected].
And, Randolph of Virginia proclaimed
the general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the U.S. laboured; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.

My favorite quote, though, comes from Fisher Ames, 1806:
Our disease is democracy. It is not the skin that festers--our very bones are carious, and their marrow blackens with gangrene. Which rogues shall be first, is of no moment--our republicanism must die, and I am sorry for it. But why should we care what sexton happens to be in office at our funeral? Nevertheless, though I indulge no hopes, I derive much entertainment from the squabbles in Madam Liberty’s family. After so many liberties have been taken with her, I presume she is not longer a miss and a virgin, though she may still be a goddess.
Poor Columbia.
And yet, as many Jacksonians wished it to be, the Republic was neither purely a commercial nor libertarian one. Indeed, the American founders crafted not a commercial republic, but a virtuous republic, allowing for commerce and liberty to serve as a means by which man could use each of his gifts wisely and for the common good (the good thing; the res publica).
While not all of the founders belonged to orthodox Christian denominations or even subscribed to Jewish or Christian orthodoxy, they each accepted most of what the Judeo-Christian context and heritage had bequeathed to them. Their understanding of liberty was not the collectivist or primivist liberty of Rousseau or the atheistic and abstract liberty of Locke, but the liberty of St. Paul as described in his letter to the Galatian Christian community, the freedom to do what one ought to do.
For most patriots, one could find the best definition of liberty in the prophetic writings of Micah (4:4), as our own John Willson has reminded us many times. “But they shall sit every man under his vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid,” the Jewish prophet had written.
In these understandings, rooted in the classical as well as the Judeo-Christian, the founders wanted to emulate Republican Rome, not Carthage, as another one of us, Gleaves Whitney, has poignantly argued.
(Both of the above articles were written by a great American and man, Brad Birzer.)

Any fun plans for today? I'm going to my future family's house in a bit.

In the meantime, I hope your heart swells and surges like mine when I hear this song:

Have a blessed day with family and friends, and God bless our country!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Make You Stronger

Check out this awesome musical artist, Mandisa:


May God bless your Monday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Most Beautiful Wedding Speech EVAH

Prince Daniel of Sweden to his bride, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, at their wedding dinner on June 19, 2010:
Your Majesties, Your Imperial Highness, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, dear family and friends, dear Victoria…
Crown Princess Victoria. Princess of Sweden. Princess of my heart. Nine years ago I had the privilege to get to know a young woman with a great sense of humor and a great sense of duty and who was very, very intelligent. We became friends. The more I got to know her, the more irresistible she became. These couple of years with you, Victoria, have gone by in a wink and have been the best years of my life.

There have been times when Victoria’s official duties have separated us. Often taking her to far away countries and continents. I will never forget some years ago when she left for one of her many trips. This time to China. We were going to be apart for a whole month. The night before she left, she got home late after an official engagement and she had many preparations to make for the long month of duties ahead. Instead of getting some valuable sleep, she stayed up the whole night…writing. In the morning after she had gone, I found a box, and in that box, I found 30 beautiful letters addressed to me. One for every day she would be away. This romantic gesture is typical of you, Victoria. It says everything about the loving person you are.

Once upon a time, the young man was perhaps not a frog in the beginning of the fairytale as in the story first told by the Grimm Brothers, but he was certainly not a prince. The first kiss did not change that. His transformation was not possible without the support of the wise King and Queen who had ruled the kingdom for many years and who were full of wisdom, experience, and had good hearts. They knew what was best and guided the young couple with a gentle hand, generously sharing all their valuable experience.

I feel the greatest gratitude towards Your Majesties, the King and the Queen, for your support and for the way you have received me into your family. I think, of course, also of my own family; my mother and father and my sister and her daughters. Mum and Dad, while growing up, you have always given me your unconditional love. You have helped me through wisdom and you’ve helped me gain a strong self-esteem and security with your good values that have guided me during my life.

Today, when we were driven through the streets of Stockholm, we received unbelievable joy and warmth. It is a memory that we will forever keep deep in our hearts. During the years Victoria and I spent together, I have felt a great support from the people I’ve met. It has been very important to me. Thank you.

I have the deepest respect towards my upcoming tasks. Without a doubt it will be a great challenge. I will do my utmost to live up to the expectations that will be placed upon me. I will do my utmost to support my wife, Crown Princess of Sweden, in her important work.

My darling Victoria. I’m so proud of what we have together. I’m so happy to now be your husband. I will do all that I can to keep you as happy as you are today. Victoria, the greatest thing is love. I love you so much.

I would like you all to join me in a toast to my wonderful wife.


He was her personal trainer and she was a crown princess (as in, first in line for the throne). They now have a baby daughter, Princess Estelle.

What a beautiful display of love, respect and admiration!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Feel So Close

Blogger has been acting up and not posting my scheduled posts, so here's Calvin Harris singing "Feel So Close" instead. I mean, I wear my heart on my sleeve like a big deal too:


I've been working overtime lately and have been reading my fair share of Agatha Christie ('Zero Game' is pretty rad) and 'O Ye Jigs and Juleps!' by Virginia Cary Hudson, which is absolutely delightful!

Any reads worth mentioning?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Leah: You Say That's Exactly How This Grace Thing Works

In honor of Leah Libresco of Unequally Yoked converting to Catholicism, here is a little Cormac McCarthy:
The old man swung his head back and forth. The way of the transgressor is hard. God made this world, but he didnt make it to suit everbody, did he?
I don't believe he much had me in mind.
Aye, said the old man. But where does a man come by his notions. What world's he seen that he liked better?
I can think of better places and better ways.
Can ye make it be?
No. It's a mystery. A man's at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he dont want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there. It aint the heart of a creature that is bound in the way that God has set for it. You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it. You believe that?
I don't know.
Believe that.
--Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
(I do so enjoy that passage. Hat tip to my Southern Lit. prof, Dr. Sommerville!)

Welcome home, Leah! You've been in my prayers for so long. God is so good!

Let us all pray for Leah, each other, and all those seeking Truth. Just as we'll never know what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus, we glean that each life has a its own path to God through Christ which shall never end in this world.

Oh, and here's a little Mumford and Sons, which is more than appropriate to blast for any occasion!


 Oh happy Monday!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Mythos of Rush

At The Imaginative Conservative:

Frankly, I’d never encountered a mind like [Neil] Peart’s. In my world, only Tolkien and Bradbury rivaled Peart’s intelligence and intellect. He had seemingly read everything (and, I still don’t doubt this), and his music touched upon all the major themes that meant something deep and profound for me. He knew mythology, he knew fantasy (Tolkien, Bradbury, and others) and dystopian literature, and he knew the great authors of the past several centuries. The world of his characters always seemed very real to me.

And, perhaps, most importantly at the time--especially given severe family dysfunction and social pressures--Peart taught me, almost single-handedly, that living with integrity and individual personality has only this as its opposite: not living at all, spending life as a Hollow Man, or a Company Man, but certainly not as a man. I realize it’s nearly impossible for a person to know his path with any certainty, but as I look back at my teenage years, Tolkien taught me ethics and morality, Bradbury taught me community and unlimited possibilities of imagination, but Peart taught me individual self-worth and dignity.

A sample of his lyrics that gave me hope and strength:

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone
--from Signals, 1982

He's not afraid of your judgment
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He's a little bit afraid of dying
But he's a lot more afraid of your lying
--from Signals, 1982

Ragged lines of ragged grey Skeletons, they shuffle away Shouting guards and smoking guns Will cut down the unlucky ones I clutch the wire fence
Until my fingers bleed A wound that will not heal --- A heart that cannot feel --- Hoping that the horror will recede Hoping that tomorrow --- We'll all be freed
--from Grace Under Pressure, 1984

I also know I’m not alone. The number of men (and some women) my age, or within a decade on either side, influenced by Rush is too numerous to count, frankly. It would be no exaggeration to claim that Neil Peart influenced, inspired, and shaped an entire generation of conservatives and libertarians. For what it’s worth, it’s only fair to note that Peart tends to identify conservatism with control and hypocrisy, and he would probably be far more comfortable with those who found some form of libertarianism, broadly understood, from his lyrics than with some form of conservatism.

My friend, economist and social critic Steve Horwitz has argued quite convincingly that while Peart’s lyrics lend themselves toward libertarianism, they most readily identify with a form of individualism [see Horwitz’s excellent chapter in Rush and Philosophy (2011)]. I would take this only one step farther and claim that Peart’s individualism is the individualism of the Stoics of the pre-Christian world. He seems to present a nearly perfect form of classical Stoicism in the 1979 epic, “Natural Science.”

--Brad Birzer's "Rock as Mythos: Rush's Clockwork Angels"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Parking Lot Tithing

I'm always up for supporting a good cause, which has lately led me to wonder if I actually have a neon "Sucker!!" sign over my head, or if God keeps putting me somewhere for a reason and that reason happens to include giving money away to a needy stranger.

I'm getting married in six months, and I work two and a half jobs so that we can not go into debt and have money to live on for the first seven months before B. finishes school and starts work. I've also been invited to 10+ weddings this summer, which makes me happy and my bank account sad.

Robert Frost understands me and "The Hardship of Accounting": "Nobody was ever meant/ To remember or invent/ What he did with every cent."

So what's a responsible girl to do? I keep my spending down where I can so gas money is manageable. I try to hold off buying wants because needs seem so unavoidable. I've also been approached a few times in the past month for money, and I feel like basic Christian charity has me give, because Christ is in all of us. Moreover, I'm more concerned with my intentions verses theirs, and I suppose it could be considered my unofficial way of tithing.

And tonight: tonight I went to the grocery store to pick up some chicken for my mom so she could make one of our favorite meals before my sister left for Europe for a month, and I was approached in the parking lot by a clearly desperate woman. She was carrying two soft bags, held a cigarette between two fingers, and swayed as she walked towards me.

I froze.

She told me how her boyfriend beat her with a brick and she's run out of money and then, one by one, how seventeen people in her life have tragically died in two years, and her parents are living in the Florida Keys.

I stared at the huge gash by her right eyebrow that really needed stitches (or at least steri-strips). I used to carry boxes of granola bars with me in the car, but I would get hungry and eat them. I'm staring at her: either the best liar or the most down-on-her-luck woman. I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I think I was in a shock-like state when I fumbled with my wallet and realized I had less cash then I thought; so I gave her about $20 and felt like a chump because I don't have any more money, and I was worrying about money earlier today, and here's this woman with absolutely nothing.

Then she hugs me and I hug her back, and I'm not sure which one of us is going to cry first. And now I wish I would have taken her inside of Walgreens and bought her food and vitamins and band-aids. So she says "God bless you" repeatedly after taking my money, and I stand there with Heather on the line, not hearing a thing of what she just said. That kills me. At least I know what I'll do next time this happens.

I hope you'll join me in saying prayers for this woman, and all people like this in similar circumstances! Lord, hear our prayers

Update: My Dad asked me why I didn't bring her home with me. Lord, I pray I have the courage of my Father one day!

I Bet You Think This Post Is About You

The hubris of the Catholic Church is often a huge turn-off to many people. How can she, the Church, this whore (my mother), claim to know the will of God?

A Catholic Church in Munich, Germany
After all, everyone knows her reputation. Everyone knows her mistakes. Everyone believes they know all about her and her kind- those “Catholics” who “claim” to “know” about God, but really, they do dead works and worship dead people.

And yet, the Church lives and copes and, more importantly, thrives. Can that not imply the Church knows something the rest of us do not? Through her faith, she is saved. Through her works, she is sanctified.

Continue Reading at Ignitum Today >>>>>>>

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Tale of Two Know-Nothings

The basics sound pretty boring: my fiancé and I are virgins and we’re stoked about our wedding night (197 days to go!). Not in the, I-Am-Going-To-Give-You-The-Most-Awkward-Kiss-EVAH kind of wedding excitement, but more of a, Ahh!-Finally-We-Are-Officially-And-Sacramentally-One.

It is surely by the grace of God that I am still a virgin, and that my parents’ “no sex before marriage!!!!!!!” talk continues to resonate that deeply within me. I didn’t know about Theology of the Body until my senior year of college, after an almost disastrous (but certainly a wake-up call) relationship fizzled out. I tell myself, If I hadn’t been Catholic, I probably would have had sex. And that scares me. That I had considered it. Not because I am afraid of sex; but because, now that I am engaged to B., I am horrified at the idea of anyone else being that close to me.

 B., my fiancé, is a med student, and his absolute comfort with all parts man and woman have made our conversations about sex hilarious and genuine. There is nothing I can say to shock him. He’s delivered a few babies now (under his attending, during his OB/GYN rotation) and has seen more women in their real form, not a glorified one. Women do not go into the hospital looking like a super-model, and I take comfort in knowing he sees my body as it should be.

I’m slender and reasonably athletic, but I still have my problem areas, for instance. B. shrugs and says, women carry around more body fat. It’s not an insult, it’s a fact. When we started discussing NFP, he asked me about my cycle. He isn’t grossed out by blood, or easily for that matter. I keep him more-or-less updated on it, since it’s a little irregular. Moreover, since we live two hours away from each other (generally), we’re accustomed to and satisfied waiting; we know this will come in handy when he has long shifts at the hospital or we have to abstain.

The best part about being virgins is the ability to show another person how much you love them without the Trump Card. I don’t have to prove I love B., because I’ve already agreed to marry him, bear his children, and spend my life with him. I love him, so I want to do all these things with him. I want to have sex with him: but not yet. There is an order to life, as we see in the sacraments: first we are baptized and consecrated to God and the Church; then we reach an age of rationality, repent, and receive forgiveness for our sins; then, once we are purified, we receive the body and blood of Christ; this is followed by a re-dedication to the Church, to live out our faith, and a re-infusion of the Holy Spirit to set fire to our lives and souls. After that, what road will we take?

I watched an interview with Olympian Lolo Jones last night. She is a virgin and the interviewer was laughing at her as she said it was harder than training for the Olympics or finishing college. I wanted to shout AMEN SISTER!!! and tell the interviewer to stop laughing. Why would you laugh at another person’s honor and nobility? And stop with the Tim Tebow jokes: their bravery only underscores a weakness in American virtues.

What separates man from beast is reason; sex is the “natural” thing to do, but humans can choose not to do it. Just because you can have sex with anyone doesn’t mean you should, and the most reasonable thing in my mind is to continue to honor and respect my future husband by not having sex with him, just as he does to me. It may not sound very sexy, but much fruit can be born as two commit to sanctifying themselves (and consequently, the other) on their path toward a all-encompassing unity.

B. has blessed my life, and I am a better woman for it. Our shared temptations only bring us closer as we avoid decisions that will radically change our lives. Our wedding night is going to be awesome, in the awe-inspiring sense of the word. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m not too concerned. This isn’t to say I won’t get nervous jitters, but I trust B. so explicitly that I know whatever happens will only further solidify that God matched us in Heaven.

Originally posted on Kate L.'s Real Catholic Love and Sex blog, as Part II of her honeymoon series