Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

January 30, 2009

On 'V-Day'

With the feast of St. Valentine just around the corner, I thought I'd write a little bit about something I find insidious -- it's called 'V-Day.' If you're a woman, you've undoubtedly heard of it. It's the day that raises awareness for violence against women. Or at least, supposedly. They raise awareness by showing the insidious play 'The Vagina Monologues' on every college campus. Ugh. What a horrible play. What I find even more offensive is this. They straight up attack the Catholic Church on their site. They claim that the Catholic objection to the play is based upon misinformation and that they will refute such misinformation with 'facts' or in their terms 'reality.' Here's a little snippet:

MISINFORMATION: CNS [which by the way stands for 'Catholic News Service'] describes "The Vagina Monologues" as a "vulgar play", "complete with a favorable reminiscence about a lesbian seduction of a 16-year-old girl" and "explicit discussions of sexuality and sexual encounters including lesbian activity and masturbation."

REALITY: The monologue referred to reflects the real-life experience of a real woman who was interviewed by Eve Ensler. The monologue accurately reports the woman's experience.

The pieces in "The Vagina Monologues" are all reflections of real women's experiences. Some of the stories are not politically correct, but they are all real. It is important to allow all of the voices of women to be heard, regardless of how we personally feel about their experiences, as violence against women happens everywhere affecting one in three women worldwide.

"The Vagina Monologues" has been successful as a play in part because it inspires reflection and thought among audience members, and dialogue among people who have seen the play. The Vagina Monologues has proven vastly liberating because it gives voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public, and reflects how shame and self-deprecating thoughts of women’s bodies has kept women separate from power and pleasure. The overwhelming response to the play was mobilized by grassroots organizations who recognize how negative attitudes towards women’s bodies contribute to violence perpetrated against women by men and by themselves.

Violence against women happens everywhere affecting one in three women worldwide. V-Day envisions a world where women live safely and freely. Each year V-Day continues to grow and inspire women and men throughout the world to help create V-World, a place where women and girls are free from violence. V-Day will continue this mission until the violence stops.

The site claims that the Catholics (particularly the Catholic universities who protest the play as a matter of conscience) are wrong about the play. They critique what they call 'misinformation.' Their response being the 'reality' does not refute the claim here, but only says that the play is base on 'fact.' Ok -- so why does that make it good?? Isn't the critique given here just a re-iteration of the 'facts' portrayed in the play? What kind of message is this play sending out about an authentic feminine sexuality?

Now I am SO against violence toward women. But to show a play that clearly objectifies women by reducing them to their anatomical part? Does that solve violence or promote it? I say 'part' because the title of the play clearly reveals which 'part' is to be associated with femininity. If we want to stop violence toward women, why reduce them to this? Why fixate on sex? Is that the only way women are violated? And how does the play inspire reflection?

And what about abortion? That is absent from the V-Day agenda. Is that shocking to any of you? Isn't abortion one of the most atrocious acts of violence toward women?? What can we do to raise awareness? Will we let organizations like V-Day speak for us?

Can't live with 'em...

Can somebody please help me?  I don't understand men.  (This is going to be the first of many posts on my inability to comprehend the other sex).  

You go to a party or to a bar, engage in conversation with one guy, catch somebody else's eye across the room.  You're feeling pretty good about yourself, you know you look pretty attractive (it's okay to admit it ladies), and then...nothing.  No questions about what you're doing later that weekend, or if you'd like to talk again. 

You go to a Mass packed to the brim with young, attractive adults (sans wedding rings, if you're like me who notices those things in the middle of the Creed - so shameful, I know).  You make eye contact every few hymns, and then....the guy bolts out of Mass as soon as the first stanza of the recessional is through.  Or maybe you think you have a chance because he stays until the very last verse...and then he's off!  

What is the deal, people?!?! I'm not the most self-confident broad in the business, but I can admit to myself when there might be a little electricity...even just the tiniest spark of interest.  Why is it that there is no follow-up?  No introduction or follow-through?  I know I'm old-fashioned, but even when I overcome this hang up and introduce myself to a guy, I always seem to be disappointed when there is no follow-up.  Is it me?  Is it him?  Even the non-Mass goers who are good guys...why don't they seem to have their acts together? 

And why is it that when I go to a party or a bar and there is a guy that is either 1) unattractive or 2) a total creeper and they find themselves impelled to corner me and talk my ear off the whole time...ask for my number...and rudely ask to come up to my apartment??? 

Does anyone have advice? 
Can anyone sympathize? 


January 29, 2009

To Ugg or not to Ugg

Thoughs on Ugg boots (probably knock offs)? I have been very anti-Ugg for awhile, but now my feet are cold, and I'm starting to warm up to the idea (pun not intended, but I haven't had a sufficient amount of coffee).

January 27, 2009

Thank you (sincerely) Mr. President

I don't really mind whatever motivated him, but our new President just denied Nancy Pelosi's wish. *Sigh of relief.*

We almost became Communist China.

I don't want a stimulus package

How does she possibly consider herself both a Catholic and a woman?  I want to pray for her, but right now I'm so offended that she reduces life to economic value.  Besides children, what does this say about the handicapped, the infirm, and the pre-born?  What does it say about me? 

January 26, 2009

Are you my mother?

A quick post during a free at school:

This weekend I was fortunate to have several outings to attend in which I met some of the most interesting, single young men and women in my area. As a relatively introverted person (though I can come across as extroverted), I did a lot of people-watching as well as conversing. The most natural thing to ask at this stage when meeting a young professional is, "Well, what do you do?" It was so reassuring that other people my age were out in the world, wholly committing themselves to some really meaningful occupation or another, always at the service of something larger than their own gain.

I was particularly thinking about the single women whom I was engaging.  Now, only I would really be thinking about this at a party, but I was wondering how if it is true that the "crowning" of our femininity lies in motherhood, how are each of us fulfilling the feminine genius that JPII talks about?  How is a young, single professional possibly considered a mother?  

The only answer that came to me was that no matter if we are wives, mothers, single, infertile, widows, etc., we are all inherently spiritual mothers...spiritually maternal.  All of our efforts are directed at some good, and since no man is an island, everything we do affects someone else...we are always nuturing through our work.  Now, it might be a bit more obvious to someone like me who is a teacher to have "children," but they need not be right in front of you or younger than you for you to be nurturing them.  You might never know them.  They might be older than you are, or they might live across the world.  But since we are all sons and daughters of God, we are always and everywhere serving God's children.  How very maternal of us.  

January 24, 2009


Standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, looking up at the blindingly white courthouse, shining in the sun. The police officers stood at attention about 10 feet from the barrier, overlooking the crowd. They were stonyfaced, except for one, who smiled, and seemed glad we were all there.

To my left was the stage, with women telling their surprisingly mundane stories about the abortions they now regret. (The pro-abortion advocates scare us with back-alleys and poverty, but the reality is that most of these women are middle-class suburbanites: college students whose boyfriends pressured them, teenagers whose parents drove them to the abortionists.) To my right, a handful of counter-protestors, all engaged in heated, but civil debate with the pro-lifers.

Emotionally, I was completely detached, and saw little that moved me. I tried to concentrate on my rosary, and take comfort in the repeating words, solace in the words, and the mysteries of Christ's passion and death. But I was mostly just distracted, saying the words out of habit rather than love.

As I was standing there several women, young and old, even a nun, came forward and dropped a rose on the steps of the Supreme Court. A young photographer clicked away, trying to get the perfect angle, with a detached desire of photojournalistic realism. As he walked away two girls, about 16 years old, came forward, and dropped the roses, and one burst into tears, sobbing, as the other held her close rocking back and forth like a mother comforting a child.

I don't know why she cried, but I sure wish I could have joined her sorrow.

January 23, 2009

Two steps back

Maybe I was too charitable in my last post toward Mr. President.  I'm not sure why in this economic climate that Obama thinks it's a good idea to put our taxes dollars towards funding abortions abroad.  

I HAVE to believe that a man with so much intelligence will come around to see what he is permitting.  I have to believe.  

January 22, 2009

One Step at a Time

The March for Life was jam-packed this year.  I think the numbers (if anyone prints a story about it), will be greater than those from other years.  It took hours just to begin to walk!  

I did have trouble with the very loud protestors, the graphic images (more than any that I've seen in the past), and terribly mean signs about Obama.  I always wonder what is on their hearts when they present the pro-life message like that.  No judgment passed here, but I do have to wonder...   

However, there were so many simple, powerful things that I witnessed. This was the first year that I went to the Youth Rally, where 30,000 young people gathered for music, prayer, and Mass with priests and bishops from all over our country.  The Mass was offered by the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Weurl.   The crowd reminded me on a small scale of the pontiff's visit last year, and there was even a bishop sent by Pope Benedict XVI who relayed messages to us (specifically the youth who were marching) on his behalf, just encouraging us to be "the saints of the third millennium," as his predecessor John Paul II said we could be. 

The number of young women...friends, sisters...peacefully walking arm in arm together witnessing their commitment to protecting their femininity and inspiring others to do the very moving.  As always, the number of little tots and toddlers stumbling along or relaxing in their strollers warms my heart!  

I think the most powerful image that I saw today was the number of young men from high schools and colleges in the crowd...especially those from all-boys' schools.  It gave me such hope that there are so many men (well, GENTLEMEN) in a younger generation who respect women enough to come across the entire country to demonstrate their love for our capacity to give birth and the joy it brings to the mother and the child.  

Maybe men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but their convergence in the nation's capital today was amazing.  

January 20, 2009

A Response to 'A Little Bit of Hope'

Edith, of course you are right about the March coming up.  I'm going for a third time, and am looking forward to it (and hopefully snagging a spot behind the Dominicans who sing the Salve (the prayer for the dead) outside of the Supreme Court). I get very uncomfortable when people are yelling and screaming, going around putting pictures of aborted fetuses in the faces of those who are protesting the March.  I prefer to walk quietly, hoping and hoping and hoping that the witness of so many people (especially the little ones!) who are dedicated to preserving and protecting life during their own lives, will be inspiring...not only to those in our government, but to other fellow Americans.  No matter what our new President and our Congress have before them to vote on, we women really can peacefully demonstrate in our daily choices how to love in very simple ways.   

Before the inauguration, I was very disheartened about the election of Mr. Obama and his administration.  I'm still uncomfortable with him as our leader, but I want to show him my respect for giving it a go by running for the office to inspire Americans to be the best we can be at home and in our interaction with our global family.  I think he inspires people (not only because of his brilliant gift of be used for good or ill we shall see...) but because our country is yearning; they really do need the virtue of hope in something, anything.  The seeming meaninglessness of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina broke many of our spirits, and though we have picked ourselves up, it's only been a half-hearted effort.  I believe many who support Obama do so because the media has blown his capabilities out of proportion and made him an overnight sensation, but I believe others are just searching for meaning again.  St. Thomas Aquinas says we always seek the good, it's just a matter of where we find it and if it's truly fulfilling.  It is up to us to remind others that our meaning and our hope lies in something well beyond this immediate world.  It is up to us to remind them, as the priest said at Mass today, that "the glory of God is the human most fully alive." 

A Little Bit of Hope

I don't know about you, but I am probably the only American who is not excited about Inauguration day. It just seems so...contrived to me. Yes, it's a big historical moment -- the first African American president. But the Hollywood hype? The moment-by-moment newscasts with the most banal comments? Anyway, I've been feeling kind of just 'blah' about the whole thing. But, I have hope. Thursday is the March for Life, and I cannot think of any better way for pro-life Americans (and all Americans, really) to welcome this very much pro-abortion president to office. If Obama truly wants to live up to a man like Lincoln (to whom everyone is comparing him), let's show him that it is only by standing up for life that he can accomplish such a task. After all, isn't that what Lincoln did? And one more thing -- just meditate on this. It brought me some hope and perhaps it will bring some to you too.

January 19, 2009

Quote of the Day (Movie style)

Watched After the Thin Man this weekend, the second madcap adventure of the great sluething couple Nick and Nora Charles (played to perfection by William Powell and Myrna Loy). My goodnes, if I find someone I can exchange witty banter with like this, I'd marry him in two weeks!

Nick: Did I ever tell you you're the most fascinating woman this side of the Rockies?
Nora: Wait till you see me on the other side of the Rockies.

On Christian Unity

This week the Vatican begins its prayer on Christian Unity. I encourage all of us to pray with the Church. Find out information to pray for the unity of Christians here.

Image is Dali's 1951 painting 'Christ of St. John of the Cross' found here.

Is It Any Wonder?

Yesterday evening, I went to the student recreation center at my university to work out. (Which by the way, I took Julian's advice on that Beyonce album--great to work out to, and I cannot get that 'shoulda put a ring on it' out of my head!!) Unfortunately, the only cardio machine available was smack in front of a television playing MTV, which as we all know has absolutely nothing to do with music, but rather trashy, contrived 'reality' TV shows. Well the show playing this night was particularly trashy. The show is based upon the search for 'love' for two female bisexual identical twins. Whatever that means, right? So, these twins get to 'choose' between 12 men and 12 women to find 'true love.' So the show basically showed these twins running around in short dresses kissing whichever person came into their path. So, it made me feel pretty down about the state of the world, and is it any wonder I felt this way? But I got to thinking -- does it matter what we do with our bodies? Of course, I think it does. But where does that idea come from? I guess the better question to ask is why does it matter what we do with our bodies? We've some great quotes up on the blog from tremendous authors such as Edith Stein, Adrienne Von Speyr, and Alice Von Hildebrand to name a few. But I think our whole world really needs to examine why it matters what we do with our bodies.

What does my body mean? Well, I am a woman and my body clearly reveals this reality. John Paul II posits that the female and male bodies reveal that they were made for one another, and I think that one is pretty obvious too. But still, why does it matter what I do with this body? Do I have the 'right' to use my body for libertinism? The world tells me so. After all, if everything I do with my body is both consensual and does not harm others, than why does it matter, right? But let's ask, even if what I do is consensual, does that necessarily mean that it does not harm another or myself? Does a profligate use of my body harm me or another and in what way? I suggest that using my body for whatever I want can indeed harm me and others -- in a most perilous way -- spiritually. Somehow, my body, my physically being is so bound to my spirit. When I abuse one, the other will deteriorate too.

How do we convince a world that is saturated with MTV shows like the one I talked about above and girls willing to sell their virginity to the highest bidder that their bodies matter? That their souls matter -- if not to God, at least to themselves? How do we convince a world that believes that each individual is a law unto himself or herself that they need to look outside of themselves to find true happiness? I can give a person any Bible verse to try to convince them, I can point them to the great spiritual writers, but what about those who are so far away from any sense of spirituality that they are completely blind to this message? Where do we start? Have you ever experienced this frustration and feeling of just hopelessness for the world? Is it any wonder that I feel this way?

I know I don't have every answer, but I will continue to look at this problem, particularly as it relates to women. I think women have a tremendous role in the renewal of the world, in breaking the chains that bind people to their base desires, and ultimately in bringing Christ to the world. For now, I will continue to trust in God and look to Mary, confident in their love for all people in this world and in their desire to be loved back by them.

I Was Sitting, Waiting, Wishing..

The gospel from yesterday's Mass really struck me (and so did our priest's homily...I'll post on it or maybe Agatha will - it was about vocation and holiness, and he even spoke about the single life for well-over the usual five seconds!).  

John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Lamb of God to two of his own disciples.  They follow him, and then Jesus asks them, "What are you looking for?" In response to Jesus, the disciples asked Him where He lived.  This struck me as odd, as if they were dodging the question.  But maybe they were onto something.  

By some gift of faith I recognize Jesus as this Lamb of God, as my God and my friend, and I have chosen to see the world as He does and to live a life that follows upon the gift of this sight. But this is not enough for me, or so it seems.  Everyday I am looking for something.  I am restless with my life, with the stage I'm in, with my job, my colleagues, with men.  I am always looking for something to finally help me to feel settled.  Even though I search after Jesus like the two disciples did, I am restless, but I also hear Him asking, "What (exactly) are you looking for, Julian?"  

If I were to respond to Jesus' question like the disciples by asking where He was in my life, I know that He would respond that He has chosen to live in me.  Being settled actually does come from resting (not busying ourselves with things to do), but especially just being with Jesus ("So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day").   Well, then this means just being with ourselves, despite all of the muck and the confusion. Maybe I will feel more at peace with my continued searching and seeking if I took respite in who and where I am at this moment, and Who is with me.   

January 17, 2009

The Final Word from the White House

This is really a nice way to take his final bow.   

God bless America! 

January 16, 2009

An Antidote

In light of the two last posts, I thought we might want to seek heavenly aid. Here is a saint whose feast day we are celebrating January 21. St. Agnes is the patron saint of chastity, virgins, and betrothed couples. How we need her prayers during this time!! St. Agnes, help to purify our hearts as we seek our vocations in the Church. Be our protection as we live our vocations in the world.

(Image obtained from EWTN on St. Agnes page linked above)

Baring It All, Part II

I think anyone who would do this might consider this one....

January 15, 2009

Baring it All

I think that the advocates of this need to read this.  

Put a Ring on It

Sorry for not posting recently. I've been proctoring midterm exams, grading 200 essays, and lesson planning for next week. Thank goodness for a five-day weekend!

I don't particularly have an "intelligent" topic for the post, but I just wanted to provide a few thoughts. Yesterday I went to the first of two book clubs I'm in (to exercise my brain in other subjects besides theology), and I was so excited to think, banter, and work through things with my colleagues. We read Plato's Meno, which is a Socratic dialogue about the definition of virtue. It was fascinating to see how the characters worked through particular virtues in order to arrive at the essence of virtue across the board. In the end, Socrates says that virtue can neither be taught nor learned, but rather is given by "divine dispensation." I took this to mean (in the Christian tradition), how ultimately perfecting a life of virtue (for him, completely overcoming vice) is aided by divine grace. True enough, but I am still wondering if trial and error through experience might be a better, more natural, temporal, and human way of living the happy life. Anyway, my friend and I went to see Bride Wars afterwards in order to do something mindless. The script was very bad, but the dresses were stunning!

I also must admit that I am a really big fan of Beyonce's new album (not it's cover), not only because the beats are good for working out, but because many of her songs are actually empowering for women (and believe it or not she has a really great version of Ave Maria with modern lyrics about Mary throughout!). Anyway, I recommend checking it out. Though I'm a fan of the beats in hip hop and R&B, I find that the lyrics usually degrade women. Anyway, I'm ready to workout again today and feel positive about myself, my feminity, and my body. Hope you feel the same. :)

January 13, 2009

Just in Case...

You were thinking the birth control pill is a good option....check out what the inventor of the pill has to say about it. Oh what a world we live in....

January 10, 2009

A Testimony...

I wanted to post a little snippet of a beautiful testimony a woman posted on Zenit (a Vatican News Agency) today. The post was in response to an article on prenatal testing, which is something that all of us women will come to face as we begin our families, if we are so called to married life. Here's a little snippet. Read the whole post here.

A little over eight years ago, my niece heard these words from a woman, "I will not bring this child into the world." The woman was not an expectant mother, she was my niece's OB/GYN. . . . Three months later, my niece gave birth to her second child. He was taken that week into surgery where they implanted a VP shunt to drain the excess spinal fluid to allow room for his brain. They were told their son probably would not see, hear, talk or walk.

Today, this young boy attends second grade, is preparing to make his first communion, sees and comments on the beauty that surrounds him, asks his grandma to play the piano for him, is surprisingly articulate and is able to walk. While he has occasional seizures, he is a thriving little person deserving of care. Ultimately, he is a child of God, deserving of the special place in this world that God intended for him.
We are all children of God. We all deserve a chance at life, because we trust in God's word through the Prophet Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11) Our God is truly an awesome, loving God. As women, we participate in that love in such a unique, amazing, and privileged way. I am so grateful for my femininity, I am so grateful to God for His love and the ability to respond to it. Let us continue to pray for the world, that all will know the depth of the love the Lord has for us.

January 9, 2009

Fr. Neuhaus on Contentment

The news has spread all over the Catholic world that yesterday morning, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus passed away after battling cancer. Fr. Neuhaus, the founder of the journal First Things, has had a huge impact on the thought and culture of the Catholic Church in America, and his loss will be missed.

There are numerous tributes to Fr. Neuhaus all across the internet. The contributors to have written a long lovingtribute; there is a brief biography on First Principles Journal.

But, in memory of him and his work, I'd like to direct the readers of this blog to a wonderful interview he did on CNA, about CONTENTMENT:

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.

...Anyway she wants....

I just came across this brief meditation from Adrienne von Speyr's book Lumina/New Lumina:

If the Church's bodily surrender were correctly understood, there would be no more need for any prudery; bridal mysticism, too, would be totally pure. The essence of the feminine lies in surrender; but woe to those who lose their way in their surrender, who do not stop before they have sold themselves.

How amazing is this reflection? JPII says that our sexuality shows us that we are receptive but not passive. We permit the man to give himself to us, but we must first give our "yes" before we allow the gift to be given (not just in sexuality, but in any dimension of male-female interaction). And yet she adds, "stop before you have sold yourself..." What a quotation for a Catholic feminist! Hold onto your "yes," your consent. This is what makes women strong, secure, and ultimately able to soften men. To surrender doesn't mean to be passive, to be a dormat. Surrendering has limits precisely so that our feminity can be realized. It makes me think of the quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And the neck can turn the head any way she likes."

...And "without prudery" great is this? She knows that woman should engage the world...the secular world and the bodily world...and not to shy away from earthly things.

I'm obsessed.

January 7, 2009

So absurd...

...but I need to post it! 

A good hair day can make all of the difference, can't it?  I just bought myself a new hair dryer (a Conair) and it's completely changed my mornings.  I spend about 1/3 of the time I did with my last one, and it's making it look so healthy, even though it's completely dry and dead in the indoor heat.  I don't have to use a curling iron or straightener to make it look finished.  I got so many compliments today at work, which brightened up my day.  Anyway, I recommend the brand.  And I recommend treating yourself to something fun and frilly once in awhile.  A splurge on, face, body... is sometimes just what the doctor ordered!  

I also think that we should compliment each other more.  You never really know if making eye contact with someone and smiling or when saying to a stranger how much you like what they are wearing or doing can change the course of someone's day.  A beloved Dominican sister once told me that.  And she saved my life by smiling at me! 

Stay beautiful :) 

A Little Reflection

I've been reading Alice von Hildebrand's The Privilege of Being a Woman, and I thought I'd share some of the passages that I've found particularly striking with you. It has been helping me to consider further reflection on the abortion issue. Here's a quote that's particularly striking on the theological meaning of the female body from page 82:
A contemplation of the female body can yield rich insights into the mission of women. The first thing that comes to mind is that in her body the intimate organs are not visible. They are all 'hidden' within her. In this, she differs clearly from her male counterpart. This fact is rich in symbolism: What is hidden usually refers to something mysterious . . . . The very structure of her body symoblizes a garden that should be carefully guarded, for the keys of this garden belong to God. Cf. Song of Songs 4:12
Let us contemplate the mystery spoken of in this passage! As women, we are beloved by God, we belong to Him in a special way. What cause for rejoicing!! May all the saints in Heaven help illuminate the way as we seek to understand the power of our femininity!

(Print by Alphonse Mucha)

January 6, 2009

There's something in the water...

Ever wonder where masculinity went? One possible answer from Humane Vitae...

The Truth Will Set You Free

Today in class one of my students presented a current event on the USCCB's study of adults who oppose abortion. She said that the numbers (in favor of the Catholic viewpoint) had to have been grossly exaggerated. Then she took a poll of the class and worked out the percentages of people who supported or opposed abortion in different circumstances, and the numbers were the same. Truth is truth. It was a learning moment for her, so I was grateful.

However, another girl completely bashed the Church for saying that Rick Warren should not speak at the inauguration, and said that the Catholic News Agency is completely exaggerating Obama's pro-choice stance. So, I had to send a secular and a religious outline of FOCA to let her know all camps agree on what it is and what he's promised to present to Congress. Truth is truth. I pray that her heart is softened.

Mary, make us gentle women.

January 4, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The single vocation.  It's always been so mysterious to me.  As a teenager I assumed it was a "default" vocation, something that you resigned yourself to if you weren't called to the religious life or if you never met your husband.  Now in my mid-twenties, I still stand in this grey area of not having heard the call to be a sister and still not having met a husband.   My thoughts have changed, though I am still unclear as to what this vocation really is.  

I know that I am called to be immersed in the world, to live the life of a lay woman.  As St. Josemaria Escriva says, "I am madly in love with the world."  I have visited friends in their religious communities and have prayed about the life consecrated to God, but it never felt "home" to me.   If I heed the word of St. Thomas Aquinas, I know that God works through my natural desires, and so my deep-seeded desire to care for a man and to be cared for by him, to delight in one another, is what has always felt most like "home" to me.  

And yet that vocation has not yet been fulfilled.  Or maybe it is being fulfilled, but I haven't crossed the threshold of moving beyond individual preparation to mutual growth in virtue (see complementarity blogs!).  In any event, I continue to meditate on how "the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting," as T.S. Eliot writes.  

But to be in this space of waiting does not actually mean to wait around or to sit idly by.  I am single, and I must be sanctifying my friends, family, and the people I work with and for and praying that I continue to be made holy on my way to heaven.  So for me right now, the single vocation is the immediate present, and though it may remain the immediate present for quite a bit, I embrace it for even in the midst of the unsettling feeling that is the mid-twenties, having the ability to care for those who are in my presence presents me with some sense of "home."  

I would love to hear other thoughts from women on what it means to be single, lay, and Catholic.  We may be unmarried, widows, or those who are in fact called to the single vocation for their whole lives.  Are you a single woman?  How is God calling you?  Do you hear what I hear? 

January 3, 2009

Sexual Complementarity Follow up

Props to Agatha, as my students would say, for her post on complementarity. I just taught this principle most notably found in the Theology of the Body to my senior classes about a month ago, and this addendum to Novak's post would have been helpful in addition to Agatha's section:
Further, man and wife, though assuredly equals in marriage, are not identicals. The one sex is opposite to, not identical to, the other. In this difference lies dynamic complementarity. (The great English journalist G.K. Chesterton once marveled during his first long stay in America, that Americans can seek divorce “on the grounds of incompatibility.” “I would have thought,” he commented dryly, “that incompatibility is the reason for marriage.”)
Thus, the complementarity between a man and a woman in covenantal marriage—a privileged image of God—is designed to increase the best of all forms of happiness among human beings: growth in the ennobling habits of the heart, in virtue, in honesty, and in mutual caring, “until death do them part.” This complementarity is also designed to generate productive, creative, and ever-advancing societies, driven by dreams of perfection yet to come (and never to be fully realized).
Many theologians hold onto "complementarity" in the strict sense, locking in on the physical nature of man and woman, and how in our sexuality we were designed to fit together "like a puzzle piece." All of this is true, of course, but we theologians (if I may humbly add myself to the bottom rung of that ladder), often fail to go where Novak goes, and to talk about the mutual aid in growing in virtue, precisely because we pick up where the other person lacks, and vice versa (and he brilliantly adds that this is only fulfilled in our individual souls by God's supernatural grace in heaven). Marriage and sexuality are designed to point us to our fulfillment, and in my opinion, complementarity is but a shadow of how God and man each partake in the other's natures...human and divine...which mysteriously and perfectly complement one another in the Incarnation.

In any event, I think at some point I'd like to write about the complementarity not only of gender, but of personality traits, in spousal relationship and in friendships. Maybe another post, but it would be something to start thinking about how opposites never really attract, but complements do.

January 2, 2009

Some Reflections on the 'Changes' Promised from Obama

As inauguration day quickly approaches, I want to take some time to consider the future of our country under Barack Obama's leadership. I admit, it is pretty awesome that an African-American was so overwhelmingly chosen as this nation's leader. But, I am really, well, not excited about the 'change' our new president seeks to implement. Let me explain. In his speech given to Planned Parenthood in 2007, President-Elect Barack Obama asks us all to reflect:
"What kind of America will our daughters grow up in? Will our daughters grow up with the same opportunities as our sons? Will our daughters have the same rights, the same dreams, the same freedoms to pursue their own version of happiness? I wonder because there’s a lot at stake in this country today. And there’s a lot at stake in this election, especially for our daughters. To appreciate that all you have to do is review the recent decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. For the first time in Gonzales versus Carhart, the Supreme Court held—upheld a federal ban on abortions with criminal penalties for doctors. For the first time, the Court’s endorsed an abortion restriction without an exception for women’s health. The decision presumed that the health of women is best protected by the Court—not by doctors and not by the woman herself. That presumption is wrong. . . . We know that five men don’t know better than women and their doctors what’s best for a woman’s health. We know that it’s about whether or not women have equal rights under the law. We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when—without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country."
So, I am wondering about this to do about 'women's health.' Now, as a woman, I am clearly concerned with these so-called women's issues. But I want to pose the challenge today to Mr. Obama and all my fellow women. I have to ask the question: is abortion truly a women's health issue? What makes it so? Is abortion really about 'equal rights under the law?' I was under the impression that women were already given equal rights under the law, so when did this become an issue? Is abortion a 'right' in the sense of the Founders of this nation? Do not women already decide how many children they would like without government interference? Indeed, Obama's commitment to the Freedom of Choice Act would accomplish just that: government interference. But I want to ask a deeper question. If we go back to Edith Stein, after whom I am named, and reflect upon her notion that the deepest feminine yearnings are to achieve a "loving union" with others, then what does abortion mean for our femininity? How does abortion accomplish this kind of loving union? Doesn't abortion literally root out that possibility? So, I put the question back to our President-Elect: What kind of American will our daughters grow up in? How will we nurture them? 

Double Standard

I don't really want this to be a rant, but I have to share with you all: I find it incredibly frustrating the double standard placed on single people in the workforce.  Just because we don't have spouses and children of our own doesn't mean we have a duty to our family that must rank higher than our job.

My supervisors would have no problem canceling a meeting to attend their kids soccer game, or a teacher meeting at school.  They would work from home if their child was sick, and rightly so.  That kind of flexibility makes for a humane work environment, and I am happy to accommodate them.  But it is expected, because I am the single girl without a family of my own, that I be a slave to my work, and that any duties I have to my parents and siblings is secondary to my duties to the office. 

Obviously that expectation is completely false.  The duty I have to my family is spiritually binding, and prior to every other worldly duty, no matter how much I love my job and am dedicated to it.  Those expectations smack of a "working woman=secretary" sexism that I thought we've eliminated from this country.

But, and this is what really gets me, they make it really hard for a single woman to fulfill her larger vocation.  The only way I find the idea of being single bearable is that I know I can still serve, and give of myself and primarily to those closest to me.  I am only responsible for myself, so I have the freedom to serve my family, my community, my church, and--hopefully--serve through my job as well.  

But the family has got to go first.  One of my single girlfriends serves her family by paying for her niece's school.  Another serves her family by living and helping at home while working.  I am trying to serve my family by being home at a difficult time, while still working full hours from home for the office, and my boss chides me for it?

Oh, right.  I forgot.  Slave to my work.  Ok, then, I'll see you tomorrow for our meeting.  Meeting's off?  Oh...well have a great time at your kid's soccer game.
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