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

March 30, 2009

Papa Don't Preach

...80's Madonna song as well as the hurtful cry of so many to our Holy Father after his trip to Africa... 

These past few months the pope has taken quite a verbal beating from people all over the world: some secular who simply do not understand the good news, and some Christian who did not inform themselves as to what the Holy Father has been saying in actuality.  Here is some support for the pontiff from a researcher at Harvard about AIDS prevention.   

Sisters, let's pray for our shepherd who challenges us to be better persons and to humanize our sexuality by recognizing it as both love and responsibility. 

March 28, 2009

The Catholic Colbert Report

I'm a huge fan of Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report - not only because he has me in side-splitting laughter, but because he's a great example of how practicing Catholics can break into the media and do good work for the population they target.  And in Colbert's case, that's a heck of a large viewing audience. 

I recently came across the blog Catholic Colbert.  Be sure to watch the video on the homepage with Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints (an awesome read!).  The clip is about finding God during the economic crisis, and it makes me laugh everytime I watch it.   I think Fr. Martin is onto something, too.  I just spoke with a Dominican priest yesterday who told me that vocation numbers have been steadily on the rise for the past two years, and they are expected to increase given the period of recession (apparently this is a pattern throughout history)! 

March 25, 2009

The Honorable Thing to Do

It's old news now, but, Bristol Palin and her highschool boyfriend/father of her child Levi Johnston have called off their engagement. The really cynical part of me (along with many others) says "typical--they were only engaged for political reasons anyway."

This thought nagged at me, and I soon began to realize why.

There was a time (I hate nostalgia, but here I go) when a man who got a woman pregnant had to do the honorable thing, and marry her. There were plenty of forces, social, moral, familial, that encouraged and even bound the will of young couple to beocme married thought they may not have been a perfect fit. But in those days there was a sense that doing the honorable thing would not only make you a better man, but would likely make you happy as well.

Let's change the scenario, and say McCain and Palin had won the White House. Would Bristol and Levi still be together? Probably--and for those base political reasons, no doubt. But maybe, if handled properly, they would be a witness to the honest truth that doing the right thing makes you a better person.

In the American Middle class it is easier than ever to raise a child on your own, and there are no longer the social stigmas of such an action. But in loosing those social stigmas we have also lost an opportunity for boys to do well, recognize the consequences of their actions, and become better men.

I don't know why Bristol and Levi broke up, and frankly, I don't care. But I do wish there was a stronger sense both in the media, and in our lives, that choices have consequences, and that it is good to do right. That's where real manliness lies.

March 24, 2009

On the Woes and Wonders of Womanhood

So today I came across two wonderful little articles...well, one is pretty wonderful, the other is just silly, but perhaps might spark some debate. The first article comes from Zenit -- an article reporting on the recent women's conference hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace this past weekend. This conference, entitles "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights" was put on to promote a new feminism, one that would promote a culture of life. The Pontiff urges women to take the reins, put themselves out there, and claim control of society, especially as related to human rights and upholding the dignity of human life. Benedict XVI also encourages women to cultivate their genius to contribute to society in their unique way. I love the pope. Oh the wonders of being a woman!

The second article appeared in the Louisiana State University's daily newspaper. It's an article titled "Perfect Dystopia: Women Would Benefit from Returning to their Place at Home." Now, this article is just silly. Judging from the title, the author clearly believes that women returning to home would create a 'perfect dystopia.' The author makes ridiculous claims such as:
Having to balance school, work and social life is hazardous for a woman’s beauty. One needs only to look at the amount of rejuvenation products in stores to know premature aging is prevalent in the population. Companies like Olay work many hours to formulate compounds that repair a women’s face and restore her wasted, book-filled youth. Women as young as 25 are pulling out strands of gray hair from their golden locks to look their true age.
I got a great laugh from statements like this (mostly because I could relate -- I am 25 and pulling out a few grays now and then!)

But even though the article is meant to be satire, I think the author (who is a woman, by the way) makes some good points. One point is that women who choose to stay home tend to be looked down upon in today's society. Maybe this trend is changing. I think it is (or maybe that's just because I live in the south now -- not to buy into stereotypes or anything...) But seriously, here we have two articles, two views espousing ideas on what a woman's role in society should be. Here's the question I put to you: What does a new feminism entail for us? What should a woman's role in society be? Ah, the woes and wonders of womanhood...

Photo found here.

Countering the Hook-Up Culture

As I prepare my high school senior students for commencement, I am trying to help them to grow eager for all that awaits them at college. I paint them a picture of my own experience: I find myself in a cozy sweater and jeans, a mug of coffee in hand, under my favorite tree between the library and the chapel on campus. With me I bring three people - a real, live friend to study with, and two people whose words I will read and decide whether or not they will be kindred spirits or people with whom I will engage in a continual debate...on this particular day Dante and Kant...Dante who has become a lifelong friend and Kant someone whom I keep at an arm's length. I explain to my students that there is no other time in one's life in which you have this luxury of learning...not only about the world around you, about the world that came before you, but most importantly about yourself. You pick and choose the ideas and people, the characters and ideologies that you want to make your own. You live, eat, and recreate with your friends...discovering things about yourself that you never knew and things about others that you couldn't dream of. I paint the exciting picture of a college atmosphere of the the dining hall, the classroom, the intramural fields, and the places on campus where meaningful moments happen.

But what do I tell them about relationships? What do I tell them about the hook-up culture? When I was in school the end of "dating" and the beginning of "hooking-up" was just taking off, and now it's the accepted norm. I never felt pressure to go back to my dorm with a guy because 1) I was known on campus as someone that you dated and didn't attempt to seduce and 2) I tried not to put myself in those situations. But some of my friends did find themselves tempted and some found themselves convinced that it was better to "hook-up" then to be single or feel unattractive.

The thing is, my students are experiencing this already. What was just beginning to be the norm in college is now the norm in high school...there are very few relationships...if they do exist, my students feel even more pressure than ever before to have sex within the first month or so. And so I'm not sure how to broach the subject (I feel "if" is already long gone because to ignore it would be tragic). I have taught them sexual ethics and spoken about it in bits and pieces before, but I'm not sure how much to get into as their teacher.

I continually promote Wendy Shalit's two books The Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue and Girls Gone Mild: It's Not Bad to Be Good. Some of my students laugh at me while others have voiced appreciation for this. In a culture where there are so many sexual options, we're told that there really are are either liberated or you're not, and if you're not, then you are not a sexual human being.

Robbie George and John B. Londregan recently addressed this issue: universities that promote acceptance for different sexual orientations, experimentation, and "hooking-up" also need to provide information and options for those who are living chastely. Young men and women who are more interested in dating and sexual intimacy in its virtuous (note, not prudish) form are without anywhere to turn and are led to believe that they are somehow alone or misguided about what sexuality is. Why can't university students be educated on the "lifestyle choices" of those who choose chastity? It seems that if the chaste way is no longer the norm, then it at least needs to be safeguarded and respected as a viable option.

I feel so incredibly blessed that in my college years I learned about myself: my body-image, my beliefs, my sexuality from peers, friends, professors, priests, and people like Dante, Kant, Doestoevsky. I was privileged to discover who I was meant to be. I pray that my students will also discover this about themselves, and that "hooking-up" should be more akin to scaling a wall or rockclimbing or something...pick by pick, foot by foot, moving up towards something greater than what presents itself in the immediate.

March 23, 2009

More on Obama at Notre Dame

Edith posted a little while ago about the ongoing situation with Notre Dame inviting President Obama to give a commencement address.

Since the announcement was made on Friday over 20,000 people have signed the petition asking Fr. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, to revoke this invitation.

That is not likely to happen, but a group of students have come up with a good perhaps compromise solution (as reported on American Papist):
Myself and eight other students, with more co-signing literally by the hour, have submitted a letter to Fr. Jenkins, asking to make a public, vocal statement that the university strongly disapproves with the President's actions. I invite you to read it on our Web site here.

Meanwhile, NRO is hosting a symposium A Moral Exemplar? Should the University of Notre Dame honor our most anti-life president? with people like George Weigel and Fr. Schall weighing in.

Prof. McInerny's essay, which Edith linked to, is excellent and powerful, and provacative for all the right reasons: "One has groaned at previous selections, but the invitation to Barack Obama is far from being the usual effort of the university to get into warm contact with the power figures of the day. It is an unequivocal abandonment of any pretense at being a Catholic university..."

I think the answer is clear: alumni and current students should contiue to be vocal about their disappointment in the University. And the rest can be left up to God.

So What Do You Make of This??

I saw this today, and I had to share. This morning, it was announced that President Barack Obama will be speaking at Notre Dame's commencement. Wow, yikes, shock. Professor of philosophy Ralph McInerny wrote in The Catholic Thing today responding to this...well...disappointment to say the least and travesty to say the most. He wonders what priest will say the commencement Mass...not an unworthy thought, right? Ok, ok, so Obama is not Catholic, but McInerny points out that the president Fr. Jenkins is. Will he say the Mass and receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ? McInerny does not think so, because praising an abortion president, inviting him to speak at your university's commencement, and honoring him there is right on par with abortion-supporting politicians, according to McInerny. But if he won't...then who will? McInerny hits the nail on the head when he writes:
By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker, Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic church on this fundamental matter can be ignored. Lip service may be paid to the teaching on abortion, but it is no impediment to upward mobility, to the truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society, whether on the part of individuals or institutions.

I don't even know what to think about this. I'm fighting fury and feelings of doom and gloom. What are your thoughts? What are we to do?

March 19, 2009

Let's Face It

I wear the same makeup everyday. The exact same makeup. One shade of eyeshadow, one shade of eyeliner. The only spicing up I do is in my blush or lip gloss, depending on the day...and I only have two options. Pathetic!!! Please help me to mix this up and channel some creativity. How do I find new shades that work for me without spending a lot of money trying to test out new products? Has anyone ever sat at a makeup counter and asked for help? And what kind of word is browbone, anyway? :)

March 18, 2009

On Fatherhood

So tomorrow is St. Joseph's day, and I've already posted on the person of Joseph, but I wanted to take some time to consider fatherhood. Who better to reveal human fatherhood than St. Joseph? I was just at a lecture given a priest on the gift of child-like faith and how it has been lost in post-modern secular society. He said what we primarily must recover is not just the sense of God as our Creator--but more importantly the sense of God as our Father, our loving Father. We might take for granted the words of Christ when He gave us the prayer the Our Father, but in fact, it was a very radical form of prayer to God. Israel would not even utter the name of God, and yet Christ tells us to invoke Him as our Father.

Why is this fatherhood so important and crucial to our time? Catholic psychologist Paul Vitz contends that nearly 9 times out of 10, those who subscribe to atheism had either absent fathers or bad relationships with their fathers. Our fathers encourage us, they protect us, they educate us, and they discipline us. But most importantly: they reflect God to us--they model His Fatherhood. (Just an aside-I don't know about you ladies, but I am such a daddy's girl and I love it! Yesterday, I picked up a book on Edith Stein that my father gave me and he wrote me a little not inside, telling me to pray to her to ask her intercession in my academic pursuits, as she was herself a doctoral student. It made me so happy to find that note; my father really instilled in me a devotion to her. I think sometimes fathers know their children better than the children know themselves). Our fathers are a blessing to us, and we should really take time to assess our relationship with our fathers and those relationships reflect ours with God.

There is one other event that got me thinking about fatherhood. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI declared June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010 a year for priests. I rejoiced!! (By the way, have I mentioned yet how much I LOVE THE POPE?) I love priests! It might sound simple, but I really do. I am so grateful for the great gift of our priests. Today, I asked God to increase their love, to give them courage and bravery, and to give them His consolations. Not only has God given us our earthly, biological fathers - but He also has given us spiritual fathers in priests, the ones who stand in the very person of Christ to help us attain our salvation. Our God is Our Father indeed. He is generous, He knows our needs, and He provides everything we need to know Him--especially through our fathers-whether they be our earthly fathers or our priests. When I think about this, it brings to mind the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 8 proclaiming, "O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens."

For the Feast of St. Joseph Part 2

My last post was a little cut off, so I decided to follow up my meditation with something a little bit deeper. There is a particular point that I wanted to revisit about St. Joseph, namely his role as guardian of the Holy Family. Have you ever heard of the devotion to Our Lady of America? The devotion is based upon the visions of Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil) in the Convent of the Precious Blood Sisters at Rome City, Indiana during the late 1950's. The crux of her message was to reveal the recognition of The Indwelling Most Holy Trinity in the Christian Family, with The Holy Family (Jesus, Mary & Joseph) as a model. Our Lady specifically asked Sister Mary Ephrem to pray for purity and promised manifold spiritual miracles to our country through our practice of purity. You can read the whole of the messages here.

Just as a side note, the visions have been canonically approved by the late Archbishop Leibold of Cincinnati and other bishops in the United States, but we are not of course, obliged to accept private revelations. I, however, find this devotion particularly beautiful and full of hope. But I seem to be digressing -- let me get to the point.

Sister Mary Ephrem had visions not only of the Blessed Virgin, but also of Christ and St. Joseph. She describes her vision of Joseph as:
His appearance, though quite youthful, gave at the same time the impression of rare maturity combined with great strength. He seemed a bit taller than medium height. The lines of his face appeared strong and purposeful, softened somewhat by a gentle serenity. I also saw his most pure heart at this time, Moreover, I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering above his head.

What I find even more beautiful are the words St. Joseph spoke to the Sister Mary Ephrem about himself and his role as guardian of Christ. He tells her:
It is true my daughter, that immediately after my conception, I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men. My pure heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God. Immediately, at the moment when my soul was cleansed from original sin, grace was infused into it in such abundance that, excluding my holy spouse, I surpassed the holiness of the highest angel in the angelic choir. My heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men. The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them.
Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross. I became, in union with my holy spouse, coredemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I co-operated, as no other, in the salvation of the world.

We hear so much of Mary's Immaculate heart and her sorrows, but how often do we stop to consider her holy spouse, Joseph? Although the above quotations given from a private revelation, how far-fetched is this? We see in Scripture that Joseph protected Jesus and Mary when Herod sought to slaughter him. And this is the man that God Himself chose to give such honor as to guard His only Son. Yes, St. Joseph is a righteous and mighty man indeed.

For his upcoming feast, let us ask him to pray for us, to pray for our purity and that of our husbands. Let us ask him to preserve our husbands, to protect them, and to bring them safely to us. Even if we've not met our husband yet, St. Joseph will, through the grace of God, watch over him for us and spiritually prepare us to meet. May all of my sisters go to Joseph with their prayers and may he protect us all!

Here is a common novena prayed to Joseph.
Icon of St. Joseph found here.

March 17, 2009

For the Feast of St. Joseph Part 1

Ok, ok, so it IS St. Patrick's day, so shouldn't I write on him? Well, I decided to write on St. Joseph instead, whose feast is coming up on the 19th. Not to slight the awesome of St. Patrick. And it's not just because I am Sicilian and therefore biased (though that might play some small role. I was inspired by Julian's post on the online dating scene. How, you ask, was I inspired to write about St. Joseph by a post on dating? Well, St. Joseph is not only the patron of the Church, workers, fathers, and of those departing life, but he is also one patron (along with St. Anthony of Padua and St. Agatha--I think) of those seeking to find their husband or wife. Yep, St. Joseph is one of many saints whose intercession we can invoke to help us find a holy husband. Let me tell you a little bit more about him to share with you my appreciation for this wonderful saint.

There is of course, very little about Joseph in the Scriptures. There is mention of him in Matthew 1 when the Angel tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. In Matthew 2 Joseph heeds the Angel again when he takes the Holy Family into Egypt to escape Herod. He's mentioned in Luke 2 at the Nativity. We know Joseph was a carpenter and taught the young Jesus this trade. Some traditions recount that Joseph was much older than Mary, and he is often depicted in art as an aging man. I however, like the tradition that recounts Joseph as a young, robust, brave, and beautiful man, who took a vow of celibacy with the Blessed Virgin out love of God and love of her blessed purity.

St. Joseph had an amazing privilege of guarding the family at Nazareth. What an awesome and almost unfathomable thing to be the human father to the young Jesus! It was Joseph who taught Jesus how to live in the world. It was Joseph who was the Holy Spouse of the Blessed Virgin. He is the model husband--the kind of man each of us longs for. Let us then pray to Joseph, asking him to intercede for us, to watch over our future husbands (or for those who are married-our husbands), and to keep our hearts as pure as his own. The next post will continue this meditation! In the meantime, St. Joseph-Pray for us!

Up-dating Your Dating Profile

Online dating. Is is even possible to date on the internet? Shouldn't it be called online set up? Online introduction? Whatever it is, this phenemenon is everywhere, and the pressure for singles to create and update a dating profile is mounting. After discussing this with my single friends in the years after college graduation, we vowed not to "go online" until we were desperate and in our thirties (neither of which go together!). And yet, less than five years out of college, a few of us put ourselves up for auction on dating sites: some Catholic, some secular, but all without success. Have our opinions about it changed? Yes and no.

My current thoughts? About the same prior to my venture online. I think that making a profile on a dating website is about the same as the use of instant messenger or text messaging to communicate. The question for the Christian is really "How often. how much, or to what degree will the use of technology detract from or enhance our interpersonal relationships and communication with others?" I really don't have the answer, but in my personal experience, the use of said technology is inhibiting my real connection with those I love and with the man that I hope to love.

Going online is no different from Facebook in the end. You make a "profile" of yourself, posting information about yourself, pictures, ways to contact you up for the world to see (or thankfully, a restricted world that you can select with privacy settings!). Is it really you? No, not at all. It is some sort of facade. Do I really communicate with friends by posting on their wall? No. It's just enough of a gesture to show that I noticed them or their new status or new pictures, but does not necessarily indicate that I have time or the desire for a full-fledged conversation (sorry, I digress). Is it the real me that I put online for auction? No. I try to be as true to myself as I am so that anyone who pokes or emails or whatever the specific term for contact is gets legitimate information, but it's not me. To get to know me you need time, patience, and a little chase. Hell, I need those things to get to know myself! The real me cannot be reduced to a two-dimensional screen. The real me has so many layers, including flaws, that emerge over time and need to be willingly accepted.

And so, for me, going online really isn't "putting yourself out there." It's creating possible opportnities for dating, but it's providing a facade that is inevitably going to be cracked when you go on the first date. It is a blind date, even if you have some sort of "idea" as to what your date's interests and goals are. But it lends itself to preconceived notions, which can lead to immediate disappointment if you were really holding out for them or expecting what you were led to expect.

As for Catholic-specific sites, I find it problematic that many ask you to rank loyalty to doctrine. If you are like me, you might be tempted to only go out with those who adhere to as many options as are listed. But aren't we also called to engage the world? Doesn't that include meeting and dating people who are not necessarily of the same mind? Isn't it more exciting to dialogue, to challenge, to discover similiarties and differences?

Of course these are just my opinions, from one who is still single after "going online" and meeting people through other people. There are expectations with both situations - when you are set up with someone who is thought to be a good "match." I don't know what the answer is. I do believe that God is not inhibited by anything, and that He is, if I may, the omnipotent and omniscient "yenta." If he wants to use a dot com to accomplish His will, then He will. My advice is to discern how, where, and to what degree God calls you to put yourself out there in the "dating game." I don't feel called to post a profile, but I readily ask friends if they know any good, single men, and I try to join groups with people who share my interests.

Continued prayers for my beautiful, single friends and those good, single men out there who remain hard to find (thanks, Flannery O'Connor!).

March 13, 2009

Christian Unity

This past year, God has really placed in my heart a desire to pray for and to help foster greater Christian unity. I have been mulling over this passage from John 17 (verses 18-24) for months:
As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me. Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.

I love this part of John 17, but I'd recommend meditating on the whole chapter. What a magnificent prayer of Our Lord to be prayed right before His Passion! Almost as if He just saw the whole history of Christianity right before His very eyes! Christ prays for us to be one--so that the world may know who He is. What a scandal it is for us to squabble amongst ourselves, and yet real divisions, deep wounds divide His followers. But how are we to show others who Christ is if we cannot even agree among ourselves? Where do we begin to heal this very real wounds that fracture His sacred, mystical body and separate us from each other?

Recently the Pope came out with a statement on the priority for Christian unity. He writes that unity is essential for leading the world to God. Let me just quote his most beautiful and eloquent words:
The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith -- ecumenism -- is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light -- this is interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love "to the end" has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity -- this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

Let us reflect this Easter on the priority of Christian unity, for it was one of the last and most fervent prayers of Our Lord on His way to Calvary...

Beautiful Bach

If you like classical music, do I have a suggestion for you! I am currently listening to a magnificent, young, female violinist Julia Fischer playing Bach's Partita No. 2 from NPR's website. You can listen to her play by clicking on the links on the left side of the page. I recommend especially the 'Chaconne' piece -- but the whole thing is so breathtakingly spectacular!

On Being Critical

Do you ever notice how women are so critical? For example, just the other day, I was looking at my blemishes close up in a mirror thinking how awful I must look, but when I stepped back to see myself, I realized that I actually looked quite lovely. Why are we women so critical -- not only of others, but also of ourselves? We are always quick to compare ourselves to others, their looks, their accomplishments, their clothes, shoes, friends -- everything! I was thinking about Julian's recent post about being down on herself and I could so relate to it!!! I am sure men struggle with this in their own way too, but women can be so judgmental and critical of themselves that they fail to see their goodness. I'm at a loss! What do you suggest to get out of being overly-critical and judgmental?

March 12, 2009

Is Food the New Sex?

The Hoover Institute's Mary Eberstadt just published an excellent essay Is Food the New Sex?, looking at two of the most basic appetites in human existence (food and sex) and how the attitudes towards those things have changed dramatically in the past 100 years.

It's a tremendously rich article, and I plan to discuss some of the elements in it in coming days, but here are a few preliminary quotes:
ordinary language itself verifies how similarly the two appetites are experienced, with many of the same words crossing over to describe what is desirable and undesirable in each case. In fact, we sometimes have trouble even talking about food without metaphorically invoking sex, and vice versa. In a hundred entangled ways, judging by either language or literature, the human mind juggles sex and food almost interchangeably at times. And why not? Both desires can make people do things they otherwise would not; and both are experienced at different times by most men and women as the most powerful of all human drives.

One more critical link between the appetites for sex and food is this: Both, if pursued without regard to consequence, can prove ruinous not only to oneself, but also to other people, and even to society itself. No doubt for that reason, both appetites have historically been subject in all civilizations to rules both formal and informal. Thus the potentially destructive forces of sex — disease, disorder, sexual aggression, sexual jealousy, and what used to be called “home-wrecking” — have been ameliorated in every recorded society by legal, social, and religious conventions, primarily stigma and punishment. Similarly, all societies have developed rules and rituals governing food in part to avoid the destructiveness of free-for-alls over scarce necessities. And while food rules may not always have been as stringent as sex rules, they have nevertheless been stringent as needed. Such is the meaning, for example, of being hanged for stealing a loaf of bread in the marketplace, or keel-hauled for plundering rations on a ship.

These disciplines imposed historically on access to food and sex now raise a question that has not come up before, probably because it was not even possible to imagine it until the lifetimes of the people reading this: What happens when, for the first time in history — at least in theory, and at least in the advanced nations — adult human beings are more or less free to have all the sex and food they want?

Read the whole article here.

March 11, 2009


Congratulations, Edith, on your academic accomplishments.  Not only are you stunning, funny, witty, and joyous, but you kick some serious PhD butt! 

Your sisters are so proud of you!!!! 

March 9, 2009

I Love the Pope!

This will probably be one of many blogs of this title because anyone who knows me know that I really do LOVE THE POPE (he and Fr. James Schall are hands down my two favorite members of the clergy). Anyway, Pope Benedict XVI commented yesterday for International Women's Day (by the way, happy belated Women's day), praising women for their work in the world and calling for a renewed commitment to the dignity of women. He spoke of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and recalled Pope John Paul II's wonderful letter on women, Mulieris Dignitatem (I would highly recommend it!) So, from the Vatican -- hats off to all the ladies. Hope you all enjoyed your day and rejoice in the great gift of femininity!

March 8, 2009

Following the Rules

Today after Mass, I ran into some friends of mine who have three beautiful little children, two boys and a precious little girl. One of the little boys was happily showing off to me his shark tooth necklace that he got on a recent trip to the beach, telling me that he could definitely wrestle the shark for his tooth, even though this time he did not. His little sister, however, who is about 2 or 3 years old, came up to me proudly (but shyly) showing off her little Sleeping Beauty doll. As she showed me Sleeping Beauty's pretty blue dress (and of course pointed out how she too, had a very similar blue dress on), she whispered to me "This is Sleeping Beauty. She is dancing, and she is waiting for her prince.' Ha. I thought to myself -- she is already in trouble!! Even that young! Oh, aren't we all just 'waiting for our prince'!!!

The morning conversation made me think of Julian's latest post on dating , which left me cracking up!! How many times have we women thought that same thing on date one?? We just want to cut to the chase, are you my prince, my one and only, the husband who leave my life with that perfect, wedded bliss? Oh, if only it were that easy! How many times have you found yourself out on a date with a man, who is perfectly nice, but you are imagining what your name will sound like with his last name? Or maybe you might go so far as to imagine how he would propose to you? Or maybe you are wondering how many children he wants?? Yes, women are really crazy, but we all do it, and we all need to STOP ourselves from doing this. When we imagine these kinds of things, I think a few very bad things happen. Let me list them. A. We rob ourselves of getting to know a perfectly good human being (and probably any potential future). B. We delude ourselves with ideals and lofty notions of perfection and bliss, often setting ourselves up for failures and disappointments. C. We send the poor guy running, cause if the wheels are turning, he's sure to suspect it!

How do we stop this crazy--practically instinctual--imagination from running away on us??? A friend of mine's mother recommended this book to me called 'The Rules.' Some of it is pretty silly, but some of it is totally true (in fact most of it!) It tells women essentially to be hard to get! Let the man do the work, be yourself, and let him pursue you. Men need to feel like they have earned the woman they love; and above all, they do not want to be pursued. One rule stuck out in my mind: it was the rule telling women NOT to imagine yourself married after date one, two, three, four, five, etc! Don't imagine your marriage! Spending time imagining scenarios that may or may not happen obscures the reality of the relationship, which could very well be a bad one. Here's a preview to the book. I recommend it (though it could stand to be supplemented for women with a faith oriented view on dating).

I think what's important to remember is this: for those of us who are called to marriage (and even for those who are not)-- we do seek to be loved, appreciated for who we are. But above all as women we want to return that love, we want to nurture human lives, and give comfort to those around us. Those are good desires to have! But with dating, it's a fine line between discerning whether a man might be a good husband for you, and imagining a life that in all reality probably cannot exist with any man. The best thing to do is to sit back, let him come to you -- and if he doesn't, his loss and move on! Mr. Right is not the perfect human being (and neither is the Mrs. Right we aspire to be), but he will be perfect for you!

A Lenten Tool

Just thought I'd share this site with you all. The Vatican is offering a Lenten site where you can find prayers, hymns, calendars and more. I am listening to some of the hymns right now. Gorgeous!

March 7, 2009

Are You My Husband?

Dating.  Let's face it.  It can be very awkward.  It can be fun and wonderful, but in the beginning, it's awkward.  

1) You meet someone that you might not know very well (or possibly someone who was a friend and is now potentially more), and you pick a setting to get to know one another.  The setting can dictate the conversation or it can stifle it.  If it's an enjoyable outing then you make plans to meet again, in a new type of setting hoping to learn more about the other person. (Although, sometimes you might give the guy a second date just to make sure that the first really was as bad as you thought!)   

2) Young professionals need to schedule these meetings around their work and social agendas, and so they are not spontaneous and rarely follow the whims and movements of anyone's affections. College provided the opportunity to bump into each other in the library or in the dining hall and to go for midnight walks or sit on the sidelines of a soccer game together.  

3) If you are like me, by the mid-twenties the temptation to solely consider dating as a browsing through the possibilities of a potential husband while having an attitude of "let's get these initial dates out of the way and skip to the relationship part" is all-consuming.  I call it the "Are you my husband?" syndrome, because it reminds me of Dr. Suess' story of a little bird who is looking for his mother and stops to ask various animals if they are indeed who he is looking for.  

This Dr. Suess Syndrome is really the only thing that I feel I can change to make the process less awkward.  Though I know that a basic human instinct is to find a mate, it's easy to get lost in the present when I'm essentially sizing up each man that I go out with from the get-go to be my husband.  A wise colleague advised me to enjoy the other's company, to stay in the present moment, and to really connect on a human level and get to know each individual man.  

Although the little bird in the story eventually finds his mother (how nice for us if life was tidied up so neatly!), I do not know how my own story will end or how my single vocation will deepen or be changed into a married one.  I think it would have been hard to sit the bird down and say, "Just enjoy the journey of finding your's all about the ride." But the single life really isn't about the frantic search for a husband.  It is a vocation rooted in the present moment, in the gray, and although it can be filled with awkward first date stories and unfortunate conversations over dinner, it's okay for now that the plot line is uncertain.  

March 5, 2009


"The Guy That Says Goodbye To You Is Out Of His Mind"
by Griffin House

great lyrics:
You don't need to change
A thing about you babe
I'm telling you from where I sit
You're one of a kind
But the guy that says goodbye to you
is out of his mind

March 4, 2009


For Edith today, as she takes her comps:
Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

(Prayer for Students by St. Thomas Aquinas)

A Lenten Rose

Last night, waiting for the metro, a frail, young homeless man walked up to me, hand extended offering me a little red rose. I said "no thank you" but he insisted, and finally I took it.

"Do you know what it is?"
"A rose?" (It was tiny, delicate and beautiful: more like a desert rose, with very few petals and deep red tips.)

"Yes! It's a Lenten rose." he replied, and then asked if I had a dollar to spare. Wishing I had a candy bar or power bar stuffed in my purse, I stammered, and before I could even get out an excuse he turned away and walked on down the platform, digging into his paper bag, presumably for another rose.

I closed my eyes, second guessing myself, frustrated with being a woman, and therefore vunerable, and gaurded at the same time (I find dealing with the homeless the most difficult test for feminine virtue). I prayed a quick Hail Mary for him, and went back to my magazine.

When I looked back up the platform, there was no sight of him. But there were several young women, beaming, as they gazed at and smelled their Lenten roses.
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