July 28, 2009
"I never knew of any interference on the part of the wicked fairy that did not turn out a good thing in the end. What a good thing, for instance, it was that one princess should sleep for a hundred years! Was she not saved from all the plague of young men who were not worthy of her? And did she not come awake exactly at the right moment when the right prince kissed her? For my part, I cannot help wishing a good many girls would sleep till just the same fate overtook them. It would be happier for them, and more agreeable to their friends." --George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind
July 25, 2009
In our continued celebration of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalane (July 22nd), I want to share with you the full Sermon of Pope St. Gregory the Great, read ont eh feast of St. Mary Magdalene, in the Divine Office:
When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.
At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.
Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.
Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognised when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognise me as I recognise you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognises who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.
July 24, 2009
Here is another hymn/poem to Mary Magdalene, this time from Fr. Frederick Faber the author of so many important religious texts such as Growth in Holiness and Precious Blood:
They Sweet Fragrance of thine ointment
All the earth is filling now;
And thy tears are turned to jewels
For a crown upon thy brow:
There are thousands in all ages
Come to Christ because of thee,
Oh then, Mary, with thy converts
In thy kindness number me!
(Find the whole hymn here.)
July 23, 2009
Aha! There is a Hymn for the memorial of Mary Magdalene:
Who can now presume to fear?
Who despair his Lord to see?
Jesus, wilt Thou not appear,
Show Thyself alive to me?
Yea, my God, I dare not doubt,
Thou shalt all my sins remove;
Thou hast cast a legion out,
Thou wilt perfect me in love.
Surely Thou hast called me now!
Now I hear the voice divine,
At Thy wounded feet I bow,
Wounded for whose sins but mine!
I have nailed Him to the tree,
I have sent Him to the grave:
But the Lord is ris’n for me,
Hold of Him by faith I have.
Here for ever I would lie,
Didst Thou not Thy servant raise,
Send me forth to testify
All the wonders of Thy grace.
Lo! I at Thy bidding go,
Gladly to Thy followers tell
They their rising God may know,
They the life of Christ may feel.
July 22, 2009
(The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Magdalen of Night Light is at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Penitent Magdalen is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Repentant Magdalen is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.)
July 17, 2009
It is a fact universally acknowledged that every girl on the face of the earth has already planned their wedding.
Now, I've been in a lot of weddings, and had more friends get married than I can keep track of. So not only do I have a list of things I want (my mother's roses, tulle, little jars of homemade jam as favors, sparklers), I also have a list of things I absolutely forbid. And they all revolve around one thing: The Bridesmaid Dress.
This is the single most argued about and hated element of a wedding. It's too expensive, too ugly, too dated, too fancy, too everything to be just right. I've been in 4 weddings, and been lucky enough to only have one dress I hated. But of the other three there was only one that I loved--the others were just beautiful, but they were the Bride's style, not mine.
Here are the rules:
1) Don't pick a satin wedding dress, unless you're willing to pay for good satin. You know, really good satin
2) Unless you're a princess, and your wedding might be confused with the opening gala of the Metropolitan opera, don't make us wear full length dresses. Even if they're as beautiful as this.
3) Pastels will always look like prom. Especially if the dresses are long (see rule #2) or made of cheap fabric (see rule #1).
4) You chose us for US. If at all possible let us style our hair as we like, and choose our own shoes. Seriously.
5) And speaking of accessories, women no longer wear gloves. It's a shame, I know. I frequently wish we did. But if you're going to bring them back for your wedding, then here's what you should know: they should be white, and made of cotton, linen, silk, kid-leather or very fine crocheted lace--only natural fibers! They should not be colored. They should not be satin. They should not be stretchy polyester. And most of all they should not be fuschia fingerless satin with applique and ruching
6) You might as well know, no matter how much we like the dress, honestly, we won't wear it again. All but the most beautiful and expensive bridesmiad dresses still look like bridesmaid dresses.
What's the good news? It's one of the big mysteries of life, but, even if you do choose a cheap-satin full-length pastel-green dress with polyester ruched gloves, and matching shoes--we'll probably look beautiful anyway. Because, let's face it, we're the frame, and you're the masterpiece. And we're glad to be there for you.
(Just don't be offended when we give it away afterward.)
July 14, 2009
Just thought some of you might need some comfort!
Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life. Rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.The same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
-a prayer of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
July 13, 2009
I'd like to recommend an addition to any single lady's summer reading list (well, to anyone's, really!) by the name of Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of the Single Life in the Twenty-First Century by Jennifer A. Marshall of The Heritage Foundation. I saw her book on the shelf at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., and bought it on impulse. (Sidenote: there was an incredibly good-looking clerk working that day, so I was praying he wasn't reading the title, but I think he got a glance).
“To God who has so abundantly blessed the church through the Dominican Order; may the Order of Preachers, under the mantle of the Mother of God, continue to flourish in fraternal love purified in obedience to the truth.”
--Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
July 9, 2009
(then again...maybe not.)
July 7, 2009
Yesterday was the feast of St. Maria Goretti, and you should check out Julian's thoughts about this amazing saint, posted yesterday. Meanwhile I wanted to share with you a quick thought and a link.
When I realized it was her feast day yesterday morning, I went immediately to do a Google Image Search of her name to find an icon that we could put up on the blog. Aside from a grainy image of her incoroupt body, the only images I could find were in the sappy wide-eyed innocent holy card style. I grew up with those images, and I love them in a way, but they never do her, or any saint justice.
Of course I also grew up hearing the story of St. Maria Goretti repeated, as it is often done to catholic school girls, to me and my friends. But it wasn't until college, when a feisty Dominican professor told us on the verge of tears the story of her martyrdom that I really was moved by her life and death. He told a story of bold, almost rash, courage which defied the world and its false promises, and then, when victorious, turned gentle and gracious. I didn't look around when he finished the story, but I was certain there wasn't a dry eye.
So when I look at those sickly/innocent drawings of a little girl, I see none of her strength. St. Maria Goretti is all the more remarkable for having been a young girl when she died. But she was no child--she was more adult, and yet more innocent, than I will ever be, and to think of her as a sweet little school girl is to miss the point.
Then, stumbling through Google Images, I came across this stunning painting, by Noah Buchanan for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Maria Goretti stands, facing us, engaging our eyes, in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But most striking of all is Allessandro Serenelli, her murderer, bound on the floor, reaching up to the lily Maria is giving him. This painting, to me, tells the whole story, with its pain, its grace, its strength, and its love.
July 6, 2009
Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. Her father died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children.
In 1902 an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather died than submit, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife.
As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. Her death didn't end her forgivness, however.
Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withold forgiveness," she said.
When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter's crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth.
She is called a martyr because she fought against Alexander's attempts at sexual assault. However, the most important aspect of her story is her forgiveness of her attacker -- her concern for her enemy extending even beyond death. Her feast day is July 6. St. Maria Goretti is the patroness of youth and for the victims of rape.
I originally chose Maria Goretti for her namesake, as I had many female, Italian role models by her name in my own family after whom I wanted to model my life. In all honesty, I did not give much thought to her in the beginning stages of my adult faith life, although I was conscientiously growing in my religious practices and devotions. However, a few years ago in prayer, I suddenly *knew* out of the clear blue, that it was St. Maria Goretti who had been interceding for me for a decade to maintain my virginity for the decade or so after my confirmation. It was as if she let me know, in a moment of prayer about my life and my purity or heart, that it had been she who had been responsible for me. Since that time, I have begun to appreciate her role in my life even more, and I am drawn to ask for her prayers for victims of sexual assault in my circle of family and friends. She has so much to offer those who will draw near to her, and she is definitely a kindred spirit of the Magdalene Sisters in heaven!