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

August 30, 2009

Augustine cont'd

I wanted to add a little note about my love for St. Augustine, which I developed as a graduate student. I took a class on the saint taught by an absolutely wonderful Augustinian priest and scholar who passed away long before his time last year. I know he left me and a dear friend of mine from the program with a deep thirst for more Augustine in the future.

A few things that have stayed with me are the fact that Fr. M said that Augustine believed that our family, extended family, and friends are the souls that God providentially puts in our lives so that we might help them get to heaven. It's an interesting way to look at family who we love (although don't always like). God has chosen them for us, even if we wouldn't choose them ourselves. I wish I had the citation of the work, but it was just a passing comment that stayed with me.

The other thing that I want to post is his famous acclamation of the Lord in Book X of The Confessions.

Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and new,
late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made I rushed headlong,
I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

What a stunning masterpiece of a song of praise to the Lord who seeks each of our hearts with such fervor. Augustine reminds me that my deepest longings to be loved by someone here are already filled beyond measure by the One who seeks me endlessly. Late have I loved you...

A Teacher Always Learns

I have had the joy of teaching two classes of American politics at my university, and I am already so excited for the time I will spend with them in the classroom. I have mostly freshmen and sophomores, and they are still so -- not jaded or lazy -- that I just love their enthusiasm. I had one very interesting moment on the first day of class. I asked my class of 40 what the first thing they thought of was when they thought of American politics. The class consensus was 'corruption.' Wow, I was blown away. I would have said "the Constitution" or "republicanism," but it seems that today's young people (okay, well younger people) are so disillusioned with their own government. When I asked why, they said it was because they had no idea what was going in the government, and you know, they might be right. I guess maybe I should learn from them and be a little more skeptical too.

Anyway, it got me thinking and reflecting. These kids have no faith in their own country and that's a pretty scary sign. Now, I teach at a secular institution in a very Catholic state. I know that many (but not all) of my students are Catholic -- but to bring Catholicism into the classroom is in some ways inappropriate. (BTW, I freaked myself out when I made a comment in front of my class that made me seem like a raging feminist and a relativist....I turned so red and kind of tripped up my words. I could not believe I did, especially since every day before I teach, I pray to the Lord to help my words in small way lead them to Him. Any advice on how to find the balance between faith and reason in the classroom of a public and secular institution??)

I decided that even if I cannot always bring up the faith in the classroom, I can do it here. So, I think I will start a new column about the history and the future of the Catholic Church in our country. It will debut next week (probably Friday, as I am so ill and really need to get some rest!) Let's give our young people something they can have faith in -- and learn how to hope again!

August 28, 2009

"Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in Thee"

Today is the feast of St. Augustine, who is so very dear to me. Indeed, I spent the summer in his homeland -- the place where he got into most of his trouble as a young man. In college, I spent a semester reading as many of his books and books about him as humanly possible. He has formed me so much! So, I wish you all a very happy feast of St. Augustine. May he intercede for you in all of your intentions - and we especially ask him to pray for Christians in his homeland.

If you have never read any Augustine, I would suggest starting with his Confessions. I'll leave you with a quote from it:

Who am I and what am I? What was not evil in my deeds, or if not my deeds, in my words or, if not my words, in my intention? But you, Lord, are 'good and merciful.' Your right hand had regard to the depth of my dead condition, and from the bottom of my heart had drawn out a trough of corruption. The nub of the problem was to reject my own will and to desire yours. But where through so many years was my freedom of will? From what deep and hidden recess was it called out in a moment? Thereby I submitted my neck to your easy yoke and my shoulders to your light burden, O Christ Jesus 'my helper and redeemer.'

August 27, 2009

The New Vocation

You may have noticed a few changes on the blog recently. The header now reads: "Three women trying to figure out what it means to be Catholic, lay, and modern all at once." Oh, and there's a new widget in the sidebar: a countdown (in lovely pink and borcade) to Edith's wedding next February.

That's right. We've mentioned it before, but now I guess its time for hearty well wishes, because Edith is getting married, and Julian and I couldn't be more thrilled. We started this blog to discuss the single life, but we've ended up talking less about the single vocation and more about how to live well.

For some people, the single vocation is a permanent thing. For others (for Edith, now) it is temporary. But the call to holiness is universal. What we need to learn is how to live out our specific vocation by every thing we do and every choice we make.

Please join us as we continue to walk this road together, changes and all.

August 26, 2009

Edith's Words of Wisdom for the Worriers of the World

...That's Edith Stein, of course. It's just a little prayer I feel my sisters and I need right now!

Prayer from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

When night comes, and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in God's hands, and offer it to Him. In this way, we will be able to rest in Him, actually to rest and to begin the new day like a new life.

Source here from Women for Faith and Family

A Token from Tolkein

I'm sad to say that it's taken me 25 years to read Lord of the Rings, but it's true. However, I am about 75% through the first book, and I'm seriously loving it. I know there is essay after essay on the Catholic elements of Tolkein's book, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite moments and passages so far. For a single girl like me who is is 1) waiting on the Lord and 2) contemplating what God is calling her to, these two passages have really struck a chord:

Not all that is gold glitters/Not all who wander are lost.
How many times have I written about feeling homeless? Truly though, even if I am wandering, I am still on a path that has an end in sight, and a God as that end, no less.
"I will take the ring," he said, "though I do not know the way." Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. "If I understand aright all that I have heard," he said, "I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will...But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right."

And how many times do I feel that I would choose something for myself other than God's will for my singleness right now? I need to choose it freely with God and for God because it has been ordained for me.

Lessons on the single life from a little hobbit...who knew!

August 24, 2009

Life in the Fast(ing) Lane

So, I'm in a real spiritual drought. Seriously, it's too much information for one post, but I'm having trouble turning to the Lord in prayer these days, asking for things that I need (or at least what I think my needs are). I have a long history of doing this, and it's getting old. However, in order to think of Christ on a daily basis, I want to be doing something, anything, little things, throughout the day even if I'm having trouble talking to Him.

One thing I have been encouraged to do is to fast from things for the Lord and to make Him small offerings during the day to bring my attention to Him and to His sacrifice for me. As some of you know, I am highly allergic to a lot of food, and so mortification at the lunch and dinner table is pretty much out (and I'm seriously no saint who can literally fast from all food!). Do you have any ideas about things I can abstain from during the day? I'm so uncreative, it's not funny!


The Fig Tree

Oh my, I loved today's readings for the Feast of St. Bartholomew (Who knew, Bartholomew and Nathanael are one in the same...)
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The sermon I heard today spoke of the cynicism of the world, which Nathanael embodies when he says "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"--a cynicism of failed hopes, of lost causes, and old sorrows. Philip's response is perfect: "Come and see." (Oh, I love Philip--that's the only thing you can say to a cynic. No logic will break him.)

In re-reading the passage I am struck by the surge of emotion with which Nathanael responds to Christ. Jesus simply says "I saw you under the fig tree," and this makes Nathanael believe. I wonder what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree. Was he despairing? Was he empty? Was he bargaining with God? Was he like Augustine in the garden, begging for an act of grace? Or was he just eating his lunch, resting, praying?

It is one of those details (like Jesus drawing in the dust before the adulterous woman) that makes the Gospel so real and present. Open question though it may be, it reminds me that God is with us in every moment, no matter how small.

(Fig and Knife, by Julian Merrow-Smith.)

August 23, 2009

Can Men and Women Be Friends?

For some time now this question has been in the back, well, actually in the front, of my mind. Agatha and I have discussed it briefly, but I think it's an important topic to broach with the sisters and our readers. Instead of jumping into my not-yet-formed opinion on the matter, I'll begin with a clip from when Harry Met Sally, possibly one of the most humorous, yet thorough, studies on men, women, friendship, sex, love, and all of the ambiguity in between. Here's Harry's take on the matter, in case you are unfamiliar with it:

August 21, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request for A Fellow Sister

Dear Sisters,
Please pray for Rifqa Bary, the young Muslim woman I spoke of in a previous post. According to this news story, she will be sent back to her family. If she sent back, it is likely that they will kill her. She was threatened, and that is why she left. Prayer for her life, pray for her family -- that their hearts may change. We entreat you, Our Lady, Help of Christians, protect your beautiful daughter.

Reading List: Kay Hymowitz

I first encountered Kay Hymowitz in the Winter 2008 Issue of City Journal. She wrote a fantastic essay exploring the problem of permanent adolescence of 20 something men. Since then, this author of Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age and Liberation's Children: Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age has published half a dozen penetrating articles which all explore the culture of sex, marriage, child-rearing, and the culture at large.

Meanwhile, in the Winter 2009 issue of City Journal, she discussed the explosive article from NY Times Magazine, Her Body, My Baby, about a Southhampton trophy-wife and the woman who carried her baby. The article caused a huge amount of controversy, especially with regards to questions of class and wealth. Ms. Hymowitz, interestingly, looked to the culture (there is a culture?!) of surrogate moms to point out:
...The truth is that surrogates—Americans, at any rate—show few signs of feeling exploited. On the contrary, these proletarians pity their managers. Many working- or lower-middle-class women who become surrogates already have three or more kids of their own. These women don’t just love children; they adore the whole leaky, clumsy, achy mess of pregnancy and childbirth. On surrogacy website forums, “surro-moms” download sonograms, post pictures of their bellies, muse about their IMs (intended mothers), and decorate their posts with rainbows and butterflies.

In other words, despite their radical line of work, surrogates tend to be profoundly conservative when it comes to their female identity. They experience the sort of visceral fulfillment in pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood that their better-educated and wealthier sisters find somewhat alien.

A fascinatng angle on a controversial and by no means simple question.

Read more from Ms. Hymowitz here.

August 19, 2009

يسوع المسيح

Which is pronounced "yes-oo-ah al-masiha" and translates "Jesus, the Messiah." If there was one thing God taught me while I was in the Muslim world is the power of the name of Jesus. It was something that even most Muslims did not want to talk to me about or utter...probably because of this power! How often do we just stop and think about how powerful is His name? I know I could do much better at this!

While I was in North Africa, I experienced a society without Christ. Well, let me re-phrase. Christ of course, is Lord of all creation, but the people in this society willfully reject Him for the prophet Muhammad. So, God opened my eyes to see what the world would be like without His Son. But just the name, just the precious name of the Lord being uttered upon the lips of even one person can make all the difference. So, my sisters, the next time you find yourself in darkness or trouble, just utter His name. And couple it with a "Mary and Joseph" and you got yourself a weapon so powerful that nothing will be able to come against you!

Miss Manners on Being Single

Dear Miss Manners:

I am 40 years old, and by a series of unfortunate events and three broken engagements in the past two decades, still a single woman. This is not necessarily a status that I celebrate.

I am accepting of it for now, but I would like people to understand that I do not come to this place in my life by choice. The common misconceptions are that I am either much too picky or that I somehow enjoy being a free, single woman. Neither is true. Only my close friends understand how painful it is for me to be alone at this stage of my life.

At weddings, I just dread having to dodge yet another "throwing of the bouquet" tradition, where it seems everyone at the reception thinks it's fun to shove any single female, including toddlers, out on the dance floor to battle for that "prize."

At what point do they realize that I don't want to bring attention to the fact that I'm single? The tragedy and embarrassment of it for me has long outlived the original ceremonial spirit of this youthful custom.

Gentle Reader:

That you find this custom silly and dislike being pushed into it, Miss Manners can understand. But that is the only thing you have stated that she does understand.

Why should you be embarrassed to be single? But since you are embarrassed, why do you object to people thinking that you enjoy your life? And why would you not want it known that you are single when attending a social event where there might be eligible gentlemen?

However, Miss Manners' job is to answer the question. If you are pushed forward, take the hand of one of those toddlers -- whose presence incidentally shows that no one but you takes this seriously -- and help her catch the bouquet.

(From The Washington Post)

August 17, 2009

The Sacrament at the Present Moment....

....For me is marriage. I was re-reading Julian's wonderful post on the Sacrament of the Present Moment and then it got me thinking about the sacrament I am about to take....marriage. After all the flowers, satin, veil, lace, cake, and honeymoon are finished -- the couple must realize that they are in a marriage. My fiance and I are realizing together: MARRIAGE IS REALLY BIG DEAL! He's been dealing with some of his own personal issues, I've been busy planning and looking at gowns and flowers, and we've been planning our pre-Cana and NFP classes and then we stop to take a breath. And we look at each other. And we realize what we are about to undergo. A major sacrament! Sometimes in the midst of all the hoopla, it's very easy to lose sight of that major little fact. Yes major little fact.

But my fiance and I are doing our best to stay on point and focus on what we are doing together -- and that is what Julian emphasized in her post: the will of God. We realized that we are subject to major spiritual attacks and that prayer is the only weapon we have. But when we have faith, prayer, hope in the Lord, and when we seek His will diligently--only then we can stay focused (and sane). Isn't that in part what a sacrament is all about? The sacrament of the Eucharist is made possible because Christ obeyed the will of His Father. So even though it's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment, it's so crucial to establish a habit of prayer and reflection as a couple. It's something that will indeed continue to redeem your married life together. So as I embark on this sacrament of my present moment -- I will be sure to share with all of my sisters the lessons that the Lord will most graciously teach me along the way.

August 14, 2009

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

Well sisters and readers, I'm off to the Outer Banks for a vacation with my best friend and my parents. I'll be sure to post when I return. In the meantime, enjoy the old school beats!

Freedom: Thoughts on the Feast of Maximilian Kolbe

Dear sisters,
My mind has been in 10,000 places lately!! As I explained in my last post, I have just returned from North Africa, and have been trying very to process the experience. I just cannot seem to get my hands on enough books about Christians living in Muslim countries, or Muslims who convert to Islam. I've been reading lots of articles and books on the lack of religious freedom in Muslim countries for Christians. For example, the most ancient Christian community that has been in Iraq since 35 AD is being driven out by radical Muslims.

And it happens on our own soul. Here's another true woman warrior...Rifqa Bary. Here is her story - beware -- it's utterly heart-rending:

Why, Lord? Why? She has such bravery. She is beautiful. What can we do to ensure freedom for His people?

So now I come to today's saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe. He knows what it is like to live under the shadow of the point of death. He gave himself in an act of love willingly. Kolbe was a priest of the Lord, and he gave his life on this day in Auschwitz to save a Jewish man who had children. That man survived to see his family again. St. Fr. Kolbe, our brother, pray for us. Pray for those who are persecuted for their faith and for their love of Christ. Help us to obtain the grace that all in the world may live in freedom -- that true freedom that only Christ can give. Amen.

August 11, 2009

A True Woman Warrior

Here's to Eunice Shriver, who served life in all of its stages and in all of its unique packages. Thanks for teaching us women how to serve our country, our culture, and our Church. Resquiat in pacem.

August 10, 2009

The Ring of Fire

I told him I wanted to take things slow; he told me he loved me. I stayed silent, pulled away. He pressed me again, saying "I love you," and I only responded, "Yes. I heard you." That obviously wasn't the answer he wanted, so we turned, and continued walking up the dark silent street.

I was confused, excited, flattered, but I don't think I was in love yet. I wasn't even sure what "I love you" really meant--though maybe that was part of my problem. I over-thought rather than felt. I certainly loved being with him; kissing him; wandering and adventuring with him. He was new, different, older, but still silly, light, and carefree. He wore hats, liked Dickens and Johnny Cash, and seemed to know everything about our city. And, he saw something in me he liked. Or "loved," apparently.

But I remember that night very clearly, because, as we walked towards the park, I started to tell him about the mosaics in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, in Ravenna, Italy. We had studied that building in class earlier that day, and it stirred something deep inside me, a passion I wanted desperately to share:
The building was plain brick on the outside, with very few windows. An unremarkable building, except of course for the fact that it was built in 430 AD, and is still standing, it reminded me of old train stations in gritty Pennsylvania towns. But it was like a jewel box inside—covered with the most brilliant shining mosaics. One showed St. Lawrence and his grill, another showed the good shepherd. And the colors! Oh, dear, they were so beautiful. It took my breath away: bright blue, shimmering gold, soft whites, and dangerous reds and oranges. . . I was thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful to study art history? Every painting is a new story, a new life, a new beauty. And I could spend my life studying them—wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I am sad to say, he only scoffed. I can’t remember what he said, but he thought the idea was foolish, a waste, no more than a silly dream of a school girl who had no sense of reality or familial, worldly burdens. I think he even thought it was a waste intellectually. I was crestfallen, dropped the subject, and we continued walking. But for the nine months of our relationship I didn’t let myself consider a future in the arts, and by the time we broke up, and I got over it all, I was on a very different path.

The fact is, I was a silly school girl--but my innocence and my ideals certainly didn’t need to be squashed. Now it has been a long time since I dated him; years since I have seen him. And I am older, wiser, more prudent. I can remember the fire--fire is the usual word for it, though I don’t think it is apt--that made me smother some of my dreams for the sake of the ones we built together. But none of those dreams came to pass; and now my older wiser self looks as that “fire” and rejects it. I remember being moved; I remember passion and thrill and excitement; but I don’t understand it.

At the center of all this stands St. Lawrence, who's feast day is today. A deacon and martyr of the Early Church (he died in 258 AD), he was burnt alive on a grid-iron. He is a favorite of school-kids, since he (apocryphally?) said as he was roasting away, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” He is the patron of firefighters, naturally, and of cooks, deacons, and comedians. (He is also a patron of librarians and archivists, because he was the “keeper of the treasures of the church” while Christianity was outlawed in Rome in his lifetime.) To me, he will always represents the real fire of love: an all consuming passion for Our Lord that drives us to do any number of rash and foolish things, like laughing in the face of death, and finally, giving up our lives for another. Is it possible to have that sort of love for another human being? Is it even good?

He told me he loved me; eventually I told him the same. We were sincere; we were naive; we were honest. But I don’t think either of us really knew what "love" meant.

(All photos of the Mausoleum from Wikipedia or Sacred Destinations.)

August 9, 2009

For the Feast of Edith Stein

For the feast of Edith Stein,

Hello, dear readers. Yes, as you know, I have been remarkably absent from our blog, absent from my sisters, absent from the country….literally. But, in one week, I returned to the United States from North Africa, got engaged at the airport (yes, my now fiancé simply could not wait one more minute to propose to me after I had been gone for two months), I reserved the Church and reception site for our wedding, talked to my professors about teaching classes and my dissertation topic, and also found my wedding gown – but did not buy because it’s too expensive, but I love it. All in less than a week’s work.

I decided that today should be the day I “re-debut” – on the feast of my patroness, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, or Edith Stein. I know that she got me through this time, and for some reason, I know that St. Therese the Little Flower was with me too. I have a lot of ‘Theresa’ saints on my side. This blog will be less about Teresa and more about how she helped me get through a very difficult experience abroad. As I get myself back on track from being in Africa, I find there are so many things I need to refocus on. As I told my sisters when I returned, my time in North Africa was the most difficult time in my life. I studied Arabic intensively, did quite well in the program, I lived with a native family, I lived in a Muslim country as a Christian…and that was the most trying experience I have ever had.

Now, I have nothing against Muslims whatsoever. I think there are customs and traditions in the Muslim faith that are quite beautiful. In fact, I find the veil – the hijab – one of those beautiful traditions. While I could not agree with the reasons many women gave me for wearing the hijab (such as “I am not an object anymore when I wear it” – my reply “You were never an object, who told you that you were??”) , I could respect the women who told me that they wore the veil to show their love for Allah. But the women were such a conundrum. They wanted to be secular and worldly, but in secret. Many of them felt that if they wore the hijab (which is not compulsory in the country I was in), they would have a better chance of getting a husband because he would think she was pure and pious. But when they met me, they assumed that I must drink, have sex, live with my boyfriend – all things they wanted to do. And, they absolutely adored radical feminist authors….conundrum!!

But after being proselytized – yes everyone does indeed want you to convert – I am more confused about Islam. In the country where I lived, it seemed that the Islam practiced was more reliant upon superstition than upon faith formed in love. The God that they spoke of is a whimsical God who wills all, for good or for bad, and man must just accept it. To try to understand that will is considered irreverent. The religion practiced there was rent with a kind of worldliness that I still do not understand how to process. Now, I don’t know if this is Islam, but it is the Islam that I was exposed to while I was there….

Which brings me to the experience of being a Christian in this Muslim country. I was able to go to Mass, thank God. The Lord is so very good because He even gave me a Catholic Church within walking distance of my school. Masses were always in French, which was a shame – I would have loved to have listened to it in Arabic. But the Christians were a bit stand-offish. There is an unspoken tension there against Christians. I encountered VERY FEW Arab Christians, most were African ex-pats or European tourists (oddly, many Polish tourists in North Africa). Even the clergy members seemed skeptical of me, as I look quite Arab. It was so strange for me to be such an outsider even among my own people.

There were days, my sisters, that I would just cry and cry because I felt God was not there. There were days when my host mother showed me the virtues of my Heavenly Mother, and I was overflowing with joy. There were days when prayer was burden, and I simply had a block to prayer. There were days I doubted God, doubted the Church, doubted His Love and Grace. There were days when I did not even understand how God could let His Son die upon the Cross. There were days when nothing made sense to me whatsoever. Then there were days I would go into the Church and cry tears of joy because I knew He was there and that He loved me so much, and everything fell back into place.

But God showed me something. He revealed to me the RADICALITY of Christ’s love. He revealed to me a society that does not know Christ in His fullness – a society where Christ waits on the periphery to come in with His Light and Love. God showed me what Christ came to do. I cannot even put into words for you. It only lasted a few days, just like a little snippet of something.

I feel upon my return that if God wanted me to learn something on this time away, that it was what my name sake called “The Science of the Cross.” Edith explains, “When we speak of a science of the cross . . . we are not dealing with merely a theory . . . . Neither are we dealing with a structure built of ideas laid out in reasoned steps. We are dealing with a well-recognized truth – a theology of the cross – but living, real, and effective truth. It is buried in the soul like a seed that takes root there and grows, making a distinct impression on the soul, determining what it does and omits. . . . From this living from and strength in one’s innermost depths, a perspective of life arises, the image one has of God and of the world.” (Science of the Cross, Introduction, pp. 9-10).

I know that God is teaching me this way of life, a way of thinking, breathing – everything – through the Cross. Even though I don’t know the depths of Edith’s words, I do know that they will indeed “take root and grow” in my soul. In so many ways, I am at a threshold – a point where I can only mature in my faith. I know that God will take me there, and I trust in His Love. Oh my sisters, it feels so glorious to be home!

August 8, 2009

Feast of St. Dominic

Today is the feast of St. Dominic de Guzman. I have a special place in my heart for him, because he left us such wonderful priests, nuns, sisters, and laymen.

St. Dominic's life is an example for the single woman insofar as she is called to discern God's specific call for her, to passionately study and learn about her faith and her culture, and to search for Truth wherever it can be found.

August 4, 2009

True Story #4

Seriously, my life is a comedy. 

I just went to the gym to workout and try to clear my mind.  About twenty minutes into my workout, I'm feeling pretty good when I hear some high-pitched cheering..."You can do it girls!"  I turned around, nearly falling off of my machine when I saw the cheerleading squad of a professional sports team working out with a trainer behind me.  Needless to say, they didn't exactly need to be working out as they were already in peak physical condition.  I felt that my baggy t-shirt was a little embarrassing compared to their outfits, too.  

I'm happy to report that instead of giving into feelings of self-doubt or bad body image, I pretended that they were cheering me on instead!  

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

I happen to think that one of my favorite spiritual reading books, The Sacrament of the Present Moment (Self-abandonment to Divine Providence) is tailor-made for those of us who are single, even if Jean-Pierre de Caussade was writing to Sisters of the Visitation on their prayer life! If you have never read it, I recommend picking it up. I think I've read it 5 times and skim passages before I go to bed on a regular basis. Since the single life is pretty much a vocation of the present moment, I'll pass along a taste of it. It's been of particular comfort for me this summer as I ponder Gods timing in my life: 

Nothing is more reasonable, perfect or divine than the will of God.  No difference in time, place or circumstance could add to its infinite worth, and if you have been granted the secret of how to discover it in every moment, you have found what is most precious and desirable.  God is telling you, dear sisters, that if you abandon all restraint, carry your wishes to their furthest limits, open your heart boundlessly, there is not a single moment when you will not be shown everything you can possibly wish for.

The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love.  The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds.  The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which the heart only fathoms in so far as it overflows with faith, trust and love.  The whole of the rest of creation cannot fill your heart, which is larger than all that is not God; terrifying mountains are mere molehills to it.  It is in his purpose, hidden in the cloud of all that happens to you in the present moment, that you must rely.  You will find it always surpasses your own wishes  Woo no man, worship no shadows or fantasies; they have nothing to offer or accept from you.  Only God's purpose can satisy your longing and leave you nothing to wish for.  Adore, walk close to it, see through and abandon all fantasy.

When the will of God is revealed to souls and has made them feel that they, for their part, have given themselves to him, they are aware of a powerful ally on every hand, for then they taste the happiness of the presence of God which they can only enjoy when they have learned, through surrendering themselves, where they stand each moment in relation to his ever-loving will.

Pray for me to fall in love with God's will for me.  I pray for you! 

St. John Vainney

My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.

--Saint John Vianney

Today is the feast of St. John Vianney, and as it is also the year for Priests, I think we should note this day especially. Saint John Vianney is one of the greatest saints of our time, and a model for all Christians, not just for priests. As a parish priest, we should look to him to help us in dealing with our own pastors, and in praying for our pastors that they comfort, strengthen and encourage as needed and willed by God.

St. John Vianney, pray for us!

August 3, 2009

True Story #3

Tonight's scene: a romantic dinner at a waterfront restaurant: 

Date:  "So, do see yourself getting married someday?"
Me: "Um, yea, I definitely do.  Wait, do you?" 
Date: "Well, I think I see myself as a bachelor, but then again, I'm not sure." 

True Story #2

I'm sitting here drinking a glass of red wine before a date.  Why, you might ask?  Because I just had to text the guy (pushing 30-years-old, mind you) at 6:00 pm what time and where we were meeting for dinner - tonight!  Guys:  if you ask a woman out in a 24-48 hour window, at the very least, have a time you want to meet so that she knows 1) when to get ready and 2) if the date is still on!  

August 2, 2009

Welcome Home, Edith!

You might have noticed, dear readers, that Edith hasn't posted in almost two months. She's been overseas in an intense program for her PhD, and has been necesarily out-of-touch. But today, Julian and I got the chance to go out and meet her at the airport, and have dinner, and a beer. I don't know what to say, except that Jules and I are in awe of Edith: her courage, her strength, her knowledge, her beauty, her faith, her joy. Her light.

Welcome home, Edith. We've missed you, and we're so glad to have you back!
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