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

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Magdalene Sisters wish you and your loved ones a most Blessed Christmas season! We pray that the Incarnate Lord blesses you in whatever state in life you find yourself.

Stay tuned for some exciting changes from our little corner of the internet in the new year!

Julian, Edith, and Agatha

December 21, 2010

Work, work, work!

These last few days of work before Christmas are, sometimes, utter agony. Everyone around me is wishing me a Merry Christmas, and I feel like a scrouge, because I have to spend 20 of the next 52 hours in the office getting a ton of work done. This then, is keeping me inline:
You have recieved God's call to a specific way: it is to be at all the crossroads of the world, while remaining all the while, and as you carry out your professional work, in God.
--Jose Maria Escriva, #748, The Forge

It's not Christmas yet. These next few days will be the intense, expectant, hard-working days of Advent. And when I arrive home, I'll rejoice. But first: to work.

December 20, 2010


I haven't had much to say in recent weeks. It's not because work was busy (it was), or that social commitments were abounding (they were). I just haven't wanted to make time to write, as I didn't think I had anything profound or really important or interesting to say. But this morning I just wanted to. So, here goes.

I was over at Agatha's the other day, eating a most wonderful wintry dinner, and we were talking about life (as per usual). Agatha commented that our life situations hadn't really changed since this time last year, and I agreed. We're both still working at the same jobs, both still friends with the same people, no big ruptures or marriages or anything in our families, and, as per the subject of this blog, we're both still single. It made me think about whether or not I really had anything to contribute to this conversation anymore, if my life seemed to be following the "status quo." But this morning I decided that yes, the status quo is fine, because status quo doesn't mean stagnant. Much of the liturgical calendar is filled with "ordinary time," and if that is my life right now, then so be it. The ordinary parts of the life of a single person...working, providing for oneself, dating (crazy people, I might add!), deepening friendships, and growing with the Lord over seemingly insignificant (but in reality, heroic) things is just what we should be talking about.

My 2011 already looks like a promising one. Is my husband around the corner? Oh, who the heck knows. But I am going to take a course in Denver this summer on Salvation History to beef up my knowledge, I'm taking 30 girls to World Youth Day in Madrid, I'm going to welcome my first niece or nephew into the world, and I'm going to turn 27 --- a great age, if I do say so myself. It feels more distinguished than 26...don't know why, but it does, and several friends agree :) The upcoming year is sure to be filled with the mundane...grading, making dinner for one out of the contents of the fridge, paying bills, etc. But I know I will find the Lord in it all, because I did this year.

December 18, 2010

Papa B on Me!

Well, not me, but my patroness :)

December 14, 2010

The End of a Good Feast Day

For I know well the spring that flows and runs,
although it is night

1. That eternal spring is hidden,
for I know well where it has its rise
although it is night

2. I do not know its origin, nor has it one,
but I know that every origin has come from it
although it is night.

3. I know that nothing else is so beautiful,
and that the heavens and the earth drink there
although it is night.

4. I know well that it is bottomless
and no one is able to cross it,
although it is night.

5. Its clarity is never darkened,
and I know that every light has come from it
although it is night.

6. I know that its streams are so brimming
they water the lands of hell, the heavens, and earth
although it is night.

7. I know well the stream that flows from this spring
is mighty in compass and power
although it is night.

8. I know the stream proceeding from these two,
that neither of them in fact precedes it
although it is night

9. This eternal spring is hidden
in this living bread for our life's sake
although it is night.

10. It is here calling out to creatures;
and they satisfy their thirst,
although in darkness,
because it is night.

11. This living spring that I love for
I see in this bread of life,
although it is night.

-- St. John of the Cross, The Poetry

December 8, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 9

Ave, Regina Coeli!

Today we honor Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth - the Immaculate Conception from whom the Word made Flesh entered the world. This is a glorious feast, because Mary pre-figures the glory that is promised to us at the end of our lives. She was made totally pure, with no stain of sinfulness. Luke 1: 26-40
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. [And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for you have found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.
Let us rejoice, for she shows us the way! Her Immaculate Conception is our hope! O Felix Culpa, for had the apple not been taken by Adam and Eve, we would not have our glorious New Adam and New Eve!


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 9

O Mother of the King of the Universe, most perfect member of the human race, "our tainted nature’s solitary boast," we turn to you as mother, advocate, and mediatrix. O Holy Mary, assist us in our present necessity. By your Immaculate Conception, O Mary conceived without sin, we humbly beseech you from the bottom of our heart to intercede for us with your Divine Son and ask that we be granted the favor for which we now plead...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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December 7, 2010

The Hardest Thing to Teach

Every day my high school Catholic Bioethics class poses challenges for me -- some good, some bad, some I'm routinely able to answer, and some that are new and require me to think on my feet. I was recently asked by a colleague what the most difficult topic to teach is, and while I first thought it might be the case against homosexuality, it turns out that it is increasingly becoming artificial/assisted reproduction. I think this is posing a challenge for several reasons....some of which are related, others which are not.

1. The model of the family is now viewed by my students (age 18) as something archaic, or at the very best, something arbitrary. Or, if family matters, family is whatever one willingly determines it to be...deliberately two-parent, deliberately one-parent, purposefully gay, purposefully straight, etc. I asked them to think about whether or not the design of the body is something arbitrary...whether or not the fact that it takes a biological father and a biological mother to create new life. They don't see that fact as particularly meaningful..just a fact of science that can be manipulated so as to satisfy our desires (all the while ignoring its implications).

2. The second reason the Church's teaching on artificial reproduction is so difficult to sell is for the very fact that assessing these techniques as immoral seems to perpetuate the immense suffering that a faithful, heterosexual, Catholic couple might experience....the desire to act in accord with the natural law while being unable to give one another a biological child. Trying to explain why ART's might have a good object and intention but immoral technique is so difficult. This generation does not see the use of technology as something that might offend or threaten our very humanity -- they take it for granted and assume it is something morally good or morally neutral.

3. Some of the children that I'm teaching are the products of these technologies. Now, some of the students I teach have had abortions, and so there is a very real suffering and tension that takes place when we talk our way through that issue. But this topic poses another question, in that some begin to question their identity and origin. As a teacher who so thoroughly cares about these girls, it's difficult to watch them grapple with their parents' decisions, to hear that the means why which they were conceived are not justifiable, even while I stress that once conception takes place, no matter the means, one is infinitely loved by God and has been given an eternal end with Him.

It's just a hard thing to pull off...both a truthful yet pastorally sensitive approach to such a topic, because it deals with our humanity...our beginning, our desires, the desires of our parents, and the evaluation of and self-reflection regarding our personal ethics, which, if there is to be any progress, is bound to include growing pains.

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 8

Ave, Stella Matutina!

Today we honor Mary, the Morning Star. We are so blessed to have Mary as a Mother who guides our way to Jesus. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, Mary trusts the Lord in all her needs. Her faith is made perfect by her love, and when she calls out to the Lord, He responds with tender love. Hosea 6: 1-3
In their affliction they will rise early to me: Come, and let us return to the Lord: For he hath taken us, and he will heal us: he will strike, and he will cure us. He will revive us after two days: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. We shall know, and we shall follow on, that we may know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning light, and he will come to us as the early and the latter rain to the earth.
We pray, Mary, that as our Mother and Morning Star, you will guide us to ever seek the will of God in our lives, as you too sought Him with perfect trust and perfect love.


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 8

O Most gracious Virgin Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, intercede with him for us that we be granted the favor which we petition for so earnestly in this novena...O Mother of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. O Glorious Mother of God, in memory of your joyous Immaculate Conception, hear our prayers and obtain for us our petitions.

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.

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December 6, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 7

Ave, Ianua Coeli!

Today we honor Mary, the Gate of Heaven. She is truly our gateway to the Lord, the one who reveals Him to us by saying Yes to giving Him her own holy flesh.

Psalm 23 [24]: 6-10

This is the generation of them that seek him, of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? the Lord who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? the Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.

Rejoice, for Mary shows us the way to our heavenly home!


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 7

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and my mother, from the sublime heights of your dignity turn your merciful eyes upon me while I, full of confidence in your bounty and keeping in mind your Immaculate conception and fully conscious of your power, beg of you to come to our aid and ask your Divine Son to grant the favor we earnestly seek in this novena... if it be beneficial for our immortal souls and the souls for whom we pray.

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.


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December 5, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 6

Ave, Regina Angelorum!

Today we honor Mary as the Queen of All Angels! We should rejoice because Mary is Queen over all creation, and is higher than the Angels. She foreshadows the glory we shall have in the Beatific vision in communion with all creation. With the angels, she watches over us and guides ever closer to her Son.

Psalm 44 [45]: 8-12
You have loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above you fellows. Myrrh and stacte and cassia perfume your garments, from the ivory houses: out of which the daughters of kings have delighted you in your glory. The queen stood on your right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety.

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear: and forget your people and your father's house. And the king shall greatly desire your beauty; for he is the Lord your God, and him they shall adore.
Let us rejoice in her glory with all the heavenly host! For she is our Mother who teaches us how to accept God's will for our lives.


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 6

Glorious and immortal Queen of Heaven, we profess our firm belief in your Immaculate Conception preordained for you in the merits of your Divine Son. We rejoice with you in your Immaculate Conception. To the one ever-reigning God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three in Person, one in nature, we offer thanks for your blessed Immaculate Conception. O Mother of the Word made Flesh, listen to our petition as we ask this special grace during this novena...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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December 4, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 5

Ave, Spes Nostra!

Today we honor Mary as Our Hope. Since she is our Mother, she is always observant of the who we are and our needs. This is so beautifully depicted in the wedding feast at Cana. Jn 2:1-5
And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus said to him: They have no wine. And Jesus said to her: Woman, what is that to me and to you? my hour is not yet come. His mother said to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do.
Mary has complete faith that Jesus will abide by her request. She observes the wedding of her beloved brethren, and seeking to keep them from the embarrassment of no wine, she turns to Her Son. And He obeys her request. She gives us hope that whatever problems we bring to her in prayer, she will bring to her Son. And He will grant her request. So when our situations seem hopeless, let us rejoice with the confidence that Mary, our Mother is also Our Hope.


Opening Prayer
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 5
O Lord, who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, did prepare a fitting dwelling for your Son, we beseech you that as by the foreseen death of your Son, you did preserve her from all stain of sin, grant that through her intercession, we may be favored with the granting of the grace that we seek for at this time...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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December 3, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 4

Ave Maria, Refugium Peccatorum!

Today we honor Mary under the title 'Refuge of Sinners.' Since we should be spiritually like children, it is wonderful to know that Mary is our mother. And as a mother, she is a refuge of love in a hostile world that is so torn by sin. Mt 19:13-14
Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said to them: Let the children come unto me, and forbid them not: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.
What a great comfort it is to know that we can approach Jesus with the littleness of a child. And by the loving intercession of His Mother, we learn how to approach Him with that child-like love that defines our heavenly home.


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 4

O Mary, Mother of God, endowed in your glorious Immaculate Conception with the fullness of grace; unique among women in that you are both mother and virgin; Mother of Christ and Virgin of Christ, we ask you to look down with a tender heart from your throne and listen to our prayers as we earnestly ask that you obtain for us the favor for which we now plead...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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The Perfect NYE

So it's that time of year again - top 100 countdowns of 2010, planning the perfect holiday/NYE party, finding the perfect outfit for ringing in the New Year. Ever notice how the whole New Year's Eve thing is so...hyped about? In every movie and magazine, it is portrayed as one of the most romantic and special nights that should exist in the young 20-somethings life.

But Julian and I were talking the other day, and neither of us has had the movie/magazine perfect NYE. In fact, I have usually found it rather uneventful. When I did not have a date, I felt like I was missing out on something super special that I should have been experiencing. When I had a date, I was usually miserable with him...maybe I just needed a different date, ha. But seriously, for both Julian and I, the best New Year's memories we have are playing board games with family and drinking wine (and in my case, pomegranate mimosas) at home. And, we don't feel like we are missing out. Maybe one day we will have the perfect date, the perfect dress, and the perfect venue. But for now, perfection for the holidays means being with all those you love - and isn't that exactly what it's all about anyway? - After all, it is what we are looking forward to in eternity...

December 2, 2010

Why, Jesus, Why?

This is a prayer I have oft repeated this year and will probably continue to repeat for my entire life. Like today, I prayed: Why, Jesus, why are so many children left feeling unloved and torn down by those who should love them unconditionally? Why, Jesus, why do some children feel they need to earn the love of their parents? And why, Jesus, why do those children try to fill their hurt with meaningless sex at such a young age and damage their souls so deeply? Why, Jesus, why?

Pray for those children, readers. They walk next to you and they need to know they are so very loved. Love them.

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 3

Ave Maria, Mater Divinae Gratiae!

Today we honor Mary under the title of Mother of Divine Grace! Mary's Fiat to God's proposal brought grace to the world - O Felix Culpa to give us such a mother! Even her cousin Elizabeth could not help rejoicing at the sound of Mary's voice! Luke 1: 41-50

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that has believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.

And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he has regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, has done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

Let us too rejoice in Mary's Magnificat, because she is the Mother of Divine Grace that is given to us with each breath we take!


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 3

O Blessed Virgin Mary, glory of the Christian people, joy of the universal Church and Mother of Our Lord, speak for us to the Heart of Jesus, who is your Son and our brother. O Mary, who by your holy Immaculate Conception did enter the world free from stain, in your mercy obtain for us from Jesus the special favor which we now so earnestly seek...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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December 1, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 2

Ave Maria, Mater Ecclesiae!

Today we honor Mary under the title of "Mother of the Church." We know that Mary is the mother of the person of Christ, and from her he received the precious flesh that clothed Him. But we are His Body, His Church and she gives life to us by revealing the depth of His love. Matthew 12: 47-50:
And one said unto him: Behold your mother and your brethren stand without, seeking you. But he answering him, said: Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Like Mary, we strive to the will of God always. May she help us in the pilgrim Church on earth as we say: Ave Maria, Mater Ecclesiae - Mater Nostra!


Opening Prayer

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for Day 2

O Mary, ever blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of angels and of saints, we salute you with the most profound veneration and filial devotion as we contemplate your holy Immaculate Conception, We thank you for your maternal protection and for the many blessings that we have received through your wondrous mercy and most powerful intercession. In all our necessities we have recourse to you with unbounded confidence. O Mother of Mercy, we beseech you now to hear our prayer and to obtain for us of your Divine Son the favor that we so earnestly request in this novena...
(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


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November 30, 2010

Immaculate Conception Novena Day 1

Ave Maria Stella Maris!

Today we honor the title of Mary as the Star of the Sea.

I think this title is one that we perhaps have a more difficult time understanding. But it might be helpful to recall that Mary's role in salvation as Christ's mother is to lead us to her son. And we know that Christ calms the storm on the sea: From Mt. 8:23-27
And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him: And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awakened him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus said to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

Christ calms the storm, and Mary leads us through the storm. She is a guiding light for us through the storms of sin and shows us that sinfulness is healed through grace given to us in abundance. Let us pray in thanksgiving - Ave Maria Stella Maris!


Opening Prayer:

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, world without end.


Prayer for Day One

O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers as we implore you to present at the throne of God the favor we now request...

(State your intention here...)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.


From EWTN:

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"The Cardinal has a particular bond with the virgin martyrs. They are a sterling example to him of how he is to love Christ and the Church, while, at the same time, they intercede powerfully for him, so that he may be a sign to the faithful of our Lord’s ceaseless and immeasurable love, ”to the end,” to the very outpouring of His life for us, on Calvary, His Sacrifice made ever present for us in the Holy Eucharist."

--His Excellency Raymond Cardinal Burke, in his homily at his Mass of Thanksgiving (HT).

Novena Prayer for the Immaculate Conception

Today marks the beginning of the Novena to the Immaculate Conception. Since I have the this title of Our Lady in my name, this is a major feast day for me. I am praying the novena through St. Mary of the Angels parish in Chicago, IL where they are offering daily Mass and a meditation on nine of Our Lady's titles. I invite you to pray this with me and I will be posting a little prayer reflection with Our Lady's title for that day at 12 noon (Central Time) each day of the novena. What a way to kick off our Advent celebration!

November 29, 2010

TV's Latest Low

I admit it...I was flipping through one of the various celebrity gossip magazines to get the scoop on the royal engagement between Prince William and Catherine Middleton (my chances of being a princess have now been severely diminished...shucks). Anyway, while flipping through, I saw an ad for a new reality TV show - Bridal Plasty - where brides to be compete with each other to get the grand prize - plastic surgery for the big day.

Not much about this world shocks me anymore...but this is TV's and the wedding industry's greatest low point to date, I'd say. Here's what I have to say to this: Dear World: Thank you for reminding me once again why as a Christian, I am in the world and not of it. Lord help us all. Amen.

A Prayer for Advent from the Holy Father

Domenico Beccafumi (1545)

This basically covers everything:

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you:

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of a mother's womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
make fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognise and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Gift creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realise and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children

Console married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Love,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

November 26, 2010

Being Contra-Contraception

Edith's post on the pope, the media, and condoms is so good, and one that I need to respond to at length. There has been so much discussion on this in and out of the Church. My students, colleagues, friends, and friends on Facebook (huge distinction...topic for another time) all have been buzzing about it. All that I can think to ask is, "Does anyone feel like they don't want to hear the word 'condom' anymore?"

However, the issue of contracpetion rang a little closer to home this holiday weekend, and kind of pierced my heart. I think it's a safe wager that I might be one of the the only members of my family, both immediate and extended, who supports the magisterial teaching on contraception. And it's a hard place to be in, as my friends begin to have children and as (though I'm not currently in a serious relationship), my family asks me things about how I would have children should I be in that position. There are comments passed because my friends are having their third or fourth child, or how it will probably be difficult for me to settle down with a man if I don't compromise on the birth control issue, which, though stated out of ignorance and out of love, still cuts to the heart of who I am as a Catholic woman, faithful to our beliefs out of joyful obedience and a rich understanding of why we believe what we do.

I know this issue was a huge issue to grapple with for my parents' generation, who was poorly catechized and who had to navigate their way through the sexual revolution, the implementation of Vatican II teachings, and of course, their own relationships and sexual experiences. And since the beauty of this teaching was not really made clear (in my theological opinion) in a way paralleled to the Theology of the Body at the end of the last century, moral confusion and cloudy judgments about assent of our mind and will abound. I try to be cheerful and joyful when explaining the why and the what of our beliefs, but it's not always met with understanding. Sometimes I wonder if my parents or my sibling or my cousins will ever fully understand who I am. Maybe that is the real question I'm asking: How much of a 'cause of division' is the Lord even within family members who all profess belief? How do I avoid the sin of pride or the passing of judgment on others close to me, who have a very deep faith and relationship with the Lord, too?

Dont' get me wrong; I don't walk around with a book charting who believes what in my family. I just feel a little bit of a sting when it's suggested that I'm too rigid or uncompromising when it comes to certain doctrines. I can't pull out theological discourse on the subject (this one has one of the best explanations of Humane vitae, in my opinion) at the dinner table. I suppose I can only witness it in my own life. And since I am not now in a position to be open to new life, I'd better find other ways to demonstrate what this looks like for the single woman.

November 24, 2010

The Pope, The Press, and Condoms

Ok, so if you are like me, you are so sick of hearing about the 'seismic' or 'cataclysmic' shift the Pope has magically taken on the use of condoms. 'Condoms are the moral solution to stop AIDS according to Pope!' cheerfully declares the press. The Pope's latest books Light of the World was released this week, and as you can see, the press has had a field day. With an article out every day since for nearly a week pretty much saying the Pope is changing the discourse on condom use, it's no wonder people are confused. I am.

Here is what I found out. First of all, the statement was made in regard to Pope Benedict's 2009 trip to Africa when he was lambasted by the press for the Church's "oppressive" stance on contraception. (Little does the world realize that contraception oppresses them, especially the women!) Anyway, the question was posed to Benedict by Peter Seewald as follows: On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on AIDs once again became the target of media criticism.Twenty-five percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

Benedict went on to discuss his frustration that the press did not highlight the rest of his statement, wherein he announced the Church's continuing to commitment to being one of the only institutions that treats AIDS victims with continued support and dignity...think Mother Theresa, for example. While Benedict does indeed state that perhaps condoms can help stop the spread of AIDS, the use of condoms does not ask or answer the right question about human sexuality. According to Peter Seewald, the right question that Benedict challenges us to ask is "Does sexuality have something to do with love?" It seems quite simple, but in today's world, this is no longer a simple question to ask.

Janet Smith offers a great commentary on the statement which you can find here. And I'll post an excerpt:
What is Pope Benedict saying?

We must note that the example that Pope Benedict gives for the use of a condom is a male prostitute; thus, it is reasonable to assume that he is referring to a male prostitute engaged in homosexual acts. The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature. The Holy Father does not in any way think the use of condoms is a part of the solution to reducing the risk of AIDs. As he explicitly states, the true solution involves “humanizing sexuality.”

Anyone having sex that threatens to transmit HIV needs to grow in moral discernment. This is why Benedict focused on a “first step” in moral growth. The Church is always going to be focused on moving people away from immoral acts towards love of Jesus, virtue, and holiness. We can say that the Holy Father clearly did not want to make a point about condoms, but wants to talk about growth in a moral sense, which should be a growth towards Jesus.
I am challenging myself to read this entire book and to get to know our beloved Pontiff better. He challenges us to be a light to the world and to ask those simple questions that have become so obscure in the vision of the world. Pray for him!


November 22, 2010

Where Have All the People Gone?

As I was walking to gym tonight, I glanced into the window of the pharmacy that stands next door. They had just recently finished some construction, and I peered inside to see what they did. I looked and saw five self-checkout registers. I thought to myself, "I want people back."

It started with automated prompts and computer-generated voices on the other end of the phone line. Speaking to an actual operator (mind you, already once-removed from real life) became great feat. Then the post office got machines that distribute stamps instead of people who you can chat about the different options with, how his day was going, and if he was going to do anything fun for the holiday break. The grocery store dropped its cashiers, too, although sometimes an annoyed checkout boy will help you when your self-checkout voice yells at you about your method of payment. The problem is, you can't talk back. And now, the pharmacy has gone the way of the world, too.

I have to ask: where have all of the people gone? Is anyone else noticing that our existence is becoming less and less imbued with real, live people? Human interaction is almost at a premium today, let alone meaningful human interaction. It's starting to feel really depressing.

As Christians who value incarnate relationships, I think we need to work doubly hard to make eye contact with people, even strangers, and to genuinely, thoroughly, and sincerely forge relationships. Otherwise, we're just checking ourselves out at the register, hoping for a little more than "Please remember to take your receipt" from our virtual friends.

November 18, 2010

Getting Me Through My Thursday

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season
we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men…”
--Galatians 6:2, 9-10 (via MM)

November 17, 2010

A Little Aspiration

Sometimes I'm in need of little aspirations to pray throughout the day. I also tape them to my podium at school to remind me of why I do what I do. This past Sunday, the last line of the Gospel might as well have been introduced by a loud clashing of cymbals or a bang of a gong:

"By your perseverance, you will save your lives." --Luke 21:19

I felt as if the Holy Spirit was saying directly to me, "Keep going in your work. Keep persevering in your waiting on your vocation. Give me the small details of the day, the mundane aspects of your routine, because they matter to me."

Monday's Mass was no less direct:

"When he [the blind man] came near, Jesus asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'" --Luke 18:35-43

Could Jesus really be asking this of me, too? I felt comfort in approaching my Lord with petitions deepest on my heart (something I struggle with). I suppose my prayer is similar to that of the man -- "Lord, let me see."

I hope you, too, find your prayers to ask and the answers to them in the Word this very day.

November 15, 2010

A Mighty Fortress is our God, a Bulwark never Failing

A Mighty Fortress is Our God is one of my favorite German hymns, written by none other than my favorite German Protestant, Martin Luther. Well, I take that back. My favorite German Protestant is actually Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I don't actually like Luther too much, but I do like his hymns! So despite that fact that he created a serious rift in the Church and gave us some theology so poor that we are still divided over it, I am sure his fabulous hymns must have earned Luther some brownie points with God.

But this is not about Luther or Bonhoeffer for that matter; it is about God - who is a mighty fortress indeed. He showed that to me this week in several ways that I thought I'd just share with you all. First, I found out last week that a paper proposal that I submitted to a major national conference in my discipline got accepted! I have made proposals similar to this before, and each time they have been rejected. The only conference participation I have on my resume is one joint paper and discussion leader. Kind of sparse for someone who wants her job to be giving lectures and writing. So I dove in with wild abandon, because I have been dragging my feet on my academic life! But please keep me in your prayers!

Second, I also got a teaching opportunity at a local university for next spring! Just one class, so it's not too demanding but still gets me into the classroom! YAY!

Third, I have been feeling so...just my prayer life and as a result I have been going to confession every week just to get some spiritual direction (and to confess, of course) but I already kind of know the answers. But God has given me people in my life who are wonderful examples (like my Magdalene Sisters and my family!) who have been placed amongst my new and old acquaintances who have really expressed answers to my prayers in a powerful way this week.

One is my new friend Kelsea* She is a supernumerary at Opus Dei and is such a prayerful, lovely young woman who has re-revealed to me in a powerful the way God communicates with us through prayer and does so especially for those who trust in him. Kelsea comes to Him in prayer with everything in her life, and even though she struggles with worry and doubt sometimes (don't we all), she ultimately just lets go and lets God have control of her heart, mind, will, and life. I think it's awesome and I am so glad God hit me over the head this past week with the witness she (unknowingly) gave to me.

A second example is an old friend of mine from Louisiana - and we'll call him Mr. Boudreaux*. I met Mr. Boudreaux when I was helping out with RCIA at my old parish in Baton Rouge. I loved doing this, but soon kind of drifted away from that parish to a new one after I met Peter...the new parish was one that he liked better...just another way he sought to isolate me from those who really loved me. Mr. Boudreaux would call me just to say hi and I'd say it's been probably about a year or so since I have seen him or heard from him. Today, out of the blue I got a call from him. He said he was just thinking of me and wanted to know how I was doing. He also told me that the right man was waiting for me - and was coming very soon. He told me to start praying to St. Philomena for this intention and he felt God would answer me right away. What I have not told you is that just this afternoon, I was contemplating whether to pray a novena to jump start my prayer life. God answered me immediately after I left work.

So, see, God is a mighty fortress, always there for us and waiting to give us answers when we call. And even He is even waiting to give answers to people like me, who probably doesn't call on Him as often as she should.

*Names have been changed for privacy

November 12, 2010

I Love Fall.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Here are some reasons why:

*apple cider
*cozy sweaters
*cooler weather
*pumpkins in the grocery stores


November 11, 2010

The Climb (a dream)

Your name was my first thought this morning as I rose. I was filled with remembrance of my dream--so strong and tense, but not bad or unwelcome.

We had risen together, and wandered around the old city (which? I do not know. But it was familiar, grey, and old--like a tourist photograph of an untouched medieval town). You wanted to start the climb, but I held back.

Finally our number was called (we had a number, C9), and we joined our starting group. We were right up front, at the foot of the steep hill. The crowds in front of us began, like at a marathon. We waited, expectant, holding hands, I think (or is that a daylight wish embellishing my stark dream?).

I woke as we took our first step, my thoughts full of you.

But, upon reflection in the cold morning light, I realized that I was not I, and you were not you. I clenched my jaw, and rose for the day.

November 9, 2010

Feminists for Life

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture where Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life was speaking, and I then had the honor of speaking with her in a more intimate setting over dinner with some other university students. It was awesome! Her talk centered around the theme that feminist philosophy is simply incompatible with the practice of abortion. Sound crazy? Yes, it does, because contemporary feminists - those of the second and third waves of feminism fixated on 'reproductive' rights and 'control' over their 'destinies' by controlling their bodies.

Well, perhaps this is some truth to this. After all, no woman should be subjected to being a sexual object or to having her body used in inappropriate ways by a man - even if it is her husband. But also, she should not allow herself to treat her body inappropriately. Feminists for Life argue that abortion is the most tragically inappropriate treatment of a woman. They believe that it simply goes against what the first feminists sought to establish, viz. equality for all. After all, some of the first feminists, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were abolitionists who sought out justice for those enslaved because of their race and for those discriminated against because they were women. And both women (as well as many others) felt abortion was not the solution to the discrimination of women in society.

Susan B. Anthony in her publication entitled Revolution stated about abortion: “I deplore the horrible crime of child murder … We want prevention, not merely punishment." (taken from here) This quote encapsulates the philosophy behind Feminists for Life - to seek preventative measures so that women do not feel pressured to have an abortion. One of their major activities is to establish resources for pregnant women on college campuses. They even work together with pro-choice groups to attain these ends! Read their story about what they did at Georgetown University here. This group is doing what I want to do: giving women other choices, so they don't feel like abortion is their only option. Pray for me as I seek out a way of living out this vocation too! We all are called to help one another, especially because we all deserve better than abortion.

November 8, 2010

"Lord, Increase Our Faith"

Today's Gospel shows us the apostles asking the Lord to "increase their faith." I can just see them, imploring Jesus to work this miracle in their hearts. Perhaps it is because it the prayer, or aspiration, that is most on my lips these days. Lord, increase my faith. Increase my faith in this time of waiting. Increase my faith in the uncertainty surrounding my vocation, my state of life, my job, my relationships, and my trust in your faithfulness and fidelity to me.

I found the reflection by Catherine de Hueck Doherty in today's Magnificat particularly helpful:

"Faith is to believe without understanding, without seeing. God has blessed us with the gift of our intellect, and up to a point we understand many things about ourselves and the world around us. However, when you begin to move deeper into faith, something strange happens.

You have been walking in the sunshine of your intellect. God has helped you and encouraged you to use it. Then, just like in the tropics where there is no twilight and the day becomes night within minutes, so God plunges you into the night. He says, 'Put your head in your heart and believe! For now there is no answer. I am the answer. You won't see me in the dark. You will have to follow me in faith, without knowing. Arise and believe.'

There is a tremendous secret in God's ways of doing things if we do follow him across that dark night of the tropics, of the soul. There will be a moment, maybe just before death, or in the midst of life, or maybe when we are at a very tender age. At this moment he will appear. He will just be there. What you knew by your own intellect has blended together with what was added to you because you believed and walked in the darkness of night. You have entered into the fullness of the kingdom of God even before your death. The kingdom of God is in your midst now. "

November 6, 2010

Ten Minute Break

It is amazing to me how important ten minutes of silence in the presence of God can be. I used to be diligent about carving out 15 minutes of contemplative prayer in the morning and 15 minutes more in the afternoon to be centered in and with God. These three books were immensely helpful in learning the practice of Christian contemplation.

Years have gone by since I have been so diligent. And now, the Holy Spirit is impelling me to begin the practice again...even for ten minutes twice a day. Pray for me that I can commit to this practice.

November 5, 2010

Totally, Thoroughly, Unabashedly Girly Post

I just really like this dress :)

November 4, 2010

Quote of the Day

The more secular the place, the more powerful the manifestation of His presence becomes. When you seek God inside a church, you have a greater expectation of His response. But when you seek Him in what seem like unlikely places, His presence is all the more amazing. You begin to not just experience God's presence simply confined to a church, or in your 10 minutes of prayer time, but walking with you step-by-step, each street you cross, each smile you encounter, each tender word you hear, enveloping you with His spirit.

November 2, 2010

The Habit

"One cold January I was at our sister monastery in the Bronx and had accompanied another nun who had business in NYC. My first trip to the Big Apple! The prioress had insisted that we have a little treat so we stopped in a café, anxious to get warm with a cup of coffee.

Imagine the scene: a little café full of people, either bustling about or chatting at tables while warming their frozen hands around steaming cups of java. Two nuns walk through the door and it seems like all eyes turn their way. One patron calls out, 'Sisters, you have made a lot of people happy today!'

We smiled our biggest smiles, the words warming our frozen cheeks. But what does one say to that?

I felt so small, so human, and so humbled that I just wanted to drop down on the floor and say, 'I'll try harder, I promise!'"

--From a wonderful, lovely article about wearing the habit, by Sr. Mary Catherine of Jesus, a cloistered Dominican nun (in Summit New Jersey). By the way, you can purchase a lot of lovely gifts from these sisters for Christmas presents. (HT)

November 1, 2010

My Favorite Month of Prayer

I have NO idea why , but I love the doctrine of purgatory. I wrote a thesis on purgative suffering. And I love the month of November, because I get to meditate on it all month long. I mean really, who am I?

I hope you will join me, readers, in praying for the faithful departed, who await their eternal reward of seeing the Lord face to face. I have a few dear ones especially to remember this month. Let us know who of your loved ones we can remember.

Also, if you get a chance, pick up this book and pray the month-long novena. It's really so beautiful.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

All Saints!

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Words: John A. L. Ri­ley
Music: Lasst Uns Er­freu­en, (Ger­ma­ny, 1623); har­mo­ny by Ralph Vaughan Wil­liams, 1906
Played by Healey Willan (1880-1968), on the organ of St Mary Magdalene, Toronto

October 29, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Comes to an End. Let's Reflect.

I hope you will take time to consider the following article by Jenn Giroux from today's Zenit new source. I re-post here in full, because it needs to be heard! And spread the word to the women you love!

Is Abortion and Hormonal Contraception a Prescription for Breast Cancer?
By Jenn Giroux

CINCINNATI, Ohio, OCT. 29, 2010 ( Everywhere I looked this month I saw a pink ribbon. It was on my dry cleaning bag, grocery bag, coffee cup, mail catalogs, receipts, billboards … it goes on and on. Don't get me wrong. I love the color pink, and breast cancer prevention and finding a cure is critical to women today. However, I also love the truth.

That is why October 2010 is a good time to take Breast Cancer Awareness Month to a whole new level with some facts which can lead to both the physical and spiritual health of women in America and across the world.

We live in the world of media messaging where the one with the most money and the loudest message wins the day. What is the "Race for the Cure"? Why are we not being told the truth about the real risks and prevention for breast cancer? According to the SEER data at the National Cancer Institute, there has been a 400% increase in noninvasive -- or "in situ" (in the same place) -- breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975. How do abortion, hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal contraception factor into the equation?

For years, abortion, hormonal replacement therapy and hormonal contraception have been largely ignored by most of the medical community and the media in general as significant risk factors for breast cancer. However, studies have consistently concluded that breast cancer risk increases as a result of these three factors.

Researchers in Iran have published results of a new study showing that women who have had an abortion face a 193% increased risk of breast cancer. This has to do with the interruption of breast tissue development during pregnancy. It is important to note that this (and other studies like it) have nothing to do with a person's belief in abortion. It has everything to do with the scientifically undeniable development and growth of breast tissue within a woman's body. There are many other studies that have been published as well that confirm that abortion presents increased risk to women for breast cancer, and that confirm that carrying a baby to full term provides a natural protection to the mother if the pregnancy is not unnaturally interrupted.

For years, doctors have been prescribing hormone replacement therapy for women who experience hot flashes and periods of sweating in menopause. The widespread belief was that these hormones would not only reduce a woman's risk for heart disease but also keep her "youthful, sexy, and healthy." This week the New York Times reported that studies have now confirmed that taking these hormones not only increases breast cancer risk, but "also make it more likely that the cancer will be advanced and deadly" (New York Times, Oct. 19, 2010).

This revelation, finally being recognized by the mainstream medical community and media, makes our final topic on hormonal contraception downright frightening.

Obstetricians and gynecologists across the country freely encourage long-term use of hormonal contraception such as "the Pill," the intrauterine device (IUD) Mirena, NuvaRing, Yaz, Yasmin, and all forms of emergency contraception without giving adequate attention to the short- and long-term side effects. Pediatricians have also joined in on this by encouraging mothers to place their young daughters on "the Pill" to help with acne or to relieve monthly menstrual cramps. Recently, a college student shared with me that inside her dorm, cell phones go off in the early morning hours as a reminder to the girls to take their birth control pills. This was at a Catholic college.

The number of young women on "the Pill" is alarming. Have these girls been told that "the Pill" has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Research for Cancer, a research arm of the World Health Organization? Are women in general being informed that any form of hormonal (estrogen-progestin combination) birth control (including "the Pill," the patch, Depo-Provera, Norplant, Ortho Vera Patch, or any others on the market) are actually increasing risk for breast, cervical, and liver cancer?

The sad reality is that any woman who takes a hormonal contraceptive for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her risk for breast cancer by 52%. It is worth noting that this same research arm of the World Health Organization also places "the Pill" in the same category with asbestos and cigarettes.

The difference is the dose

So, you may ask, what is the difference between the hormones that are given to women during menopause, which cause deadly breast cancer, and the hormones that are given to young women in the form of "the Pill"? The answer is shocking. The hormones in the drugs are the same. The only difference is in the dose that is given to the younger women and girls. It is necessary to give a much higher dose than that given in hormone replacement therapy because younger women have active, healthy ovaries. Does this give better context to the 400% increase in "in situ" breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975?

In order to silence the public discussion of the harms of contraception we have often been told that we are pushing our "Catholic" views on women. This has effectively kept many health care providers and pro-life groups silent on this issue. Do you know what has nothing to do with being Catholic? Experiencing breast cancer in your 30s, having a stroke in college, or having an undetected and sudden blood clot that results in permanent health damage or death are life-threatening side effects that visit women of all faiths.

Women deserve to know the truth. They have been failed by physicians in not being warned of the physical damage that they are doing to their bodies, and they have been failed by their priests in not being warned of the spiritual damage that they are doing to their souls.

The New York Times article on Oct. 19 published information by "The Journal of the American Medical Association" that is a real breakthrough and victory for women's health. The exposure of this important medical information further reveals the outrage of Komen for the Cure giving $7.5 million back to Planned Parenthood in 2009. This was money from trustful donors who were unaware that they, indeed, gave to a cause working against the cure of breast cancer. Clearly, both abortion and hormonal contraception, a huge source of Planned Parenthood's income, are contributing risk factors for breast cancer.

October 2010 is the time to recognize the seamless pink ribbon that connects breast cancer with abortion, hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy. It is only then that we can get on with true prevention and, God willing, finish the race for the truth, which will then pave the path for the cure.

* * *

Jenn Giroux is the executive director of HLI America, a program of Human Life International. She is a registered nurse, wife, and mother of nine. She and her husband, Dan, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information go to

October 28, 2010


"All of us belong to a crossed species, even our Lady. The foremost handmaid of the Lord wanted some details, some explanation of God's doings. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." But also: "How shall this be done? I know not man." And the angel's reply was hardly something to answer the human question satisfactorily. "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee." But who is the Holy Spirit? "And the Holy to be born of you shall be called the Son of God." These are scarcely explanations that would have elicited a reply of "Oh, I see." No, she did not see."
The Annunciation (1898), by Henry Ossawa Tanner

October 26, 2010

"You Must Teach Them How to Use Their Freedom"

I am volunteering for a tutoring center that helps inner city girls do well in school, forms good study habits and good character, and helps the girls build skills to get them into college. The center focuses on girls from grades 4-12. My job is that of an 'adviser' to girls in 11th and 12th grade. No easy task. First, I have five girls I need to chat with for about 20 minutes each (and really, do you know me!?! 20 minutes only!?) and I basically talk to them about what is going on in life. I am to help them instill the cardinal (and theological) virtues in their lives. An even more difficult task.

Last week, we advisers had a training session with a priest who said something very profound that I have been mulling over all weekend. He told us that so often we (as human beings, that is) try to force people into the mold of what we think is right. We tell them ‘Do it this way, Say that, Don’t do this,’ etc. But he said, we cannot do that. For these girls and for all in our lives – we are to teach them how to use their freedom. They will do what they will do because they are simply free to do it. But our responsibility is to teach them how to use their freedom – how to be free. That is really, really hard. And who among us is not enslaved to some bad habit or annoying behavior? Is that not the very essence of sin – to be enslaved and to stifle our own freedom? How do you teach someone how to be free?

So far, I can only come up with this solution: “For you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.” Christ is Truth and by giving these girls that Truth, they will learn how to use their freedom. It's a delicate balance, I think, between imposition and informed guidance in freedom. And it is a line that I think, especially in jobs of education (and higher education) that we often see very blurred. For example, yesterday Julian spoke of the Gospel of Tolerance that insidiously affects us all. It's the gospel that I see these girls living by. As I said above, they are indeed free to do as they will. And they will often times choose to do the wrong thing. But it is by constantly bearing the person of Christ to them that we can show them (and ourselves) how to live freely.

October 24, 2010

The Gospel of Tolerance

I would love to write an essay on this topic, but teaching and extracurricular activities preclude me from it right now. However, I can post, and so, here goes.

Any thoughtful Catholic is aware of the "gospel of tolerance" that is being preached by our brothers and sisters in the Church. It's the "good news" that all are invited to the table of the Lord, because we can no longer call anything a sin if it can be attributed to nature. Since God created us as we are, we should allow everyone to be as they are, and to respect their life choices, lifestyles, and life trajectories. Live and let (others) live.

Somewhere or another, people are saying that this is a central tenant of Jesus' own message and preaching.

This "gospel" is poisonous for the Christian, in that it takes something good (refraining from one person passing judgment on another person's soul) but mixes that up with evaluating and judging actions, which is in fact, a moral imperative. We are called to evaluate moral action, character, and sin so as to elevate each other and ourselves to perfection in Christ. I am hearing this "gospel" preached from the pulpit, discussed at meetings (even at reputable Catholic institutions), and of course, from my students who think that any statement on morality is a statement of intolerance, bigotry, or closemindedness.
I'm at a loss right now as to how to convey how the tolerance of Christ is not equated with moral relativism. The truth is, that Jesus does no condemn us but at the same time elevates us to perfection. It's right here, in the actual gospel. How else can we convey that "anything and everything goes" is not, in fact, what Christ says? How can we talk about nature and its proper end?

October 23, 2010

Some Words to Live By

"He remains, being tempted in all those who are tempted, in those who are in mortal sin, He is in the tomb. We should never come to a sinner without the reverence that we would take to the Holy Sepulchre."

Reflect on it.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Photo Credit

October 22, 2010

Creative Solitude

T. F. Simon, "Vilma Reading a Book", 1912

"I seek to see my own moments of loneliness as an opportunity to enter more deeply into communion with Christ, and to allow Christ to transform loneliness into holy, fruitful, creative solitude."

--Maria (emphasis mine)

October 19, 2010

Woman Warrior: St. Mary MacKillop

This weekend Pope Benedict XVI canonized six saints, including the great Br. André (of Montreal), and St. Mary MacKillop, the first Australian born saint. According to reports, Australia had quite a party celebrating Sr. Mary of the Cross.
The first nun, and mother superior of the Josephite Sisters, Mary MacKillop is also somewhat of a rarity in the canon of saints--she was excommunicated for "insubordination" by a bishop. (Her excommunication lasted less than a year.)
The story goes as follows:

But the full story is that Mary MacKillop was excommunicated out of "revenge," in the words of one priest familiar with her life, for uncovering a case of sex abuse by a Father Keating, in a nearby parish. Paul Gardiner, S.J., the former postulator of MacKillop's canonization process, told an Australian television documentary a few days ago, "Priests being annoyed that somebody had uncovered it--that would probably be the way of describing it--and being so angry that the destruction of the Josephites was decided on." A statement from the Sisters of St. Joseph has confirmed that the documentary's reports are "consistent with" studies of the event.
--James Martin, S.J. in America Magazine via The Deacon's Bench. Read the whole story here.
She was clearly a remarkable woman, and a wonderful reminder to us that not only is there a role for women in the Church, but that we have something powerful to fight for: the protection of innocence in all its forms through our witness to the faith.

October 18, 2010


Has any ever written to a television station? Because I'm really close to doing so. I'm fed up with virginity being construed as some sort of deviation from nature.

As I was unpacking the last remnants of my trip to France this week, I decided to put on mindless television in the background, namely, Grey's Anatomy. Why? I have no idea. For some reason I'm still holding out hope that this show will touch on very human pain and redemption, but instead, it just riles me up.

One of the latest episodes was entitled, "Superfreak," and intended to tackle the fact that all of us, no matter how put together we seem, struggle with some sort of neurosis or fact about ourselves which can make us feel like a "freak," or just really odd. Someone suffered from arachnophobia, another from PTSD, and another....from being a 28-year-old virgin. As a 26-year-old virgin, I was infuriated, mostly because the young woman didn't seem to be bothered by it, until she was ceaselessly taunted by her colleagues and mocked during several of the vignettes.

My virginity is not something that I am ashamed of, nor is it something that I lord over people who are sexual active. It is something I am convicted about, and not something that makes me a "freak." Why is it okay to engage in all sorts of sexual behavior but not to remain chaste? Why isn't hooking up portrayed as the unnatural route instead of abstinence (which, by the way, was mocked on The Office this past week, too)? Why am I the one with the problem?

With a movie entitle, "The Virginity Hit," out in select theaters documenting a young boy's loss of virginity and mocking the experience, I want to scream loud and proud that this is not a disease, not something freakish. Will you join me?

October 16, 2010

Blasted Nature

You know that song "I Enjoy Being a Girl" Here it is just in case:
I pretty much feel this way sans the seductive looks and dancing in lingerie, but give me pink, frills, poofs, and curls any day!

But other days, I just want to be a metaphysical rebel - like rebel against the very metaphysics of being a woman. Seriously - why do I have to be hung up on the feeling of being loved and loving someone else? Women, I believe, experience this in a way totally different from men. I believe that our desire to be loved by that "brave and free male" that our lovely lady above sings about is so utterly and metaphysically female. And I hate/love it! I hate it because of my previous experiences this year, as you might guess. I hate not being able to shut off my emotions sometimes and I just want to rebel.

Does anyone else feel a little split like me, or am I just one of the crazies? Probably the latter....So perhaps you might be able to give me some suggestions!

October 15, 2010

Happy Feast of St. Theresa of Avila

To have courage for whatever comes in life -- everything lies in that.
--St. Theresa of Avila

October 14, 2010

All Eyes on Chile!

I don't know about you all, readers, but I have been sitting on the edge of my seat watching these miners being pulled to safety in that tiny little capsule. What joy that they are all out safely with NO PROBLEMS! What I love most about the coverage has been the place of God in the story - at the beginning and the end! Above is Esteban Rojas who knelt to the ground to pray after he emerged from that capsule. According to CNN,
Rojas' wife Jessica Yanez grasped onto a religious tapestry with Mary on it as she awaited to see her husband - the 18th man to be lifted from underground.

As soon as he exited the capsule Rojas too knelt down on the ground, clasped his hands in prayer and lifted his hands to the sky to praise God. His wife then wrapped the tapestry around him as they hugged and cried as workers rallied in a Chile chant.
A friend of mine also passed on this news story to me. In this article,
Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped for over two months in the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert, would like to make one small correction to all the stories about life in the mine:

“There are actually 34 of us,” the nineteen-year-old miner wrote in a letter sent up from the mine on Tuesday, "because God has never left us down here."
What joy! God is so good - so many prayers poured out for these men. One thing this shows in a way words just cannot express - life is good, precious, worthy and so very BEAUTIFUL! Let's bask in it!

Here are the men from a BBC article

Florencio Avalos (31), Mario Sepulveda (39), Juan Illanes (51), Carlos Mamani (23), Jimmy Sanchez (19), Osman Araya (30), Jose Ojeda (46), Claudio Yanez (34), Mario Gomez (63), Alex Vega (31), Jorge Galleguillos (56), Edison Pena (34), Carlos Barrios (27), Victor Zamora (33), Victor Segovia (48), Daniel Herrera (27), Omar Reygadas (56), Esteban Rojas (44), Pablo Rojas (45), Dario Segovia (48), Yonni Barrios (50), Samuel Avalos (43), Carlos Bugueno (27), Jose Henriquez (54), Renan Avalos (29), Claudio Acuna, (35), Franklin Lobos (53), Richard Villarroel (27), Juan Aguilar (49), Raul Bustos (40), Pedro Cortez (24), Ariel Ticona (29), Luis Urzua (54)
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