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

February 27, 2010

Holiness is Faithfulness

For my dear, sweet sisters, for our readers, and for all carrying a cross today:

Heading Through the Looking-Glass

In an attempt to critically view Tim Burton's upcoming film, I've decided that my next novel is going to be Alice in Wonderland (and most likely Through the Looking-Glass) by Lewis Carroll. I figure that it will be a nice break from the heavy mental and emotional-lifting that I do while reading for my theology and bioethics courses at school, and really, it's about time that I start tackling the books I own instead of continuing to buy more! As a sidenote, I am not so much looking forward to another creepy Johnny Depp performance as I am to seeing Mia Wasikowska portray Alice. She played Sophie in the first season of the HBO series In Treatment, and she blew me away!

February 26, 2010

Lent Fail

I fail at lent.

It's only been nine days and I've already messed up my resolutions about 50 times. Including missing mass on both wednesday and thursday. SO, to cheer myself up a bit--and refocus on the season at hand--here's a beautiful meditation sung by Anonymous 4

It is, I think, a responsory dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Probably, technically, it belongs in the Christmas season, but it's haunting harmonies a quiet pace calm the heart and call us all to attention.

February 25, 2010

Shop 'N Save

Just a quick post to help my sisters and our readers out with fashion finds. Ever wish you knew before you got to a store that they were having things on sale so that you budgeted in more money? Ever get a little annoyed when you buy something and see it on sale a week later? In Style magazine online has an e-mail alert system to let you know what styles and brands will be going on sale and when. You can specify not only sizes, brands, and how often you'd like to be altered, but also which items in particular you'd like to know about. Hopefully this will make shopping sales a bit easier! Happy hunting!

February 24, 2010

Boy Wanted (by the Gershwins)

A funny take on the idea of a list describing your perfect mate (from the Gershwin musical A Dangerous Maid and made popular by an Ella Fitzgerald recording).

I've just finished writing an advertisement
Calling for a boy.
No half-hearted Romeo or flirt is meant;
That's the kind I'd not employ.
Though anybody interested can apply,
He must know a thing or two to qualify.
For instance:

He must be able to dance.
He must make life a romance.
I said a boy wanted,
One who can smile;
Boy wanted, lovable style.

He must know how to say "Yes!"
When I look at a new dress.
Oh, I'll be ready when the right one calls,
And I'll start vamping him until he falls;
Yes, if he proves to be the right little laddie,
I'll make him glad he answered my ad.

He must like musical shows,
And he must wear snappy clothes.
Yes, that is my story,
And to it I'll stick;
No glory
In having a hick.

He needn't be such a saint,
But, Oh! he dassent say 'ain't.'
I don't care if his bankroll totals naught,
For we can live on love and food for thought.
If he's a scholar, when I see him I'll holler,
My lad, I'm glad you answered my ad!'

February 23, 2010

A Response to the Glass Ceiling

Thanks, Agatha, for a thought-provoking beginning to a discussion on women in the workplace. I enjoyed the article links and went over to the NYTimes article which Jezebel linked to. I only have one thought about the matter right now (as I'm very sick), and that's that in the attention is being paid to the dearth of females at the top of the Wall Street chain, but not necessarily in other entrepreneurial arenas.

And a growing number of women run investment portfolios at college and prep school endowments. The Harvard endowment, the largest in the United States, is managed by Jane Mendillo.

But in the heart of Wall Street, the aggressive environment on the trading floor is often cited as a reason that women are rare at the top. Others cite the dearth of women to aid in career networking.

Whatever the reason, ascending the ladder is much harder for women, said Bruce C. Greenwald, a professor of finance and strategy at Columbia University Business School.

“It is more difficult for women to come back because the environment in financial institutions is generally more hostile to women,” he said. “This culture has developed over a very long period of time, and it has been exacerbated as the firms’ emphasis has shifted from traditional investment banking to sales and trading, which is an even more macho culture.”

I can't help but wonder if it is exactly this "aggressive" forum that is in stark contrast to authentic femininity. John Paul II asks us to enter the workforce in order to humanize the affairs of the world. I wonder though, given the financial collapse and the rise of uncapped greed, if rising to the top of this work is something that women should venture into even if it were possible or if it is something that men will inevitably box them out of (and perhaps with misguided intentions, might work for the best?). It seems that the forum would have to change in order for women to work there really effectively. Maybe women should be the ones to change the forum?

It seems I only have more questions!

February 22, 2010

The Glass Ceiling

I want to share with you a fascinating article from Jezebel Online Magazine. Do you read Jezebel? I'd encourage you all to do so. There's a lot of crap, I'll grant, and a lot of stuff I find very wrong-headed, but it certainly has its finger on the pulse of modern women. Modern secular women, that is. Anyway, in this article author Latoya Peterson discusses many recent articles that look at the lack of women in executive roles on Wall Street and in the business world.

It's an interesting article, and worth perusing; it puts the blame on culture which I think is fair, but not nuanced enough. Yes, our culture still hasn't figured out that balance between equality for women in the workplace and encouraging our natural inclinations towards motherhood. But it's not an either or question: it's a both and answer.

That is: women of equal merit should have no barriers to earning the same salary, to obtaining the same positions, etc. as men do. But, society also ought to support the choice to be a mother. Nor should it put motherhood in opposition to careers (and both sides do this!) This is a huge problem, and one I hope to start discussing more on the blog because, as a young women who doesn't have motherhood in her immediate future, and is trying to make a life for herself (and that necessarily means a career), I do have to grapple with these questions, and often.

But I don't have an answer today. But its something I want to begin discussing pretty regularly on the blog. In the meantime, lets roll up our sleeves and get to work.

UPDATE: Sorry gals, here's the article.

+ + +
Speaking of women in the workplace--though the FOX show House, M.D. is almost totally unrealistic--one could do worse than modelling oneself after Dr. Cutty, Dean of Medicine, and an all around tough-as-nails-won't-get-pushed-around administrator, and yet still has the heart of a women. In a recent episode, they showed the whole day from her perspective. "5 tom 9" was the best episode of this season, and a real treat to watch:

February 20, 2010

A Surprise Treasure from Newsweek

I really encourage taking the time to read the article "Harvard's Crisis of Faith," found in this week's print and online version of Newsweek. Lisa Miller explores the debate at the Ivy League institution about whether or not to require undergraduates to take one (count it, one) class that falls under a "Reason and Faith" core curriculum category. Currently, this suggestion is being met with significant opposition from deans and professors at the university.

Miller notes the significance of Harvard's lack of religious education:

In the end, Menand & Co. backed down, and the matter never made it to a vote. A more brutal fight was put off for another day. But that's a pity—for Harvard, its students, and the rest of us who need leaders better informed about faith and the motivations of the faithful. Harvard may or may not be the pinnacle of higher learning in the world, but because it isHarvard, it reflects—for better or worse—the priorities of the nation's intellectual set. To decline to grapple head-on with the role of religion in a liberal-arts education, even as debates over faith and reason rage on blogs, and as publishers churn out books defending and attacking religious belief, is at best timid and at worst self-defeating.

She follows:

Harvard's distaste for engaging with religion as an academic subject is particularly ironic, given that it was founded in 1636 as a training ground for Christian ministers. According to the office of the president, Veritas was only officially adopted as its motto in 1843; until then it had been Christo et Ecclesiae ("For Christ and the Church"). While it's true that other Ivy League colleges don't require undergrads to take religion (with the exception of Columbia, where readings in the mandatory Contemporary Civilization course include selections from Exodus, the Book of Matthew, Saint Augustine, and the Quran), it's fair to say that the study of religion at Harvard is uniquely dysfunctional.

Read until you reach the end -- Catholics will really appreciate the interview with a young man who knows that faith is actually quite reasonable. Well done, Newsweek.

February 19, 2010

A Fashion Find

I don't pretend to know about the trends on the runways or who did what at Fashion Week in NYC. But occasionally I'll read the Style section in the New York Times, and this week I came across a refreshing article about a model who might just be on mission for a more realistic look on the runways -- and by realistic, I mean less 6 foot-half nude-childish-waifs.

“I don’t do nudes, I don’t do semi-nudes, I don’t do cigarette shots,” Coco Rocha was saying on Sunday evening before the Diane Von Furstenberg show at the Bryant Park tents. “It took me a long time in the business to realize I didn’t have to do everything people told me I should if I wanted a career.”
And later...

Now, Mr. Scully said, the sheer number of aspirants is so great that a span of five years (or 10 seasons) is almost enough to qualify a model for a gold watch.

“What happens when these girls develop and turn into women?” Mr. Scully asked. “What’s going to happen to Karlie Kloss,” he added, referring to the teenager discovered at a charity benefit fashion show in her native St. Louis and now one of the most desirable models in the business, “when she develops breasts?”

Ms. Rocha can answer that question. “I’m not in demand for the shows anymore,” said the model, who has worked for Marc Jacobs, Prada, Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and Louis Vuitton, among many others.

Hopefully more designers (and thereby others in the media) will take note of Rocha's points and recognize that women are not children and that a woman's body ages and changes in shape -- and that is not only okay, but part of what it means to be feminine.

February 17, 2010

Life and Lent

I've got to tell you, this year, the pro-life cause has struck me very powerfully. Don't get me wrong, I have always been pro-life. I defied my dad's wishes when I was in 7th grade and went to a pro-life rally at the state senate (he didn't like the fact of the rally...he's pro-life too, of course). But this year, when I think about abortion, I just want to weep. And do something.

Tuesday was the start of the 2nd Annual 40 Days for Life Lenten campaign here in Washington. Despite the bitter cold (and Mardi Gras conflicts), I went to the rally. There were only about 15 of us there--a rather poor showing--but we talked, and then sang hymns, and walked towards Planned Parenthood, singing "Amazing Grace." Standing in front of the Abortion Clinic, we prayed the litany to Jesus in the Womb of Mary, the prayer for the reparation of Abortion, and the prayer for the closing of an abortuary.

The Planned Parenthood in Washington is on 16th street--a main thoroughfare with over 60 churches in its 75 blocks within the District. Close to K Street, and other business districts, it has a steady stream of traffic--people coming to and from work. Our witness is not only for the women who visit Planned Parenthood--it is for all those people who walk by us. It is a witness to the world that we will not allow this tragedy to continue.

As we were marching towards PP, two 20-something guys walked past us and started cheering "YAY! We Love Abortion!" Besides the idiocy of that kind of remark (very few people, even those who regularly procure abortions, "love" it), I was so sad for their sakes, and angry for the women they know. Many women only have abortions because they are pressured into it by their boyfriends or family. These young men, who let us hope have never actually pressured their girlfriends in any way, represent a dangerous and oppressive view towards women. And yet it is the common view.

Similarly, Robert McCartney of the Washington Post wrote about what he saw at the March For Life last month in his weekly column for the Washington Post:
I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. ...How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it's gaining strength, even if it's not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous.

Another Pro-life link that I found very powerful:

This was made by a team in Atlanta. HT: Danielle Bean

All these moments and thoughts and ramblings are leading me to this point: We MUST take on the fight to save the lives of these children. Innocent life lost is always a tragedy, but has the world ever seen a massacre of these numbers--and they have no voice to protest.

We also must not loose hope. Though the tragedy continues every day, those souls are also loved by God. What's more: the victory is already won--Christ has already taken on all this pain, sinfulness and suffering, and redeemed it through his cross.

Won't you join us in this fight? With over 160 cities in the US participating, I hope you might be able to join us in this campaign. If you can't, then please: Pray with us. Prayers are needed most of all! And lent--the time we meditate on the ravages of sin and the power of grace--is the perfect time to focus out efforts and work for an end to Abortion.

Into the Silent Land

I think Lent is a time given to us to enter "into the silent land." This is a time when we take a good, hard look at ourselves and at Christ in deep discernment. "Who are You?" we ask the Lord. "And who am I?

I think my Lenten "theme" this year will be silence. Everything I fast from, everything I build into my day, everything I read, and the way that I pray will be molded around this idea that we need silence. One book that I recommend to everyone, which bears the title of this post, was written by a graduate professor of mine and a extraordinary homilist. He leads the Catholic Christian deeper into the practice of contemplation in an accessible way.

I used to be diligent about my practice of contemplative prayer: twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the afternoon. And then life consumed me, and it has been years since I have really been regularly silent with the Lord. But again, the Church provides us with the seasons to start over and to continually prepare ourselves for our encounter with Christ.

I said to my soul, be will, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not yet ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing.

T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

February 8, 2010

A Blog Break: Back on Ash Wednesday

Dear Friends:

The Magdalene Sisters are going to take the next ten days off. We'll be back blogging full time on Ash Wednesday.

Keep us in your prayers, as we prepare our hearts for the coming season of Lent. You are, as ever, in our prayers.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

--Edith, Julian, and Agatha

February 6, 2010


Never think that geographical distance can ever separate souls whom God has united by the ties of His love. The children of the world are separated one from another because their hearts are in different places; but the children of God, having their hearts where their treasure is, and sharing only one treasure--which is the same God--are consequently always united and joined together.
--St. Francis de Sales

My New Favorite Blog: The Art of Manliness

Oh. my. goodness. What a site for good reading, and something so necessary for our men these days. While I am working, very humbly, with a few other ladies on learning and crafting the Art of Being a Woman, it's nice to know that this site exists. I am especially impressed with the first date page:

If you play music, play it softly and keep the list classy. AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” or Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” are not appropriate. Stick with some classic jazz or crooners like Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darrin. The music is pleasant, warm, and doesn’t distract from conversation. Remember to keep the volume down so you can hear each other talk. Oh, and don’t play NPR either. Sure, it will make you look “smart” and “enlightened,” but talk radio will kill the conversation between you two. Make a date with Terry Gross when you’re alone in the car and stuck in traffic.

I also enjoy the sections on manly hobbies, dress and grooming (particularly this post), and skills a man should (and can!) learn. This might be perhaps the most enlightening reading I've been exposed to in awhile.

February 4, 2010

For the Playlist

I, too, wanted to have a profound post ready to go. However, it's been a really long week at work (i.e. I thought it was Friday on Tuesday). So, here's a song from one of my new favorite bands Lady Antebellum. I think they are fabulous! Their song out right now is called "Need You Now," which I love, but I especially wanted to share this song called "Hello World." Enjoy!

Red-Carpet Ready

I had an idea for a Profound and Important Post...but it is gone. So, pop-culture will have to suffice. More specifically: fashion. Most specifically: awards show fashion.

It's award season again, and that means we get to feast our eyes on any number of gorgeous dress that we will never be able to wear (let alone have a reason to do so), and hideous dresses that people couldn't pay us to wear. I'll leave you to peruse the hideous ones over at the brilliant and funny Go Fug Yourself blog. Here are some of the pretty/elegant/ladylike dresses worn at recent awards:

Diane Kruger's SAG dress is almost a lovely as her Golden Globe dress.

Who doesn't want to be Tina Fey? What a woman.

She ended up on a lot of worst-dressed lists, but I thought January Jones was adorable at the Golden Globes.

This is Lea Michele, who, I understand, is in Glee. I have never seen her, or Glee. I have also never seen anyone wear a nude-colored dress so well. It takes guts to pull something like this off, and I think she's got guts.

I'm not going to lie. Cameron Diaz is becoming a fashion favorite. Adorable.

Amy Adams, I didn't think you could glow anymore...and then you got pregnant. Gorgeous.

Ok, so Carey Mulligan's dress wasn't amazing...though I love this obsession with salmon pink...but this broach on her was waist was adorable!

(Are there any favorites that I missed?)

February 2, 2010

The Feminine Genius: Cooking!

I don't think John Paul II had this in mind when he was crafting the Theology of the Body, but I'd be happy to add an addendum should the editors ever ask. :) I think that one of the richest gifts a woman has is the ability to nurture the other, whether that person is a friend, sibling, spouse, boyfriend, child, or parent. There is something authentically unique about the way a woman cooks. We do it, whether consciously or not, with the intention of caring for the other. We can do it without huge grilling tools, too.

For the single lady, dinner can be a frustrating time. Work is over, you're back in your apartment, it's generally late, and if you're like me, you're spending the time either alone or with the characters of Seinfeld on syndication. But supper doesn't need to be something quick and easy or grab-and-go all of the time. Even if you don't have a spouse, you have someone to nurture -- yourself. I really encourage single ladies to practice the art of cooking if for nothing else than to take care of yourself in mind and body. And in the end, if you are not comfortable with your single life, at least start with the intention of practicing a few good meals that you can consistently make well before you meet Mr. Right. My married friends say that he'll thank you.

Agatha bought me a book called Solo Suppers last year, and while the title depressed me at first, I am really enjoying crafting my culinary skills with these recipes. The author, Joyce Goldstein, offers recommendations about "shopping for one and stocking your pantry" if you're a regular party-of-one, and I find them particularly practical. The most helpful part of all though, is her discussion on what to do with leftovers (in addition to simply reheating them). I highly recommend this book!

I will begin posting successful, gluten-free recipes in upcoming posts with more meditations on authentic femininity in the kitchen!

February 1, 2010

Love Songs

Here is some monday morning silliness. Because Mondays are hard. Also, because I have been thinking a lot about weddings since EDITH AND PETER ARE GETTING MARRIED IN ELEVEN DAYS!!!!! If I ever do get married, I would like very much to have "The More I See You" as my first dance. That is, if Mr. X likes it too...

The most well known recording these days is Michael Bublé's (and it is quite dance-worthy). But there are plenty of other recordings, some really stunning. And, though it isn't really danceable, for pure jazz sophistication, check out this stunning version by Sarah Vaughan.

Nat King Cole croons it well.

Frank Sinatra really rocks it.

Chet Bakers is a little whiny.

And Julie London's is sultry and entrancing.

The more I see you,
The more I want you.
Somehow this feeling
Just grows and grows.
With every sigh I become more mad about you,
More lost without you,
And so it goes.
Can you imagine
How much I'll love you
The more I see you
As years go by?
I know the only one for me can only be you.
My arms won't free you;
My heart won't try.

A To-the-Knee Plea


Is anyone having luck finding longer skirts or dresses this season? Everything adorable is just a little too short for work (well, for me) although they are fine for other outings. The fall and winter trend with shorter hems worked with leggings and tights, but when spring hits, I'd like a little length. Thanks for any help you can offer!
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