May 28, 2010
May 27, 2010
May 26, 2010
Now that I am home in the Chicago area, I have been anxiously asking myself what is next other than writing my doctoral dissertation. As in, I need a job! So I made a Pentecost pilgrimage to a gorgeous Church in Chicago, St. John Cantius. As God has been feeling distant from me in my sorrows, I was need of renewal this Pentecost. The Mass was lovely enough, but it came for me at the end of the Mass. As the exit procession of priests, seminarians, and altar servers began, fragrant, beautiful rose petals began to fall from the oculus of this gorgeous Church. I just started smiling, relishing in this physical reminder of the tongues of fire falling baptizing all of us, uniting the Communion of Saints. And of course, the rose petals gave it a Marian significance as well.
I had never heard of this tradition before, but as I have learned, it is a Roman tradition that at Pentecost each year, rose petals are dropped from the oculus of the Pantheon, now the Church dedicated to Mary, Queen of Martyrs. Check out the story here - where I also found the photo. Enjoy - and Happy week of Pentecost!
May 25, 2010
May 24, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 21, 2010
Well, I have just returned from my travels. I realized that I get to traveling a lot. I’m quite lucky. Less than a year ago, I was in North Africa! And just these past few weeks I have been in Vienna, Austria. But I am the world's worst blogger when I travel, and for that I apologize. Maybe it is because I have been stressed these last two trips. Maybe I am just a bad blogger when I travel. So here are a few reflections of what I have been learning during my travels.
This trip was both wonderful and stressful. Wonderful because I got to see my golden old friends (and family - my sister lives in Europe!) meet tremendous new ones. Nothing helps healing more than friendship. I was doing some work for a conference that tremendously interests me - on Islam and Europe. It was a great conference. But my boss was a bit of nightmare during it...he made it quite stressful. But I won’t delve into that, save to say that he is not the best manager of people and a micro-manager who also hates details. Yes, imagine that – not an ideal combination to put it lightly.
But after all that passed over, and I found myself still missing Peter. The goal of the trip was to forget him, to let the memories of our relationship and the plans of our future pass into smoky oblivion and move on, but that still has not happened. The stress of conference planning was merely a distraction, and as I found myself steeped in the beauty of a city the Habsburg money built, I found my heart so heavy with sorrow. Why could I not just forget about him? I walked into every gorgeous Church I could find asking that question receiving no comfort, no answer. Even now, I still miss him and he still haunts my sleep. Even if my better judgment reminds me that I have been saved, my irrational emotions remember the goodness of Peter, instead of his faults that made him entirely wrong for me. That’s human nature, isn’t it? A little good, a little bad – such a complicated mixture of good and evil.
Despite my sorrow, I opened up to others about my experience – to my friends old and new. What I found was solidarity in suffering, as this trip revealed to me the long known truth that world is full of human suffering....
Take the lovely young girl from Armenia. She is 22. At age 20, she married the love her life, the man of her dreams. At age 21, she had a child who lived for only 6 months. He died of genetic disease - the genes for which both she and her husband carried. After the death of her baby, she and her husband divorced. At 21, she moved to Vienna to seek meaning and move on.
Then there was the older American woman who used to work for the same person I worked for during this trip. She left a fabulous well paying job because she was looking for meaning and thought working for an organization associated with the Church might give that to her. She worked for this organization for just six months and found the job odious. The next thing she knew, she was making rather poor decisions, like that one guy that one night...and then she found herself pregnant. In Europe I met both her and her beautiful little daughter.
Finally, there was the glorious French professor who teaches in Germany. He writes about Medieval Islam and Christianity and was invited to speak at our conference along with many other notable men and women. I went with the driver to pick him up from the train station in Vienna and escort him to the conference. I was captivated by him. He is very French, delightful, forgetful, and absent minded. When he spoke, his voice was barely audible and his face was almost expressionless, but his words were always so kind and incredibly wise.
When I asked him about his work, he told me a story about his wife. She had encouraged him to take a fellowship that would take him away from her and their three young sons. She did it because she loved him and she wanted what she knew would make him happy and allow him to become the best of himself – he did not say that, but I knew it. But he did say, “She had so much courage to do that, to stay with our three sons on her own. That is what I love about her – she has the feminine courage that lasts for the long run, while masculine courage only lasts in the short run…”
Those words resonate with me. I thought – that is exactly the kind of love I want to have from a husband. I hope he is out there, and I hope I do a much better job of finding him. I think that’s why I love the idea of the woman warrior, because all of us women are called to be one at one time or another. Even as I protest, God has put that training before me. And while I am no woman warrior like the ones I blog about, I certainly aspire to be. I think it is safe to say that I am a work in progress on that feminine genre of the virtue. After all, it takes courage to meet your almost mother in law on what should have been your wedding day and return those gorgeous rings you were supposed to exchange. And while you are quite tearfully doing that, she is gently and tacitly blaming you for the mess: “Peter says you just wanted too much and he felt too pressured to give everything to you.” Whatever that was supposed to mean – just another lie, another attempt to escape blame for what he did wrong. As I said, human nature is a complicated mess of good and evil. And it takes courage to tell your family members which items belonged to Peter that need to be returned to him as you weep so that they can pack them up and get them out of your apartment. All the while, he is roaming around town partying at a Mardi Gras parade on what should have been the first day of your honeymoon – the first day of your life together as man and wife. Yes, it takes courage to move on from all that. It takes the feminine courage that lasts for the long run, the kind I am inevitably, and perhaps unwillingly, learning to practice.
Photos: From my trip
1: View of Vienna from Stephansdom Tower
2: Altar at Votivkirche
3: Facade of Michaelkirche - St. Michael the Archangel
Needless to say, this means getting a lot of dresses. And, preferably, dresses that I can wear in multiple seasons. We also have to be wary of bridesmaid colors--which means prints are always a win. Here are some of the dresses I've been eyeing for this (continual) wedding season.
This has everything great about recent trends: aqua, metallic, with architectural details. I'd pair it with a bright linen or silk shawl in chartreuse or salmon, and vibrant heels. Mod Cloth.
The bow on this navy dress is so sweet. The color is seasonless. Shabby Apple.
May 20, 2010
Well, since I'll be working part-time at a parish doing administrative work this summer, I figure that I should get a few pieces to work with what I have. I think I'm going to dress up some basics with a fun summer blazer. It's easy to pair with a crisp white button-down shirt and black pants or a skirt. The brighter the better, I say!
I'm also thinking that some fun necklaces could really liven t-shirts up if paired with dressy bottoms and shoes.
May 19, 2010
Exhibit B: Jacket and Pants
This is a tricky one. You need to be sure to pick a blouse nice enough on its own, but that works well under a jacket. You can't go with a camisole here, because you're going to be too warm. I'm not the biggest fan of J.Crew, but they really do excel at affordable well made suits, so I suggest one of their wool gabardines, in a pale color like this gray. Pair with it a fun jacket and pretty blouse. Because these are pants, you can get away with more casual shoes (like wedges, or flat sandals). For accessories, I'd add a flower pin and call it a day.
Exhibit C: Sleeved Dresses
Ah! this one is such a trail. I am loving all the little shifts that are so popular right now, and they pair wonderfully with a sweater or jacket. But sometimes it's just too hot for that. And the only thing to do is wear a dress. Luckily shirt-dresses are seeing a bit of a renaissance as well. The one below is from Shabby Apple. Here are a few more favorites: Ann Taylor; Anthropologie; Macy's
May 18, 2010
May 17, 2010
Kicking off with the casual, since I'll be spending my vacation in my favorite California city, I wanted to find something put together but still casual. The blouse is lightweight, the linen pants will be cool, and those espadrilles are incredibly comfortable--I live in them in the summer! And I just adore the big bag, with that bold (albeit odd) print.
Light Speed Blouse from Anthropologie
Alfani Linen and Rayon Pants from Macy's
Pleasted Shoulder Bag from happyKatt on Etsy
I can't believe I forgot to include a jacket (a necessity for cool CA nights) and jewelery! This jacket is sporty and versatile. And green: the most underrated neutral! And these awesome earrings echo the pattern of the top.
Ann Taylor Loft Jacket
Dichotomous Earrings from Etsy seller Nervous System
May 14, 2010
In honor of the Year for Priests, The Magdalene Sisters will be praying this Novena for Priests. Please join us tomorrow in this special prayer. The Novena will end on Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd:
Jesus, Good Shepherd,
You sent us the Holy Spirit to guide Your Church
and lead her faithful to You through the ministry of Your priests.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, grant to Your priests
wisdom in leading,
faithfulness in teaching,
and holiness in guarding Your sacred Mysteries.
As they cry out with all the faithful, "Abba, Father!"
may Your priests be ever more closely identified with You
in Your divine Sonship
and offer their own lives with You, the one saving Victim.
Make them helpful brothers of one another,
and understanding fathers of all Your people.
On this Pentecost Sunday, renew in Your priests deeper faith,
greater trust in You,
childlike reliance on our Mother Mary,
and unwavering fidelity to the Holy Father and his bishops.
Holy Mary, intercede for your priests.
St. Joseph, protect them.
St. Michael, defend them.
St. John Vianney, pray for them.
May 13, 2010
Well, regardless of whether your diocese celebrates it today or Sunday: today IS the Feast of the Ascension. 40 days after Easter, Christ ascended to Heaven.
Now begins the period of waiting. It is not the expectant waiting of Advent. Nor is it the hard penitential waiting of Lent, or the sad uncertain waiting of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
This waiting is different. It is confident and joyful. It is uncertain about the future, but eager for God's calling. It is ready to do God's will, but listening for further instructions. It is the waiting of discernment, the waiting of Vocation.
Veni creator Spiritus...
May 12, 2010
May 11, 2010
May 10, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 7, 2010
May 6, 2010
This is a fun event fashion-wise, because you can take many more risks. Its not on TV, its not the Oscars, and, really, only recently has it seens exposure in the media besides a short spread in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. My personal favorite outfit from the met ball was Elle Macpherson's chartruese gown matched with gold flip-flops (but, alas, I cannot find a photo...). For this week's ball, there seemed to be only a few interesting and lovely gowns--gowns that stood athwart the sad trends like trains on short dresses, middle slits, inconsistent ruching and ruffles, and weird weird weird lace. Whoooie! After all that you might ask youself: was there anything good? Yes: here were my top fives:
#5: Nicole Ritchie's luxe bohemian look gets me nearly every time. I hate to say it, but she's got style.
#4 Zoe Saladena (is that how you spell it?) rocks this one sleeve Clavin Klein sheath. Love it.
#3 Carolina Herrerra is, of course, the quintessential female designer. And her she looks completely elegant and timeless in a gown of her own design. AND she wears gloves without looking like a poser. Brilliant.
#2 Iman looks stunning in this modern throwback to the 1930s. Absolutely stunning. I have not seen a black dress I liked this much in a really really long time.
#1 Also echoing the 1930's, I just love Kate Bosworth's lovely printed bias gown. The colors and textures transform a flattering silouhette into something luminous and enchanting. I haven't seen anything I liked better this whole year.
May 5, 2010
Yesterday I got the chance to hear Wendell Berry speak here in Washington. It was a real treat (except for the INSANE heat of the room; I know he's all for sustainability, but that doesn't mean in a totally packed room on a warm and humid day we shouldn't at least open the doors for some air circulation, let alone turn the fan on!)
It put me in mind of posting here about his book of essays Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. His stories and poetry have often displayed a strong sense of fidelity--both within marriage and to a larger community. He explores these themes poetically in his book of short stories Watch With Me about Tol Proudfoot and Miss Minnie (my favorite of his fiction), and again in the essays in this wonderful book.
Here's a quote. (Now buy the book!)
Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another "until death," are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, "die" into their union with one another as a soul "dies" into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing.
(Painting by Harlan Hubbard, the artist who's work often graces the covers of Berry's books.)
May 4, 2010
May 3, 2010
May 1, 2010
This month's woman warrior is a contemporary of Dorothy Day and a Russian woman who lived to witness the Russian revolution, and both World Wars. Catherine Kolyschkine Doherty was born in 1896 to a devout, Russian aristocratic family. According to her biography,
She was a pioneer among North American Catholic laity in implementing the Church’s social doctrine in the face of Communism, economic and racial injustice, secularism and apathy. At the same time she insisted that those engaged in social action be rooted in prayer and that they incarnate their faith into every aspect of ordinary life. Catherine was a bridge between the Christian East and West. Baptized Orthodox and later becoming Roman Catholic, her spiritual heritage drew upon both of these traditions.She married quite young and fled with her husband to Canada. She had a child and suffered under tremendous poverty, which ultimately destroyed her marriage and gave her cause for an annulment. A woman warrior indeed who suffers so much.
But she allowed God's grace to envelop her life. She became wealthy once again, but sold her possessions (after providing for her son, of course) and chose to live a life of poverty with the poor, much like Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. She began an apostolate to take care of the poor called the 'Friendship House' in Canada and Harlem, where she met Dorothy Day. When that apostolate seemed to have failed, she moved with her second husband, Eddie Doherty, back to Canada. But her calling had just begun. She founded the Madonna House, a Catholic apostolate made up of lay men and women, as well as clergy, who live in community to serve the poor within the community. According to her biography:
Catherine had a faith vision for the restoration of the Church and our modern culture at a time when the de-Christianization of the Western world was already well advanced. She brought the spiritual intuitions of the Christian East to North America. Lay men and women as well as priests came to Madonna House to live the life of a Christian family: the life of Nazareth. They begged for what they needed and gave the rest away. . . . Catherine’s vision was immense, encompassing farming, carpentry, cooking and laundry, theology and philosophy, science, the fine arts, and drama. “Nothing is foreign to the Apostolate, except sin... The primary work of the Apostolate is to love one another... If we implement this law of love, if we clothe it with our flesh, we shall become a light to the world,” she said, “for the essence of our Apostolate is love—love for God poured out abundantly for others.”Catherine also introduced many elements of Eastern Christianity's spirituality to her community at the Madonna House and may of her publications have been widely published and you can find a complete list here.
She died in 1985 and left behind a wealth of spiritual writings that I am placing high on my to-read list. I'll leave off with a quote of hers about how we should live our lives for us to meditate upon: "Stretch one hand out to God, the other to your neighbor. Be cruciform. ... Christ’s cross will be our revolution and it will be a revolution of love!"