Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Communio Personarum: Trinity and Church

The title of my class today. I'm so glad to be back in class!! I was never meant to work full-time ;) and while my mind will take a few weeks to adjust (it always does), it's very happy to be working again.

So, the Trinity. What an ambitious topic. Our readings today were from Henri de Lubac, John Paul II, and Cardinal Ratzinger. Father began with "Man is desire to know" from Metaphysics. The human being is a web of relations. We are always being created, being generated... I cannot account for myself from within myself; my self comes from an Other. Who we are is formed by how we are generated and brought forth.

There is a similar dynamic in knowledge. Knowledge is a mysterious process, by which the self leaves itself, appropriates what is known, and returns to itself enriched and changed. In a way, after you view the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon dwells in you. The more you know something, the more you are one with it. The more you know a person, the more you are one with him. Love is leaving room in yourself so that the other may come in.

Unity and difference. We tend to deny one and affirm the other. The revelation of the mystery of the Trinity in Jesus Christ is the only hypothesis that puts the two together without destroying them. In Christ, we see that the nature of Being itself is communion-- loving friendship. Where there is greater communion, there is greater unity. In God is the recognition of Otherness. When we call something a Mystery, we do not simply mean it is something beyond our grasp. We mean that it is Otherness. Mystery is a noun; a subject.

Knowledge of God comes only through conversion. Understanding God requires purification. Arius was reluctant to let go of a Greek mind. Since God had to be ungenerated in the Greek conception, Arius had to see Christ, the Generated One; as not being God. The only way to approach studying the Trinity is to humble yourself in front of the mystery of God, and be drawn into it.

That about summarizes my first class on the Trinity. Any questions? I don't quite follow my notes myself, but Fr. Antonio never fails to say something striking. Like this: "Saying 'I love you' contains a lie, is not true, if it doesn't praise God." and this: "When mystery is taken out of reality, reality itself becomes opaque [incomprehensible]."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

As promised...

A couple pictures from the Nash. Top is Sr. Anna and Miriam; Middle is me and Sr. Moon, who entered there a few days after this picture; Bottom is Sr. Alexandra and the baby.

From Sunset re:Dating sites

I'm just gonna put some of her entry here- her blog is private, so you can't go read it yourself- but I don't think she'll mind and if she does it'll come off! You'll notice she's a really great writer:

That said, I'm not joining a Catholic dating site. My rationale for doing so is not passivity, but is something far different, which I will now discuss.

Imagine I joined Catholic Singles (or whatever). In putting up a lovely picture of myself, listing all my data, I would be saying, "This is my body, given up for you." Hey--that's a knock--but that's not a female "way of knocking!" In marriage, the culmination of courtship, it is the man who says, "this is my body given up for you" and the woman says "be it done to me according to your Word."

Men and women are different. We have different roles in relationships--and we have different ways of knocking when we want something! Women are different. Complicated. Confusing. Maddeningly so! We therefore have a different way of knocking when we like someone! We play hard to get.

There is no way a woman can join a Catholic dating site that could be read as saying "be it done to me according to your Word." It can only be "This is my body." How can a woman put herself out there on a website AND play hard to get? It says: "Here I am." Game over. Where is the batting of eyelashes? Where is the mystery? Where is the playfulness? If both a man and a woman say "Here is my body, given up for you," who will receive, when both are so busy giving?

Women get embarrassed. We're mysterious and we get mysteriously embarrassed when we like someone. We don't put ourselves out there. We don't ask men out on dates. We don't propose marriage. We don't serenade them. Putting ourselves out there makes us embarrassed. Guys have no problem putting themselves on a spreadsheets, while women are unspreadsheetable and that is our eternal allure!!

In my interpretation (which could be wrong), putting oneself on a Catholic dating website only makes sense for men. And by refraining from posting my stats on a Singles website--doesn't mean I'm passive, it means I'm a woman and even thinking about it makes me embarrassed.

If I like Mr. X, I'll play hard to get, won't look at him, get embarrassed and let him ask me out if he wants to. These are verbs. I'm not being passive. I'm knocking. This is woman's knock. I'm communicating to God that I want Mr. X in my own, womanly way (i.e., being mysterious and confusing). It's not woman's role to "kill the cow" and grab a husband. What then would the man's role be?

Woohoo! I want to clarify one thing before it gets misunderstood. Sista Sunset doesn't mean all women play hard to get as a game-- we all know that some women do that and that's not what she's talking about-- she means that for many of us, when we like someone, we get embarrassed and suddenly can't talk to them and can hardly look at them. This isn't playing games, because it is not intentional, but it is part of the dance. And I don't think she's saying that it's easy for men to put themselves out there- I'm sure it's not- but that's part of being a man. In our society, women have been told to take all these things into our own hands and to believe that that is only natural. Ask a guy to homecoming if you want (ahem, 1998), ask a guy to dance if you want to dance; God knows you can't count on them to do it. Don't sit around waiting for them! But it's interesting what has happened since this has become our mantra. Now men know that they don't have to make the effort. In the "old days" if they didn't make the extra effort, they would spend every Saturday night alone at home. Now, chances are quite good that they will have a date before they even thought much about the girl they're taking out. (Of course there are exceptions) And another result is that I think the fear of rejection, which must have always been present, has been hightened for men because they put themselves out there less often. They only want to ask someone out if they're positive they will say yes. But if it's someone like me or Sunset, there's pretty much no way they'll know this unless they know us really well. I repeat, this is not intentional! It's just that we suddenly feel like we're back in 7th grade, and the cute boy across the room glances in our direction and we turn red and focus hard on the graffiti on our desks until he stops. Not that we don't like it. And not that we don't want him to do it again. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be if you're the cute boy in question, but, that's the way it is sometimes. St. Joseph, help these guys out! Mary, help us to know how to encourage them in the right way.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Catholic Match, Huh?

One of the topics of conversation in Nashville: CatholicMatch, Ave Maria, etc. So I throw it to you:

What do you think about Catholics looking online for their future spouse? I would love to see a discussion develop on this... if one starts I will put in my two cents on thursday. If you were one of my early readers (ha!) you might be able to guess.

Go to it!!
Haha, ok, well since there are only a few of us... (Sunset, I wish you'd left it in the combox to make it look better!) I'll just say a couple things, and refer you to my January 25th entry which goes into technology more.

Annee pointed out that we're really lucky to even have this option- or the option to marry for love in the first place. Bayou has said before that it just creates an opportunity that may not exist otherwise for good people to meet each other. The general consensus goes like this: An online dating site itself is neutral, it's how you use it that matters. That's something I would like to challenge, I think. So what might online dating say?

  1. Take matters into your own hands. You can't wait around for people to drop into your life. Ok, this is somewhat valid. No, you can't sit in the highest room of the tallest tower for years and expect Prince Charming to come rescue you. But I don't think you can go to the other extreme of "God only helps those who help themselves," meaning you should do everything you possibly can think of to find someone. God does more than you could ever do by yourself. He's working on it right now if that is His plan for you. God doesn't need you to "exhaust all avenues," especially if they would contradict something about you.
  2. You can get to know me by a profile. This could be partly a pride issue, I concede that, but it's at least partly objectively true that you can't put me in a box. You can't possibly understand who I am by reading a bunch of "facts" about me. You can't know anyone by that. Sure, you could find out my favorite book, music, or quote and that will give you some clues, but it's nowhere near explaining me. I know, I know, this is just the initial stage and it would go on to phone or in person, but the beginning matters.
  3. You just need to find someone who fits the criteria. Catholic and orthodox? Believes the Church's teachings? Wants a big family and to raise them for heaven? Great, let's get married! Um.... huh??? I don't think so! What about a sense of humor? What about attraction? What about the Holy Spirit? On paper, let me tell you, I'm quite a catch. But if someone just sees that and creates this person in their head of who I am, they will be quite disappointed. There will be a measure of disillusionment in any relationship, I'm sure. You always start out seeing just the good and have to learn to see that still when you finally see the bad too. But in this online "system" of finding a spouse, you are practically encouraged to create the person in your mind, because you have no other options. You can't even help it, really. All you have to go on is the fact sheet. I have met great Catholic men who have everything to recommend them. They are fun, cool, and solid. But for one reason or another, something in our personalities doesn't mesh. (This happens with girls too, you meet a friend of a friend that you *should* love, but you just don't click) On the other hand, I have had good friends who are nothing like me on paper. One guy I was very close to was an agnostic, couldn't care less about God, but we got along incredibly well. We could spend hours and hours talking even if we could never agree on a single point. Would I have ever met him on a dating site? No way! I would see "agnostic" and run in the other direction. But his friendship was huge in my life and taught me so much more than those seemingly "perfect" Catholic guys. Getting married isn't about shopping around with a list of qualities you want. It's about an encounter with another who is for you. You find yourself in them. You see how the Holy Spirit has acted in both of your lives to bring you together in an unexpected way. I guess I feel like a gift isn't so much fun if you went to the store to read all the descriptions and picked it out yourself.
  4. Women should be as active as men in the process. I accept that the days are gone when a young man would "come calling." I don't expect to be pursued in the same way that women were in days past, but I do want to be pursued. If I joined an online site, I would not be able to resist that part of me who is still "liberated" and thinks it's ok for me to ask a guy out. (sophomore homecoming, will never forget it) Maintaining my Fiat would be increasingly difficult. "Grasp not" is my motto and I could see it easily slipping away if I searched for eligible young men in the area. Once again the questions would come, how much does it matter? Does it really matter if I'm the first to contact him? Does it really matter if I call first? If I suggest a date? If I take over completely and become one of those mothers who is the head of the house? Baby steps. Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But I'm not prepared to take that risk. The Fiat is too beautiful and fruitful in my soul to let go of.

That's enough for now. John Paul II, pray for us all as we seek our vocations in life. Mama Mary, hold us and guide us!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

N.I.C.U. Babies

about N.I.C.U.s.....
"Before birth, the baby and the mother are locked in an intricate dance. Each affects the hormonal behavior of the other. They move together, they share the same food and they may even share some of the same feelings. Little is understood about this complicated relationship, but even as more is learned, it is very unlikely that N.I.C.U. doctors will ever perfectly recreate conditions in the uterus. They would need not only a mechanical womb but also a mechanical mother with mechanical hormones and mechanical hopes and fears."
Since a couple of our wretches have been nurses at NICUs, I wonder what they think about it.
Imagine, a mother's body is perfectly designed to take care of the baby and technology just can't seem to reproduce that! What a shocker. As Dr. Schindler says, pregnancy is both a forming and a being formed... if one or the other is lacking, it causes a problem. Mama forms baby and at the same time is being formed by him/her.
I swear I'll be finishing the nashville post soon... and posting pictures too...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Points us onward

That's what religious life and marriage both do... religious life in a more obvious and in-your-face manner. What an awesome few days I had in Nashville! And I was certainly redirected toward the Lord and toward heaven.

Sitting around the table at the reception, we all just looked at each other. We sat there and... looked. Looked and smiled. Smiled and laughed. Laughed and looked some more. There were very few words exchanged the whole time, compared to most other social situations. As Storm put it, "There's too much to put into 20 minutes, so instead, it's better to just look at each other." We hadn't seen each other, many of us, in a year. So much had happened in the mean time: there was a whole new human being sitting with us that did not exist a year ago! And we had not one, but two friends from college who were now married to Christ in this community (simple vows) and another who entered on Sunday.

(B.N. Sr. Moon is the first to leave the wretches: she's in Nashville now!)

Much to be thought, prayed, and sorted through. But it made me feel more than ever the beauty of both states of life before me. They are so awesome! And while I still feel that religious life is not "mine", it does not cause the least bit of fear in me. I know that I would be happy anywhere. Wherever God calls me, it will be uniquely me and a (close to) perfect fit. Terry was made for that habit. She is more herself now than ever before. Likewise, Erika (Duck) and Todd (Toad) are uniquely for each other, and Miriam is a reflection of their love. After some recent discussion, hearing Duck-- one of the wisest women I know-- say that Toad is her "soulmate" and she can't imagine getting through without that was really good to hear.

I'll continue this later!!! And post pictures!

Thursday, August 04, 2005


My pet deadly sin. I've got pride covered. It's just so clever, subtle, and hide-able. But of course, as we all know, a proud person can spot another proud person a mile away. It's like we have a secret handshake, except that it is rarely acknowledged. We never know for sure whether the other person realizes that we see theirs, and we never know for certain if the other person sees ours. I think mine displays itself quite readily though. Like the other night,

Roommate: How was theology on tap?
Self: It was alright.
R: What did they talk about?
S: Pride, but the talk wasn't very good. I'm the proudest person in the world and I didn't find it helpful at all.

Hahaha. Typical! It's just amazing. How does it go away? Unfortunately, as my confessor reminds me, the only way you get humility is by being humiliated. I've gotten to the point that falling up the escalator, as I did yesterday, doesn't bother me that much at all. My toe really did hurt more than my pride. And I generally laugh about other clumsy or stupid things that I do. It's the intellectual stuff that gets me. I have to be right, I have to know it all, I have to have all the answers.

I was struck by this quote of Dr. Schindler's about Benedict XVI:

"He is never defensive because he has no ego to protect. What he defends is not himself but the faith he has received and the Church he is meant to serve."
That's it, right there. I get defensive not because I want so badly to defend the truth- what I tell myself- but because I want to be understood. I want to be thought well of, respected, and capable.

Yesterday, someone from another faith was asking questions and talking about inclusive language and all sorts of things, and I was getting so agitated. Why? It was unnecessary to get defensive there, he was not trying to be difficult... even if he was, it would have been much better to ask him questions and try to understand his point of view. Let him make his case.

I think it's just frustrating for me when things seem to make perfect sense until I'm asked to articulate them and I can't. After a year of studying for my masters, it seems I'm still far from eloquent about difficult matters. Such as the story going around the blogs regarding the statement on Benedict's desk about same-sex attraction and ordination to the priesthood. I know that it matters. Of course it matters. And I know we've talked about this in class before, but can I articulate why a homosexual is probably unfit for the priesthood? Not very well. The only question I remember is this: "If a man is not able to be a father in the sense of begetting a child through a marriage, is he fit to be a spiritual father to a parish?" I think that is a question. The answer is not as clear, which is why I think it's a delicate matter requiring close personal attention and knowledge of the individual man in question. This is just one example of an important matter that can seem clear in my head but it turns out a real understanding of the issue is lacking. And as long as that is missing, and I'm not able to talk about things with people without getting all fired up, not only will I not be a very good teacher, but I'll be a poor witness for Christ in general. I have to learn to be like Benedict-- to have no ego to protect, but only a love for the truth, the church, and everyone I come in contact with.