Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I came home last week and noticed that my mom was wearing a bright red and green button on her coat. It said, “I celebrate Christmas” and she said that the pastor of our Church told everyone to wear them. The idea is, I assume, that when you’re shopping and in public, everyone can say “Merry Christmas” without offending you.

Well, as the saying goes, this is worthy of a conversation.

I am sure that this was suggested out of the best intentions. We want the world to recognize that Christmas is not just another holiday, a nice time to exchange gifts and eat sweets. It actually means something. Or in Bart Simpson speak, “Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.”

The other day someone was saying “I feel like everyone gets caught up in gifts and forgets the real meaning.” That statement no longer makes any sense to me somehow. Not only because it’s so obvious—yes, there are some people who don’t get it—but people say this ALL THE TIME and the statement itself seems to have lost its own meaning. It’s also because you can’t totally separate the Meaning and the actions that have developed around it. It’s not like “Jesus Christ was born and then these commercial materialists got a hold of it and it’s not at all connected anymore”. I’m not saying that people aren’t manipulated by advertising and other things into buying stupid gifts for no reason other than a sense of obligation, or that it isn’t used as an opportunity for that. I hate shopping with a passion. BUT as the HF reminds us, we give gifts to remind us of the greatest Gift of all; God who gave His only Son.

Professor Griegel from the JPI in Rome gave us a master class last year in which he highlighted the fact that if the person is not present in the gift, it is a lie. He put it this way—“Boy gives girl a flower. If boy is not in flower, then flower is a lie, a manipulation.” He meant that our gifts have to reflect that we are giving ourselves to the other person. If they are not reflections of that then they are not true. You know how you feel weird giving a gift to someone you hardly know? You do not know how to share yourself with them.

One of the best gifts Sr. Sea ever gave, she says, is the promise to write to her sister once a month. I think I will start that at home with my dad this year. I think that he would really love that, and he does not need or want anything else, really. Except a piano book! I keep telling my mom that I'd love a recipe book of her recipes, or a book of stories from growing up, but she does not get it. And that would take a lot more time as well.

How did I get from the button to there? Oh well.

Obviously, I celebrate Christmas. I believe that Truth Himself was born of a woman; that the idea of an immovable, untouchable and unchangeable God was cast aside for a living reality, a God who is Love, who takes flesh and walks among us.

Now, if someone would just put all that on a shirt, maybe I’d think about it. But “I celebrate Christmas”? “Good for you” is the response I imagine from anyone who does not. It’s not really challenging. It doesn’t call you further. It’s not really much of anything, actually, and to me it seems to belittle the greatness of it.

I’d rather wear a button that says “God loves you.”

Decorating the Basilica!

This year was the first year I got the "inside scoop" about decorating the Basilica for Christmas. It was such a joy!!! (See mention of decorating below) Poinsetta plants everywhere, real hay for the humongous Fontanini Nativity [which was an anonymous donation a few years ago] and lots of trees and lights. And of course, wonderful company like my favorite Dominican brother and the ladies of Monroe St. Hopefully one of my friends will send along the pictures from the sections we were in charge of so that I can brag even more. We got to do the "Flight to Egypt" which is one of my absolute favorite spots. It's an amazing operation, and I hope to make it an annual tradition!

Consolation and Desolation

“…during the time of consolation, prepare for suffering.”

This is a line from the novena to St. Joseph that we do every year. The first time we said it, Marie, Kathleen and I paused there. Whoa, really? The question is: how do you do that?

A few weeks ago at a planning meeting for St. Anthony’s youth group, we were talking about preparation. And in answer to the question “What is the best way to prepare for anything?” I said prayer. Prayer is the best preparation for anything because it is connecting yourself to the Meaning of everything. Without prayer you cannot be prepared because you have not been in contact with the One who sends you whatever you have received- be it “good” or “bad”.

I think of friends who do not have faith; how when something truly wonderful happens to them, they do not know what to do with it. One of them said to me, “I tried to write it down but I just couldn’t capture it at all.” When I said that seemed right because there’s something in joy that is not transferable (without saying “it’s the Holy Spirit”) she just looked puzzled. Not knowing Who to thank for a great gift is almost worse than not understanding why you are sent the gift of suffering.

Contrariwise, I have friends who are undergoing a tremendous trial of suffering. Were they prepared for this? No way, not in the sense that people usually mean that. It’s not as if they had studied cancer, nursing, or medicine, and they aren’t even georgraphically close to their families for support. But they were prepared in the only way that matters in the end: by faith and love in prayer.

So what are consolation and desolation? The definitions of these words don’t capture them for me, and I am sure that everyone experiences them differently. I have discovered that, for me, it’s really easy to tell when I’m in consolation, and I’m totally oblivious when I’m in desolation. (Hence I am writing this in what I’d call consolation) What I mean by that is that when I’m in desolation, I forget that such a thing as consolation even exists and that I have ever felt it. I accept desolation as “the way things always are.” It happens every time; I forget the past joy almost entirely. I think that I’ll have to make a habit of prayer-writing a LOT in consolation so that I can go back and read it later, remembering this experience. Preparing for the dull suffering of desolation.


Desolation: If I have to listen to one more thing about God I think I’m going to scream. (I wish I was joking)

Consolation: Why would anyone want to talk about anything but God? I only want to talk about Jesus all day! What else matters? Can we talk about ideas versus experience?

Desolation: Just get through today.

Consolation: Isn’t it an amazing day? Don’t you think? Have you seen the clouds? They’re awesome!

Desolation: At least I’ll get to mass and He’ll get me through the rest of the day, even if the chapel is ugly, the homily is boring and the music is awful. At least the Lord is there.

Consolation: I can’t wait for Mass! I love everything about this chapel. I love these priests, they’re precious, and I love the quirky sister who does the music. Thank you Lord!

Desolation: Decorate the church? I don’t really want to decorate, thanks.

Consolation: Oh my gosh! What cute little ribbons! Are we putting 1000 of them on this one tree? Awesome!! It’s going to look beeeautiful!!! Oh look at the Nativity! The sheep! They’re baa-ing!! CUTENESS!

Desolation: I don’t really feel like cooking tonight, what do I have in the cupboard?... peanut butter and bread? Perfect, works fine.

Consolation: And then, I’ll make a whole chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and green beans and when it’s done I’ll make it into a soup by cooking all day until it falls off the bones just like my mom always does. And then I want to bake cookies for the neighbors.

You get the idea. Most things I have read about these two states focus strictly on the experience in prayer- dryness or whatever else- but I find that for me it’s more the constant state throughout the day. Maybe there is another term for that, I do not know.

Does anyone else relate to this?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wretched Advent

This will be an actual substantial post! Wow! It's a little something I wrote about Advent and being a wretch and in the middle state. If only I listened to myself more...


I am Advent. I wait in wonder and expectation; Someone is growing within me, but I cannot see Him yet. I feel gentle movements at first; He’s testing the waters. Gradually He takes up more and more space in me, and begins to make His presence undeniable. This silent growth sometimes brings discomfort and anxiety, but it is already underway and cannot be hindered without doing violence to myself. I deeply desire to give birth, but I cannot rush Him. I want to know what He looks like, see His face and hold Him in my arms, but this is a time for waiting.

I am almost twenty-five and I have not made any vows. You must admit that I am lacking something: I have not given my life away. It is still here in my small, shaky and inadequate hands. Every day I awake knowing that I have a mission to accomplish… but darned if I know what it is. Every moment is one in which I either affirm or deny His presence, and this will always be so… but I have nothing in my life to compare with a choleric infant or crotchety superior, neither of which it is possible to ignore. On the contrary, I am sure I can and do ignore plenty of opportunities to grow in grace and virtue. I cannot trust my own will for a second, and yet it is apparent that Christ does.

The fact that I am in this state of unknowing is a sign of His trust in me, His promise that even if I do not know it, He can and will accomplish something though me. My life and my mission are not on hold; they have already begun. In Baptism, I was given a new life; the vows that were spoken for me then will always be the most definitive, for I am Christ’s and there is no turning back. Even when I feel like I am just waiting around, the Holy Spirit is not. Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit and in her time of waiting only a privileged few knew of the Mystery that grew within her. In a similar way, we single persons must cultivate the Life growing within us, witnessing to the work of the Holy Spirit silent and steady in our hearts. In not yet having a home to “settle down” in, we live the reality of being pilgrims on this earth. We are called to recognize and proclaim that this is not our true Home. Even without a ring or a vow, we know Love and hope in His promise. This promise is much greater than we can imagine, and is the true end of all our human longings, even for a vocation.

I have not done an extensive sociological study, but there seem to be increasing numbers of “us”- faithful vow-less 20-and 30-somethings. This is not accidental and the whole of it is fruitful. It must be the way the Holy Spirit is working in our age. Advent is a special time to meditate on the tremendous work that God does in secret. He seems to be suggesting “Slow down,” “Be healed,” “Surrender control.” I do not mean to mitigate personal responsibility for prayerful discernment and decisive action. I am simply looking around at the many people I know who are open, prayerful and seeking to give their lives away. They want to be poor, chaste and obedient, giving all of themselves to God. They tend to congregate together and form a sort of “Catholic mafia.”

Like most young adults, my friends—particularly women in the same state as me—are my constant support and encouragement. These are friendships that are almost indescribable to anyone who has not known Christ and given all to Him. “See how they love one another.” Yes, look! I think of those words anytime I am waiting at the airport for a friend to arrive because of the joyful anticipation and ensuing silliness that inevitably bursts out when we see one another. There is an intense joy there that is born of being on this journey together. United in prayer and the Eucharist, we become ever more one though we live far apart. I was in a college study group once that turned to talking about male and female friendships. I was bewildered by the experience of these young women who said that their friendships with other women were fraught with drama, cruel words and backstabbing. I could not even imagine that. I do not think I could remain hopeful without my friends.

In light of this discovery, a few women and I began a sort of fake religious order. We call ourselves the Little Wretches of St. Joseph, and we have very few rules. Basically if you love St. Joseph, you think you are wretched (sometimes) and you are not in a vowed state, you’re in. We all have names that are connected somehow with the created world. The first four wretches were Earth, Wind, Water and Fire… yes, kind of like Captain Planet. Nature is a big part of our “charism”, but our names have also begun branching into time and seasons. There are now over seventy women who call themselves wretches, and I have never even met a number of them. Since its beginnings three years ago on the feast of St. Joseph, we have had an even split: four of our “sisters” have entered religious life while four have gotten married. It is wonderful to be in the company of so many young women who are, well, pretty normal, and yet radically seeking God’s will in their lives. We cannot become holy on our own, and every interaction I have with my sisters in wretchedness reminds me that we are all called to be saints and if I am ever to get there it will only be in the company of my friends. In watching them grow and find their homes in this world, I see truly that everything has been arranged with perfect timing. As Christ grew within them, He gradually revealed to them a place in which to see His face.

In Advent, while the world is bustling around buying trinkets, Christians turn their eyes toward the Lord and beg Him to come back. On December 25th we recall His birth in the stable, and how He deigned to walk among us. We think about His tiny hands and feet, the same ones that would one day be pierced, and think of the joy of His mother Mary before the sword of the Cross. We do all this in a spirit of waiting for Jesus to return. Advent is the season in which the Church recognizes that she is still pregnant and that she must carry Jesus faithfully until the end of time. Those of us in the middle state are given the tremendous gift of experiencing this waiting in a special way. Our lives must proclaim the hope that He is coming again. By being joyful “in the meantime” we proclaim that this world is not all there is. If we are in the hands of the Father, trusting in the Son and led by the Holy Spirit, then our waiting is that of Advent: hoping in the promise of the One who will never disappoint.

Canticle of Zechariah

This morning's Canticle antiphon was full of our sisters:

Like the sun in the morning sky, the Savior of the world will dawn; like rain on the meadows he will descend to rest in the womb of the Virgin, alleluia.

Monday, December 11, 2006


"Look at the human being you are with sympathy." ~Fr. Antonio

So often we look at ourselves only to find fault. It is good to see yourself clearly, but you must also remember that you are loved. Just as you excuse the little faults in those you love, excuse your own (assuming you also seek forgiveness and intend to do better!). Jesus loves you anyway! Really loves you. Sigh.

Erin Dawn's Reflective thing

Since Advent is a time for reflection...

"Paste the first sentence you posted for each month of the year and then look over it."

January: Ok, I do not know where this "vacation" has gone.

February: I just wanted to let you ladies know about a Catholic Olympian, Rebecca Dussault, 25, who is a cross country skier, wife and mother.

March: This is the new catch phrase around, started by Wave but very contagious. ("Worthy of a conversation")

April: Not to reveal myself at all, but one of my pictures has made it into Dappled Things.

May: I just shamelessly stole this from "Christianity today" who took it from Barabara Nicolosi's blog- but I'm giving credit of course...

June: Tonight is the vigil mass of Pentecost- a feast that I never understood so well as I do now and certainly never celebrated as well as I plan on doing.

July: Amy's wedding is on Friday!!! Amy is Sr. Spice, of "Refusal to Grasp" blog fame. Prayers for her and Duston...

August: Wretches and friends!Please pray for me on Monday August 7th.

September: The other day, in the Weekend section of the Post, there was an interview with one of the Affleck men.

October: And it includes a beautiful piece on discernment for wretches. (Dappled Things)

November: Last year's Homily at the Dominican House of Studies Vigil of All Saints was INCREDIBLE.

December: This story is worth the read, if you get the chance!

Well now. It is terribly apparent that I do not pay any attention to making a memorable first post of the month :)

The Road to Heaven

... is Heaven. (Teresa of Avila)

I've mentioned that quote before, and it was on reflecting on being in this very house, with some of these same people. Two of the couples are newly engaged- one of them is our wretched Sr. Heavens. Tim and Lori have 2 little girls, and Katie and Jake are expecting their first. Brother Ron was in the House (student ministers at CUA) with Lauren, Kara, and Katie.

It is just so good to be with them!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"What makes us grow..."

CL seems to pride itself on the longest titles for things. This article's title is 20 words long.

It's about living reason; a reason that is not only intellectual but exists to take us beyond experience into the Mystery behind all things.

He quote a letter from a woman in the movement:

"...The days seem more and more empty, not just of things to do, but - what I find hardest- empty of meaning too. Often I get up in the morning already fed up with a day that promises to be sterile, arid, and often boring inside these four walls... So I have little to do, and what little there is annoys me. I often reach the end of the day empty and sad.... Where am I going, and with whom? Translated, this means: what do we mean when we speak of living reality intensely in day-to-day circumstances, however good or bad they may be?"

Julian Carron responds:

"We cannot drown in the circumstances... This is why last year we addressed the question of education. We are the ones who need to be educated, to be introduced to reality as a whole... We need people who are educated to live reality in its wholeness, people who are able to introduce us- by sharing their life- to the sense, the meaning of reality... Reason cannot be satisfied by what it sees, the beauty of the world; it is need for something else, for the infinite, for the greatness of God, without which it cannot subsist. We find this sigh, this longing inside us, this human urge, this intuition that the infinite should reveal itself."

Then the one that kicked my butt:
"Where is your consistence [a conscious and stable identity]: in what you do, or in What has taken hold of you?"

He prays, 'Jesus let me see you, and not close my eyes; let me acknowledge Your presence and be aware that this is why we are together. Help me acknowledge Your presence in my life.'

You mean You're here, even in this office? You mean I should never be bored? shoooooot. Gotta tell you, it's so obvious and yet it was a total moment of grace for me to read that article last night in my empty house, with the dog, recognizing the profound way in which I have been defining myself lately by what I do, what I did, or what I could do.

Time to just say: I am the Lord's!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Attics are my specialty

For my friends who have not experienced the adventure that is going to my room, Sunset took this picture to give you a little taste of what it is like!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

For Sr. Wind:

"We must return to proclaiming powerfully and joyfully the event of Christ's death and Resurrection, heart of Christianity, principal fulcrum of our faith, powerful lever of our certainty, impetuous wind that sweeps away every fear and indecision, every doubt and human calculation."
~Pope BXVI, homily in Verona, 19 Oct 2006

Thanks Wind!

Get hooked up with a Saint!

For 2007

It is a great tradition to choose a saint for the year; and I do hope Sr. Maple/ Sword will supply us with virtues for the year too! I'm looking forward to the end of my year of humility. Though I bet you anything I'll just get it again, since it "didn't seem to take" ;)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Father and son

This story is worth the read, if you get the chance!

"I'm not a saint. I'm a parent" Of course, I wish he knew that it could be the same thing :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:

"If up to now, a person has been more or less contented with himself, the time for that is over. He will do what he can to change the unpleasant things he finds in himself, but he will discover quite a bit that can't be called beautiful and yet will be nearly impossible to change. As a reult, he will slowly become small and humble, increasingly patient and tolerant towards the specks in his brothers' eyes, now that he has so much trouble with the beam in his own. Eventually, he'll be able to look at himself in the unblinking light of the divine Presence, and learn to entrust himself to the power of the divine mercy."

First confession with possible new confessor in T-minus 30 minutes!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I heart Southwest

Did I tell you that I wrote a thank you note to Southwest after flying back from Kansas City? I had been so impressed with the pilots (i.e. the take-off, ride, and landing were the best I'd ever experienced, and they made friendly announcements) that I just sent it off.

I got a letter back!

Dear (me):

I welcome this privilege to reply to your thoughtful compliment, and I could not be more pleased that (pilot 1) and (pilot 2)'s efforts made a positive difference. It is clear that they are outstanding Pilots, and it is also evident that they relish the opportunity to serve others. I am thrilled that (P1) and (P2) impressed you with their skill and expertise, and I will gladly share your kind words with them.

Often when I respond to a Customer letter, I wonder whether the Customer believes that I really read his or her commendation. Well, Ms. (me), I certainly have read yours! I sincerely hope you will continue to check Southwest first when you need to travel to a city we serve. (smily face)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and here's hoping we'll see you onboard one of our LUV jets again soon!

Tim Spaight

I love good human organizations :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Benedict XVI Address in Verona

To the Fourth National Convention of the Church in Italy

"His Resurrection, therefore, has been like an explosion of light, an explosion of love that melts the chains of sin and death. It inaugurated a new dimension of life and reality, from which the new world comes forth, that continuously penetrates our world, transforming it and drawing it to himself.

All of this concretely happens through the life and witness of the Church; rather, the Church herself constitutes the first fruits of this transformation, which is God’s work and not ours. It comes to us through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, which is really death and resurrection, rebirth, transformation to a new life. It is what St Paul reveals in the Letter to the Galatians: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (2: 20). Hence, the essential identity of my life is changed through Baptism, and I continue to exist only in this changed state.

"My own self is taken away and I am filled with a new and greater subject, in which my “I” is still there but transformed, purified, “open” through the insertion into the Other, who acquires new space in my existence. Thus, we become “one in Christ” (Gal 3: 28), a unique new subject, and our “I” is freed from its isolation.

“I, but no longer I”: this is the formula of Christian existence established in Baptism, the formula of the resurrection in time, the formula of the Christian “novelty” called to transform the world.

"Here lies our Paschal joy. Our vocation and our Christian duty consist in cooperating so that they reach effective fulfilment in the daily reality of our life, what the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us with Baptism. In fact, we are called to become new women and men, to be able to be true witnesses of the Risen One and thus bearers of Christian joy and hope in the world, concretely in that community of men and women in which we live."

We are reading this address in CL right now. As always, Benedict is clear and challenging. And also as always, Fr. Antonio is full of insight about this particular passage where I had questions. He said (paraphrasing) "I do not think of this new self as not making mistakes; rather it is that He is with me. My life is defined by my relationship with Him. Even when I make mistakes, He is there and gives me mercy. He accompanies me always..." And, "But I would not have known this if someone had not been there showing it to me; showing me how to live. If someone had not been a father to me, if I did not encounter this reality being lived out."

So once again I am prompted to give thanks for the wretches and other friends in whom I see His Life lived out today, without whom I could not believe in the Risen Lord!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A (not really) Wretched Wedding! Updated!

Our wretched sister Fall was married this Saturday, November 11th at 5:30pm to Eric Ruby! Pray for them!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Doggy Lessons

I am a cat person.
My roommate got a dog. Look at what he did to his stuffed animal! How ridiculous. But I am getting used to him and his jumpy, slobbery, smelly-breath ways. My roommate is his mama, but I will do if she's not around. I'm also realizing the truth that Alton said: pets teach selfish people to sacrifice for another living creature... shoot I'm super selfish because it is really hard to take this dog out when I come home from work (I get home before my roommate does) especially because I will grumble the whole time, "I never wanted a dog! I didn't ask for this!"
Last night, I was reeeally frustrated with the dog. He got a small, thin piece of cardboard in his mouth and was going to eat it. I did not want him to eat it. I said, "Abner! DROP IT!" and he held on to that thing like it was the last thing he would ever eat. I could not get him to let go no matter what I did, and I didn't want to hurt his teeth... but I got more and more angry and yelled at him, all to no avail. I pulled on it and he just set his jaw and would not open it for anything. I couldn't believe I was in such a ridiculous power struggle with a dog, especially when what he wanted was harmful to him. (not that harmful, granted) He just wouldn't let go even though I'm smarter than him, bigger than him, and love him (well, a little ;)
I related this to Sr. Morning and she said, "I bet that's how Jesus feels with us sometimes. Let go! Trust me..."
Nice connection, girl.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oh Oh Oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last year's Homily at the Dominican House of Studies Vigil of All Saints was INCREDIBLE. I was reminded of it when I went this year. It is one of my favorite liturgies of the year; the Litany at the end is just so powerful. (This year's was good too!)

My favorite part was the "genealogy of the family of God" in which he talked about all the saint who knew each other or were friends. It reminds me of the wretches, how we should all be inspired by one another to greater holiness.

"God sanctified the Virgin Mary at her conception to be the Mother of Christ and His Church. St. Joseph taught Jesus carpentry. Jesus called the Apostles who became saints. St. Stephen prayed for St. Paul’s conversion as Paul was stoning him. St. Athanasius knew St. Anthony of the Desert and became his biographer. St. Augustine’s conversion was a result of the prayers of his mother, St. Monica and the preaching of St. Ambrose. When he grew older he corresponded with St. Jerome. In the east we see that luminous constellation known as the Cappadocians. St. Gregory of Nyssa was the brother of St. Basil the Great, St. Macrina was their sister and St. Gregory Nanzianzus was their friend. St. Sixtus ordained St, Lawrence. St. Benedict and St. Scholastica were twins. Sts Cosmas and Damian were brothers. That strange and seemingly lonely figure of Syria St. Simeon the Stylite who lived on top of a column in the desert, preaching, praying, and healing once sent a letter to St. Genevieve who became the patron saint of Paris. Sts Francis and Clare were friends. St. Dominic’s mother is Bl. Jane and his brother is Bl. Mannes. Bl. Jordan of Saxony knew St. Dominic and later brought St. Albert the Great into the order, St. Albert in turn was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. St Catherine of Siena worked with Bl Raymond of Capua. St. Antoninus knew Blessed Fra Angelico. St. Philip Neri knew St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Capuchin St. Felix Cantalice, the Cardinal St. Charles Borromeo, the Pope St. Pius V, St. Camillus de Lellis, and corresponded with St. Catherine De Ricci and he knew even more saints than these. St. Teresa of Avila was friends with St. John of the Cross. St. Martin de Porres knew St. Rose and St. Juan Macias. Rose and Martin were confirmed by the bishop St. Turibius. St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal collaborated together and they were friends with St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise De Marilac. St. John Vianney called his friend St. Pierre Julian Eymard the “Holiest man in France”. St. John Bosco worked with St. Maria Mazarello to assist orphans. Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta the Fatima visionaries were brother and sister. Bl. Maria and Bl. Luigi Quatrocchi were married to each other. Bl. Mother Theresa and Bl. Jan Tyranowski were friends of Pope John Paul the Second and we all knew John Paul the Second."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't forget:

"There are an infinite number of ways this gets lived out, but you're not going to avoid a crucifixion. The fact is you're GOING to suffer a crucifixion and getting married doesn't solve this problem and not getting married doesn't solve this problem. Self sacrifice is painful. The giving which is a passion is a real Passion, and a painful one. "
~Dr. Schindler
And on a lighter note, the esteemed professor again:
"We're in the 'Intralapsarian Period', which is to say: things are messed up." ~Dr. Schindler

Update on Trappist wisdom

I was not able to post after my retreat because work was so crazy. We had a big event on Saturday, which went amazingly well. I'm a big fan of Archbishop Wuerl so far... good thing, since he's an Apostle and all (hello, earth)

The greatest thing about the Trappists: They are not in a hurry. For anything. I stepped into a whole different concept of time and I loved it; It's so much more human than the pace of life in the city. The ancient monk who was the retreat master and available to the 12 of us, almost all perfect strangers, just really impressed me with how peaceful he was and how his parting words were not to rush anything. It was totally the attitude I need about all these things bouncing around in my head. Relax. Since when were you ever in control? The Holy Spirit knows what He is doing. As I told our Sister Flowers, who is waiting to become a Poor Clare, she might have to save me a room next door :)

The HS also made sure to keep humility the lesson of the weekend. Nothing like finding yourself in a cloister of a monastery where a woman is most certainly NOT SUPPOSED TO BE at 5:30 in the morning for making you really embarrassed and praying "Please let me find my way out or send someone to find me!"

One other quick note I mentioned to Sr. Wave. The darkness of the country is altogether different from that of the city. You can feel the immenseness of the world and your own littleness... you can actually see the stars and not 10 feet in front of you. No wonder people in the city can avoid wondering about the Infinite; they have lost such an obvious manifestation of it thanks to bright lights and pollution. I'm so thankful to have had beautiful clear nights there.

And did I mention that the cows were AWESOME? They made me smile all day with their incessant moo-ing.

Food, Faith and Culture

Grace Before Meals is a new show coming to PBS and we should watch it :) A priest goes into family's homes to help them to prepare a meal together. Precious. Body-soul unity, y'all.

I guess my only critique of the first little snippet they offer on the website is that the home he goes to is HUGE. Yeah, this goes back to the poverty thing... I think it would be maybe a more powerful witness if he could go into a modest home, and perhaps even work with only what they have in the house (i.e. what anyone could afford)

In fact, I know quite a few modest homes of ladies in the area who could use a free cooking lesson... maybe the Hyatt??? :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bring on the Silence!

Prov-i-dence, y'all. Tomorrow I shall drive down this beautiful road and find myself in a Trappist monastery for the weekend. This is the place Sr. Morning disappeared to one weekend and came back quite content. I can't wait! There were some cancellations; otherwise there isn't another free weekend until the end of November.

I'm going into the desert so He can speak to my heart :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Consolation, desolation, love and friends

During the very first novena in which the wretches were born, Marie, Kathleen and I were all struck by the line that directed us "in consolation, prepare for desolation." Store it up, pray a lot now, because you will need it!

I think of that now because of a few friends who are going through very hard times. The Lord in His wisdom ensures that we don't all hit that low point at once, because we can carry one another only if one of us can walk. (Ok, He'll carry us no matter what, I'm just sayin.) I'm thankful to be on the "good end" of this deal at the moment, but I promise that although I'm wretched, I will take seriously the responsibility of prayer for all of those intentions.

I wrote something to Sr. Wind once that is applicable:
I love you all so much, I know that God must exist. That all this is Reality.

Mary and Eve

Some of you may know about this question I had regarding Mary as the new Eve. I wondered if Mary didn't have to be tempted before the Annunciation; i.e. if Eve faced the devil in the garden, would Mary have a ticket out of that temptation? If Eve was asked to be the mother of God, wouldn't she have said yes too?

I'm sure some of you are way ahead of me and see an answer, which until I was quickly reading through a paper (Ryan's, from his site) did not come to me. Christ, as the new Adam, has already conquered the devil. Since Mary receives the grace of the Immaculate Conception with a view to what is won on the Cross, it is Christ's victory that preserves her from that ickiness of original sin as well as a trial like Eve's... wait is that true? I'm just thinking here... correct me if I'm getting heretical... but this seems to make sense in my head...

A frequent question when we studied Genesis was "Where was Adam when the serpent approached Eve?"; He must have been nearby since Eve passes the fruit to him right after eating it. Eve was not protected by Adam from this attack and deceit. Mary, on the contrary, is already protected by the blood of the Lamb; Christ, the new Adam, does not leave us unprotected; He stands in front of his Bride the Church, accepting the consequences of Adam's sin, and tells the devil to take a hike. As the Church was born from His side, and we are born of Him in Baptism... wait I'm just confusing myself... because how come we can't all be preserved from it?

Why do we sin again? ;)

Because, as Fr. Antonio says, there's nothin we love so much as our own sin.

ewww! And yet, so true. Because we wouldn't do it otherwise! Sorry for the unclear and rambling post- please tell me if you have an answer of some sort.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Priests/ Deacons

(Picture of a friend just ordained to the diaconate in Rome, from the NAC website)

Sr. Wave expressed the other day that lately the presence of holy priests has been such a draw for her; Seeing these men who have given their lives in service to the Church makes us want to give our lives to Jesus as well! They have given all; Don't you desire to do the same?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Relics, Time and Space

I was just downstairs in the Archives, and our archivist showed me the drawer of relics. (Why the relics live in a drawer in a filing cabinet, I do not know!)

He was looking for a special one, he said, and he pulled out one with documentation:

from the manger.

Are you kidding me?

So this afternoon, around 2pm, I kissed a little reliquary holding, as far as we know, a piece of the manger that our Lord lay on as a baby. Come on. I wish I had been kneeling in a chapel on Christmas, or somew place and time when I could at least pretend to contemplate and wrap my head around the significance of that moment. Rather, we were just standing in the archives of the Archdiocese of Washington under flourescent lights and surrounded by filing cabinets. I jumped up and down and said "Can I?!", took it in my hand and kissed it. How funny. Thank you, Baby Jesus, for such a totally unexpected gift!

Just realized last night at adoration... I read Dubay's book on poverty and was very affected by it, and the manger is a sign of Christ's utter poverty... ok then.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A friend's wedding pictures

Ok, so I wasn't even there unfortunately, but my friend Erin got an amazing photographer at her wedding so I wanted to post a few good ones!

Connection between marriage and death, anyone?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

He's our Man

St. Francis is certainly one of the inspirations and patrons for the wretches. Come on, look at our names!

The Canticle of All Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,

All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun,Who is the day through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,

Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,

And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,

by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,

So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,

through whom You light the night

and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,

Mother Earth who sustains and governs us,

producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon

for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace,

By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,

from whom no-one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,

And serve Him with great humility.


Heavenly Father,You gave Your servant Francis

great love for each of Your creatures.

Teach us to see Your design in all of creation.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Joseph Francis!

This is the new addition to my former roommate's little family! She and her husband haven't even been married for a year yet :) How CUTE is he??

Friday, September 29, 2006

And he just keeps it coming...

"Only God knows how many suits, coats, dresses (and much else) are bought, not because the present suit, coat or dress is worn out, but simply because it has been seen fairly often or because Parisian designers have decreed that lapels shall be wider or skirts shorter. Which is a frightful tyranny when one reflects for a moment on the millions in the world who have no wardrobe at all and who today are starving and dying at the rate of ten thousand per day."
~Authenticity, p130 Thomas Dubay, SM

Prayer to St. Raphael

We wretches love the Archangels!

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy. Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country. Remember the weak, you who are strong--you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

(Found online- not sure who wrote it)

Heroic Humility

"A person possesses heroic humility when promptly and easily he avoids vanity in dress, domination in conversation, or desire to impress. He experiences little difficulty in accepting correction -- indeed he desires it. He is content and at peace with accusation, neglect, blame, rejection."
~Thomas Dubay, SM: Authenticity

Monday, September 25, 2006

The View

Well, inspired by Mrs Spice, I watched a part of "The View" that was on someone's blog- where Rosie says that "radical Christianity" is just as threatening as radical Islam "in this country, where we have a separation of church and state."

As one of the other ladies finally chimed in, "Radical Christians aren't threatening to kill us."

When you decide to follow your own truth, a lot of simply being able to see goes with it. I think most people, if they are thinking objectively, see a big difference there and it is striking that she would not. And that so many people in the audience clapped when she said it is disturbing.

But all that stuff aside, I only watched a few seconds before remembering why I can't stand watching The View in the first place: They all just talk over each other.

I haven't watched a whole episode in years, but I remember that, and saw it even in this short clip. It's all about what each woman has to say- they're not really listening to one another. This is not genuine conversation. I can't stand it! Yak yak yak- It reminds me of that song from The Music Man: pick a little talk a little pick a little talk a little cheep cheep cheep! talk a lot pick a little more.

What's the point? Bleh.

Friday, September 22, 2006


There's not a single other person on my hall at work this morning. I have Ben Harper playing. Not too shabby. Too bad I might not be here very long!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pope's Address

That has everyone talking.

Read it for yourself

Grrrr media. What, are we no longer permitted to do research or quote medieval texts in lectures on Greek thought at universities?

Annie H had some words about it yesterday at CL. She pointed out that BXVI acted very much in freedom, both in speaking and in apologizing. It was like, "Ok, you're burning churches, I'll take that as dialogue."

Also interesting from the Washington Post:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prayers for Laura C and Family

Please pray for Laura ("sweet somewhere bound" blog under friends) as she and her family approach the end of her father's heroic life and battle with the "c word". May the Lord remind them of His promise and Mary hold them in their grief. May the Holy Spirit be intensely present to them in these last few days or weeks and guide all words and actions to bring an unearthly peace to the family.

Also for Matt and Lucy as they are also battling with the "c word".

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

St. Augustine and Wretchedness

St. Augustine is totally a friend of the wretches!

As if we needed further proof... Fr. Fisher said a beeeautiful special mass for Sr. Rain on Monday evening and he bust(ed?) out a first class relic so that St. Augie could give us each a blessing!

The occasion? Our Sr. Rain is off to the Sisters of Life! We are so happy for her and wish her the best. Given the miraculous way the Lord cleared up the medical concerns that could have prevented it, I think the sisters would have had a hard time saying no :)

Gosh, I'm just the announcement queen these days. At least that's all for a while- right ladies?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rosemary's beautiful post

Check it out y'all:
Little Low Heavens: Lift Up Your Arms

Adoro te devote

Like what tender tales tell of the Pelican

Bathe me, Jesus Lord, in what Thy Bosom ran

Blood that but one drop of has the pow'r to win

All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mountains and Volcanoes!

The beautiful young lady on the right- next to her sister Water on the left- Sr. Mountain, is joining the Dominican Sisters of Mary,Mother of the Eucharist next week. Pray for her continued joy and peace in this discernment and important step in her becoming more who she is! She is such a blessing to the wretches and we will all miss her presence even as we rejoice in her gift of self!

And perhaps appropriately at the same time, we welcome a new Sister: Volcano! She will always remind us of both Mountain and Fire. Yay!!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Community announcements...

I'm happy to announce that we have a Sr. Clouds now- Erin G!

Also happy to announce that Sr. Light is "graduating" from her crazily complicated neuro-something program in MN. Yay!!! Congratulations Light!!!

We've heard from Sr. Moon's mom who says that she's vastly contented at the motherhouse of the Nashville Dominicans and will receive her new name and the habit on August 14th... when her younger sister will also be entering the convent. "Jesus be praised!" as her mother wrote.

Also both happy and sad to announce that Sr. Dawn will be continuing her wretchedness, but in Florida; We're so happy that she's found a call to nursing but sad that it means she's moving!

Sr. Sunrise has joined the ranks of those called to the married state and is engaged! Perhaps a couple more announcements like this will not be far away...

And before the summer is out, we will probably have at least a couple more announcements to make about members joining religious orders! We're praying for you ladies! Never forget that you are first and forever a wretch :) What an exciting time to be alive in the Church!!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Too Cute

I hadn't visited the site recently, but this picture says it all!!!!
The caption is "On our way to chemotherapy, get excited!" How much do we love Sr. Sea and her husband?

Keep praying for them y'all.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Roomie needed?

Hello Dearest Sisters,
Greetings to all of you out on the East Coast from a Sister up West in Seattle. A friend of mine at Catholic - who is not formally a Wretched sister but is surely at least a candidate - is looking for housing for the coming school year. If any of you are either yourselves looking for another roommate or know of anyone who is searching please let me know. CUA dorms of off campus housing.
Peace and love to you all.
Sister Raven (allegra)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Spicy Wedding

Veni Sancte Spiritu! Our Sister Spice was united last Friday to her handsome husband. Doesn't she look gorgeous?

This was taken during the mass from my great view :)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Missionaries of the Eucharist

Have you met them yet? Here's the website and Sr. Sand is on the walk with them, spreading the message of the Theology of the Body and looking to spread the Gospel of Life. I also met a couple of them at a praise and worship night... they are really great and totally on fire for the Lord! Let's keep them in our prayers.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Now that I got that awful song in your head.... hehe.

Thank you so much to all of you who made my birthday so special; Rarely have I felt so loved both in the presence of friends at my house and the messages I received. Wow this wretch is so blessed!!!

Today is the installation mass for Bishop Weurl, our new Archbishop here in DC. He is the Shepherd the Lord has chosen for us, and I hope that he will be humble, courageous and prepared for the enormous task that it is.

I'm hoping to get a seat since I sprained my ankle or did something funky to it yesterday playing soccer. shoooooot. NOT GOOD considering I'm leaving for WorkCamp tomorrow. Is there a patron saint of sprained ankles? Please pray for the 300+ teens that will be there; that they may encounter Christ in their service and our reflections and activities.

Still looking for a job. I want to teach high school religion/theology. I'm willing to move... anyone know of anything???? I thought this would be easy, but it's not turning out that way. There's a plan, right?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Birthday!!!

Dearest Sister Earth!!!

Many many blessings on the day of your birth!!!

I am so glad God gave you to us.

I love you, most unwretched wretch!!


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mid-Twenties Crisis

Last night while I was with some friends/wretches I do not see very often, we talked about our mid-twenties crisis, brought on in a particular way by being around or talking about our friends who are already living their vocations (beautifully, might I add). It especially comes on when said friends are younger than you. By years.

We didn't talk too much in depth about it but I'll try to articulate my frustrations and they can affirm or deny them.

  • I'm tired of moving. Basically, I'm tired of temporary homes. You move somewhere, live there for a year, then at least one roommate gets married, the house changes, or you don't have a job and have to move home again, only to be wondering when you'll be able to move out once more and who you can live with who isn't guaranteed to be getting married a year from now, all the while secretly hoping one day it will be you.
  • When you go to parties with your married-with-children friends (who you LOVE), you're pretty much the only single woman there and may even be asked, "Where is your husband?" (true story- I should have replied, "You tell me!")
  • You get lots of comments from you family and friends along the lines of, "But you're such a catch! What's wrong with those guys?" Which you appreciate but at the same time wonder about because it can't really be all their fault, can it?
  • Many conversations go like this, "Do you ever hear from so-and-so?" "Oh, yeah! She's engaged- it's coming up next month." or "Yeah she's entering the CFRs in a week"
  • You have many many many girl friends who are all in the same boat as you, and you love being with them but you have to laugh about having a "girls' night" because every night is a girls' night.
  • And finally... You have to sit in a cublicle for hours to make money to pay rent for your temporary living situation and discuss "career options" and try to sell yourself, all the while thinking, "Actually, all I want to do is get married and have children."

Along those lines, I'll relate a story from my junior year of college. I received a letter in campus mail saying that I'd been nominated for some kind of award/scholarship program. There were a million steps, and I had to go to the dean's office to be interviewed. I went to her office, having no real idea what I was in for. She said congratulations and some nice things about my studies, and then asked the question I knew was coming but still dreaded, "What do you want to do?" I froze. By this point I had figured out that the most important thing in my life was my faith, and that I really wanted to help people. Something vague. I didn't know how to answer her question adequately and I think I literally said, "I don't know; I'm not sure." She said, "That is not an acceptable answer for an intelligent young woman." and proceeded to lecture me on that fact and how she couldn't possibly recommend me for anything if I could not answer such a simple question.

I said, I agree. Keep it; I don't want it! And left in tears. I recall with perfect clarity that I just wanted to say, "I just want to get married and have a family!" but knew that that would go over even worse than "I don't know", if that was possible. That reaction actually surprised me at the time- particularly because I wasn't raised at all to consciously think that that was most important. It was never a question in my house whether I'd go to college or whether I was expected to do something with my mind. Of course I was! School was important, and finding something you loved to do was as well. I also never dated anyone so it's not as if I was always thinking about it or actively "husband hunting." But faced with the question by a stranger I found the answer in myself.

Three years later I'm wondering if it was just me, or the Holy Spirit, or both. That's where the mid-twenties crisis comes in. How do you know if you're doing God's will or just seeking your own desires. Because this time of our life is inherently selfish. The only person you're responsible for... is you. You're not really accountable to anyone else; You're not bound to a person, place, even country. You could go anywhere, at any time, for any reason, if you have the means to do it. Yikes.

Well maybe ONCE in a while

Just once in a while...

Tonight is the vigil mass of Pentecost- a feast that I never understood so well as I do now and certainly never celebrated as well as I plan on doing. Tonight, mirroring what is happening in Rome, we have a mass at the basilica with members of all of the ecclesial movements who have responded to the breath of the Holy Spirit in joining them. I will be singing with the Communion & Liberation schola, and though I'm in no way an "official" member of CL, I love it a lot and am really glad to spend this feast with them.

Tomorrow, Sr. Wave and I are having a Pentecost party. haha. It's gonna be great fun.

In that same breath, we pray for Sr. Spice's grandmother, who passed away this week to join her husband who died only a short time ago.

The Spirit moves where He wills... You give and take away.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Little Wretches

Blessed is she...

Blessed is she who believes in the promise yet to be fulfilled in her.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Round Please

Part of being human is the longing for the infinite. There's this desire always lingering below the surface that everything good last forever. It's one of the things that buoys my faith and hope fairly often.

"If no one has promised you anything... why are you waiting?"
I am waiting for everything! I am waiting for the day when I don't have to leave a place with people that I love or watch people that I love leave. I am waiting to know that all these times when I leave a party earlier than I want to have merit somehow and I'm not just missing out. That as good as it is to be with people and laugh now, it will be infinitely better then.
"We always want another round," Fr. Antonio says. Just one more. The thing is, it doesn't matter how many there are... you'll always want another because what this world's got is never enough. It will never be enough.
I've been thinking about these things for obvious reasons, and fighting with the Lord about them (why does it have to be this way? this sucks!) but it's good. It's good to realize what's going on and hopefully it will make me cling tighter to Him who is hidden within all of these joyful moments, promising me a "forever".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Just show up

We read a section from Giussani's Why the Church? last week which was, as usual, well-timed in my life. (Wave has commented on that before- so many times, books sit on your shelf until just the right moment.)

Giussani described a worker who comes before his boss (he travels far to get there), and just stands there wringing his hat, barely able to say a word. But just the fact that he's there speaks volumes to the landlord/boss person. (I'm oh-so-eloquent today)

Anyway, point is... that's basically all we are before the Lord; mendicants begging for we-don't-even-know-what. Think about that image for a while; it's so beautiful. See someone with kinda ratty clothes, kine dirty... just playing with his hat and sheepish. Obviously there's a big dis-analogy... Jesus is Jesus after all so we're a lot "lower" compared to Him than any man to his boss.

Gosh I'm not getting far today.

Anyway, one of the men in our group talked about how much he loved the image and how it's so beautiful that really all we have to do is show up. He mentioned how the Church asks her children to come to communion at least once a year- at Easter.

"Just show up, once a year, just show up; He'll do the rest" is how he put it. Can't you hear her? "Please," the Church says, "You are mine, you belong to me... come home, I love you." Like any good mother; If once a year is all she gets to see you, she'll be really glad to see you.

My mom would always get huffy about the "twice-a-year-Catholics" who crowded the Church on Christmas and Easter. She was always annoyed by it, every year, and for so long I would have agreed and been annoyed too. Who do they think they are? Show up twice a year, think that's good enough.

Thing is... what's good enough?

This new perspective is so good for me... I hope that the full Churches at Christmas and Easter will always give my heart joy rather than irritation. How great is the mercy of our God, who calls people continuously, constantly asking them to come to Him. At least once a year, a lot of people listen. They do it. And even if they don't get it, He gets them.

There, in His presence, for an hour.

There's a lot God can do in an hour, I think.

One More Day

Tomorrow is my last day of work at the good ol' Conference. Which pretty much means it will be my last day as a somewhat regular blogger.

Thanks for reading! Maybe the other wretches will "take over" more, or maybe this site will just become a memorial of my wonderful two years here. I do not know what the future holds... I hope to teach high school, because I just think all this stuff is too important to have only learned it in grad school. We've gotta get into the lives of young people! I want to be like the cool woman who writes Scrutinies, haha.

I said when I started this blog that it was only because I had a job where I had nothing to do and a computer sitting in front of me. I admit it has been fun... though maybe not so good for the whole pride thing. But as long as I find a job to love, and live around people I love, and continue to write letters and keep up other random interests, I fully expect and hope to be much too busy to keep this up.

For those who I have enjoyed "getting to know" a little bit in this little world... Thanks! You're great. It would be wonderful if Providence would bring us together sometime on our journeys, and if not on earth I'm sure we'll hang out in heaven and laugh about how we used to comment on the other's "blog"- and laugh about the word "blog." I'll remember y'all.

And who knows, maybe I won't find a job. Or it will be boring. Or any number of things. So maybe it's not goodbye. In fact... this summer I'll be unemployed. Perhaps I'll have a lot to say. Anyway. That's enough sentiment for now. I hope to write a few more "real" posts before I go. Love ya! Let's be saints :)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Longing of the Apostles

O Jesus, how long is the life of man, even though it is said to be short! It is short, my God, for gaining through it a life that cannot end; but it is very long for the soul that desires to come into the presence of its God. What remedy do you provide for this suffering? There isn't any, except when one suffers for you.
O gentle repose of my God's lovers! You don't fail anyone who loves you, since through you the tormen the beloved causes the soul desiring him must both increase and be mitigated. I desire, Lord, to please you; but my happiness I know well doesn't lie with any mortal beings. Since this is true, you will not blame my desire. See me here, Lord; if it's necessary to live in order to render you some service, I don't refuse all the trials that can come to me on earth...May my desires be worthwhile, my God, before your divine presence, and don't look at my lack of merit. May we all merit to love you, Lord. Now that we must live may we live for you, may our desires and self-interests come to an end. What greater thing can be gained than to please you? O my happiness and my God, what shall I do to please you? Miserable are my services, even though I may have rendered many to my God. Why, then, must I remain in this miserable wretchedness? That the will of the Lord may be done. What greater gain, my soul? Wait, wait, for you know niether the day nor the hour. Watch with care, for everything passes quickly, even though your desire make the certain doubtful and the short time long. Behold the more you struggle the more you show the love you have for your God and the more you will rejoice in your beloved with a joy and delight that cannot end.
-St. Teresa of Avila

"We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you" (Eucharistic Prayer II). I am always in awe of this statement of thanksgiving. He wants us to stand with Him, in His very presence, despite our shortcomings. Not far away in a corner somewhere, but united with Him in love, serving Him. Why? Because He is love and in love He created us to be. As St. Teresa says, "don't look at my lack of merit," Lord, but by your grace alone allow me to respond to you, Love, in and out love, not on my own accord but because you first loved me. It only seems logical to me to desire to serve Him, that is, when the heart is inclined toward He who is. Not out of duty or obligation, but simply because love so greatly envelopes your heart that that is it's only response.

I'm quite sure that the JPII Institute women could comment more profoundly (and I'm sure more coherently) on this, so any further thought would be welcomed. I also wanted to thank all of you who have shared your learnings with me recently on these topics. What a blessing it has been to learn from you and thus have a greater understanding of our most loving God!

Saint Philip and Saint James, pray for us!

Friday, April 28, 2006

I heart girl friends

I never really had a tomboy stage. There were boys in my neighborhood growing up, and they were cool and all, but they rarely wanted to do the same stuff as us, and when we'd build forts there was usually a girl fort and a boy fort. (The girl fort was always much prettier)

Sistas Wave and Spice were babysitting for 7 kids one night, and they just naturally split up into boys and girls. Spice said that the girls made her stand lookout to make sure none of the boys came near them, and they kept wondering "what if the boys come in, what do we do?"

Meanwhile, Wave was with the boys playing video games. They were completely uninterested in whatever was going on with the girls. It didn't come up; They were playing a game.

Dr. Mango in class yesterday talked about how if two men go fishing; they just fish. Being together is enough, they're doing something together; they're parallel. Two women wouldn't do that. Spice, Grass and I spent like 4 straight hours talking a few nights ago.

Likewise, this afternoon my lunch was spent with two girl friends, dissecting every move that a man made in reference to one of them. We are amazing analysts; We should get paid for this. We were just trying to help our friend come to some peace, reassure her of her worthiness & coolness and remind her that God's will is always the best even when it hurts. What struck me was the fact that I'm 98% certain that said man is not thinking this way at all. He has no idea that we sat in Quiznos talking about him- not in a bad way, I hope, in a "really, he's a good guy, he's not messing with you, we're just over-analyzing" kind of way. And I'm pretty sure he's not sitting in any parallel Quiznos asking his guy buddies for advice about it. He's thinking, "hey, she's cool, we'll see what happens." He's not stressin about it.

Now, if we could just find some happy medium... that'd be fantastic... but I guess that's the fun of it :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The couple who wrote Open Embrace have changed their minds about contraception.

One of their cited books is The Sacrament of Love by Paul Evdokimov, an Orthodox theologian who is a very good and convincing writer. He happens to be wrong, but he makes a very pretty and tempting case for contraception. If you read him, just keep reminding yourself about the Cross. Does he see it as having a place in marriage? If not, how does his theology stay together?

They write:

"our personal experience in the past five years has shown that we had a lot to learn about NFP, and that there is a dark side we weren’t aware of... NFP reaches a point where it is more harmful for a marriage than good."

I just feel for these people. They "discovered" the wrongness of contraception and embraced it with joy... but did not anticipate that beauty and fruitfulness is only found bound up with the Cross. Do you remember Christ's words:

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. (Mk 4:5-6)

"We now fully believe in the power of the Resurrection and we no longer live our lives constantly on the alert for "selfishness."... One example: wanting to make love to your spouse often is a good thing, but NFP often lays an unfair burden of guilt on men for feeling this."

Can't have Easter without Good Friday. And I know I for one do have to live my life on the alert for selfishness! NFP is certainly not designed to make men feel guilty- in fact, I believe it stresses the goodness of wanting to be with your spouse but suggests that this has to be at the service of love.

"We also see honest congruity with the language of the body by saying "no" to conception with our bodies (via barrier methods or sensual massage) when our minds and hearts are also saying "no" to conception. "

Now that is very interesting!! wow!! Basically, by affirming the language of the body, they argue that since they're not open to life, they shouldn't pretend to be. They're so honest, you see... they jsut don't take it the next step-"if we're not open to life, and this is inherently a life-giving act, maybe we shouldn't be doing it." So they recognize, in a way, that they are not giving themselves fully to the other because they reject the fertility of the other and any possible child that could come from the union. There can be darn good reasons for avoiding a pregnancy; the question is whether that means you can determine what the sexual act means.

The couple advocates "realistic abstinence." Pet peeve of mine, this whole "realistic" argument. As Annie would say, "What are the concrete possibilities of man?!?! What man are we talking about? Man redeemed by Christ??"

As for it being a theological attack on women to require abstinence... interesting choice of language there. Maybe the fact that God created women in this way (that her peak sexual desire corresponds to ovulation) should actually be teaching us about women rather than annoying us. Perhaps it's true that her sexuality is deeply imbedded in and informed by the possibility of giving life. Makes sense to me. Seems like really good motivation to have lots of babies.

Oops, I did it again

Terrible song. Fun phrase.

In somewhat-typical wretched fashion, I got fired up about something and made a broad statement that probably makes it seem like I looked at a complicated moral problem in a very simplistic way.

Well, it's not that that isn't true. but. I can certainly back it up a lot more than I did in my last post, and even though this issue has just recently "come to light" in a more public way, I have actually been thinking about this for the entire year. Interesting, how the Holy Spirit works sometimes. This falls under the category "not to be discussed with the world on the internet" so I'll just say that I have a personal experience that enters my thoughts and feelings on this issue... and even though I was young and certainly have never asked for details, I am sure that selfishness had no place in it, and that the suffering was both acute and redemptive.

Christianity requires us to be heroic. This is where we find out what that really means: in the worst possible circumstances, when it seems impossible for human beings to live what Christ demands. And you know what? They're right. It is impossible for human beings to do this on their own. Thankfully, they don't have to and there is always grace given to live the truth.

Sr. Morning put the question another way: Does death have the last word?

Either Christ's death and Resurrection mean something in this concrete situation here and now, or they don't mean anything. You can't just apply those events to more "simple" sufferings... either they apply to the most horrible of human suffering or they're meaningless in the end. Extreme huh?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Condoms and AIDS

A friend sent me the link to the American Papist because of a conversation we had at lunch.

Apparently (where have I been?) there's new discussion about the condoms/AIDS stuff. A co-worker of mine, when I said, "Well, we know what they're going to say" emphatically said, "No, we don't."

... Yes we do.

Do you think I'm being overly dramatic when I say that if the Church changed its position and said that condom use was ok in the case of a spouse's AIDS infection, I'd start preparing for the end of the world? Maybe a tad. But, to be quite serious, that would be SO FAR from our anthropology that it would have serious implications. I even used the phrase "no way in hell" (if you loved your spouse and had AIDS, would you put them in such danger?) and I haven't said the "h word" in a very long time. I felt it was warranted.

That being said, I'm not actually worried. I think we can know what they'll say.

Welcome to the Kingdom!

Shameless excuse to post pictures of cute babies. The lil one was baptized on Sunday. She was recently adopted by one of my classmates and her husband and she is one happy baby!

Baptisms always get me. Even when I don't know the child and family, but especially when I do and I see that the parents and godparents really know- as much as it's even possible- the responsibility they undertake. While Fr. G was speaking, Julie was gazing at her husband holding the baby... and it spoke volumes. Somehow in that gaze was the cross that they had endured together, and the unspeakable joy of the Resurrection. All celebrated on Divine Mercy Sunday. Julie's announcement called the baby "all gift"- and that is what she is.

Friday, April 21, 2006

We heart Sr. Divino Amore

No one like her in the whole world, that's for sure!!
This picture was taken after her first vows on April 8th, with the 2 other girls from CUA who joined the same order the same year. Dear God, I love my friends :)
Below: The whole CUA crew, at least the ones who were still around. A couple wretches in there!

Unknown Country Song

UPDATE: Song is "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Thanks CD!!!

I was listening to the radio for the first time in a long time- WMZQ country. Until Dawn and I figure out how to find this song, it will just remain unknown, unless one of my 2 readers knows it...

Basically, in the song, a woman has three children by the time she's 29 (this is, naturally, supposedly apalling) and one day packs her suitcase and says to her husband "I don't love you anymore" and then it goes on to talk about her work. Now, I did not hear the whole song. It's entirely possible that in the end, this woman comes to her senses and realizes that she was totally and utterly selfish.


Besides that first thing, which is just ridiculous (the fantastic Danielle Bean, at 33, is working on number 8... cue applause!) [b.n.: Please note that I am not saying that everyone is supposed to do the same. At all. And I'm not saying that 3 kids is nothing and couldn't possibly be overwhelming. In fact, I'm sure it is! I'm just saying we shouldn't be horrified by this.]

What is up with this justification of women leaving their children to find themselves thing? It's on Oprah, it's in books and now it's even infiltrated country music. If you can't "find yourself" in the midst of your children, I've got bad news for ya: You ain't gonna find yourself anywhere else.

Look at me, breaking out "ain't"- it's all about absorbing whatever topic I'm in at the time. I should do a British post next.

Lucky for you, wretches, I wrote a paper last semester that addresses this a lil bit, and I'll post my intro here. This is about to become a monster post. Feel free to stop reading at any time :)

When Nora abandoned her husband and children in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in 1879, she was a symbol of disconnected motherhood. The shift that made this possible began centuries earlier, and now, 126 years later, there are countless women going on Oprah declaring their need to “find themselves” apart from their families. It is not that there had never been delinquent mothers before the Enlightenment, but Ibsen saw and remarked that “A woman cannot be herself in the society of today, which is exclusively a masculine society, with laws written by men, and with accusers and judges who judge feminine conduct from the masculine standpoint.”[1] He could see the peculiarity of the modern situation and the lengths that some women may go to escape it. In seeking out a valuable place in society, women failed to challenge the system that determines what is valuable. Women instead accepted the definitions and sought to change themselves accordingly.
The ancient concept of the constitutive individual, as well as the Jewish understanding of corporate personality, would have made an exit such as Nora’s unthinkable.
[2] The constitutive individual is the primary unit of understanding for Classical philosophy. For Aristotle or Aquinas, the original units of reality are already complex, with four causes which define them. Man is not atomistic or unconnected to the world around him. The human person is a body-soul unity, structured with an end and purpose for which he is to act. He is but one in a world full of other beings who are likewise complex. He is unique among them but not independent or self-sufficient. There is a fundamental unity among beings. This places the human being securely in a web of relationships, without which he is not himself.
Modernity firmly rejected this complex view of the human person. The fruits of this rejection, such as the embracing of freedom of indifference and radical individuality, have devastating effects on women’s experience of motherhood. Nora is one example of this, but on a grander scale, abortion, contraception and in vitro fertilization show that the meaning of motherhood is changed. Freedom now means an original and independent act of choice rather than a response to a value. Underneath each of these things is the view that the human being should be able to decide when, if and how to have children. A woman in this framework has no true answer to give for her motherhood. She will either see it as something that “happened to” her, which she has the option to change, or something she reasonably chose for herself. This self is the determining factor.
Following the logic of self as primary value, a woman must be in control. Tina Miller documents some reactions to pregnancy in her narrative approach, Making Sense of Motherhood. One woman remarks, “I feel that from being the person in charge work-wise, to the person that is being taken over by something else, or someone else, is quite a lot to take in.”
[3] During pregnancy, women are profoundly out of control of what is happening to their bodies. This experience is difficult to make sense out of if your conception of yourself in bound up with anything besides love. A woman will experience intense physical changes as well as changed attitudes toward her from other people. One woman says, “I think you have to fight more to keep your individuality.”[4] And another, “There’s something else going on that you haven’t got any control over, that you are not the person you were anymore, and you know from now on you’re going to be a mother.”[5] The struggles these women express in understanding their lives as mothers reveal two values they hold as dominant: freedom (in the sense of control) and individuality. These two issues are discovered at the center where modernity meets motherhood.
These two prominent features of modernity run contrary to the two definitive words of the Blessed Mother; her fiat and magnificat.
[6] With “Let it be done to me according to your word,” Mary shows that her freedom is found in the will of another. In consenting to God’s will, which asks everything, Mary conceives the Son of God. She gives up any semblance of control, calling herself the handmaid of the Lord. When she is told what will take place, her consent is presumed, for she has always said “yes”.[7] In Mary, freedom is at the service of love.
In her magnificat, Mary counters the concept of the person as an atomistic individual. She rejoices in the Lord, and declares that her soul magnifies Him, thus defining herself in relation to another. While she proclaims what God has done for her, she immediately connects it to both the future and the past. “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” speaks of all the people to follow, and she ends in connecting God’s action in her to His promise with Abraham. Mary is deeply connected to Israel and the covenant. She is “Daughter Zion,” the new Israel. She recognizes that the preparation for the Incarnation began long before her, and that its implications would reach until the end of time. She is profoundly connected to every other person, which is confirmed in her title as mother of all Christians. In these two instances, Mary offers the true meaning of freedom and the person.

[1] Ibsen, Henrik. “Notes for the Tradegy of Today,” a letter cited by William Archer in his introduction to the play found at
[2] The concept of corporate personality falls outside of the scope of this paper, but it is key to understanding ancient Israel. It is explored in H.W. Robinson’s Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel, among other places. The understanding of the person as both an individual and carrying the entire group within him is, for example, the reason that the covenant made with Abraham is also with the entire people.
[3] Tina Miller. Making Sense of Motherhood. p 82.
[4] Ibid., p 81.
[5] Ibid., p 81.
[6] Lk 1:38 and Lk 1:46-56 respectively.
[7] This was pointed out in Von Balthasar’s Creative Spirit. p. 226.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


It's part of what we love about children, even when it simultaneously drives us crazy. And it's so beautiful in adults... This girl's mom is one of the most transparent people I've ever met. Sr. Wave and I talk about that a lot- L is always honest and never conceals her struggles, but not at all in a complaining way. In a "You asked, so I'll tell you the truth" kind of way.

I'm transparent in the "I can't hide a darn thing I think/feel because I have no control" kind of way. I hope one day to have the beautiful transparency of Mrs. LD! (If her hubby is reading this, tell her we LOVE her!)

T-Shirt Ideas

Poor Naj... one of her program team members is severely lacking in T-Shirt creativity. (And a lot of other things :)

The theme for this year's Diocesan WorkCamp is "Seek Him. Find Him. Serve Him." If you have any brilliant ideas let me know!

Root beer

I'm compatible with dear Erin- who, by the way, is totally a wretch. Unfortunately, the name Forest is already taken....

You Are Root Beer

Ultra sweet and innocent, you have a subtle complexity behind your sugary front.
Children love you, but so do high end snobs... when you're brewed right.

Your best soda compatibility match: Dr. Pepper

Stay away from: Diet Coke

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Water in Lourdes

My precious friend Sr. Water... know that we wretches are praying for your pilgrimage to Lourdes, that the Lord may bless you with healing, deep interior knowledge of His love for you, and knowledge of your unique place in history. May this time give you clarity about His plan for you next year and the future... and send some of that my way ;)

DC Triduum

I wanted to give a little run-down of the beautiful DC Triduum...

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Dominican House of Studies (pictured above). I have not been in DHS at all this year for a number of reasons, and it was good to be there. I have many memories from that chapel as an undergrad, and the added bonus of a couple good friends from home being in the reserved seats right beside me was fantastic and unexpected. I was able to receive the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation, complete with a really great penance that wasn't a penance at all but very good for my heart.

On Good Friday, I participated in the Way of the Cross downtown with Communion and Liberation. The one in NY is supposed to be amazing; Ours was very powerful as well but much smaller. We started at St. Peter's on Capitol Hill, where we listened to some Palestrina and sang and read the Gospel and heard Card. McCarrick speak a bit. Then we started walking in silence. A man held a large cross before us as we walked down the streets of DC, escorted by the police, and stopped in front of the Capitol building. There we did more of the same. Two more stops on the National Mall and the final stop right next to the Washington Monument. Yes, tourists, it is Good Friday! It was just incredible. A visible and audible witness to the Lord's Passion; It's not every day you are walking around downtown and hear the Gospel read into a microphone and see lots of really cute children being quiet and somewhat obedient :)

Then a bit of rehearsing and the service at my parish in Alexandria. The incomparable Fr. S spoke on Christ's "I thirst" and for the rest of the day, the Jennifer Knapp song "When Nothing Satisfies You" was in my head.

Holy Saturday is just such a strange day, huh? You're just waiting... Silence. So I did what most of us did.... slept in. Went downtown and did some reading for Law- nothing like reading an abortion case on Holy Saturday. Went to Marymount University to rehearse for the Vigil.

Singing the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil is one of the most amazing experiences in the world. (Thank God for the shortage of deacons! JUST KIDDING...) But seriously. I loved that we were in the back of the chapel- Darkness, candlelight, and no one looking at us :) Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!

I have to admit, I missed Catholic U's Vigil. Especially when the priest baptized the young man and barely got him wet, I thought of the way kids always knelt in the disguised baby pool and Fr. Bob would drench them with the water [of salvation]. It was still awesome, don't get me wrong! I went up to the kid after and asked if I could hug him. A new creation!!! A-mazing. I also appreciate now how prepared we always were for the service- lectors, musicians, everyone knew what they were doing at every moment, took their time, and just rested in the liturgy. So special.

Easter Sunday is family time! Cooking, relaxing, playing piano and having guests. My mom is so cute, she made each of our guests a personal Easter basket. We had 3 people over, none of whom knew each other, and 2 of whom I hadn't even met before. I don't know if they really got the concept of "dinner" at my house... because dinner for us doesn't mean to come over and eat and leave... it means come over, make yourself comfortable, eat a lot, walk it off around the neighborhood, play games... etc. Only Sr. Rain stayed for it all :) Then 2 of my roommates (and others) and I went to a friend's house for dessert and to visit with his mom who was here for the weekend. Presh. I love meeting people's families! One of the strangest things about "adult" life is not having that background; it's kind of cool how in high school, your friends' parents are a part of your life too. I remember telling my friend Jon that I would miss his family as much as I'd miss him and when Shannon's dad died this year it really affected us all because we knew him as such a big part of her. In college and beyond, you're lucky if you meet your friends' families at all... I'm glad that I have been lucky :)

And to finish it all off, since I forgot my Christian prayer book and journal at home, I went to get it and got a haircut. Yay Easter! How's that for deep? New life... new haircut???