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???

Use this Pro-Life Search Engine!!

Use for all your internet searching, and revenue is automatically donated to pro-life charities! It's powered by Google, so you get the same results pages as if you used Google itself - so bookmark this search page or make it your homepage for easy access! It also uses a SafeSearch filter, so no worries there. Two "good Catholic boys" created & maintain the site - what superb idea!

Easter Joy to you!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus: Deus qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Knockin' at the Tabernacle

Here we go, it's the most intense few days of the year...

At mass on Wednesday, Fr. Granados related a story about St. Philip Neri. He went up to the Tabernacle, knocked on it and said,

"Don't trust me! There's a traitor in me."
The idea that there is a little bit of Judas in us all is not novel. We all sin, so yes. But it's more than that. You know what it's like when someone says something you didn't realize other people felt? Fr. Jose said that it was Christ's very love, His mercy, His holiness that Judas could not stand. He rejected it completely. The way Christ loved him probably just ate at him and he thought "Just wait, see what I do to you". Do you know that feeling? I certainly do, and I hate it. The better the person treats you, the more it bothers you, the more you want to run away. Case in point: Sometimes, the more patient and loving my parents are, the more wretched I become with them. I also do this to my roommates sometimes. It's this willful incapacity to receive love. It's just evil; the privation of the acceptance of the gift... Lord have mercy on me!
So how do you get away from that? I wish I had the answer, especially because it's obviously one of the most important things for us all to learn- not to be Judas. It's something to pray about especially today before we celebrate the Lord's Supper, and remember how "Satan entered him." We want to rationalize evil, make it understandable. Like this whole gnostic "Gospel of Judas" thing, we want to think that Judas was not really that bad, that Jesus asked him to betray him. That's much nicer to believe, isn't it? Very comfortable and convenient, to think that it was all a plan. But it wasn't. Woe to him by whom the Son of Man is betrayed...
Lord, is it I?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Oh, Alton...

One of our friends pointed out this fact and I thought I should share it with the world.

Tomorrow morning and afternoon, we will come to this fantastic numerical phenomenon:

It will be 01:02:03 04/05/06

Ponder that.

Secret Identity

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