Sunday, December 23, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Thank you so much for letting me borrow your book and enter into this "teenage world" for a brief time. I truly appreciate it. I hope that you enjoy Mr. Blue.
As I mentioned already in class, I did not "enjoy" reading Gossip Girl. Some of the reasons you already know or have guessed, but others I am sure you have not. Firstly, as a piece of literature, it is very poorly written. It uses teen language; I can see why that may be attractive, but it means that it does not teach you how to write better. In fact, it encourages a certain mediocrity in writing. There is no intellectual challenge in reading a book like this. I know, you're saying, "That's the point," but it is worth thinking about. There is not depth to the story, the characters or the situations. They are not complex; They are not truly dramatic. Drama requires tension, confusion, subtlety... this book lacks all of those things.
The characters are fairly superficial. I am not sure why I should care about what happens to any of them, or who I am supposed to identify with. Their personal struggles or issues are trivialized (Blair's eating disorder, Jenny's body image, everyone's family situation). They are one-dimensional: Serena is mysterious; Blair is envious and insecure; Nate is attractive but doesn't seem to have a personality; Vanessa is a proud artist; Dan is "brooding" and has a superficial crush; Jenny is a size 34D; Chuck is horny and likes to use girls to satisfy himself; That's all we really know about these characters.
Friendships in this book are superficial, even while they are supposedly lifelong. They are focused on material things, looks, and rumors. Serena and Blair, supposedly "best friends," did not even speak when Serena was away. Serena never told Blair about her fling with Nate. The way the other girls tear Serena down is sad and reveals serious lacks of self esteem. (If you are secure in yourself and in your beauty/worth, you have no need to tear others down. That is why most people grow out of that unattractive and destructive habit.) Love means building others up. I wouldn't want to be friends with any of these girls because I would be constantly judged and my every action scrutinized. I would always have to be performing for them.
Male-female relationships in this book are likewise superficial. None of these girls are being loved by the guys they are "with"; They are being used. To be fair to the guys, the girls are using them right back. (For example, when Blair decides that she wants to have sex with Nate, she does not even consider that he might want to talk first, or might have something to say [which we discover he does]; She undresses even before he arrives. Was that out of love for him?) Even setting aside the most obvious problem (that sex is considered casually as a natural next step, as "no big deal" and nothing special, which you already know is untrue), it is clear that the characters are not interested in what is good for the other person, only in what they want for themselves.
Would any of these characters suffer for another? If you think that someone loves you, you should ask yourself, "Would they suffer for me?" Most of us have at least one or two examples of this love in our parents. But it doesn't seem like any of these characters know that kind of love- even from their own parents- and that is tragic. They want to be loved but they do not even know or believe that true love- the kind that suffers for and with the one loved, and lasts forever- exists and is for them. This book is full of characters settling for less than they deserve. It worries me that you read this book because I want to tell you that LOVE is REAL! It does not require a certain body type; It does not require fancy outfits or cars or sex; It does not demand or seek to use you in any way. This is the truth. This is what doesn't sell and isn't on TV— because it also hurts. But it is what is most beautiful and, in the end, the only thing that matters.
Jesus is way better, way more dramatic, and way more interesting than Gossip Girl.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Dearest Blessed Mother Teresa,
loving friend and guide from darkness to light,
thank you for your life of service to the poorest of the poor and the witness you gave to the power of love triumphing through Christ.
We, who are wretched and poor, place ourselves in humility and total confidence before our heavenly Father. We ask you to stand with us before Him, knowing that your selfless service to Him on earth must endear you to Him still in heaven. By the merits of your life, and in view of your special mission to enlighten those in darkness, please ask God with us to heal Matthew Coles of his cancer in time for the birth of his son. Desiring only to be conformed to God's will, we ask you for this healing that God may be glorified and that we might have the joy of calling you our wretched saint and friend in heaven.
In your letters, Mother, you revealed a vow you made to not refuse your Spouse even the smallest request. Could He now deny you? Would He refuse the prayer of one who gave her life so completely to Him?
We have seen many fruits of Matt's suffering and his family's, and know that this time has been full of grace and God's presence. If it be best for the salvation of souls, let it continue. But please, Mother, ask Jesus yourself. We surrender to and love His will above all other things and shall endeavor to love Him as you did. Pray for us that, wretched though we be, we may allow His love to bring light into our lives more each day.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
(click on team caritas on the list below the screen)
You can even see our Sr. Mountain a few times :)
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sr. Heavens and precious Jake were married on Friday! Praise the Lord for a beautiful wedding and great celebration. The heavens opened and closed throughout the evening as well, which just seemed appropriate.
Lauren walked down the aisle to the praise and worship song "Agnus Dei"- which was just so right. It was awesome to sing that "Alleluia" while she appeared from behind the limo man with her dad! (glass walls in the church = big, tall limo man concealing Lauren until the right moment) There were lots of wet eyes in that church.
Jake's dad shared a couple great stories. He was visiting CUA once and went out to Ellis Island with Jake and his friends. The food came and he dropped his napkin; when he had picked it up, he looked up to find a group of young men making the sign of the cross to pray before the meal. He said he was very proud that his son had chosen such friends.
Monday, June 11, 2007
"Where is the outrage over the Supreme Court decision banning intact dilation and evacuation? Why aren't women screaming in anger in the streets?
This decision by five male Supreme Court justices doesn't really mean anything about abortion rights. What it means is that women are less important than the fetuses they carry. To these justices, women are passive vessels for bearing the next generation.
I am a woman and a human, worth infinitely more than what the highest court in the land has deemed me to be: a semi-sentient being meant for bearing young and little else."
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
"Prophets fail: Their message goes too much against the general opinion and the comfortable habits of life. It is only through failure that their word becomes efficacious... Above all, it is also again and again the destiny of Jesus Christ: He ends up on the Cross. But that very Cross is the source of great fruitfulness." (p.189)
Or why do they call it the story of the Prodigal Son when really there's a lot more going on?
"In reality, though, the parable has three protagonists... the most accurate designation would be the parable of the two brothers." (p. 202)
Keep it coming!
Monday, June 04, 2007
Scheduler will determine calendar and minute-to-minute activities of said wretch. He/She will pay particular attention to evenings and weekends, though helping the wretch know what to do during 8 hours at work when she has been given nothing to do will also be essential. Scheduler will learn to balance personal life/ friends and giving of self to the poor, as wretch will, without fail, drop the latter for the former if not. In fact, if scheduler could keep constantly reminding wretch of poor, would be helpful. Scheduler will also balance physical activity with resting-physical, musical with non-musical, baby with not-baby and silly with not-AS-silly. Scheduler will monitor wretch's prayer, books, movies and food intake. He/She will accurately estimate amount of time things like laundry take and plan accordingly. Scheduler will ensure that only for very important reasons (illness, por ejemplo) will wretch sit with roommate for hours watching House then Anne of Avonlea. He/She will make all travel arrangements to/from the weddings and/or vows and/or needed vacation weekends of summer '07. He/She will also find wretch a place to live and make sure wretch is prepared well for classes in August. Will also take account of liturgical seasons and feast days. Scheduler will do all these things willingly and happily.
BENEFITS: Of the baked variety
INQUIRE BY COMMENT!
POSITION AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Feast of the Visitation is, once again, a special one to wretches. (Who says so? I say so!) Here we have two women bringing joy to one another; and much more than that. Mary brings within her the Savior, the hope of Israel and the Way of salvation. She brings Love Himself! She went in haste to her cousin after the Annunciation, eager already to give Life to the world.
Today we pray especially for our pregnant wretches, Sr. Mud and Sr. Sea, that they may be filled with the Spirit as Elizabeth was and look forward with joy to meeting their little ones; That they may have women (and men, especially husbands ;) to help and rejoice with them, bringing the presence of Christ. We also keep in prayer Sr. Spice and Duston and their little one Josiah who has raced past us all to the Child in the womb of Mary.
I guess the Visitation is the first inkling we get that Jesus desires to use His people to meet the world. He chose to become, well, a zygote, and could already touch Elizabeth through Mary. God wants to reach man through man. How crazy. But we all know the truth of it!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
It has been brought to my attention that lately you have been eating outdoors at the entrance to the Pastoral Center. I have been asked to remind you that lunch is to be eaten in the Dining Room; it is not proper to have a picnic on the Pastoral Center grounds. Let’s keep in mind that the Archbishop’s office is here, and we are professionals.
Well, it was bound to happen at some point! I've written a nice response letter, citing the human person's natural desire to be outside and other such things. I will only be here for one month more- but it is the BEST time of the year to sit outside, since it's not too hot yet! Sad face.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Speaking of which; our friends Br. James and Br. Dominic will be ordained in a week, on JPII's birthday! May 18th. Keep them in your prayers.
5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 14.21-27; Rev 21.1-5; John 13.31-35
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Paul’s Hospital and Church of the Incarnation
Love, love, love, love…blahblahblahblahblah…I’m sick of love. Sick of reading about it. Sick of hearing about it. Sick of preaching about it. Seems like every time we turn around in the Easter season we’re listening to John prattle on about how Jesus commanded us to love one another or how Jesus says that loving our enemies is good for us or how he is love or God is love or the Holy Spirit is the Father loving the Son and vice-versa. Now, we hear that all those pagans out there will know that we are Christians by our love…by our love, they will know that we are Christians by our love! Sorry. Makes me a bit queasy though—kinda syrupy-sweet and honey-sticky. Almost cute. Is this what we’re about? Cute love? Jesus suffered the whip and died on a cross so that we are free to shoot sugary looks at one another and drip cutesy clichés about warm-fuzzies and teddy-bear hugs? Do I need to go put on the creamy-pink vestments and my Bunny rabbit slippers? No. Thank God and all the Saints…no. Love is not cute, cuddly, creamy, sticky-sweet, pink, huggie, warm, or fluffy. Love is not careful, balanced, gentle, meek, or meager. And love is most certainly not neutral, tolerant, ambiguous, confused, or permissive. Love is none of these. So, what is love?
The One who sits on the Throne says, “Look! I make all things new.” The old order has passed away. No more death. No more grief. No more pain. No more crying. What has always been is no more. What is/is going. What is coming is new, fresh, brightly clean, and pure. And this will not be accomplished by a tamed passion or a affected infatuation. Love is the divine juice of renewal; the power of perfecting gift; the living breath of re-creating wisdom; the Spirit that cuts away dead flesh and shocks a weaken heart; love is God’s passion, God’s might, His transformative command: God speaks His Word to nothing and everything IS…and it IS only in Love. What’s pink, fuzzy, sweet, or gentle about that?! Let’s see Hallmark put this on Valentine’s Day card: “How do I love you? Let me count the ways: first, I gave birth to reality using Nothing as my source; second, I took dirt and gave you a body and a soul and then watched you betray me; third, I destroyed the face of the earth and all but a few of you b/c of your wickedness; fourth, I sent my only son to be whipped bloody and spiked to a cross to pay for your sins…this is how I love you! XOXOXO—God the Father.” Now, this is not the Marvin Gaye/Barry Manilow, Chianti and roses mood we were looking for, uh? No, no it’s not.
Paul and Barnabas are running on love. They’ve received the Spirit of wisdom and truth, and they are running on love! Here’s what they are doing: making hundreds of new disciples all over Asia Minor; strengthening the veteran disciples in their trust of the Lord; helping them all to understand that hardships are an essential part of being Christ for others; they’re appointing elders, priests to leadership everywhere they go, teaching them how to fast and pray; they are proclaiming the Word, healing the sick, casting out demons; and, they are opening the doors of faith to the Gentiles, extending God’s invitation to them to jump into a revolution—to overthrow sin, to conquer death, and to enjoy the gift of life everlasting. Paul and Barnabas are finely honed, well-oiled, surgical grade instruments of God’s rejuvenating love! They are laying the foundation for the New Jerusalem that John sees in his revelation; they are dressing the Bride, perfuming her wrists, and adorning her with the finest jewels. And, guess what, brothers and sisters? We are that Bride! We are the raw materials for the New Jerusalem! And if we aren’t running on love, then what are we running on?
Maybe one reason we get sick of hearing about love during Easter is that preachers, especially Catholic preachers, tend to think of love in purely secular terms—Hallmark, Oprah, sappy romance novels. This means that they go on and on about love as a kind of permissive passion for ignoring sin and approving dissent. Love becomes the means and the excuse for disobedience and error. How often have we heard that God loves us unconditionally and, therefore, no one is capable of making a deliberative judgment about another’s public sin? This move excuses all of our favorite sins and gives us the false impression that love is God’s way of dealing with sin by emoting it away, or pretending it isn’t there, or by wishing it away on the grounds that we all fall short of His glory. We also hear love presented as the last reduction, the final seed of the gospel, the Thing Beyond Which There Is No Appeal, and therefore, if anything appears to violate love—a bishop’s order of excommunication, an infallible church teaching, a papal document—well, we can ignore the offending limit in favor of love. Love conquers all, after all. Right? Yes, it does, but we must remember what Love is and what it isn’t.
Love is always true. Never a lie. Love is always the glory of God. Never the glorification of man. Love always carries us to goodness. Never to evil. Love always binds us in obedience. Love never frees us to be disobedient. Love always heals, always cleans, sometimes hurts, sometimes casts out. Love never winks at sin, shrugs at injustice, or ignores the poor. Love always looks to Christ, his church, and his Mother. Love never uses the bottom-line, the convenient, the practical, or the efficient to destroy God’s creatures, especially His unborn children. Love always encourages spiritual growth from faithful experience. Love never gives hope to novelty for novelty’s sake nor does love trust innovation for the sake of excitement. Love can be a terrible whirlwind, a stone-shattering blow, a heart-ripping loss. But love always builds up in perfection, grows in wisdom and kindness; love attracts questions about eternal things, discourages attachment to impermanent things; and, when necessary, love will kick your butt, take your name, and call your mama!
If you are sick of hearing about love during the Easter season, you don’t know what love is. If you are complaining about hippy-dippy priests who whine all the time about love from the pulpit, you don’t know what love is. If you think love is best expressed with chocolates or a Starbuck’s gift card or perhaps you think real love is best signified with a quickie in your dorm room, then you don’t know what love is. Love makes you. Love saves you. Love delivers you to the throne of the Most High! You are not loved b/c you deserve it. You are not saved b/c you’ve earned it. You were not created b/c God needs you. Your being, my being—we exist, gratuitously, without merit or debt b/c our God, in His Goodness, draws us out of nothingness and makes us body and soul. We exist in Love because of Love for Love so that we may return to Love to be Love forever. And this is sometimes a terrible pilgrimage—painful, disillusioning, exhausting and dirty. But, at the end, you will be the newest creature b/c you are now a new creature.
Love perfects the imperfect. It shines up, buffs off, and sharpens. If you will become a well-oiled, surgical tool for God’s Word, you will love. You will speak the truth, spread goodness, honor beauty; you will correct error, confront sin, forgive offenses; and you will build up the Body in service and open the doors of faith to the stranger. Your life in Christ is a gospel epic not a Hallmark poem. Love us as Christ loves us…right to the cross, to the tomb, and on to the Father’s right hand.
Posted by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Can you believe that is on MTV? Huh!
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Welcome to three new wretches! Sisters glacier, geyser and breeze. Awesome.
Sorry it has been quiet on the blog recently; but it's been good I think...
I taught a class of high school juniors yesterday and the best part was when a girl in back, in response to the question of whether any of them have taken a vow, said, "Didn't we all, like, at Baptism?" Thank you! None of my past students would ever have said that. They were so precious, I love high schoolers.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I posted it last year- April 13 in the archives.
Something to ponder once again as we hear today how Judas betrays Love Himself. Oh Jesus, may I be open to receiving your love and not turning away! Set me free from that impulse to betray and help me to be true.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Being understanding and compassionate, as well as a flexibility in dealing with imperfection
Appreciating the drama of real life
Generally smiling a lot, hopefulness
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Ever think about how weird that is? That to cure yourself from a snakebite, you must look up at an image of the snake; to be healed from a wound, you have to look what caused it in the face.
And then they draw the parallel of Christ, and how looking upon Him, lifted up on the cross, heals us. Now this never really made sense to me because it's not like Christ is the one hurting us, whereas the snake is the cause of the Israelites' pain.
But then I thought of what we are seeing as we gaze upon Christ on the cross; We are really seeing evil, staring our own sin in the face. He was made sin to save us, so gazing on Him on the cross is seeing what humans have done to God. Seeing my sin and what it has cost the Son. Ignace de la Potterie writes in his excellent book "The Hour of Jesus" about the moment that Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd, saying "Behold, the Man!" He reflects on this statement of Pilate's, saying that Christ, who by this point is covered in blood from his scourging and wearing a crown of thorns, is now a revelation of "man". In looking upon Jesus at that moment, the crowd sees themselves, beaten and disfigured by sin. Christ's passion reveals what sin does to the human being. "Look," imagine Pilate saying, "Look at who you are, you who call for the death of the Son of God".
Next Friday, April 2, is the CL Way of the Cross downtown in Washington. Please come, it will start around 9:30 or 10 am at a church near the Capital South metro. It's a powerful time of prayer, incorporating poetry and music as well as readings, and we end next to the Washington monument.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Thoughts on the Personal Essay
• In the personal essay, there is no universal truth, only personal truth.
• The personae with which you write is a little bit bold, a little presumptuous.
• Yet it’s the form most available for people who are clueless.
• You start with “this is what I think” and you move somewhere.
• The strongest thing in this form is the antithesis—the point in the essay where you try to speak from the opposite of what you think and belive. Often its in that dialectic that the insight comes. If it’s really an essay, you need to wrestle with ideas.
Regardless of our access to power in our tradition, giving one another a forum from which to name our realities is a first step in doing feminist theology. Further, it is a way of building community. What are our needs as young women with experiences of Catholicism?
I don't think they believe in universal truth in the first place, but okay. And that last part- oy. I'm sending mine in today- have you done yours yet? :)
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Sara and Jamie are in the kitchen. Sara is wearing an apron.
Time is approximately 10:56 p.m.
The two women are peering into the mixer.
Jamie: It says it should be light and fluffy. Does it look light and fluffy?
Sara: It's liquid.
Sara: Yes, liquid. Is that bad?
Sara holds the recipe in her left hand, and a little thing with 3 egg yolks in it in her right. She scrutinizes the recipe, searching for where it has led her astray.
Sara: I mean, it is a lot of liquid. It SAYS, "3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks"
Sara and Jamie erupt into laughter.
Jamie: You put in the whites?!?!
Pause; Sara, while still laughing, looks straight at the 3 eggs yolks in her hand.
Jamie: Just throw them in!
Sara throws them in, then promply walks to the dining room to collapse on the floor laughing.
Jamie takes over the baking process.
Cut to 60 minutes later.
Sara opens the oven.
Jamie (from the bathroom): How does it look?
Sara: Um... liquid.
Sara and Jamie take paper towels to the sides of the "cake" and soak up a lot of oil that is bubbling on the surface.
Jamie: well... put it in for a little longer.
And thus ends the story of "Melissa's Birthday Pound Cake"
Written for Sr. Morning to explain why her sister may not have much of a cake.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
"In Notre Jeunesse, Peguy (Charles Peguy, French writer and poet, Ed.) said: "An event is always whatever is most unexpected". An event, then, is "something" which suddenly introduces itself: the unpredictable, the unforeseen, the non consequence of factors antecedent. In fact, the word closest in meaning to "event" is "chance" ("Circumstance"): the word "chance" describes something that is there but our eyes as they watch it happen can find no explanation for it. So we can say that as far as our reason and our faculties are concerned, an event is purely and ultimately a thing of chance. Moreover in terms of our capacity for inquiry and understanding, an event is an event precisely to the degree that it is elusive - if there is something about it that escapes us.
It is typical of an event to be unpredictable and unforeseen ( it is unforeseen in that, by its nature, it is unpredictable). So, that which has the power to clarify me to myself is something which penetrates the horizon and the atmosphere of my existence like a strange, alien meteorite that I could not foresee or ultimately, therefore, understand since the unforeseen is by no means comprehensible.
So it is the incomprehensible, the unpredictable that sheds light - like a struck match - on our true selves. It is because of the intrusion of this irrational and alien "thing" - that our reason cannot grasp and our measure cannot master because it goes beyond, it breaches all our measures, this thing which does not derive from our thoughts, however clever we might be - which in the darkness of our existence begins to enter, shedding light on our true selves and which starts bringing order our of confusion. And it is from this point that an attraction and an affection in our own regard start to take form, then comes a tenderness and the possibility of compassion for others, then a serious attitude to plans for today and above all for tomorrow.
Let us stress this point. Commenting on the phrase quoted above, the French critic Alain Finkielkraut says this in his book on Peguy: "An event is something which erupts from the outside. It is something unexpected. And this is the supreme method of knowledge ". (Learning is finding ourselves before something new, something foreign to self, something that self has not constructed). We must restore to the event its ontological dimension of a new beginning. It is an eruption of the new, that breaks the cog-wheels (things already established, the definitions already provided), that sets a process in motion.
...Besides the face of Jesus the Christian event typically assumes human faces, the faces of companions, of people like you and me. In the same way in the villages of Palestine he could not get to, Jesus acquired the faces of the two disciples he sent, he was present in the very faces of the two he had chosen. And it was exactly the same thing: "Master, that which you made happen we also made happen". Identical. "The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God dwells among you"...
...The event of Christ which is revealed in the encounter unites us with others, it is the beginning of a new people; it creates a new environment, a companionship, like a home. A new dwelling place where all things are yours, where everything is yours, where all things are for you, where you are totally free. And this companionship opens up to the whole of reality, it gradually makes everything interesting to us, rendering the world and the men who populate it less foreign to us. This companionship discovers and loves history as the dwelling place of the active unity of a people, and it introduces the perception that a new history is possible."
Here's to events and wretches [and others] who show me the face of Christ...
Monday, March 19, 2007
Today we finish our novena, and give thanks for such a great father in heaven who prays for us and works "in his own sweet time" (Spice).
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The most telling line: "There were Catholic dinners in Harvard Square, Buddhist meditation in the house on Broadway, the proclamation of The Vagina Monologues in Andover Chapel, lots of laughter, and many cups of tea. We built community, and it was good."
Please, ladies, write!
One more classic note: "Our outreach for this project is intentionally grassroots. For this reason, we are relying on people like you to help spread the word. "
It's intentionally grassroots because they think they will get the kind of essays they want that way! This is what we call a "self-selected group" i.e. not truly representative of anything at all.
Is it super wretched that this kind of thing energizes me?
Monday, March 12, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Please, if you're in MD, call or email these senators and let them know you are against Senate Bill 575, which "would REMOVE the statute of limitations on monetary lawsuits against the Archdiocese, parishes, schools and ministries as well as other non-profit and private organizations."
Can't serve the poor if you're broke from lawsuits about people who died 30 years ago.
And we will also be beginning our annual founding Novena to St. Joseph on Sunday!!! I'm so glad we'll have a bunch of us together to start it, while being united especially to my Wind and Water :)
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Lucy and Matt are expecting!!!! Praise God. What a gift for such a special couple. Please add Baby Coles to your prayers and keep up the prayers for Matt to kick the "c" word.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
"'The constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children,' Wolf unambiguously wrote in dismissing a suit by two Lexington couples who objected to lessons the local elementary school was teaching their children. 'Under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.'"
Wow. Interesting that in cases we read in constitutional law, the rights of parents precisely did extend to their education... and from there we eventually got this somewhat fictitious "right to privacy"... and from there... the state can suddenly determine education? I missed something.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This is the website they are using for FAQ's and frankly, I don't think it will have anyone jumping out of their seats to get to the Church. So for my own amusement, I came up with my own edits for the first two questions, which betray my CL leanings toward speaking to experience.
Why should I go to Confession?
Because you know that you need to. Because sometimes when it is quiet, like before you go to sleep at night, you remember something you did, something you said, or something you thought that day that you regret. You do something during the day and you think to yourself, “Why do I keep doing that? I hate that.” You want to be free. You want to tell someone that you are sorry. You know that you cannot change yourself by just willing to be better; You’ve tried that. Christ left us this sacrament as a very special place of His Mercy. You come before Him and bear your soul. You tell Him things that you have never told anyone and you are assured that He still loves you. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, God our Father comes running to embrace you. For this Christ came and walked among us; That we would know the love of the Father right there where we most fear His gaze. You should go to Confession because the one you love, who loves you, is just waiting for you to call out to Him.
Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?
You have to confess your sins to a priest because you are human. As a human being it is not enough just to pray silently and “think” that you are forgiven; You must hear the words. You must be in the presence of Christ in the priest who says “I absolve you from your sins”. You will have no peace without those words; You will always wonder if God has heard and pardoned you. Confessing to the priest also acknowledges that the sin you have committed has not only offended God but has also hurt His Body, the Church. It has hurt your spouse, your children, your best friend. The priest is a representative of this Body as well, of all those you love and still hurt. He forgives you for the community.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Lent is not about avoiding temptations. Lent is not about fasting or prayer or being good. Lent is about wandering into the emptiness, the vanity, the wreckage we have made of our spiritual lives and finding one more time the stalwart presence of God, the inexhaustible workings of the Holy Spirit. Seeking and finding the face of Christ.
Lent is a time for you to calculate with cold reason and a clean heart your commitments in this world. Where are you bound? To whom do you owe your money, your livelihood, your dignity…your soul? Who owns you? What ideas possess your mind? What passions fuel your heart? What images cloud your vision? What do you worry about and why? Here’s the question with which to examine your conscience before confession: exactly how would anyone know Jesus owns me body and soul?
Know the answers! You must. Because the desert knows and the desert will tell. The desert will tell the Devil and he will color in those drab images, season those dull fumes, stoke the fires of weak passion. He’ll parade your desires, sharpened and concentrated, parade them before you, lying to you, pampering you, telling you how much you deserve what you cannot possibly need and only vaguely want. When those ashes were traced on your forehead…at that moment, what did you want? Mercy? Forgiveness? Love? To be seen as pious? You will find it in the Lenten desert. But will your desires look like gifts among all that scarcity?
Pay careful attention to the gospel. Jesus went into the desert to pray, right? No. He went into the desert to fast, right? No. He went into the desert to start his new diet? No. Of course, he prayed and fasted. But he didn’t go into the desert to do those things. Rather he “was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil.” He went to the desert so that he could be tempted. The devil tempted him with food, power, and worship. Jesus refuses each in turn. He quotes scripture and dismisses each temptation as a mere shadow of what His Father offers. The devil offers Jesus illusion, impermanence. And he will offer you the same. And you will accept his offer unless you understand with near perfect clarity and will what you want, what you desire as a faithful follower of Christ.
Lent is not about avoiding temptation. Lent is about walking the hot sand of deprivation so that what tempts you worms its way to the surface. (...)
Friday, February 23, 2007
We turn to you, O God of every nation,
Giver of life and origin of good;
Your love is at the heart of all creation,
Your hurt is people's broken brotherhood
We turn to you that we may be forgiven
For crucifying Christ on earth again.
We know that we have never wholly striven,
Forgetting self, to love the other man.
Free every heart from pride and self-reliance,
Our ways of thought inspire with simple grace;
Break down among us barriers of defiance,
Speak to the soul of all the human race.
Teach us, good Lord, to serve the need of others,
Help us to give and not to count the cost.
Unite us all for we are born as brothers;
Defeat our Babel with your Pentecost.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
And to help your meditations this season on our crucified and dejected Lord, a little quote from Adrian Walker:
"I suspect that, like Jacob, all serious Christians sooner or later find themselves struggling with the crucified God in the night. If they remain Christians, it is because, just when they think they have beaten him with water-tight arguments, he surprises them with an unexpected move. They suddenly catch sight of the glory shining in his despised and humiliated countenance, and that is enough to dissipate all their objections in a single blaze of light."
I have certainly had periods in my life of wrestling with God, and was glad to find this reflection based on Jacob's wrestling match in Genesis at the beginning of a paper on faith and philosophy.
A handful of JPII students and alums watched the French film "Diary of a Country Priest" based on the book by George Bernanos the other day. Dr. Schindler commented that he thought Bernanos captured the essence of Christianity more than anyone else- with the possible equal of Dostoevsky. The film was a faithful adaptation (so they say- I have not read it yet!) and it truly is 2 hours of relentless drama. Not drama as used in the American sense of action-packed [at all], but rather the drama of an intensely-lived life in the midst of "not much" happening. Here you are faced with a priest who is so transparent, humble and true, that just like the other characters in the story, you see your own wretchedness. A great way to start off Lent. It especially convicted me of the need for more silence.
I hope that you are all starting off Lent well. I have already "messed up"- I did not wake up on time today. Thank God that this is a time of mercy, and is not in the end about what I can "do". Tomorrow, 7am.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
It is a great work that seeks to bring people together for discussions of events, experiences in art and music, or really anything else that can rightfully be called culture.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
That is the point at which I knew that doctors are not omnisceint. In fact, not even close.
We've all been in school, right. And we all know that schools have agendas, many teachers have their own agendas, and all these things effect what you hear in your classroom. And sometimes books aren't right either. They are all written by people, who learned from teachers, who had agendas too. And particularly in the medical field, the pharmacutical industry is totally and completely invested in what future doctors are going to prescribe to their patients, so their agendas come into play as well in the classroom.
All this is to say that if someone is suggesting that maybe birth control is not the best answer for you, do not dismiss them because they don't have a medical degree. Remember what a medical degree means. I'm not saying doctors are not intelligent- I certainly couldn't make it through med school- I'm just saying they are human and thus not infallible. That's why you go to get a second opinion about any big medical decision, right?
As usual this is prompted by the MP Evaluations. There are always a few women who write that they can't do NFP because they have a medical condition that requires the pill. And immediately I think of all the work that some doctors are doing in this country to really investigate fertility/ reproductive problems verses immediately presribing the pill for a quick fix. That's our modern mentality. But there are usually more natural ways to help women if you are willing to treat each person individually and listen to what is going on, which is not what many doctors do. And probably until they meet a doctor who does do that, many women will not even know that they should be listened to. I want to say to all those women- make sure that your doctor is listening to you, and do some research on your own to see what else might be possible, if there is any part of you that wonders about taking a pill everyday. And, if it is supposed to just regulate what your body does naturally, there's no reason not to learn more about what it is doing and how you can tell.
One small example. A friend of mine was pregnant. They gave her a due date which she thought was a little off. Using her NFP chart, it was pretty simple for her to say "Look, I know when we conceived" but the doctors did not listen to her. Pretty soon, they were saying that the baby was too small and they needed to perform all sorts of tests to make sure everything was ok. And once again, my friend thought this was very wrong because babies in her family tend to be quite large. So finally she got a midwife to look at her chart, to humor her. And sure enough, when the midwife calculated the due date according to my friend's calculations, the baby was exactly the size she should be for her stage of development. No extra tests needed.
I'm just saying that doctors don't know everything.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
by Tony Perkins
What a difference an ideology makes. Last Monday, 200,000 pro-lifers descended on the nation's capital to peacefully protest 34 years of abortion-on-demand. Despite record crowds and a line-up of speakers that included President Bush by phone, the March for Life earned little more than a footnote in the nation's news. Days later, radical anti-war protestors staged a march in Washington that mustered only 10,000, and the event made the front page of nearly every newspaper in America. Yet for all the media the small demonstration received, few news outlets reported the true headline of the day. According to reports, hundreds of demonstrators were allowed to take the steps of the U.S. Capitol during the march and desecrate the property with "anarchist symbols." When police formed a security line to stop them, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse ordered his men to fall back and allow the protestors to "exercise their First Amendment rights" by spray-painting the Capitol grounds with graffiti. One source at the scene said that Morse issued an order that no one was to be arrested for desecrating America's and arguably the world's greatest symbol of democracy. In an e-mail on his actions, Morse writes, "The graffiti was easily removed by the [Architect of the Capitol] staff... It is [our] duty and responsibility to protect the Capitol complex, while allowing the public to exercise their [freedom of speech]." Imagine the response had Christians "trespassed" onto this public property and prayed for our leaders! I dare say the outcome would have been quite different.
I happened to be downtown the day of the war protest, and I was struck by a number of things. First was the way that the people seemed to be conforming to their own stereotypes; i.e. a war protester from 1970. Now, I happen to love dressing in hippie skirts and scarves and such, but I would probably make it a point not to do so at a protest if I knew I would just be taken as a dismissable hippie. A second thing was the violence of some of their messages and the banality of others. (One guy was walking around with a sign that said hugs not war, "free hugs"- so people would go and hug him all day) Okay. Third was the number of people who were ice skating after their protest. I'm not kidding, we were there taking our youth group to the sculpture garden and the place was PACKED and sold out because of all the "protesters". Now I don't know if people from the March for Life went ice skating after the march, maybe they did, but somehow I doubt it. Usually people who come for it are staying in churches or have holy hours or talks or maybe go to a pub afterward for conversation. It's usually at least somewhat penitential (ok, maybe not reeeeally penitential, but not ice skating!). There is a lot of ideology going on in BOTH these things, and I think that's important to note. That's why I hate the speeches at the March for Life- It is ideology for a lot of those people. But it is truth to many others (a distinction worth making). There is also a sense at the March- unless you're with the ideology people- that you are not completely innocent in this; Your sins are part of the reason that you have to be there. Hence the reparation. But I got a sense of self-righteousness exuding from the war protest crowd. It's not their fault; It's all Bush's fault. They had nothing to do with the war and because they are so upright and noble they have come out to tell him to go to hell. Because THAT is right and respectful and appropriate. And it made me sad to hear the 5th through 8th grade kids in my youth group spouting all this stuff, directly from their parents of course, about how Bush is the most evil man in the world, and on Halloween one of them dressed as Dick Cheney because he wanted to be really scary. Lord have mercy. What a disservice it is to children to indoctrinate them into political ideology before they can even judge it. It reminds me of the scary fact from the last election. While many "conservatives" could understand and sympathize with some of the reasons an intelligent person would vote for a "liberal"; very few "liberals" could understand the other side at all, and in fact were violently offended by it. There is no attempt to really enter into an issue and seek the truth together, there's just a back and forth about opinion.
Back to this article, it really is astonishing the way that the media manipulates the truth. Lately I have heard this so many times and it is solidifying my lack of desire to watch the news. Unfortunately that also makes me quite ignorant on a lot of issues, but I guess I'd rather be ignorant than completely wrong and misdirected. A priest I have met recently returned from Iraq and had all kinds of stories about his time there that people will never hear because journalists there have been told that nothing positive will be published or aired. Nothing. Do you remember that streak of bombings at churches? It was happening so frequently and then just stopped dead- Did you ever wonder why it just stopped like that? Did you think maybe the bombers just got bored? This priest I met and a Chaldean priest he met over there searched the area to find all the Christian churches- the locations of which had not been known- so that security detail could be sent to each of them. Definitely didn't hear that. Thus ends today's rant.
Monday, January 29, 2007
By far the most memorable was when a man I was dancing with started asking about Catholicism and we went back and forth for 4 or 5 songs (still dancing) talking about Jesus, confession, the Real Presence, authority, divorce, zeal and the Holy Spirit. You never know when you'll be asked to give a reason for your hope, my friends! That Baptist is on his way to the Church. Veni Sancte Spiritu, veni per Mariam.
It reminded me so much of Guissani's statement that Christianity is spread by envy; Others recognize in Christians a humanity and a life that they desire for themselves. This man was already Christian, but I think it still applies.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
But the March itself, well, you might have read my post about it 2 years ago. I'm not a huge fan, even though I went. There's just a lot of ickiness and ideology and misunderstanding of what is really going on. You must ALWAYS skip the speeches because they are awful and offensive. But it is the Catholic family reunion. Every year, I run into a young priest that I knew briefly when I was in high school and he was in the seminary. I saw our Sr. Rain in the sisters of life, and ran into Sr. Leaf who I haven't seen for almost 2 years. Of course it's nearly impossible to purposefully run into anyone, but when you don't expect to see someone, there they are.
By far, the highlight of the day for me was the youth rally and mass at the Verizon center. If you have never gone, I highly encourage you to volunteer next year or bring a group of kids to it. The energy and the unity of the Church in the Holy Spirit is just palpably present when you're in such a huge crowd of teens who are doing hand motions, the slow motion wave, and dancing and singing to the Lord. Hand motions may not be your thing, but I'm telling you, they are a freeing thing to do! And I think I need to give a talk to most of the seminarians who attended and sit front and center; They had better let the JOY of the LORD into their hearts, learn to dance, and not stand silent and boring! That was sad!
The most powerful moment for me was when I was leading 6 priests to their communion stations where I had "trained" a teen to stand and direct the people. I was actually given the grace to feel the truth that I was leading the Lord to His people. "Come this way, Jesus; they're waiting for you." And it was beautiful to look into the eyes of people on the way who understood that. Especially this one mom who was out there in the lobby and kneeled earlier after the Lamb of God- she was certainly too far away to even see the host from there, but kneel she did. Right there where usually people are pushing to see a fist fight at a hockey game or watch a pick-and-roll play in basketball, the Meaning of it all walked and gave Himself, once again, to thousands of souls who probably do not understand Him. I know I'm one of them!
How beautiful the feet that walked...
Friday, January 19, 2007
"You can't help but feel a little triumphalistic."
"If this man is supposed to be the Islamic intellectual equivalent of Cardinal Scola, we are in trouble."
"I never realized how Pelagian Islam is."
and on the other hand, a priest who had been involved in this all day:
"I can see why so many Christians are converting to Islam; It is so simple, direct, clear and easy."
The two presentations were emblematic of the two very different ways we understand the world. No matter how many times you want to stress similarities and acknowledge our common brotherhood, you also MUST acknowledge difference.
Scola's paper, which was provided to all participants, was a brilliant and sweeping synthesis of the Catholic understanding of God's relationship with humanity through Jesus Christ. After 2 years of studying just that, I still left with new thoughts to chew on. Professor Siddiqi, formerly the President of the Islamic Society of America, gave us a rough overview of what Muslims believe on the topic... and it was not much. It is simple; God created us. Adam and Eve sinned. (b.n. there is not a concept of original sin in Islam; rather, we all simply follow their example- we are born with a pure nature and are naturally able to know what Allah wants from us, so it's not clear at all why we would sin anyway, or why Allah would be merciful to such people) Human beings are called to surrender their will to Allah and turn to him. We both believe in a God who created the world and should be praised and obeyed. We both believe God's law is written on our hearts. But there was just too much left unsaid. At the end, Cardinal Scola said about 5 HUGE issues he would like to ask Siddiqi but did not want to make him answer, i.e. the relationship between freedom and truth, reason and faith, and the like. Scola started his lecture with the human heart, with the perennial human questions "Who am I?" "Why do I exist?" None of these seemed to be part of the understanding of Islam. If Siddiqi was truly listening, I think he would have had to object strongly to what was actually being said.
Scola: Jesus Christ is the center of the universe and of history.
Siddiqi: Jesus Christ is one of the 25 prophets we acknowledge and respect.
How are these two reconcilable? At least state that. Interreligious dialogue does not mean skimming over differences. It means seeking to understand the other as a person and their beliefs as what shapes them. It means somehow allowing the difference to be fruitful- like in man and woman.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
We got in a discussion at lunch about this movie, and somehow in a group of daily mass and Jesus-loving Catholics, the particular weirdness of my education reared its (beautiful?) head.
From the desire to be understood, Jesus deliver me!
The premise of the movie is distinctly American: the triumph of the human spirit, the benefits of perseverance, the greatness of taking a big risk and seeing it pay off against all odds.
What did I expect? I guess I had hoped for something deeper than I got. There are directors in the world who could do great things with a story like this-- a man who keeps failing even to the point of being homeless with his son but lands an internship and subsequently a very prestigious job as a stock broker. A good artist could make a lot out of that.
Instead, the message was that happiness is found in dollar signs. That you should risk everything for the sake of a dream even if it involves risking your marriage, even your life.
The arguments of many today and many others are all valid and interesting. It is amazing and cool to see how someone could just go for something big against all odds and especially for someone without a college degree to know they can still be successful. It showed a man who would do anything to make sure that his son knew his father.
But is it ok, really, for a bright and intelligent man to allow things to get so bad that his wife is working double shifts while he still tries to sell medical supplies (his first job- I hope you've seen it or this won't make sense)? He certainly could have gotten at least a part-time job to help them get through while he wasn't selling much. Pride.
And is it ok that his marriage was torn apart and his wife left him and their son? Yes, it was her decision to leave, but she was pretty desperate and you could see that the frustration had been building up after a long time of "pulling more than her weight" to take care of them. Chris's passion that his son not grow up without a father should have also translated into a passion that he not grow up without a mother either.
The first scene when he sees all the stock brokers and says "They were all so happy" I figured was going to lead to him realizing in the end that happiness did not lie in money like he thought. Nope, not the lesson. The last scene is him crying with joy because he got a high-paying job. That's it. Money IS the answer to happiness. There were plenty of opportunities for the film to suggest that happiness did not lie there, and that even rich people had struggles. Nope. Their lives are perfect in their box seats at football games and fancy cars. Shallllllllow.
And finally, in the end, besides the main character, the only faces of homelessness in the movie are the stereotypes. I've heard this called a "social work movie"; No, it's not a social work movie. You don't learn anyone else's story. The only other homeless character who is recurring is a typically crazy one used for comic relief. It would be one thing if that was intentional and for effect (i.e. when you're homeless you feel invisible, just another face in the crowd) but it wasn't done that way. It doesn't ask any questions about that. It also doesn't deal with the question of why Chris did not have any friends or family around. If you're going to treat his character as if he's the orphaned only child of poor parents, you at least should explain that, and that still doesn't help explain why he has only 1 friend who owes him $14.
Luckily I saw the movie with Sr. Morning who shared the same quandries. And I'm starting to think that I can't even go to the movies anymore.
We will never be normal again, my friends.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
1. Original sin is real. I'm sorry that you want to do without it. So do I, buddy, so do I.
2. Just because a couple home schools their 5-6 children does not mean they are out of touch with reality. They may even be more in touch with it than you are.
3. Citing that only 4% of Catholic marriages practice NFP is not an argument against our teaching it to you. In fact, you have just made our point that education about it is needed. Thank you.
4. The Catholic Church did not make up the connection between sex and children. I am sorry you feel that way and I'll be sure to talk to the Creator about this pesky truth for you. The Church is not going to bring in a speaker on birth control simply because you want to hear all of your "options" in a "neutral" light.
5. I agree that you don't need to know the details of anyone else's sex life. Ick.
6. Where do you get your idea about who qualifies as a "real Catholic"? Why are only dissenters considered real Catholics? Isn't the Pope a real Catholic too? I simply don't understand why people who sacrificed a Saturday to talk to you about their lives and share experiences are only freaks who do not live in the real world and do not represent "real Catholics". How is their life not real?
7. Calling somebody unintelligent while ranting illogically is not convincing.
8. If you don't believe anything you've heard in these sessions, remind me again why you're getting married in the Catholic Church? I'm glad you are, don't get me wrong, just curious.
9. If Christ saying you are not permitted to divorce is not a legitimate argument against divorce... I don't know what to tell ya. Do you want a pre-nup?
10. Proper spelling and grammar is underrated.
Thus ends the work-related rant.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I hope and pray that the holiday season has been a joy for all the wretches and their families, even though these events usually afford an extraordinary opportunity for wretchedness.
Remember, there is no wretchedness that is a match for His mercy! This line was on the back of Deacon Ryan’s ordination card, with the Divine Mercy image on the front. Amen, my friend.
At the Christmas Vigil, I found myself sitting between a zealous older gentleman and a woman who did not appreciate his zeal. In reflecting on the Spirit as unity and that unity as being what makes us “bear with” one another- in the true sense of that, which is not negative (c.f. Ratzinger, “Spirit of unity”…. Or something like that)- I believe hers was the greater transgression. Her noble desire for silence does not justify her expression of annoyance. We would all receive the Eucharist together, one after another, professing that we are one Body. In that moment, I think we were called to “bear with” him in love and smile indulgently at our “adopted great uncle” who sometimes talks a little before mass.
Sr. Morning has been reflecting on what “home” is; how Fr. A said that as you grow in this journey you begin to realize that Home is a Person.
And suddenly, it makes sense to feel more at home with people you “hardly know” who share your faith and are living in and walking towards Christ than with people you have known all your life that do not think of Him. You look around a room, and either marvel that people who are so different from you yet share this profound sense of the meaning of everything… or you look around at people who look a lot like you, but have a totally different conception of what reality is. It’s wild.
Other profound homey places are World Youth Day and the March for Life (affectionately called by wave “the Catholic family reunion”). In the midst of these crowds—with the exception of some of the crazies at the march— you sense the Spirit and the unity of love.
Spice, halfway across the country, wrote something about home in her Christmas card to me. She wrote that “we always seem to be making our way home”. Always already, almost-but-not-yet, both and. We are home, yet not, and not home, yet home. None of which makes sense if you do not know Christ; Home is always moving because He is a person.
Listening to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, the Moldau movement, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay, is Home.