Friday, March 31, 2006

Talk in the Intimate Relationship

When I was a young sprout (you know like three years ago) I never was really interested in boys. Sure I had my share of boyfriends (okay there were only four) but I never really was interested. It was just something you did. (I was stupid.) Well lately I've been a little more interested in the opposite sex. I am more aware of them and their interactions with me. Last semester in my English class we read this piece about the differences in communication approaches in men and women. As I begin my adventures with men I thought I would look this over again. Reading through it I knew it would be a good thing to post for everyone else to enjoy as well. Perhaps someone will learn something!

Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers
by Deborah Tannen

Deborah Tannen is a language scholar who says her marriage broke up because of a classic breakdown in communication: She employed a literal style, trying to say exactly what you meant, whereas her husband used the indirect style of people who hint at what they want and expect other people to pick up the hints. Tannen, who studied at Berkeley under linguists focusing on language as an interactive social medium, reached a large public with two books on the undercurrents and hidden messages in how people talk: You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation and That’s Not What I Meant: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships.Her focus is on the metamessages we send- the messages that go beyond what we say outright. Literal-minded people miss much of the subtext of communication – what lies below surface meanings. The mere fact that people bother to talk to us already sends a message (they care enough to give us some of their time), just as their refusal to talk to us also sends a message. Tannen’s most recent book is Talking from 9 to 5(19940, on the role of language in the workplace. A reviewer of the book said that much of the secret of her success is “that she is writing about the single most common social activity in the world; everyone talks, although not everyone reads, writes, or reasons.” Dr. Tannen’s scholarly essays have been collected in Gender and Discourse, published by Oxford University Press.

Male-female conversation is cross-cultural communication. Culture is simply a network of habits and patterns gleaned from past experience, and women and men have different past experiences. From the time they’re born, they’re treated differently, talked to differently, and talk differently as a result. Boys and girls grow up in different worlds, even if they grow up in the same house. And as adults they travel in different worlds, reinforcing patterns established in childhood. These cultural differences include different expectations about the role of talk in relationships and how it fulfills that role.

Everyone knows that as a relationship becomes long-term, its terms change. But women and men often differ in how they expect them to change. Many women feel, “After all this time, you should know what I want without my telling you.” Many men feel, “After all this time, we should be able to tell each other what we want.”

These incongruent expectations capture on of the key differences between men and women. Communication is always a matter of balancing conflicting needs for involvement and independence. Being understood without saying what you mean gives a payoff in involvement, and that is why women value it so highly.

If you want to be understood without saying what you mean explicitly in words, you must convey meaning somewhere else – in how words are spoken, or by metamessages. Thus it stands to reason that women are often more attuned than men to the metamessages of talk. When women surmise meaning in this way, it seems mysterious to men, who call it “women’s intuition” (if they think it’s right) or “reading things in” (if they think it’s wrong). Indeed, it could be wrong, since metamessages are not on record. And even if it is right, there is still the question of scale: How significant are the metamessages that are there?

Metamessages are a form of indirectness. Women are more likely to be indirect, and to try to reach agreement by negotiation. Another way to understand this preference is that negotiation allows a display of solidarity, which women prefer to the display of power (even though the aim may be the same – getting what you want). Unfortunately, power and solidarity are bought with the same currency: Ways of talking intended to create solidarity have the simultaneous effect of framing power differences. When they think they’re being nice, women often end up appearing deferential and unsure of themselves or of what they want.

When styles differ, misunderstandings are always rife. As their different styles create misunderstandings, women and men try to clear them up by talking things out. These pitfalls are compounded in talks between men and women because they have different ways of going about talking things out, and different assumptions about the significance of going about it.

Sylvia and Harry celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at a mountain resort. Some of the guests were at the resort for the whole week-end, others just for the evening of the celebration: a cocktail party followed by a sit-down dinner. The manager of the dining room approached Sylvia during dinner. “Since there’s so much food tonight,” he said, “and the hotel prepared a fancy dessert and everyone already ate at the cocktail party anyway, how about cutting and serving the anniversary cake at lunch tomorrow?” Sylvia asked the advice of the others at her table. All the men agree: “Sure, that makes sense. Save the cake for tomorrow.” All the women disagreed: “No, the party is tonight. Serve the cake tonight.” The men were focusing on the message: the cake as food. The women were thinking of the metamessage: Serving a special cake frames an occasion as a celebration.

Why are women more attuned to metamessages? Because they are more focused on involvement, that is, on relationships among people, and it is through metamessages that relationships among people are established and maintained. If you want to take the temperature and check the vital signs of a relationship, the barometers to check are its metamessages: what is said and how.

Everyone can see these signals, but whether or not we pay attention to them is another matter – a matter of being sensitized. Once you are sensitize, you can’t roll your antennae back in; they’re stuck in the extended position.

When interpreting meaning, it is possible to pick up signals that weren’t intentionally sent out, like an innocent flock of birds on a radar screen. The birds are there – and the signals women pick up are there – but they may not mean what the interpreter thinks they mean. For example, Maryellen looks at Larry and asks, “What’s wrong?” because his brow is furrowed. Since he was only thinking about lunch, her expression of concern makes him feel under scrutiny.

The difference in focus on messages and metamessages can give men and women different points of view on almost any comment. Harriet complains to Morton, “Why don’t you ask me how my day was?” He replies, “If you have something to tell me, tell me. Why do you have to be invited?” The reason is that she wants the metamessage of interest: evidence that he cares how her day was, regardless of whether or not she has something to tell.

A lot of trouble is caused between women and men by, of all things, pronouns. Women often feel hurt when their partners use “I” or “me” in a situation in which they would use “we” or “us.” When Morton announces, “I think I’ll go for a walk,” Harriet feels specifically uninvited, though Morton later claims she would have been welcome to join him. She felt locked out by his use of “I” and his omission of an invitation: “Would you like to come?” Metamessages can be seen in what is not said as well as what is said.

It’s difficult to straighten out such misunderstandings because each one feels convinced of the logic of his or her position and the illogic – or irresponsibility – of the other’s. Harriet knows that she always asks Morton how his day was, and that she’d never announce, “I’m going for a walk,” without inviting him to join her. If he talks differently to her, it must be that he feels differently. But Morton wouldn’t feel unloved if Harriet didn’t ask about his day, and he would feel free to ask, “Can I come along?,” if she announced she was taking a walk. So he can’t believe she is justified in feeling responses he knows he wouldn’t have.

These processes are dramatized with chilling yet absurdly amusing authenticity in Jules Feiffer’s play Grown Ups. To get a closer look at what happens when men and women focus on different levels of talking things out, let’s look at what happens in this play.

Jake criticizes Louise for not responding when their daughter, Edie, has called her. His comment leads to a fight even though they’re both aware that this one incident is not in itself important.

Jake: Look, I don’t care if it’s important or not, when a kid calls its mother the mother should answer.
Louise: Now I’m a bad mother.
Jake: I didn’t say that.
Louise: It’s in your stare.
Jake: Is that another thing you know? My stare?

Louise ignores Jake’s message – the question of whether or not she responded when Edie called – and goes for the metamessage: his implication that she’s a bad mother, which Jake insistently disclaims. When Louise explains the signals she’s reacting to, Jake not only discounts them but is angered at being held accountable not for what he said but for how he looked – his stare.

As the play goes on, Jake and Louise replay and intensify these patterns:

Louise: If I’m such a terrible mother, do you want a divorce?
Jake: I don’t think you’re a terrible mother and no, thank you, I do not want a divorce. Why is it that whenever I bring up any difference between us you ask me if I want a divorce?

The more he denies any meaning beyond the message, the more she blows it up, the more adamantly he denies it, and so on:

Jake: I have brought up one thing that you do with Edie that I don’t think you notice that I have noticed for some time but which I have deliberately not brought up before because I had hoped you would notice it for yourself and stop doing it and also – frankly, baby, I have to say this – I knew if I brought it up we’d get into exactly the kind of circular argument we’re in right now. And I wanted to avoid it. But I haven’t and we’re in it, so now, with your permission, I’d like to talk about it.
Louise: You don’t see how that puts me down?
Jake: What?
Louise: If you think I’m so stupid why do you go on living with me?
Jake: Dammit! Why can’t anything ever be simple around here?!

It can’t be simple because Louise and Jake are responding to different levels of communication. As in Bateson’s example of the dual-control electric blanket with crossed wires, each one intensifies the energy going to a different aspect of the problem. Jake tries to clarify his point by overelaborating it, which gives Louise further evidence that he’s condescending to her, making it even less likely that she will address his point rather than his condescension.

What pushes Jake and Louise beyond anger to rage is their different perspectives on metamessages. His refusal to admit that his statements have implications and overtones denies her authority over her own feelings. Her attempts to interpret what he didn’t say and put the metamessage into the message makes him feel she’s putting words into his mouth – denying his authority over his own meaning.

The same thing happens when Louise tells Jake that he is being manipulated by Edie:

Louise: Why don’t you ever make her come to see you? Why do you always go to her?
Jake: You want me to play power games with a nine year old? I want her to know I’m interested in her. Someone around here has to show interest in her.
Louise: You love her more than I do.
Jake: I didn’t say that.
Louise: Yes, you did.
Jake: You don’t know how to listen. You have never learned how to listen. It’s as if listening to you is a foreign language.

Again, Louise responds to his implication – this time, that he loves Edie more because he runs when she calls. And yet again, Jake cries literal meaning, denying he meant any more than he said.

Throughout their argument, the point to Louise is her feelings – that Jakes makes her feel put down – but to him the point is her actions – that she doesn’t always respond when Edie calls:

Louise: You talk about what I do to Edie, what do you think you do to me?
Jake: This is not the time to go into what we do to each other.

Since she will talk only about metamessages, and he will talk only about the message, neither can get satisfaction from their talk, and they end up where they started – only angrier:

Jake: That’s not the point!
Louise: It’s my point.
Jake: It’s hopeless!
Louise: Then get a divorce.

American conventional wisdom (and many of our parents and English teachers) tell us that meaning is conveyed by words, so men who tend to be literal about words are supported by conventional wisdom. They may not simply deny but actually miss the cues that are sent by how words are spoken. If they sense something about it, they may nonetheless discount what they sense. After all, it wasn’t said. Sometimes that’s a dodge – a plausible defense rather than a gut feeling. But sometimes it is a sincere conviction. Women are also likely to doubt the reality of what they sense. If they don’t doubt it in their guts, the nonetheless may lack the arguments to support their position and thus are reduced to repeating, “You said it. You did so.” Knowing that metamessages are a real and fundamental part of communication makes it easier to understand and justify what they feel.

An article in a popular newspaper reports that one of the five most common complaints of wives about their husbands is “He doesn’t listen to me anymore.” Another is “He doesn’t talk to me anymore.” Political scientist Andrew Hacker noted that lack of communication, while high on women’s lists of reasons for divorce, is much less often mentioned by men. Since couples are parties to the same conversations, why are women more dissatisfied with them than men? Because what they expect is different, as well as what they see as the significance of talk itself.

First, let’s consider the complaint “He doesn’t talk to me.”
One of the most common stereotypes of American men is the strong silent type. Jack Kroll, writing about Henry Fonda on the occasion of his death, used the phrases “quiet power,” “absurd silences,” “combustible catatonia,” and “sense of power held in check.” He explained that Fonda’s goal was not to let anyone see “the wheels go around,” not to let the “machinery” show. According to Kroll, the resulting silence was effective on stage but devastating to Fonda’s family.

The image of a silent father is common and is often the model for the lover or husband. But what attracts us can become flypaper to which we are unhappily stuck. Many women find the strong silent type to be a lure as a lover but a lug as a husband. Nancy Shoenberger begins a poem with the lines “It was your silence that hooked me, / so like my father’s.” Adrienne Rich refers in a poem to the “husband who is frustratingly mute.” Despite the initial attraction of such quintessentially male silence, it may begin to feel, to a woman in a long-term relationship, like a brick wall against which she is banging her head.

In addition to these images of male and female behavior – both the result and the cause of them – are differences in how women and men view the role of talk in relationships as well as how talk accomplishes its purpose. These differences have their roots in the settings in which men and women learn to have conversations: among their peers, growing up.

Children whose parents have foreign accents don’t speak with accents. They learn to talk like their peers. Little girls and little boys learn how to have conversations as they learn how to pronounce words: from their playmates. Between the ages of five and fifteen, when children are learning to have conversations, they play mostly with friends of their own sex. So it’s not surprising that they learn different ways of having and using conversations.

Anthropologists Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker point out that boys and girls socialize differently. Little girls tend to play in small groups, or even more common, in pairs. Their social life usually centers around a best friend, and friendships are made, maintained, and broken by talk – especially “secrets.” If a little girl tells her friend’s secret to another little girl, she may find herself with a new best friend. The secrets themselves may or may not be important, but the fact of telling them is all-important. It’s hard for newcomers to get into these tight groups, but anyone who is admitted is treated as an equal. Girls like to play cooperatively; if they can’t cooperate, the group breaks up.

Little boys tend to play in larger groups, often outdoors, and they spend more time doing things than talking. It’s easy for boys to get into the group, but not everyone is accepted as an equal. Once in the group, boys must jockey for their status in it. One of the most important ways they do this is through talk: verbal displays of other boys, and withstanding other boys’ challenges in order to maintain their own story – and status. Their talk is often more competitive talk about who is best at what.

Feiffer’s play is ironically named Grown Ups because adult men and women struggling to communicate often sound like children: “You said so!” “I did not!” The reason is that when they grow up, women and men keep the divergent attitudes and habits they learned as children – which they don’t recognize as attitudes and habits but simply take for granted as ways of talking.

Women want their partners to be a new and improved version of a best friend. This gives them a soft spot for men who tell them secrets. As Jack Nicholson once advised a guy in a movie: “Tell her about your troubled childhood – that always gets ‘em.” Men expect to do things together and don’t feel anything is missing if they don’t have heart-to-heart talks all the time.

If they do have heart-to-heart talks, the meaning of those talks may be opposite for men and women. To many women, the relationship is working as long as they can talk things out. To many men, the relationship isn’t working out if they have to keep working it over. If she keeps trying to get talks going to save the relationship, and he keeps trying to avoid them because he sees them as weakening it, then each one’s efforts to preserve the relationship appear to the other as reckless endangerment.

If talks (of any kind) do get going, men’s and women’s ideas about how to conduct them may be very different. For example, Dora is feeling comfortable and close to Tom. She settles into a chair after dinner and begins to tell him about a problem at work. She expects him to ask questions to show he’s interested; reassure her that he understands and that what she feels is normal; and return the intimacy by telling her a problem of his. Instead, Tom sidetracks her story, cracks jokes about it, questions her interpretation of the problem, and gives her advice about how to solve it and avoid such problems in the future.

All of these responses, natural to men, are unexpected to women, who interpret them in terms of their own habits – negatively. When Tom comments on side issues or cracks jokes, Dora thinks he doesn’t care about what she’s saying and isn’t really listening. If he challenges her reading of what went on, she feels he is criticizing her and telling her she’s crazy, when what she wants is to be reassured that she’s not. If he tells her how to solve the problem, it makes her feel as if she’s the patient to his doctor – a metamessage of condescension, echoing male one-upmanship compared to the female etiquette of equality. Because he doesn’t volunteer information about his problems, she feels he’s implying he doesn’t have any.

His way of responding to her bid for intimacy makes her feel distant from him. She tires harder to regain intimacy the only way she knows how – by revealing more and more about herself. He tries harder by giving more insistent advice. The more problems she exposes, the more incompetent she feels, until they both see her as emotionally draining and problem-ridden. When his efforts to help aren’t appreciated, he wonders why she asks for his advice if she doesn’t want to take it. …

When women talk about what seems obviously interesting to them, their conversations often include reports of conversations. Tone of voice, timing, intonation, and wording are all re-created in the telling in order to explain – dramatize, really – the experience that is being reported. If men tell about an incident and give a brief summary instead of re-creating what was said and how, the women often feel that the essence of the experience is being omitted. If the woman asks, “What exactly did he say?,” and “How did he say it?,” the man probably can’t remember. If she continues to press him, he may feel as if he’s being grilled.

All these different habits have repercussions when the man and the woman are talking about their relationship. He feels out of his element, even one down. She claims to recall exactly what he said, and what she said, and in what sequence, and she wants him to account for what he said. He can hardly account for it since he has forgotten exactly what was said – if not the whole conversation. She secretly suspects he’s only pretending not to remember, and he secretly suspects that she’s making up the details.

One woman reported such a problem as being a matter of her boyfriend’s poor memory. It is unlikely, however, that his problem was poor memory in general. The question is what types of material each person remembers or forgets.

Frances was sitting at her kitchen table talking to Edward, when the toaster did something funny. Edward began to explain why it did it. Frances tried to pay attention, but very early in his explanation, she realized she was completely lost. She felt very stupid. And indications were that he thought so too.

Later that day they were taking a walk. He was telling her about a difficult situation in his office that involved a complex network of inter-relationships among a large number of people. Suddenly he stopped and said, “I’m sure you can’t keep track of all these people.” “Of course I can,” she said, and she retracted his story with all the characters in place, all the details right. He was genuinely impressed. She felt very smart.

How could Frances be both smart and stupid? Did she have a good memory or a bad one? Frances’s and Edward’s abilities to follow, remember, and recount depended on the subject – and paralleled her parents’ abilities to follow and remember. Whenever Frances told her parents about people in her life, her mother could follow with no problem, but her father got lost as soon as she introduced a second character. “Now who was that?” he’d ask. “Your boss?” “No, my boss is Susan. This was my friend.” Often he’d still be in the previous story. But whenever she told them about her work, it was her mother who would get lost as soon as you mentioned a second step: “That was your tech report?” “No, I handed my tech report in last month. This was a special project.”

Frances’s mother and father, like many other men and women, had honed their listening and remembering skills in different areas. Their experience talking to other men and other women gave them practice in following different kinds of talk.

Knowing whether and how we are likely to report events later influences whether and how we pay attention when they happen. As women listen to and take part in conversations, knowing they may talk about them later makes them more likely to pay attention to exactly what is said and how. Since most men aren’t in the habit of making such reports, they are less likely to pay much attention at the time. On the other hand, many women aren’t in the bait of paying attention to specific explanations and facts because they don’t expect to have to perform in public by reciting them – just as those who aren’t in the habit of entertaining other by telling them jokes “can’t” remember jokes they’ve heard, even though they listened carefully enough to enjoy them.

So women’s conversations with their women friends keep them in training for talking about their relationships with men, but many men come to such conversations with no training at all – and an uncomfortable sense that this really isn’t their event.

Most of us place enormous emphasis on the importance of a primary relationship. We regard the ability to maintain such relationships as a sign of mental health – out contemporary metaphor for being a good person.

Yet our expectations of such relationships are nearly – maybe in fact – impossible. When primary relationships are between women and men, male-female differences contribute to the impossibility. We expect partners to be both romantic interests and best friends. Though women and men may have fairly similar expectations for romantic interests, obscuring their differences when relationships begin, they have very different ideas about how to be friends, and these are the differences that mount over time.

In conversations between friends who are not lovers, small misunderstandings can be passed over or diffused by breaks in contact. But in the context of a primary relationship, differences can’t be ignored, and the pressure cooker of continued contact keeps both people stewing in the juice of accumulated minor misunderstandings. And stylistic differences are sure to cause misunderstandings – not, ironically, in matters such as sharing values and interests or misunderstanding each other’s philosophies of life. these large and significant yet palpable issues can be talked about and agreed on. It is far harder to achieve congruence – and much more surprising and troubling that is hard – in the simple day-to-day matters of the automatic rhythms and nuances of talk. Nothing in our backgrounds or in the media (the present-day counterpart to religion or grandparents’ teachings) prepares us for this failure. If two people share so much in terms of point of view and basic values, how can they continually get into fights about insignificant matters?

If you find yourself in such a situation and you don’t know about differences in conventional style, you assume something’s wrong with your partner, or you for having chosen your partner. At best, if you are forward thinking and generous minded, you may absolve individuals and blame the relationship. But if you know about differences in conventional style, you can accept that there are differences in habits and assumptions about how to have conversation, show interest, be considerate, and so on. You may not always correctly interpret your partner’s intentions, but you will know that neither are your responses unfounded. If he says he really is interested even though he doesn’t seem to be, maybe you should believe what he says and not what you sense.

Sometimes explaining assumptions can help. If a man starts to tell a women what to do to solve her problem, she may say, “Thanks for the advice but I really don’t want to be told what to do. I just want you to listen and say you understand.” A man might want to explain, “If I challenge you, it’s not to prove you wrong; it’s just my way of praying attention to what you’re telling me.” Both may try either or both to modify their ways of talking and to try to accept what the other does. The important thing is to know that what seem like bad intentions may really be good intentions expressed in a different conversational style. We have to give up our conviction that, as Robin Lakoff put it, “Love means never having to say ‘What do you mean?’ ”

I know it was long but wasn't that a good read? Until next time... be holy.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


At some point everyone experiences it. We all drift from things and people and right now in my life there is a lot of that. I am drifting away from old habits, old friends, and old activities. I am moving forward and while the change is exciting, it's scaring me more and more each day. Still somehow, through all the fear, I feel a great peace.

My parents and I have been experiencing the shift lately. I've been walking on egg shells (or doing my best to) so this might be a little easier for all of us. I know that it is a trying time and no one really knows what to make of it. I am the baby, the first to leave. I want to establish my feelings now but still I watch how I act more closely and I am making an effort to spend real time with them before I leave in May. I am moving out in August and for the first time in my life I'll be on my own. I'll be honest in saying that I understand concern on their part. I have not always made good decisions. Still I know, and I'm sure they know, that one day I will have to "spread my wings and fly". I have to venture out into the unknown and find my place in society. I have long outgrown this humble nest and it is time that I take the leap of faith, trusting my God to support me in all of my trials.

As I help my friends, Stephanie and Brett, prepare for their wedding I realise how close we've become in such a short time. After high school my friends split, geographically and emotionally. I will always love those who were close to me but they are no longer the people with whom I share my time. I talk to Stephanie more than ever and I feel more comfortable being with them together in a way I never have (long story - there's history). She, a wonderful person to be sure, was never a person who really stuck out in my mind as being such a great friend. I have always enjoyed her company but never in my wildest imaginations did I invision us talking and sharing as much as we do. I am thankful for this shift. Stephanie and I get along fabulously and I couldn't ask God for a better friend in my life at this time. We are so different in so many ways and I have learned so much from her. She makes me want to be a better person and I for that I am truly grateful.

This summer I will leave home for the first time by myself. I'll be flying to Georgia to work at a Girl Scout camp. I am very excited about it. I am so ready to be there and to interact with the girls. When I was growing up there were so many positive influences in my life. Although I was never quite sure how to imitate them or to put into action what I was learning from them, their influence stuck with me and, when it was time, helped me to become a better person. I probably won't witness any real shifts in these girls' lives, but knowing that maybe one of these girls leaves with a bit more confidence means more to me than anything. I could stay here and work at Starbucks all summer but because of my own experience, I want to be there for them this time. I want to help foster shifts in their lives... positive ones. I want to let them know it's okay to drift, that it's a part of life, and that we all have great things in store for us if only we will let things unfold naturally.

Drifting away from everything I have ever known is challenging but more than anything it is rewarding. I am learning so much about myself - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and I could not be more at peace with what is happening. There is always one constant in my life that helps me find this peace. I'm sure you all know what it is. It is Christ in my life and in every aspect of my faith. I could not be more happy to be Catholic than I am right now. I pray my love of Christ continues to grow and that He might use me and my mistakes to help others embrace Him and know that He is Truth.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting a degree... in medicine?

Becoming a nurse is almost like becoming a doctor... right?

You Should Get a MD (Doctor of Medicine)

You're both compassionate and brilliant - a rare combination.
You were born to be a doctor.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Michelob Ultra? Okay.

via Happy Catholic...

Michelob Ultra

(0% dark & bitter, 33% working class, 33% genuine)

Nothing says Michelob Ultra like three Deltas on Wednesday night. Arg!

But let's look closer...Is the girl in the green more than just your
everyday sister? Well, for one thing, her purse is actually pretty
cute. And...wait a she double-fisting Michelob
Ultra? Is she secretly an *Awesome Tiger Of The Night* (!?), ironically
binging on focus-group swill to draw into even sharper relief the
vapidity of the so-called "college experience," and who like some
tube-topped Prometheus, suffers her nightly immolations so that the
rest of us can know how bad it sucks to live, love, work, breathe, and
die in Columbus, Ohio? What?! Maybe she's actually cool?

My point is: even in seemingly clear-cut situations, things
aren't actually so obvious. So if you're still with me, let's move back
to you and the facts of your actual case.

Personality-wise, your scores indicate you have a light,
easy-going personality and this makes you likeable & quite popular.
Like most such people, you can, at times, seem a little superficial.
But like our friend in green there, perhaps there's more to you than it
seems at first blush. Your scores indicate you have refined tastes, as
well, which I can certainly relate to, and my guess is you're the
leader of your friends. And, finally, if you've managed to read all the
way through to the end of this description, I feel compelled to say
that I actually like you a lot. So there. Happy drinking, whatever your

I actually started this as something completely different but this will work for now. It gives you what I consider to be a little insight to my personality. For my next post: Growing old or growing up? I will discuss my own struggles with the difference in the two and coping with growing old, growing up, and moving on.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Haily Mary, full of grace...

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen!

Such a beautiful prayer, quite possibly my favorite. The first two phrases reflect back on the encounter had by Mary with the angel, Gabriel. Hail Mary, full of grace! So full of grace! She embodied more heavenly grace than any other woman that has ever lived. She was to become the Mother of Christ. The Lord is with thee. The Lord truly is present within her and she accepts it. Her fiat brings us our savior. From this moment the Lord is truly dwelling with her. Before we even get to the next moment we reflect on her most perfect yes to our Lord and pray that we too will accept our call.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. We recall her visit to Elizabeth. Elizabeth knows the significance of what is happening. She knows that Mary is the most blessed woman of all humanity, not only of their time, but all of time. At this point it is known, at least to Elizabeth, that Mary will forever be praised for her most faithful acceptance.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. We beg Mary, perfect and holy, to pray for us. We the sinners ask for her most genuine intercession. We know that she is closest to Christ and that her intercession is not ignored. We ask for her to pray for us now in this moment and at the time of our death. We ask for her intercession that her Son may look down on us with love and mercy.

I remember my attraction to this prayer starting very young. I was on a retreat. There were about six of us in one of the hotel rooms praying the rosary before we called "lights out". Several in the group seemed to be rushing the prayer and the rest were just trying to keep up. I became very frustrated and voiced myself shortly after. I was so overcome with anger that they were rushing through it. I knew in my heart that I needed to say something. I wanted them to hear what they were saying and to meditate on the history of it. We are praying the words which gave us our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was Mary's fiat that brought us the Holy Mother Church. We are asking for Mary to intercede for us and we aren't even paying attention half of the time. How sad! In the heat of the moment the words came so fluidly that even I was stunned. From that night on I knew that I had found my favorite prayer, the one truly close to my heart. Every night before I go to bed and each morning when I wake I pray the Hail Mary. I ask her to intercede for me and to watch over me. I ask her to bring me closer to her Son and guide me in my ways that I may more successfully imitate her in everything I do. She is a beauitful role model for all peoples, but especially for women.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Here we go again...

Life has done it once more. I was busied by... who knows what... and was unable to tend to my blogging. It might have had something to do with the lakes that were formed throughout Dallas this weekend and the fascination that came with them. Knee high water was common and there was even some chest high water. I think we totalled at around 9 inches. Wow.

Does it ever seem to anyone else like sometimes God messes with you just to see how far He can go before you stop laughing? Sometimes He pushes us so far we think that everything is falling apart. We know though that when things seem to be at their very worst, He has still got us in His hands. He loves us and will not give us more than we can handle.

How is it then that we convince ourselves that it is? The stupidity of humanity... Lord have mercy!

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's

The earliest crush I can remember was on a boy that was every girl's dream: tall, dark, and handsome. His name was Patrick. Fitting? Yeah, not really. I haven't seen him in over two years and quite frankly he rarely crosses my mind. Today is the one day out of the year though that he most definitely does.

As my time is limited (spring break somehow makes me busier than ever) I am directing all once again to Happy Catholic for all things Irish and a prayer of St. Patrick. If anyone stumbles across any more St. Patty's fun just leave a comment so we can all enjoy!

St. Patrick, pray for us!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What Was Missing

As I went through my day today I had this recurring thought that I was missing something in my last entry. I think I know what it is. It is this:

Sometimes things will happen to us that make us stop what we were doing and pick up something new. We have to leave one thing and move to another, even if the first was unfinished. All of this is part of God's marvelous plan. Let us not be anxious about what we leave and what we pick up, but put our minds to serve Him in anything and everything we do.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Infinite Possibilities Are Born of Faith

As I sat down at my computer tonight I knew what I was going to post. I wanted to start at the top of my list and work my way down. I tried very hard to develop the material into something with which I could be satisfied but nothing was working. After a short evaluation of my lack of concentration and enthusiasm for this topic I decided it might be best to scrap the idea and start over again. I decided that I should use this post for something different. Oddly enough that mirrors what I want to talk about.

Sometimes, when I think of something scary, I catch myself holding my breath. I don't know why I do it. Sometimes, when things are getting really good, I start to fear the worst. I hold my breath. I think we all do. We all wait for that moment when everything reveals itself as a dream and reality sets back in. We brace ourselves for the worst even when it is absolutely unnecessary. We don't believe. We don't understand. We don't trust.

We all have our reasons excuses.

Susan, two houses down with a row of perfect tulips in her garden, will lie in bed, staring at the ceiling through the darkness tonight, thinking about the job she didn't get. John, four blocks up the road with the red brick house on the right, will toss and turn tonight concerned about the move he just put his family through and how they will adjust. Joe, three hours away from friends and family on a business trip, will review his presentation for hours struggling to concentrate after his break-up with his girlfriend of three years.

Everyone has problems.

Mary, last house on the left with five beautiful little girls, stopped talking to God four years ago today. That won't happen to us... right? We don't think anything could really keep us from talking to God. The reason we don't think it could happen is because it probably doesn't happen too often that you just stop talking to Him cold turkey. Like most things, it is gradual. We stop listening as much and start talking more. Then we never listen and talk less. Eventually talking ceases to be a daily occurance. Sometimes we realize it and sometimes we don't. We are so overwhelmed with the things going on in our lives that we forget who and what is most important. One day we wake up and realize it's been two weeks since we had any communication with Him and then, without another thought, we go and brush our teeth and prepare for the rest of our day.

Spiritual dryness is a true struggle. We have a hard time finding the words and out of shame, avoid Him. We want to pray but we can't. We want to ask for help. We want to share our struggles. More than anything we want to share our joys. The want is there and the need is there - but the words are not. It is so easy to forget how to pray and yet it is so simple. What is wrong with us? I wondered for a long time why I struggled so much with prayer. I wondered how I could go to Mass, something I knew I enjoyed, and felt like I was just going throught he motions. I wondered how I could not be affected by the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Mostly it was selfishness and a feeling of need for independence. Now when I suffer from spiritual dryness (or what I label as spiritual dryness) I say the name of Jesus throughout the day.

"Jesus" be with me. "Jesus" protect me. "Jesus" heal me.

Recognizing and acknowledging our weakness in prayer is the first step to 'recovery'. When I recognize and acknowledge my weakness I then make a resolution to say His name whenever I think about it. I never say more than "Jesus" for two reasons: I don't feel I have the strength and most importantly, I don't have to. I've found that, especially during these times, I don't have to say anything more. "Jesus." He knows what is on my heart and how badly I yearn for His face. I want so deeply to hear Him and to be open to prayer. Saying His name, I am praying the most intimate prayer I can form. I invite Him into me and to be with me. I, from my very core, ask Him to be my sole companion and to carry me when I have forgotten how to walk. I ask for trust, forgiveness, patience, prudence, humility, obedience, and so much more.

I received an email today that really got me thinking. I've seen it a few times but never passed it on. Today I did. Not only did I get it from an unlikely person but it resounded in me in unlikely ways. I am not a fan of chain letters and emails and so I rarely take the time to read them, much less find meaning in them. Here was the part of the message that touched me... the message in the message...
May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God.... Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.
How easy it is to forget. Infinite possibilities are born of faith. Pray without ceasing and have faith in His perfect plan. He alone knows what is right for us. Perhaps instead of wasting our time on worry (which will get us nowhere) we should allow ourselves room to rejoice in the many blessings which have already been given us. Let [His] presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us! St. Maria Goretti, pray for us! St. Therese, pray for us!

I never know how long my posts will get so I try to cut back to as little as possible while still making my point. Sometimes I feel my writing suffers because of this. I hope that my posts are at least somewhat fluid or else I fear all of this is in vain.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hate to Disappoint

I hate to disappoint. My weekends seem to be jam-packed these days with soccer games and errands and family... and who could forget shopping? I do however have a few things I have been meaning to post for a few days. Here are a few previews:

"Taco Bell and God" -- I would dare say not many people get messages from God via Taco Bell Mild Sauce packets... but I did and I'm ready to share!

"Echauristic Adoration: What's the big deal?" -- My devotion to Jesus in the most Holy Eucharist and how it has affected every part of my being.

"Hail Mary, full of grace" -- Reflections on the prayer.

"Tattoos and the Catholic Church" -- Answers about tattoos from different people and my own thoughts and opinions along with some sketches I have done in the past.

Well that's just a few but as you can see I have not quite had the time to post them and I don't see having that time in the near future. I will do my best but in the mean time check out some of the blogs and links on my sidebar. Each of them is worth your while!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Biblical Questionare

I picked this up from Julie D. at Happy Catholic. Julie D. picked it up from Donna at Quiet Life so I guess I am thanking both Julie D. and Donna and checking out Donna's blog when I'm done. Enough of that... here we go!

1. Who is your favorite Biblical personage, other than Jesus?
Mary. She is the perfect example of how to be a woman, and mother, and wife. She is my ultimate role model so I could pick no other. She, compared to some (probably most), plays a quieter role in the Bible but I respect that so much. Her quietness spoke volumes, especially to me.

2. What is your favorite book of the Old Testament?
Psalms. I absolutely love reading the psalms. No matter how I'm feeling I can find a psalm that expresses it almost perfectly. My favorite psalm is psalm 63. If you don't know which one that is you should go look it up. It's beautiful. (Remnant used it as lyrics -- gorgeous!)

3. What is your least favorite book of the Old Testament?
I hate to say I have a least favorite but if I absolutely had to choose it would Job. I think there is a lot to learn from Job but I can only handle that book in small doses. Once I sat down and read the whole thing all the way through in one sitting and not only was I emotionally exhausted, it was hard to get myself back into good spirits again.

4. What is your favorite non-gospel book of the New Testament?
Probably the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, though I admit it changes sometimes.

5. What is your life verse?
I don't think I really have a life verse (mostly I can't think of one right now) but I guess I do try to always remember this one:
If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were hearing, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each of them, as he chose.
If all were a single organ, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted the body giving greater honor to the inferior part,
that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
1 Corinthians 12:15-25

UPDATE: I thought of two more verses that I thought quite appropriate. One I hope to have the reference tattooed on me someday (if I have the guts). This one is definitely my life verse. It is Luke 1:38 ("Let it be done to me according to your word."). The other is Exodus 14:14 (The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be still.).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Praying for Priests

I have been frustrated many times in my short life at priests and their actions. It all ranges in gravity from rude comments to liturgical abuses to downright stubbornness which affects his entire parish. Most times I am able to let go of all of this and focus my energy on praying for him. Lately I have not been so noble.

Recognizing priests as humans as well as intercessors I have to cut them some slack and I do. However, when the issue reaches a certain level I lose all patience and submission flies out the window. I will not divulge any specific information as I wish to avoid scandal but let it suffice to say that I am less than thrilled with the actions of a priest (make that several) in my diocese. I do not wish to go against the Church and I have no plan to go against this man in particular but I do wish there were some way to respectfully acknowledge my frustrations and see some sort of result. It seems as those these days you have to practically stage a revolt before anything happens. How did I draw this conclusion? Well it seems I have seen people do everything short of that very thing in order to have their cries heard.

If pouting and stomping and screaming and kicking got us anywhere in life I would be the most successful person in the world. As it does not, I am not. Nor have I been anywhere near successful in handling this particular situation. Being it Lent right now I have resigned myself to prayer alone. If however, something does not change... I may throw a fit. I'll let y'all know how that goes. *wink*

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for me!

W.O.W. and... Wow... just wow...

First I want to point out another addition to the sidebar. The new "Words of Wisdom" section will feature a new piece of advice each day from St. Josemaría Escrivá.

Second, I promise that one of these days I'll provide you with some original material. For now I can't help passing this along...

Abortion Providers Aren't Feelin' the Love -- a must read for all pro-lifers from Happy Catholic

I just cannot believe the line of thought of some people. God bless and keep the innocent unborn. Mary heal their mothers. All of the saints and angels, pray for us!

Can hear them crying? Can you feel their pain?

"Can you hear them crying? Can you feel their pain? Will you feed my hungry? Will you help my lame? See the unborn baby, the forgotten one. They are not forsaken. They are not unloved."

I can't help but tear up each time I sing this verse of "We Are One Body". During adoration or by myself in my room practicing, the words scratch at my very core and I am moved at the words spoken to us by Christ. We are each called to do what we can to reach out and save the lowliest of these. We are reminded of this again today as we read the latest post at martha, martha...
*St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around....something's been lost and can't be found....*

I was walking through a crowded nursery yesterday when one of the nurses was asking a student if she would not mind feeding a baby? The student hesitated as she had another patient she had to look after so I volunteered.

It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

I held this little one and as I rocked and fed him, looked at his features: he was perfect (as are all babies, really) and had this beautiful little face with a tiny nose and black hair, barely a wisp, forming a swirl on the top of his head. I asked the nurse if I should take him back to his mother when I am finished?

"He's on a DYFS hold."

"What does that mean?"

"His mother is a crack- and alcohol-addicted prostitute that has three children in foster care already. She was going to place this one up for adoption but decided at the last minute to 'go to rehab and get it together so I can get him back,' and was discharged yesterday to go back to the rescue mission. He stays with us until DYFS can find a suitable foster home for him."

(The baby tested positive for cocaine, but cocaine is actually one of the drugs that babies do not withdraw too badly from, if you can imagine that, so he was in pretty decent shape physically.)

I was stricken and for the balance of the day, I was his personal attendant. When all my work was caught up, I was the feeder, changer, rocker, nurturer, pray-er.

*....something's been lost and can't be found....*

Lord, have mercy.
Indeed: Lord, Have mercy. How easy it is to be consumed by our own trials and to be so self-absorbed that we forget those who have no one to pray for them. Shuffled here and there, literally handed off from person to person until hopefully a place will be found. We cannot know what it is like for these little babes and I pray that one day, no one will have to endure this anymore. Lord God, have mercy on your children. From my last post:
+Fast from self-concern ... feast on compassion for others.
So many times we are self-centered and self-loving. Let us this Lent turn from our own needs and offer our attention to the needs of the lowliest of these.
I challenge each of you that reads this to offer up at least one Hail Mary each day for these souls who are often forgotten.

"St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around... something's been lost and can't be found..."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lent: A Time of Fasting and... Feasting?

Yes, it's true. We can fast and feast this Lent. I have seen this on a few journals and I really like it. I liked it enough to pass it along in fact.

+Fast from judging others ... feast on the Christ indwelling in them.
It is easy to judge others and not ourselves. Let us purify ourselves of this today and share in the piece of Christ that is in each person we meet.

+Fast from emphasis on differences ... feast on the unity of life.
We are called to unite our sufferings especially during this Lenten season. Let us gather together and bear our crosses as one people in the name of Christ.

+Fast from apparent darkness ... feast on the reality of light.
It is easy to be burdened by troubles of this world but let us not forget the ever radiant light which is God's love for us.

+Fast from thoughts of illness ... feast on the healing power of God.
Let us shift our focus from our physical pains and realize more deeply the spiritual healing God makes available to us, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation.

+Fast from words that pollute ... feast on phrases that purify.
Especially during this season let us question ourselves on everything we think, do, or say: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

+Fast from discontent ... feast on gratitude.
Praise God and give thanks for His abundant blessings. Let us rejoice in our dry periods and hold fast to the grace and mercy of God.

+Fast from anger ... feast on patience.
It is easy to be angry and more challenging to be patient. During this season, let us work more than ever on the virtue of patience (and charity).

+Fast from pessimism ... feast on optimism.
When things aren't going our way we hiss and pout. Let us instead find the lessons in each thing we do, whether they happen according to our preference or not.

+Fast from worry ... feast on divine order.
When things get us down it is difficult to remember the bright side of this. Let us pray for confidence in Him and ask for our hearts to be molded to His Divine Will.

+Fast from complaining ... feast on appreciation.
God has blessed each of us abundantly. Let us be appreciative of each hidden blessing and not allow our sour attitudes ruin a chance for grace and growth.

+Fast from negatives ... feast on affirmatives.
This Lent, instead of criticizing or fingering each wrong decision, let us provide those whom we love with affirmations of their purposeful strides to overcome sin and attain sainthood.

+Fast from unrelenting pressures ... feast on unceasing prayer.
If we live each moment as a prayer we should more appropriately and successfully accomplish those things which are in line with His Divine Will.

+Fast from hostility ... feast on resistance.
Let us this Lent resist the temptation to foster hostility. Let us shine forth at all times the light of Christ's love.

+Fast from bitterness ... feast on forgiveness.
Let go of trivial emotions which hinder forgiveness. God who is all loving and all good forgives each of those who seek reconciliation. Let us not deny our brothers and sisters in Christ.

+Fast from self-concern ... feast on compassion for others.
So many times we are self-centered and self-loving. Let us this Lent turn from our own needs and offer our attention to the needs of the lowliest of these.

+Fast from personal anxiety ... feast on eternal truth.
It is easy to be consumed in this world by the trials of daily life. Let us seek out His promises and hold fast to them always.

+Fast from discouragement ... feast on hope.
Do not dispair. God has a plan and in it there is much hope. Believe that He knows better than even ourselves what is best. Trust Him and He will see you through.

+Fast from facts that depress ... feast on truths that uplift.
Instead of dwelling on the negatives of our surroundings, we should seek out the truths that inspire and uplift us. Let us not seek our own depression but do everything in our power to remain hopeful.

+Fast from lethargy ... feast on enthusiasm.
Productiveness in faith is the most important in all of our lives. Let us enthusiastically learn about our faith and grow closer to our God.

+Fast from suspicion ... feast on truth.
Speculation and assumption should be left to the lawyers of the world. Instead of harboring ill thoughts due to suspicion, rejoice in what you know.

+Fast from thoughts that weaken ... feast on promises that inspire.
The devil will tempt us and lead us to feel and think we are alone and abandoned. Turn from the evil one and remember what God has promised us.

+Fast from shadows of sorrow ... feast on sunlight of renity.
Sorrowful distractions are from the evil one and prevent us from focusing on the healing power and the overwhelming mercy of our God. Let us turn from these and focus on Christ in the Eucharist. He who saves us will comfort us.

+Fast from idle gossip ... feast on purposeful silence.
Let us refrain from anything that is not kind, true, and necessary. Let us spend this time quietly in the everlasting presence of God.

If we can do these things I believe our Lenten season will be truly blessed. Think about it. Use it. ENJOY IT. [All of the italicized text are my own words. I despair at their inadequacy but recognize a chance to grow in humility. I pray my efforts are not in vain but rather prove to be a grace from God.]

St. Thomas Aquinas, the dumb ox, pray for us! St. Maria Goretti, pray for us! St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Additions - Including Change of Pace

Well I think it would be a good idea for me and for this blog if I posted more than once a day... or aimed to at least. That way I would almost be sure to post each day and no one would get bored or impatient (though patience is a virtue. This makes post number 4 today so don't forget to check out the other three...

Defined by Faith

Laura of the Lily? Perhaps
Fr. Korapi Explains It All

Also... I am adding two things to my sidebar.

The first thing is a new blog. It is called Ancilla Domini. It's put together by a 19 year old young woman named Angela. She will be entering the convent within the next couple of years -- which is awesome though I know many will miss her presence on the outside! Anyway... check it out!

The other is a link to a feature provided by and it's called "Back in the Day". Matt Gill posts interesting facts about milestones in the history of the world almost every day. I figure since he is making the effort to provide us with this I could help him out by publicizing it. Here is today's "Back in the Day":

130 years ago on this date in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for an invention he calls the telephone.With the invention of the telephone and in modern society the cellular phone, people can communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime.Servant of God John Paul the Great spoke to the youth of America in Saint Louis on January 26, 1999 and reminded the youth that "in an age of instant communications" the most important and sometimes forgotten form of communication is pray.In a busy society in which we are all connected, we have to ask ourselves how connected we are to God.In a busy society when we talk to several people on a daily basis, we have to ask ourselves do I talk time to talk to God.

"You are children of the light (John 12:36)! You belong to Christ, and he has called you by name. Your first responsibility is to get to know as much as you can about him, in your parishes, in religious instruction in your high schools and colleges, in your youth groups and Newman Centers.

But you will get to know him truly and personally only through prayer. What is needed is that you talk to him, and listen to him.

Today we are living in an age of instant communications. But do you realize what a unique form of communication prayer is? Prayer enables us to meet God at the most profound level of our being. It connects us directly to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in a constant exchange of love.

Through prayer you will learn to become the light of the world, because in prayer you become one with the source of our true light, Jesus himself."

So don't forget to check it out! Until next time... God bless you and Mary protect you!

Fr. Korapi Explains It All

I recently listend to one of Father Korapi's amazing talks. I only heard about a fourth of it, however, in the few hours I listened I laughed off probably 20 pounds. Father Korapi explained prayer and our faith and talked about his conversion. Two things he said stick out in my mind each time I think about him and they will be my thoughts which I put out there for today.

The first has a small story to go along with it. Father said that he gave a talk once to a large crowd when he was still pretty young that he would never forget. He said that an older lady came to him afterward, obviously less than pleased with this young priest, and I believe told him that she did not believe in purgatory. He said very frankly, "Well, I wouldn't boast about what makes you a heretic."

The other thought for today was a quote by former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, which Father Korapi used in his talk. It is this: "God did not intend for eternal Truth to be determined by a democratic vote."

Think about it. Use it. ENJOY IT.

Laura of the Lily? Perhaps.

You are a Lily:

You are graceful, gentle, calm, and pure and
perhaps a little shy (though your shyness is
part of your charm). You are a very honorable
person who always wants to do the right
thing. Your calm attitude has a soothing
effect on others.

Symbolism: The lily has long been used as a symbol
of majesty, honor, chastity, and purity of heart.

Which Flower are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Defined by Faith

I recently took part in a discussion in which we debated whether or not we, as Catholics, are defined by faith. My answer: yes. I will admit that I was less than thrilled at the response I received. Still I stand firm in my belief that we are defined by faith. We are here to serve our God. This is our purpose. Since the very moment we were conceived our pupose has been to love and to serve our God. We were made with the intent to worship and adore Him for all eternity and while we are on earth we are called to serve Him the best way we can.

I would guess that the hostility which arose was due to a negative connotation that has been placed on faith in our society. We don't revolve around faith like many others around the world. We not only revolve around ourselves but those who are around us. We would like to be defined not by faith but by our gifts and talents while not recognizing that those things come from God. We are called to use our gifts and talents to serve Him. We serve Him not in serving ourselves, but in serving others. We must glorify His name with these gifts which are given us. This is our purpose. Knowing this, how then can we not be defined by faith?

To those who would disagree with me I pose this question: If you would not like to be defined by faith, by what then would you like to be defined? Before you answer you should ask yourself a few questions. What is it that I am being defined by and why? Where did this trait of mine come from? What priority does this have in my life? Am I, rather than choosing to be defined by faith, choosing to be defined in this way out of fear? What societal influences are there in my desire to be defined in this way? Am I serving myself through this or am I allowing myself to be owned by God?

We are owned by God. We are His. This should not be something of which we are ashamed. This should be an extremely humbling thought. He chooses us each and every day. He has chosen us since before we were existant in our mother's womb. It is our job now to choose Him every day. We are called to choose HIM and to serve HIM. Everything that we do here should be done to glorify His Holy Name. If we benefit or profit from any work of our own, it should only be by the grace and mercy of God. Any good trait we display is only because of the goodness of God. Every good thing in this world resembles the greatness of God. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we should be recognized at any time as good or loving or holy.

We are given the extraordinary opportunity to share Christ's love with others each and every day. In the Catholic church we are given the opportunity to not only embrace God and His love for us but to take an active part in that love. We are are given the opportunity each day to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Who would want to deny this in order to be seen as the best soccer player in their school? Who would choose to be known as an athelete over a child of God which is given the opportunity to become one with Him every day of their life after First Holy Communion? We are living here and striving for sainthood. Sainthood brings us to the completion of our unity with Him. We are united partially with Him here and fully with Him in the life to come. Knowing this I again ask, why would we choose to be defined any other way?

I am proud to say that I am defined by faith and humbled to say that my faith has been given to me by my Creator. I will forever worship and adore His Holy Name. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us! Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us! St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Monday, March 06, 2006

News Too Good Not to Share

Well as I run out the door for choir rehearsal (or more appropriately: wait another 20 minutes for my father to get ready so we can ride together) I thought that I had just enough time for a quick post. This news is just too good not to share.


Rival protests in January on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed a bill Monday that bans nearly all abortions in the state -- legislation in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The law will make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it is necessary to save the woman's life -- but there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Planned Parenthood said it would fight the law to "ensure that women... continue to be able to make personal health care decisions without government interference."
Gov. Mike Rounds signs the law despite his prediction
that it would be challenged in court.

Read the full story here!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Little girls, little houses - the way I picture them in my dreams

Clothes are an important topic, especially in today's culture. Too many times I hear horror stories of people, girls especially, walking into Mass in skin tight clothes, short skirts, and revealing shirts. Have they no respect for the house of God? Have they no respect for themselves? We are temples of the Holy Spirit and when we receive communion we are living tabernacles. You would think, or maybe not, that people would understand this, especially by now! But it seems that as time goes on women seek more of a way to "be themselves" and "lose all the restrictions" which they feel are imposed on them by traditional society... but mostly by men. I think it is something that is ingrained in each of us as we grow up not only by our parents but by our teachers and our friends and... the media. Cliche? Maybe. True? Definitely.

Women are scared to be who they were made to be. The idea of submission is awkward and confusing and "restraining". Submission has such a horribly negative connotation that most women become zombies when the word is mentioned. A little light in their head goes off at any mention of submission to their husbands and all they can do is get defensive. It seems that what it means to be valued and respected has been twisted and manipulated into meaning that we must be "better" than men at just about everything. We need "bigger" and "better" jobs. We need to be CEOs and Presidents of corporations to feel like we aren't being degraded by men. But why?

At what point in American culture did the beauty fade from submission? When did we lose respect for the job as wife and mother? When did feminism become hardhats and jeans? Why do we have to make money and have titles to feel respected?

I have a hard time coping with society these days. I know I am a ripe nineteen years old but something in my very core longs for the past -- for a life I have never known. I long for submissive wives and respectful children. I long for long skirts and flowing dresses... long, silky hair on all the girls and men who appreciate it. Part of me longs for curtsies and bows, for gentlemen who open doors and stand when a woman enters the room. I sometimes wonder if this underlying desire for that type of life and dress was the root of my love of American Girl dolls. I envied their clothing and their imaginary world.

I realize that all of these things seem to suggest I wish for us to move back in time. I do not. I understand that returning to an old way of society could and most likely would create many problems which would hinder healthy growth. I say this, though: I believe very strongly that our culture, our nation, has been changed drastically due to the manipulation of roles in society and in the household. Some may say 'blurred' but I choose 'manipulated' for a reason. Blurred seems much too weak of a word for the distinct, and unhealthy, changes which have gone on in our country during the last century alone. [Here I choose only to address our country as we are not exactly like any one country in the world and I dare not label or define those people who I know little about.] I do understand the need for change but change does not need to mean, nor does it mean, distortion or manipulation of things that are normal.

I am aware that all of this may have seem sidetracked and not at all relating to my initial point. Here is where I bring it back and rope it all together. I believe that due to these ideals of women today, especially in the teenage years, that we have also allowed our dress to become like that of men. Some want to dress in such a manner to seem as though they are equal to the man. Why should we wear skirts when we can wear pants? Why are men the ones who wear pants and not women? It is as if wearing pants is some huge sign of power and control. It seems as though literally wearing the pants is conveying a more figurative meaning of "wearing the pants".

It seems everywhere you look there is clothing which in the end degrades women and allows them to be objectified not only by men but by themselves. Either gender can do this consciously or subconsciously. The challenge in all of the racks of spaghetti straps and hip huggers and mini skirts is to pick out and wear with confidence the modest clothing. Some would call this task difficult and perhaps impossible. I always laugh when I hear this because I find plenty of clothes at "normal" stores that are perfectly modest. You can walk into American Eagle Outfitters and find some absolutely adorable skirts and often for a reasonable price. I can also walk into Foley's or Dillard's and find something I like. I really like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and the like. They sell modest and classy looking clothing. There's also a store called White House | Black Market that I like a lot. In the end the basic truth is this: there aren't any stores in particular that advertise for modesty or sell all modest clothing. It must be up to the girl to find things that are classy and to dress modestly and to portray that person at all times. Seriously, no store is going to do it for you. There isn't a nice little package. It's a nice thought... but it doesnt exist.

These days even the word modesty has been so manipulated that the majority of our country thinks that tight jeans and a long sleeve scoop neck shirt with cleavage is modest. She isn't showing her hips, belly, or lower back - not to mention her legs are covered! Please! The clothing is probably so tight it gathers at her curves and barely moves when she runs. Her breasts are clearly visible and instead of being self conscious, she flaunts them. In the end I would vote out the jeans and put her in a skirt. The skirt would not be any shorter than her knees and it would be nothing close to skin tight. The skirts contrary to that, though popular, accentuate very few women in the right places. Even when the skirt works to the benefit of her curves, she looks down right nasty because there is no mystery. She flaunts everything and it is so repulsive that I would rather not even go on discussing it. Some jeans on some girls are not entirely unattractive or especially inviting of scandal, however I believe it best to avoid any of this at all. For me, for the most part, jeans are rather comfortable for private use but I prefer to be in skirts or dresses in public. Scandal might occur but at this point you have done about as much as is in your power to do in order to avoid it.

I'll be honest and say that when I get married I think I will be more inclined to chuck the jeans completely. I want to look feminine and attractive around my husband and that's what skirts give me a lot of the time. It is not that I don't feel that way without them, it just enhances the feeling when I have them on. It has always been hard to admit but as I have grown I have gained confidence in my ideals of dress for women. In my mind there's something very right about the Little House on the Prairie look. I love it. I always have. I will dress that way for my husband - it wont be easy but I'm willing to make that sacrifice. I also believe that in the home I would like a lower and wider neckline. The upper chest, without cleavage, can be a very attractive thing and very appropriate for a couple. I say this to ensure that I am no prude. I understand the beauty that can be found in a modestly revealed body. Some things, however are simply not appropriate outside the home. I once discussed these things with a friend of mine. He had this to say:
Oh for sure.. While the mostly naked woman in the Amazon tribe would not be sinning against chastity by walking around her village topless, this would be a grave scandal and major immodesty in the context of this country. But I'm not saying its just culturally relative. But the body itself is not scandalous or sinful, it is the intentions of the person, the conditioning of the "audience" and the cultural mentality that all factor in. And I don't believe in the nudist colony mentality that we should strive for a culture that can handle nudity without sinning. I think we should strive for a culture that values mystery and human dignity. I much prefer the Pride and Prejudice setting to that of the Amazon tribe or nudist colony. There is a value and meaning to covering oneself, and it can be a very beautiful thing. We won't be free of the fall this side of the eschaton. I just don't think attaining a culture of beautiful mystique and transcendent human dignity requires Afghanistan type fashion sense. The pictures of Our Lady that I recall from Italy, in which she was exposing a breast, in fact evoked tremendous sentiments of reverence and mystery. The body reveals the mystery of God, and nudity in the proper context is an icon of God's love and mystery.
I obviously could not say it any better or I would have already. He says quite eloquently that which I too feel in my heart. I do wish that our culture could embrace these ideals. I think we would be better off in many ways if we could. It would mean a much needed respect for women and their bodies. I also believe it would bring more value to the initmate act of marriage.

Not only because I recognize the need for images in order to give my blog a sort of more inviting and welcoming feel but because I enjoy sharing pictures which reflect my dreams, I will share some photos which I really love. This first one I have always loved very much. She may not look like me but she resembles, in her physicalities and in her attire, my little girls in my dreams.

Her long hair and her long dress... they are perfect. She is so lovely. In my dreams she radiates with the love of God and is a joy for all who see her. She reflects in every part of herself what it means to be a child of God and most especially what it means to be a woman. I know it will never be the attire or the physicalities alone which make a girl but they can say so much that I think it unwise to accustom ourselves to the world and it's standards of dress.
If we respect ourselves in spirit, mind and body as we should then we would never consider dressing as some do. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and at Mass we are Living Tabernacles. Modesty in dress does not end when we leave the church or step off of parish grounds. Modesty is something which we carry with us like the love of God. It doesn't end when we leave our parishes. Modesty shouldn't either.

For a bit of a humorous break from all of this modesty discussion which often times leaves me with a heavy heart and racing mind, I will introduce you all to the tiny house collection which was introduced to me several months ago by a friend I met at phatmass.

These tiny houses are made and sold by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. I was surprised at the number of people who were absolutely delighted by the sight of these little houses. My dad once built a house about the same size for a little girl. She got it from 'Santa' about two Christmases ago. Yes, he flew it in on his sleigh and landed it right in her backyard. It was cute and practical for her uses. However I myself have many questions about this one. Namely, where would company sit? Would you stand together there and talk? What happens when someone needs to make use of a restroom? These are cute to look at but they would never work for me.

Well there it is. Little girls, little houses - the way I picture them in my dreams.

Angels in the Outfield...

...the Heavenly outfield that is! In light of all the angel talk that has been floating around at both Happy Catholic and The Anchoress I thought it would be fun to put up some information about angels and their class system. I have collected from a variety of sources and they all tell me the same thing: Angels rock! Okay not really. On with the info!
St. Thomas (Summa Theologica I:108), following St. Denis (De Coelesti Hierarchia, vi, vii), divides the angels into three hierarchies each of which contains three orders. Their proximity to the Supreme Being serves as the basis of this division. In the first hierarchy he places the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; in the second, the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; in the third, the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The only Scriptural names furnished of individual angels are Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel, names which signify their respective attributes. Apocryphal Jewish books, such as the Book of Enoch, supply those of Uriel and Jeremiel, while many are found in other apocryphal sources, like those Milton names in "Paradise Lost". (On superstitious use of such names, see above).
from New Advent's article on "Angels"

This is from another source (flyfreeministries Education corner). I liked the breakdown of this.
Did you know that the angels in heaven are ranked? There are nine levels. Many people only talk of the Archangels and Angels. The ranks are as follows:

(highest to lowest)

Angels composing the highest choir of the angelic kingdom. The root meaning of their name is "to consume with fire," indicating their intense love of the Holy Trinity. (Etym. Hebrew 'saraf,' plural 'serafim,' burning, glowing.)

The second of the nine choirs of angels. According to Pope St. Gregory the Great they have the "fullness of knowledge, more perfect because they may behold the glory of God more closely." (Genesis 3)
Heavenly creatures mentioned in the Bible as guardians and protectors. Cherubim were the sententials stationed at Eden (Genesis 3:24); they were golden figures erected on the Ark (Exodus 25:18). Yahweh mounted a cherub (singular) to rush to the rescue of David from his enemies (II Samuel 22:11). In Christian tradition the cherubim are identified as angels. (Etym. Hebrew 'kerubh'; Latin 'cherub'; Greek 'cheroub.')

Those angels that compose the lowest choir of the highest angelic order. Along with the Seraphim and Cherubim, they form the court of the Heavenly King. Hence they are rarely sent to humanity as messengers.
Read the rest of the article here

And just for fun let's talk specifically about Guardian Angels!

That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the "mind of the Church", as St. Jerome expressed it: "how great the dignity of the sould, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).

This belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and Assyrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an Assyrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchandnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

In the Bible this doctrine is clearly discernible and its development is well marked. In Genesis 28-29, angels not only act as the executors of God's wrath against the cities of the plain, but they deliver Lot from danger; in Exodus 12-13, an angel is the appointed leader of the host of Israel, and in 32:34, God says to Moses: "my angel shall go before thee." At a much later period we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 90:11: "For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways." (Cf. Psalm33:8 and 34:5) Lastly, in Daniel 10 angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called "prince of the kingdom of the Persians", and Michael is termed "one of the chief princes"; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8 (Septuagint); and Ecclesiasticus 17:17 (Septuagint).

This sums up the Old Testament doctrine on the point; it is clear that the Old Testament conceived of God's angels as His ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs. There is no special teaching; the doctrine is rather taken for granted than expressly laid down; cf. II Machabees 3:25; 10:29; 11:6; 15:23.

But in the New Testament the doctrine is stated with greater precision. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the OldTestament teaching: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10). A twofold aspect of the doctrine is here put before us: even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels lose not the vision of God by the fact that they have a mission to fulfil on earth.

Without dwelling on the various passages in the New Testament where the doctrine of guardian angels is suggested, it may suffice to mention the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. Hebrews 1:14 puts the doctrine in its clearest light: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" This is the function of the guardian angels; they are to lead us, if we wish it, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Thomas teaches us (Summa Theologica I:113:4) that only the lowest orders of angels are sent to men, and consequently that they alone are our guardians, though Scotus and Durandus would rather say that any of the members of the angelic host may be sent to execute the Divine commands. Not only the baptized, but every soul that cometh into the world receives a guardian spirit; St. Basil, however (Homily on Psalm 43), and possibly St. Chrysostom (Homily 3 on Colossians) would hold that only Christians were so privileged. Our guardian angels can act upon our senses (I:111:4) and upon our imaginations (I:111:3) -- not, however, upon our wills, except "per modum suadentis", viz. by working on our intellect, and thus upon our will, through the senses and the imagination. (I:106:2; and I:111:2). Finally, they are not separated from us after death, but remain with us in heaven, not, however, to help us attain salvation, but "ad aliquam illustrationem" (I:108:7, ad 3am).

from New Advent's article on "Guardian Angels"

That was a nice read and, as usual, I learned something new from New Advent. And because I'm shameless in my love of St. Thomas, can we get another big round of applause for him? St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Until next time... be holy!