Monday, January 29, 2007

Hans Urs von Balthasar Reading Group

I received the following email over the weekend from Adam Janke, my friend and webmaster of Catechetics Online. He is hoping to form an online group to read and discuss Balthasar's great "Trilogy" of theological works on God and man. Here are the details:
We are now forming a group which will read and discuss the "Trilogy" (16 volumes) of the man who has been considered the greatest theologian since Karl Barth and the premier theologian of the 20th century. Since most of us are busy our reading plan will cover either 4 or 5 years. It will be conducted over the Internet on either a dedicated forum just for this purpose or through an email group. If you know anyone that might be interested in this reading group, please pass the word along and have them email me. We are hoping to get together at least 10 people who are interested in the reading group, and at least a couple of people who are familiar with Balthasar's thought and can help guide us. We want to start sometime in the next month.

For more information on what we will be reading, I have included a summary of each book:

Part I: The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics
Probably the most important sustained piece of theological writing to appear since Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics, von Balthasar's work restores aesthetics and contemplation to their rightful place in Christian theology. Armed with a remarkable knowledge of the theological and metaphysical traditions as well as of Western letters, von Balthasar shows how the Biblical vision of the divine glory, revealed in the crucified and risen Christ and reflected in the great theologies of the Christian tradition, fulfills and transcends the perception of Being in Western Metaphysics.
Volume I - Seeing The Form
The work opens with a critical review of developments in Protestant and Catholic Theology since the Reformation which have led to the steady neglect of aesthetics in Christian theology. From here, von Balthasar turns to the central theme of the volume: the question of theological knowledge. He re-examines the nature of Christian believing (here he draws widely on such theological figures as Anselm, Pascal, and Newman) which gives due place to the particular kind of 'knowing' which develops within the personal relationship of the believer to the God mediated through the revelation-form of Jesus Christ.

Volume II - Clerical Styles
What von Balthasar offers here is a typology of the relationship between beauty and revelation which shows that there neither has been nor could be any truly great and historically fruitful theology which was not expressly conceived and born under the constellation of beauty and grace. This volume specifically offers a series of studies of representative figures from the earlier period of Christian theology - Irenaeus, Augustine, Denys, Anselm and Bonaventure.

Volume III - Lay Styles
This volume specifically offers a series of representative figures from the later period of Christian theology - Dante, John of the Cross, Pascal, Hamann, Soloviev, Hopkins and Peguy.

Volume IV - The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity
This fourth volume considers the metaphysical tradition of the contemplation of Being. He provides major studies of Homer, the Greek Tragedians, Plato and Plotinus and the development of this tradition in the Middle Ages. He then explores the analogy between the metaphysical vision of Being and the Christian vision of the divine glory of the Trinity.

Volume V - The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age
This volume presents a series of studies of representative mystics, theologians, philosophers and poets and explores the three main streams of metaphysics which have developed since the catastrophe of Nominalism. the way of self-abandonment to the divine glory is traced through figures like Ekhart, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius, de Sales; the attempt to relocate theology and beauty through figures like Nicholas of Cusa, Holderlin, Goethe, Heidegger; the metaphysics of spirit through Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Idealists. The strengths and weaknesses of these ways are relentlessly exposed. This volume ends with the search for the Christian contribution to metaphysics.

Volume VI - Theology: The Old Covenant
This volume initiates von Balthasar's study of the biblical vision and understanding of God's glory. Starting with the theophanies of the Patriarchal period, it shows how such glory is most fully expressed in the graciousness of the Covenant relationship between God and Israel. But the breaking of that relationship by Israel means that in the later books of the Old testament, the divine glory is seen in God's willingness to bear with his people in the dark side of their history. There is no final version of God's glory in the Old Testament. In the 500 years before Christ the Covenant relation is more idea than reality. The vision of the transcendent glory of God which is developed in the later writings, is only fragmentary. It will find its strange and unexpected fulfillment in the new Covenant.

Volume VII - Theology: The New Covenant
In this final volume of part one, von Balthasar reflects on the New Testament vision of God's revelation of his glory in Christ. This divine 'appearing' is grounded in the self-emptying of the eternal logos in the incarnation, cross and descent into hell. Christ is the man who represents God and is also God; he is a symbol of the world and is also the world. He dies, but in dying rises into the eternal life of God. It is in Christ's incarnation and resurrection that the Christian vision is truly expressed and the joining of God and the world in the new and eternal covenant is realized.

Part II: Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory
Here it is "the good" which provides the key. Here being as splendid, to be contemplated (beauty) now appears as the goal of our striving (the good). Von Balthasar maintains that it is in the theatre that "man attempts a kind of transcendence endeavoring both to observe and to judge his own truth, in virtue of a which he tries to gain clarity about himself". Von Balthasar sees the phenomenon of theatre, the sheer fact that there is such a thing as structured performance, as a virtually untapped source of fruitfulness for theological reflection. His aim will be "to show how theology underlies it all, how all the elements of the drama can be rendered fruitful for theology."
Volume I - Prolegomena
In this volume von Balthasar shows how many of the trends of modern theology point to an understanding of human and cosmic reality as divine drama. He will then consider objections to such theological dramatic theory and also the relationship between the Church and the theatre. This volume assembles the materials and the themes that will make it possible in subsequent volumes to develop this theological dramatic theory.

Volume II - Dramatis Personae: Man in God
Where the first volume surveyed the great world dramatists to gather concepts and ideas to apply to the real stage, which is the universe God has made and entered into himself as an actor. This volume describes the actors, the dramatis personae. This is his theological anthropology concerning man, his freedom and destiny in light of the biblical revelation. Von Balthasar is concerned here with the dramatic character of existence as a whole, approaching the topic through a consideration of the various conditions and situations of mankind as a drama that involves both the Creator and his creatures.

Volume III - Dramatis Personae: Persons in Christ
This is considered the most central book of the entire trilogy. It contains von Balthasar's synthetic treatment of the central mysteries of the Catholic Faith: Christ, Mary, the Church, man and the Trinity.

Volume IV - The Action
Von Balthasar now turns to the action of the divine drama itself. Here we find his soteriology, where time, freedom, history, power, sin, conflict are seen in the light of the Cross, the culmination of the action and passion of God and man.

"Here we discern the unity of 'glory' and the 'dramatic'. God's glory, as it appears in the world- supremely in Christ- is not something static that could be observed by a neutral investigator. It manifests itself only through the personal involvement whereby God himself comes forth to do battle and is both victor and vanquished. If this glory is to come within our range at all, an analogous initiative is called for on our part. Revelation is a battlefield. Those who do battle on it can only be believers and theologians, provided they have equipped themselves with the whole armor of God."

Volume V - The Last Act
This volume is trinitarian, focusing on the mystery of God. He draws heavily on scripture and many passages from the works of the mystic Adrienne von Spyer. Some of the topics covered include "A Christian Eschatology", "The World is from the Trinity", "Earth Moves Heavenward", "The Final Act: A Trinitarian Drama."

Part III: Theo-Logic
Theo-logic is the crowning part of the great trilogy of the masterwork of von Balthasar. Theo-logic is a variation in theology, is being about not so much what man says about God, but what God speaks about himself. Balthasar does not address the truth about God until he first reflects on the beauty of God (The Glory of the Lord). Then he follows with his reflections on the great drama of our salvation and the goodness and mercy of the God who saves us (Theo-Drama). Now, in this work, he is ready to reflect on the truth that God reveals about himself, which is not something abstract or theoretical, but rather concrete and mysterious richness of God's being as a personal and loving God.
Volume I - The Truth of the World
Explored in this volume are the topics:
--Truth as Nature
--Truth as Freedom
--Truth as Mystery
--Truth as Participation

Volume II - The Truth of God
--Topics include:
--Divine and Human Logic
--The Possibility of Christology
--Logos and Logic in God
--Kata-logical Aspects
--The Word Was Made Flesh

Volume III - The Spirit of Truth
Topics Include:
--The Holy Spirit as Person
--The Father's Two Hands
--The Role of the Spirit in the Work of Salvation
--The Spirit and the Church
--Spirit and World
--Upward and Onward to the Father!

A summary of the whole series divided into the following aptly named sections: Forecourt, Threshold, and Cathedral.
Adam also provided the following short bio on Balthasar:
About Hans Urs von Balthasar
Born in Lucerne in 1905, after studying at the universities of Vienna, Berlin and Zurich von Balthasar completed a Ph.d. at Zurich in 1929 and continued his theological and philosophical studies in Munich, Lyon and Basel. He has won several academic prizes and has been awarded honorary doctorates at Edinburgh, Munster and Fribourg universities and the Catholic University of America. A Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, he was also a Foreign Associate of the Institut de France. He died in July, 1988.
If you are interested in joining this group, email Adam at: adam4jmj [at] gmail [dot] com
Thanks to Nick who also posted this on his blog. (His doing it made me wonder why I didn't!)


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Additions to the Sidebar

I've struggled for a good ten minutes to figure out how to introduce the newest additions to my sidebar. They have, in a very short time, come in and captured a piece of my heart. They will become regular readers (people I read, not that read me) I'm sure. Warm and sincere and caring, they are inviting reads.

First up is Margaret, aka "Minnesota Mom". I discovered her through Sarah and her Kitchen Madonna post. I started looking around, intending only to browse, when it happened. As it has happened many times before, one post caught my eye. The one post referred to another before it - which I had to read. And since I liked those so much, I might as well just enjoy one more. I was a goner. (Not to mention she roped my heart and wasn't letting go with the announcement of her miscarriage. God love her. What a hard thing to share! I left my own comments there. Pray for her and her family, please.)

Second is Diane, author of "The Jouney of a Mother's Heart". Margaret (from above) gave her a shout out for this post. I knew not even half-way through it that I liked her. What a girl! Someone like that deserves to be read. I know that I was touched in a special way reading her post. God spoke through it to me -- about a subject completely unrelated! What a blessing. The other thing that really got me was the fact that she and her husband have adopted four children from other countries (two from China, if I remember my research correctly). I have recently begun babysitting for a family with a daughter from China. Sweet Dawn* is so little and everything here is very new to her. She is still adjusting to life here (4 months into her life in the States) and her parents are still adjusting to leaving their baby that they worked so hard to bring home. Her dad is especially attached. The special bonds of love are intruiging to me - and I hope to learn more through reading this blog. I hope that I can gain some insight into families with adopted children. In my head I know that it is much the same as any other family. But on some level, I also know it's different.

Third is Jane from "Blackberry Brambles". I, admittedly, have not had much time to look around at her place but I figure the blogger that came up with the kitchen sink idea was certainly one I would enjoy reading! I'll be dropping by soon, Jane. I promise! (Not that she would really care either way. Haha. Moving on...)

Last, but certainly not least, is Jennifer at "As Cozy as Spring". She did me in with the photos and a single mention of St. Frances de Sales! (No, I haven't had time to read much there either. But I look forward to doing that soon!)

Hope you enjoy taking a look around their blogs as much as I have (and will). Until next time... be holy!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Creating Catholic Culture with the Kitchen Madonna

They say it started at Blackberry Brambles and I believe them. But where it started and what it started as is quite like the beginning of a game of telephone. A nice idea, to be sure, but not at all what I want to talk about.

I'm being vague, aren't I?

You see, I was over at Sarah's place, having my weekly look-around when I spotted some photos of her kitchen. Intrigued, I read the post. She too was quite vague though she did provide many links. Curious as I was, I followed them all! And this is what I have been able to make out...

Jane over at Blackberry Brambles "proposed sharing pictures of the view from our kitchen sink", an idea which Margaret (aka Minnesota Mom) picked up on. Though I'm not sure how, Suzanne from Blessed Among Men, is also tied to the story through her Kitchen Madonna.

So basically, Jane proposed that we share the view from our kitchen sink and Margaret took it upon herself to keep up with all of the posts. Sarah thought it was a neat idea and submitted her photos while adding a personal note to get a Kitchen Madonna.


Anyway, I went ahead and took a few pictures of (our kitchen sink area and) the view from our kitchen window, though I am not a mother or a homemaker. Perhaps standing at the sink is different for me because I do not fill any of these roles which the other posters fill. However, I find that it unites in more than motherhood. It unites in womanhood and in the end, humanity. Each of us stands there at least once a day. We peer out into the world and, while scrubbing dishes or digging dirt from under finger nails, think about the things going on in our life, about how it affects us, about how it effects the ones we love, and I'm sure, at least sometimes, about this big world we live in and what it all means in the scheme of eternity.

It's amazing how personal something like a kitchen sink can be.

In an effort to once again promote Catholic culture here at ...and if not..., I am recommending that everyone take after Sarah and add "put up Kitchen Madonna" to their 'must-do-ASAP' list. The Blessed Mother is such a beautiful example of humility and self-sacrifice, which makes it so fitting to have her there above or by the sink - a place which, at times, can be the biggest test of humility and sacrifice.

And now, without further ado, our humble kitchen sink:

*Note: A picture of my sister will soon be added to the sill as well.
My brother is in a frame to the left and I am in a frame (with three HS friends) on the right).

ETA: First, We have a tiny Kitchen Madonna that I forgot to mention. She's really small (about as tall as one the mini-mug she stands by) and was a gift to me from a good friend. Second, Jane has pointed me to another link (!!) with more pictures (!!). I checked it out and sure enough: Theresa of Grace Like Rain is collecting the pictures in one spot too. Check it out!

"Wish You Were Here" Meme

By 'all of the above' I assumed Julie D of Happy Catholic meant that I could consider myself tagged. If not, oh well. I'm gunna do it anyway! (Hah.)
Who are the five Catholic (or Christian) bloggers whom you would most like to meet in person, but have not (yet)?

In no particular order:

1. Sarah of "just another day of Catholic pondering"

2. Barb, SFO of "SFO Mom"

3. Mhari of "...Breath and Heartbeat"

4. Penni of "Martha, Martha"

5. Mikala of "The Magdalene Diaries"
This really was quite difficult. I do have a lot of great Catholic blogs on my sidebar but choosing only five is ridiculous. I am the type that would like to meet anyone -- which makes this even more difficult. I'd like to just meet them all! The above are the ones that have become regular reading - must haves, if you will. Anyway...

I have had the privilege of meeting a few of those great folks in person: Matt of The School of Mary (Nick's twin), Nick of phatcatholic apologetics (Matt's twin), Micah of Lumen de Lumine, Amy of In the Meantime, and of course, the famous Julie D. of Happy Catholic (and family).

All of the above may consider themselves tagged, if they so desire. Thanks to Julie if she did indeed tag me.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Praise God: A Soon-To-Be Saint Is Born!

Silly Matt forgot to get on and tell us that...

Boozer had her baby!

Charlotte Kathleen graced the world with her presense on January 23rd at 9:57 a.m., weighing 7 lbs. 11 o.z. and measuring 18 1/2 in. long. If I remember correctly, she'll be baptized into the Church on February 2nd. Please pray for this little one and all of her family. She has two older sisters (cutest lil saints you've ever seen), Adrienne and Genevieve. I'm sure they are absolutely in love with their new sister, especially Genevieve. She's the younger of the two so this is her first birth.

Please pray that the Lord protect and guide them in every moment of their lives. May they always seek to know and please God, in whose image and likeness they were created. May the Lord bless and protect their loving parents, Boozer and Matt, and help them to raise saints.

A couple of pictures:

The three sisters together with a piece of mom and dad on the right and top.

Adrienne with Charlotte.

Genevieve with Charlotte.

And of course, mom and Charlotte. (Unbathed and tired) How cute!


New Feature at ...and if not...

I've been thinking about things I could add that would help promote Catholic culture here at ...and if not.... One of my ideas was to create a code (or modify one already in existence) that would display where we are in the liturgical year. Julie D (Happy Catholic) does a daily "Basics" post which always includes that and I really enjoy it. So I took the liberty of modifying a code in my sidebar to display this information at the top of the main section of this blog (see above for example). Every day it will read where we are and announce important feast days and solemnities. I hope this is useful.

Also, if you have a blog and would like to add this to yours, I will be updating the code monthly and would be more than happy to share it with you for your sidebar, main section, or any place you see fit. The text will conform to the space you choose so don't worry about that! If you want the code, drop a line in the comments box or shoot me an email.

Eventually I would like to form a yearly code so that I do not have to trouble myself with updating the code so often. This would also make it much easier on each person who wishes to include it in their information, as they would only have to put it in once a year. I plan on taking a course soon to learn more about html coding - but please be patient. It could be several months before this happens. (That is unless someone steps forward and offers to show me how to do this.)

Anyway, that's all for now. Be holy!


Interior Castle Meditations: Part One

In fact, however acute our intellects may be, ... we can hardly form any conception of the soul's great dignity and beauty. ... As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how percious they are - those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest ins centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle - that is to say, in these bodies of ours.
Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, it will be impossible for us, in this lifetime, to truly understand the immense beauty and value of our souls. It is a shame too! Beacuase we do not value them as they should be valued, we do not work to save them from the stain of sin as we should. When we brush off holiness, saying that our sins are not actually sins, we do this in thinking of the here and now - not the eternal. Perhaps because they seem so common and non-extraordinary to us, we do not think twice about the things we submit ourselves to. It is often times because of our great stupidity that our souls are in great danger. That is exactly why we should seek to know and understand, as much as is possible on eath, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we have have been created. As long as we divulge in things of the world and neglect the true discovery of self, we forever put out souls in jeopardy. That is not to say that God abandons us but that we willingly seperate ourselves from Him who is God.
It should be noted here that it is not the spring, or the brilliant sun which is in the centre of the soul, that loses its splendour and beauty, for they are always within it and nothing can take away their beauty. If a thick black cloth be placed over a crystal in the sunshine, however, it is clear that although the sun may be sining upon it, its brightness will have no effect upon the crystal.
We will, in essence, live outside of ourselves as long as we do this. If the castle is our soul and we live , as St. Teresa says, in the outer wall of the castle, we live not for the light and certainly not in the light which is the center and core of each us. But the point that I was trying to get at was this: Because our soul is created by God in His own image (and because we will never understand the things of God) we can never appreciate the greatness (and expansiveness) of our own soul. (What humility this thought can bring!) Even more important to stress, in my mind, is the thought that comes from this: If I value my soul above all things now and my understanding of its importance is so foolish and far from true understanding, how amazing is my soul! How much more faithfully should I guard it!
The soul of the righteous man is nothing but a paradise, in which , as God tells us, He takes His delight.
This thought is so great (so overwhelming) as it is, and to know that what I feel and understand about its significance is so far from the whole understanding and significance makes me wonder how any man could allow himself to sin - or to sin without severe personal punishment. I realize that, as humans, sin is 'a part of our nature'. I also realize that as God loves us, He also wishes for us to love ourselves and out of that love, forgive - not only oursevles, but others too. For if God, so powerful and mighty, so pure and holy, should forgive us (in His great mercy), who are we to withhold forgiveness, great sinners that we all are? So though I understand that punishment in this way is not holy or "righteous", it still begs the question: Why? Why do we care so little to (1) find out more about ourselves (and therefore our Creator - as we are made in His image) and (2) to prevent the near occassion of sin. Certainly we should wish to keep our souls pure and stainless - these souls that are more precious than our ability to understand.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

DIY Update

Just thought I'd post the finished product (in the room and all because they didn't wait for me to take pictures!):

If I could go back and do it again (definitely when I make the next one) I'll probably stain it, not paint it. I'd also not make it so deep (since this one needed to hold the tv and game systems and the others, likely, will not). Other than that, I think I like it. (OH! I also want to explore more ornate options in the future.)

Anyway, let me know what y'all think. I'm always up for some constructive criticism!


Interior Castle Meditations

I'm on my fourth read of this book and the more I read it, the more meditative it becomes. Last night I was watching some kids and found very peaceful quiet time to read after they had gone to bed. It allowed for meditation and notes.. which I might share at the book club meeting. We'll see how it goes. If not, I'll probably share them here. Look for it sometime next week..


Sunday, January 14, 2007

She's a DIY girl.

Yep. That's me. I'm a DIY girl at heart. And as you can probably tell, I'm not at all ashamed.

I pretty much do whatever I want in that, if I want to make something, and I don't know how to make it, I'll teach myself. I'll read or study pictures and figure it out. I 'wing' it. I taught myself to play guitar and I can play piano enough to teach myself new music. I sew my own clothes, make my own cards, and now.. I make furniture! Hehe.

I'd built plenty of things for theatre - but that was stage stuff. Unless we were building for an intimate audience (rarely), it didn't really matter who was working on the pieces. And I learned a lot. I also learned a lot from my dad, who has always let me help him do things. He's a DIY guy - so I guess I got it from him.

Today during the 'winter blast', my family and I were sitting in our living room talking about what we were going to do today. I'm not really sure how we came to it, but I started asking questions about cost of materials to build a desk or shelves or a small bed. And before I knew it, we were all getting bundled up to head to Lowe's! Off we went...

I took my 'schedule' (as it's called in the carpentry world) but we hadn't really decided on moulding (my sister had to help since I am putting it in her room!) and I had forgotten to add those dimensions in. And being a family of five, we had a bunch of detours to look at things completely unrelated, but fun none-the-less. About three or so hours later, after a trip to two supply stores, we arrived back home with all the materials.

It seemed like no time at all when we had this on our hands (time flies when you're having fun):

It's obviously not finished yet. It is still lacking some grouting, a support/lip sanding, moulding, primer, and paint but I don't think it's looking too bad. We'll see what we come up with tomorrow. I'll post more pictures then. Let me know what you think!


Friday, January 12, 2007

Amazing How God Works

It never fails that when I am in a bind, God comes to my 'rescue'. Today I was supposed to be meeting with a potential employer for a second interview (after my first yesterday). I'm still on the fence about the job so I was really dreading it. I didn't want to go in not knowing whether I wanted it or not. I had called some of my good friends already but still hadn't really gotten the chance to talk to anyone. Well.. today during work, one friend called back. So on my way to let the dog out, I called her back and we talked about it a little bit. She made some good points and I really appreciated her as a sounding board. At the end of the discussion I was pretty much in the same place I was when it started. But she recommended a priest to me. She suggested I call him immediately (since the decision has to be made so soon). I was close to my home so I decided then and there to call as soon as I could get back to get the number. "Hopefully," I thought, "I'll be able to speak with him before that interview tonight." Not two minutes later my phone was ringing again. This time it was my interviewer. We'd have to reschedule, she told me. I was so relieved. Still when I got home I called the friary immediately. The message? Fridays are a day of prayer for the brothers. I could leave a message or call back at another time. I left a message.

But isn't it funny how the interview was going to have to be moved to the later part of the weekend and the brothers had a day of prayer on Friday? I think God's helping me out here. I'll most likely get to speak to a priest or my spiritual director before going in for a second interview! At first I was bummed that the interview was being pushed back (because now I have to wait to get more answers) but I realized very soon that this was a huge blessing to me!

Our God is good.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Presenting: The Catholic Alphabet Meme! I was tagged by SFO Mom. (Can you believe it? I'm excited. Here goes nothin...)

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Probably Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego

[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: Ignatius - Revised Standard/Catholic Edition

[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: Whichever it is the Holy Spirit wishes to give! (All of them?)

[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: St. Thomas Aquinas - hands down.

[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: Liturgy of the Hours

[F is for Favorite Hymn]: O Holy Night (does that count?)

[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: Matthew

[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Love

[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: When I'm serving and when I'm alone. (Ironic, eh?)

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: In Baptism when I was an infant.

[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?] Saint Francis of Assisi

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Easter (with Christmas in a close second)

[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Our Lady

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: The Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55)

[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: Psalms

[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 63

[Q is for quote - saint quote]: "When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings." -– St. Paul of the Cross

[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: Sorrowful

[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: St. Maria Goretti

[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Devotion to the Saints.

[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?]: I don't. I've visted Steubenville recently, though.

[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: I don't wish.. I am determined to obtain.. heroic patience (one of the ten virtues of Mary)

[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: 4th Station - Jesus Meets His Mother

[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: Yes. They are the religious brothers of St. Francis Xavier. :)

[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: Remnant (okay, they're a band)

[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: What am I supposed to write here.. ??? (Sometimes my zeal gets me in trouble!)

Nick at phatcatholic apologetics
Mikala at The Magdelene Diaries
Julie at Happy Catholic

Forgive me, y'all, if you've already played. I don't know who has and who hasn't so I just tagged and I'm hoping it works. Anyone else, feel free to join in. Comment below to let me know you're playing!!

UPDATE: We have someone else playing along! Check out dilexitprior's responses!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Awww poop!

It was an analogy first introduced to me by my youth minister and oddly enough, it was one of the best analogies I've heard. Poopy brownies... I use it all the time in my life. It can be a little disturbing to be watching a movie or listening to music in the car and have the thought of poopie brownies come to mind... but whatever - it works. And it goes something like this (I really can't remember exactly.. but I wrote a whole paper on it my freshman year. Maybe I can have my Eng. teacher pull that up for me...):

You come to my house for a lil somethin' somethin' (read: 'a party') and sitting on the table are my world famous brownies. Everyone is delighting in them, complimenting me on my amazing baking skills. "These are wonderful," they all exclaim. "Delicious!" "Delightful!" "Amazing!"

As is usually the case when someone enjoys a certain food (and even more so when a traditional favorite goes above and beyond his/her expectation), they ask me what I put in it that makes it so good. I spout off a list of ingredients:


Whoa, whoa, whoa. "Did she just say poop?" You can't believe what you're hearing right? Surely it's a joke. But it's not. A fresh helping of doggy doodoo went into these. But they're still good right? You still want them, don't you? I mean.. just a second ago you were talking about how wonderful and amazing they were. You were just telling me what an amazing cook I was! You mean you don't want to eat them now? But why? Oh you mean because now that you know there is poop in the brownies you don't want any? (At this point you're probaby scraping your tongue and washing your mouth out with the nearest disinfectant, right?)

So now that you know the analogy, let's do something with it. Let's apply it to life. Imagine that the brownie is a movie. It's funny and thought-provoking and seems like the best movie ever made. And then there's the handful of provocative sex scenes. But hey it's got these really great themes to it and even if the characters are having premarital sex and you're basicaly watching what the catechism would define as porn that doesn't mean that there aren't these other great elements for you to enjoy! Okay.. then here, have some of these poopie brownies. Sure it's got a few lumps of poo in there but hey, it's got all of these other great elements for you to enjoy. The poop doesn't affect you, right? Just pretend it isn't there, like you probably do with the movie, and it'll be alright.

If you don't like the movie comparison then use it with a certain clique you want to be a part of (or are a part of), a certain group or activity, or any number of other things. Listen to some of the music on the radio and ask yourself if it's okay to listen to. Sure it's got some AMAZING bass and drum solos and man, that beat sure is kickin.. but what about the derogatory language and the portrait painted of women as objects? The theater department that puts on amazing shows but that asks you to submit yourself to immoral scenes. It asks you to dance on stage half naked and passionately kiss your fellow actor. But the sets are unreal! And the costumes.. the COSTUMES! They could win awards. So let's just forget about the lustful acting and complete lack of purity and chastity in all areas. Okay.. how about some poopie brownies to go with that fornication scene? Bet that'd be 'hot'. *Gag me*

We should never subject ourselves to such activity. Activity that promotes or condones actions contrary to our beliefs as Catholics (or Christians or Jews, but especially as Catholics) is not activity that we should have ANY part in. To participate or to be linked back in any way not only makes us look bad, it makes the whole Church look bad. "But I'm just one person. Just because I do this doesn't mean every Catholic does. Just because John Doe is a drunk doesn't mean we all are!" This is true. But you may be the one Catholic a person knows. It's possible!! I live in a big city and I have several friends who only know one Catholic: me! They may have met some others from time to time but I am the only constant contact they have with the Church. They experience the Church through me. (Scary thought, huh?) So I must live out in every action this faith which I claim to hold so dear.

And it's not just for others that I should do this. I am not putting on a show for others around me. I am doing it.. for the love of God. (!!) I am doing it for the love of God in me and the love of God in my neighbor. Going back though, I should not only seek to protect my soul, my purity, my everything from evil, I should seek to protect my neighbor from that as well. I should love my brothers and sisters in Christ enough that I would keep them from just as much. But which passage comes to mind here? "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:4-5)

I seek, above all else, to do what is pleasing in the sight of the Lord. And as we all know, it's a hard thing to do! In order to increase my chances of remaining pure and holy, I must decrease the nubmer of opportunities to sin. This also means ridding myself and my life of occassions that could lead to desensification. In our society today we are already at a greater risk of sinning at times than our brothers and sisters who came before us. The world has led so many to believe that what they're doing is okay. But it's not! And sure, knowledge of the sin would be required for it to be a sin, but is ignorance truly bliss? We should seek real answers - Truth. We should seek to know and do what is good and holy and right. So I must purge from my life the things like disrespectful music and pornographic movies or shows - despite the presence of pleasing qualities. And I would challenge each person I know to do the same.

Poopy brownies anyone?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quickly Recovering

I told my fellow discerners at phatmass about my 'hair trauma' yesterday and one fine phamily member came back with this:
But what I wanted to share was: it's all right to be upset. Even if you don't (over-)symbolise stuff like I do, six inches is a lot of hair to lose in one fell snip, and it will take a while to get used to. If you like, you could see it as a step in your discernment - you've discovered something new with the Sisters of the Renewal and it marks the beginning of a fresh step and direction in your journey towards God.

I don't know what your time-frame is or if you even have one - but hair can grow one heck of a few inches in a few years. Concentrate on God and He'll give you a superb investiture!
It definitely eased my nerves. It makes it a lot easier to handle when I think of it as a new beginning. I can start fresh with growing my hair out. Now, if I do end up entering the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, what I give up at investiture will in fact be hair I have grown specifically for that reason. And another thought that was presented, by stlmom, was this:
Don't ever lose sight of the fact that God wants your heart so much more than your hair.....
How glad I am that God does indeed want my heart WAY more than He wants my hair. I think, though, that in some sense it seems like less of a gift. But whatever gift I give, I give it out of love. And that, I think, is just the right kind of gift.

Sooo.. while it's still a little hard to look in the mirror and see my hair missing, or run my fingers through it and have it end way too soon, I'm not crying anymore and I think I can be over it now. At least it's soft, clean and healthy, right? RIGHT.

St. Maria Goretti, purest patron of mine, pray for us! St. Thomas Aquinas, my beloved dumb ox, pray for us! Sts. Francis and Clare, generous and loving, pray for us! St. Maximillian, my saint for the year, pray for us! All you holy angels and saints, pray for us!! -- Be holy.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hair Trauma

I just got home from having my hair cut. It needed to be done. After six months of absolutely NO professional treatment, it was getting pretty raggedy. I knew going in that I would need to cut off several inches.. but I didn't realize it would be SIX. Yeah.. five to six inches came off in a matter of a minute. Then it was 'cleaned up' which meant another half inch or so. I was amazingly relaxed while it was going on and it wasn't until after I left that I started to have my breakdown which came to it's climax when I showed my dad and his response was literally...

*eyes widen* *mouth drops* "OH MY GOD!"

(Sorry, Lord. He was shocked.) Yeah.. I pretty much lost it. I cried. I can't believe all of my hair is gone.. I can't even hide it in a pony tail. It looks awful. More than anything, I'm sad that I lost so much hair. It took me so much time to grow it out and my plan was to let it grow until I entered a community. That's still my plan.. it's just a plan that's five inches shorter now.

*sigh* I really want this gift to be beautiful for our Lord and that's about the only thing that is keeping me from crying again now. It will grow out again and with regular maitenance, it will stay healthy. Now all I need to remember is to breathe.. and stay calm.

I don't even want to see people now.. they're gunna freak just like my dad. My stylist and his team of course love it but they always do... or at least they all pretend they do. And I think the reason I didn't freak out DURING the process was because A) my hair was so long I couldn't even see where he was cutting initially, B) I didn't have glasses so I couldn't see anything anyway, and C) I was talking to him about discerning a vocation to the religious life. He had so many questions and I was happy to have answers... Yep. Totally distracted.

Experiences like these are exactly the reason I wait so long to go back.. ho hum.

Catholic Devotions Meme

I enjoy it when other bloggers tag anyone who wants to play. Out of laziness or apathy, doesn't matter to me. That means I actually get to do one! So a big thanks to SFO Mom for leaving this one open for anyone..

The Catholic Devotions Meme

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?
Liturgy of the Hours

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?
The Memorare/The Angelus (Both really great - toss up)

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
Yes. Both. Scapular and a handful (literally) of medals.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?
Yes, definitely.

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings?
Most days..

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?
Not as well as I probably should. I definitely did while I wasn't working days but since I started working 7-3, I've been bad about it.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?
As much as I possibly can, I go. Since my church only provides it once a month, I sometimes find myself sitting in the parking lot or in a pew adoring Him. I know I could just as easily do that from my home but something about being right there next to Him, physically present in the Eucharist in the tabernacle, just makes it worth it to drive there.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?
Sunday morning.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
Yes, always. (Though I do not always say them out loud.)

10. Favorite Saint(s)? St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maria Goretti, and of course the Blessed Mother.

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?
Yep. After I started attending daily Mass, I learned it very quickly. (I would stay after Mass and pray the rosary with the group of older folk who prayed it every day. I really enjoyed it.)

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
Yes. Many times during the day.

13. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?

Tag: Same as I was tagged. Anyone who wants to play, feel free. (Just drop a note in my comments box letting me know.)


Monday, January 01, 2007

A Grand New Year

I can already feel big things happening and it's only been a new year for 7 hours. Please keep my discernment in your prayers. Pray that God give me wisdom, prudence, prayerfulness, knowledge and the grace to accept whatever it is He has for me. I am excited to make this journey, but still a bit apprehensive. I don't want my scrupulosity to get in my way, though, so any prayers you can throw up for me would be most appreciated.

Do I ask for too many prayers? Probably.