Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Instead of a Bright Maidens post...

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, Irene the Mean has prevented our Trista from accessing consistent Internet so we're postponing until next Tuesday.

As a lame replacement... I would like to introduce you to a wonderful young lady, Dylana. I've mentioned her before and I'll mention her again. Check her out at her blog, "The Pilgrim's Paean."

Yesterday, she posted a few questions to gather information to help her prepare for her upcoming confirmation:
Well, this blog has mostly been about myself and my spiritual journey. But I have a question for you all. Well a few... haha! Here it goes:
1) What books have played a key role in your journey?
2) What about the books that have aided your discernment?
3) How should I prepare for my upcoming Confirmation? (Oh! P.S.-I might be confirming early!! Schyeah!)
4) How have you disciplined yourself to grow in holiness?
5) What penances have you employed?
Before I share my answers, please enjoy Julie's:

1 & 2) Flannery O'Connor's letters; The Imitation of Christ by St. Thomas a Kempis, Creed or Chaos by Dorothy Sayers, Free to Love by Marcel LeJuene, The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, Introduction to Christianity by Pope Benedict XVI, In Soft Garments by Ronald Knox, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, and Church Fathers (i.e. Confessions by Augustine)... to start :)
3) Discipline yourself in prayer- the Devil will attack and try to separate us from our Lord through hardship, spiritual dryness and other wiles.
4) Charity in all circumstances; constant prayer and petition; reading Scripture; frequent use of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion and Reconciliation
5) Holding my tongue when I am being wronged, especially if I have already made my defense.

My answers:

1) Hands down, C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters

2) Fantastic question! I think blogs have had a bigger impact on my discernment because they're short and always there for me to read. Pray, read, pray.

3) Schyeah! Write hand-written letters to important people in your life and tell them how they have impacted you. They don't have to be Catholic or even Christian. You never know what effect your words of praise and gratitude can have on someone's spirituality. Also, ditto to Julie!

4) I've surrounded myself with good, holy people and I try to learn from them at all times. Of course, I'm friends with people of all walks of spiritual life and I suppose being around them motivates me to employ that which I learn. All of my friends and family teach me, everyday.

5) Good one, Julie!! I have to agree. One of my biggest faults is the NEED to be right or "justified." When I remember.... I try to keep my mouth shut and just realize that there is no reason for me to fight. It doesn't always work (can I get an Amen, family?)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't squeeze me until I'm yours - 7QT, Volume 41

Click here to read the original post at ConversionDiary.com

Folks, I'm traveling around the great Northwest right now. Therefore, I'm going to cop out and give you a photo tour of my last few days here...


Keep it classy, SkyMall. This is the adult equivalent of dental headgear. Part helmet, part Rogaine machine. You never get bored looking through the airline magazines.


Co-workers, ten pins, and a microbrewery. See your nearest channel guide for listings.


Yes, I worked on my Mac in the building across from Microsoft's headquarters. That one's for you, Steve Jobs!


My beau and I walked around Pike's Place Market where we found the most GORGEOUS bouquets of flowers I have ever seen. These could be bridal bouquets and they were between $5 and $15 a bundle! The picture doesn't do them justice.


Does anyone else see a TOB metaphor here?


Cell phone camera... booooo... this is Mt. Ranier. The mountain that contributed to one of the most beauty-filled days of my young life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quenching Thirsts

I'm over at VirtuousPla.net today with a revamping of my reversion story. If you had a similar experience in growing into adulthood... let me know... on VP... in a comment form, if you please :)

During His travels, Jesus came to Samaria and sat by the stone wall of a simple well. He asked a woman there for a drink, which was confusing for the woman because of the tension between their nationalities.

Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4: 10).

He proceeded to show her how much He knew about her, though she thought Him to be a stranger. God revealed Jesus as the Messiah to this flawed, yet attentive woman.

Jesus came to me in this way many times in my life, but I was inattentive and failed to draw Him a drink.

Two summers ago, I was in a strange city, commuting ninety minutes a day instead of socializing, surrounding myself with bad influences, and concentrating my conversations on selfishness and politics. I was the devil’s playground, complete with a dry, thirsty sandbox.

For the first time in my life, I started to wonder about the very existence of God. I started to doubt it. I was doubting Him.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My wonderful employer has paid for me to take trips around the country to a handful of cities over the last two years. Washington, DC several times, Cleveland, Las Vegas (X2), Denver, Ashville, NC, and Seattle... I have learned a lot about how to travel and how to learn from travel.

I spent Saturday traveling and identified some of the lessons learned along the way:
  • Travel chatting is a great forum for gentle evangelizing. Edward Norton's Narrator voice in Fight Club called them "single-serving friends," but we can make an impact on someone that lasts longer than a one-trip-serving. 
    • Make an effort to be overtly kind. Some of the customer service representatives get yelled at every hour, on the hour, for no reason other that people are cranky when they travel. Sometimes I think people assume customer service representatives are feelingless, people-shaped computers. Treat them like they're your brothers and sisters.
  • It’s easier to strike up a conversation with someone when en route than when you’re in your hometown. Travel makes good practice for staycation-evangelizing.
  • When packing for a trip, pick a color palette so one pair of earrings will do and you can reuse some items. Not only is it way cool to be the one with the smallest luggage, but it’s less exhausting than pulling behind you a gigantic bag.
  • One of the only times I use hand sanitizer is when traveling. And I make it count for the rest of the time I don't use it.
  • Calories don’t count when you have to travel all day.
  • The ratio of Hail Marys per hour increases when you feel the end is near... like during takeoff. Causation, not correlation.
  • Airplane biscotti cookies are delicious. And free.
  • For me, airplane rides and airports straddle the line between crack-cocaine and the shower-idea-compendium. I spent my entire Saturday traveling, which means I spent my entire Saturday writing.
  • On every airplane trip, there is a moment (or fourteen) where I actually believe the flight will never end. This is when I must have faith.
  • It has become entirely socially acceptable to text while walking, to my dismay (unless I need to do it and then it is to my delight).
  • There is often a small part of me that expects to bump into a celebrity. I don't know why I feel that way, but it's a subconscious itch in the back of my mind. This time, it came true... even though I didn't actually see him. Apparently Detective Lassiter from Psych was in our hotel this weekend.
  • I suspect airplanes are really teleportation portals. Sometimes.
  • There's no place like home.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh Canada - 7QT, Volume 41

Click here to read the original post at ConversionDiary.com

It's been a while since I've gushed about my love for most things Canadian, so it may not make waves when I say:

Gilbert Blythe: My favorite Canadian

I will be in the Northwest of the United States next week and one day I will make the trip to fair Canada.

I'm so anxious. What should I do to prepare? Practice my "OU?" Read Anne of Green Gables? Watch anything with Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Perry, or Rachel McAdams in it? Play a game of hockey, eh?

I'm just kidding Canadians, I know you're much more than that. Stick (oh I didn't even mean to make a hockey pun) around and you'll learn I have a weird, pointed obsession with Canada.

Have you discovered VirtuousPla.net yet? Read a little about it here or check out the two posts I published there this week:
Thinking hard about these quick takes.
Liesl's has deep thoughts. Do you?

Emily tweeted this article about a man's perspective on NFP and it was a great read!

This week I read Jackie's take on politics. While we agree on many points, the main problem I have with politics is that I won't compromise my faith to fit into a political pocket. She and I just disagree on which points to "lead a charge." I'm still working on it...

This article about Papa Bene 16 calling for economies to have morals helps.

When I was looking into other posts on Jackie's blog, I used a Google search which brought me in contact with this advertisement about "gentle abortions." Gentle. Abortions?

My spirit is exhausted.


Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream
It doesn't solve my spiritual fatigue problem, but I bet it tastes pretty good.


This week was a weird post. Trista was in Spain, but posted anyway (because she's a champ). My post was very different than I expected and Julie's has been trolled by a rude commenter. Thanks to those who wrote on the topic: "Feminine Genius: The Dress!"

My post: "Month of the Dress."
Trista: "Dresses and the Apostolate of Beauty."
Julie: "Dresses Rule, Pants Drool, and Other Facts of Life." -- Which is getting a lot of silly comments.
Emily: "Tomboy fights back."
Chloe: "In All [Her] Splendor."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spiritual Heirloom

I'm over on VirtuousPla.net again today with a post about how my grandmother's strength taught me how to be a Catholic woman.

Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I’m repressed. I’m a Catholic woman, after all.

The Bright Maidens movement blossomed out of refuting this very concept. The original conversation between the Bright Maidens was a revolutionary chat ending with “How dare they tell us we’re stifled!? We’ll show them!”

We bought ink by the barrel, *ahem* pixels by the terabyte, and decided to share with the world that Catholicism preserves the Truth and the Truth doesn’t discriminate.

Those who dare to call me repressed (oh, you’d better watch out now!) tell me I am a part of a faith that wants to tie an apron around my waist, keep me from preaching or leading a parish, prevent me from seeking independence from pregnancy, and stay put in the kitchen, silent and subservient.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stay-cation World Youth Day

Yesterday I published on VirtuousPla.net about how to enjoy World Youth Day from the comfort of your normal national borders. Some of us were unable to venture to Madrid for World Youth Day this year, but we still get to celebrate in the New Evangelization:

Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7)

Happy World Youth Day! Jesus Christ is risen and He asks us to share His message of Love with everyone we can.
Right now, more than a million people (youth in age and at heart) have descended on the Spanish city of Madrid in various assorted Catholic t-shirts, carrying countless rosaries, and meeting new people who join in the Hail Mary with funny accents.
This is me, avoiding jealousy.
VirtuousPla.net’s very own TristaFabi, and Marc are over in Madrid celebrating World Youth Day among the funny accents and I’m sure you wait in anticipation for their stories! While we sit here in America, let us not twiddle our thumbs. Let’s have a stay-cation World Youth Day!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Month of the Dress

Feminine Genius: The Dress
"Month of the Dress" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

This post is one month in the making: one month of flowing dresses, feminine prints, and (shocker) thinking about outfits and make-up. For the last thirty days, I promised myself that I would wear a dress or skirt at every opportunity. I only failed once.

Before the Month of the Dress, I was a frequent skirt-wearer. Of the things women complain about, dresses should never be on the list.
I don't own the rights.

I expected to come out on the other side of the Month of the Dress a new woman. I would be well-rested, prettier, empowered, a better chef, able to speak to small cartoon animals, and sing a high F.

Expectations being what they are (generally wrong), I learned something unforseen: I'm already the woman those characteristics represent.

Half way through the month, this empowered woman got a flat tire and had to [call my beau to bring his fancy equipment to take off the bad tire and] go to the mechanic for a replacement. I was dressed for the gym, ie running shorts and a t-shirt, when I walked in the doors of the mechanic's.

I don't have to go all the way to Mrs. Manners' reaction because I know my Gramma was looking down screeching, "You look like a rag-a-muffin!"

I became very aware of my informal wardrobe, though any other month of the year, this would be a standard outfit for a trip to the mechanic. In the first two weeks of the dress experiment, I lamented the fact that I didn't notice much of a difference in my behavior or manner after fourteen days. Then there I was, in public for the first time without a skirt on and I felt exposed.

Lest you think one shorts-clad trip to the mechanic flipped me into an anti-pants woman, I will tell you I am donning a pair of six-year-old running shorts, a t-shirt with paint on it, and my hair in a messy bun at the moment I write this.

After my uneasiness at the mechanic's wore off, I realized it wasn't the dress itself or the fact that women "are supposed to" wear dresses that caused discomfort on the day I "failed" at the Month of the Dress. But what was it?

At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel hails Mary and calls her "full of grace." In his apostolic letter, MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote that the dialoge from the Annunciation reveals the "supernatural dimension" of the event. 
"Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out, but rather perfects it and ennobles it. Therefore the "fullness of grace" that was granted to the Virgin of Nazareth, with a view to the fact that she would become "Theotókos", also signifies the fullness of the perfection of" what is characteristic of woman", of "what is feminine". Here we find ourselves, in a sense, at the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women."
A woman was the only being on Earth capable of being the mother of God, the person to bear Him, or the first to touch Him. The feminine "mystery" is a confusing concept, which is so evasive and inexplicable, one wonders if we are just repeating a buzz word that has been used for centuries.

John Paul II's deconstruction of the Annunciation shows that the "mystery" of a woman is the fact that she is more than utilitarian or for objectification. As Mary is the archetype of the personal dignity of women, she is our example.

In a later letter, John Paul II writes, "The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the 'feminine genius' and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the 'handmaid of the Lord' (Lk 1:38)" (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women).

My wearing a dress or skirt for thirty days made an impact on my routine. I spent more time on looking nice, which made me more present when interacting with others outside of my home. I made the effort to be creative when selecting outfits, since the limited wardrobe bound me to repeat them.

I attempted to put on an aire of grace in the form of a dress, in communion with my feminine identity.

However, it was the commitment to the arbitrary thirty day rule that caused the abiding change I underwent this month. Why is a dress the outward appearance of femininity? Does that apply to every woman? How does this relate to my faith?

The Church finds in Mary "a source of constant inspiration" because she was obedient to the Word of God, choosing to use the gifts He gave her for His plan, unselfishly. She served God and in doing so, served others: "a service of love."
"Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic 'reign.' It is not by chance that she is invoked as 'Queen of heaven and earth.' The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their 'Queen.' For her, 'to reign' is to serve! Her service is 'to reign!'"- Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women

That's the real "dress" for a woman: service.

Good thing, because as much as I praise dresses and their ease, I'm going hiking next week. I cannot think of a more unfeminine thing than me sweating and pulling on a skirt that clashes with my hiking boots as I walk up a mountain.

"I think you look good in shorts, too, though," said my beau. I'll learn to cook a recipe that I know he'll like. And I'll wear my pink bermuda shorts and a blue t-shirt while I make it.

UPDATE: A friend randomly read this passage from 1 Peter 3:
"Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God."
How perfect! This is not a condemnation or an outlawing of the "adornment," but an emphasis that "the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition" is "precious in the sight of God."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Announcing: VirtuousPla.net, website for young adults

Readers o'mine, do I have a treat for you!?

The answer is both yes and CLICK HERE!

Welcome to a new world where a group of young adults who uphold a dedication to the Magisterium gather to write on one website about a myriad of topics relevant to young adults!

We launch today, on the Feast of the Assumption, with the prayer that Mary, Our Mother will help us direct people to her Son.

Please, if you like what we share today (and you look forward to seeing more) bookmark Virtuous Planet, tweet about us, post a link on Facebook, tell your friends, email your grandmother, spray paint the URL on your roof....

Let's pour some more Christianity into the Internet streams, what do ya say? UPDATE: Now we're at IGNITUM TODAY

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dear college students, Part 3 - 7QT, Volume 40

Click here to read the original post at ConversionDiary.com

I've hit the big 4-0! I feel spry and energetic. Well, that's not quite true, since I tend to stay up way too late finishing these 7 Quick Takes. I am happy to share my next installment of my advice to college students right here in my 7QT.

These are aimed at seniors and other upperclassmen. You thought you could escape!? No way, José.

First of all: do as I say, not as I do.

That is a theme running through virtually EVERY piece of advice I or others can offer you. This doesn't mean you should make the mistakes we make since we survived and learned from them. Make new mistakes! You can write about them on your blog in two years!

If you haven't pulled an all-nighter yet, I applaud you.

And now I send you to the library to stay up all night. You should know what it feels like because:
A) there's something transient in living two full days without the veil of sleep between them and
B) you will never have the opportunity to go a full 24 hours without sleep without serious consequences, except now.

A follow-up on this bit of advice: don't you dare drive.

Savvy? Now, go procrastinate like a college student and caffeinate yourself.

You know how I said "you will never have the opportunity" to spare a night of sleep without serious consequences except during this time...about 20 seconds ago? That's because you're in college. You have time.
This baby thinks he's tired. He should ask his MOM about fatigue.

I don't want to be a cynical college graduate, but I'm in the position of both walking in your shoes and in the shoes of someone who works 40+ hours a week for a paycheck. School is much different from work and if I could go back, I would smack myself in the face every time I complained about being busy or not having enough time to do something.

Oh, I would also smack myself for being too tired.

I leave room in my life for Future-Mother-Elizabeth to go back in time and smack Full-Time-Job-Elizabeth. See? The circle of life.

In my second post to college students, I suggested that freshmen should get to know their professors immediately. This is my echo to you: keep a strong relationship with your professors.

Say hello to them, stop by during their office hours just to say "Hi," ask them for help, and keep them informed about your future plans. If you don't already have a job (because you're not a 2011 Superhero), then you're going to need their guidance very soon.

These men and women provide your recommendations for internships, graduate school, and job applications. Treat them well, as human beings, but also as people who are invested in you and your future.

Go on a tour of your campus. You haven't been on one of these since you were a senior in high school. Write down how it felt differently than the first time you toured.

Take pictures like you're a tourist.

Consider planking.

Buy a journal and make a goal to write in it every week. Pick a day and set a time, no excuses, to write for at least five minutes about anything on your mind. Get into the habit and you will eventually write more often and longer than five minutes, once a week.

This is a routine that can vastly improve how you digest your life.

Pick a freshman, or six, and become their friend. If you already make a habit of being friendly, that's wonderful! Do it more.
Aw, look! Freshmen.

The first few weeks of freshman year can set the pace for the whole semester. The first semester sets the pace for the year. The year can set the pace for who one hangs out with and what influences him or her.

Of course there are opportunities for change and new directions throughout those four years, but how many more smart decisions would you have made if a big, bad senior befriended YOU in your first week. If you had a stable, devout role model and confidant, would you have made some of the choices you now consider misguided?

Evangelizing doesn't have to begin with, "Hey, I'm Billy Bob. Have you found Jesus?!"

It can begin with, "Hey, can I help you carry that?" or "I always get lost in this part of campus, where are you headed?"

Any other alums are encouraged to share YOUR advice for seniors!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Google poetry: Spice girls dressed up as vikings

Simcha Fischer is one of my favorite bloggers. Heck, she's one of my favorite writers.

In the past she has done a series of "poems" written with individual searches that landed viewers on her blog. I started doing the same and I continue to find a TON of Internet hikers stumbling across my blog by searching for Beyaz questions like, "does beyaz cause hair to grow on your neck?", "beyaz change in curvature of the eye?" and "are hormonal contraceptives unnatural?"

You'd think searching for something like that would make you wonder why you're taking any kind of medication, but I digress.

Here is my third version of my own "Google poetry:"

john mayer
john mayer
john mayer
big ugly spider

Catholic bible verse "log in my eye"
Ciut Chste Led
how to accept and let go
"sign of the cross"

sample message for person in catholic retreat
how to make a retreat letter
how to write a letter for a person going to a retreat
kairos retreat letters
letter for someone going on retreat

rabbinical exaggeration
"objective truth exists"
"i am not worthy to receive you" scripture
opposite of grace

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dear college students, Part 2

Emily tagged me in a "7 Deep Thoughts" meme, so I am using this opportunity to continue my elongated letter to college students before classes start in the next two weeks.

Ahem, this meme comes with an award. I'd like to thank the Academy.

1. Your life is broken up into 14 to 16 week segments. Later, you'll wish you had those bookend months of rest in between work periods, so buckle down and make them count. However, avoid whining when you have a lot of work to do because it will be over sooner than you think.

2. Introduce yourself to twenty people on move-in day.

3. Go night skiing. In a few years, you won't want to be that cold, that late at night. Plus your butt is more resilient in your late teens and early twenties.

4. Study hard your first three weeks, no exceptions. Making that a habit and letting your professor know that you care about his or her class will change your life. During those first few weeks, introduce yourself to your professors, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.

5. Sit at a table in the dining hall that is already partially occupied (bring a friend if this makes you too uncomfortable to attempt alone) and strike up a conversation with new people.

6. Go to the "Club Carnival" or whatever your school calls the event in which the Pickle Ball, Chess, and Newman clubs set up tables and shove sign up sheets into your hands. Sign up for twice as many things as you think you can handle and go to the first meeting for each of them. You can pick your favorites later.

7. Don't carry a purse, that's a tell-tale sign of a freshman. If you're a senior or a junior, dress like an adult to set yourself apart. Your professors will respect you as the adult you are.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dear college students, Part 1

"Honestly, I don't think Jesus was against beer or alcohol. But I definitely think he would have a problem with Natty." -My beau

For those teens anxiously anticipating your first orientation day that will kickstart your college freshman year, "Natty" is short for "Natural Light." This is also referred to as "World's Grossest Beer," "Why, why, why are you drinking that," and "Ew, I would rather save up money for a single, decent beer than drink this urine water."

This information shouldn't be helpful to you because you are, after all, eighteen years old, but it does help to know the vocabulary before your blogger drops some knowledge right in your face.
Not an endorsement. Ew, I just gagged.


...Doesn't have to revolve around someone else's expectations. You get to make the call about what kind of college life you want to lead and which choices you want to make.

The other day my beau and I went out for a night on the town and had a great time meeting friendly people. We're more the sit-around-a-fire-pit-and-chat type, but we enjoyed meeting new people and hanging out with our friends.

Our 21+ selves chose to imbibe moderately, but the only beer (yumm) available was a selection of low quality, light beers (ew).

We don't drink much anyway, so the cheaper selection didn't influence anything but our sour faces after the first sip.

Someone once told me that Bud Light was the leftover, reject beer produced after Budweiser cans the top crop. Fellow readers, this is why Jesus would "have a problem with Natty."

These low quality, "low calorie" beers that we see exclusively at college and young adult parties are made available only for their alcohol content (albeit low) and cheaper price. No one enjoys their taste. Their light flavor allows the drinker to fit a few extra cans into their belly, unlike a high-quality, deliciously caloric beer.

The lower alcohol content balances out the light calories because one who drinks to get drunk has to pound down more to feel the buzz and beyond. Youngins tend to pour this into their system as a means to an end, with drunkenness or buzz in sight.

What would Jesus do? First of all, He would obey His parents and wait until Caesar's law and his drinking age matched up. Secondly, he would make water into good wine and leave the case of cheap beer in the corner.
Almost as awkward as a flock of Segways.

To the eighteen-year-old soon-to-be freshmen out there: don't fool yourself into believing that the only "college" experience is at a party. More than likely, there will only be Natty (which you really aren't old enough to drink anyway, but why would you want to) and a bunch of people standing around awkwardly (or belligerently), grasping for someone to stand with.

To the older college students: hopefully you've discovered how boring most of those parties can be. I'll go so far to say that they're boring unless you drink to get drunk, even then, you're just too drunk to notice that you're talking with a complete stranger about an "Animal House" poster on the wall. (Let it be known, I will watch "Animal House" any day of the week.)

To my younger self: I know you used to pretend you enjoyed those parties and you drank with the intention of getting drunk. Later you'll learn that college isn't a one-size-fits-all situation. You aren't missing out on anything by listening to your true self and going to a movie with your friends instead of "going out." There are far more fulfilling ways to spend your college career.

Plus, I want you to learn the fine taste of a good beer without having to drink the flavored eau de toilette that is Natty once you hit your twenty-first birthday.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Anti-Lazy Song -- 7QT, Volume 39

Click here to read the original post at ConversionDiary.com

Last week was the first time I've missed a 7 Quick Takes Friday since I started them way back in October 2010. I'm shamed.

I'll make up for it.

If it helps, someone arrived on my blog this week by searching "duggar girls wearing pants." Sorry people, not going to happen.

To start things off with a bang, allow me to introduce you to a beautiful young lady who is discerning God's path for her life. When I say young, I mean YOUNG. This chickadee is in high school and has aspirations of joining a Carmelite order, God-willing, as she said.
The Sorting Hat for vocations.

Her blog is called "Pilgrim's Paean" and I encourage you to be refreshed by her humble but exuberant gifts of service.


I'm sorry to spoil the refreshment so soon, but I have to bring your attention to Gen Y's new anthem.

"What's up?" "Not much, just hanging" *CORNY*
Bruno Mars "Lazy Song" is a caricature of the young people this day.

I should offer you a Werther's caramel now, right?

My jaw dropped and I almost choked on a fly when I heard this song the other day.

Make fun of being an old man and then read the lyrics. I can picture several teens randomly consulting the almighty Google and searching "i don't feel like doing anything today."

They search for answers and if they haven't already heard the song, now they have a laziness anthem, and it "feels" fine. And we all know, if it "feels" fine, it is fine.

On my Judgment's Shadow post from April, Cassi at "From a Catholic Daughter," stopped by to articulate perfectly the concept of "judgement." It's a tough subject that divides us all, philosophically, but I think she hit the nail on the head:
"Can't believe I missed this one when you wrote it! What I've been taught is that you can judge a persons actions and a persons words just not the person. It's kindof like how if a child in school was cursing all over the place you would have to send them to the principals office. You've judged what they've said and deemed it inappropriate for the classroom.
The same would go if they were fighting physically with another student, you'd judge their actions and deem them inappropriate for the classroom. This doesn't mean that you hate that child and have judged them to be a horrible person. They are a child of God, but we are called to hold people accountable and to a higher standard."

The Harry Potter craze seemed to die down a little around here, maybe that's just because my sisters and I quenched our Hogwarts thirst on the final movie's opening night. Get ready for a revival because we have our own "moving pictures," now!
I do not own the rights. But now I'm craving cake.

If you're wondering if I've forgotten about YouTube, let me introduce you to cinemagraphs. I hope the one I embed here works, if not, check it out in this link.


My high school alma mater is hosting an alumnae art show... eek! I have to show people some of the art I have created since graduating. This is something with which I struggle. I'd love to say I want real criticism about the quality of my work (even though I really think I'm below average, talent-wise), but I don't think I could take it if someone ripped me a new one.

Conundrum. I suppose getting my work out there will kick start my new mission to enrich the artistic side of my life!

In addition to some of the works I had in my art show in 2008, I might submit this one. I made it when I was 20-years-old and it's supposed to represent the moment of transubstantiation...

Or the way I painted it:


The Bright Maidens and the Pope were in cahoots this week to bring to you a summer reading list! Okay, no one confirmed our topic with Pope Benedict XVI, but he just happened to provide us with his summer reading list in the exact same week as the Bright Maidens. Coincidence?

Check out the lists on our Facebook page! If you don't "LIKE US" yet, tell me what you think of the new splash page I created. Then go ahead and "LIKE" us. Thank you!

I'm announcing our next topic a little early so you can get prepared. On August 16 we will follow our first in a series on the "Feminine Genius." This topic is entitled, "Feminine Genius: The Dress."

In the spirit of experimentation, I've been wearing a dress or skirt at every opportunity for about two weeks. By the time August 16 rolls around there will be about 30 days worth of dresses, skirts, and no-pants behind me. If you want to do something similar and write about a "pants fast," get started today.

If you're a man, please don't try this at home. Stay masculine and skirt-free, the way we like you.

As always, the topic is up to your interpretation, so do with "The Dress" what you will!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Now we can be babies together

My family is very, very close. There is nothing off-limits between us. My dad knows everything about every guy I've dated or had a crush on. My mom knows intimate details of virtually everything in our lives.

My sisters and I share a bed sometimes.

Too much?

Sometimes we're just five kindred spirits playing in a sand box; we wish that were true. With my extremely primitive Photoshopping "skills," I made it possible:

Mid-kid, Mom, me, baby sister, Dad.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists

Summer Reading
"In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

In my mind's eye, I'm sitting in a bug-free, snake-free meadow, sprawled out in the tall grass, in a light, summer dress circa Anne of Green Gables with a book in my hand. Later, I'll glide down to the lake and hop in the paddle boat with my musty, bound book and push off into the middle of the water, breaking up the reflection of the puffy-cloud sky.

A breeze rocks the boat as I turn from page to page.

But I don't live on Prince Edward Island. I live in Richmond where the days are hot, sticky and there isn't a bug-free, snake-free meadow even in our dreams. We've hit 100°F almost everyday for about three weeks here in the former capital of the Confederacy.

The books get soggy with ... feminine glow, not sweat ... if you try to read outside. The animals laugh at you if you walk out with your book, waiting for the cool breeze.

I'm going to share my resources for summer reading during those "thank you, dear Lord, for whomever invented air conditioning" days. Yes, it's high-tech and yes, you have to have a computer to read these, but that's just one more opportunity to be grateful for what we have.

And for what we don't need to have, namely a sweat-soaked summer dress in a field as we slowly bake to death.

First of all, CatholicFiction.net. Need I say more?

If you're a fan of all things fiction, but you want to be sure you're entertaining yourself outside the confines of a harlequin novel or the fiction-version of "Knocked Up," hit up Idylls Press' website.

They even provide a list of free e-books, with the suggestion that if you enjoy them and you can donate, to indulge the urge. The next book lined up on my Nook (yes, I'm going new-fashioned. It prevents the soggy-book-effect) is The Innocence of Fr. Brown by G.K. Chesterton.

I know many people hold to the idea that books should have pages that crease and tear and ink that leaks down the page when the crying scenes are just that good, but let me remind you of the beauties of air conditioning...

Give it a chance at no cost to you. Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo (as well as many other resources, I'm sure) provide free computer/tablet/smart-phone-based applications
for e-reading. Simply download the application and download the free (or not free, whichever floats your indoor, sweat-free boat) e-books and go to town.

If you are interested in more free stuff, never forget our e-vangelizing tools from my post earlier this year. Make sure you visit FreeForCatholics.com, as well, and peruse some of the free or cheap items that companies and organizations are willing to send to us.

So you want to walk away from this post with some titles?

Spiritual must-reads:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert
  • My review for this book gets a surprisingly high number of hits every week, even three months after I read it. I continue to benefit from the explanations it provided for me and I hope enough teens get their hands on it before they start making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their life.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • When a priest suggests a book, you read it. A priest suggested this... it's time to read it.
To read for fun:

Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • The greatest Austen novel, in my opinion.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • I don't know that I can back up this book as fine literature or an astute political piece, but it was a relatively safe way to get inside the fictionalized head of someone who found a reason to support abortion and an alternative way of life, in a "mild" way. If you want to try to understand why people disagree with the Church on things like the Sanctity of Life and Theology of the Body, this is a quick read.
If you're anything like me, dear reader, you're always looking for a suggestion for a good book to read. Rather than making a trip to the store or trusting the Amazon reviews, consider signing up for Library Thing. You can make a list of all the books you can remember reading and filter through the suggestions that like-minded readers provide!

Happy trails! Stay cool...

... I'm off to day dream of a perfect reading corner.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Holy Day Off

If this is your first post you've found on this blog, WELCOME! Please enjoy and consider subscribing to the RSS feed for more!

Yesterday's Gospel reading is a story we hear many times throughout our life growing up with the Church.

"'Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.' Then he said, 'Bring them here to me,' and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full" -Matthew 14:17-20

Catholics love this story! It's Eucharistic, full of the symbolism we love, and it reminds us of the good old days when people crowded into one area, sitting down knee-to-knee to pay attention to Jesus.

From the John account of this story, we learn that the crowd was at least 5000 men full. We stand in awe at Jesus' ability to turn five loaves and two fish into enough to feed his listeners.

Many find themselves defending the miraculous and others try explaining a logical reason that He made the food multiply. As my priest mentioned in the homily yesterday, we tend to get caught up in the miraculous and "the proof" upholding the story.

We worry about defending a miracle. We trip up in the face of the hard questions.

Perhaps those in the crowd packed a bag of food to feed their families. Perhaps they shared with those around them, enriching the miraculous with selflessness like Jesus preached. Maybe the Gospel writers just neglected to report that Bartholomew/Nathaniel went on a pizza run.

Rather than concentrating on the miracle, an integral part of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, let's consider the other factors. What can we absolutely recognize in the account?

Five-thousand men walked to a deserted area, listened to Jesus, mimicking what we now recognize as a Sunday church service. It was not the Sabbath, otherwise someone would be up in arms about Jesus speaking to the crowds or performing a miracle.

Therefore, we can conclude these people either walked away from their normal work duties, leaving the fish sorting for later, or spent their limited free time with the teacher from Nazareth.

No one had a college degree. Their country was occupied by Rome and they were also ruled by the high-ranking Jewish priests. No one had an easy life, yet they carved out the time to listen to Jesus preach.

How often do we do that? We have a whole faith tradition and several community pockets supporting our belief system and we still struggle to make time for Him.

These people just thought he was a good teacher; they had no reason but His caring speech to project that He was as special as He was.

(I don't own the rights)
Do we treat time with Jesus like these first listeners did? To what activities in our lives do we dedicate that time?

Often, I'm quick to miss Mass because it's inconvenient. When I was swimming, I missed Mass every single weekend I had a swim meet.

Sometimes we easily convince ourselves that God will Love us whether or not we make it to Mass to share in the Word and Eucharist. We're fortunate, because He will Love us, no matter what we do.

But since when do we want to give Him "just enough?"

Leave work, leave the things the occupy your mind most of the week, leave your fears about stories such as these. Come join the community of listeners and share in the Eucharistic meal.
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