Saturday, February 25, 2012

Instruct the Uninformed - 7QT, Volume 54

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Have you ever been an Extraordinary Minister? What we used to call "Eucharistic Ministers," we should now call "Extraordinary Ministers." That is my first instruction in this 7 Quick Takes version of this week's Bright Maiden's topic on the first Spiritual Work of Mercy, "Instruct the Uninformed."

This is a tough task to ask of people trying to attract others to the Faith. To "instruct the uninformed" or to "instruct the ignorant," as it is often stated, sounds arrogant. As if we must bless others with the knowledge we have and they go without. But how often do we welcome instruction when we really need it?

Isn't that what all of those college loans are for? Aren't you glad to learn the tips and tricks you find on how to make life easier on Pinterest? When you're unsure about something, don't you wish someone would just set the record straight?

This is where we come in. Extraordinary Ministers hold the great position of distributing the Eucharist to His people. We actually give Jesus to hundreds of people.

"This is the Body of Christ" -- Words of true weight pass our lips for fifteen minutes.

So what do you do when someone approaches you and obviously doesn't know what you're about to give them?

In most situations (ie, apathetic teens), we can only instruct with "This is the Body of Christ," saying it with purpose. However, when someone is chewing gum, they are obviously ignorant of what they're doing and unprepared to receive the Eucharist.

A fellow EM of mine says that when a parishioner approaches him with gum showing in the corners of their mouth, he leans down and says, "I can't serve you with gum in your mouth. Go spit it out and then get back in line, please."

It sounds harsh, but those who chew gum moments before receiving the Eucharist really shouldn't receive at all. They haven't prepared for it. However, that moment is a moment wherein this person could completely turn away from the Church out of embarrassment or recognize that this EM is giving them a second chance.

Then they work out the rest with God.

One of my biggest pet peeves as an EM is a silly little ritual many parishioners at my church go through and I would love your input on how to handle it. Several married couples will approach me together, wait for me to give them both the Eucharist, and then receive it together.

ARGH! I should be concentrating on ministering, and I usually snap back into it. Quite frankly, when they stand side-by-side, I think, "Y'all are consuming the Eucharist! You're in full Communion with EVERYONE who has ever consumed the Eucharist! You're in full Communion with Christ! Why do you feel you have to add this extra bit of 'specialness?'"

I've settled on the decision to just administer to the Eucharist to these folks rather than whispering, "I'll serve you, one at a time." What do you think we should do in this case, Extraordinary Ministers out there? Is this silly to you or are you ready to throw a punch at me?


A friend once went to Mass and sat behind a young boy who, upon returning from the Eucharist line, proceeded to rip the Eucharist wafer into little pieces and tossing them into the air. He caught the pieces and threw them up in the air again.

Horrified, my friend's husband asked the boy if he was going to consume the Eucharist, while the boy's mom sat a few feet away.

It made no disturbance in the pew, my friend held out his hand as the boy poured the pieces into his hand, and he consumed it.

This is instructing the ignorant.

On twitter the other day, a self-proclaimed "holiday Catholic" said he was going to get the "crackers and wine" and he needed to find a place to get them and ashes.

Because Twitter is a great e-vangelizing forum, even if our efforts there only plant seeds, I decided to reach out. My first thought on this one was, "Why do you care to go at all if you think they're crackers and wine?" I corrected him and wished him good fortune in finding a place he liked. These are easy ways to instruct the uninformed because we don't have the direct confrontation.


Another Twitter encounter occurred the other day between me, Kate, Karianna, and "Feminist Breeder." You can see some of those points here and here.

The Catholic Church is not anti-gay, as Feminist Breeder was saying, and we wanted to set her straight. Karianna said, "Anti-gay not fair. Catholicism calls for all singles to remain chaste, gay or not." Kate followed up with, "And sin is sin, we're all equally sinful - Church is anti-sin, not anti-gay."

We need to inform those who think poorly of the Catholic Church as well as those who are tossing pieces of Jesus into the air at Mass.


I don't know whether or not my roommate thinks poorly of the Catholic Church, but I don't think she was familiar with Natural Family Planning methods. The other day, I told my new roommate that I am interested in using NFP as a wife and she said, "Is that like biorhythms?"

Thanks to folks like Katie, I got to explain to her, no, NFP is not like the rhythm method anymore. I explained that the rhythm method was used back in the 1930s and that we know a lot more about how best to avoid or to achieve pregnancy while keeping God in our bedrooms.

I also used the opportunity to explain that most of the methods are at least 97% effective when used properly (which relies on married couples communicating -- another benefit), which is far more promising than something like condoms. The error margin of condom use increases exponentially with every use (statisticians, help me learn how best to explain this, please!), while NFP methods remain effective as long as couples chart and communicate.

Every little conversation plants a seed and every little bit of ignorance we can rub out of the world leaves more opportunities for the Lord to work. This is our calling!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Combining Gilbert and Wentworth

Yes, I'm cheating by doing this in Quick Takes form... a week after the topic was published.
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This topic was meant to be a light one, just in time for Valentine's Day, because no matter your vocation or marital status, there have been and always will be literary men in your life. As Liesl explained in her literary crush piece, "Excuse me while I swoon:" 
I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.
We are who God created us to be when He first knew us, before He formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are His children, at our core, no matter what additional outer layers we allow others or the world to attach to us.

When you KNEW you could fly
My college art show focused on a related phenomenon: the concept of memory and how your life changes and experiences change your perspective on memories.

For instance, Anne of Green Gables was one of my first chapter books. Therefore, my perspective as a 5 or 6-year-old reading about Anne's contentious relationship with Gilbert Blythe was simplified. I might have picked up on their undertones, but I certainly didn't analyze it and try to apply my results to my own life like I did as a teen.

My perspective as a happy, confident, and in-Love 24-year-old reading this classic is less analytical and involves far more guffaws at some of my previously similar behaviors. Oh Anne, you're almost as clueless as I was a few years ago!

I can only imagine that I will revisit my 24-year-old perspective as an older woman and share a few more guffaws with and at myself. It's a cycle, folks, so embrace it!


Say a prayer that everyone may shed the extra layers
This whole concept rests on the notion that we are who God created us to be at our core. My favorite quick quote is JP2's "Family, become what you are." As Catholic Christians, we believe God created our souls and and gave them a home in our bodies.

Our souls should come first in the health pecking order, but many times we feed our body and our pleasures first.

Throughout our lives, we pack on outer layers of junk. I know I formed some weird habits during my tween to teen years. We all add habits and mannerisms to ourselves in order to fit in or do what we think will be best for us. Unfortunately, this is often only "best" for us in our pleasure-seeking short term.

Praise God, we're still US at our core. Through discernment, prayer, the will of God, and sometimes an Ah-Ha moment, we can shed these outer layers and reveal who we were created to be.


This inner person, the core, is the one with whom others fall in Love! This is who Gilbert noticed about Anne, not her red hair or temper. I believe he fell for the passion that motivated the temper.

Captain Wentworth tried his best to forget about his Anne, the one who broke his heart. He thought he healed from the romance bruise, but as soon as he saw her again, seven years later, and noticed her resolve, clear-headedness, and strength, he shed the blinders.

JulieLiesl, and Sarah mentioned these fine fellows, and rightly so. I used to think that I Loved Gilbert because he was just a nice, intelligent country boy who is part of an example of an iconic Love story. I once thought I swooned over Capt. Wentworth because he secretly pined over Anne and then wrote a beautiful letter to make his affection known.

It's both more complex and more simple than that: they Loved their Annes to their core and recognized the lovable qualities buried deep in them. Once more, swoon with me. This is why they are so swoon-worthy. Gilbert embraced Anne's Anne-ness from the beginning and Capt. Wentworth couldn't fall out of Love with his Anne, even after years and distance.

These are the men we want, ladies. Go find them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our bleeding hearts

For the first time in 2012, I'm posting over at IGNITUM TODAY:

"Do you think they want to die? Tell me, do you think the people training the suicide bombers want to die? Do you? Do you think they want to die?
The inquisitor exacerbated his vile prodding by point his finger a few inches from my face. Such are the consequences we face by standing up for our faith in this country.
Last week I travelled to the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for my job. I was charged with standing by our booth display, meeting and greeting as many people as possible, and passing out free swag.
It was invigorating to meet so many new people in four days, but exhausting to let my head back in the political banter realm I’ve been avoiding for more than a year.
Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney spoke at this 12,000+ attendee conference, spouting about conservative values and carefully reserving more folks for their niche of supporters through careful speechwriting. Many Catholic bloggers out here have thrown their support behind one candidate or another, as if voting for any of them would come without conscience reservations at the ballot box.

As seen at CPAC - seriously.
For this reason, and for a simple and juvenile refusal to accept that this is the best we can do, I have gone on a light political fast. However, “tabling” at this event, swarming with frustrated and energized conservatives, put a temporary end to my poli-diet. CPAC week was a steady build up of anxiety in reaction to the constant complaints about Obama, the loyalty to the firearm, and the debates between sticker-wielding supporters of Romney, Newt, and Santorum.

I found myself in the tough position of agreeing with many talking points being passed around, but strongly disagreeing with so many others. I'm Catholic, not R, D, or L.
All-in-all it started to wear on me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Oh, hello - 7QT, Volume 53

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I discovered something about myself a few years ago. My passionate nature allows me to focus intensely on three things at one time. The fourth thing either bounces off my passion shield (Be gone, archery! We have no room for you here!) or schooches its way into my heart. 
Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Of course, said schooching fills me to the brim (I run full steam ahead with three passions) and one lonely item must leave the nest for a little while.

I think you know what lost out this time around.


1. Because my personal relationships started to get elbowed out because of number two...
2. I got a part-time job as a youth activities coordinator at my church. It was the tipping factor that indirectly asked me to bop out one of my intensities.

At first, I thought I could do it all. I was going to ORGANIZE myself into success. It's a pipe dream I'm determined to fulfill, but for now the solution was to leave blogging out in the cold.

So youth ministry is completely different than I thought it would be! I have taught Theology of the Body to teens for almost two years now, but that requires so little prior preparation that I was fooled into thinking youth ministry was as carefree.

It's invigorating and fulfilling, while poking dozens of tiny holes in my reality. I thought I was an organized person (and a psych test agrees... more on that later), but this job has made me realize I need to ENFORCE organization on myself. It doesn't just take care of itself.


Coin Rubbage
One step in becoming more organized is also my next big piece of news: I'm moving out of my parents' house! I moved into this house as a toddler and I'm moving out a month before my 25th birthday.

To those graduating in May:

Your decision to live at home depends entirely on your discernment and your parents' willingness/insistence. The first thing anyone says when I tell them I "still live at home" is, "ALRIGHT, YOU'RE SMART!" accompanied by their fingers rubbing imaginary coins together in front of my face.

While, yes, I did save money (while paying a reduced rent), the best benefit of "staying at home" is precisely what you took for granted throughout your senior year of high school:

No one can quantify the value of coming home to people who love you. To wake up in a house where I brought home my first "A," while my now-landlords clapped and squealed in excitement is invaluable to me. My wonderful parents and I reconnected as adults and I learned more from them in the last two, perspective-rich years than I did since that first homework assignment.

Thank you, Mommy and Daddy! I'm moving on to learn more, but I love the home you created between all of us.


My areas of interest. So I like art.
My full-time job provided me with the opportunity to take the Birkman assessment. Ask my family and my beau and they will tell you I can't shut up about it.

Ask me and I tell you I'm enthusiastic about it because I'm a big picture thinker who likes to see how things work out with a plan.

It's SO COOL to have a computer tell you, "Hey, you're insightful, you like to work in smaller groups, but too much solitude is bad for you. When you're stressed out, you will try to withdraw and procrastinate, so try to avoid that by setting up your environment with plenty of organization and time to complete your tasks."

WHAT IS COOLER than seeing your habits and brain quantified? I think I talk about it exactly the right amount of time. Beau? Care to comment? :)


Bright Maidens announcement time!

We're thinking about switching things up! This change would be reflected in the calendar (click the link, copy the URL, and use it to "subscribe" in your calendar application or format), so we'd like to hear what you think.

The topic that normally falls on a Tuesday will pertain to an entire week. Instead of asking you to write to a one-day deadline, we're giving all of us a chance to wake up a little during the week.

If you have time to write your piece for Monday, have at it! If you want to explain why you think Gilbert Blythe is the ultimate man in 7 short bullet points, please, be our guest and wait until Friday!

I hate over-using the word "busy," especially before I have children, so I won't.... but it might be nice to inject a little flexibility into the week. What do you think?
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