Monthly Archives: May, 2007

Taking Another Crack at the Catholic Carnival

I mean that in a non-battering way, of course. Steven of Book Reviews and More hosted last week’s carnival. Here’s what stood out for me.

Christina at Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae (love the title!) laments the worship music at her parish that fails to actually worship. I can top that.

The Memorial Chapel at UMD is non-denominational. I have absolutely no problem with that. I’ve been to a night of one-act plays performed in the same space where Jesus manifests Himself six days a week at noon. It’s weird, but we transform the space into our house of worship. During finals week, a bunch of red hymnals appeared in the racks in each pew. I was slightly offended at first, because there’s less space for us to put the hymnals we bring out each week for Mass. Curious, I picked up one of them and flipped to a random page. What should I find but these priceless lyrics: “Who is this, neither male nor female? / Who is this, neither woman nor man? / … She is God….” My jaw dropped. Then I laughed and went to show it to Kevin and Martino. Fr. Bill seemed unfazed. I know God is incorporeal, and that men and women both are made in His image, so He is therefore genderless, but give me a break. That song was almost as bad as Katharine Jefferts Schori’s reference to “mother Jesus.” She must have missed an important day of biology class.

Melissa at A Third Way writes about her “well-worn friend”: a St. Gerard prayer booklet. I have a Divine Mercy Chaplet booklet I know the same way. I’ve had it since 8th grade CCD, but it was only last Lent that I finally learned to pray it, and now it’s one of my favorites.

Jean of Catholic Fire posts a great list: “15 Ways to Purity for Men.” I have to share this with the Knights, and not just because of the St. Maria Goretti reference in Tip #1.

Vehige (rhymes with Peggy?) of Thursday Night Gumbo enumerates “The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America.” He is spot-on. I especially agree with #1, Biblical illiteracy. I’ve been working on that in my own spiritual life for almost two years now, and I still have a long way to go. Why aren’t the faithful clamoring for Bible studies? Why did it take me so long to remember to list the Bible as one of my favorite books on facebook? I gave Ryan a book of Bible stories for children last weekend, since I couldn’t find a good children’s Bible. I won’t let them inherit my flaws; I’m starting him young.

Verbing Language

From the Holy Father’s Regina Caeli address today:

Programs that inculcate violence and antisocial behavior or that vulgarize human sexuality are unacceptable, and much more so when they are directed at the young.

I don’t think “vulgarize” is a word in English or whichever language he used for his speech. And if it is, even Calvin and Hobbes agree that it shouldn’t be.

What’s wrong with this picture?

From a Zenit article on the Family Day peaceful protest recently held in Rome:

A father of three, Azzola said that he and his wife are used to comments and questions about their unusually large family.

Clearly, these Italians still have some stragglers, but the majority have the right idea about marriage, family, and children. Now, if we could just get the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban to trip some other laws down the line to overturning Roe v. Wade, maybe we could get the United States whipped into shape, too. And Spain. They need a lot of help.

Listening to My Heart

After Sunday’s experience with my prayers for reversion, I would have thought my next “Hey, there You are!” experience wouldn’t come for a while. I was wrong.

I try to keep up with the Holy Father’s addresses as the translations come through my Zenit feed. Right now, he’s at the episcopal conference in Brazil, so he’s giving a lot of them. First, though, I read his homily at St. Augustine’s tomb in Italy. St. Augustine was, of course, amazing, as was his saintly mother Monica. St. Paul and St. Augustine are probably the biggest help in bringing about conversions, and reversions by extension. Parts of what His Holiness said spoke directly to my heart.

Only those who live a personal experience of the Lord’s love are able to exercise the task of guiding and accompanying others on the way of following Christ.

You have to get your own spiritual life in order before you can help anyone else. This is definitely true. I never would have been able to talk with my friend like I did on Holy Saturday if I hadn’t taken up the mission to self-catechize. I intend to get back on my Bible-in-a-year plan as soon as possible since the semester’s ending, but I’ve kept up with daily Mass and the LOTH. I’m no hypocrite.

The Church is not a mere organization of group events or, on the contrary, the sum of individuals who live a private religiosity. The Church is a community of people.

I’ve been feeling this more lately. After Spring Retreat, the Lord started speaking to my heart about the communal nature of the Church. I have become more extroverted over time, but I’m still an introvert at heart. I have a bad habit of making things about just me and the Lord when, in truth, the Church is a whole body, not just me.

The second address I especially enjoyed was to the youth of Brazil.

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor … and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).

The question in the Gospel does not regard only the future. It does not regard only a question about what will happen after death. On the contrary, it exists as a task in the present, in the “here” and “now”, which must guarantee authenticity and consequently the future. In short, the young man’s question raises the issue of life’s meaning. It can therefore be formulated in this way: what must I do so that my life has meaning? How must I live so as to reap the full fruits of life? Or again: what must I do so that my life is not wasted?

Jesus alone can give us the answer, because he alone can guarantee us eternal life. He alone, therefore, can show us the meaning of this present life and give it fullness.

The meaning of life for me is directly tied to God: To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. The only way I know not to waste my life is to give it all to God. Yesterday, Fr. Bill gave the best homily I’ve heard so far. He even gave us a glimpse into his personal prayer life. The only way to know God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit, is to pray. The best path to prayer is silent. I have silence; it’s *time* that I need.

To understand what is good, we need help, which the Church offers us on many occasions, especially through catechesis. Jesus himself shows what is good for us by giving us the first element in his catechesis: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). He begins with the knowledge that the young man has surely already acquired from his family and from the synagogue: he knows the commandments. These lead to life, which means that they guarantee our authenticity. They are the great signs which lead us along the right path. Whoever keeps the commandments is on the way that leads to God.

“The Church proposes, she imposes nothing. –Pope John Paul II (Redemptoris Missio, 39)

I think about this when people try to rationalize away Church teachings. The rules exist for a reason. Jesus said to follow them, and he put St. Peter in charge. It can’t be that hard to understand.

On a happier note, I am now on a break from finals. I have a comm exam that shouldn’t be too hard, my Spanish exam, and an essay to write, but none of that comes before Thursday afternoon. Many thanks go to my dear guardian angel, St. Thomas Aquinas, and our Lord for getting me through the last week.

The Home Stretch

I’ve been dying this week under the stress of the end of the semester. I had to give a presentation on Monday to a small group in Adolescent Lit. It was very low-pressure, but it still took time to prepare. Then, on Tuesday, my guardian angel kept me calm and focused while I gave a group presentation in rhetoric class. I’m still not sure why we had to present. We weren’t actually making arguments, only explaining them. It was like a smaller oral version of our papers. Presenting also meant I had to stand for half an hour, which was not good for my knee.

Wednesday wasn’t as long as they were for the rest of the semester because we had the day off from Adolescent Lit. I went to work twice, then to the CSC Spring Cookout. I even manged to get in some extra time in front of the tabernacle to make up for the lack of Holy Hour.

Then I came home and started working. I finished my resource unit, which was tedious but easy. Then I wrote my legal brief for Argumentation and Debate, which was kind of confusing and also tedious. They took all night. I tried to stay awake by praying, drinking tea, and eating Tostitos. (It’s hard to fall asleep while chewing.) I finally finished around 3:30am, so I crawled into bed until 5:45. Getting up early was definitely a mistake. I was so lethargic I couldn’t even function until I was back down to my usual start-at-6 schedule. I did manage to get in a solid two hours of notetaking for the in-class part of my rhetoric final, though.

My goal was just to get through Thursday. That’s all I asked my dear guardian angel for, and I got it. I was tired during American Lit, but I managed to get through it. I think I might have done okay on the rhetoric exam. Comm ran nice and short since we only had four speeches. I came home, ate lunch, and napped for an hour. Rarely do I have such good naps. My eyes went down from their puffiness and everything.

Finals week, which started today, is actually not that bad for me. I went to work yesterday morning. It was dead, so I got to work on my rhetoric paper the whole time. I came back to read and send out the lector listserv message, then went to Mass a bit early. The Chapel now comes with a (Yale?) college hymnal in every pew, featuring hymns with lines such as “Who is this, neither male nor female? She is God.” I felt scandalized just reading it. I had lunch with Dean Hamilton and the rest of the UGST Advisory Committee at Adele’s, which was less fun than it used to be because it was Buffet Day and I couldn’t eat the yummy-looking chicken. Then I came home and spent all afternoon, evening, and night working on my rhetoric paper.

This morning, I got up and went to Mass at 10am. I’ll have to ask Fr. Bill if he’ll consider scheduling a once-a-month Saturday morning Mass. He does them about that often anyway. I like it because I have a reason to get up and get going on a Saturday morning. I came home right after Mass and launched back into my paper, stopping only for a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Then I did the take-home part of the final, which also felt too easy considering my lack of reading this semester.

I finished both rhetoric assignments by 2:30. They were due by email at 5. I finished TWO HOURS EARLY! Praise God for His never-ending help!

In related news, the Grotto of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the CSC was dedicated this afternoon. Godincidence, anyone?

Validation

I’m preparing my resource unit for my adolescent literature class. The theme of my unit is death and dying. (Hey, it’s interesting.) As I was trying to figure out which volume of The Best American Short Stories includes “The Lottery”, I came across The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006.

The categories are all pretty genius, but one in particular validates popular culture beyond all the rest: “Best American Things to Know about Chuck Norris.”

Mysterious Ways

God works in ways that we can only hope to understand.

Last summer, I prayed my first ever 54-day rosary novena. I reached a new stage in my vocational discernment, though not the one I expected. Lacy resigned as CDA Regent to spend more time with the MOEs, which I never thought would be the help they needed. My third intention, which I’d rather not divulge, worked out fine.

Friday night, I prayed to St. Joseph for the (re-)conversion of a particular friend whose Catholicism is faltering. Today, I ran into another friend coming out of Mass. He’d previously declared himself a “three Mass a year Catholic,” going only on Christmas, Easter, and Ash Wednesday. Not only had he been at another Sunday Mass, but he was waiting for Msgr. Malloy. The monsignor had announced his availability for confessions after Mass to fulfill the Easter duty. I got a conversion, but not one I’d even really considered. I got that prayer from a TAN booklet I picked up at the MOE’s discussion last week.

I’ll just keep sending my prayers up to the Lord and His Blessed Mother. They’ll direct them where they need to go.

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