Monthly Archives: June, 2007

Catholic Carnival 125

Jen from Daughter of the King posted this week’s carnival. These last few weeks have had a really nice theme thing going. It fits the spirit of the carnival to let a theme develop naturally by the working of the Spirit in our writing.

Elena of My Domestic Church wrote a beautiful post about being open to life. I am so thankful for the Internet because of moments like these, when I read about two women who understand how God calls us to use our fertility. I don’t know if I would ever have made it back to the Church without the wealth of information I found on and via excellent websites. I had never heard of NFP offline. I have no idea if I’ll even have the opportunity to try it (I think getting married first might make that easier), but I think I want to. I listened last week to the acclaimed talk “Contraception: Why Not?” on a CD I picked up from the CSC. I was trying to multi-task, so I wasn’t completely focused, but it all sounded great to me.

Jen herself posted about the need to pray for vocations. How right she is. She cited a statistic that there is one priest for every 14,000 Catholics in her diocese (she didn’t say which one). Fourteen thousand. I was stunned. I pray for vocations every day. One person can only pray so much, though. Jen also posted about her own discernment process. She feels called to be the mother of a priest, which I think is a wonderfully close second to actually being one. I can only hope for such clear discernment in my own life.

Matthew (formerly Moneybags, still from A Catholic Life) posted his extended responses to an Our Sunday Visitor reporter’s questions about priestly celibacy. He’s entering seminary this year, so his opinion is definitely valuable. I like that he cites Scripture in his reply. Too many Catholics now don’t have a good command of the Bible; he is certainly not one of them.

Catholic Carnival 124

It’s been up at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering for nearly a week, but I only got the notification email today. Sarah did a great job organizing it. She really showed us how hosting the Catholic Carnival can be so much more than a simple list of links.

At Mothers of Many Saints, Hope writes about the importance of holy water to her family. I had never realized you could have holy water in your home until I went to my family’s new parish for the first time. In the small narthex, there is a large metal tank near the wall marked “holy water,” complete with a spigot. I’m always half tempted to bring a bottle and fill it. I tend to spill things, though, so I’m wary of accidentally blessing the carpet.

Ian at Musings from a Catholic Bookstore begins a series on why people don’t buy from Catholic stores. He’s got a few really good, though testy, points. (He warned me.) My excuse is that I’m a student without a car (except for this summer). I can’t afford to spend much, and I can’t get to Catholic stores all that often. I did go to the Shrine for my last purchase of Catholic things, which was greatly aided by a ride from FOCUS Liz. I think I’m more likely to buy gifts than books from a Catholic store, though, because of my transportation issues, and because I don’t necessarily have to see a book in person to decide whether I want it. He has convinced me to try hunting down that Catholic store in Waldorf the next time I go home and have money for Catholic shopping. (Catholic shopping: no elbowing to get to the rack first.)

A Spiritual Educational Philosophy

The Holy Father gave an address to a convention of the Diocese of Rome. (Why is it not an archdiocese?) Seeing ZENIT‘s title for it (“There Is Talk of a Great ‘Educational Emergency'”) immediately drew me in.

This is an inevitable emergency: in a society, in a culture, which all too often make relativism its creed—relativism has become a sort of dogma–in such a society the light of truth is missing….

So how would it be possible to suggest to children and to pass on from generation to generation something sound and dependable, rules of life, an authentic meaning and convincing objectives for human existence both as an individual and as a community?

For this reason, education tends to be broadly reduced to the transmission of specific abilities or capacities for doing, while people endeavour to satisfy the desire for happiness of the new generations by showering them with consumer goods and transitory gratification. Thus, both parents and teachers are easily tempted to abdicate their educational duties and even no longer to understand what their role, or rather, the mission entrusted to them, is.

Yet, in this way we are not offering to young people, to the young generations, what it is our duty to pass on to them. Moreover, we owe them the true values which give life a foundation.

However, this situation obviously fails to satisfy; it cannot satisfy because it ignores the essential aim of education which is the formation of a person to enable him or her to live to the full and to make his or her own contribution to the common good.

As a teacher, a godmother, a Confirmation sponsor, and a Catholic, I find this fascinating. My classmates last semester who graduated in May had to interview for admission to the master’s degree program. Vanessa mentioned that, during the interview, she was asked what her (English) teaching philosophy is. (Mine is that all people love reading once they find the right book.) Thursday on Life on the Rock, a former Notre Dame football coach insisted that football prepared his players for life. After Remember the Titans, I can understand that. My task as a teacher isn’t just to get my students passing test scores, but to help them understand literature and language, why they matter, and their significance in their lives (and not get fired in the process). All the popular movies about great teachers (Stand and Deliver, Music of the Heart, and more recently, Freedom Writers) have little to do with test scores. Those teachers changed their students on a personal, relational, spiritual level. The Holy Father is talking about an educational philosophy.

An essential priority of our pastoral work [is] to bring close to Christ and to the Father the new generation that lives in a world largely distant from God.

In practice, this guidance must make tangible the fact that our faith is not something of the past, that it can be lived today and that in living it we really find our good. Thus, boys and girls and young people may be helped to free themselves from common prejudices and will realize that the Christian way of life is possible and reasonable, indeed, is by far the most reasonable.

I experience this every time I encounter Catholic youth. Our task as Christians is to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). The youth are part of those nations. I even experience it when I talk about faith with fallen-away or non-Catholics. I love Christ so much, with every part of my being, that I am bursting to share him with everyone I can find.

This is what makes me want to try teaching Catholic school. Is it possible to be too Catholic for public school?

Knowing that B16 and JPII were both teachers explains their grace at relating faith to education. It also gives me hope that my teacher’s mind will help me as I make up for a good decade of lost catechesis in my own life.

Learning to Love The Book

I doubt I’ll ever manage to catch up with my Bible-in-a-year plan. Working 40 hours a week doesn’t leave me much time. I’ve been getting in one reading per day, though. I promised, as per the instructions in my plan, not to give up even if I fell behind, and I’m sticking to it. I will read the whole Bible eventually, all 73 books. So far, I’ve finished Genesis, Exodus, a third of the Psalms, and the Gospel of Matthew. I’m almost done with Leviticus, which will be a relief.

I’ve been reading the Bible daily for two years now. Somehow, it is still a joyful surprise when I learn new things. Reading a Gospel straight through is enlightening. As Alex wrote today, I can see the “big picture.” I studied the Gospel of Luke with Tim and Ali sophomore year, and I read the Gospel of Mark in two days last summer (the first chunk during adoration). It’s a completely different experience than hearing the pericopes at Mass or knowing them as individual vignettes. From the beginning of each Gospel account, you know where it’s headed, and you can see it going there. Jesus tells all his parables in one long string, and you understand why the apostles were puzzled (and probably tired of hearing all those stories!) The Passion unfolds continuously from Palm Sunday right on through to Good Friday, then Easter. My mental outline was filled in with the details.

I’ve also noticed that Biblical typology is not as hard as one might think. For example, I studied salvation history with FOCUS Liz last year. Exodus 24 describes Moses and the chief men of the people engaging in a sort of proto-Mass: splashing blood upon the altar, reading the books of the law aloud to the people, eating and drinking together. As soon as we read that chapter, I immediately saw the relationship to the Mass,and I’m pretty dense about symbolism. Leviticus 12:1-8 reinforced my understanding of the Presentation (Luke 2:22-24) as Mary and Joseph’s following Jewish law. Even today, as a bonus, reading Stephen’s speech to the council (Acts 7), I realized early on that I was getting a recap of everything we discussed about salvation history. I glanced down at the cross-references, and sure enough, they started with Genesis 11 and ran straight through to Exodus.

I have been a book lover since before I knew how to read. One of my biggest regrets is not reading the Bible sooner. (There’s that whole lapse in/lack of faith, too.) The Bible is The Book. And now I can honestly say that it’s one I treasure above all others.

Catholic Carnival 123

Catholic Carnival 123 has been up at Deo Omnis Gloria for days, but I only got around to visiting it tonight.

I enjoyed “Widor a la Borge” at Christus Vincit, which includes a video where two organists take turns playing one piece on a single organ. It’s hard to explain, but pretty cool to watch.

Catholic Fire offers “A Taste of Heaven on Earth Awaits You,” reflections on the Eucharist for Corpus Christi. Jean includes another YouTube video, but this one is about the Eucharist, of course. It’s done by Jeff of Scripture Catholic. His theme is that as Catholics, we don’t have to imagine what it will be like to meet Jesus face to face. We get to do it all the time! In the Mass, we get to eat him, but even in Eucharistic adoration, we can gaze upon his face in worship, no imagination required.

I’m pretty sure none of the members of MercyMe (whose song “I Can Only Imagine” is the soundtrack for the video) are Catholic, but they need to be. One morning, as I was brushing my hair, “Here With Me” came on the radio. For the first (and to date, only) time, I started singing along and started to cry. The lyrics touched me in a way they never had before. I didn’t have to imagine having Jesus here with me; I got to do it that very day at daily Mass.

I long for your embrace
Every single day
To meet you in this place
And see you face to face
[…]

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

Thank you, Lord, for being truly present to us.

A Little Into It

I just finished watching over two hours of free streaming concert footage of “Rock the Boat,” the Evan Almighty/Habitat for Humanity promo concert featuring DecembeRadio, Relient K, Jeremy Camp, and Switchfoot. It was so awesome. I had to wait forever to get the link to watch it because Hollywood Jesus was inundated by the traffic, and the video ran 1-3 seconds behind the audio, but I loved it anyway.

I think I’d heard of DecembeRadio before, but I’d never heard their music. They were cool, though definitely more on the hard rock end of the Christian rock music spectrum. Relient K came next. I hadn’t realized Matt, the lead singer, played keyboard for so many of their songs. It reminds me of when MuteMath opened for the Switchfoot concert I went to. Their lead singer plays only keyboard, so they had him on an extension from the stage, and he was much harder to see than any of the other guys. But they had a keytar, so it evened out. I’ve been listening to Pandora Radio at work, and one of my stations is seeded by Relient K and Switchfoot. “Sadie Hawkins Dance” is such a fun song. I hoped they’d play it, but I got “Life After Death and Taxes” instead. Fair trade. They’re a bit like the much cleaner, more Christian version of Fallout Boy in that sense. Plus, one of the guitarists also played bells and banjo.

I don’t think I’d ever actually seen Jeremy Camp before. He was much more like a rock star than I’d expected. When I hear his songs on my Wow Hits CDs or WGTS on the radio, he sounds much more CCM/adult contemporary than he did in concert. I liked it. I also liked how he made his plug for Jesus and the beauty of the gospel in his life without sounding too preachy. It fit well. He led a sing-along for “Right Here”: “I’m going to lead the guys to sing the first line, and then Randy will lead the girls for the second. So guys, be nice and manly, and girls…Randy.” (I don’t think he knows that’s already an adjective.) So then Randy broke out a hilarious falsetto to lead the girls. It was great.

Finally, Switchfoot came on. They started with “Stars,” which is always gold. At the end of “This Is Your Life,” I think Jon was playing his guitar with his tongue. “Got a little into that one,” he said. “Just a little bit,” I replied to my computer screen. He introduced the guys, including “Jerome Fontamillas, on keyboard, on guitar, on tambourine, and singing. He’s like Prince, except he doesn’t have a purple guitar. I’m trying to convince him, though.”

Switchfoot’s performance was amazing, even in its cut-down, streamed form. Jon still does the “Cowboy Song,” which for the occasion went like this:

I’m not a comedian because I’m not funny
Every time I try to make a joke, it won’t sell
That’s why they didn’t cast me as Evan Almighty,
And instead they chose my buddy Steve Carrell.

Then he played the harmonica. I was so excited, it was like I was there. I chose not to yell the words, though, because I’m at home this weekend, and I don’t think my family would have liked that very much.

I love how much energy they put into all their songs. Jon spent about a third of their set playing and singing at his mike, and the other two-thirds leaping onto Chad’s drums or running around the stage and jumping on amps. You can tell they do it because they love it, and we get all the benefits, and get to join in for audience singing where everyone knows all the words.

Communion of Saints

Yesterday was the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, renowned finder of lost keys. I’ve been feeling really shut in lately, since I work 40 hours a week and can’t really afford to go do anything right now. I noticed an ad in the Catholic Standard last week for a solemn Mass for St. Anthony at the Franciscan Monastery in D.C. and decided to plan a trip. I don’t have money for the gas to go all over the place, but if there’s anything I’ll spend money on, it’s church.

“Planning a trip” turned into going by myself. I almost didn’t make it. There were thunderstorms on and off yesterday. I need new windshield wiper blades, and I’m a nervous driver anyway, so the idea of driving to an unfamiliar location was unsettling. I’d also never driven into D.C. by myself before. The rain broke before I left work, and I managed to get a real person instead of a recording to confirm the Mass time, so I filled up my gas tank, hurried home to eat, and set out.

On my way to the parking garage, I double- and triple-checked that the directions were as straightforward as they seemed. I also said a calm, confident prayer to St. Christopher to guide me to the monastery safely. I left early enough to take my time getting there. My radio won’t work since my dad’s replacing the battery switched on the anti-theft lockout, so it was a quiet ride. I drove straight there under clear skies and found a space in the parking lot. I swear to you, it was the last space in that lot. As faithful as I am, I was a little surprised to have made it without a hitch. I walked up to the driveway of the monastery, following the other people toward the church. To my right, in the middle of the circular driveway, I saw a large bronze statue of a man with a walking stick and a child on his shoulders. I thought, “No way!” Sure enough, that image of St. Christopher was waiting for me. I thanked him again as I went inside.
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