Monthly Archives: May, 2008

Catholic Carnival 173

I’m playing catch-up again, as usual. Carnival 173, hosted by the fabulous Sarah R., is also helping me stay busy while I wait for my laundry to finish, but no time spent reading is time ill spent.

Heidi offers us “In the Company of God…and Mary…and Mom,” the replay of her defensive conversation with her mother about Catholic versus non-Catholic Christianity. Thankfully, I’ve never had that conversation with my mom, but I can sense that it’s coming. My whole family has been Catholic since my dad converted three years ago, the same year my brother received First Communion and I came back to the Church. I’m still the most involved. ACE is my first big step into the land of pervasive everyday Catholicism, though. It’s helping my parents realize that my reversion isn’t just a fad. I don’t want to make them feel bad, and I don’t think I’m better than everyone–there are plenty of faithful non-Catholic Christians out there who make me look like a Satanist! I just know that God has challenged me to really live up to his call, so I’m doing it.

Matt’s story of a rather noisy period of adoration at Absolutely No Spin makes me appreciate silence. Before Sunday Mass and during the Communion hymn, I always have some trouble focusing, but God helps me find the quiet space in my heart that I need to communicate with him. I relate most closely to Matt’s humble frustration when I go to Mass with my family. I pray for a few minutes in thanksgiving after Mass. They don’t. Sometimes I find them standing in the aisle, waiting for me to finish, which makes me feel rushed. I don’t fault them; I only started making thanksgiving relatively recently. I just wish things could be different between us.

Denise, the Catholic Matriarch, comments on holy matrimony versus civil marriage. Now that California is messing around with the definition of marriage again, some Catholic theological scholars are proposing that the Church should stop enacting civil marriages at the same time it does sacramental ones. The state (of California, at least) and the Church consider marriage to be two very different things. In a fascinating turn, Denise notes that in states that affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman, sex is seen as both unitive and procreative, as in the Church. Without the intrinsic procreative dimension, marriage can be defined far more loosely.

Alessandro of Miserere writes about “The Right (and Duty) to Kneel.” I agree that the Eucharist doesn’t receive the reverence and love owed by the faithful. I disagree that kneeling is the only way to show this. I think communion/altar rails are great, and though I’ve never been to a Tridentine Mass, I’d like to attend one someday. I’m somewhat biased, since kneeling and genuflecting are so difficult for me with my weak knee, but I think a deep bow can be just as satisfactory. It works even better for me, on some level, because I don’t bow to anyone or anything else, and I’m not grimacing in pain while being united with the Real Presence. I’d rather push for greater reception of the Eucharist on the tongue than for reception while kneeling. After the train wreck that is the “Spirit of Vatican II,” we might be best taking things very, very slowly.

Finally, Alessandro also collates opinions on “good enough” marriages. As I wrote about yesterday, the new feminism has a new view on marriage and children. There’s some wisdom in marrying Mr. Good Enough as opposed to waiting too long for Mr. Perfect. Another FOCUS Conference talk I listened to, Libby McCartney’s “Can a Catholic Woman Have It All?” suggested similar ideas. Women can certainly have marriage, a family, and a career, but not necessarily all at the same time. Sometimes God asks us to have faith that the ones he sends us are the best, whether we recognize that or not.

A Revelation on the Trinity

It’s no secret that I love Msgr. Stuart Swetland, currently a professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, where all my favorite seminarians go to school. He’s given two talks here at UMD, both of which blew me away. His talk on love helped me understand so much more about what the Church teaches. He can speak to a group of people at various stages and depths of spiritual growth and reach everyone simultaneously and individually. You can see the Spirit so clearly in him.

This morning, I was listening to his “Introduction to Social Teaching” talk from FOCUS Conference. Our wonderful missionary team bought mp3 CDs to share with everyone who went to Conference, and since I don’t have an iPod, I listen to them as I iron, paint my toenails, or get dressed. In his talk, Msgr. Swetland was discussing the Holy Trinity. God exists as three Persons who are simultaneously one God. God the Father, Creator of all things, is his own real, perfect, tangible Person. His Word and thoughts, the Logos, is so real, perfect, and tangible that it is manifested as its own Person, Jesus Christ. The love between God the Father and Jesus is so real, perfect, and tangible that it is manifested as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love. That’s pretty basic trinitarian theology.

His next point was the part that made my mind explode. Just as my words, my thoughts, and my love remain part of me even when I share them, so do those of God. They are separate and they are one. I don’t have revelations like that often, but when I do, they remind me of the generosity of our God. When we don’t understand, he helps us. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

The New Feminists

Wendy Shalit posted a link on facebook to an article from the UK Daily Mail about Alice Walker’s daughter. Apparently, Walker, author of the modern classic novel The Color Purple, disowned her daughter for having a child. As a feminist, Walker bought into the lie that “a woman needs a man [or, in this case, a child] like a fish needs a bicycle.” She had a daughter of her own, but actually stopped speaking and writing to Rebecca because she had a son. Wendy was right. The current generation of young women is embracing their natural right to be wives and mothers. Feminists say they want women to have whatever they choose, but marriage and children is never the right choice.

Ordinary People

There’s an article on BustedHalo this week about an archbishop who collaborated with the creator of Roger Rabbit to write a sci-fi novel. No joke. I think this is my favorite example of the unique character of people’s lives. If an archbishop has time and the interest to write science fiction, that shows us how much freedom still remains when one follows God. One of my friends just told me that he’s applying to seminary. He’s had some missteps trying to find the direction God’s laid out for him in the past, but he seems at peace now. In light of the great story of the sci-fi archbishop, that path could take him just about anywhere. It’s good to have a God we can trust.

Lots of Lit Love

I should be studying for my Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Spanish Composition final exams tomorrow. Instead I am being distracted by literature on the Internet. At least it’s relevant.

First, while looking for online quizzes of plot details from Tristram Shandy (a largely fruitless quest, which you’ll know if you read the whole thing like I did), I found DailyLit. The site will send you an email daily, thrice-weekly, or weekdays-only email with a section of dozens of classics books. You can read more than one chunk if you have time, or take it bit by bit. As you’re checking email or RSS feeds, you can finally conquer Great Expectations. I might try it out.

Second, after reading a “stroppy” tirade about the (London) Sunday Times/Faber Literary Book Quiz, I decided to try it. I actually knew three or four from the 2007 competition, one of which I learned in English Lit this semester. It’s so nice to know that I can, in fact, remember random details that no one except rich British publishers cares about.

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