Monthly Archives: April, 2014

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 80

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I was getting into such a nice rhythm of posting these right after I came home from dinner after Mass on Sunday nights. Then came this past Sunday, when dinner didn’t happen, so I ate my carryout on the couch while watching The Hunger Games with one of my roommates. So I am not sorry this post this late, and I am trying not to hold it against my friends for flaking on me, even though they kind of did.

Moving on!

Summer has arrived with a vengeance. Our house’s air conditioning decided not to participate in Sunday’s 95-degree heat, so we were forced to employ the wonders of cross-ventilation with windows and ceiling fans. I almost forgot to take my photos before yanking off my church clothes to cope better with the heat!

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Dress: Mossimo for Target
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Necklace: handcrafted souvenir from Belize
Hair ribbon flower: random accessories store at the Round Rock Outlets

This dress is among my favorites. I love the color, the length, and the kimono cut. It was such a warm day that it called for one of my warmest-weather outfits. I even cleaned off my camera lens so my pictures aren’t so blurry!

Mass was… well, glorious since Jesus came. I was disappointed, though, not to hear about the Divine Mercy and only get a brief moment for Saint JPII and Saint John XXIII. We had a visiting priest, an older retired one with a distracting vocal cadence and a habit of speaking much too quickly. I definitely missed some entire phrases (maybe sentences) during his homily—and not for lack of paying attention. He spoke at length about a book he had written, tying it tangentially to the readings. There were so many possible topics: the new saints, the octave of Easter, the Divine Mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the communal life of the apostles. Was he just visiting to plug his book? That seemed like a missed teaching opportunity.

Having no A/C led to a sleepless night. I was grateful for the wonders of technology, but it was tough to be in a house where it was fifteen degrees hotter than it was outside. Sunday was a rough day, but the rest of the week has been looking up. Going to Mass isn’t supposed to be about me or what I can get. This week was a good reminder that all I really need is grace.

Addendum: Fr. Elderly Visitor did remind us all, at the end of the homily, not to leave Mass early. Snaps for him.

Rediscovering Hope (Review: “The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years”)

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I spend about half of my lunch break at work on Facebook, but I like to read something other than statuses and blogs for the second half. When I took this book to work, I was so embarrassed that I was careful to hide the cover. I work for a secular employer, and most of my coworkers are or have been married, so I was especially eager to avoid explaining my ownership of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right. The awkwardness of such a conversation was not worth fighting.

Having read it, though, and reflected on it for a few days, I am not so embarrassed that I couldn’t write this review. I identified with Emily Stimpson’s advice, enjoyed it, and learned too much not to!

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

Featured image by epSos.de.

7 Quick Takes on Real Scandals, a Moon Bounce, and Lazy Hairstyles

— 1 —

It’s been a few weeks since I did a 7QT or any normal lifestyle post. Sorry about that. It means I have some good things to share, though.

My ankle has still been swelling like an orange. It only happens after I take my knee brace off, so I guess it must be on too tight. I do enjoy being able to walk without pain or the risk of falling due to a muscle spasm, though. There must be a happy medium.

— 2 —

The two weekends since I last posted were indeed quite busy. I went to a short-notice rehearsal for lectoring Stations of the Cross on April 11, then a regular rehearsal for Palm Sunday, then a mini-rehearsal for Stations right before leading the actual prayer service, then a friend’s birthday party, then lectored two Masses on Palm Sunday itself. It was exhausting. I also cleaned the house and managed to eat. I’m glad I have the time to fit all of that in, but something about these late twenties is sucking away my energy!

I also lacked the energy (and desire) to jump in the moon bounce my birthday-having friend rented for the party. There’s a reason so few models are not covered with princesses and it has a 600-pound limit. It was a delightful conversation piece, so I’ll give him that.

— 3 —

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Instagram style posts almost require a collage.

I recovered enough during the first few weekdays of Holy Week to enter into the Triduum. I went to all the liturgies from Thursday through Sunday, which was delightful. Maybe next year I’ll have a nice young man to attend them with me. Hear that, God? Is this thing on?

— 4 —

Over at Austin CNM, I have changed my post themes a little bit. I realized after I blew through The Story of a Soul that I was no longer gaining spiritual enrichment from the reading I do for my column. When I didn’t get in my individual reflection time during Eucharistic adoration because I had to finish a book so I could write my post, I always felt awful. That shouldn’t happen.

So I decided to change my posting pattern from “a new book every two weeks” to “a book review, then a critical response to something I read online, then another book.” I’ll still get to gush about my favorite Catholic and Catholic-interest books, but I won’t have to neglect my prayer time, rush through important works, abandon my column, post less frequently, or feel awful. That’s a win on all fronts.

— 5 —

Therefore, last week, I posted a response to an essay by Brantly Millegan about things Catholics do that “rightly scandalize” non-Catholics. I was drawn in by proper use of the term “scandalize” and convicted when I read it. I needed to flesh out my response in more than just a Facebook post. He was absolutely right on all points (although 3 and 4 are so closely related that they probably could have been one item).

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Check out his post and my response, and let me know what you think!

— 6 —

Yesterday, I started an agonizingly long, tedious project at work. I decided that I was entitled to listen to Internet radio while I worked. My old standby has been spotty lately, so I tried a new one and discovered 80s Mixed.

Although I enjoy iTunes Radio, I didn’t want to download iTunes at work and look even more off-task. 80’s Mixed was the perfect middle ground, and (I think; it was a long day) it doesn’t even have commercials.

Tedious tasks are much more enjoyable when completed to the sound of Def Leppard, Billy Ocean, and Madonna. Yep.

— 7 —

Oh, Buzzfeed. As BlimeyCow said, “Buzzfeed is a website that gets a buzz from feeding off your dying brain cells.”

That is usually true. It does not, however, keep me from accidentally spending large chunks of hours (or entire hours) on the site. I have to reassess, though, because I discovered this video of “lazy girl” hairstyles. I clearly don’t have the hair for the “textured” styles, but the first straight hair updo is my new favorite, hands down. I find a fishtail braid trickier than this updo. Enjoy!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 78

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Happy Easter, alleluia!

I completed my four-day church bender this morning, and it was pretty delightful. I wrote about my Holy Thursday and Good Friday activities on Holy Saturday.

I forgot to take a picture before I changed out of my Holy Thursday attire, because it was after midnight and I was about to drop, but it was similar to this outfit I wore for Christmas Eve. I never posted that, so hooray for a new old photo!

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Blouse: Kohl’s, or maybe Sears or another department store
Skirt: Mossimo for Target
Sweater: Old Navy (I wore a lighter neutral one last week)
Shoes: Payless

I try to dress liturgically when possible. Gold is liturgically white, so I wear this skirt for Christmas and Holy Thursday. It’s been a good companion over the years, even when I accidentally ripped out the hem and safety-pinned it until my mom re-stitched it for me one year. Thanks, Mom!

On Good Friday, I usually dress in all black, as I would for a funeral. It kind of is a funeral, after all. I have a few friends who attend our local Maronite parish, and their Good Friday liturgy has an actual burial of Jesus. My go-to skirt was in the laundry from being worn on Sunday, so I had to break out a new one. How bad is it that I was kind of happy to bust out new clothes to commemorate the death of Jesus?

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Top: Target
Skirt: Mossimo for Target (best skirt designer ever!)
Shoes: Old Navy
Scarf: gift from my little brother

I felt weird about my attempt to look cute for the Good Friday Liturgy, but why shouldn’t I? I had the day off work, so I didn’t need to look bedraggled from the tumult of the day. (I work in a shiny office building, but you know what I mean.) And by wearing a modest-length skirt, and a skirt in itself, I am evangelizing in the pews for modest fashion. I call that a win.

I didn’t have to go to the Easter Vigil since I wasn’t working it and have never been a sponsor, but I went anyway because it’s such an incredible liturgy. According to the commentator, it was St. Augustine who called the Vigil “the mother of all liturgies.” I knew my Augustinian heart loved the Vigil for a reason!

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Dress: Kohl’s
Bolero jacket: Target
Shoes: Famous Footwear

This dress is an old standby, but I think it’s time for retirement. I wore it to the wedding of friends, then last Easter Vigil, then the wedding of different friends with a new necklace, then to this year’s Easter Vigil. It’s fallen into a rut and although I adore the color and the way it complements my complexion, I’m all out of ideas for styling it. Maybe as a formal skirt?

I wasn’t fond of some parts of the Vigil—especially that they did the abridged Liturgy of the Word—but I go for Jesus. I can’t tell you how the homily was because there wasn’t one. On Easter! But again, I go for Jesus, and sometimes he’s all that keeps me there.

This morning started out rough because I had to get up extra-early to get my hair done before Mass in the morning. My parish does not have its evening Mass on Easter Sunday (I know), so even though I didn’t have to go after attending the Vigil, I went anyway. You can sacrifice during Easter, too, and since it’s always a good day to grow in holiness, a little sacrifice is good for me.

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It wouldn’t be Sunday without a blurry full-length.

Dress: Spiegel, I think; definitely a catalog
Bolero jacket: same one from Target
Shoes: same ones from Famous Footwear
Belt: Target

This dress is so old that I wore it for my confirmation. In high school. I’m approaching thirty now. I’m pretty sure it was a little big back then. I kept it out of my last clothing donation purge because I thought I could wear it with this belt, and I was right! It was tricky to keep the dress pulled and tucked properly, since it has no waistline, but I much prefer the look to the “almost ankle-length and shapeless” thing it had before. I am also pleased with this belt tie I got from Pinterest.

I went to the overflow Mass (it’s a big parish and was down one Mass anyway) by myself, but I was surprised by some students from my old campus ministry job! It was nice to have company in the “pew.” Our visiting priest gave a delightful homily about faith. Although there is no account of the actual rising of Jesus (like, taking off his burial cloths and rolling the stone away), we have the aftermath, all his prophecies, and the witness of the disciples. That’s what we believe. We have faith to fill in where facts fail.

So I got my Easter homily after all. I met up with friends afterwards for an incredible lunch at Maggiano’s and came home to relax and eat some Reese’s eggs.

And a glorious Triduum was had by all. Happy Easter, alleluia!

Holy Saturday: The Day of Patience

This has been the first Triduum and Easter Sunday that I have not worked in several years. It’s very different than what I’d gotten used to. I’m much less tired, and although I deeply miss watching my little catechumens and candidates become great big grown-up Catholics, I am pleased to be able to observe this holiest of seasons with my new parish.

On Thursday, I remained in adoration of the Lord longer than ever before. I started with Mass at my parish. Their altar of repose was set up in the side chapel, so there wasn’t much room and there wasn’t much of a procession. I dashed back up north to meet my friends for a brief dinner, then we drove to a midtown parish for about an hour. We continued down to the diocesan cathedral, ending the night with our very own Bishop Joe as a surprise visitor. There was so much silence, so much significant time for reflection. It was glorious.

Yesterday, I went to the parish for Stations of the Cross. I wasn’t fond of the particular booklets they used or the alternative song to sing between stations, but I focused myself on the heart of the service: meditating on the Passion, not just having things the way I like them. I went back for the Good Friday Liturgy, which was delightfully haunting, as always.

Then came today. It’s my favorite day of the liturgical year. There is no special liturgy for this day, and it’s over as soon as the Easter Vigil begins. That’s after sundown, so it’s a whole new day.

This year, I am so impatient for Easter to just get here already! I have my candy, my wine, my church clothes. I have a plan for tomorrow, because it just doesn’t feel right to skip Easter Sunday after doing this whole three-day church bender. I’m so excited!

I do have one special Holy Saturday tradition. I usually do it earlier and post this earlier, but today is also laundry day. (“The day of preparation” was good enough for all the Marys, and it’s good enough for me.) I pray the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday. I sing the Stabat Mater as the hymn, and I reflect on the psalms as beacons of hope, not despair.

Then I get to the non-biblical reading for the day. It’s identified as “from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday.” Honestly, I don’t care who wrote it. It could be from last week, and I would still love it, and still shed tears over the hope and peace it brings. With this in mind, I could wait forever for Easter. I could wait forever for Christ.

a stone angel with a garland of flowers in front of a cross

Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

The Lord is coming! He’s almost here! Get ready to rejoice!

What I Wore Sunday, Vols. 77 & 78

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These Sundays just keep sneaking up on me! I swear, I go to Mass every week and take the photos after I get home every week, but I just can’t seem to post them every week. Maybe we can pretend it’s because you like picture-heavy posts.

I’ll start with last week. These are the photos where I try not to make my exhausted face after counting the collection post-liturgy. It was pretty darn cool again, but I neglected to wash my tights before Sunday, so I couldn’t wear them and had to settle for thigh-highs.

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I went bold and decided to wear heels to church again. The right-hand photo is blurry, but you can see the heels better in it.

I have an ongoing internal debate about wearing heels. I’m 5’8″, so wearing heels or wedges puts me above eye-level with most of the guys I know. I used to be really self-conscious about that, but I decided to be less like Tom Cruise (who is routinely filmed at an angle that makes him appear taller than his female costars despite his short stature) and more like Taylor Swift (who is 5’10” barefoot but wears heels whenever she wants). I am tall, and I am owning it!

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I’ve worn this sweater and button-down combo to work before, but never to church, and never rolled up to let the long sleeves peek through. I was really pleased with the look, especially accessorized with my long deep pink jumble necklace. It wasn’t a rose Sunday, but I only own so much purple anyway.

This week, Palm Sunday, was a distinct challenge. I am a good lector (don’t worry; my complete lack of athletic ability keeps me humble), so I was delighted to be asked to narrate the Passion Gospel at two Masses today, even though that meant getting up extra early.

I was less delighted when my alarm went off this morning.

In my foresight, I selected this outfit the night before and made it out the door just barely on time for the earlier of my two Masses today. I didn’t get my hair flat-ironed, so I touched it up and threw it in a side braid. By evening, I had fixed it.

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The choice of this skirt was not just to make the red pop. Our pastor decided that all the Passion lectors should wear surplices. No cassocks; just a calf-length surplice. I’ve seen liturgical ministers (usually cantors) wear albs before, and I know that it is our baptismal right to wear the alb, but I’ve never seen anyone wear a surplice without a cassock. I try to give local customs a try before declining to participate, though, so I wore this skirt as a faux cassock. Problem solved! And it looked good.

I love my red ballet flats. I haven’t been bold enough to wear them with anything besides red yet, though!

Due to the long Gospel, we didn’t get much of a homily in the evening. In the morning, though, Fr. Pastor asked us to identify which figure in the Passion we are most like. Honestly, I would probably be one of the disciples who took off running when Jesus was arrested. “He’s getting arrested by the chief priests? Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. I should probably get out of here.” They came back, though, after the Resurrection. I like to think that the Pharisees and Sadduceees and everyone else who doubted at the beginning came around. Except today’s Jews, of course, but that is a very different story.

Who would you be? Would you have gotten angry like Peter, or despaired like Judas? On some level, aren’t we all every character in this story?

April 6
Sweater and button-down: Target
Tuxedo skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift

April 13
Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Old Navy
Headband: Target, I think
Holy medals: Catholic gift shops

7 Quick Takes on Real Books, Tears, and Ankles Like Oranges

— 1 —

I am so glad that it is the weekend! I’ve been waiting all week for it to get here.

— 2 —

This week, I powered through finishing the last Alice book. It was okay. One very positive thing I did discover, though, was that I greatly enjoyed reading while I ate lunch. I used to eat my lunch at work outside. When it got too cold to eat outside, I had to stay inside, so I took advantage of some unused office space (and wi-fi) to catch up on Facebook, email, and eventually Twitter. It felt like a very productive use of my designated downtime.

When I was reading this week, though, lunch felt so different. The time didn’t pass as quickly as it always seems to when I endlessly scroll through Facebook. I’ve read e-books while I ate lunch, and now that I think about it, that was a much more leisurely time, too. Now I’ll Tell You Everything happened to be a physical book that I checked out from the library, and it was even more relaxing than using my Kindle app! Reading made my break feel like a real break.

I’m not anti-social media or anti-e-book, but my experience has reminded me that there’s just something about a real book that makes all the difference.

— 3 —

Yesterday was my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary! I texted my congratulations to my mom, who replied that they still like each other after all these years. Good job, guys. Good job.

— 4 —

My still-sort-of-new roommate invited me to go for a walk around the neighborhood last Saturday evening. I had just finished cleaning the house, so I laid on the couch reading on my phone for a while (and waiting for the heat off the day to burn off), but I went. Combined with the cleaning, I’m pretty sure our long walk counted as my exercise for at least a month. It was also a good nice, and I enjoyed talking with her. She works in ministry, so her schedule is almost as crazy as mine used to be. Face time is so important for relationship-building.

— 5 —

I went to confession the week before last, and I found myself laughing a little bit. Not at the priest, of course; mostly at myself, but I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me.

On the flip side, at my weekly group holy hour, I found myself instantly crying when the priest led us in a guided reflection. I hope that it will be the push I need to bring about some real reform in my life.

— 6 —

I mention my knee trouble here occasionally, although I don’t talk about it often even offline. It might have had something to do with my long walk, but my ankle has been swelling up like an orange in the evenings. I usually wear a knee brace during the day and take it off when I get home, but the swelling in unusual. Wearing the brace looser today helped. Any other ideas?

— 7 —

This weekend should be quite relaxing. I don’t have much to do besides laundry. This is good because next weekend is looking hectic, and then it’s Holy Week. At least I don’t have to work it this year! It will be a refreshing challenge to enter into Holy Week as an ordinary layperson again. Maybe I should have a plan. We’ll see.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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