Monthly Archives: March, 2016

Not Alone Series: Negative Self-Talk

notaloneseries

This week’s guest host is one of the co-founders of the Not Alone Series, Miss Jen Cox, RN, of Jumping in Puddles! Her prompt is especially poignant for me right now.

Being single can leave us feeling unworthy and unlovable sometimes, but we know that it’s not true! How do you avoid negative self-talk? How do you lift yourself up instead of allowing yourself to be down? How can we continue to acknowledge our low-points, but encourage each other to something more?

Once, many moons ago, some friends and I were sitting around discussing our romantic fatal flaws. One of us confessed to feeling inherently unworthy of love. Why would anyone even want to love her, she explained, when she was such a mess? It was heartbreaking.

We are now in the Easter season. Ever since I started celebrating Lent like I meant it (fun fact: I was still making a Lenten sacrifice even when I was doing basically nothing else Catholic), I have struggled with how to celebrate Easter. The suggestion bouncing around my sphere of influence is to intentionally speak about how Jesus has acted in your life and the hope he offers to everyone. That’s what the apostles did after the first Easter, and Pentecost kicked their small-time evangelization into high gear.

So that’s my message to anyone feeling deeply unworthy and unloved. Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He loves you so much that he actually did die for you, and he’s so powerful that he rose from death so you would believe in him. Even if no one else loves you, he does, and he’ll never stop, no matter what you do. And, bonus! The people who love him (a.k.a. every Christian ever, including all the angels and saints in heaven) also love you! So much love!

If you’re anything like me, though, that’s only comforting news sometimes. The rest of the time, you want a normal, Earth-bound human to love you. You want your friends to love you. You want a man to love you so much that he makes you his wife and promises to love you even when he doesn’t like you very much at all. I feel like that. It’s especially heart-rending as my friends (who still love me) move on into marriages.

My one consolation (the real kind, not the kind that is just a veiled platitude) is that I have hope. It’s not the kind of hope that makes me particularly sunshiny, and it’s not an optimism that just makes me happy. It’s the kind that gives me joy. (Joy and happiness are not the same thing.) My hope is a theological virtue, manifested mostly as trust in God.

“The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude.” —CCC 1818

The way I see it, anything we hope for here on Earth pales in comparison to our hope of heaven. Even in times when I wonder whether God will ever fulfill the longings of my heart for marriage, when I scoff at people’s declarations that I will definitely get married and have kids, when I temper so much of my joy with the knowledge that very little is ever certain, I have hope in my salvation. I have hope that Jesus has saved me, he is still saving me, and he will save me in the end. I can’t be quite so sure about anything between here and heaven, but I am sure about that.

It’s that kind of hope that keeps me going.


Next week’s topic: Mercy

We are now in the Year of Mercy, and we have just celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. How do we share Christ’s mercy with those around us? How are we merciful with ourselves?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles!

What I Wore Sunday: My Easter Dress

What I Wore Sunday, at Fine Linen and Purple

Happy Easter, dear readers. I wasn’t able to enter into Lent with quite the depth that I managed last Advent, so I think that tempered my experience of the fullness of Easter joy. I also failed to take photos of my Holy Thursday and Good Friday outfits. I was too exhausted getting in after midnight on Thursday, so I didn’t even try on Friday.

I was in a good mood Saturday night after the Easter Vigil, though, so here’s that one:

What I Wore Sunday, March 27

Dress and earrings: New York & Company
Bolero jacket: Target
Shoes: Old Navy
Ring: craft fair in Germany
Hair: a version of this tutorial by Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo

I love this dress. I got it on impulse when I was Christmas Eve shopping with my mom and brother; it was just too pretty to leave on the hanger. My instinct was to save it for a special occasion, but considering my lack of luck (and I don’t even believe in luck), it would either have been too big or too small before I got a chance to wear it. The earrings are also new. They were technically a gift from my brother, and the dress a gift from my mom, but I picked them both out myself, so I know where they’re from.

I never get new clothes for Christmas or Easter. I spend Easter alone, and my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter at church, so I usually just treat them like any other Sunday in terms of wardrobe. I wish I had family photos to dress up for, but that is not my life right now.

This year, though, I decided to go big. I might not have a family photo, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look fabulous on my own. I love the color, the way it fits me, and the incredible pattern. It’s also kind of fuzzy and velvety, and although you can’t tell from the photos, the back has the same pattern. I thought about going mild on the earrings and just wearing my pearls. Then I decided to make them part of the “big” I was going for.

One of the benefits of going solo to the Easter Vigil is that I can just grab any available seat after the Easter fire is lit. Walking with a lit candle is hard enough; not having to keep track of anyone I’ve gone to church with is helpful. I wound up right under an A/C vent, though, so my candle wax started running in every direction during the Exsultet. I managed to split my attention between listening and trying not to get burned. And I didn’t get burned, for maybe the first year ever!

The long Liturgy of the Word was fine. I detest the gender-neutral, multiple-voices altered version of the Creation reading from Genesis. I’m more offended by that than I am by male pronouns. The responsorial psalm after the reading was Exodus was sung with the cantors accompanied only by tambourine. I am not usually a fan of tambourines in church, but for that one psalm a year, it’s actually good. Really good. It turns out you can actually play a tambourine like it’s a real instrument instead of just shaking it. Who knew? The reading from Ezekiel hit just the right part of my heart, and I remembered to look down before the lights came on, so I was fine for the New Testament readings.

Fr. Pastor’s homily was, as expected, pretty long for the Easter Vigil. So much time passed between then and the end of Mass that the only point I remember is one from the beginning of the homily. When we imagine the women returning to Jesus’ tomb on “the first day of the week,” we tend to imagine a sleepy, quiet Sunday morning. But Jewish weeks begin on Sunday the way ours do on Monday. It was more like they were running a quick anointing errand on Monday morning before getting on with the workday. To find the tomb empty was that much more of a shock. It would be less like driving through lazy Sunday morning traffic and more like showing up to work on a regular Monday to find your office completely empty. That was kind of a cool image.

This year’s baptisms were rather less quirky than last year’s. Fr. Pastor still insisted on getting the catechumens to reject Satan at the door and then step forward to accept Jesus. I don’t like it when people try to add things to the liturgy, especially when brand-new Catholics are involved. They’re dealing with enough stress; don’t make it worse. He asked each of them for an audible response, into the microphone, as to why they wanted to be baptized. One of the little girls confidently said, “Because I love God!” Then I cried.

We had an unusually large number of young children and adult men. We also had zero adults for Confirmation, which I have never experienced before. It was mildly amusing to hear Fr. Pastor describe the cute little girls (ten-year-olds, maybe?) as “young women.” He also chose to confirm the newly baptized immediately, then move on to the other Confirmations. The choir interjected “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” awkwardly, as though it wouldn’t count unless they sang that song. Because of the strange rhythm of all the baptisms, some of the confirmations, then the rest of the confirmations, we did not actually relight our candles at any point, although we did renew our baptismal promises. I kind of like the relighting.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist was fine. Once we finish all the special parts, Mass very quickly switches to being more typical. It’s comforting. I was pleasantly surprised that it was only 10:30 when we departed. After years and years, I’ve come to think of two-and-a-half-hour vigils as “short.” I went straight home, ate a chocolate-chip muffin, and called it a night.

How was your Easter? I am handling cute kid photos well this year (which is not true every year), so point me toward your little bunnies!


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

We Are All Teachers of Virtue (A Response to Archbishop Cordileone’s “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”)

You may remember the news headlines about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. They focused on the bristling of some archdiocesan school teachers at the prospect of having to sign a statement affirming their support of the Catholic faith. As a former Catholic high school teacher myself, I thought it was much ado about nothing. I signed a similar statement when I was teaching. It was made clear to all us faculty that, as part of the mission of our Catholic school, we were expected not to do anything to publicly contradict Church teaching. Furthermore, the Catholics among us were expected to be examples of adult faith, and all of us were there to educate the whole person.

That was true when I was a teacher by profession, and it remains true now that I am only a teacher at heart.

books on stairs

The bottom line is that Catholic education ought to be about more than just testing, numbers, and classrooms. As I learned in ed school, we teach students subjects, so we teach students first. Do you realize that, as an adult (or even a member of your parish’s youth group mentoring younger kids), you are a teacher, too?

I recently read the full text of an address that Archbishop Cordileone gave at a convocation of Catholic high school teachers, titled “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”, just over a year ago. I found it inspiring. It spoke to my heart as a lifelong educator and as a Christian. I hope to share some of the archbishop’s inspiration with you.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Holy Saturday: The Day of Redemption

I don’t have many traditions. I have habits and routines for almost everything, but my life tends to change so much from year to year that I don’t always do the same thing each time special days come around. One tradition I’ve managed to maintain is mine for Holy Saturday. I can’t (or don’t) always keep things quiet around the house, and I still have to do laundry or house cleaning and grocery shopping, but I always make time for a particular period of prayer.

I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours in some fashion for years and years. Every Holy Saturday, I find some time before the Easter Vigil to pray the Office of Readings. It’s handy because you can pray that “hour” any time during the day you want to (or even the evening before—on any day, not just Saturday evening before Sunday), and it’s special because there is a particular reading for this day that doesn’t appear any other day. The original preacher’s name has been lost to history, so it’s titled “An ancient homily on Holy Saturday.”

It moved me in a very different way this year than it has any other year. This year, I was struck not only by the overwhelming character of hope it brings to what is otherwise a blank day in the season, but also by the detail of Christ’s work of redemption. It might not be a busy day for the Church’s liturgies, but it was a very busy day for Jesus.

Even if you read this after the Easter Vigil or after you have celebrated the Resurrection, I hope that you will use it for meditation on the specific depths to which Christ went to save you and to save us all.

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.

May God bless you.

Not Alone Series: Theology of the (Unmarried) Body

Theology of the (Unmarried) Body

We hear a lot about the theology of the body (TOB) in Catholic circles, and it’s awesome. But some people are disillusioned by it because it’s usually talked about in relation to marriage. There’s a lot we can draw from TOB: the concept of giving of ourselves, serving others, spousal meaning of the body, etc. How do you live that out as an unmarried person? Or, if you haven’t thought about how to live it out before, how can we start? Have you read any books on it?

We’re linking up with Laura of A Drop in the Ocean this week! She designed that featured image herself.

On to the topic. Agreed: TOB is awesome. I’m one of those people who said, “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?” So far, my TOB studies have been heavily Christopher West-based (like most people), but I’ve also branched out a little:

  • the video series An Introduction to the Theology of the Body, by Christopher West, supplemented by some expert speakers from the Diocese of Austin
  • the audio series Naked without Shame, also by Christopher West
  • Theology of the Body for Beginners, also by Christopher West
  • Good News about Sex & Marriage, also by Christopher West
  • The Love That Satisfies, also by Christopher West
  • critiques of Christopher West’s TOB presentation by Alice von Hildebrand and Dawn Eden
  • The Thrill of the Chaste: Catholic Edition, by Dawn Eden
  • a long article by Anastasia Northrop
  • theREVOLUTION’s “Unveiling Reality” event and student leader training by TOBET (TOB Evangelization Team), founded by Monica Ashour
  • the “TOB for Tots” books, also by Monica Ashour
  • Chastity Is for Lovers, by Arleen Spenceley
  • the Theology of the Body for Teens leader’s manual, by Jason Evert
  • the booklets “Pure Love” and “Pure Manhood” (for perspective!), also by Jason Evert, and “Pure Womanhood,” by Crystalina Evert
  • the series The Pure Life on EWTN, hosted by Jason & Crystalina Evert
  • basically every video ever produced by Jason Evert and his team

Jason Evert was my gateway to TOB, but TOB for Tots is my newest love. I got them for a friend’s sweet son for his first birthday, but I want a set for myself, too! I don’t even need to have any kids of my own to read them to. I could barely flip through them without crying for joy. They’re so precious! I firmly believe that TOB is the backbone of chastity education, which begins with preschoolers. It starts out as simply as “when someone feels sad, you can give them a hug to show them you love them” and “we don’t run through the house naked after someone lifts us out of the bathtub.” You can save the nuptial meaning of the body and the personalistic norm for later.

You will notice the glaring absence of anything actually written by St. John Paul II, the often imitated but never duplicated originator of TOB. I’ve read The Jeweler’s Shop, but that seemed more poetic than theological. The omission of the actual TOB book is only somewhat intentional. I know it will take a lot of focus and effort to get through even Love and Responsibility, and I know I don’t have that right now. I might not ever.

Further agreed: living out TOB is generally considered a thing that married people do. However, among the nice things about Catholicism is that there’s a place for unmarried people. It’s an honored place. When it’s too highly honored, you wind up dabbling in clericalism, but when it’s properly honored, you get an appropriate respect for celibacy. There’s not really a category for people who don’t take vows of celibacy, but that’s part of a larger social problem, I think.

Living out TOB as a single person lies in the aspects of self-gift and sefless love. Yes, the gift of one’s whole self to another who is giving the same back to you, fertility and all, is as close as you can get to the creative and infinitely self-sacrificing power of God without actually being God. We’re on the same page there. However, the call of singles is to give to everyone, to love everyone with disinterest (as in “not selfishly,” not as in “not interested”), and to promote the same.

I don’t have a husband or kids. That leaves me with the freedom to figure out how I will make my life fruitful. How can I make the world better because I am here and because I can love? (It’s right in the name of my blog!) The same is true for married couples without children. How can they become better together than apart? Vowed religious have the added challenge of being committed for life to a whole bunch of people they didn’t choose who aren’t going anywhere. How can they serve their communities, especially the community members they don’t particularly like?

So yes, TOB is about marriage. But it’s also about love and gift, and those are for everyone, even the unmarried.


Next week’s topic: Avoiding Negative Self-Talk

We’re linking up with one of our co-founders, Jen from Jumping in Puddles!

Being single can leave us feeling unworthy and unlovable sometimes, but we know that it’s not true! How do you avoid negative self-talk? How do you lift yourself up instead allowing yourself be down? How can we continue to acknowledge our low-points, but encourage each other to something more?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Laura at A Drop in the Ocean!

What I Wore Sunday: Hidden Red for the Passion

What I Wore Sunday, at Fine Linen and Purple

This week, we are officially back in action at Fine Linen and Purple and have a brand-new logo to boot! I always meant to replace that other one, or at least substitute a Lindsay Loves–specific one, but anything was better than nothing. I’m really glad that Holly was able to reclaim the domain.

I was also really glad about Mass this week. Here’s what I wore:

What I Wore Sunday, March 20

Top: Target
Skirt: random find from Marshall’s
Shoes: Old Navy (still one of my favorite fun purchases)
Earrings: gift
Necklace: MyDailyGrace at Etsy (a prize from a FLAP giveaway!)

I planned this outfit carefully, including de-pilling the lace insets in the skirt. Always check for dry-clean only labels when you purchase, friends. I tried to get a good photo, but it just wasn’t turning out well, and I was too hungry after Mass to fuss over it for very long. So this is as good as it gets.

I knew that I would be narrating the Passion gospel. In previous years, I was basically forced to wear a too-large surplice with no cassock (I know!). The parish did not have cassocks for altar servers until recently, so I don’t even know where those surplices came from. I was determined not to let that liturgical fashion “don’t” happen this year, so I knew I needed an outfit that looked “nice.” “It would be nice” is the worst reason to do anything church-related, but I wasn’t about to let someone say I had to wear a surplice because I didn’t dress for the occasion.

I did not intend to be late for the pre-Mass lector rehearsal, but it’s hard for me to get to church an hour and a half earlier than usual. To my delight, the previous inappropriate uniform was replaced with a basic alb and cincture. I was totally on board with that. An alb is essentially a giant baptismal robe, so it’s appropriate to be worn by anyone who is baptized. I even learned how to tie the cincture, like a Boy Scout! I will admit that it was way stuffier inside that than it was in the giant surplice in years past, but I was so happy that I hadn’t had to fight for the wardrobe change that I was willing to suffer quietly. I offered it up for the souls in purgatory and for my sanctification. All was well.

We did the short version of Luke’s Passion. I was a little sad about that, as I always am by the shorter option of anything liturgical, but I went with it. It was better for my voice; I have nearly lost it by pushing too hard in other lectoring situations. Aside from some page-shuffling noises by the parts of the congregation who were reading along, it went fine. No weird violin interludes (also a feature of years past), no overacting by any of the other lectors or Fr. AP reading for Jesus, no sudden disappearance of my text right as I reached the ambo (like last year). I have narrated the Passion gospel at that Mass for three years now, and this was the best one by far. Thanks, Holy Spirit!

Fr. AP kept his homily extremely short. He always gives short, punchy homilies, and I was still in my head and tired from the Passion, so I think I only started paying attention about halfway through. What stuck out to me was his note that, for the average person, death seems like a defeat. For the Christian, death, especially the death of Jesus, is a victory. It made me think of the custom of assigning saints’ feasts to the days they died. Grammar Girl thought that seemed grim, but if you have a Christian understanding of life after death, that makes perfect sense because their days of death are their days of birth into heaven.

My week started out rough, and the Triduum is always a challenge, but it is a blessing that I get to observe it with this level of intensity. May your Holy Week and Easter be equally blessed.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

Not Alone Series: Our Brothers and Sisters, the Saints

notaloneseries

While I am sure we all have earthly role models, who are your heavenly sources of inspiration and why? How did you hear about this/these saint(s)?

The wonderful Anjie of Here I Am, the Handmaid of the Lord is hosting for us this week! As you can see, I was a great big slacker and did not post until today. That’s better than not posting at all, though.

One of my favorite things about reading Anjie’s NAS posts is that she always remembers to pray about things. I never remember that. I mean, I pray, and I am always praying about something, but I don’t have that reflex where my response to “hmm, what should I do about this thing I need to consider?” is “pray about it!” Nope. So Anjie’s instincts call me to grow in holiness. It’s a blessing to have friends like that.

This prompt also made me think about the Caritas Podcast. Elise and Brigid do some great interviews, and they always end by asking their guest for her current patron saint or spiritual role model. My being a guest on Caritas is unlikely at best, but I know who I’d mention.

First is St. Maria Goretti. I’ve mentioned her in this space before, but it’s always good to recap. In a nutshell, Maria is my favorite saint for her commitment to chastity, her incredible ability to forgive, and her willingness to die for what she believed in.

She was only 12 when she was murdered by the 19-year-old who lived next door. He tried to convince her to have sex with him. She refused, saying, “No. It is a sin.” In his rage, he stabbed her fourteen times. She lived long enough to forgive him and express her assurance that she would see him in heaven. While he was in prison (because it was the 20th century) and unrepentant, Alessandro saw a vision of Maria. She offered him fourteen white lilies (symbols of purity), one for each time he had stabbed her. From that day, Alessandro became a model prisoner. He was released early and went to beg forgiveness from Maria’s mother. She asked only why he had waited so long to see her. When Maria was canonized as the youngest saint ever, Alessandro sat beside Maria’s mother.

Gotta love it. I had never heard that story before I joined the Catholic Daughters of the Americas when I was in undergrad. My gift for becoming a member was a holy medal with her image. I’ve had to replace it twice due to tarnishing, but I wear her medal to this day.

Second is St. Augustine. Love him. I’m not quite ready to dive into his writing, but I dabble in it through Augustine Day by Day. I am definitely drawn to the charism and spirituality of the Order of St. Augustine, although it was not founded by the saint himself. My favorite chapel at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the one to Our Mother of Good Counsel. I only discovered later that the very chapel I love so much was sponsored by the Augustinians, and OLO Good Counsel is an Augustinian image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So I would say I’m into Augustinian spirituality more than I am into St. Augustine himself. I must admit, though, that if you can wander that far away and still become a good bishop later, there is hope for all of us sinners.

Third is Henri Nouwen, who is not a saint. I have a booklet of Lenten reflections taken from his writing. It was a gift from my best friend’s mom. I love it. I’ve never felt drawn to read any of his other writing, but I am so spiritually nourished by that little booklet every single year.

Who are your favorite saints or spiritual role models? Who’s in your cloud of witnesses?


Next week’s topic: Theology of the (Unmarried) Body

We hear a lot about the theology of the body (TOB) in Catholic circles, and it’s awesome. But some people are disillusioned by it because it’s usually talked about in relation to marriage. There’s a lot we can draw from TOB: the concept of giving of ourselves, serving others, spousal meaning of the body, etc. How do you live that out as an unmarried person? Or, if you haven’t thought about how to live it out before, how can we start? Have you read any books on it?

Our final guest host will be Laura from A Drop in the Ocean. Visit her next Tuesday for the link-up!

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Anjie at Here I Am, the Handmaid of the Lord this week! Note: The link to add your link in Anjie’s post is currently not working, so you can click here to access the InLinkz tool directly.

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