Monthly Archives: April, 2006

More Catching Up: Articles and f5’s

An interesting article from Christian Singles Today:

Despite what you may think, part of being a man after God’s own heart is being a bad boy. And wanting a bad boy isn’t some genetic flaw like power shopping. God designed it this way. He knowingly instilled the desire in women to have an impact, to be part of an adventure. Women like bad boys because they’re dangerous and bold. They don’t set out to be nice. They break rules, ignore traditions, stir up chaos, and live life on the edge. They’re rebels who are tough, unbound, and free. They’re not just going through the motions — they’re fully alive. In many ways they’re like … Jesus.

During the Eucharistic Congress earlier this month, I wondered how the deaf students from Gallaudet would be able to receive Confession. They obviously couldn’t have interpreters; that kind of defeats the concept of privacy. As it turned out, their priest knew ASL, though he wasn’t deaf. As this NYT article (reg. req’d.) points out, there aren’t that many deaf priests in the country, and the experience is a lot better with the few that do exist.

Friday Five: Bits and Bobs (April 6)
1. Do you like chicken? Yes, very much so.
2. What is one food you can’t live without? I think French fries. I have no idea what I’d do without fries. I thought about giving them up for Lent, but I just couldn’t do it.
3. Are you an early bird or a night owl? A bit of both. I like staying up late. I feel most comfortable at night, for some reason. But I also get up early after staying up late. I really hate getting up early, but I do it anyway.
4. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla.
5. Are you more of a cat person or a dog person? Neither. I don’t really like pets. We haven’t had one I’d consider “mine” in over ten years.

Friday Five: A Photograph’s Worth 1000 Words (April 13)
1. What is your favorite photo? I really love my current Facebook photo, of me before the Prom for Parkinson’s back in December. The one before that was good too, of me in profile with a flower in my hair.
2. Who took the photo? One of the blond boys. I honestly forget which one, but they both had cameras that night and I struck a pose for them. I know Scott took the flower one, though.
3. If you could photograph anything or anyone what/who would it be? I don’t take good pictures, usually, on either side of the camera.
4. What makes a good photo? Light. I love black and white photos of people. Everyone looks beautiful in black and white. I also know from experience that if you’re posed comfortably, you’ll look awkward in the picture, and vice versa. Weird but true.
5. Which do you prefer: digital or print? I like digital pictures a lot because they’re so easy to share and manipulate, but print pictures are so much easier to display.

Friday Five: Taboo (April 20)
1) How do you feel about people who commit suicide? Such as, do you feel that they are too lazy to deal with life, have depression, do you feel sorry for them, etc.? I feel like suicide is quitting. Life is hard. Sometimes it’s really, really, really hard. But I believe in an afterlife, and I believe that our lives are not entirely our own. We didn’t give ourselves life, so it’s not our place to take it away. I do feel sorry for people that commit suicide, because they made such a huge, irreversible, and sad decision.
2) What do you think people say about you behind your back? Many things. I can be bossy, way too sarcastic, too mothering, too picky, judgmental, snobbish, and other negative things. I have flaws, but I work on overcoming them. And I know people say nice things, too. I have enough to worry about without adding in all the things people say that will probably never even be made known to me.
3) If you could own and operate any major business, what would it be? I don’t know. A school? A publishing house?
4) Are you/would you be embarrassed to talk to your friends or family about sex? Definitely my family. This I know from experience. I’ve always had communication issues. It took a long time for me to open up in a relationship, and then with my friends. My family and I are still on iffy ground, especially since I don’t live at home most of the time and therefore have fewer opportunities to communicate with them at all, about anything. I don’t talk with my friends about sex all that often. It comes up, especially around Hana, but we rarely have deeply serious discussions about anything. When we do, though, it’s awesome. The other day at lunch — possibly yesterday — we got to talking about romantic relationships and marriage and such. It was great. Though not about sex, per se. I’m not much of a talker. I like to write. What you’re reading now is excellent evidence of that.
5) In some cultures, young women are married and begin families as soon as they start a menstrual cycle. Do you believe this is right or wrong? Why? Wrong. Marriage and parenthood requires a lot of emotional maturity. Sometimes I think we should have to get licenses to become parents like we do to own guns or exotic pets. Carrying a child to term also takes a huge physical toll on a woman’s body, which I don’t think such young girls should be subject to.

Friday Five: Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby (April 28)
1. Who was your first kiss (your mom does not count)? That was sexist; do dads count? My family doesn’t kiss on the lips, anyway. And it was Greg.
2. What is your idea of the perfect date? April 25, which is strangely appropriate for this week. (That is my roundabout way of saying I hate this question.)
3. What music needs to be on when you are “getting your thang on”? I wouldn’t know.
4. What is the most amazing experience you’ve ever shared with a partner? Erm?
5. Sex is best saved for: love, marriage, alcohol, days that end in “y”? A loving marriage.

Taking “Recap” to a Whole New Level

It has been almost a month since I last blogged, so this is gonna be a whopper. I plan to just jump around like mad, so consider yourself warned. I’ll try to be brief, but you know me. Long-windedness is kind of what I do.

Did anyone else hear about American Dreamz? I clicked on a banner ad from my Yahoo!Mail because I saw Mandy Moore is in it, and I like her. I’m not quite sure how to take that movie. It’s so contemporary, which means it’ll just be dated in six months. And it’s so political. I am far too politically apathetic for my own good. Perhaps being a former military brat contributes to that. You think I’d be all revved up one way or the other, but no.

A quote: “Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” — John Barth

I took this screenshot while spell-checking a Spanish essay. I didn’t know Word could do that. It’s kinda cool. I call it “Spellcheck Gato.”

The weekend of April Fool’s Day, the office door on JK Rowling’s site opened. I had to use instructions to get in, though I tried to do it on my own. When I got through, I found the W.O.M.B.A.T., an incredibly hard trivia quiz. Even the people from the Lexicon had to guess the answers. They weren’t straight questions, I actually had to reason. Results came back about a week ago. I got an Acceptable. Grade 2 is apparently forthcoming; I’m excited.

I went to see Switchfoot live on April 4. It was an awesome night. Hana took her friend Mason as his birthday present, so he gave me a ride. I was losing my mind a little bit at first because I had Adolescent Development until 3:30, then had to change (not that it mattered; concerts are dark), go eat, and be back in time for Mason to pick me up. I made it all the way to the Diner before I realized I’d forgotten my ticket, but it worked out because Hana was still eating. So I ate, came back, and prayed my Rosary while I waited. We made good time to Baltimore and found Sonar (the club) without even having to turn around. Why do I look like a ridiculously bad driver compared to other people? I know I can’t be good at everything, but it’d be nice to have some skill as I’m careening along at 40+mph in my two-ton metal box. There was a medium-sized line to get in, but it was moving. The security guy marked my hands with his big black permanent marker, but instead of X’s, mine looked more like V’s. It was like an underage rite of passage. We had some time to kill before the opening band, so the three of us just stood around, much like we would for the next several hours. Comfortable shoes are a wonderful thing. The opener, Mute Math, was pretty cool. The lead singer was also playing keyboard, and Sonar is general admission, so it was awkward when he moved over to play. Midway through the concert, though, he whipped out a bright red keytar. (Note that picture is not Mute Math. I took pictures through the whole concert, though I think the lighting will have ruined them all.) They had so much energy, though. The drummer broke his stick and continued playing — with his hand.

Then Switchfoot came out. Oh, man. They started with . . . I think “Lonely Nation,” but I definitely know they played that at some point, and “Stars” second. I was surprised they did “Stars” so early, since it’s one of their biggest songs. (The lyrics in my header are from “Stars,” FYI.) It was such a long time ago, I can’t even begin to list all the songs they played. They did “Ammunition,” which is my favorite non-single from The Beautiful Letdown, and a beautiful acoustic “24.” The lighting was all weird and red and perfect for “Happy Is a Yuppie Word.” They played a song they’d just recorded a few weeks beforehand about halfway through their set. Jon (the lead singer and guitarist) came up with one of those harmonica-holders around his neck, and I was so confused. I was like, “There’s no harmonica in Switchfoot.” Now there is. He took a request for an old song, and forgot the words halfway through. He made up a song on the spot about Baltimore: “Before I count to three, I’ve gotta count to four / Next time the Orioles play, I hope they score,” and then some stuff I have obviously forgotten. They ended with … a song… and then said goodnight, but we chanted them back for “one more song.” Jon came out by himself to start “Daisy,” then all the guys came back to end it. Then, he climbed up on the speakers with Tim (his brother and one of the other guitarists) and started “Meant to Live,” which I hadn’t even realized they hadn’t played. The club went crazy. Then we all went home. It was a fabulous night. They had excellent lighting, which I never even considered before that cute computer kid in School of Rock. And they sounded so amazing that when I tried to remember their concert sound, I realized I was hearing their CD sound because it’s so similar. They had even more energy than Mute Math, and it was definitely worth going. Even though it was their CD with the horrible program known as XCP that messed up my computer, Switchfoot is so much love.

Lent and the Triduum and Easter was an amazing time, though a different sort of amazing than Switchfoot. (Though, being Christian in a band with obvious Christian musical themes, the two are related.) My Lenten goals were to get closer to God (of course), to try green vegetables, to pray the Rosary every day, and to do the Stations of the Cross and fast every Friday. I also had secondary resolutions to be less self-centered and start a spiritual journal. The results: I prayed my Rosary every sing day, adding in the Divine Mercy Chaplet after a few weeks. I did Stations every week, though on Good Friday we shadowcasted them like on retreat, so that only sort of counts. I didn’t feel my fast as much some weeks, but I did it. I never did start that spiritual journal, though. And I actually got so habitually sarcastic, Andrew had to tell me to stop. I’m trying to be more conscious of that. I really feel like I got closer to God this Lent. Last Lent was about practicing Catholicism again after so many years, but this time it was about personal growth. I definitely think I achieved that.

My last Lenten resolution was to do the entire Holy Triduum, the three days before Easter Sunday: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. Andrew went with me, which was lovely, since Maura had various things and could only make it on Good Friday. Holy Thursday Mass and Good Friday service were the most packed I’d seen since Ash Wednesday, though that remains the biggest day of the year. (And Ash Wednesday is not even a Holy Day of Obligation.) I knew almost everyone who participated in the Washing of the Feet. I’d never been to a Holy Thursday Mass, so it was interesting. We sang the Gloria for the first time since before Lent started, but in a minor key, which was so haunting. At the end of Mass, Fr. Bill, Msgr. Malloy, and Patrick Y. and Justin the seminarian carried the ciborium into the Great Room, because Jesus isn’t allowed in the tabernacle on Good Friday. We sang several verses of “Pange Lingua Gloriosi” as we processed to the Great Room for Adoration. I didn’t stay long because I had homework, my knees were killing me, and the incense was aggravating Andrew’s asthma (alliteration!).

Good Friday is the only day on which the Church is not allowed to celebrate Mass. The tabernacle is open and empty and the crucifix is covered, to symbolize the loss of Jesus. I went to the CSC in the afternoon to prep for Stations. When I got there, they’d already moved the altar and the tabernacle and its table, and pulled back the altar hangings and covered the windows to set up our stage. It was so quiet and empty. I’ve never felt more alone than when I went in by myself to check the setup. It was hard. The Stations themselves were substandard. We had to replace Chris and Brendan with Alex and Patrick Y. because they went home for Easter. I read in Katie’s place, and controlled the lights when I wasn’t reading. Deacon Drew came back twice to tell us they couldn’t hear us, so I had to shout more than read. Once, when we were switching places between scenes, everyone started gesturing at me, and I uncovered the light, confused. Then they gestured more frantically, so I slapped the cover back over it. I imagine that looked really bad to any of the audience who saw it. We got through it, though, and apologized to Jesus in prayer afterward for doing such a mediocre representation of His Passion and Death.

That evening, Andrew and I went back down for the service. It’s so weird to not call it Mass, but it really wasn’t. We kept silence until Father and Monsignor entered, then Fr. Bill explained about it not being Mass. We read St. John’s account of the Passion, playing the part of the crowd as we had on Palm Sunday, yelling, “Crucify him!” It was chilling. (Side note: The secular Jew friend I mentioned came to Mass with Andrew and me on Palm Sunday.) We venerated the Cross before Communion. Fr. Bill, Msgr. Malloy, and Deacon Drew carried in a giant wood cross, and we went up in turns to genuflect and kiss it. I almost cried. I haven’t felt sadness like that since my last great loss, and that one will never be resurrected. We received Communion that had been consecrated the day before (Mass is only not Mass without a Consecration), then the choir, led by our wonderful music ed student Julie, sang “Holiness is Faithfulness” while we meditated. We left in silence, which I largely kept until I went to bed. A girl offered me a flyer for her church on my way back from the CSC. Apparently the “Hail Mary Land” on the back of my Catholic Terps shirt wasn’t clear enough. Then I went straight to bed.

I got up on Easter Vigil morning, dressed in the dark, and went to Shoemaker to take the Praxis I. The Praxis tests, I and II, are the ones I need to pass to get my teaching credentials. I’d accidentally scheduled mine at 8am that morning, but I decided to just do it and get it out of the way. I’d gone to bed so early, I wasn’t tired at all even after getting up so early. The test was on computer, so it started with this ridiculous section on how to use a computer. I finished almost thirty minutes early on the reading section. The math section took me the entire time, and I guessed on the last few answers. The writing section involved an essay, which worried me because you have to explain your opinion on a statement. Fortunately and thanks to a lot of fervent prayer before and during the test, mine was an issue I actually have an opinion on. I got preliminary scores for the reading and math sections: ten points higher than I needed to pass. Yay me! And then I had an omelette with Valerie and came back to do homework.

I had dinner that evening, then rushed back to get ready very quickly for Mass. It was so hot that night, so my face was all sweaty, but I looked cute. There were so many people when Andrew and I got to the CSC. Easter Vigil is when new Catholics are baptized and confirmed, so there were the candidates and catechumens, plus all their guests, plus the regular Mass crowd (Easter Vigil counts for the Easter Sunday obligation, an option which I took last year). We got candles and hymnals, then Stacey (the lector coordinator) and I divided up the readings from the Lectionary. We only did four readings and the Gospel. I got the parting of the Red Sea from Exodus, and a passage from Isaiah. I got confused when the pattern of reading/psalm/reading/psalm broke up before the epistle so we could sing the Gloria, so I wound up standing next to Alex and Chris M., the choir. First, we all crowded into the courtyard and hallway for the lighting of the Easter fire, which we shared to get everyone’s candles lit in the darkness of the Chapel. Deacon Drew started Mass with an incredibly long chant, but he did a great job. Fr. Bill did all the baptisms and Confirmations, and Alex led the Litany of the Saints, which I love (though the version we chanted was shorter than the one I linked). So many of my favorite saints are there, including St. Cecilia, my Confirmation patroness. It was wonderful to have a consecration again and to sing the Gloria in its proper major key. It was an exceptionally long Mass, but I loved every minute of it, especially once I calmed down and cooled off. Andrew and I split after the final hymn, which had lots of “alleluia”s.

I didn’t plan on going to Mass on Easter Sunday since I didn’t have to, but Maura’s mom loaned me a cute red skirt so I had something to wear. Lenisa was congested that morning, so she asked me to lector, which was a lovely surprise. And I read something called the Easter Sequence while our lovely pianist Carol ad-libbed in the background. We sang the Gloria, reverberating off the walls of the beautiful Chapel, and everything was wonderful.

There were, however, two not-so-wonderful things. When we came back from Mass, I wrote “Alleluia! He is risen!” on our whiteboard. Maura later added “Glory to God in the highest!” After adding that to the quote from St. Catherine of Siena (which I didn’t attribute) and its accompanying drawing by Elise, my across-the-hall neighbor, we had quite the holy board. One of the other girls on the hall had drawn a cross on a hill on her board and wrote, “Jesus died to save us all!” Lots of Christian pride on AA3. Anyway, last week, I noticed that both the other board and ours had been smudged out. I can tell it wasn’t an accident because only those two boards were smudged, and the drawing and quote on ours is still intact (it’s not an overtly religious quote). I’m upset because it’s just so mean. Why would you do that? I saw a flier in Jimenez this week I very much wanted to rip off, but I left it because I can’t destroy things like that. I just haven’t experienced religious antagonism in a while, I guess.

My Scholars class is officially over. The last few weeks were a bit awkward. We had a guest speak from the UMD Office of Student Financial Aid come out to the school to talk to the students. There were some technical difficulties and we kind of threw our lesson plan out the window. I had an interview that day, so I was dressed up. (It’s for a new summer seminar with University Honors; I should hear back any day now.) We had the students here twice, for a second tour and a “class” led by a grad student whose real class was finishing projects. This week, we walked around Comcast a bit and had a farewell reception. The walk to Comcast after Shakespeare lecture was not fun. I almost got lost on the way, but I found it eventually. I was so worried about being late that I made it in about thirteen minutes. I make good time when I’m panicking. The Scholars Program and the Anne Arundel County Board of Ed gave us certificates, the students gave us candy, cards, and gift books, and we all had cake. And I got a Maryland Day t-shirt. I’m gonna miss those kids.

So how’s my Keystone project going? Well, it’s going. I’ve been revising the same story for over a month. I think I qualify for the double-major extra semester allowance, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to talk to Tanya. Revising takes time, time that I don’t have with everything else that’s been going on. School has been especially rough these past two weeks. I had to skip two assignments for classes where we were assigned an extra and could drop the lowest grade or skip one. My usual plan is to do them all and drop the lowest, which shows how my plan for my life has so little to do with what actually happens. I had to write my second Shakespeare paper in one night. It was about male anxiety in response to female sexuality, and it had to be seven pages, so that was a rough night. I managed to get it done, though, skipping a Spanish essay in the process. This week, I had a paper due in my colonial literature class this morning. Maura and I were both writing papers last night; she had a music history term paper. It was weird to have the room so quiet with her here. Mine was not as hard to do as I’d been expecting from my paper-writing precedent, so I got to watch ER and made it to bed at a reasonable 1am or so. Earlier this week, I had to write a short story for Adolescent Development. I should have been working on it all semester, but smaller things kept getting in the way and I kept forgetting about it. The first story I wrote was absolute crap. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that bad, not even the lines I added to a collaboratives story in a Harry Potter LJ group once. My second story wasn’t much better. I plan on getting in touch with that professor and seeing what I can do about the bad grade I already see coming my way. Why is school getting so hard? Also, I submitted my application for full admission to the College of Education yesterday. That was the one thing that went right, which confirms that I’m just meant to be a teacher. God definitely has that in His plan for my life. I asked my boss, my Spanish TA, and Fr. Bill to write me recommendation letters. I included every experience I’ve had that could possibly be useful for a teacher, and I wrote the most PC goal statement imaginable. I really don’t think I’ve ever used the word “Caucasian” before.

The CSC has been a good time lately. Wednesday night dinner is always good. Last week we had tacos. Mary, who’s a senior, said they have never ever had tacos before. Usually it’s pasta, which is good because it’s simple and I like pasta. It was an especially good dinner, though. Like I mentioned, Andrew has been coming with me. I wasn’t sure he was Catholic for a long time, but I suppose my persistent offers of free food finally lured him in. It’s a quiet evangelization, like I’ve said. A few weeks ago, I went to Blob’s Polka Park with CSC people. They go every semester, but I’d never been before and was interested in going. It was such a crazy place. There were a bunch of families and old people there. All of the other Catholic Terps (and some of the younger ones, actually) enjoyed the cheap beer and attempted to polka. I wound up being volunteered to dance with this kind of crazy old guy. He was a really good dancer, which meant I was completely lost. I danced once with Sara T., who’s in ballroom and is therefore very good. I also polka’ed with Matt W., Tim, and Jim. Matt and I also improvised a cha-cha, since neither of us really knew what we were doing. I was so tired and sweaty and gross, but it was a great time.

I went to my first Catholic Daughters meeting this month. We donated a lot of money to a lot of deserving people. Toward the end of the meeting, we had a lot of dates to remember. I mused, “It’d be a lot easier to coordinate things if we had a website.” So, I asked if we had one. Lisa replied, “Do you do web design?” I said yes, Lacy said, “All in favor of Lindsay being webmaster, say aye,” everyone said aye, and she banged the gavel. So I was put in charge of a nonexistent website in, seriously, about a minute. I have some ideas, but no time, so we’ll see how that works out. I also finally remembered to check the Good Ship’s email and found a week-old hosting offer from a girl in Australia. I got back to her and she set up an FTP account for me, so the Good Ship site is now completely XHTML and CSS compliant, without all that GeoCities crap. I moved in the home page, but everything else is forthcoming.

About that karaoke thing: Weekends at Maryland has karaoke every First Friday in the Baltimore Room of the Union. This month’s trip wasn’t great, which was disappointing because it’s the last one until the fall. (Art Attack conflicts with May’s First Friday.) I ran into Jonathan, the VP of Sign Language Club, which was nice. I feel bad for quitting without mentioning anything, but I did it for church, so not quite as bad as I might feel. Andrew, Guy, Ana, Rebecca, Nick, and Sara went, too. First I sang Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.” Sara brought her own backing CD and was fabulous, as always, doing a song from a musical that I didn’t recognize. Then Maura and her SAI members-in-training sang “Love Shack,” Ali did Reba McEntire’s “Fancy,” and I went back for “Breathless,” by the Corrs. Andrew took video, which he later sent to me. (Comment for the link to download it, if you’re really interested.) It made me realize that I am not a good performer. Piano I could do because it doesn’t take much action other than playing the instrument. I just feel like I’ll do something ridiculous if I do anything but sing up there. And I’m a fairly good singer, so I shall just stick with my strengths.

I think that about sums up my life over the last month. Lots of schoolwork, a bit of fun, and no time for blogging. I was so bogged down with work that I’m also a month behind on all the email newsletters I get. No promises to blog more often this time. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I will, at some point, update again.

Checking In

Just about everyone who reads this blog knows me in real life and sees me almost every day, so you all know I’m alive. And you know I’m incredibly busy. I will get back to blogging soon, probably next week.

Upcoming on Contrariwise:

  • the Switchfoot concert
  • all the crap I’ve been doing for school
  • Lent and the Triduum
  • how my Scholars Program class is going
  • the two(!) websites I’ve been working on
  • the end of my Keystone project… I think
  • my W.O.M.B.A.T. results
  • CSC fun, including my first trip to Blob’s Polka Park
  • video of me doing karaoke… maybe

Hang in there, guys. When I finally do post and your eyes are bleeding, you might wish I hadn’t.

The Word Among Us

NOTE: This is a cross-post from my LiveJournal, which has only friends-only and private entries. Comment here or there or email me to be added, though there’s never really anything special.

Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62

Truth Triumphs: The Victory of Virtue over Vice. Wouldn’t that make a great title if anyone wanted to turn this tale of Susanna into a movie? The plot develops dramatically as two elders of Israel, driven by lust, ignore God’s law and try to violate the virtuous Susanna. Trapped by their cunning plan, Susanna is filled with fear but prefers to be accused of adultery — an act punishable by death — rather than to commit sin and live. Then the corrupt men compound their wicked behavior with deceit, lying to protect their reputations. But Susanna turns to God, who inspires Daniel with wisdom and a plan that brings about her deliverance just in the nick of time.

Like Susanna, there are times when we too are faced with the choice between embracing falsehood and holding fast to God’s truth. Perhaps we’ve failed to take responsibility for a mistake by shifting blame elsewhere. Maybe we have distorted the truth to our own advantage by telling a little “white lie.” Or perhaps we have felt pressured by public opinion or confused by the misleading ideological currents of the day and compromised our beliefs.

Pope Benedict XVI has insightfully described the current climate as “a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” How crucial it is, then, that we pursue a different goal: “the Son of God, the true man.” Benedict continued: “An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ.”

In a world where truth is considered relative, where “spin” happens all the time, and where shading the facts is a way of life for many, we can still do what Susanna did. When we’re firmly rooted in Christ, it’s “this friendship that . . . gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.” And it’s as we live in truth that we’ll be shining witnesses to the world around us.

“Lord Jesus, you are the way, and the truth, and the life. Help me to hold fast to all that is true and honorable so that I can offer you a pure heart and a clean conscience.”

Psalm 23:1-6; John 8:1-11

The preceding is from The Word Among Us, which I use as a daily devotional. For those who may not know, Mass is celebrated every day in the Catholic Church, though attendance is only required on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Mass begins with a reading from the Old Testament, then one of the Psalms, and on weekdays, we finish with a reading from one of the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles. (On Sundays, a reading from an epistle precedes the Gospel.) I decided last summer to start reading the Bible every day, so I chose to do so by following along with the Lectionary, the book that contains the specially formatted readings that are proclaimed at Mass. Later in the summer, I stumbled across The Word Among Us and have been reading it every day since then.

Today’s readings are wonderful. I’ve never heard the story of Susanna before, but it’s a good one. It says a lot about virtue and truth, as WAU notes. It also reminded me of St. Maria Goretti, who is the patron of my court of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. (Think the Knights of Columbus for women.) From the Patron Saints Index:

[St. Maria Goretti was a] beautiful, pious farm girl, one of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In 1896 the family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive.

In 1902 at age twelve, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm-hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought, yelled that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her fourteen times. She survived in hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. Counted as a martyr.

While in prison for his crime, Allessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he later testified at her cause for beatification.

The Gospel also speaks to the virtues of honesty and purity. The woman caught in adultery wasn’t exactly virtuous, but Christ pointed out that the scribes and Pharisees had ignored their own sinfulness to try to trick Him using that woman. I don’t think Scripture ever speaks again of that same woman, but I’d imagine she changed her life at that moment, going forth to “sin no more.”

I copy-paste the meditation to my LJ every day, but I set it to private so as not to spam your f-lists. If you’d like to keep reading these meditations, please go to the WAU site and/or subscribe to the print version. It’s a wonderful little magazine.

A Holy Day of Non-Obligation

Friday Five: The Boob Tube, The Silver Screen, & You
1) When you were little what was your favorite TV show? I used to love Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The original was the best. We played Power Rangers on the playground during recess, and I was always the Pink Ranger because I was always mysteriously wearing pink, just like Kimberly.
2) What was your favorite movie? I was never a Little Mermaid girl. I don’t think I had a favorite movie, really. I was more likely to be reading books, watching TV, or playing outside. Yeah, I used to play outside. Don’t look so surprised.
3) What is your favorite TV show currently? Jeopardy! (With an exclamation point for happiness, not just as part of the proper title.) My favorite non-game show is probably either ER or Everwood.
4) What is the best movie you have seen so far this year? According to the movie ticket stubs in my wallet (I’ve kept them all since HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I think), the only movies I’ve seen in the theater this year are The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Rent. They were both fabulous.
5) If someone was going to make a movie or TV show about your life, who would play you and why? This is far too similar to a F5 question from a few weeks ago. I think I decided in my high school scrapbook that Raven Symone or Jennifer Freeman (from My Wife and Kids) would work best.

Yesterday’s Word Among Us meditation was really good. I always pull out my Bible to do the readings, because it’s helped me get more familiar and comfortable with the organization of the books. Today, as I was reading through the part from Wisdom, I understood it completely. We’ve been studying the Gospel of Luke in the CSC’s Emmaus Bible study this year, and in these last two Thursdays we’ve studied the Passion. So when I read that section of Wisdom, I immediately knew it must mean Jesus. Sure enough, the footnote agreed. I’ve grown so much in my faith over this last year that I’ve been back at church. I say over and over how I hate symbolism, despite being an English major, because so much of it goes right over my head. (Also, people have read symbolism into my writing that is not there, so I try not to search for it out of respect to my literary colleagues.) That moment of recognition in Wisdom was an example of how much I’ve grown. I hate symbolism, but apparently typology isn’t too high up for me.

So back to the meditation. I’ve blogged before about how I deal with God’s will, especially for my vocation. I’m still discerning. I faltered… not even just a little bit. I backslid like mad. But God pointed that out to me, and now I understand and I’m back on the right track. I’m okay with being single, really, but I do get lonely. If I’m meant for religious life, at least I know I’m single for a reason, instead of this limbolike uncertainty. I’ve been granted patience, though, and a heart for prayer, so I manage. I’ve prayed for many things since I started praying about my vocation back in September, and I’ve gotten what I wanted, so I know God hears me. Either it’s not yet time for me to know my vocation, or I just tried to pursue it the wrong way. I like to cross-stitch; I did it for a while in middle and high school. In middle school, my teacher gave us photocopied packets of small, 3×3-inch patterns we could make. I wound up making one that says, “Freedom starts by kneeling at the cross.” That applies here, I think. The only way I can really be free and happy is by following God’s awesome plan for me. Right now, I just really want to know what that is. With Samuel, I pray, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sm 3:10).

I wrote those last two paragraphs yesterday. Today was the 2nd Annual Collegiate Eucharistic Congress at the CSC, from 10am to 6pm. I wasn’t thrilled about getting up so early on a Saturday, but I knew so much Jesus time would be worth my while. I was running later than I planned, but I got there on time. I met some nice guys and one girl from the Naval Academy while we mingled before starting the sessions. Fr. Bill gave an intro talk and we exposed the Blessed Sacrament, then we prayed the rosary, which was handy because I was covered for today. We waited in silence until Fr. … I can’t remember his name, but he’s from St. Augustine. He gave an excellent talk about how to experience God’s love. (The theme of the Congress was Deus Caritas Est, which is also the title of B16’s encyclical.) It was structured perfectly because I could follow it, but it sounded really natural. He used this image of our hearts as a jar. If you submerge a jar in water and then lift it out, it will be all full of water… unless you leave the top on it. If you leave the top on, it just gets wet. So, if we just go to Mass and pray with our hearts closed to Christ, we’ll only be wet. If we want to be filled with His love, we have to open our jars.

After the first talk was lunch, then Lacy gave a talk about God’s love and how she came to find it through her conversion. We had a few students from Gallaudet at the Congress, so they brought two ASL interpreters. Lacy was going so fast, the guy interpreting for her had to ask her to slow down. And then she paused later on to see how he’d handle “a moat full of dragony creatures.” When she finished, Fr. Bill and Fr. Panke, the priest vocations director for the archdiocese, gave a tag-team talk about the sacraments. They did a good job summing everything up and showing how the Church shows God’s love to us through the sacraments, as outward signs of inner grace. They took turns answering the faith questions from the Ask Father Bill box. Fr. Panke gave an excellent answer to the question about ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood. We also had an NFP expert who talked a little about why that is the Church’s only morally licit form of birth control. My favorite part about question-and-answer sessions is when someone asks a question to which I already know the answer. The best thing about coming back to Church was how much I’ve learned about what Catholicism really is.

After the Q&A, we split into pairs for an Emmaus walk, where we discussed how God’s love through the Eucharist affects our relationships. Fr. Bill encouraged us to pair up with someone we didn’t know. I was sitting right near the students from American University, so I called out, “Okay, who needs a partner?” and met Jessica. She’s from Mexico, so she has a really nice accent. I was distracted for a few minutes while I gave directions to the Metro shuttle to another girl (I hope she found her way), but we had a great talk. We walked around the CSC and the Lutheran church next door talking about God’s love and our personal relationships, then I told her about living in Japan and Germany because it eventually came up.

We went back into the chapel for another speech, this time by the NFP expert, Bill Gorman. He talked about the different kinds of love. There’s eros, which is the erotic, sensual sort of love we have for our spouses or people we’re attracted to by appearance. (Being attracted to someone because of the way they look is not a bad thing. It’s only bad if that’s all you ever have.) Then there’s filia, which is brotherly, friendly love, which is fleeting. When Jesus was arrested, he was with the apostles, but they all split. Last is agape, which is Christian love, the kind of love where you don’t have to like or even know someone to love them. Maura showed up for that talk, and when I spoke with her afterwards, she said she thinks that’s why we’re so close: we have filia and agape love for each other. I’ve been trying to practice Christian love more. I read a ton of Catholic stuff, and I came across a few lists of things to do for Lent. One was to pray for someone you don’t know, so I do that randomly. Yesterday, there was a girl sitting on the bench on my way into Susquehanna. I prayed a Hail Mary as I passed her. She didn’t particularly look like she needed a prayer, but I like spreading God’s love. Bill also mentioned that in his talk: the natural reaction to feeling God’s love is to show it to others.

After Bill’s talk, we split into halves for a final session and Confession. I milled around in the hall for a while, then went in for Confession. It’s only been about a month, but I like confessing venial sins when there are such clear opportunities. I spent about twenty minutes in the chapel afterwards. First I did my penance, then I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which I’ve started praying with my daily rosary. After I finished the chaplet, I sat and contemplated the crucifix. The CSC has a really nice one; I like looking at it to stay focused during Mass. I thought about the Crucifixion, and how in it’s unique insane way, that is love. Love is not sex, or chocolate, or material gifts — and it definitely means having to say you’re sorry. Coming to Earth, withstanding persecution, and dying in such a horrible way for people that do not deserve it — that’s love.

After Confession, we had a session about love’s impact on Catholic social justice teaching. I thought it was an okay talk, but really out of place. Apparently, the second half of the encyclical addresses that; I haven’t actually read it. Social justice is always controversial. We’d dealt with enough controversy in the NFP guy’s talk. All the midshipmen from the Naval Academy were in the other session, so I only know it by hearsay, but apparently they were all over the monsignor and the other woman who gave that talk. It was definitely my least favorite part of the day.

Once that awkward talk was over, we ended the day with Mass. We had Bishop Gonzales celebrating, which was cool since I haven’t been to a Mass with a bishop since Confirmation. Fr. Bill, Fr. Panke, Fr. Gurnee from GWU, the priest I had as my confessor, and the priest from Gallaudet all concelebrated. The female ASL interpreter signed through Mass as well, which was really cool. I glanced over once and saw the students signing their responses during Mass. The bishop’s homily was really long and not terribly relevant to the readings, but that was okay. It was really interesting regardless, and he was funny, and I already heard a more relevant homily last month, since that’s the second of the Masses I taped with Fr. Bill for EWTN.

Then we had dinner, which was barbecue like at Wednesday night dinner this week, but I think it was beef tonight instead of pork. I mentioned to Kelsey that the CSC is the only place where I’ll eat something when I’m not entirely sure what it is, and she realized the same is true for her. I helped move some furniture in after dinner, then walked back up to the dorm with Jim. He’s a good walking buddy. Overall, it was a wonderful day. I had a good Confession, and that first priest’s speech was awesome, and I spent all day thinking about God’s love.

Events of the past few days are next. In Bible study on Thursday, Michelle and Tim’s friend Ed both showed up, so we had nine people. That’s our biggest group ever. It was a really good study, though. We’ve started the Passion Narrative now, so we did the second trial before Pilate and the Way of the Cross this week. We got so caught up in our discussion that it spilled over into the Crucifixion, but we decided we’ll still have things to discuss next week. (Sarcasm sarcasm.)

I stuck around the CSC for a Holy Thirty Minutes on Wednesday night. I’d only intended to stay for 15, but Evening Prayer and the brother’s talk kept me there longer. The talk was interesting, about how we can’t hide from God. It’s an innate reaction, but in the times when we most want to hide from Him, that’s when we need Him the most. Then I came back to work on my Af Am lit paper. I’d taken notes already, so I just had to expand my midterm essay into the paper. I finished around 12:30am, which is excellent for a paper-writing night for me. I guess it helps to start the night before the night before it’s due.

Thursday was actually pretty good. We spent Spanish class in the Jimenez computer lab working on our compositions. I came back to reread and print my paper. The grad student was back, so after two more presentations, we watched the video we’d thought irrelevant. She’d asked another professor and found out it got more general after the very beginning. I took some notes, so the time wasn’t totally wasted. And some of the art they’d filmed was really pretty. I had a lovely lunch with Thursday lunch people, then went to edit my Keystone stories in the HH lounge, where Andrew shared the cookies his mom sent him. I want my mom to send me cookies. It’d be less trouble to drive them here, I know, but still. Adolescent Dev was interesting. Casey talked about adolescents “going steady,” using his girlfriend of exactly five years as an example (aww-inspiring, I know). He’s the president of the Maryland Academic Quiz Team, and his brother used to date Maura, but I don’t think he knows me. At dinner that night, I was sitting with the 4400 when about ten CSC people showed up after Mass. It was weird to be with one group, but with another group I belong to right at the next table. I also had a yummy milkshake and Shane West was lovely on ER.

Friday morning, I gave my oral presentation in Spanish, the one my TA let me reschedule. I gave it on my family, so it was pretty easy. There’s a girl in my class whose name I can’t remember, but who speaks good Spanish. She said I did a really good job, so I know it at least went over well with her. We discussed Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” in colonial lit, which was awkward. So much religious discussion in my classes this semester. Lunch was lovely, and then I went to Stations.

I decided this week to start kneeling again during the rosary when I pray it before daily Mass. Wednesday was almost excruciating because I also read, so I was kneeling or standing for a very long time. (Side note: “Excruciating” is from the Latin for “of the cross.” Those of us who have never been crucified don’t really know what excruciating pain is.) I discovered the bruises forming on my knees again this morning. It wasn’t until Wednesday night dinner that I remembered I’d stopped kneeling not because it hurt, but because it bruised my knees. Sigh. I just feel so conspicuous sitting while everyone else kneels. But I’m not willing to risk my knees for conformity.

I haven’t done any homework yet because I went to play Simpsons Uno with the 4400 last night, so I have to get to that now. Still riding high on God’s love, though. Unconditional emotions are handy like that.

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