Monthly Archives: December, 2007

Catholic Carnival 151

I remember when reading the Catholic Carnival was the height of my week. Now I’m excited to finally be able to read one again! Last week’s was up at Aussie Coffee Shop.

Ian of Musings from a Catholic Bookstore comments on a Time article about the rising trend of large families among the affluent. I’m not seeing anyone right now, and discerning my vocation is a whole trial I’m not going to get into, but if I marry, I hope to have as large a family as God wants. Ian makes some good points about the reality of large families, even among the middle class. I can’t quite wrap my head around it, since I’m still a poor college student and my parents are still willing to help me out, but I know from FAFSA experience that when the government tries to make estimates about real people and money, they are often wrong.

Sean at A Catholic Canadian muses on whether online communities can–or should–replace real-life camaraderie. t’s important to think of technology-based communication as a scaffold to relationships, not a substitute. For example, Jim and I have a great friendship. I’ve even asked him to recommend me for grad school. We met on a CSC retreat, and then had Bible study together, but since we don’t see each other in person all the time, our friendship is supported by AIM. Without it, our friendship wouldn’t be as strong. Likewise, I’ve connected with some old friends using facebook. I make it a point to see people in person, though. It’s trickier when you don’t have much money, but sometimes quality time is worth it. Sean also mentions his interest in building community through the Knights of Columbus, which I, CDA Regent, think is a lovely idea.

At Bearing Blog (which is a neat title), Erin offers an analysis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent document on the need for evangelization. The whole Church could use some good, strong pointers on how to evangelize effectively. As Maura puts it, we need better marketing. I’ll have to keep her pointers in mind, and read the whole document myself one of these days.

On Hope

Even though I should be practicing more math for the GRE (I’m not trying to be a math teacher, but something tells me that Notre Dame will frown on a 34th percentile quantitative score), I am catching up on my reading in many respects. I spent about half of today and yesterday reading the Bible, catching up on the lectionary readings from all of Advent. It was time-consuming, but exactly the thing I needed after the crunch of school pushed me away from God.

ZENIT has changed recently, adding Gospel commentaries and letters to the editor. I like the commentaries; I could do without the letters. Fr. Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Pontifical Household, gave a sermon to the Roman Curia where he talked about hope in relation to Advent. I wanted to read Spe Salvi for Advent, but of course that didn’t happen. Fr. Cantalamessa’s sermons were a nice short substitute for a long reflection, though. Lately, half the Church has to prepare a defense to the atheist onslaught pushed by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Philip Pullman. As my friend Guy suggested, it would be best if we could just ignore these Jerry Falwells of the atheist world. We can’t, though, because there are too many people who are just waiting to see who “wins” so they know which side to join. As Fr. Cantalamessa said to support the Christian side of the battle, “If a delusion is able to do what Jesus did in history, Dawkins and others had better reconsider their concept of delusion.”

Speaking about hope, Fr. Cantalamessa offered this interesting and elegant imagery:

Hope has been for a long time and is still now the poor relation among the theological virtues. We speak often of faith, more often of love, but very little about hope.

The poet Charles Péguy is right when he compares the three theological virtues to three sisters: two grown-ups and a little girl. They walk along the street hand-in-hand (the three theological virtues are inseparable!), the two big ones on either side, the little girl in the middle. All who see them are convinced that the two big ones — faith and love — drag along the little girl hope in the middle. But they are mistaken: it is the little girl hope who drags the other two along; if she stops, everything stops.

On my first Spring Retreat, our theme was faith, hope, and love. I had the most trouble with hope then as I do now. The point Fr. Cantalamessa is trying to make, I think, is that without hope, we have nothing. I understand hope as trust. With faith, we believe that God loves us and will save us. With love, we adore him for his love and his works. With hope, we trust that he will do what he has promised.

World’s Smallest Bible

As a follow-up to the world’s smallest Advent calendar, while I was looking up saints just now, I saw an ad for the world’s smallest Bible. You can practically wear your iPod as earrings; now you can wear all of Scripture as a pendant! They’re very expensive, but gorgeous. I love how it comes with a Protestant translation, a Catholic, and an Orthodox. Everyone’s happy. I wonder, would it be irreverent to create a Magen David-shaped nano-Torah?

Making Up for the Past

My Catholic past is rather checkered. I was baptized Catholic as a baby in the church where my parents were married. My dad’s family is not Christian; my mom’s has been Catholic for generations. I went to a (non-Catholic) Bible preschool, then on to public elementary school. I attended Sunday School until my mom got tired of dragging me out of bed to catch the bus every week. I went to all the CCD classes I needed before my First Communion without ever setting foot in the church until First Penance and the rehearsal.

When we moved to Germany and it was time for my sister’s First Communion, my mom discovered that I had to attend 7th grade CCD before I could join the 8th grade Confirmation class. Luckily, I was in the 7th grade at the time. We started to attend Mass again (always the Saturday Vigil, because we’ve never been morning people). On my Confirmation retreat, I went to confession for the second time–ever–and fell in love with God again.

When we moved back to the U.S., we stopped attending Mass. I missed going to church, but not enough to do much about it. In the year before Ryan’s First Communion, I started college. I did a lot of stupid things during that time, including wholly unworthily receiving the Eucharist at the Mass where Ryan (whose name means “little king”) played a king during the Gospel pageant. That same year, my dad joined RCIA.

Being in church again reminded me of the peace I’d felt there before. Jesus started calling me out of my relationship with my boyfriend and back to him. It took months, but on Ash Wednesday during my freshman year of college, I recommitted myself to chastity, received an absolution that was four years overdue, and returned to Holy Mother Church.

When I hear about people who’ve been to Mass every Sunday of their lives except the one where they had chicken pox, dads who left seminary to marry moms, and families who celebrate name days with special dinners, my heart aches. I wish so much that I could have had that kind of spiritual upbringing. I don’t blame my parents, per se. It really was an ordeal to wake me up on Sunday mornings before I started sacrificing that for the Lord. So now, I have to make up for lost time. I have to learn prayers for the first time that my peers have known since grade school. I have to wonder whether my family even bothers going to church when I’m not home to make them feel obligated (which, of course, they are).

There are signs, though, that my catch-up efforts aren’t in vain. I don’t know much about the saints at all, for example. I love St. Cecilia, my Confirmation saint and the first whose story I really got to know. St. Frances of Rome, my first annual patron saint, is buried in the Church of St. Cecilia in Rome. My middle name is Nicole; I used to live in Germany, where St. Nicholas is widely venerated. My birthday is August 30, the old-calendar feast day of St. Rose of Lima, my second annual patron saint. And finally, next year’s annual patron, St. Wolfgang, is another beloved German saint who was a noted teacher. Even after all this time, God’s sense of humor still amazes me.

Why Chastity Is Important

As the whole world now knows, Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. I was so saddened by the news. I had such hope for her. She’s a better singer than her sister, and Zoey 101 is a cute show. This makes it seem like she’s headed down Britney’s path. I know fame played a substantial role in Britney’s decline, but there are plenty of famous people that lead more wholesome lives. (Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe were my showbiz couple role models until they got divorced.)

The consensus around the table was that it was unrealistic to think that 16-year-olds would not have sex, and that someone should have talked to Ms. Spears about contraception.

The girls, who had followed the story on TV and the Internet, were also critical of Ms. Spears’s mother, who had been widely quoted as saying that one reason she was shocked by her daughter’s pregnancy was that she had always followed her curfew.

“When I heard that, I started laughing out loud,” Ms. Akusis said. “You can have sex during the middle of the day,” adding, “It’s not like there’s a time limit.”

Jamie Lynn’s situation goes to show that something is seriously wrong with our society. It is completely realistic to expect that 16-year-olds can control themselves enough to stay abstinent. Moreover, they can stay chaste. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. Obese people can’t blame stores and restaurants for selling them unhealthy food; they choose to eat it. Likewise, teenagers can’t blame their hormones and the existence of temptation for giving in to it. We’re people, not animals. No, no one needed to talk to Jamie Lynn about contraception. Someone needed to tell her she deserved better than an 19-year-old boyfriend who didn’t care enough to guard her body and her heart.

This Is Me

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged like I really used to. This blog was once all about me. Now, I’m not advocating a self-centered, narcissistic style of blogging. I believe that all writing betrays the heart of soul of its writer, even just a little. Responding to profound interviews on BustedHalo doesn’t really help you see me.

I’ll try recounting the last week. On Saturday, I woke up fairly early. In the afternoon, I went over to the CSC to meet up with the Daughters for our first and only Shrine & Dine of the semester. I used to say that Shrine & Dines were my favorite thing about CDA. That’s not quite true anymore, but I’ll get to that later. It was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Since campus is about 15 minutes from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, there could not have been a better place to observe the feast. Unfortunately, Danielle’s car, in which I was riding, was running late for 3 p.m. Mass despite our early CSC gathering time. We all made it, though.

The 3 p.m. Mass was celebrated in honor of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) and their female branch, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará. We love the Servants of the Lord. They wear blue veils, take siestas, and speak lots of Spanish since their order was founded in Argentina. One of our students from UMD, Olivia, is actually entering in January, praise God. Through her connections, we found out that IVE priests would be receiving their cassocks and some Servants would be receiving their names and habits and others renewing their vows. We jumped at the chance to attend.

It was one of the loveliest, most edifying, most reverent Masses I’ve ever attended. We sang multiple verses of many hymns, and there was incense. I love incense. Two priests received their cassocks after the Liturgy of the Word. Ten young women received the white veil for their habits and religious names. The Servants all take names of Mary, so they included Sr. Mary Mother of the Eucharist, Sr. Mary Crown of Martyrs, and Sr. María Corona de los Santos (Crown of Saints). We practically swooned after each name was called. Two sisters I met when we visited their novice house, Sr. Maria Lumen Christi and Sr. Maria of the Angelus (whose baptismal name is Angela Marie) renewed their vows. Finally, Sr. María del Santo Niño (of the Holy Child) made perpetual vows. We were privileged to witness her divine wedding. Danielle had evening plans, so we didn’t manage the dining part of Shrine & Dine, but that was the best two and a half hours I could have possibly spent that day.
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World’s Smallest Advent Calendar

Andrew sent me a link to an article describing the world’s smallest Advent calendar. I’m busy (dying under the stress of) studying for my Spanish composition final on Monday morning, so I won’t even get started on the significance of Advent in secular society, but I must say that’s pretty cool. It’s even nifty for a non-science geek like myself. I don’t know why microscopic bacteria would need to keep track of the days until Christmas, but if one ever wants to, now it can.

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