Yearly Archives: 2007

Hearing from the Halo

BustedHalo a great site that puts a lighter spin on spirituality. It’s run by Paulists, so there’s a large Catholic presence, but I really like the balanced, “seeking” way it treats other faiths as well. (Except for that article about the alleged religious sister who loves The Vagina Monologues….) Plus, I won a signed copy of James Martin’s A Jesuit Off-Broadway!

There have been some exceptional interviews lately. The Faith Between Us, by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, details the personal religious journey of the two men, who sought to be a Jewish mystic and a Catholic priest respectively, but found meaning else. Says Korb:

I was sitting there with my stepfather in the days before he died and he said to me, “Look, you have to take care of your mother when I’m gone.” And that became my Christian inheritance, and that became my experience. My stepfather was a very devout Catholic and for him, his experience was that his own afterlife didn’t seem to matter to him in the moment, but only that we—his children—would take over where he left off in taking care of my mother.

I think this moment is less about his stepfather’s focus on this world instead of the next, and more about his focus on leaving his family secure because he knows he’s going on. In that moment, heaven wasn’t as important as making sure his family would be okay. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about heaven like “a very devout Catholic.”

For twenty years of my life I was sure that I knew how to be a Catholic, that I knew how to live as a religious person, and that meant to be as disciplined as I could and to develop an eating disorder and to decide I wanted to be a priest because I thought that that was what God wanted—was for me to be lonely my whole life. And that’s not to say that I think that priests are lonely. That’s to say that in my perception of the priesthood I was lonely and I wanted to make loneliness—as I say in the book—my vocation.

I can understand this. A lot of times, I fear that I’m too legalistic in my practice of Catholicism. What it is, though, is that I just like living my faith that way. I like following the specific practices and traditions that have come down through the centuries. It’s comforting for me to do the same things at every Mass, every day. There’s no one single way to be Catholic (though I think his self-described “Catholic atheism” pushes it). Some priests (and laypeople) do well in the silence. Some crave activity and live fellowship. The apostles were all very different men, after all.

The magazine also featured an interview with Braddigan of the band Dispatch, which I think I’ve heard of in passing. Clearly, I need to pay more attention, because he is so profound and eloquent.

I think a lot of people identify with Christianity or any faith for that matter as a kind of external clothing. Something you were born into, a tradition, something that stays on the outside and it is in this box and then your life is in this box. People tend to approach their lives like there are the three or four boxes that.

[…] I don’t really understand exactly how as an athlete and as a musician and as a person who loves the Lord—how can I put all that stuff together. He said “You just live one life. You are never supposed to believe that ministry was over here and maybe church is on Sundays and your work Monday through Friday and your vacation…it’s one life and who you carry inside you internally, Christ, the Holy Spirit, this light that the Lord talks about that can’t be hidden…that’s your greatest gift.”

Later, he quotes St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Braddigan really understands that faith is not something you can relegate to a box to check and a place to go on Sundays. Faith gives us life. Faith is life.

AP Musings about Mormons

Another news story caught my eye today, this time from the Associated Press: “Theology divides Mormons, evangelicals.” It reads like a beginner’s guide to the LDS (Latter-Day Saints) church. I’m not a fan of Mormonism, but I know they favor the practical application of faith in everyday life and big, loving families, which I like.

The biggest concern people have about Romney in the Republican race is that he’s a Mormon. I always thought it was just their lack of familiarity with Mormonism. It seems to me to be more of a question of practical faith.

Another concern for some: that Mormon church presidents are held out as prophets with revelatory power that can alter the church’s direction and beliefs.

Said [Richard] Mouw, “That notion that things can just get changed is scary for a lot of people who worry that a church with a very strong authority center could influence a public leader by suddenly getting a new revelation that has an impact on public policy.”

This reminds me of what they used to say about JFK, that the pope would control the U.S. Thirty years later, they fear the LDS church leader will do the same. I don’t think either is true. It’s a pity that JFK didn’t live long enough for us to see more of his faith in action.

According to data gathered by the Pew Research Center (which has a great website), only 53 percent of people have favorable feelings towards Mormons; 76 percent towards Jews and Catholics. Clearly that 76 percent does not spend much time on college campuses.

Cellular Saints

I came across a Reuters article about a service that sends images of saints to cell phones. An Italian bishop thinks it’s crass and irreverent. I think it’s pretty cool. Instead of ordering pornography via cell phone, you can get a holy reminder. I have Our Lady of the Streets on my phone, and the stained glass window of the Holy Spirit from St. Peter’s Basilica is my wallpaper. If holy cards are fine, why not holy text messages?

Almost Incredible

I have long maintained that the U.S. is experiencing a conservative sociopolitical swing. The Reagan & Bush the Elder era of the 1980’s was fairly conservative. Then came President Clinton and the “do what you want” attitude of the 90’s, especially concerning science and sex. Then, after the fiasco that was the 2000 election, came clearly Christian Bush the Younger, the stem cell debate, and a renewed uproar over Roe v. Wade (or maybe that was just when I became aware of Roe…probably the latter).

When the Carhart v. Gonzales decision came down making partial-birth (IDC) abortion illegal, I was shocked and absolutely delighted. It turns out that the government can tell you what to do with your body–and your baby’s body. Remember, suicide is still illegal. If you could really do whatever you want, you’d be able to end your own life, but you can’t. Dr. Kevorkian could tell you that.

Now, with this amazing breakthrough in stem cell research (explicated in a Washington Post editorial Maura sent to me), the U.S. political pendulum is swinging even farther toward the right. Adult stem cells have cured dozens of diseases already, while research from embryonic stem cells has done nothing except incite political and ideological debate. Now Thomson has proved that not only can you do more good using adult stem cells, it’s easier. There is absolutely no need to continue embryonic stem cell research.

This is almost incredible. Almost. It would be actually incredible (which means “unbelievable”) if I didn’t believe that God knows what he’s doing.

Lovin’ the Latin

Too often, you hear about young people as though we’re the bane of society. We sleep around, we do drugs, we get arrested, and so on. Nowadays, though, it’s more common (and, I think, more important) to highlight the good things. We volunteer, we care about the environment…and we young Catholics love tradition.

Case in point: This Friday, we are having (Novus Ordo) Mass in Latin at the CSC. Over the last few months, I’ve been going to the CSC early on Wednesdays to practice parts of the Mass in Latin. We’re going to chant the Agnus Dei and Sanctus (which I already knew), as well as the Gloria, Kyrie, and Memorial Acclamation. We couldn’t quite manage the Pater Noster in time, but Br. Louis says we’ll work on it for next semester. I’m a good sight reader, so I focus mostly on getting the pronunciation right. My R‘s always sound Spanish, but that’s to be expected considering that I don’t speak Latin.

I have a more obvious Spanish R problem with the rosary. Kevin organized a Latin rosary before the Mass on Friday, to complement the rosary we usually pray before daily Masses. He asked me, Martino, Jess Newman, and Josh to lead decades. Quick quiz: which of the people in that list speaks neither Latin nor Italian? That’d be me. It will be an interesting experience. At least if I create a scene, only the people I know will laugh at me.

I’m excited to have Mass in Latin, though. It’s the closest to Tridentine I’ll have been. I always liked our Spanish Masses back before Estefi graduated. It’s also a wonderful sign that our traditional/orthodox swing is (a) shared by Fr. Kyle and (b) no going to slow down anytime soon.

Sancte Andrea, ora pro nobis.

A Cautious Return

I used to love blogging. I remember when I first tried to blog more than once a day, only to find a kink in the (old) Blogger system that displayed them in the wrong together. Then I went through all the trouble of moving into WordPress and learning how to use it.

Then school happened. Then school happened again.

So here I am, almost finished with college. I’ve had what feels like the worst semester of my life, but also like every semester before this one. The last time I tried to catch up, I promised to stop trying to catch up, so I’m not going to.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I am thankful for Jesus and my awesome family and friends. It was the feast of St. Cecilia, so I decided to go to Mass. I feel so gypped not having a name day. The closest I can get is St. Colette (my middle name, which I never use, is Nicole). This year, Thanksgiving eclipsed St. Cecilia’s day in the U.S., so I get nothing. I did celebrate St. Rose of Lima back in August, but that doesn’t really count.

Anyway, I was headed around to St. Columba Church, but I passed by St. Ignatius on the way, and they happened to be having Mass at 10 a.m. as well, so I stopped there. I was pleased with the number of people at Mass. Still coughing and slightly germy, I couldn’t participate as fully as I would have liked, but I’m glad I went.

I came home, changed out of my sweater because it was freakishly hot, and wandered around the house until we left for my grandparents’ house for dinner. There was a ton of food, and it was delicious. I said grace, as usual, because I’m the most religious person my family knows (not that we ever “gather around the table” to pray before meals except on Thanksgiving and Christmas). I had a piece and a half of triple chocolate cheesecake for dessert, and read some of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King for Arthurian Literature before we headed home.

Today was pretty good. I was up until almost 2 a.m. last night talking to Jim on AIM. I suppose I needed something to ground me after yesterday’s Thanksgiving family fest. I set my alarm for 9:30, but gave myself permission to ignore it. I got out of bed just before 11 a.m. It was fabulous. After eating and showering, I spent three hours catching up with the Lectionary from the last two weeks. It wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as my Bible marathon on retreat, but as Jim reminded me, nothing is ever as good as it is on retreat. I checked my email, ate some fabulous cheese with extra cheese pizza for dinner, graded journals for my class, and watched the end of pop-up High School Musical 2. (One of these days, I’ll catch the first one.)

And now, I’m trying to resurrect a blog, but I also have things to do. We’ll see how this hiatus return goes.

Ready for Kindergarten

August 13, 2007, was my fifth blogiversary. I have had this blog on and off for FIVE YEARS. My blog would be old enough to start kindergarten if it were a person. I rarely remember my blogiversary on the actual day, but I’ve never been two weeks late.

Last year, I commemorated the day by posting a retrospective about my previous blogiversaries. I had just switched to WordPress then. Have I really been out of Blog*Spot for a whole year?

This year, I commemorated the day by thinking, “I really should blog.” Two days later, I actually managed it. I started blogging as an extension of my love of journaling into my love of the Internet. I did return to paper for my spiritual journal, but my day-to-day (or semester-to-semester) writings are still online for the world to see. It’s a little scary. I’ll have to have another plan once I start teaching. I don’t want my students Googling me.

On to year six, in which I will graduate from college and move on not to the real world, or even to the real world of teaching. If college is like day care for new adults, grad school is kindergarten.

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