Monthly Archives: September, 2016

What Does a Marriage Culture Look Like? (Review: Helen Alvaré, “Restoring Culture from Confusion”)

Since the decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges effectively legalized civil marriage between two people of the same sex in all 50 states, many opponents of same-sex marriage have been wondering what to do. Is there anything to do? The law has clearly come down on one side, and it’s not the side of the Catholic Church or even many secular organizations. It now falls to advocates for opposite-sex marriage to try to change hearts the way same-sex marriage supporters successfully changed laws.

Religious arguments won’t sway everyone, though, so it’s useful to have a historical, philosophical, or social vantage point to rely on. That’s part of how I found the Love and Fidelity Network. I’ve been keeping tabs on their work for several years now, since I worked in campus ministry. College campuses are customarily places for exposure to new ideas and inherently places where young people make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. They’re an excellent place to spread the message of marriage, family, and sexual integrity.

“Sexual integrity” is the rallying cry of the Love & Fidelity Network. There is a perception that we can do whatever we want with our sex lives, especially while we’re young, without those chose having any effect on our future. From the POV of sexual integrity, however, our sexual choices really do affect our futures. Each year, the Love & Fidelity Network sponsors a conference for student leaders called “Sexuality, Integrity, and the University.” Last fall, Helen Alvaré, J.D., Professor of Law at George Mason University and a graduate of Cornell Unversity and the Catholic University of America, gave a delightful presentation about what a marriage culture would look like. It’s an intriguing picture. Watch the video below…or read my summary for a briefer version of her vision.

Read my commentary at ATX Catholic.

Sunday Style: Rollercoaster Heart

Life has started to creep back to normal levels of stress, so that is helpful. I mismanaged my time a little bit, though, so I actually rushed out the door wearing this without any ironing. Can you tell?

Sunday Style for September 11

Dress and shirt: Old Navy
Sandals: Target
Necklace: National Shrine gift shop (I am very picky about crucifixes)
Earrings (not that you can see them very well): Claire’s

I can’t believe I skipped this dress all summer! In Austin, it is summer until Halloween. Then there’s a flood. I was almost bold enough to wear a white skirt, but the weather was not on my side. (Those gloomy midafternoon clouds are the worst.) I also considered white shoes, but they didn’t go with this outfit; I checked. So I just had to settle for one of my favorite dresses. Darn.

I was sad when Mass started, despite seeing Fr. Pastor for the first time in a long time. I guess I’ve been traveling when he has had that Mass time slot recently. I knew the upsetting surprise at the end of Mass last week would probably happen again.

I cheered up during the readings, although one of the ushers blocked my usual line of sight to the tabernacle. I like to keep my eyes there during the psalm so I’m singing the response in response and to God. I think I picked up that tip from the Great Adventure Psalms Bible study; it helps me focus.

Fr. Pastor’s homily followed his usual style: very long, but very good. He’d proclaimed the short version of the Gospel, stopping before the Prodigal Son parable. I do my pre-reading straight from my Evangelio del dia email, so I hadn’t realized there was a shorter option this week. I was expecting to hear yet another perspective on the Prodigal Son (and I mean that in a good way; I love the new insights I get about that parable in particular), but I didn’t.

Instead, Fr. Pastor spoke about how we usually think of ourselves as the lost sheep or lost coin, and we feel good that God comes to look for us even when he has plenty of others, even when we wandered away on our own. But that’s not the context of the story. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees, who wonder why he’s eating with tax collectors and sinners. So he must have had a message specifically for the Pharisees. His message was that we should be like the shepherd and like the woman who loses the coin. We should go seek out the ones who have been lost, even when they don’t repent, even when they do nothing. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that; I’ve heard the Prodigal Son framed as a call for us to be like the father, but I never took it back up the chapter.

I realized that, just like we tend to see ourselves as the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son (or maybe that’s just me?), we misread the lost sheep and lost coin parables, too. Our mission is to go after the souls who are lost and to welcome them back regardless of their worthiness or actions. As Fr. Pastor said, that’s what disciples do.

After that and the Eucharist, I was back in a good mood. Then the “sending song” was moved again. I waited quietly for it all to be over, said my usual prayers, and left Mass with a heavy heart.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

The Bible Is a Story About Jesus (Review: “Walking with God”)

I love to read. I also love Jesus. I must confess, however, that I do not always love to read about Jesus. I would wager that most Christians (and many non-Christians) know that the Bible is a book about Jesus. I would also wager that many of those same people might struggle to explain how a long list of “begats,” hundreds of detailed Levitical laws, and Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho are about Jesus. It’s not their fault, though; they have never been taught that the Bible has a story. Just one. It is a story about Jesus. But it’s not easy to read.

Thank God for Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray. Along with several other gifted writers, they have developed The Great Adventure: a series of books and Bible studies that reveal the narrative story of Scripture. I had the opportunity to participate in a summertime study of the short version of the Bible Timeline at Emmaus Catholic Parish a number of years ago. Those eight weeks changed the way I read the Bible. It makes sense now! If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have time for eight straight weeks of homework and driving to meetings,” then I know Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible is for you. It’s a book. You can read it at your own pace. You don’t even need to read the referenced verses in order to understand (although that will help). No more excuses.

The Bible is a story about Jesus! A review of "Walking with God," by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins, at ATX Catholic

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Currently: September 2016

Currently at Lindsay Loves

Oh, hi, September. I was really eager for you to get here because my August was so awful. You’re not great so far, but you’ve got a little while left to turn things around.

Here’s what I am currently…

Reading: Whatever my Goodreads account says I am. My main book right now is Walking with God, which I’m reading with Mr. Man for our tiny two-person book club. Strictly speaking, he’s finished reading. I’m still plodding along slowly, refreshing my memory from the 8-week Bible study version of the same content from several years ago and getting ready for the 24-week version at my parish this month. Salvation history is amazing. I love geeking out with Mr. Man over our insights.

Trying: To keep going. As I said, I struggled through August, and I’m still struggling. I tried some new West Coast Swing moves. Wrist slips are very tricky.

Hoping: Not for a whole lot at the moment. I’m taking things one day at a time, so I guess I’m hoping I get more days in which to try again. Tomorrow is not promised to you.

Decorating: File folders. For my main Labor Day project, I set up a monthly tickler file. (This page has instructions and a ton of photo examples.) It’s part of GTD, but it only works with paper and other physical items, so I got by without one for a while. I bought all my supplies last May (not this past one… the one before that), but I never prioritized actually building the thing. I finally moved it off my Someday/Maybe list and got it done. There isn’t much in it at the moment, but it looks so pretty! I detest color-coding; I love colorful things.

GTD Tickler at Lindsay Loves

Just the middle part. The part in front is files that need purging and relabeling.

To-do Listing: That is not a word. Due to my love of Wunderlist and GTD, my to-do list is technically several lists. I did cross off two noteworthy items last month. I paid off another of my student loans, leaving me with only two left. I needed a win, and my debt snowball was finally large enough. Say what you want about the math; I’m getting out of debt. I also completed one of the monthly syllabi for my West Coast classes that I missed during my first go-round at this level. Learning new material on top of everything else was a challenge, but it was a challenge I could do. And I did.

Recapping: August

  • My grandmother disappeared for just over three weeks. She was found dead just over a week ago. We won’t be able to schedule her funeral for a while.
  • I got a staph infection and folliculitis at the same time. I’m better now.
  • Mr. Man’s family also went through some tough times.
  • I was slammed at work, which made all of the above a lot more difficult.
  • It was my birthday. I celebrated quietly and unremarkably.

August was a tough month. I am glad that it’s over. What’s new with you? What projects are you finishing currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Beth of The Beth Next Door. Won’t you join us?

Sunday Style: Weird Behavior

September isn’t going very well. I managed not to get rained on, though, and I got to church on time, so that was a win. However, this was one week I almost wished I had left early. I’ll explain.

Sunday Style for September 4

Top and skirt: Old Navy
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: Claire’s, barely visible
Shoes: Target

It is summer in Austin until roughly Halloween, so I intend to keep wearing white as long as it’s warm enough and doesn’t rain. I almost misjudged Sunday on the rain front. I was astonished to find my car wet after church. I hadn’t packed an umbrella. I blazed through my post-church Target run so quickly that I was actually out of breath afterwards. I also got a lot of stares. Call me crazy, but I was taught not to stare. These were not children; they were rude adults. I hope that was an isolated incident.

Church was fine all the way through the homily. My parish used to have so many deacons that we had one at almost every Mass. Now we’re down to two, and one is new, so I don’t think I had heard this one preach before. Deacon T started his homily with long though vivid descriptions of the kinds of people who might actually be better off hating their spouses, parents, and children. A husband who puts his wife on a pedestal to the exclusion of God (which reminds me of the Israelites’ constant apostasy with the gods of foreign women in the Old Testament). Parents so devoted to their children that they brought them to see Jesus just so they would be in the “in crowd.” A single young woman on the prowl, hoping to meet new men and finding plenty of possibilities in the crowd around Jesus. Those people just might need to hate the people they should otherwise love because the earthly objects of their affection are getting between them and God.

Further discussing marriage, Deacon T said, “Marriage is an institution, so we had better be committed.” I’m not usually a fan of mental health jokes, but that felt more like wordplay than insensitivity. I can appreciate clever turns of phrase, and I agree that marriage doesn’t make any sense—without God to get us through it, that is.

He also gave a shout out to the converts who have gone against their families’ wishes to follow Jesus in our parish specifically, not just the Church in general. I liked that; it’s easy to leave concepts in abstraction without applying them to our actual lives. My one quibble is that he backed down on the “hating people” part. You can clarify that Jesus meant to hate anything and anyone that comes between us and God. You shouldn’t say that Jesus didn’t mean the words you just read out loud to us from that same ambo you’re still standing behind. The Bible is confusing enough without your saying “Jesus said” and then “Jesus didn’t say” the exact same thing.

We had announcements after the Creed, read by the second lector, which is a recent change (both the placement and the reader). We also have a welcome message from the presider before the offertory (after the other welcome message by the first lector at the beginning of Mass). It’s kind of a big chunk of talking right there between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but I’ve gotten used to it.

This week, though, the lector announced that, because of community and worship and other things that I thought the Mass already had by nature, the “sending song” would now be sung after the Prayer After Communion and before the final blessing and dismissal. I was so shocked my mouth actually physically fell open, and I turned to the choir to see their reactions. They were pretty blank-faced, so I guess they knew before then.

And then they did just that. I opted not to sing that song. I accidentally knelt to pray after Mass (or at the time I thought was after Mass) before the recession actually began. I was unsure when it was actually polite to leave. The experience was awkward and confusing, and I was upset. I emailed my pastor as briefly and politely as I could today to ask why that happened. I got a response about which I have nothing kind to say, so I will say nothing more than that I got a response. I have always said that I remain at my parish because I’ve never had a reason to leave. I am hoping that I didn’t just get one.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

7 Quick Takes on My Grandma, Praying for 1,275 Days, and AutoHotKey

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

If you missed my previous 7QT, my grandmother went missing from her home in Maryland on August 5. On August 28, her car and body were located in Pennsylvania. We won’t be able to hold her funeral for several more weeks. It is a small comfort to at least know that she’s not missing anymore.

— 2 —

My grandma’s birthday was at the beginning of the month. Mine was at the end. I celebrated very quietly, by just having dinner with a local friend. I received an unfortunate combination of birth-dolence messages, but I am thankful to have so many people wishing me well in such a tough time. I’m trying to find my joy again.

— 3 —

As I mentioned in my last Sunday Style post, I have a short list of hymns I won’t sing. (Are they still “hymns” if they’re terrible?) I was first inspired to create such a list by Tommy Tighe’s call for hymns to ban over at The Catholic Hipster. Most of his list are songs that I will sing, but only begrudgingly. Occasionally, I try to sing them, but I can’t because I start laughing at how inane the lyrics are. No church song should make me think, “Wait, is this actually about God at all, or are we just singing to each other?” Yes, that is an actual thought I’ve had during Mass.

While we’re on the subject, if I die suddenly, and you allow “On Eagle’s Wings” to be played at my funeral, I will haunt you. The Church has no official teaching on the existence or nonexistence of ghosts, and that is not a song about death. I would prefer “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” and “Lord of All Hopefulness.”

— 4 —

One of my Labor Day mini-projects was to set up my new laptop to type en and em dashes. I use them exactly as much as you would expect from someone with two English degrees. My old laptop was pretty wide, so it had space for an entire 10-key number pad. This new one doesn’t. There was no way I was going to copy and paste a dash or open the Character Map every time I needed one. So I installed AutoHotKey, I found very simple instructions via Google (better-looking code here, and differentiating between each dash here, but with an annoying pop-up), and I am back in business.

— 5 —

I like to marathon episodes of Catholic Bytes while I straighten my hair on Sundays. I listened to the episode on the Anointing of the Sick this week and heard an excellent explanation of what the effects of the sacrament are supposed to be. Sometimes it leads to physical healing, but not always. So what’s the point? It’s like a spiritual life vest, giving us the grace to resist temptation and fight against struggles at a time when we are already suffering and more likely to fall into despair. That makes sense, and it’s much more comforting than the general idea of “maybe it will heal you; maybe it won’t.”

— 6 —

As of last night, I have prayed Night Prayer for at least 1,275 consecutive days. I can’t remember when I actually started my daily streak, but I know I haven’t skipped a day since I went to Belize. That was March 10, 2013. I used to let myself skip it when I was too tired, when I was running late for bed, or when I just forgot. Now, it’s as much of a reflex as something like eating. (You’re probably on a decades-long streak of eating daily. Laura Vanderkam pointed that out as she mentioned researching her article about multi-year habit streaks; auto-play video at the end.)

— 7 —

I like this image because of its message, but also because it reminds me of me and Mr. Man. I don’t really need to see people who look like me in order to relate to ad images, but it’s sure nice when I do.

"May married couples, encouraged by Our Lady's example, give witness to faith and love through their marriages." —9 Days for Life

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Sunday Style: The Rest of August

August was kind of a wash, so I’m just moving on to September. September is a blank slate. I did not post my last three church outfits, but I took my photos and homily notes, so here is a huge catch-up.

Important note for WIWS fans: Sadly, Fine Linen and Purple (founder of What I Wore Sunday), lost control of that domain name. It was taken over by malicious squatters. Do not visit their website. I did, and my browser and speakers were completely hijacked. It was scary. I will eliminate all the links to their site from mine that I can find, but I want to warn you not to follow any you find here or visit that URL directly.

What I Wore Sunday, August 14

Sunday Style for August 14

Dress, skinny belt, and shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift
Earrings: so small that I can’t see them and so long ago that I can’t remember.

As I mentioned in my 7QT as I returned to blogging, I had an ugly bacterial infection, so I needed to cover up my legs for lectoring. I’d exhausted several good covered-up outfits during the previous week, so this was my best shot. I also like this outfit a lot.

In his homily, Fr. Associate Pastor said that Jesus emphasized that following him will not be easy. As with Jeremiah in the first reading, following Jesus will bring division between those who follow him and those who don’t. It was true then, and it was true now. He’s not saying “start a fight with non-Christians.” He’s saying, “Following me might mean leaving even people you love behind.”

In perhaps the most elegant pop culture tie I’ve ever heard, he also mentioned that Olympic sports are only possible because athletes agree to follow the rules and compete fairly. I think that was related to following Jesus and all his rules, not just the parts we like.

I had the second reading. I love the “cloud of witnesses” image. Fr. said that the second reading encourages us to keep going in our struggle to keep the faith. We have Jesus on our side, and he has shown us that following him and following God requires great effort and sacrifice. But hopefully, at the end of our lives, we will be able to say like St. Paul that we have run the race, fought the good fight, kept the faith, and won the imperishable crown of victory. I was struggling a lot at the time, so that was hard to hear, but it’s landing on my heart a little easier today. Maybe I needed the delay before writing it up here.

What I Wore Sunday, August 21

Sunday Style for August 21

Blouse: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Old Navy
Earrings: very old gift

This blouse is my favorite interview top. I wear it regularly, but it has just the right amount of structure and comfort for fancy times. (I have a similar philosophy for my everyday purse.) That infection still wasn’t quite clear, hence the continued coverage.

This week, Fr. AP said that, if you’ve ever been late for a train or bus, you know the feeling that you’ve been left behind, that you’ve missed out on something, that you might even get on the wrong train because you were late. No one wants to be late. Do you want to be late when the kingdom begins? So many people want to just sneak through, just get by at the last minute. They want to be the hooligans who rush through when they hear “ding ding Step back. Doors closing.” (I miss the Metro.)

Sometimes I feel like I was late to the kingdom party because I was away from the Church for so long. It’s not always a great time at this party, but I am glad I found my way in eventually.

What I Wore Sunday, August 28

Sunday Style for August 28

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Earrings: gift from Mr. Man
Necklace: holy medals
Shoes: Old Navy

Sweet freedom! I originally had on a white skirt to celebrate summer and clear legs, but the sky was ominously dark, so I switched at the last minute. It drizzled very lightly when I walked out of my house. Then I drove through drizzle and heavy rain in constant sunshine. The rain abated and stayed away the entire time I was at church. I made it into and out of Taco Cabana right before the sky opened up (no sun that time), and I walked back inside the house in drizzle once again.

Texas has the weirdest weather.

We still had Fr. AP this week. It’s nice because I feel like I’m getting to know him, but it would be nice to see our actual pastor more often. Fr. AP cautioned us to not seek lofty positions because they will come naturally from humility. I’m not really buying that right now. One of my current #adulting struggles concerns how to turn the life I have into something more like the life I want. Like many people my age, especially girls, I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be. I was sold a bill of goods, and now that I feel as though I came up short, I’m trying to figure out where to go from here.

On a positive note, Fr. AP made reference to 1 Corinthians 13, where St. Paul begins by saying that having the gift of prophecy and speaking lofty words is nothing without love. That was a kind of encouragement toward humility that did sit well with me.

I also find it interesting that my parish’s choir likes “Canticle of the Turning” so much. I think we’ve had it twice in five or six weeks. We never get past Verse 2, but Verse 4 is quite nice. In any other context, any mention of God’s justice burning like a fire would be met with frowns and talk of mercy (which, granted, shows up in the verses). Then again, maybe it’s just the Augustinian in me that thinks so closely about the words I sing. Ask me sometime about the list of hymns I won’t sing.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

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