The Adventures of the Irish-German Family Robisons

Just a heads up, my family is going on vacation, which means I’m taking a blogging vacation too.

If you need me, we’ll be in the South because Lord knows, when it’s hot, it can always get hotter. Also, my sister found a cabin on a lake where our dog is allowed to frolic too.

How could we leave her behind?!

Emily of Day in the Life tagged me in a blog meme where you pick seven of your favorite blog posts. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but here goes:

1. Most Beautiful Post(s)

“What is Real? asked the Rabbit” — later became my first post for TIC

“Master, to whom shall we go?” — Thomas Aquinas’ poetry and reflecting on the Eucharist

2. Most Popular Post(s)

“Hail, Mary!” and “Hillsdating and Other False Realities” both cleared over 1,000 views each.

3. Most Controversial Post

“Going to the Mattresses: One Girl’s Take on Faith and Feelings”Bright Maidens post no. 5, my issue(s) with the Catholic Church (for more insight into my thoughts on this subject, here is an earlier post/ excerpt from a FOC letter: “Flannery on Faith and Feelings”)

4. Most Helpful Post(s)

“I will be the one/ Drenched in Proverbs 31” — someone else’s helpfulness

“A Last Lecture, How Romantic” — a former professor and an excerpt from his wonderful article (which I heard as a last lecture), “The Romance of Domesticity”

“What’s Love Got To Do, Got To Do With It?” — most helpful post to me and my future discernment, especially in understanding the idea of wives submitting to their husbands and what that means

“Tamed, Thanks to Hillsdale College” — Dr. Jackson’s spring 2010 convocation speech is amazing, especially his voice, his beard and his discussion of Le Petite Prince

“I been leavened by the yeast he don’t believe in,” he said, “and I won’t be burned.” — from my college days; an excerpt from a FOC short story and one scholar’s take on it (and life)

5. Post(s) Whose Success Surprised You

“Saint Who?” — Bright Maidens post no. 4 on patron saints; nicest shout-out ever on CatholicVote

Also, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” — a short quote by Pope Benedict XVI on making the Church “more attractive” and “credible”

6. A Post You Feel Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved

“Thursdays with My Mom’s Side” — death of a dear one, James Joyce, W.H. Auden, and coming home.

7. Post you’re Most Proud of

“Oh College Days, What Art Thou?” — a response to a friend who graduated summa cum laude

Here are some more honorable mentions:

“Confessions of the Un-Domestic” — is a person born domestic? or is domesticity thrust upon them?

“Happy Birthday, William Faulkner!” — read him.

“Homeless in Columbus” — a fateful meeting with a homeless man and his poetry

“Shun the Hipsters” — from a Paris Review interview with John Updike

“A Caucus-Race! In Alexandria, not Wonderland” — a game I played walking to the metro

Fun trivia from Weez and the USCCB: this week is NFP Awareness Week! Who knew?

The Bright Maidens reached 200 FOLLOWERS over the weekend; have you “liked” us on FB yet? Our next topic will be summer reading and will be due the first Tuesday in August.

See y’all in August!

What do John Mayer and the Catholic Church have in common?

Fr. John Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing
“What do John Mayer and the Catholic Church have in common?” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

John Mayer is at least $600 richer because of me, not that he needs it. I’ve been to nine John Mayer concerts over the last ten years and I own every track he has ever written or on which he has played.

But I haven’t heard his voice in twelve months.

More than a year ago, John Mayer lived up to the reputation I always knew he deserved and acted like a jerk in an interview. He spoke inappropriately about his ex-girlfriends, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston, and burned himself into our memories forever as the musician with a dirty mind, bad taste, and loose lips.

You can see why I was so attracted to him.

I didn’t stop listening to him on purpose; remember my past: I have been a devoted fan for almost half of my life and I wouldn’t boycott his music because of his off-stage behavior.

However, every other time one of his songs would come on, I would skip to another song or change the radio station. I lost my taste for his music because I could not disassociate his music from his words.

The situation with Fr. Corapi is two-fold. He lost his revered reputation because of an accusation and the Church was once again stained by scandal, though they tried to distance themselves from it immediately.

The difference between my former music idol and this situation is a matter of innocence vs conjecture. However, both John Mayer and Fr. Corapi and the Catholic Church are stained with the same results. John Mayer definitely said the awful things that he said. We don’t know if Fr. Corapi did what he did, but in both cases, the connotations of the figures are corrupted.

Another difference: importance. John Mayer will still sell records and his image is unrelated to faith or salvation. The Catholic Church has seen 2000 years of scandal and unrest, yet it still survives.

According to a PEW study, roughly 10% of all Americans are “former Catholics,” perhaps the largest identifiable demographic of “faith.” This is scary.

I know several former Catholics who left in the face of scandal. They made decisions that are far more complicated than I can imagine, so I’m not condemning them. The truth is, however, they left Catholicism in a time of unrest.

We need to be like this, standing strong among the secular.

On a micro scale, I know many “former Catholics” who left for reasons that seemed to be unrelated to the scandals. When I speak with them and they mention “growing up Catholic,” they seem to brush it off as if they grew up in Alaska and now they live in Hawaii.

It was just a change of address. The teachings were just too ridiculous, like the weather was just too harsh, and a move was necessary.

I venture to guess that these individuals grew up in a home and decade where the teachings were THUS, The End. Take it or leave it, no explanation needed or provided.

We’ve confronted hundreds of these decades over the centuries and we’ve seen millions of faith-casualties fall in their wake, so this is a reasonable guess.

It’s time to stop making these snap decisions and to stop fostering an environment that allows uninformed people to exile themselves.

Micro

Yesterday, I attended one of my great aunt’s funerals, over which her priest brother presided. He is the most “conservative” priest I’ve ever encountered and I know his preachings turn off a lot of listeners. He asserted that he would not “put [his] sister in heaven today, because there is a reality of Purgatory that the Church has taught for 2000 years.”

The tension in the church was palpable. At the Wake the night before, my great aunt’s son spoke about his mother sending him a sign of a bluebird to let him know she was in heaven with his father. He asserted that she was in heaven and my great uncle the priest asserted that she probably was not.

Rather than explaining the teaching of Purgatory as the Church teaches (including the complicated concept of time and how it is a human relativism) the priest ticked off a lot of people on a sad day. These moments that priests have to approach their sheep on a micro level are critical for the Church’s image.

The macro situations involve scandal and accusations, like those of Fr. Corapi. We lose brothers and sisters in the Church to both because of a weakening of our community. We, the survivors, can’t give up.

If you occasionally miss Sunday Mass, if you go to daily Mass, if you occasionally go to Mass: let this be our call to help bring others back. We are a community, one billion strong, and if we let our brothers and sisters stand on sand, we run the risk of following them.

Ask questions, learn more about the faith from several Catholic sources, listen to those parts of the Mass you might glaze over, pray 5 more minutes today. Take some steps and think of it as a rescue mission for your friends and family.

You’ll be there when they have questions of their own. We’re in this together, so start the hike back to Christ’s Church.

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.” –Matthew 5:11

There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy, And No Measuring Tape Can Reach

TBM Topic 13: Fr. John Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing

“There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy, And No Measuring Tape Can Reach” by Julie Robison
“Believe Me If You Like.” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“What do John Mayer and the Catholic Church have in common?” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

There is something to be said for, what Graham Greene said in Brighton Rock, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has certainly seen its share of sin and scandal in the past 2,000+ years and, most recently, with the latest exposure of John Corapi’s inappropriate escapades, to fuel the opposition’s cackling fire.

In the April 2011 issue of First Things, Gerald McDermott wrote “Evangelicals Divided,” which resulted in many responses, a few of which were published in the June/ July 2011 issue, including from the author himself. Towards the end, he reproached his Papist brethren. “At the same time, I wish the Catholic critics were a bit less triumphalistic,” wrote McDermott. “When the clergy abuse has sent multitudes of Catholics to swim the Tiber away from Rome to either liberal or evangelical Protestantism, and the church is beset with both clergy and parishioners who ignore or defy Rome, one would hope for a bit of ecumenical modesty.” I let out a contented sigh upon reading this- that his protest was but a finger point; in short, our strand of Christendom has its own problems, and gawking is not welcome.

We’re not gawking, we’re taking a break
“Now, it’s perfectly true that in a way this unholiness of Catholics is a compliment to our religion,” wrote Ronald Knox in a lovely volume of lecture apologetics, In Soft Garments. “Because it does mean that a Catholic does not necessarily cease to be a Catholic because he is a rogue. He knows what is right even when he is doing what is wrong. The Protestant as a rule will give up his faith first and his morals afterwards with Catholics it is the other way round. The Protestant only feels his religion to be true as long as he goes on practising it; the Catholic feels the truth of his religion as something independent of himself, which does not cease to be valid when he, personally, fails to live up to its precepts.”

When news first came out about John Corapi, people were wary. This is a sign of mercy, not blind allegiance. He has shown himself to be an amazing defender of the faith; it is a shame to see such a man go wayward.

In Catholic doctrine, the seven spiritual works of mercy are: counsel the doubtful; instruct the ignorant; admonish sinners; comfort the afflicted; forgive offenses; bear wrongs patiently; pray for the living and the dead. How many people remember these when comparing one Christian witness to another? My siblings made a joke in the car yesterday about how ignorant people are “people who know they know everything already.” I thought this an astute observation from a 13 and 15 year old.

As Americans, we should believe that all people are innocent until proven otherwise. As Christians, we know no one can escape final justice. Therefore, as Roman Catholics, all voluntarily professing believers in the same dogma and equal participants in the sacraments, we must especially pray for mercy and grace, for ourselves and each other. Pope Benedict XVI, during his inauguration on April 24, 2005 to become the 265th Bishop of Rome, said, “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

Pray for him! We’re so blessed to have him lead us.

Holy people are not exempt from temptation, though they rise above the occasion. Fr. Joseph Esper, in his excellent book Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems*, opens the chapter on “Temptation” as such:

What is the one thing every human being throughout history who has reached the age of reason has shared in common? It isn’t the reality of sin, either Original Sin or personal sin. Jesus and Mary never sinner, and neither was touched by the sinful inheritance of Adam and Eve. No, the one reality we all share is the experience of being tempted to sin. Even Jesus (and surely Mary, although Scripture doesn’t record it) experienced temptation. Three times the evil one approached Jesus during His forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert… In each case, Jesus rejected the Devil’s suggestions. Not only did He wish to remain true to the will of His Father, but He also desired to provide us with encouragement to face and, with His help, to overcome our own temptations to sin.

Corapi, for all his positive work in the advancement of the faith, has reassured me of something with his moral failings and betrayal of his vows: Truth prevails. The Catholic Church is a vehicle of God, not man. His personal actions were sinful, but the Church’s teachings do not change. I am not Roman Catholic because of one man’s persuasiveness, nor do a thousand-billion people’s personal sins lessen the truths given to us by Jesus Christ, the divine revelation from God the Father or the works of the Holy Spirit.

St. Thomas More would know a thing or two about this
As Pope Benedict XVI told journalist Peter Seewald in Light of the World, “But we must also note that in these matter s [sexual abuse scandals] we are not dealing with something specific to the Catholic priesthood or the Catholic Church. They are, unfortunately, simply rooted in man’s sinful situation, which is also present in the Catholic Church and led to these terrible results.”

After all, as Knox later jokes, “If all Catholics were saints, the truth of our religion would become too glaringly obvious, and there would be no real exercise in making one’s submission to the Church.”

In these times, I pray. Pray for mercy. Pray for help. Pray for hope. Pray for repentance. I also stand my ground. This is what witnessing is; no one is convinced by otherwise. I show mercy. I give help. I tell of my hope, and my reason for it. I repent of my sins, in my heart and in the confessional. To witness, one must believe in the tenants of Christianity, which give cause for virtuous actions, and thus the heart will be sanctified, so that the burning love for God will be kindled and the Holy Spirit’s fire will spread to many more, for the glory of the Kingdom to come.

The one fact of life we must never forget is that all people matter; all people have souls worth saving. Corapi’s life is not over in the Church. The one lost sheep is worth looking for; the Prodigal Son’s return is worth celebrating. There is much to feel blessed about, when one sees good come from bad situations, wrongs rightened, and perseverance through the darkness. In that vein, I particularly like this question and answer from Light of the World:

Seewald asked,

The scandal of sexual abuse could cause us to ask about other cases of abuse of well. For instance, the abuse of power. The abuse of a relationship. The abuse of a commission to educate. The misuse of my gifts. In ancient Greece a tragedy was supposed to cause strong emotions in the spectators, a “cathartic” or cleansing effect that made them think in a new way about their life. Only catharsis makes people ready to change their deeply ingrained behaviors. Couldn’t the current crisis of the Church become a new opportunity also?

Pope Benedict XVI replied,

I think so. Indeed, I have already mentioned that the Year of Priests, which turned out quite differently from what we had expected, had a cathartic effect also. That the laity, too, became grateful again for what the priesthood really is and saw its positive nature in a new way, precisely in the midst of the disturbances and the threats to it. 

This catharsis is for all of us, for all of society, but especially of course for the Church, a call to recognize again our fundamental values and to see the dangers that profoundly threaten not only priests but also society as a whole. Knowledge about this threat and the destruction of the moral framework of out society should be for us a call to purification. We must acknowledge again that we cannot simply live in any way we please. That freedom cannot be arbitrariness. That is imperative to learn to exercise a freedom that is responsibility.

As such, each of have a responsibility in this lifetime to discern and properly seek our purpose, to live according to the Word and Catholic doctrine, and to be a witness for how our relationship with God-in-Three has and continues to profoundly change our hearts and shape our souls. As was proclaimed in the Gospel on Sunday, weeds will grow up beside the harvest, but it is not for us to pick them out before the whole crop comes to fruition. In the sin of scandal, our ruffled feathers help us straighten out our own lives, examine our own actions and thoughts, and more earnestly seek to live more faithfully.

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Pope Benedict XVI explained this best in his brilliant Introduction to Christianity, with the reminder to use our fallen natures as the stepping stone upwards to God, for we are not called to a flawless, never-tripping-or-making-mistakes holiness, but perfection through sanctification:

On the contrary, this holiness expressed itself precisely as mingling with the sinners whom Jesus drew into his vicinity; as mingling to the point where he himself was made “to be sin” and bore the curse of the law in execution as a criminal– complete community of fate with the lost (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). He has drawn sin to himself, made it his lot, and so revealed what true “holiness” is: not separation, but union; not judgment, but redeeming love.

Is the Church not simply a continuation of God’s continual plunge into human wretchedness; is she not simply the continuation of Jesus’ habit of sitting at the table with sinners, of his mingling with the misery of sin to the point where he actually seems to sink under its weight? Is there not revealed in the unholy holiness of the Church, as opposed to man’s expectation of purity, God’s true holiness, which is love, love that does not keep its distance in a sort of aristocratic, untouchable purity but mixes with the dirt of the world, in order to thus overcome it? Can, therefore, the holiness of the Church be anything else but the bearing with one another that comes, of course, from the fact that all of us are bourne up by Christ?

No one escapes temptation’s siren call, but how one responds to it determines the course. We should mourn Corapi’s decisions, pray for him, and hope for him, as we should for all people. No one is outside the realm of God’s mercy and we should witness for Christ accordingly, in our unwholly holy way.

So I find words I never thought to speak/ In streets I never thought I should revisit/ When I left my body on a distant shore./ Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us/ To purify the dialect of the tribe/ And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight,/ Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age/ To set a crown upon your lifetime’s effort./ First, the cold friction of expiring sense/ Without enchantment, offering no promise/ But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit/ As body and soul begin to fall asunder./ Second, the conscious impotence of rage/ At human folly, and the laceration/ Of laughter at what ceases to amuse./ And last, the rending pain of re-enactment/ Of all that you have done, and been; the shame/ Of motives late revealed, and the awareness/ Of things ill done and done to others’ harm/ Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
— T.S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding”

*This book is perhaps the borrowed the most from me and then subsequently bought; it is really stupendous, and now there is a second volume. Published by Sophia Institute Press.

Bright Maidens: Believe Me If You Like

 The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Topic: Fr. Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Julie at The Corner With A View 
Check out our Facebook page for guest posts!

Believe Me If You Like
 
Q: How do you know that it is Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine who speak to you?

A: I have told you often enough that they are Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine – believe me if you like.
Transcript of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc by Bastien-Lepage
As a young girl born during the Hundred Years’ War, St. Joan of Arc heard the voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine instructing her to dress like a man and save France.  Joan bravely sought the dauphin, the future King of France; predicted French defeats; and in April of 1429, requested to free Orleans, a town which had been English-occupied for months.  She was successful, though wounded, and celebrated as the Maid of Orleans.

Soon after, she was captured by Burgundian troops and sold to the enemy English.  She was then imprisoned for a year and tried by the Catholic Church on charges of witchcraft and heresy.  An inaccurate summary of her statements was drawn and she was convicted.

In a moment of panic, she felt overwhelmed in front of the large crowds, and recanted her position.  Once she reached her rooms, however, she gained confidence and once again professed the truth of her statements. Joan was condemned as a relapsed heretic and burned at the stake.  Her last words were “Jesus, Jesus!”

Asked if she knows she is in God’s grace, she answered: “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.” She added, if she were in a state of sin, she did not think that the voice would come to her; and she wished every one could hear the voice as well as she did.

St. Joan of Arc is an example of authentic Christian witnessing.  She properly and humbly defended herself from her interrogators, who happen to be Church clergy! If you read the Transcript of her trial (link above), you will find her to be a devout, simple peasant girl who took on an insurmountable task at the urging of Saints, Angels, and the Lord Himself.

We are all called to witness in the same way, although our tasks may not be as bold as Joan’s, nor as life-threatening.  As the Body of Christ, our actions must mirror Christ’s in all we do, and when we face opposition from even our own Church, we must humble ourselves, trusting that God works in His own time.  The truth will always come out.

In a July 5th statement the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. John Corapi’s Order, insisted that although Fr. Corapi inspired “thousands of faithful Catholics…he is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”  This is the danger of false witnessing: it misleads others and often damages their trust, their hope, and their courage.  It sows seeds of discord instead of seeds of peace.


If the Body of Christ jeers, mocks, lies, and hurts other…can we really say we’re the Body of Christ?  Will we really move others to want to know Jesus?  Will we shower others with Christ’s love when we don’t act like him?  

Fulton Sheen told a story about an encounter he had with Mother Teresa.  He asked her how she catechized so many men and women.  She replied that as she cared for the Poorest of the Poor, she would ask them if they wanted to know about Jesus.  “Is Jesus like you?” her charges replied.  “No,” Mother Teresa would tell them, “I’m trying to be like him.”  With that statement and Mother Teresa’s love, the hearts of these men and women were opened to Christ.

Again, most of us do not have the same call as Mother Teresa, but we witness in other ways.  When we participate in Sacramental life; when we care for children,the elderly, or the home-bound; when we offer friends encouragement; when we pray for our enemies; when we give to the needy; when we welcome strangers; when we share hope; and when we offer support, we point our friends, family, and others to Christ’s love.  As long as we do this, we authentically witness to Him.


I will never forget one night in college when I did not feel like going to 9 p.m. Mass in the University Chapel.  “I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I don’t want to go!” I complained to God.


I got dressed anyway.


As I put on my shoes, my phone rang.


“Trista, what’s goooood?” 


It was one of my transfer students, a baseball player with a good heart, lots of smarts that he wasn’t using, and a penchant for partying.

“What’s up?” I asked him.


“I’m sending up the bat signal,” he said, an inside joke about how my transfers could send signs, and I’d be there to help.  “You, like, go to St. Vinny’s for Mass right?”

I sighed.  So funny, Lord!  “Yep, I’m actually heading there in a few.”

“Great, cuz I was thinking…I don’t know anyone who goes to Mass…and like, I wanna go tonight, but I don’t wanna sit by myself…so I thought, oh yeah!  Trista goes!  I could sit with her.”  He was silent for a second.  “Right?”


I tried to digest the fact that he was asking me to help him find a place in the Church.  I felt a heavy, but not uncomfortable, weight on my shoulders.  Whether I realized it or not, others were watching my actions and coming to me to better know Christ’s love.


“Yeah, of course!,” I replied.  “Meet you there in five minutes!”


Ain’t Tat Something

TBM Topic 12: Tattoos

“Ain’t Tat Something” by Julie Robison
“In Memory Of” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Needle and the damage done” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Last Tuesday, I drove my brother north to his interview with the Navy. I was struck by the number of times the Lieutenant asked him if he had any tattoos. I found out later that the Navy allows tattoos if they are covered by conventional clothing (i.e. chest, back), but not otherwise. I am not sure why this is, but it made me think of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Parker’s Back.”

O.E. Parker, the protagonist, had been in the Navy. Nearly his entire body is covered with tattoos, with the notable exception of his back. Parker was “as ordinary as a loaf of bread” and began getting tattoos put on his body after he saw a man at a fair who was tattooed from head to foot. “Until he saw this man at the fair,” wrote O’Connor, “it did not enter his head that there was anything out of the ordinary about the fact that he existed.”

Parker later falls in love with Sarah Ruth, who was “forever sniffing up sin.” She was the daughter of a “Straight Gospel preacher,” and was the first woman he met who did not approve of his tattoos, calling them “a heap of vanity.” He is not religious or interested in it, but still wants to make an effort to please his wife, who constantly threatens his lax language with references to Judgment Day.

The Christ

And so, Parker decides to get a tattoo of the Byzantine Christ on his back for her. It takes the artist two days and Parker pays $20. The tattooist (and later, men at the pool hall) asks if Parker has gone and “got religion” and if he is “ saved” now. “Naw,” Parker replied; “I ain’t got no use for none of that. A man can’t save his self from whatever it is he don’t deserve any of my sympathy. …I married a woman that’s saved, ” is his defense. Parker believes she’ll like it because “She can’t help herself… She can’t say she don’t like the looks of God.”

Sarah Ruth, in  fact, doesn’t like it. She takes a broom and whacks him on the back again and again, screaming “idolatry!” at her husband; “I can put up with lies and vanity but I don’t want no idolater in this house!” When she sees the face of the Christ, she says she doesn’t know him. When Parker says it’s God, she asserts that God “don’t look. He’s a spirit. No man shall see his face.”

I love this short story. Mainly for its mockery of the assertion that God is merely a spirit, which is practically a denial that Jesus is the Word made flesh and lived on this earth, but also for its social commentary. Parker’s mother, for instance, “wept over what was becoming of him” after he got his first tattoo (and then began to drink beer and get in fights). She will not pay for his tattoos (except for the one with her name on it) and attempts to drag her son to a revival, before he runs away from home and joins the Navy. His wife barely tolerates the tattoos, and prefers him his sleeves rolled down and fully covered. Before her, he found that women were attracted to his tattoos and men liked to gawk at his new tattoos. He never felt satisfied for long, and always yearned for another tattoo, filling the space, searching for his next one. It’s a beautiful and physical image of a man looking for personal fulfillment.

I do not think tattoos are an issue of morals or faith. The argument that one should respect one’s body can easily be countered by examples of people who disrespect their body by overeating and/ or drinking, indulging in sexual appetites, and violence. In terms of my Catholicism and tattoos, there is nothing in my beliefs which sway me here or there on tattoos.

There is no right or wrong answer on tattoos. My own opinion, of course, generally thumbs its nose down at tattoos. There are, of course, exceptions and double-standards. I don’t mind them on males nearly as much as I despise them on girls. There are also industries where outside appearance matters– in banking, law, and medicine, for instance– visibly noticeable tattoos would not be tolerated.

For me, the bigger question is why: Why are you getting that tattoo? Why are you putting it there? Why are you inking something permanently to your largest organ?

a depiction of Parker’s back

Apparently tats are big chick and/ or hipster magnets. I’m sorry, I meant “tattoos.” I was trying to sound hip, which I am not. In all seriousness, tattoos do hold a fascination for many people. I cannot suppose why, but O’Connor gave me an inkling into such a sentiment.

Near the end of “Parker’s Back,” O’Connor wrote, “Parker sat for a long time on the ground in the alley behind the pool hall, examining his soul. He saw it as a spider web of facts and lies that was not at all important to him but which appeared to be necessary in spite of his opinion. The eyes that were not forever on his back [of Jesus Chris] were eyes to be obeyed. He was as certain of it as he had ever been of anything.”

In the end, in the Resurrection of the body, God-in-Three will not be concerned with the marks on our body, but the state of our souls, our pursuit of truth and our love of God and each other. A tattoo is not going to disrupt our journey towards God, and it should not be a distraction to believers or non-believers alike. One day, when we see the face of God, that will be something to stare at; but for now, tat’s tat!

Do you have a Twitter? Follow us! @BrightMaidens

In addendum: If you want to know why this post is late, read here. If you want to read Will’s guest post, click here.

Guest Post: Tattoos are Permanent….and You are an Idiot

TBM Topic 12: Tattoos

Join the discussion!

Guest post by B.

Most of my own views have already been stated by previous posters, that tattoos aren’t wrong, but they can be quite distracting and thus have important social consequences that need to be considered. I believe that the strongest argument for why one should very much consider not getting a tattoo is wonderfully summarized in this video, which also gives the title of this piece:


(warning: it has a few offensive words for the faint of ear)

A much more interesting argument than why you shouldn’t get a tattoo is why you should get one! As far as I’ve thought about it, there are two main reasons to consider a tattoo: to seal a memory, or to make a sign of commitment.

People before me posted pictures of tattoos showing devotion to God and Mary. I would like to offer a potential new tradition involving tattoos: getting inked together with your significant other after you get married! A ring can easily be removed as about a million of our nation’s married couples are demonstrating annually, but a tattoo requires a bit more effort to erase that mark. Not only would a tattoo be a permanent sign of commitment, it also would encourage choosing wisely!

Make sense? I think so. It doesn’t have to be gaudy or publicly displayed, and if your partner doesn’t want one, there’s no sense in pressuring him/her to get one anyway.

Anyone else think it’s an interesting idea?

Building Up My Excuse Wall Nice And High

Sorry my latest Bright Maidens post is late… again. I wasn’t out of the country this time. I wasn’t recovering from jet lag either. I did drive my brother to the doctor and then to his interview with the Navy, but that shouldn’t have prevented me from posting. My laptop refusing to turn on, however, did.

Okay Julie, you’re thinking. Not a big deal. Just a post. You couldn’t have prevented your computer from deciding to go black and then have little Windows icon to swirl around for hours.

But, I beg to differ. I missed a deadline.

In professional journalism, my past life, that doesn’t happen. You miss a deadline and… well, bad news bears, yo. You’re messin’ with the lay-out folks now. I used to lose a lot of sleep under the pressure of a deadline. It was wonderful and exhilarating. I took pride in it. I liked how hard I could work under pressure, and the beautiful prose tapped out of my fingertips.

As some older readers know, I used to be a reporter. I covered the statehouse and had a jolly good time. Then, for many reasons, I quit, moved home and began writing and researching for the family business. I’m still Arts and Letters Editor of a quarterly, but I’ve mostly hopped off my journalism perch, and am enjoying a more distant view of a business I once thought of as my life.

As Girl Scouts taught me, make new friends, but keep the old

It is amazing what distance will do for perspective. I talked to a good friend last week, and he asked me about what I am up to. The conversation almost made me laugh from glee, that pithy C.S. Lewis line about telling God your plans coming to mind, and I told my friend how much I am enjoying life. We have been friends since college: he knew me when I was dead-set on D.C., saw me lean towards marketing, helped edit my first academic journal piece, and has been a wonderful friend to me. My update was much longer than his, for better or worse. He’s still on the same track: rocking med school.

On one hand, I envy those in medical or law school, those working in their field of choice, those who shaken off the dust of their hometown and have arrived on the scene in the big city. There’s a plan and a path, and the fruit of one’s hard work can usually be seen on a larger scale. They’re makin’ their mark, and they won’t stop until they get there.

But where are they going, exactly?

I find there’s something alluring about striking out on my own path, beating my own drum, figuring “it” out. Belle sings in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast about the provincial life, saying she wants more and declaring that there must be more!

I sympathize with Belle, but only to an extent. I work for my family business. I like it, but sometimes I forget that one must work within one’s postage stamp of native soil to really excel. It takes experiences like talking to good friends to remind me of what I have, and how blessed I am to be at home.

Every choice is a give and take, and I’m freely and no longer choosing the promise of a career over my relationships with people. (Not that other people in their respective fields necessarily are– but I was, which is my point.)

Leaping down the hill in Georgia

Living at home again has taught me how to handle the unexpected. I have to be diligent at work, or else I won’t be able to get my work done on time when my parents need me to take my brother-with-mono to the doctor again.

In two weeks, I have a couple book reviews due. I need to plan ahead to make deadline, which includes Saturday Fun (a.k.a. all house clean-up) and washing dinner dishes. I’m helping someone do research for a book: there’s a schedule I have to keep to. I might go overseas again; I play tennis on Tuesdays, see friends and B. through the week, and go on walk-runs with my dog. I’m doing my own research, and writing letters, and writing more articles, including my Bright Maidens posts.

I realized today: I really should plan to publish earlier than the day of. Life happens, but that doesn’t mean writing shouldn’t.

Thus, I am sorry, sort of.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be. Maybe you didn’t even notice, dear readers, but nonetheless, please accept my apology for tardiness and bear witness to my persistence in attempting to publish things on time. I will return to my old habits, mostly.

As Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring (which I am listening to during my daily hour commute, to lessen the time brunt), “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I’m not sorry I’m spending my time with people, but I am for not publishing on time, which is, in a way, an opportunity to spend time and share my thoughts with y’all, as you share back with me.

Here’s something to read in the meantime: Knocking at the Door: Musings on history, philosophy, theology, literature, and culture. It’s a blog by my good friend Mitch, a grad student at TCU studying the Civil War. He also features the above Tolkien quote and offers lovely commentary on things he reads.

Also worth a skim: Holy Women & Everyday Hero Priests -UPDATE by Elizabeth Scalia

Happy Wednesday, y’all! And thanks for reading.