Instead of a Bright Maidens post…

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, Irene the Mean has prevented our Trista from accessing consistent Internet so we’re postponing until next Tuesday.

As a lame replacement… I would like to introduce you to a wonderful young lady, Dylana. I’ve mentioned her before and I’ll mention her again. Check her out at her blog, “The Pilgrim’s Paean.”

Yesterday, she posted a few questions to gather information to help her prepare for her upcoming confirmation:

Well, this blog has mostly been about myself and my spiritual journey. But I have a question for you all. Well a few… haha! Here it goes:
1) What books have played a key role in your journey?
2) What about the books that have aided your discernment?
3) How should I prepare for my upcoming Confirmation? (Oh! P.S.-I might be confirming early!! Schyeah!)
4) How have you disciplined yourself to grow in holiness?
5) What penances have you employed?

Before I share my answers, please enjoy Julie’s:

1 & 2) Flannery O’Connor’s letters; The Imitation of Christ by St. Thomas a Kempis, Creed or Chaos by Dorothy Sayers, Free to Love by Marcel LeJuene, The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, Introduction to Christianity by Pope Benedict XVI, In Soft Garments by Ronald Knox, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, and Church Fathers (i.e. Confessions by Augustine)… to start 🙂
3) Discipline yourself in prayer- the Devil will attack and try to separate us from our Lord through hardship, spiritual dryness and other wiles.
4) Charity in all circumstances; constant prayer and petition; reading Scripture; frequent use of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion and Reconciliation
5) Holding my tongue when I am being wronged, especially if I have already made my defense.

My answers:

Source

1) Hands down, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

2) Fantastic question! I think blogs have had a bigger impact on my discernment because they’re short and always there for me to read. Pray, read, pray.

3) Schyeah! Write hand-written letters to important people in your life and tell them how they have impacted you. They don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian. You never know what effect your words of praise and gratitude can have on someone’s spirituality. Also, ditto to Julie!

4) I’ve surrounded myself with good, holy people and I try to learn from them at all times. Of course, I’m friends with people of all walks of spiritual life and I suppose being around them motivates me to employ that which I learn. All of my friends and family teach me, everyday.

5) Good one, Julie!! I have to agree. One of my biggest faults is the NEED to be right or “justified.” When I remember…. I try to keep my mouth shut and just realize that there is no reason for me to fight. It doesn’t always work (can I get an Amen, family?)

Dresses Rule, Pants Drool and Other Facts of Life

TBM Topic 15: The Feminine Genius – The Dress

“Dresses Rule, Pants Drool and Other Facts of Life” by Julie Robison
“Dresses & the Apostolate of Beauty” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Month of the Dress” 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!

I’ll never forget standing in line for dinner at college. First of all, I’m in line for food I pre-paid for but did not want at present, minus the cereal bar (which I could have eaten in my dorm room).

Secondly, I was standing behind a girl and her boyfriend. The girl had been on the hall I was an RA for; the boyfriend was Trad-Catholic. She said hi and introduced us. I was wearing jeans. He told me girls shouldn’t wear pants. I asked him where Jesus forbade women from wearing pants; was it before or after he gave us the Golden Rule to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Our relationship, as you can guess, did not blossom.

Females hate being told what to do. That is our job, to boss the rest of the world around!

Another reason that particular male upset me is because I actually prefer dresses and skirts, but I also like that I have the opportunity to wear pants (especially in college, while trudging through feet of snow), just as I like that I have the opportunity to vote, hold a job and make my own life decisions.

Females have not only the ability to wear pants, but to look nice in pants, especially if the pair fits well; if the pair also happens comes in a fabulous color, more power to pants!

Would I look cuter wearing pants in this picture? Dubious.

These opportunities, sadly, are few and far between. As Fall approacheth, women ask the big question: where have all the good pants gone? With a decline in tailored clothes, pants now fit awkwardly in order to appease the masses. My sisters and I lament: The butt is too big. The legs are too skinny. These hips don’t lie.

Hence, I love wearing dresses and skirts. There is true genius in this for-female-use-only attire, and here are my top TEN reasons why I think so:

10. Wearing a dress makes girls feel put together and confidant! No matter a girl’s size, few people look dumpy in a dress. Dresses have the ability to make you feel pretty.

So many beautiful girls in beautiful dresses!

9. God made us women to be the most beautiful creatures on earth, inside and out. If we want to show our inner beauty, why not show off our outer beauty too by wearing dresses? Heels are optional; I prefer kitten heels or ballet flats myself.

8. To look (and want to look!) pretty is not vain, unless you only care about your outer appearance. Remember in Jane Eyre? When Jane’s friend had her beautiful curls cut off to keep her from becoming vain? Unnecessary, according to Roman Catholic theology. Beauty is a reflection of God’s goodness in the world.

7. Dresses and skirts help draw attention to the waist, not the hips, unlike pants. More proof that pants are not your friend.

6. Dresses flatter the body much better than pants ever could. Also, you are fully clothed if you are wearing a dress. If you only wore pants, that would be indecent!

5. Dresses are versatile! They can be dressed up and down, based on accessories, fabric and style. You could wear the same dress for a week and look different every day. If boys can wear the same pants every day, why can’t girls wear the same dress? They can also be worn year-round and in any weather, unlike pants and shorts.

Isn’t Bear gorgeous? And her dress? Divine!

4. The colors, Duke, the colors! Not to mention, the patterns, the fabrics, the styles and the occasions that all help make a dress great. Pants can have all of the above too, but the effect would not be the same. Dressing up is like becoming a work of art, and more fully shows your womanly beauty in a wholesome way.

3. Dresses require more effort to be modest. If one is wearing a dress, a lady must cross her legs or ankles. If one’s dress has no sleeves or dips a bit, then a lady must wear extra clothing to cover her shoulders and/ or chest area. A lady loves sundresses, but not short dresses.

2. Dresses are not just for girly-girls. Dresses are for all girls! Dresses are a distinct style that no person can imitate. No girl wears the same dress the exact same way. As Lilly Dache said, “Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker.”

1. Dresses are classy. Catholics are classy. Ergo, Catholic girls wear dresses!

Grace Kelly: Catholic, classy and fellow dress wearer

There are, of course, perks to wearing pants too. This is the only one I am willing to concede:

Happy Tuesday!

Month of the Dress

Feminine Genius: The Dress
“Month of the Dress” 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!

This post is one month in the making: one month of flowing dresses, feminine prints, and (shocker) thinking about outfits and make-up. For the last thirty days, I promised myself that I would wear a dress or skirt at every opportunity. I only failed once.

Before the Month of the Dress, I was a frequent skirt-wearer. Of the things women complain about, dresses should never be on the list.

I don’t own the rights.

I expected to come out on the other side of the Month of the Dress a new woman. I would be well-rested, prettier, empowered, a better chef, able to speak to small cartoon animals, and sing a high F.

Expectations being what they are (generally wrong), I learned something unforseen: I’m already the woman those characteristics represent.

Half way through the month, this empowered woman got a flat tire and had to [call my beau to bring his fancy equipment to take off the bad tire and] go to the mechanic for a replacement. I was dressed for the gym, ie running shorts and a t-shirt, when I walked in the doors of the mechanic’s.

I don’t have to go all the way to Mrs. Manners’ reaction because I know my Gramma was looking down screeching, “You look like a rag-a-muffin!”



I became very aware of my informal wardrobe, though any other month of the year, this would be a standard outfit for a trip to the mechanic. In the first two weeks of the dress experiment, I lamented the fact that I didn’t notice much of a difference in my behavior or manner after fourteen days. Then there I was, in public for the first time without a skirt on and I felt exposed.

Lest you think one shorts-clad trip to the mechanic flipped me into an anti-pants woman, I will tell you I am donning a pair of six-year-old running shorts, a t-shirt with paint on it, and my hair in a messy bun at the moment I write this.

After my uneasiness at the mechanic’s wore off, I realized it wasn’t the dress itself or the fact that women “are supposed to” wear dresses that caused discomfort on the day I “failed” at the Month of the Dress. But what was it?

At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel hails Mary and calls her “full of grace.” In his apostolic letter, MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote that the dialoge from the Annunciation reveals the “supernatural dimension” of the event. 

Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out, but rather perfects it and ennobles it. Therefore the “fullness of grace” that was granted to the Virgin of Nazareth, with a view to the fact that she would become “Theotókos”, also signifies the fullness of the perfection of” what is characteristic of woman”, of “what is feminine”. Here we find ourselves, in a sense, at the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women.”

A woman was the only being on Earth capable of being the mother of God, the person to bear Him, or the first to touch Him. The feminine “mystery” is a confusing concept, which is so evasive and inexplicable, one wonders if we are just repeating a buzz word that has been used for centuries.

John Paul II’s deconstruction of the Annunciation shows that the “mystery” of a woman is the fact that she is more than utilitarian or for objectification. As Mary is the archetype of the personal dignity of women, she is our example.

In a later letter, John Paul II writes, “The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the ‘feminine genius’ and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ (Lk 1:38)” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women).

My wearing a dress or skirt for thirty days made an impact on my routine. I spent more time on looking nice, which made me more present when interacting with others outside of my home. I made the effort to be creative when selecting outfits, since the limited wardrobe bound me to repeat them.

I attempted to put on an aire of grace in the form of a dress, in communion with my feminine identity.

However, it was the commitment to the arbitrary thirty day rule that caused the abiding change I underwent this month. Why is a dress the outward appearance of femininity? Does that apply to every woman? How does this relate to my faith?

The Church finds in Mary “a source of constant inspiration” because she was obedient to the Word of God, choosing to use the gifts He gave her for His plan, unselfishly. She served God and in doing so, served others: “a service of love.”

“Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic ‘reign.’ It is not by chance that she is invoked as ‘Queen of heaven and earth.’ The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their ‘Queen.’ For her, ‘to reign’ is to serve! Her service is ‘to reign!'”- Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women

That’s the real “dress” for a woman: service.

Good thing, because as much as I praise dresses and their ease, I’m going hiking next week. I cannot think of a more unfeminine thing than me sweating and pulling on a skirt that clashes with my hiking boots as I walk up a mountain.

“I think you look good in shorts, too, though,” said my beau. I’ll learn to cook a recipe that I know he’ll like. And I’ll wear my pink bermuda shorts and a blue t-shirt while I make it.

UPDATE: A friend randomly read this passage from 1 Peter 3:

“Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.”

How perfect! This is not a condemnation or an outlawing of the “adornment,” but an emphasis that “the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition” is “precious in the sight of God.”

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: New Super Awesome Young Catholic Adult Website Launched

A brand spankin’ new website for young (and the young-at-heart), joyful, orthodox Catholic adults launched today. It’s called Virtuous Planet. Catchy, eh?

Bam. The bomb-diggity of logos.

The list of contributors is pretty rockin’– for example, all three Bright Maidens are full-time writers! As if you could ever get enough of us.

At this time in VP history, I shall be posting on Fridays. Please feel free to e-mail me if you’re interested in reading an article on something. I’ve already gotten a request for scapulars and for me to get my act together and publish my Catholic Sexuality series. But mostly for me to get my act together and stop leaving the state every other weekend for a college friend’s wedding and other nonsense like that.

Here is THE website, THE Facebook page and THE Twitter handle.

Read. Like. Retweet. Repeat!

Also, check out my darling Anna’s first published column in USA Today on the eve of WYD 2011: “For these millennials, faith trumps relativism”!

Today, I went to Mass on purpose and accidentally attended the Mass of Simple Profession of the 16 Dominican novices at St. Gertrude’s on accident. Amazing to watch and partake in, blessed to have such men serving the Church, especially on this, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven – my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

(Will write on that later too…)

Happy Monday! Happy Assumption! Oh, happy day!

Bright Maidens: Dresses & the Apostolate of Beauty

  Feminine Genius: The Dress
red and apples by le_479
Photo credit: red and apples
During my high school orientation, the Dean of Students explained that school was taken seriously, and just as the teachers had a uniform (suits and ties for the men; dresses, skirts, or slacks for the women), students were required to wear the same.  We had the same job, whether teacher or student, and our uniform set a professional tone.
In the same way, dresses can set the tone for femininity.   I feel different in a dress.  Prettier.   More confident.   My smile stretches just a little bit wider.  I beam at the world and chime hello to animals, children, nature, men, and women –  everyone and everything.   Life is just too sweet to keep to myself, and people seem to respond.  Kids smile back.  Gentlemen hold doors.  Strangers share jokes on the elevator. 
  
I’m not saying wearing a dress brings femme fatale powers – just that when you feel beautiful, you act beautiful, and you are beautiful!  And that beauty is important to the world!  Fulton Sheen once spoke of the Apostolate of Beauty in a very positive way.  “The Apostolate of Beauty.  Do not be ashamed to think of that,” he instructed.   “You are young, attractive, but the mere fact that you are young, you are vivacious – do you realize that when beauty is virtuous, it is far more appealing than anything else?  You recognize that I have power the good Lord has given me, the power of word, but he has given to you this other power.  And it’s more powerful, really, because as a wise old Greek said, “Everyone loves beauty.”
 
The world aches for God’s beauty.  So find whatever makes you feel beautiful – cherry lipstick, dresses, curly hair, sparkly earrings, sans make up, flattering jeans, a bright smile, whatever it is –  and embrace it as another way God lets his love shine.



Itching for Tuesday’s "Feminine Genius: The Dress"

 
 
I just read this quote while researching the feminine genius and can’t wait til Tuesday’s “Feminine Genius: The Dress” topic to post it!  Impatience, thy name is Trista.
 
Without further ado…
 
“In this vast domain of service, the Church’s two-thousand-year history, for all its historical conditioning, has truly experienced the “genius of woman”; from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history. I think of the great line of woman martyrs, saints and famous mystics. In a particular way I think of Saint Catherine of Siena and of Saint Teresa of Avila, whom Pope Paul VI of happy memory granted the title of Doctors of the Church. 
 
And how can we overlook the many women, inspired by faith, who were responsible for initiatives of extraordinary social importance, especially in serving the poorest of the poor? 
 
The life of the Church in the Third Millennium will certainly not be lacking in new and surprising manifestations of “the feminine genius”.



 Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women, 1995.

Summer Readin’, Having A Blast!

TBM Topic 14: Summer Reading

“Summer Readin’, Having A Blast!” by Julie Robison
“Bright Maidens: Summer Reading” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists” 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!

I wish I could tell you more about my summer nights than the sad fact that I got home from work around 9:30 p.m. last night and was so tired/ too frazzled to write (I write for work; too much typing and thinking yesterday). Alas, my summer days are driftin’ away and oh! Oh, those summer nights… reading late before bed. I recorded a video of me briefly discussing the six books I am into right now. I’m technically juggling more than six books right now, but such are the reading habits of a chronic multi-tasker!

Julie’s book list
Second Friends: C.S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation by Milton Walsh
Thy Will Be Done by St. Francis de Sales
Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings -by Jack Kerouac, text by Ed Adler
Surprised by Canon Law by Pete Vere & Michael Trueman
Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam by Cardinal Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict XVI and Marcello Pera
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

What are you reading right now? Tell me more, tell me more!

Bonus: Fr. Schall on why it’s better to read a few authors than to stray through many.