Bright Maidens: On Motherhood

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 on Facebook and Twitter!

Elizabeth & Julie

The Bright Maidens: Stay-at-Home Mother vs. Working-Out-of-the-Home Mother
Bellinzona, Switzerland
I will be forever grateful to my parents for supporting me during the two years I studied at Franklin College Switzerland and the two years I grew at The Catholic University of America.  Despite occasional hardships, it was a wonderful time.  I traveled, I studied, I wondered, and I grew well beyond the person I was when I started.
Baptism day for my cousin/godson

But, sometimes throughout the school year and every summer, I yearned for a different lifestyle.  I often felt so disconnected from community – not the college community, but the real world.  Where were the kids?  

My aunt and uncle live nearby with my four cousins, and during college, the kids were ages 6 to newborn.  I felt so much joy in helping them out during the summer months.  My days revolved around taking the kids to local park, letting my aunt rest after a surgery, reading stories and singing the Alphabet song, and I couldn’t have been happier.  Of course, I sometimes missed socializing with friends and peers, but overall, it was a very joyous fit.  [Now, if you are wondering, “Why didn’t you get into education?” my answer is, I cannot handle seeing kids be teased or not fit in.  I’d wind up crying in the classroom.]

So when we talk about Stay-at-Home Mother vs. Working-Out-of-the-Home Mother, I will easily admit that since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of the first.  My inspiration for this flows from my own temperament and the wonderful witness of my own mother:

Amazing woman in center; little Trista on right

And of course, I have to thank my dad for putting in so many long hours of work in order to support our family and allow my mom to stay at home!

Bright Maidens: Week Three: Admonish the Sinner

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 on Facebook and Twitter!

The Bright Maidens’ Lenten Anniversary Series

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Three: Admonish the Sinner

“A famous story in the life of Archbishop Sheen illustrates this [spiritual work of mercy] well. As a young priest, he was on duty at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho Square in London. A woman, an actress, came to the rectory to speak with a priest about her rather sinful lifestyle. However, to get up the courage to do so, she drank quite a bit. As young Fr. Sheen tried to speak to her about her immoral living, it was apparent that because she had drunk so much, she could not understand what he was saying to her. So he asked her, “Would you come back and see me when you are feeling better?” She answered, “Yes, but on one condition: that you promise me you will not ask me to go to Confession!” Fr. Sheen promised her. In fact, he promised three times in all: twice before she left, and once when she came back! When she returned in a sober state, they spoke for about an hour and she felt much better! As she was ready to leave, he said to her, “Can I show you the inside of our Church? We have some very beautiful paintings there.” She said, “Yes,” and as they were walking along the side aisle, they came by the confessional, and he pushed her right in. He kept his promise not to ask her to go to confession! The woman made a confession of her whole life, and later on became a cloistered nun for over forty years in nearby Tybourn Convent in London. When the woman kept saying, “Promise me you will not ask me to go to confession,” young Fr. Sheen realized that she was really unconsciously yearning to go to the Sacrament of God’s mercy! She was protesting too much, and it became evident that what she really needed and wanted was God’s forgiveness.”

– From a wonderful article by Fr. Andrew Apotoli, C.F.R.

Bright Maidens: Week Two: What if it’s all a hoax?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Two: To Council the Doubtful 

“What if it’s all a hoax?”
My brother, a college freshman, asked this question while home on winter break.  “What if it’s all a hoax?”
“What do you mean exactly?” I asked back.
“Jesus…the whole thing…”
I took a steadying breath.  “Well, Jesus is a historical figure.  He existed.  We know that.”
“Yeah, but what about the rest of it?  What if it’s a hoax?”
He wasn’t aggressively rejecting what he’d been taught, just questioning.
“I would rather buy into a hoax that made me richer, more powerful, wouldn’t you?”  He nodded.  “The early Christians died in terrible ways.  I don’t think I’d sign up for a hoax that was very likely a death sentence.”
He nodded again and the conversation ended as we got ready to eat dinner.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though, and fear struck my heart.   If my brother is wondering, “What if it’s a hoax?” does that mean he hasn’t met Jesus, hasn’t become a disciple, and is just a kid who’s been catechized?
What do you do when someone doubts?
Thomas and Christ
I will confess that I am a doubter.  Not that I doubt that God exists or in the wisdom of the Catholic Church guided by the Holy Spirit, but I wonder if God has a plan for me and if perhaps he forgot to grant me some gifts and talents.  I often jump off the deep end into despair and long crying sessions.  
Then my dear boyfriend, whose faith is remarkable, will gently yet firmly remind me to turn to Jesus.  He loves to reveal himself.  He loves to reassure us, as he did with Thomas, his Apostle. 
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

So this morning as my family prepared for Mass, I made sure to swing past my brother’s room.

“Hey, you know your question the other day?  Why don’t you ask God during Mass to show himself to you?”

We can do nothing better than point people to Christ.

To Instruct the Ignorant: Does My Life Having Meaing?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Week One: To Instruct the Ignorant
1.  For those who are wondering, “Does my life have meaning?  Why am I here?  Why should I live?” 
The answer is a simple one but it has the power to change your life:
“We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1-3, 358/YouCat 1
Stay rooted in this belief.  It gives you purpose and meaning. 
You cannot imagine at all how much you interest God; 
he is interested in you as if there were no one else on earth.
– Julien Green 
2.  If you are already a practicing Catholic, you need to continue to grow in your faith.
“You need to know what you believe.  You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer.  You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing.  Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.  You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a  dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless… ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever  I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7).” 
– Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to the YouCat
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!
Matthew 28: 19-20 
Remember to post a link to the Facebook page if you participated!
God bless!

My Picks for The Liebster Blog

My thanks to Tony Layne from Outside the Asylum, who selected me for The Liebster Blog, a chain award of sorts.  This award lets us come across bloggers with smaller followings who are writing wonderful stuff!
Here are the rules: 
  1. Copy and paste the Major Award to my blog.
  2. Link back the person who gave me the award.
  3. Pick out five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
~ My Picks ~

Mandi at Catholic Newlywed – Mandi has intrigued me from the moment I found her blog.  She writes about meeting her husband online, marrying young, having a baby on a budget, and is a frequent guest poster for other blogs on various topics.  

Sarah at A Beaten Copper Lamp –  Sarah recently finished grad school, so you know she’s very smart!  Her posts cover a range of things, from museums, historical sites, Advent preparations, and chastity.
Katie at NFP and Me – Katie is a charming Catholic med student and wife.  She is a loud and proud proponent of Natural Family Planning and host a great series on NFP. 
Matt at Catholic Fried Rice – Matt is a talented guy I had the pleasure of knowing in college.  He did a year of service with Francis Corps in Costa Rica and is a wonderful addition to the Catholic blogosphere.
Barbara at The Catholic Science Geek – Barbara is a Ph.D. candidate with a love of God, science, traveling, and books.  Her blog often makes me comment, “SPOT ON.” 
Happy reading!

Help! I Hate Valentine’s Day!

Well, it’s here.  That time of year that is so wondrously celebrated by some and dreaded by others: St. Valentine’s Day.
If you are single, take heart.  Please don’t fall into a pit of despair.  When I was single on Valentine’s (every year of my life until this year, by the way), I always enjoyed the day, and I’ve cooked up these little tips to making St. Valentine’s fun for the single gal:
1.  Dress up.  Wear your favorite shirt or those jeans that fit you so well.  Add a pop of color to your lips.  Style your hair differently.  Primp and embrace your beauty.
2.  Go to Mass or Adoration.  The Lord, the Author of Life, loves YOU.  Make a date with him.  Spend time with the Eternal Lover.
Still feeling down?  Meditate on this:
The happiness you are seeking, 
the happiness you have a right to enjoy, 
has a name and a face:
Jesus of Nazareth.
– Pope Benedict XVI, August 18, 2005
3.  Give out Valentine’s Day cards, especially to your single friends.  They don’t have to be fancy – the ones you distributed during elementary school work just fine.  I have been surprised and touched to visit friends in other states and see my Valentine’s Day card posted in a prominent space.  You can touch the lives of others with a simple note!
4.  Call your family and tell them you love them.  You are single, not alone.
5.  Host a wine and chocolate movie night…BUT…no men-bashing allowed.  I know, you’ve been hurt.  Burned.  Or you’re lonely.  You’ve heard bad stories, and you want to write all men off as jerks. But that’s not fair.  And this is a night of enjoyment!  Bitterness is not welcome.  If some idiot didn’t realize how great you are, well, good riddance.  Rejoice that you’re not with him.
Source: via Trista on Pinterest
6.  However, if you need to have a quick cry, do, and then move on.
7.  Affirm the good men in your life.  Our culture encourages permanent Peter Pan behavior.  Know a guy or two who doesn’t buy into that?  Thank him.  Nice guys need to know we recognize them and value them.
8.  When you see a coupley-couple, and you have the urge to either puke or rage, pray instead.  “God bless them,” works well.
9. Pray for your vocation and your future husband.  

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings and Catholic singles, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for!  May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.  
Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for 
the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.  Remember the weak, you who are strong–you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. 
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!  May you know you are loved!
Please feel free to leave comments, concerns, and pray requests in the combox. 

Forming Good Habits: February 2012

Kendra posted this afternoon about forming good habits.  Strangely enough, I was thinking about this all morning, before seeing her post or Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s post.

Here are mine:

Pray the Magnificat morning prayer on my morning train ride

Stop by the church I pass on my walk to work and say a quick prayer

Drink a glass of water before pouring myself the first cup of coffee (at work)

Yoga once a week

Eliminate complaining about being long-distance

Compliment my parents daily

What are your thoughts?