It Happened One Night

Another engagement picture with B., who loves me.

The Bright Maidens talk s-e-x! (Not that any of us have actually, you know, done that.)

We also talk about love, relationships, God, yada-yada-yada. It’s pretty awesome and humbling.

The ever lovely Pat Gohn had us (again!) on her Among Women podcast and featured us on her blog.

This interview is Part II; see here for the awesome Part I interview on what young people are so dang excited about in our Catholic Church (2,000+ years and still kickin’ out encyclicals!).

Thanks for listening! Any thoughts on what we talked about? Anything you’d like to see us talk about more?

Shameless plugs/ resources:
Me on G+
Me on Twitter
Bright Maidens on Facebook
Bright Maidens on Twitter
Pat Gohn’s Among Women Podcast on Facebook
Pat Gohn on Twitter

Rest In Peace! And Keep In Touch

TBM Topic 32: Pray for the Living and the Dead

“Rest In Peace! And Keep In Touch” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Why pray for the living and the dead?

This Lent, we Bright Maidens have been discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy. This topic is a good one for Lent because

1. The spiritual works of mercy are reminders of our unofficial duties as Christians (verses the precepts of the Church); they’re ways people can attempt to better their spiritual lives through daily graces verses physically abstaining from foods or forms of entertainment, too.
2. The marriage between the spiritual and earthly world can be tangibly shown.
3. The marriage between grace and works can be manifest in writing, as well as in thoughts and actions.

The last point is an important point: some Christians say praying for the dead is useless and unbiblical. If that’s the case, then so is praying for the living. If our fate is so fixed, why ask God for help? Why seek a relationship with Jesus if believing in him is enough?

Praying is how we communicate with God, be it in praise, penitence, thanksgiving or petition. It can be freeing and intimate. It can also be humbling and intimidating. Life is overwhelming, and even starting prayer may be difficult. Luckily, even sitting quietly in the presence of God is praying. Taking time to listen to God is just as important as talking with him. In this way, we can pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17) This is how all relationships work at a human level.

When Blessed John Paul II was asked how the pope prays, he responded, “You would have to ask the Holy Spirit! The Pope prays as the Holy Spirit permits him to pray. I think he has to pray in a way in which, deepening the mystery revealed in Christ, he can better fulfill his ministry. The Holy Spirit certainly guides him in this. But man must not put up obstacles” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope).

At a convent’s cemetery in Salzburg

Praying for others is just as important as your personal relationship with God. As we humans are all interconnected, it is an act of fraternal charity. Moreover, not praying for a person because “they are dead” insinuates that there is not a communion between Heaven and Earth. People departed from this life are not gone; they are at a higher level of communion with God.

This is why Catholics pray to saints; not “to” them, as one would pray to God, but to them like we ask our family and friends to pray for and with us. I pray to St. Anthony (patron of lost things) fairly often. I could pray directly to God, but I like including my saintly friends in my daily tasks. If a person work in a big corporation, would they go to their boss for every little thing? Or do you ask a co-worker to help you out with a minor problem?

This is not to imply that we should not pray to God for the little things: but remember, he already knows all. So he might be sending an angle to watch over you, or a new friend into your life, to help guide and shape you. In the Gospel of John, a story is told in which Jesus gives Peter the power and strength to continue his ministry:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

So, we too must continue this ministry, out of love of God. So, too, we must pray for the living and the dead, out of love for self and neighbor. Praying for all people is biblical, as well as being part of a Christian’s core mission.

Prayer is an act (work) of love. Even Billy Joel got that in his scandalous song, “Only the Good Die Young”: You said your mother told you/  All I could give you was a reputation/ Ah she never cared for me/ But did she ever say a prayer for me?”

There is one mediator between God and humans, and that is Christ (1 Timothy 2:5); but there are billions of helpmates to be found on earth and in heaven, continuing the mission of Christ, peacefully and together. This is why we pray for the living and the dead: to partake in this life, an extraordinary one, and rejoice in the hope with encapsulates all of us as members of the body of Christ, the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

Church in Munich, Germany

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 


For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)

Patience: The Virtue No One Has

TBM Topic 29: Bear Wrongs Patiently

“Patience: The Virtue No One Has” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I have yet to meet a person who admits to being naturally patient. I’m not. I bet you’re not either. So first there’s that: dealing with your own inability to be patient with your own life.

I get it! Places to go, people to see. You don’t want to wait: “Waiting for the fish to bite/ or waiting for the wind to fly a kite/ or waiting around for Friday night/ or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake/ or a pot to boil, or a Better Break/ or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants/ or a wig with curls, or Another Chance” (Dr. Seuss).

But perhaps you’re beyond that. Maybe you’re finding patiently waiting and trusting in the Lord (cue the Psalms). Then, God steps it up: you have to bear other people’s wrongs patiently.

He has a funny habit of doing that, doesn’t he? Trying to make you more patient? Sanctification of self, as they say.

What usually happens, though: an unkind word (or two), uncharitable thoughts, irritability for an extended period of time, a fight between loved ones, or, more often, viciousness towards a stranger.

But that guy was a total jerk! He took my spot/ coffee/ bumped into me/ was super rude. You’re telling me I’m not right to be angry.

Sure. You can be angry. But of all the things to be mad about in the world, does this problem at hand really matter enough to fight back? Or would your kindness help the situation? Would your patience bring light to the matter at hand? Would this problem, too, pass because you chose patience over getting into a pickle?

Blessed Mother Teresa, saint-to-be, said,

 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

“Told you I’d be back – 3 days, people!”

As we enter Holy Week, remember the ultimate example of bearing wrongs patiently: God. We mess up every day and have to keep coming back to apologize. But he never gets tired of it: he delights in our remorse, because we apologize not out of fear of punishment, but because we love God so much that we are moved to make right when we are in the wrong.

Jesus told us that we have to forgive one person for the same offense 70 time 7 times. And if they offend you in a different way? Another 490 times. And another? 490. That’s bearing wrongs patiently. That’s imitating Christ. Is it easy? No. But more importantly- is it possible? Yes!

As one impatient person to another, let us not grow lax in our Lenten goals of self-growth. These 40 days are only the beginning of new life in Christ. If you did not add “bear wrongs patiently” to your laundry list, then perhaps you should add it now. It’s never too late to be the person God made us to be.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” –Proverbs 15:18

How are you learning to bear wrongs patiently?

I Am That I Am

TBM Topic 26: Instruct the Ignorant

“I Am That I Am” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.



Ignorant is not a word I particularly care for, yet most people are culpable. It comes from the Latin words in (not) and gnarus (knowing).

New Advent defines ignorance as “lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing. Fundamentally speaking and with regard to a given object ignorance is the outcome of the limitations of our intellect or of the obscurity of the matter itself.”

Today, we Catholics (and fellow orthodox Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters) face bigotry based on ignorance of our faith, religion and history. The greater good would be served, society is led to believe, if God was kept in the pews and within the walls of our homes. God is good as long as God is contained.

But our God is an awesome God – awesome in the “awe-inspiring” way. God is not our bro. God is not our homeboy. God is the Almighty one – the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) – the one who is, the one who was, the one who will be (Revelation 1:8).

And he will not be contained. We cannot limit his power, his mercy, his goodness or his Kingdom Come. Our reasons are not his reasons, and this is the first step to instructing ignorance: discernment of our own vocation.

Flannery O’Connor wrote that “Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an ax, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed.”

For many, the best reason to be a Christian is the joy and fellowship of other Christians. For others, Christians are the best reason not to be a Christian – their small-mindedness, their inability to compromise, their, well, ignorance.

And so, who has the high ground here? The miserable Christians who pray, “I believe – help my disbelief!” Or the one who discuss God’s take on a few things, would certainly invite him over for a drink, and then be done with the old chap. He’s not really our kind of man, if you know what we mean.

We certainly do. Which is ignorance on their part. I truly this many people intentionally stay ignorant of God – learn things about him, sure, and learn about things that surround him. But not him. After all, it is hard to look at God on the cross and really know that he knows our hearts. He can touch and change our lives, if we only get to know him. Our God is the God of all; our path towards God will never be repeated for another.

While discussing a struggle with my sister last night, she told me I had to believe the consequences would be bad if I continued. She did not mean in the short term, or even in human terms: she meant, if I really wanted a change of heart, I’d have to care more about offending God. The kind of caring that shows considerations for another feelings. In short, I need to know God on a much more personal level, the kind that changes my actions and words in the long-term as well as the short.

We Catholics have a prayer for that: the Act of Contrition. We say it after the sacrament of Reconciliation. It goes, O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

This prayer is not said or meant lightly. Humanity is like a heat-seeking missile: it seeks Truth. It is not pretentious to claim to know Truth, as the Catholic Church does, for example. 2,000 years of bad press and still the truths found in the dogmas and sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, resonate across every color and creed.

No one has it easy. No one knows (or can know) “everything.” Ignorance infects the best and most brilliant among us. It is the humility to ask God, to knock on his door, to seek his guidance, that really begins the journey. Some times, people need other people to help them get there, be it in books, blog posts, or conversations.

Perhaps more importantly though, a person needs to be self-aware where they are ignorant. One can always instruct where they know and understand, but they must also be willing to learn. That way, knowledge leads to wisdom, and not a higher level of ignorance.

Don’t Feed the Angels

TBM Topic 23: Angels

“Don’t Feed the Angels” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
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 on Facebook and Twitter!



An important thing to remember about angels is that they are terrifying. I am not sure when angels started to be domesticated, but nearly every time one appears in the Bible, the humans are frightened. So much so that angels had to start saying phrases like, “Fear not!” and “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.”

Angels are celestial beings, created as beings between God and Man. They are warriors, messengers, servants and worshipers of God.

Hebrews 1:5-14 reads:

For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”? Or again: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”? And again, when he leads the first-born into the world, he says: “Let all the angels of God worship him.”  

Of the angels he says: “He makes his angels winds and his ministers a fiery flame”; but of the Son: “Your throne, O God, stands forever and ever; and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You loved justice and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions”; and: “At the beginning, O Lord, you established the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; and they will all grow old like a garment. You will roll them up like a cloak, and like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”  

But to which of the angels has he ever said: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

With a modern twist, does not that last sentence remind you of Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life? Clarence, an angel who had yet to get his wings, was sent to help George Bailey see all the good in his life and how his life changed other people’s lives for the better.

Clarence looked like a kindly old man, but still he put shock and awe into the bridge attendant and George himself, who could hardly believe it. Yet, Clarence was an angel. He was a warrior for George’s life, saving him before he attempted suicide; he was a messenger, showing the eternal truth that each man plays his role in this world and thus matters; he was a servant for God, sent from above to talk to George; and he was a worshiper of God, receiving his wings when the bell rang for a job well done as God’s good and faithful servant.

The world is a battlefield between Good and Evil; we must never forget that. Thus, angels move among us humans- be it our Guardians Angels, the one who sits on our shoulder, the ones singing above us during Mass, or the one protecting you in dark times. Angels are not our friends; they are our protectors. They have loyalties to God alone and approach us in His name.

The Bible is filled with stories involving angels; so is your life. How can you tell? Perhaps never, if you’re not inclined towards the mystical. Nevertheless, the one thing a person should never do with angels is to lessen the reverence for them by seeing them purely as shiny halos and fluffy wings. Angels are not so docile. They say, “Hark!”– not “hello” or “hey” when greeting or proclaiming. They demand attention. They demand reverence and respect, because they come directly from God.

So don’t feed the angels; they already share in the Heavenly banquet!

Guest Post: Scapulars are Distractors from What’s Really Important

TBM topic 18: Scapulars

Join the discussion!

Guest post by B.

“Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity, and for thee and for all Carmelites, a sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, and a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” 
–The Mother of God, 1251 AD

Among many Catholic traditions, scapulars have always been a source of confusion. At first, they seemed to me a cop-out. Simply wear this piece of cloth around your neck, and get a free ticket to heaven, no matter what you did in your life! It was an amulet that shielded you from your own crimes. Who needs sacraments when you’ve got a scapular? I never wore one in high school because I decided I wanted to get into heaven based on my faith and works, not on what I was wearing when I keeled over.

However, I later learned a much deeper problem with scapulars. Driving home with a few friends of mine, salvation of non-Christians came into the conversation. One Protestant friend asked if Catholics believed if non-Christians automatically went to hell.

 “No,” I replied, “Catholics believe that if a non-Christian leads a good moral life to the best of his knowledge, Jesus will have mercy.”

 The Protestant then followed up with, “Well, if that’s the case, why would you want to evangelize? If you just let them stay in their ignorance, they’ll have a greater chance of getting into heaven, because if a person doesn’t know about Jesus, he won’t be held to the higher standard than a Christian would be.”

I was confused by this as it seemed quite reasonable. A maximal chance to get to heaven made sense to me. Another Catholic friend spoke up and said, “Life’s not about getting to heaven.”

Whoa.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: Jesus > scapulars

Life’s not about getting to heaven. I now embrace this idea whole-heartedly. When we’re children, all we understand is punishment/reward. We know if we don’t do our chores, we’ll be punished, but if we do our chores, nice things happen! Later, however, we find out that those chores, be it cleaning your room or washing the dishes, are actually good in of themselves, not because we receive a reward from doing them! We mature and begin to do these things because we want to, not because of a reward we’ll receive.

Life is the same way. When we are immature in our faith, we focus on our reward (heaven) and our punishment (hell). However, as we mature in our faith, we don’t do the right thing so that we can go to heaven; instead we do the right thing because it’s our purpose in this world! We do the right thing because we realize that it’s the best way to glorify God with the life and rationality He gave to us.

Heaven and hell should be the last thing on a Christian’s mind. We need to be focused on why we’re here on earth, and how we make the world a better place than how we found it. Scapulars distract from this as it focuses on what comes after instead of what is in front of us right now. Whatever comes after we die, that’s just extra. We’ll all die someday, and when we do it should be our desire to answer for what we did and what we failed to do. We should be proud to answer for whether we fulfilled our purpose. I don’t want to hide behind an amulet; I want to be exposed.

Judge me, O Lord.

Made in the Image of God?

TBM Topic 15: Feminine Genius – The Interior Edition

“Made in the Image of God?” by Julie Robison
“Peace Within” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“She reigns” 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!

[Second disclaimer: I wrote this in the wee, dark hours of the morning on a train to Berlin while drinking a wee, not-as-dark cup of coffee. Enjoy! I’ll be back in the country soon.]

A stumbling block for many people is the notion that women are made in the image and likeness of
God. How can this be? We’ve seen God; Paul wrote in 1 Colossians 1:15, “Brothers and Sisters, Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.”

Ow-ow!

Hm. Well, there goes my “God-showed-himself-as-a-burning-bush-ergo-women-are-made-to-be-smokin’-hot” theory.

Then the question is raised: how is it then that the world’s population do not look more like the bearded man from Nazareth?

Only a small percentage of people come from the tiny town of Nazareth and, besides, I’ve been to Asia—the men there can’t grow facial hair. Despite what a former professor at my college liked to quip, God is neither black nor a woman either. The wrench in this whole matter is that God the Father has never seen in toto.

In the Old Testament, the litmus test for God’s calling card was usually clear:

Did you see a physical sign (i.e. oversized finger writing on stone tablets, wall falling down because of trumpets, a large body of water parting down the middle, a relative turning into a pillar of salt, the world flooding, etc.) and/ or hear a booming voice?

Were you visited by an angel?

Did your prayers and faithfulness to the God of Israel result in a child/ a victory/ not dying?

If you can answer YES to any of the above, the invisible-to-us God the Father was more than likely involved.

What does this have to do with women? Everything, if we truly believe that the God of one is the God of all. If women do not superficially look like God, then they must interiorly look like God.

Our very soul mirrors God! The genius of our femininity is not encapsulated by our charm, curves or womanly ways, but the way we yearn for communion with God, to love and be loved, and are given equal and indiscriminate dignity. These manifest both spiritually and physically; the body plays a distinctive role, as does the mind. We women are not amorphous beings for a reason!

Here to fulfill our purpose in God’s plan!

Women are good because they are part of God’s creation; gender is the primary indicator of their role and purpose in this world. It is the first objective a person is given to discern one’s relationship to self, God, and other humans. There is no room for a “better than” comparison between the genders. God made the two to complement, not compete.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from the 20th century, wrote, “Life is more than submission: it is creation.” Man and woman together can create a new life, in marriage and having children, as well as participating in the community, in communion with the Church and individual participation in the sacraments.

The criticism of St. Paul’s instruction for women to submit to their husbands overlooks his next point: husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves his Church. Submission, whether it be to one’s husband or one’s God, is never intended to be a controlling mechanism. Rather, submission is the greatest act of love. Jesus himself submitted himself to false accusations, horrible suffering and even death in order to save us from the heavy weight of sin and open Heaven’s gates. So, too, must women overcome such growing pains.

The genius of this instruction is even more marveling than a once-over read: St. Paul understands women’s importance in the Kingdom of Heaven, and thus urges them to model Christ for their husbands, and any others watching. St. Monica’s goodness, prayers and pious submissiveness, for example, helped convert the heart and mind of her pagan husband and famous son, St. Augustine.

It stands, of course, that any misuse of the term “submit” mangles the loving objective and devalues any expression freely given. Nonetheless, this easily tossed about and abused verb is another opportunity for women to lovingly correct any misinterpretation, if the occasion arises.

Women have a great role to play in this world, whether their vocation is religious, single or married. To shirk one’s purpose to evade happiness. Too many women today see the need for emancipation in order to thus prove their worth and equal standing among men.

The message of woman’s feminine genius is that such a worth is intrinsic to our very female personhood, and our equal standing is not determined by a side-by-side salary comparison, but the confirmation of what women actually want: to be loved and respected, encouraged in our work and cherished as ourselves, just the way God made us.

The heresy of modern womanhood is the false claims that freedom can only be achieved through our own-will-be-done, lipstick, contraception, a satisfying career and an individualism that oftentimes denies males the chance to step up into manhood; instead, the modern woman’s view of love infantilizes man through an accessorizing attitude (“Aaaaand I’ll take one of you!”).

I think this about sums up the modern womanhood ideal.

For women to experience the very revelation of the feminine genius, they must first want to reject the temptation to bite the apple, and not just avoid the tree or company of snakes.

Woman is made in the image of God in her humanity; she has the likeness of God through the logos. The divine nature of womanhood is sweet, filled with joy and sorrow, which are merely accidents of the human life, like tasting bread when consuming the Eucharist.

Women have an equal share in the Kingdom, and are thus given their feminine genius in order to claim it.