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)

Sinner, I Admonish Thee

TBM Topic 28: Admonish the Sinner

“Sinner, I Admonish Thee” 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.

There’s a Protestant church up the street from my house that has a sign up for Lent. It reads, “Pray. Reflect. Prepare.”

This sign makes me wrinkle my nose. Mere semantics, perhaps, but why “reflect” instead of “repent”? Aren’t we called not just think about what we have done but act to more align ourselves with God’s will, as the Kingdom of God is at hand? As the Christ is going to unjustly die for our sins? My sister says it’s because “repent” has more of a negative connotation. So does the Spiritual work of Mercy “Admonish the Sinner” – which is precisely why it is needed.

Americans love admonishing the sinner. Who hasn’t signed up to promote some cause, using social media, clothing or dolla-dolla donation? Who hasn’t felt that twinge of guilt at the grocery store when you don’t give a dollar to the Very Good Cause? Oh, so you don’t support this cause? Do you kick puppies and take candy from babies too?

The second route of admonishing the sinner offends the “Don’t Judge Me” movement. Fraternal correction (as we Catholics prefer to call it) is a private correction of a fellow soul as a way to lead them to God and, ultimately, repentance. As we say in the Act of Contrition, we should be sorry we sin not out of the loss of Heaven or the fear of Hell, but because we have offended God, whom we love. This is why people cannot separate their conscience from their public actions anymore than one can separate the facts from a situation.

Admonishment should always happen out of love, and in a loving way. To act otherwise is to distort the meaning of God’s way, and perhaps turn people away. This is always a tragedy.

There are, however, some sinners need to be admonished publicly. There is a new social experiment growing to draw attention to Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group in Uganda who abducks children to be sex slaves and soldiers. Kony wants to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments and says God sends spirits which communicate directly with him.

His actions go beyond not practicing what he wants preached:


KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Admonishing the sinner is the loving thing to do, even when it is the unpopular position. Admonishing the sinner is the right thing to do, even when the sinner claims to the higher moral ground. When Jesus lived among us, he did so in order to relate to us human, to understand our tendency towards sin, and to forgive when we ask it of him.

Repent, my fellow sinners, and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ! The most we’ve got to lose is our pride.

Saint Who?

Week Four: Patron Saints

“Saint Who?” by Julie Robison
“Budding Hope” by Trista at Not A Minx
“Less is More” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fourth post of the Bright Maidens. 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!

When I was little, I was given my first book of saints. I love reading about the saints and their lives: the martyrs, the virgins, the consecrated religious, the lay people, the Doctors of the Church, and thousands of witnesses to the power of Christ in one’s life. I love the litany of saints at Mass, and I love that the communion of saints is still hustling and bustling in the vibrant body of Christendom. Saints were fallen humans too, who faced the same world, and still rose to the challenge of following Christ. They sanctified themselves, in order to help sanctify the world, to paraphrase St. Francis.

The saints, through my now 23 years on this green earth, have been my constant companions. St. Anthony and I have a special bond. I lose things, send up an intercessory request for him to help me, and I usually find it within moments.

Then there’s St. Thomas Aquinas (patron saint of academics) and St. Joseph Cupertino (patron saint of test-taking), whom I was frequently begging for help. Don’t forget St. Maria Goretti, the patron saint of young women, or St. Philip Neri, the patron saint of Rome (and a prime example that holiness can have a sense of humor), or St. Thomas More (patron saint of civil servants and large families) or St. Francis de Sales (patron of writers and journalists), more favorites. There’s even a St. Julie Billiart! She founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Those are only a few; there are hundreds of thousands of saints! My confirmation saint is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, another favorite saint. She is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides.

You can imagine my excitement then, when Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary posted her Saint Generator, and my anticipation of who my “saint of the year” was going to be.

Want to take a gander at which saint I got? No really, guess!

Did you guess St. Hyacinth?

Have you heard of St. Hyacinth?

Say it with me: Hy-a-cinth.

My disappointment was palpable, to say the least. I might have even frowned.

I know! That was naughty of me, and ungrateful. To make matters worse, everyone was talking about which saints they got. Jen got St. Francis de Sales. Elizabeth got St. Thomas More. Lisa got St. Jane de Chantel.

Enter the green-eyed monster and a grumpy demeanor; I was feeling seriously dejected. Why didn’t I get a cool saint like them? (I know, I’m breaking the 10th commandment at this point.) I looked up St. Hyacinth and found barely anything. Well, he was a Dominican. That made me happy. I love the Dominican order.

Scroll, scroll, scroll. Click, click, click. I was determined to find something.

Now- don’t get me wrong. St. Hyacinth is a neat saint. He’s called the “Confessor of the North.” He spread the Faith until his death in 1251. He brought the Faith to Poland, as well as evangelizing in Denmark, Greece, Norway, Russia Scotland, Sweden, and Turkey. One of his miracles include saving the blessed Eucharist in a Monstrance and a statue of the Blessed Mother during an attack on a monastery in Kiev, with the very heavy Monstrance and statue becoming weightless so he could run away with them.

He’s the patron saint of Lithuania, I read. I could feel my spirit sinking again. None of this really “applied” to me. I was confused. But I, a non-Lithuanian, am also a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Why did I get this saint, I kept thinking.

Then I saw it: patron saint of those in danger of drowning.

When I was little, I used to go up North to my cousins’ house for a week. Once, my sister and I were playing Frisbee outside. She accidently threw it over the fence and it landed on the neighbor’s covered pool. Being the big sister, I volunteered to climb over the fence and retrieve the Frisbee. We thought our cousins would be so angry that we lost their Frisbee.

So over the fence I climbed. The neighbor’s pool was disgusting. I could see the algae the way you look at the ground and see grass. They barely used their backyard, let alone cleaned their pool. They were an older couple with older children. The pool was covered with a tarp.

I reached my little arm out toward the Frisbee. There was nothing, not even a branch from a tree (well, maybe a branch, if I had snapped one off), to help me inch the Frisbee closer. My little sister was watching me with expectant eyes, but my arms were not long enough. My finger tips gripped the cement edge of the pool, and I reached farther, and fell into the pool.

I used to think that my fear of dark water and not being able to see into the depths was caused by my sister and I watching “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (the zombies coming out of the dark water episode, specifically, even though our parents forbid us to watch that show), but now, as I write this post and remember, it may have been from falling into a dark pool, filled with algae, and covered by a tarp.

I remember grasping the Frisbee in the water, panic filling my body as I tried to find an opening in the tarp. But under the covering, it was all dark. I pushed up against the heavy plastic and it gave me no out.

So I prayed for God to help me see my parents and siblings again, and I asked for help to get out, because I didn’t want to drown. I was no Russell Kirk, who fell out of the boat and sank to the bottom, calmly sitting there at the bottom, legs crossed, as if he was in a waiting room, until the homeless man out fishing with him swam to the bottom and saved his life.

No, I was flailing. I wasn’t ready to die. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a part of something big, important, honorable, and worthy. I wasn’t ready to die for a Frisbee. I prayed harder, and hit my hand against the tarp, and tried to stay focused as water was filling my little lungs.

Then I saw the light, and I breathed oxygen. I threw the Frisbee out of the pool, towards the fence, where my little sister still stood, trembling. It had only been a minute or two, but to us, it felt much longer. I pulled myself out of the pool, covered in algae, and climbed back over the fence.

Then I went upstairs and took a shower.

I don’t remember what happened after that, or how we told our cousins, or when we told our parents, but 12 or 14 years later, when I got St. Hyacinth in the Saint Generator, that was no mistake. It happened for a reason, and now, I am aware of his presence in my life. I have no doubt in my mind that St. Hyacinth helped intercede on my behalf; that he helped save my life; that he assists and will assist in my pursuits to helped spread the Faith. He’s also helped me increase devotion to the Blessed Mother, Eucharistic adoration and frequent communion, not to mention further convince me that the Dominicans are still, and will always be, my favorite order.
 
St. Hyacinth, pray for me!

Evil Don’t Look Like Anything

Week Two: Contraception

“Evil Don’t Look Like Anything” by Julie Robison
“Beyaz Yourself” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
“Wearing Crucifixes and Condoms” by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the second post of a Lenten blog post series called “Bright Maidens”. 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!

Today’s blog carnival is hosted by Fire of Thy Love

This week’s discussion of contraception is not a judgment of people who take it, or meant to belittle or dismiss its helpful medical benefits. But it is false to claim that most women currently on hormonal birth control are not on it to prevent pregnancy, and it is folly to defend any contraceptives as a safe way to have sex.

First of all, sex isn’t meant to be safe. Holding hands is safe. Sex is supposed to be exciting and the ultimate sign of love and commitment between two spouses in the marital bed. Sex is a risk; every act of love may result in a new creation. Sex is a bond, physically and emotionally. Contraception attempts to take away all the risk, lessen the bond, and leave the sensual excitement. There is no longer a need for commitment, just mutual consent.

At the beginning of this year, I was assigned to write an article for Our Sunday Visitor on a poll sponsored by Human Life International America and done by the polling company inc./ Women’s trend. I thought it was going to be very cut and dry. The teleconference press conference was a half hour, and I was the only journalist who asked any questions. Total weak sauce on the side of the journalists; the information was fascinating and the women speaking were fabulous—like Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon and co-director of the Sanofi Aventis Breast Cancer Center at the Steeplechase Cancer Center.

She said, “It’s long been known that estrogen/ progestogen combination drugs such as the pill does cause breast cancer. In fact, in 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, put it as a Group I carcinogen.”

From what I’ve read by the Mayo Clinic (Dr. James R. Cerhan, 2006), the question of this connection between hormonal birth control and breast cancer should not even be a question any more. But I’ve now discussed it with multiple friends in med school and found other results. My mom is a cancer specialist too, and this topic has fascinated me since high school. I had only heard snippets of this growing up, mostly concluding in “inconclusive results.” But did y’all know that a woman’s risk for breast cancer is increased by 52 percent if she takes the pill for four years before her first pregnancy? The National Cancer Institute, according to its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data, shows a 400 percent increase in non-invasive (“in situ”) breast cancer in premenopausal women since 1975!

And this poll, which surveyed over 800 women between the ages of 15 and 44, revealed that only 19 percent knew about the links to breast cancer. Of those participants, 3/5 admitted to using birth control to avoid pregnancy. My article, “Most women unaware of birth control pill health risks, poll finds,” continues to be republished in newspapers, the latest being San Diego’s Southern Cross. The research I did for it, the people I talked to and encountered, not only changed my perception and understanding of contraception, but my attitude of its noxious hold on society and the pedestal it arrogantly enjoys.

Even before this article, I had done a lot of research on the family and family planning for my senior thesis on the degradation of the family with the expansion of government (focusing on the black American family and the Moynihan Report). Did you know that the black community saw the work of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood as an attack on the black community for decades? As they rightly should have- it’s an unfortunate part of American history that the black community was targeted by “family planning” centers to lessen the amount of black people.

Even today, it was recently released that, in New York City, 41 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that’s 87,273 abortions. More than half of those were black babies. And that is only one major city, in one country. This is happening all over the world, to babies of all colors!

Which brings us back to contraception: yesterday evening, at RCIA, we talked about temptation and sin. The thing about temptation is that the Devil is taking something good and twisting it for his own, malicious ends. Temptation isn’t the bad thing- it’s how one chooses to respond, in what we do or fail to do.
For example, at one turning point in the movie Down With Love, Renee Zellweger has let Ewan McGregor’s character think he was tricking her into bed the whole time, when really, she had him him fooled: 
Then you, the great Catcher Block, would know that you’d been beaten at your own game… by me, Nancy Brown, your former secretary. And I would have, once and for all, set myself apart from all the other girls you’ve known, all those other girls that you never really cared about, by making myself someone like the one person you really love and admire above all others: you. Then, when you realized that you had finally met your match… I would have at last gained the respect that would make you wanna marry me first and seduce me later.


This, of course, is not how people should date, but Zellweger has it down: marry first, seduce later. Unfortunately, the Devil knows people lean towards the good in this world. So what does he do? He turns people’s hearts so that evil appears good, or at least, equal to the good. Because seducing is just as good as marrying, right? This is why free will is so important and our capacity to freely choose the good over the bad. Contraception- which starts with contra, meaning against- is detrimental for sex and the people who use it because of its very purpose, which is to disconnect the physically and emotionally sacred act from the physical and tangible formation of little souls.

Sex while using contraceptives outside and inside marriage (the current statistics say 85 percent of sexually-active Catholics use some sort of birth control) has taken its toll on the very institution of marriage, weakening its foundation and meaning, as well as being linked to health issues like breast cancer, and a substantial increase in infertility, divorce, and abortion over the past half century.

One of my favorite songs is a murder ballad by Okervil River called “Westfall”:

The song is about a boy and his friend who kill two girls. The end stanzas are the ones which give me absolute chills, when the band really speeds up and the passion is almost pleading–

And when I killed her it was so easy
that I wanted to kill her again.
I got down on both of my knees and…
She ain’t coming back again.

Now, with all these cameras focused on my face,
you’d think they could see it through my skin.
They’re looking for evil, thinking they can trace it,
but evil don’t look like anything.

C.S. Lewis said, “By mixing a little truth with it, they had made their lie far stronger.” Contraception claims to free women, free them from their “biological repercussions.” But when you compare men to women, they are functionally the same. One’s masculine or feminine vocation aside, men and women have very different natures, while retaining the ability to do similar tasks and activities.

The difference between men and women, without oversimplifying the matter, lies in the woman’s ability to create (with the man), carry and then give life to another human being. That is why women must defend this gift and calling: bearing children is the ultimate litmust test- it is the one thing men cannot do! They do not have the inner tools for it, medical procedures and flukes aside.

While doing research for my senior thesis, I had the pleasure of reading many fantastic documents like Pope Pius XI’s “Casti Connubii. Delivered in Rome on December 31, 1930, this is a very important treatisie on Christian marriage, especially since it followed the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which loosened the Protestants’ historical rejection and objections to birth control. I wish I could share more of this wonderful encyclical, but this passage held me particularly rapt:

This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.


This is why contraception, with its outer appearance of helping women and relationships, actually does the opposite. It cheapens sex. It alleviates commitment. Contraception, like drops of water wearing down a stone, lessens the dignity of the human person when used to avoid becoming pregnant. It reduces romance and equalizes love. Even more so, the attitude of an “unwanted pregnancy” attempts to relinquish the newly created child’s dignity. But a person does not have worth because its mother wants it; as the Lord says even when your mother forsakes you, I will not.


Yes, God. I know, my rosary is getting near your ovaries! But people forget that their rights are not more important than right and wrong. People don’t want to be reminded that God’s law is eternal and, in the end, we all must answer for what we have done, and what we have failed to do. Contraception does not deliver people into more freedom, it decieves and corrupts charity.

This, I suppose, is my biggest problem with contraception: it warps people’s minds about what is life and what is not. It darkens the intellect. It takes the grave and moral matter of life and turns it into a gray matter. But anyone who has an abortion or uses contraception admits de facto that sex results in babies. Why else would they use contraception? If it’s actually a clump of cells growing rapidly, you might want to see an oncologist, not an ob/gyn.

Russell Kirk, on the object of human life, said,

Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that “they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

May we all look upwards, without fear, and towards hope in the Lord’s already given gift of life. Happy Tuesday, y’all!

I’m Younger Than That Now

I have a fair share of editing to do, so today’s week 15 actually will be fairly quick…

one

Yesterday, I gave Eli the gospel according to The Black Keys. Join him in love them as much as I do:

He says I’m his new best friend. What says you?

two

At Mass this morning, Fr. George said St. Gertrude’s oldest parishoner, Marge, died last night at age 100 years and 10 months. Please join me in praying for her soul!

And for Japan and everyone affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

Finally, for my sisters Muffy and Kato both have two big tests today, and B. has a big pathology test. So for everyone taking tests, or preparing for examinations, or writing big papers (like Leah!), many prayers and happy thoughts- you can do it! I know this is the last weekend before my alma mater’s spring break, and life looks bleak up North: but sleep is so near!

Extra help is on the way:
St. Joseph Cupertino, patron saint of test taking
St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of academics
And all the patron saints of students!

three

Much to the delight of we Bright Maidens, our Lenten blog post series has picked up some steam!



Many thanks to Tito Edwards for posting our pieces to National Catholic Register and The Pulp.It, Lisa Graas and Stacy Trasancos for the gracious plugs, First Thing’s Elizabeth Scalia for The Anchoress shout-out, and various re-tweets and comments.

This week was “Women and their relationship to the Church”: here is my “How It Feels To Be Catholic Me” post, Elizabeth’s “Grandmother Kaleidoscope” post and Trista’s “A Relation to Love” to tie you over to next week, when we discuss contraception. After that is dating, patron saints, our issue(s) with the Church, saving sex for marriage and then a surprise post! They will be posted every Tuesday morning of Lent. I hope you join us!

four

My Lenten sacrifices are going well, thanks for asking! This morning, I even got up extra early to go to 8 a.m. Mass, inspired by Mary‘s husband, who goes to 6:30 a.m. Mass every day. I also ceremoniously gave Dad my last two Girl Scout cookies I forgot to finish off on Fat Tuesday and my pack of gummy snacks (another pre-Lent remnant in my office). Sad.

I want to be THIS GUY and drink beer for the entirety of Lent. No really, I do! Maybe next year?

five

It’s snowing here in the Midwest (I know, lamesauce) and, as part of my almsgiving for the season, I helped my mother scrape off her car so she could scurry off to the hospital faster and more safely. In a family Lenten offering, my family is focusing on almsgiving, in words and deeds. So, not being mean or saying mean things to someone in the family, just because you happened to have a bad day, for example. It’s only been two days, but two wonderful days, to be sure! It really makes us put other’s feelings before our own, as a way to model Christ to each other.

This also is being flowed into regular life too. While kibbitzing with two seminarians last night (one is a friend, one I had just met), I was reminded of the purpose of the good life, that is, not just living for yourself, but others. Moreover, the importance of treating all people with kindness and respect, especially when they bother you.

six

What is everyone reading lately? I have a couple books I am reading right now, plus books for work. My latest National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, First Things and The New Criterion recently arrived too, so I am going to devour those this weekend. My Dad’s weekend edition of the Financial Times will arrive early Saturday morning and I can’t wait to dive in; best weekend editon of any paper out there, hands down. I prefer WSJ on the day to day reads, though. Any favorite sentences or reads you’d like to share?

seven

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m turning (dare I tell you?) 23! Trista gave me the best (early) birthday wish ever! She says, As our Irish ancestors would say, “May you live to be one hundred years with one extra year to repent!” A-men!

Also, I am now being tormented at home by birthday cards and a birthday package, which I am not allowed to open until tomorrow. Lent really is about sacrifices! Speaking of which… I bought five books yesterday at the seminary book store. No regrets! Including one called God: The Oldest Question which is really, really fantastic so far!

See Conversion Diary for more! Happy, happy Friday!