What Are You Reading?

I’m back, after a loooong time. Can’t promise consistency, but at least content. Volume 21, baby!

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This week, I bought more books than my New Years’ Resolutions allowed*. I said 3? Well, I meant 8! It’s summer, does that count for anything?

I also renewed two subscriptions (First Things and The New Criterion) and took out a third (Touchstone, because its price was blessedly and severely reduced). I sadly am letting one of my newspapers go, though, and am happy to still have my Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Register, Financial Times, and The Magnificat.

Have you bought any good reads lately? Are you supporting excellent writing and the advancement of intellect?

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Elizabeth is always marveled by how much I read. I thought I’d share the five books I am currently reading (yes, at the same time; I like multitasking):

I got this one for Christmas and am loving it:

Edith Stein and Companions On The Way to Auschwitz by Father Paul Hamans

This thick one will be finished before the summer is out – fantastic and meticulously written and researched:

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun

This one is really interesting and insightful:

Philosophy 101 By Socrates by Peter Kreeft

B. lent me this one, and it is hil-arious:

A Practical Guide to Racism by C. H. Dalton

I am listening to this one in the car, and it is, of course, just wonderful:

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

In July, I’m going to start Brighton Rock by Graham Greene for my long-distance book club with Tessa and Brenna! Excited to read more Graham Greene – I love The Heart of the Matter and The Power and the Glory. Highly recommend both as well, if people are looking for summer reading recommendations.

Up next: Christopher Dawson, Zora Neale Hurston, Pope Benedict XVI and some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Here is my blog referral of the week: Born After Reagan

My friend Logan started it a few months ago, and now I am excited for the 2012 election just so I can read what he has to say about it!

Why yes, we did meet Ron Paul together three years ago:

CPAC 2008
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The topic for next week’s Bright Maidens‘ post is picked! Next Tuesday, please join us in discussing “Catholic Modesty.”

If you’re a first time participator, all you have to do is write on the same subject and post your response to the topic on our FB wall. Wa-la! If you’re not on FB but still want to participate, e-mail it and we will post it for you to share with the group. If you’re on Twitter, our hashtag is #brightmaidens (with an ‘s’ on the end!) to share posts and tweets.

Also, Bright Maidens refers to we three girls, but we have both males and females participating. The male hashtag on Twitter is #cathdudes if you want to read some some cool Catholic dudes.

A re-cap of last week’s topic, a response to Max Lindenman’s article on “Dating Nice Catholic Girls”:
Elizabeth: On Reading Confused Catholic Writers
Trista: Please Don’t Call Me A Prude
Julie: Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!

Elizabeth makes a list of all the contributions too, so please check our FB page later for that!

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I’ve been home for a week, and am still actively learning to adjust to a new sleep schedule, being back at work, and hearing people talk to me in English. As happy as I am to be home, South Korea was an amazing experience. I’ll give you a sneak peek from my weekend in Busan:

This is a kimbab, and the best thing I ate in South Korea (stay tuned!)
Best bathroom sign EVER.
The Eastern Sea, a.k.a. The Sea of Japan. But they don’t like the Japanese, so don’t call it that, please.
The Busan fish market. I’m going to have a whole post on food.

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I’m also going to have a whole post on drinking in South Korea. Here’s me trying authentic Korean beer for the first time:

So innocent.
There are so many patron saints of beer; they obviously did not invoke any of them!

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I bought Adele’s latest album, 21. I seriously do not know why I waited so long. It is wonderful, soul-filled and beautiful.

Here’s “Someone Like You” with Adele talking about why she wrote the song. Warning: I teared up a bit.

She’s a two months younger than me, too. Gives a girl perspective!

Okay, one more, this one upbeat: “Set Fire To The Rain”

SHE IS SO AMAZING. Buy her music. Make her famous and wealthy, she deserves it. I want her singing forever and ever.

Happy Friday, friends! See Conversion Diary for more. Also, say a prayer for Jen! She’s having her baby on Wednesday!!

*I’ve been miserably failing to follow most of my New Years’ resolutions, actually, which is why I take the book buying limit one so seriously!

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…

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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?

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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!

How It Feels To Be Catholic Me

Week One: Women and their Relationship to the Church

“How It Feels to be Catholic Me” by Julie Robison
“Grandmother Kaleidoscope” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
A Relation of Love” by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the first 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!

Also, today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day! May we all rejoice in our feminine vocation, and properly appreciate the males in our life too.

I was born a poor black child. No, wait; that was Steve Martin. I was born a Catholic girl, which is kind of like the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Think about it: I’m oppressed by celibate white men who make rules about my body, say I can’t hold leadership in my Church because I happened to be born female, and tell me to accept my place in this world as a child-bearer.

At least, that’s how the World-at-Large phrases it. I am here to refute commonly misconstrued claims about Catholicism as a Catholic woman who not only adheres to the traditions and teachings of the Church, but freely follows the Pope, reads Scripture (and thus delights in dogma), and rejoices in her feminine vocation.

The modern world is full of choices and possibility, and today’s women are indiscriminately exposed to birth control ads and unrealistic expectations, like the need to be sexually desirable in both body and dress. Intellectual development is checked off the To-Do List once a woman graduates school. Morals are now synonymous with personal decisions.

Women are not more or less than men. They are equal, but their equality does not lie in a power tug-of-war or numbers game. If so, then it is not equality women seek, but liberation from their very femininity. A woman rejects that she is equal, compatible and complementary to man when she relinquishes the only power woman has over man: the ability to create life.

A Catholic woman has three possible vocations: religious, single or married life. All three are great and noble; all three have different limits and aims. A religious woman gives her life to serve God; a single woman serves those around her; a married woman serves her family. The modern woman seeks a fourth option- to serve herself- and, as a Catholic and a woman, I reject that.

The Catholic Church has protected the dignity of women since it was founded over 2,000 years ago. The Church, the Bride of Christ, encourages a sacramental life of beauty, truth and goodness to help women, not hinder them, in their pursuits. It was Pope John Paul II that said the problem with pornography isn’t that it shows too much—it is that it shows too little.

A Catholic woman can think, read, laugh, run, study, dance, play, talk, and drink alcohol, just like a Catholic man. Catholic women cannot divorce, use birth control, have sex outside marriage, have abortions or curse– and neither can Catholic men. Now do they? Of course. Catholics are human and therefore fallen. But that doesn’t make it right or okay. Catholicism is not a democratic institution, and neither is truth.

What binds a Catholic woman may seem harsh, but in practice, it is liberating. It is not easy to be defined by beauty of body and soul. The Church provides life guidelines and supports true feminism. When a woman respects herself first, so will others. A Catholic woman is not perfect. She suffers and bears hardships; she appreciates good things; she serves those around her; and, most importantly, she remains constant in her faith and trusts the Church, even in turbulence.

It has been said that the Catholic Church has benched women to the back pew. I say, if a Catholic woman is sitting in the back pew, it is only because the view is so much better!