Bright Maidens: Angels

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!

Topic: Angels

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
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Jews, Muslims, Christians, and pagans all believe in angels.  Want to know more?
Bishop Sheen on angels:

Bright Maidens: Believe Me If You Like

 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!

Topic: Fr. Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing

Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Julie at The Corner With A View 
Check out our Facebook page for guest posts!

Believe Me If You Like
Q: How do you know that it is Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine who speak to you?

A: I have told you often enough that they are Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine – believe me if you like.
Transcript of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc by Bastien-Lepage
As a young girl born during the Hundred Years’ War, St. Joan of Arc heard the voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine instructing her to dress like a man and save France.  Joan bravely sought the dauphin, the future King of France; predicted French defeats; and in April of 1429, requested to free Orleans, a town which had been English-occupied for months.  She was successful, though wounded, and celebrated as the Maid of Orleans.

Soon after, she was captured by Burgundian troops and sold to the enemy English.  She was then imprisoned for a year and tried by the Catholic Church on charges of witchcraft and heresy.  An inaccurate summary of her statements was drawn and she was convicted.

In a moment of panic, she felt overwhelmed in front of the large crowds, and recanted her position.  Once she reached her rooms, however, she gained confidence and once again professed the truth of her statements. Joan was condemned as a relapsed heretic and burned at the stake.  Her last words were “Jesus, Jesus!”

Asked if she knows she is in God’s grace, she answered: “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.” She added, if she were in a state of sin, she did not think that the voice would come to her; and she wished every one could hear the voice as well as she did.

St. Joan of Arc is an example of authentic Christian witnessing.  She properly and humbly defended herself from her interrogators, who happen to be Church clergy! If you read the Transcript of her trial (link above), you will find her to be a devout, simple peasant girl who took on an insurmountable task at the urging of Saints, Angels, and the Lord Himself.

We are all called to witness in the same way, although our tasks may not be as bold as Joan’s, nor as life-threatening.  As the Body of Christ, our actions must mirror Christ’s in all we do, and when we face opposition from even our own Church, we must humble ourselves, trusting that God works in His own time.  The truth will always come out.

In a July 5th statement the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. John Corapi’s Order, insisted that although Fr. Corapi inspired “thousands of faithful Catholics…he is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”  This is the danger of false witnessing: it misleads others and often damages their trust, their hope, and their courage.  It sows seeds of discord instead of seeds of peace.

If the Body of Christ jeers, mocks, lies, and hurts other…can we really say we’re the Body of Christ?  Will we really move others to want to know Jesus?  Will we shower others with Christ’s love when we don’t act like him?  

Fulton Sheen told a story about an encounter he had with Mother Teresa.  He asked her how she catechized so many men and women.  She replied that as she cared for the Poorest of the Poor, she would ask them if they wanted to know about Jesus.  “Is Jesus like you?” her charges replied.  “No,” Mother Teresa would tell them, “I’m trying to be like him.”  With that statement and Mother Teresa’s love, the hearts of these men and women were opened to Christ.

Again, most of us do not have the same call as Mother Teresa, but we witness in other ways.  When we participate in Sacramental life; when we care for children,the elderly, or the home-bound; when we offer friends encouragement; when we pray for our enemies; when we give to the needy; when we welcome strangers; when we share hope; and when we offer support, we point our friends, family, and others to Christ’s love.  As long as we do this, we authentically witness to Him.

I will never forget one night in college when I did not feel like going to 9 p.m. Mass in the University Chapel.  “I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I don’t want to go!” I complained to God.

I got dressed anyway.

As I put on my shoes, my phone rang.

“Trista, what’s goooood?” 

It was one of my transfer students, a baseball player with a good heart, lots of smarts that he wasn’t using, and a penchant for partying.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“I’m sending up the bat signal,” he said, an inside joke about how my transfers could send signs, and I’d be there to help.  “You, like, go to St. Vinny’s for Mass right?”

I sighed.  So funny, Lord!  “Yep, I’m actually heading there in a few.”

“Great, cuz I was thinking…I don’t know anyone who goes to Mass…and like, I wanna go tonight, but I don’t wanna sit by myself…so I thought, oh yeah!  Trista goes!  I could sit with her.”  He was silent for a second.  “Right?”

I tried to digest the fact that he was asking me to help him find a place in the Church.  I felt a heavy, but not uncomfortable, weight on my shoulders.  Whether I realized it or not, others were watching my actions and coming to me to better know Christ’s love.

“Yeah, of course!,” I replied.  “Meet you there in five minutes!”

Bright Maidens: Becoming Myself By Getting Closer to Him

Week Seven: Why We Chose Catholicism

This is the seventh blog post in a series 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!

Becoming Myself By Getting Closer to Him

When I was a sophomore in college, I lived in a beautiful Swiss town.  The Church that was associated with an English speaking high school in the area had canceled it’s English Mass, and the nearest Church was a 15 minute walk into town, with the Mass times limited to very early morning and 11:30 a.m. in Italian.

The cues at Mass were different.  When exactly was I supposed to go up for Communion?  There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the way people left the pews.  I always felt like I was doing something wrong.  What was the priest saying?  I had many excuses for missing Mass, and I found myself in the habit of going to Mass every other week (or less), not entirely happy with my quasi-devotion, but considering it better than not going at all.

During this time, I was going through a period of Hillsdating, and the emotional instability of it all wore me out.  I just felt so…off balance.  Impatient.  Quick to anger.  Annoyed.  Sad.  Highly critical.  What was wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I get my act together?  I didn’t feel like me anymore.

One day I went to open my mailbox and a small package fell out of it.  I happily looked at the return address and grinned – mail from my grandparents (aka, Grandma)!  I gleefully opened the package, my breath catching when a beautiful blue rosary slid into my hands.  My Lutheran grandparents had sent me a rosary?  Unusual, but not too unusual for my family.  The accompanying note said they’d visited Notre Dame in Paris and thought of me.  

As I looked at the rosary in my hands, I thought, “Oh yeah, maybe I need to pray more.  I used to pray all the time.  Is this why I feel so strange?”  Due to packing constraints, I hadn’t brought a Bible, a prayer book, a rosary, or any spiritual material abroad.  While making room in my suitcase, I’d left my prayer life at home.

Google it!

I viewed the gift as a sign of love from my grandparents and an invitation from the Blessed Mother.  After graduating from a Marianist high school, I was very familiar with the phrase, “To Jesus through Mary,” and I knew that Mary worked tirelessly on her Son’s behalf to bring us closer to Him.  It was time to take my faith a little more seriously, especially if the Blessed Mother was reaching out to me! 

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary.” 
-Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Mary, I’m not quite sure how to do this,” I told her honestly, soon after the arrival of the rosary.  “Duh, Google it,” she responded.  “Wasn’t that the reason you didn’t feel bad about leaving your prayer books at home?  You said you could find anything you needed on the internet.”

Oh yeah.
So I started to pray the rosary, printed the St. Patrick’s Breastplate from EWTN and taped it to my wall, and began trolling all the Catholic sites I could find.  Almost immediately I felt a change in my heart.

But I still wasn’t going to Mass too often.

Beautiful lago
On Sundays, my group of friends (none of them church-goers) and I would sit on the balcony overlooking the lago, brunching and drinking cappuccini. 
“So,” one of them asked me, “what makes Mass worth going to one week and not the next?”

“Excuse me?” I sputtered, my stomach tying in knots.

“Why do you go one week but not the next?”  he repeated.

“I…well…Sunday Mass is really important…I shouldn’t miss it, ever,” I answered, feeling flustered.  The question from my friend suddenly seemed like it was coming from Jesus Himself.  Wasn’t “Keep Holy the Sabbath” one of the 10 Commandments?  Why was I so contentedly breaking it?

 “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice…Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181)

I wish I could tell you that after that conversation, I went to confession and attended Mass weekly.  Alas, no big changes happened overnight, but something inside me was uneasy.  If I was a professed Catholic, I needed to start walking the walk, not just talking the talk.  Through prayer and my friend’s probing, I realized I missed God.  I missed seeing the world through lenses of love.  On my own, I was petty, bored, cruel, and easily disheartened.  With God challenging me to love and grow, my world became “broad and light, not boring but filled with infinite surprises” as Pope Benedict XVI said it would.

“When God made your heart and every other heart, he found it so good that he kept a small sample of it in heaven and then sent the rest of it into this world where it would try to fill up all the love it could, but where it would never be really happy…It will never be happy until it goes back again to God to recover that piece that he has been keeping for it from all eternity.”  – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
“You seem different,” a friend told me that summer.
I smiled and shrugged.  “Nah, just more myself.”