Rolling in the Deep

Hooray for Seven Quick Takes Fridays! I always feel like it’s a giant game of catching up with some of my favorite people. Here’s volume 19, the thick of Julie’s week:

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I am in love with Adele’s “heartbroken soul” voice. Seriously, listening to anything else pales in comparison. She is on repeat this week.

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Excited? Oh yes!
I decided that, this week, I needed to take action on a couple things, or else they might never happen. Here’s part of this week’s “Julie is trying to be braver” list:
1. bought my plane tickets to South Korea to visit April (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
2. applied for my passport
3. told Mr. Awkward I was seeing someone
4. didn’t back down from Mr. Aggressive and kept a civil tongue
5. ignored the ticking clock and completed a ridiculous amount of editing and wrote the monthly newsletter; am currently formatting it to send out next week.

Oh, and my Dad let me drive his fabulous little convertible I’ve been dying to drive since he got it. He was so nonchalant about it too- we went downtown, I dropped him off at the tailor’s, then swung around a couple blocks and picked him up for lunch at this fabulous little hole in the wall Italian place that has been around since 1912.

Overall, steady as she goes!

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Another good week for The Bright Maidens. I really appreciate everyone who has commented on the posts and sent us/ me e-mails. Be sure to like us on Facebook too!

This past week’s topic was our issue(s) with the Catholic Church.

Mine: “Going to the Mattresses: One Girl’s Take on Faith and Feelings”
Elizabeth: “Half measures”
Trista: “The Church’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”

Next week will be just as scandalous: Why we’re saving sex for marriage! (And it isn’t because we didn’t have the chance.)

Warning: I’ve been reading a lot of natural law theory lately.

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I read so many good articles on this site this week that I just need to plug the whole thing: if you don’t read MercatorNet, you should.

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With all that is happening in the world right now, I think it apt to share this excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi:

“I will do it. Be made clean”

Like action, suffering [in all its forms] is a part of our human existence. Suffering stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today.

Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering: to avoid as far as possible the suffering of the innocent; to soothe pain; to give assistance in overcoming mental suffering. These are obligations both in justice and in love, and they are included among the fundamental requirements of the Christian life and every truly human life. Great progress has been made in the battle against physical pain; yet the sufferings of the innocent and mental suffering have, if anything, increased in recent decades.

Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering. Only God is able to do this: only a God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history. We know that this God exists, and hence that this power to “take away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) is present in the world. Through faith in the existence of this power, hope for the world’s healing has emerged in history.

(Also, his birthday novena starts today! Join us in praying for Papa B!)

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I discovered the Litany of Humility this week and am intrigued. I think I am going to start praying it, especially since I really struggle with pride. The litany asks for these three graces specifically (although I am sure more will come out of this spiritual exercise as well):

1. to set aside your attempts to make yourself feel “special” through the acceptance and admiration of others;
2. to overcome your repugnance to feeling emotionally hurt by others;
3. to seek the good of others in all things, setting aside all competition, even at your own expense.

The whole Litany of Humility is here.

“To be taken with love for a soul, God does not look on its greatness, but on the greatness of its humility.” —St. John of the Cross, The Sayings of Light and Love

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Thanks goodness it is Friday!!!!! Here are 5/6 of the Robison siblings before I had to dash off to class last night:

We = AWESOME

[Update: My not-pictured-above collegiate brother saw this picture and said he was sad he wasn’t there to finish the puzzle. Mucho amor, brother! I’ll post another one of all six of us when he comes home for Muffy’s play next weekend.]

Happy, happy Friday! Thanks for reading; see Conversion Diary for more.

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!

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!