Combining Gilbert and Wentworth

*1*
Yes, I’m cheating by doing this in Quick Takes form… a week after the topic was published.
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This topic was meant to be a light one, just in time for Valentine’s Day, because no matter your vocation or marital status, there have been and always will be literary men in your life. As Liesl explained in her literary crush piece, “Excuse me while I swoon:” 

I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.

We are who God created us to be when He first knew us, before He formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are His children, at our core, no matter what additional outer layers we allow others or the world to attach to us.

*2*
When you KNEW you could fly

My college art show focused on a related phenomenon: the concept of memory and how your life changes and experiences change your perspective on memories.

For instance, Anne of Green Gables was one of my first chapter books. Therefore, my perspective as a 5 or 6-year-old reading about Anne’s contentious relationship with Gilbert Blythe was simplified. I might have picked up on their undertones, but I certainly didn’t analyze it and try to apply my results to my own life like I did as a teen.

My perspective as a happy, confident, and in-Love 24-year-old reading this classic is less analytical and involves far more guffaws at some of my previously similar behaviors. Oh Anne, you’re almost as clueless as I was a few years ago!

I can only imagine that I will revisit my 24-year-old perspective as an older woman and share a few more guffaws with and at myself. It’s a cycle, folks, so embrace it!

*3*

Say a prayer that everyone may shed the extra layers

This whole concept rests on the notion that we are who God created us to be at our core. My favorite quick quote is JP2’s “Family, become what you are.” As Catholic Christians, we believe God created our souls and and gave them a home in our bodies.

Our souls should come first in the health pecking order, but many times we feed our body and our pleasures first.

Throughout our lives, we pack on outer layers of junk. I know I formed some weird habits during my tween to teen years. We all add habits and mannerisms to ourselves in order to fit in or do what we think will be best for us. Unfortunately, this is often only “best” for us in our pleasure-seeking short term.

Praise God, we’re still US at our core. Through discernment, prayer, the will of God, and sometimes an Ah-Ha moment, we can shed these outer layers and reveal who we were created to be.

*4*

This inner person, the core, is the one with whom others fall in Love! This is who Gilbert noticed about Anne, not her red hair or temper. I believe he fell for the passion that motivated the temper.

Captain Wentworth tried his best to forget about his Anne, the one who broke his heart. He thought he healed from the romance bruise, but as soon as he saw her again, seven years later, and noticed her resolve, clear-headedness, and strength, he shed the blinders.

JulieLiesl, and Sarah mentioned these fine fellows, and rightly so. I used to think that I Loved Gilbert because he was just a nice, intelligent country boy who is part of an example of an iconic Love story. I once thought I swooned over Capt. Wentworth because he secretly pined over Anne and then wrote a beautiful letter to make his affection known.

It’s both more complex and more simple than that: they Loved their Annes to their core and recognized the lovable qualities buried deep in them. Once more, swoon with me. This is why they are so swoon-worthy. Gilbert embraced Anne’s Anne-ness from the beginning and Capt. Wentworth couldn’t fall out of Love with his Anne, even after years and distance.

These are the men we want, ladies. Go find them.

In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists

Summer Reading

“In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

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!

In my mind’s eye, I’m sitting in a bug-free, snake-free meadow, sprawled out in the tall grass, in a light, summer dress circa Anne of Green Gables with a book in my hand. Later, I’ll glide down to the lake and hop in the paddle boat with my musty, bound book and push off into the middle of the water, breaking up the reflection of the puffy-cloud sky.

A breeze rocks the boat as I turn from page to page.

But I don’t live on Prince Edward Island. I live in Richmond where the days are hot, sticky and there isn’t a bug-free, snake-free meadow even in our dreams. We’ve hit 100°F almost everyday for about three weeks here in the former capital of the Confederacy.

The books get soggy with … feminine glow, not sweat … if you try to read outside. The animals laugh at you if you walk out with your book, waiting for the cool breeze.

I’m going to share my resources for summer reading during those “thank you, dear Lord, for whomever invented air conditioning” days. Yes, it’s high-tech and yes, you have to have a computer to read these, but that’s just one more opportunity to be grateful for what we have.

And for what we don’t need to have, namely a sweat-soaked summer dress in a field as we slowly bake to death.

First of all, CatholicFiction.net. Need I say more?

If you’re a fan of all things fiction, but you want to be sure you’re entertaining yourself outside the confines of a harlequin novel or the fiction-version of “Knocked Up,” hit up Idylls Press’ website.

They even provide a list of free e-books, with the suggestion that if you enjoy them and you can donate, to indulge the urge. The next book lined up on my Nook (yes, I’m going new-fashioned. It prevents the soggy-book-effect) is The Innocence of Fr. Brown by G.K. Chesterton.

I know many people hold to the idea that books should have pages that crease and tear and ink that leaks down the page when the crying scenes are just that good, but let me remind you of the beauties of air conditioning…

Give it a chance at no cost to you. Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo (as well as many other resources, I’m sure) provide free computer/tablet/smart-phone-based applications
for e-reading. Simply download the application and download the free (or not free, whichever floats your indoor, sweat-free boat) e-books and go to town.

If you are interested in more free stuff, never forget our e-vangelizing tools from my post earlier this year. Make sure you visit FreeForCatholics.com, as well, and peruse some of the free or cheap items that companies and organizations are willing to send to us.

So you want to walk away from this post with some titles?

Spiritual must-reads:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert

  • My review for this book gets a surprisingly high number of hits every week, even three months after I read it. I continue to benefit from the explanations it provided for me and I hope enough teens get their hands on it before they start making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their life.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  • When a priest suggests a book, you read it. A priest suggested this… it’s time to read it.

To read for fun:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

  • The greatest Austen novel, in my opinion.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • I don’t know that I can back up this book as fine literature or an astute political piece, but it was a relatively safe way to get inside the fictionalized head of someone who found a reason to support abortion and an alternative way of life, in a “mild” way. If you want to try to understand why people disagree with the Church on things like the Sanctity of Life and Theology of the Body, this is a quick read.

If you’re anything like me, dear reader, you’re always looking for a suggestion for a good book to read. Rather than making a trip to the store or trusting the Amazon reviews, consider signing up for Library Thing. You can make a list of all the books you can remember reading and filter through the suggestions that like-minded readers provide!

Happy trails! Stay cool…

… I’m off to day dream of a perfect reading corner.

Building Up My Excuse Wall Nice And High

Sorry my latest Bright Maidens post is late… again. I wasn’t out of the country this time. I wasn’t recovering from jet lag either. I did drive my brother to the doctor and then to his interview with the Navy, but that shouldn’t have prevented me from posting. My laptop refusing to turn on, however, did.

Okay Julie, you’re thinking. Not a big deal. Just a post. You couldn’t have prevented your computer from deciding to go black and then have little Windows icon to swirl around for hours.

But, I beg to differ. I missed a deadline.

In professional journalism, my past life, that doesn’t happen. You miss a deadline and… well, bad news bears, yo. You’re messin’ with the lay-out folks now. I used to lose a lot of sleep under the pressure of a deadline. It was wonderful and exhilarating. I took pride in it. I liked how hard I could work under pressure, and the beautiful prose tapped out of my fingertips.

As some older readers know, I used to be a reporter. I covered the statehouse and had a jolly good time. Then, for many reasons, I quit, moved home and began writing and researching for the family business. I’m still Arts and Letters Editor of a quarterly, but I’ve mostly hopped off my journalism perch, and am enjoying a more distant view of a business I once thought of as my life.

As Girl Scouts taught me, make new friends, but keep the old

It is amazing what distance will do for perspective. I talked to a good friend last week, and he asked me about what I am up to. The conversation almost made me laugh from glee, that pithy C.S. Lewis line about telling God your plans coming to mind, and I told my friend how much I am enjoying life. We have been friends since college: he knew me when I was dead-set on D.C., saw me lean towards marketing, helped edit my first academic journal piece, and has been a wonderful friend to me. My update was much longer than his, for better or worse. He’s still on the same track: rocking med school.

On one hand, I envy those in medical or law school, those working in their field of choice, those who shaken off the dust of their hometown and have arrived on the scene in the big city. There’s a plan and a path, and the fruit of one’s hard work can usually be seen on a larger scale. They’re makin’ their mark, and they won’t stop until they get there.

But where are they going, exactly?

I find there’s something alluring about striking out on my own path, beating my own drum, figuring “it” out. Belle sings in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast about the provincial life, saying she wants more and declaring that there must be more!

I sympathize with Belle, but only to an extent. I work for my family business. I like it, but sometimes I forget that one must work within one’s postage stamp of native soil to really excel. It takes experiences like talking to good friends to remind me of what I have, and how blessed I am to be at home.

Every choice is a give and take, and I’m freely and no longer choosing the promise of a career over my relationships with people. (Not that other people in their respective fields necessarily are– but I was, which is my point.)

Leaping down the hill in Georgia

Living at home again has taught me how to handle the unexpected. I have to be diligent at work, or else I won’t be able to get my work done on time when my parents need me to take my brother-with-mono to the doctor again.

In two weeks, I have a couple book reviews due. I need to plan ahead to make deadline, which includes Saturday Fun (a.k.a. all house clean-up) and washing dinner dishes. I’m helping someone do research for a book: there’s a schedule I have to keep to. I might go overseas again; I play tennis on Tuesdays, see friends and B. through the week, and go on walk-runs with my dog. I’m doing my own research, and writing letters, and writing more articles, including my Bright Maidens posts.

I realized today: I really should plan to publish earlier than the day of. Life happens, but that doesn’t mean writing shouldn’t.

Thus, I am sorry, sort of.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be. Maybe you didn’t even notice, dear readers, but nonetheless, please accept my apology for tardiness and bear witness to my persistence in attempting to publish things on time. I will return to my old habits, mostly.

As Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring (which I am listening to during my daily hour commute, to lessen the time brunt), “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I’m not sorry I’m spending my time with people, but I am for not publishing on time, which is, in a way, an opportunity to spend time and share my thoughts with y’all, as you share back with me.

Here’s something to read in the meantime: Knocking at the Door: Musings on history, philosophy, theology, literature, and culture. It’s a blog by my good friend Mitch, a grad student at TCU studying the Civil War. He also features the above Tolkien quote and offers lovely commentary on things he reads.

Also worth a skim: Holy Women & Everyday Hero Priests -UPDATE by Elizabeth Scalia

Happy Wednesday, y’all! And thanks for reading.

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!

Is Blogger Back?

Blogger deleted my last post and I’ve been pouting about it. I’ll re-post the poem soon, and tomorrow is another Bright Maidens post day: “Mary, Our Guide.” Please join us!

Here’s a TIC post I wrote a while back: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Here’s a bit of my weekend; while my college was sending off the new graduates, I was enjoying the scenery:

Sick today, but I expect a full recovery by tomorrow. If not, then I can’t babysit my baby cousins, Thing 1 and Thing 2! Please pray for another cousin, who badly broke his collarbone this past weekend.

Loving on this song — “Rumour Has It” by Adele:

She, she ain’t real. She ain’t gonna be able to love you like I will. She is a stranger – you and I got history, or don’t you remember? Oh Adele. So much soul.

Happy Monday!

Polls Are For Strippers!

Eighteen:

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My friend Matt works for NewsBusters, which introduced me to this delightful non-profit that keeps tabs on the media. He’s on the CNN beat, but here’s a gem from another Matt covering MSNBC. 

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 30 at 10:17 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[Anchor] CHRIS JANSING: President Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low in a new Quinnipiac poll. Libya, the economy, and the budget deficit apparently have a lot to do with it. His approval rating has dropped to 42 percent. 48 percent disapprove. By a large majority, 58 to 29 percent say the President has not clearly stated the U.S. goals in Libya.

(…)

Let me throw a couple of other numbers out there. 50 percent say the President does not deserve to be re-elected, but maybe this is the most crucial number of all – his approval among independent voters, Karen, just 39 percent. What’s your take on that?

KAREN HUNTER, MSNBC contributor: Polls are for strippers, Chris.

CHRIS JANSING: Oh, my. How long did you work on that line?

HUNTER: We should not – I’ve been thinking about this all morning. Well we should not be governed by what people think in a slice of time, in a moment in time. I mean, we have to take collectively what this President has done over the last two years, and if people do their homework, they’ll find out that Barack Obama has done more than any president since FDR to help –

JANSING: Come on, you know how we are. We’re all ADD —

HUNTER: We’re fair-weather.

JANSING: And we’re “what have you done for me lately?”

HUNTER: Exactly! And that’s why I think that this has got to be a long-term approach to looking at the President. We can’t stick our finger in our mouths and check the wind to see which way he should go. And thank goodness he’s not governing based on the polls. He’s governing based on what’s best for America, and making decisions that are right for us.

Wow. Not only is that response uncouth and, really, incongruous to the original question about the President’s decreasing support among independent voters (which, I suppose, maybe strippers would align themselves thus politically), but her continued stream of consciousness from the mouth in unapologetically bad history.

Obama has done more than any President to help what? Democrats and Republicans should be insulted of all the presidents that were left out: Kennedy created the Peace Corp and managed not to get into a fight with Cuba; Johnson created most of the government programs which a large portion of the country is still trying to keep suckling, 40 years later; Reagan helped end communism in Europe. Just wanted to throw out a few more examples.

Also, since when is the mark of a good President just by what they have done in office? How is “doing something” enough? And, because I’m unhappy with the way the President is running our country, I’m fair-weathered and have ADD? No, no, no!

Here’s an article by Victor Davis Hanson, “Obama’s Amazing Achievements” to make everyone feel better.

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Now, for someone who actually knows U.S. history. Preach it, Sen. Rand Paul!

No war in Libya! No arming the rebels! I ditto the need for more debate on this issue, and especially like the part where he mentions President Obama has had time to talk to the UN and other international councils, but not Congress. I think if you’re going to get your country involved in a 3rd war in 10 years, you should discuss it with your country first. Or is that too old-fashioned of me?

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Earlier this week, I was doing a little bit of research on papal infallibility when I ran across a lovely piece by Cardinal Newman, only to discover the website it was being hosted on says that evolution is false.

My first thought: Egads!

My second thought: AHHHHHHHHHH! No, no, no….

My third thought: Bleh. Le nincompoops.

Few things irk me more than Christians who deny possibility under God and put him into their own, small-minded box. I do not understand how one can believe all is possible with God, then deny evolution (not even taking the time to differentiate between micro and macro, just full-out denying), or limit the scope of God’s mercy, or make ridiculous statements that contradict scientific knowledge while holding the hard-line on Scripture.

Here’s a nice article from The Telegraph on how the Vatican says evolution and Christianity are compatible.

Fr. Robert Barron being awesome and talking about misreading Genesis:

Genesis is not bad science. It’s not science at all. Rather, it is exquisite theology.

On the upside, I found out that when the Pope makes an infallible statement ex cathedra when he has the entire council of Cardinals behind him, i.e. about the Assumption of Mary. He still has to make it, which is why the Chair of Peter has to be infallible, but it’s a nice seeing the little system of checks and balances within the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. To date, since the dogma was put into place in at the First Vatican Council in 1870, there have been two.

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This week = lots of editing/ work and class. I’ve gone to confession and adoration this week, but deadlines pushed my clock off, and I keep missing daily Mass, which has definitely left a little hole. On the plus side, I get to listen to (slash be in close proximity to) Peter Kreeft tonight! Oh yes. Stoked, to say the least.

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My friend Scott and two other adventurers are going to Japan to collectively ride their bike 10,000 km (North to South) to help raise money for Japan. They are covering their own expenses, so 100 percent of the proceeds goes to those in need. Here’s more info and a little video of Scott talking about it:

Even $10 would be a great donation! I know I’m making one today, as well as buying my plane tickets to South Korea to visit April!

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Just because I bet y’all need some good stuff to read: 

“Beyond the Welfare State” by Yuval Levin, National Affairs 

“The divine will and human freedom: A Thomistic analysis” by Dr. Kevin G. Rickert, Homiletic and Pastoral Review 

“Vatican launches public dialogue with atheists” by Tom Heneghan, Reuters 

“You’re not alone, doctor tells pro-life med students on national tour” by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News Service

“Vatican Tells United Nations Human Sexuality Not an ‘Identity’, Defends Moral Truth” by Deacon Keith Fournier, Catholic.org 

“Jordan battles to regain ‘priceless’ Christian relics” by Robert Pigott, BBC

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This week’s Bright Maiden posts on patron saints gathered some great conversation. It’s an interesting concept to think that saints choose us!

This week: my post, “Saint Who”
“Budding Hope” by Trista
“Less is More” by Elizabeth

My dear friend Brad was kind enough to plug me on CatholicVote.org – hello to all visitors from there!

After this Lenten season is over, we were thinking about inviting people to share their corresponding posts on our Bright Maidens Facebook page. We’ve already been asked if we accept guest posts; we’re going to figure out protocol and then get back to y’all. Any thoughts on this and/ or interest in joining us?

Next week: Our issue(s) with the Church.

Happy April’s Fool Day! Did y’all pull any awesome pranks?! Take it easy, and check out Conversion Diary for more!

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?

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!

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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!