The Mount

Moments that remind us God fully exists
“The Mount” 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!

I blog.

Blogging is a lifestyle, not just a practice involving drafts, HTML, and comment boxes. When you blog, you start seeing life through the scope of your writing capabilities.

Bloggers get to a point wherein every lesson they learn must be assessed: can I share this with the world on my blog? Will I do it justice? Should I just jot down this thought on my napkin while no one is looking?

That point sneaks up on you until one day you have a really great cry, or your talking with your best friend about something you’ve never discussed with anyone, and you think, “I need to blog about this.”

It’s a similar problem that plagues Christians (the bloggers and non-bloggers alike) in their daily lives. I know my mind is littered with mental notes of the “perfect” analogy, or the “best” examples of Christian living, set aside to pull out in the middle of a discussion.

We get so wrapped up in the path we took to grow our relationship with Christ and want to share it with others that we forget that the Holy Spirit is at work all day, everyday. We start to judge, accuse, get comfortable, get lazy, and go through the motions.

In cases such as these, in His infinite wisdom, God provides for us His vast expanse of nature.

Mt. Rainier (I don’t own this picture)

When I traveled to Seattle and my beau joined me for a four day Northwestern excursion, we spent an entire day around Mt. Rainier. Upon arrival, the day was chilly due to cloud cover, but not enough for a jacket on the hike.

It’s no mistake that much of Jesus’ greatest work was accomplished outside, e.g., feeding the 5000, Beatitudes, Crucifixion, etc. The great outdoors opens the scope for larger crowds and a reminder of Original Man’s surroundings.

Rather than slipping into an 8th grade poem about crisp air, clear blue sky, white mountain tops and … oops, we’re already there.

There is no virtual reality game for hiking or walking around without the whuushhh of cars rushing by while you stare off the edge of a cliff in the presence of a snow-covered mountain in July.

It would be like trying to describe the vast experience of a conversion or enlightenment by explaining the wallpaper in the room one was sitting in when it happened.

“Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound…” 1 Kings 19: 11-12

When we ascended the mountain, with the iconic Rainier peak to our left and green-carpeted mountain piles on our right, a warm wind picked up. It slowly nudged the clouds over our heads and beyond our sight.

The sun emerged without threat of straggling cloud when we started descending the other side of the trail, illuminating the landscape and strengthening the color contrasts. In one [panting] moment at the high point of the trail, I felt God in the wind.

I grabbed a pen (still not free of the blogger’s crutch) and wrote this down, my leg as my clipboard:

He makes it so obvious to us and people still won’t recognize Him. Post about spiritual dry spells vs dry rainforests. You don’t realize how you could not see Him when it’s wet. The opposite when it’s dry.

I certainly don’t have it figured out and my homage to the spiritual jump-start I got that day at Mt. Rainer is to avoid describing it. Rather than belittling it, I just encourage anyone who is physically able to climb away from daily life, to do so.

Go somewhere you can watch out for Him and listen for Him.

The Next Bright Maidens Post Will Be…

Topic number 16 will be “What is the distinction between being sexy vs. being desirable?”

Let’s get those posts in next Tuesday, folks! Post on (and LIKE!) our TBM Facebook page and tweet the Bright Maidens too!

Do y’all have any topics you’d like to see us write on? Leave a comment or send an e-mail!

I’ll post about Germany soon too. It was an amazing trip and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel with my sister. We stayed in Munich and Berlin in Germany, and went to Neuschwanstein Castle and Salzburg, Austria in the week we were together. I spent six hours in the Frankfurt airport too, which was a trip in itself.

If y’all could keep my part-time job search in your prayers too, that would be great. I have tons of writing and reading to do for work, and I’m trying to keep that happy balance of work, looking for more work and sleep. I also have an interview with Pat Gohn for her Among Women podcast on Thursday– I’ll post it here when it goes up!

RCIA started up again last night! I am the youngest team member. We have a new priest in charge, too, who knew my last name was pronounced like Robinson, but without the “n” in the middle. I think that means we are going to be best friends. Please keep all inquirers into the faith in your prayers!

Busy week, but blessed to be able to keep up. Have a great Tuesday, folks!

UPDATE: See Bryan Kemper’s blog for Fr. Pavone’s statement! Sports Illustrated published a perfectly wonderful and inspirational story about a guy who got shot in the head and forgave his aggressor. Oh, here are the all-time worst accents in movies.

I’m Back in the States!

I’m back from Asia! I was in Busan, Daegu, Geoje Island and Changwon, South Korea, as well as Tokyo, Japan. It was amazing two week trip, and I can’t wait to write about it!

Well, erm, actually, I can. I am majorly slacking on my Bright Maidens post too, I know. I promise to post it ASAP. If you’re wondering what the hold up is, wonder no longer:

Heidi makes jet lag naps better!

Thanks for understanding.

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.

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!