Bright Maidens on Among Women, Part 1



Friends, the Bright Maidens have an exciting announcement! The lovely Pat Gohn of Among Women kindly invited the three Bright Maidens (Julie, Trista, and Elizabeth) to sit down with her for the podcast!

As you may know, St. Hildegard of Bingen is the Bright Maidens patron saint, so Pat Gohn shares a great deal of wonderful insight on this powerful saint!

We had so much to discuss that we will be in TWO (count ’em: one, two) podcasts. We get into girl talk, a few points that we believe affect young Catholic women today, and a few… surprises. Check it out! Here is the first installment.

Rest In Peace! And Keep In Touch

TBM Topic 32: Pray for the Living and the Dead

“Rest In Peace! And Keep In Touch” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Why pray for the living and the dead?

This Lent, we Bright Maidens have been discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy. This topic is a good one for Lent because

1. The spiritual works of mercy are reminders of our unofficial duties as Christians (verses the precepts of the Church); they’re ways people can attempt to better their spiritual lives through daily graces verses physically abstaining from foods or forms of entertainment, too.
2. The marriage between the spiritual and earthly world can be tangibly shown.
3. The marriage between grace and works can be manifest in writing, as well as in thoughts and actions.

The last point is an important point: some Christians say praying for the dead is useless and unbiblical. If that’s the case, then so is praying for the living. If our fate is so fixed, why ask God for help? Why seek a relationship with Jesus if believing in him is enough?

Praying is how we communicate with God, be it in praise, penitence, thanksgiving or petition. It can be freeing and intimate. It can also be humbling and intimidating. Life is overwhelming, and even starting prayer may be difficult. Luckily, even sitting quietly in the presence of God is praying. Taking time to listen to God is just as important as talking with him. In this way, we can pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17) This is how all relationships work at a human level.

When Blessed John Paul II was asked how the pope prays, he responded, “You would have to ask the Holy Spirit! The Pope prays as the Holy Spirit permits him to pray. I think he has to pray in a way in which, deepening the mystery revealed in Christ, he can better fulfill his ministry. The Holy Spirit certainly guides him in this. But man must not put up obstacles” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope).

At a convent’s cemetery in Salzburg

Praying for others is just as important as your personal relationship with God. As we humans are all interconnected, it is an act of fraternal charity. Moreover, not praying for a person because “they are dead” insinuates that there is not a communion between Heaven and Earth. People departed from this life are not gone; they are at a higher level of communion with God.

This is why Catholics pray to saints; not “to” them, as one would pray to God, but to them like we ask our family and friends to pray for and with us. I pray to St. Anthony (patron of lost things) fairly often. I could pray directly to God, but I like including my saintly friends in my daily tasks. If a person work in a big corporation, would they go to their boss for every little thing? Or do you ask a co-worker to help you out with a minor problem?

This is not to imply that we should not pray to God for the little things: but remember, he already knows all. So he might be sending an angle to watch over you, or a new friend into your life, to help guide and shape you. In the Gospel of John, a story is told in which Jesus gives Peter the power and strength to continue his ministry:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

So, we too must continue this ministry, out of love of God. So, too, we must pray for the living and the dead, out of love for self and neighbor. Praying for all people is biblical, as well as being part of a Christian’s core mission.

Prayer is an act (work) of love. Even Billy Joel got that in his scandalous song, “Only the Good Die Young”: You said your mother told you/  All I could give you was a reputation/ Ah she never cared for me/ But did she ever say a prayer for me?”

There is one mediator between God and humans, and that is Christ (1 Timothy 2:5); but there are billions of helpmates to be found on earth and in heaven, continuing the mission of Christ, peacefully and together. This is why we pray for the living and the dead: to partake in this life, an extraordinary one, and rejoice in the hope with encapsulates all of us as members of the body of Christ, the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

Church in Munich, Germany

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 


For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)

Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?

TBM Topic 31: Comfort the Afflicted

“Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

“Today I told off a cashier who was trashing the president” read the Daily Kos headline. Color me intrigued; I clicked on it. I read it. I cried (figuratively).

The writer was just a member of the site, not an official writer, and proudly stated how he actively listens to progressive radio and keeps up on current events via The Nation and Mother Jones. He apologetically admitted he grocery shopping at Meijer (not sure why, but now I know they’re “Michigan owned, .. unionized and ha[ve] a very respectable selection of organic produce as well as locally baked breads.”)

 He described the cashier as an older white woman who “looked like she’d had a hard life.” The writer, a self-described “very political person,” says he “often feel[s] bad when I see older people still working when, in a just society, they shouldn’t have to. Obviously I don’t know her story but there she was checking and bagging groceries, a job which keeps you on your feet for hours on end, at 8:30 on a Friday night.”

 That was a poignant moment for the writer. He feels a bit of compassion for this woman. But he doesn’t act on that compassion when he hears the older woman say, “Of course Obama says there’s no inflation. I don’t think the man has ever had to buy groceries in his life. He probably gets his employees to do it for him. You know, buy his arugula?”

 First comment: I had to look up arugula. It’s a salad green.

Second comment: It’s a silly connection to make between inflation and greens, but nothing inflammatory. The woman’s point is that Obama is an elitist. An elitist is not someone who is well-off financially; it’s anyone who thinks they know better than you, and worse, wants to make you follow their plan, and not allow for deviation. Progressive liberals can be elitists. So can Republicans. So can Independent voters. It’s a personality trait, usually associated with ambitious people, and not a party line. Obama fits that definition; individual health care mandate, anyone?

The author felt differently:

 My anger was building up to a boil; I mean, I just wanted to get home to that beer and who knows how many people before me had to hear this crap? So after I was all paid up and everything was in my cart I said to her, “I suggest you keep your political opinions to yourself when you’re standing there because you never know who’s standing here. I don’t appreciate hearing my president trashed like that. That’s all I’m going to say.” Her eyes flashed with anger and realization that I must be one of “those people”. She drew in a breath, about to say something and I said, “If you say one more fucking thing I’ll go find your manager and all three of us can discuss this.” At that, she suddenly deflated. Now the look in her eyes was fear. She looked down and meekly mumbled “Ok. Sorry sir.” I left then, proud of myself and still full of anger. 

Wow. Tolerance, much? After that, he felt a twinge of remorse and wondered if he had handled that poorly. He says he realizes she’s probably just a low information voter, only listening to conservative media, like Rush and Sean (verses only reading and listening to liberal media outlets), and then he threatened her job. But he’s glad he spoke his mind; he only wonders if he could have handled that encounter better.

Ahem. This is where I get to my point about comforting the afflicted: they’re not just the physically sick. They can be spiritually sick. Or just lack good manners. I miss the old ladies who would keep order by calling the naughty child’s parents. If you want a much-needed reality series, I think Miss Manners should take to the streets!

Comfort is more than sharing a meal or a beer or a laugh. It means firmly and gently showing people the way. Whether it be a friend giving advice or a offering a stranger a smile, people find comfort in kindness. The author of the above was unkind. No opinions were changed through the experience. No hope blossomed that America’s fractured politics could reconcile themselves. Instead, a man swore at a woman and claimed victory and, worse, the moral high ground.

This post isn’t about politics. It’s about love, peace, and Jesus (who, coincidentally, brings both of those things to the party). The writer is right to say we shouldn’t back down from defending our beliefs, but never at the cost of another person’s dignity. Souls are converted by fellow souls: we must never forget that Christians are the face of Christ for the unbeliever.

As Blessed John Paul II wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, “Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus said to the apostles: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Though invisible, He is personally present in His Church. He is likewise present in each Christian, by virtue of baptism and other sacraments. It was usual to say, as early as the era of the Fathers, “Christianus alter Christus” (“The Christian is another Christ”), meaning by this emphasize the dignity of the baptized and his vocation, through Christ, to holiness.”

Dignity isn’t a mercantilism: dignity is for all, and there is an unlimited amount to go around, for loved ones as well every single person you disagree with or dislike. A person’s character is not measured based on the love they give when they feel it, but rather, loving (action verb) when feelings dictate otherwise. It’s those times in which it’s necessary to take a deep breath, smile, and  offer up a situation that is out of your control to God. Every person is unique, and therefore, going to disagree with you on certain points. Offer it up. Do not hurt another person to achieve victory. Offer it up. Let it go.

All for the glory of the Kingdom, people.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

Is The Spirit So Willing?

TBM Topic 30: Forgive Offenses Willingly

“Is The Spirit So Willing?” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

As I write this post, I begrudgingly admit I am working on forgiving someone for saying something that hurt my pride. I am currently working on cleaning out my room. I am getting married in less than nine months and, in good conscience, I cannot bring into this marriage my very own section of some rain forest.

I have books. Hundreds of books. Then there’s the one box from grade school, and two boxes from high school, the huge bin of magazines, and the multiple drawers and boxes of college papers I have yet to go through. Then there’s my research, for current and pending projects, and five shoe boxes of epistolary correspondence. I just started on my sixth this past Christmas.

A member of my family, the Purger, said he’d help me, as long as I sign a contract saying I would not get mad about what he threw away.

Writing messages long gone, unlike my letters. (far L)

“Never!” I protested. “What if you threw away my letters?”

“Why are you saving them anyways? It’s not like you’re Flannery O’Connor. No one is going to read your letters in 50 years.”

“I’m not saving my own letters,” I huffed. “I’m saving responses to my letters.”

The comment stung. Stings. We had to stop the conversation and part on civil terms. I am now typing, depressed in spirit, in my room. Fortunately, I kept cleaning too. I had a church bulletin from the beginning of Lent, and, wouldn’t you know it! Fr. Ed says it best:

I have often thought that it would be nice to have a special name for the final Sunday before the Season of Lent begins. As a culture we have the traditions of Mardi Gras and Carneval during these days, during which people celebrate and eat and “party” before Ash Wednesday. But perhaps the Gospel for this weekend gives us a better tradition to follow: forgiveness. 

We have all heard the old saying, “To err is human, to forgive divine,” and actually it is quite correct. Who alone but God has the power to forgive sins? Who else but God sees all there is to us, both good and bad, and love, understands and absolves? When we were able to forgive one another for the hurts against us, we are, in effect, showing the face of God to those we forgive. Because we are forgiven first by Him we are able to give that gift to others. 

In the Gospel this weekend, a paralytic is brought to Jesus for healing. Little does he expect the first words to him from Jesus: “Child, your sins are forgiven”. After this Jesus says the famous words: “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk”. Why is the other statement first? Because Jesus heals the deepest wounds first. He shows that the physical paralysis of this man is not as important as the spiritual paralysis that can happen when we fall into sin. He heals this first, and does so with great love, even calling the young man “child” as he does. 

What a gift this is for him, and for all of us who have heard the story for the last 2,000 years. Jesus forgives, heals and loves us. Perhaps this gives us an indication of what this final Sunday before Lent can be about: forgiveness, healing and love. In a word, it’s about Jesus.

And in like fashion, I went downstairs and apologized for overreacting, and then told the Purger I forgave him for hurting my pride. And I mean it. If Jesus can suffer death to redeem my sins, then I can swallow my pride, admit I was wrong, and forgive, just like Jesus. Because it really is about him, not you.

Besides: if Anne can forgive Gilbert, anything is possible!

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:20-25)

Patience: The Virtue No One Has

TBM Topic 29: Bear Wrongs Patiently

“Patience: The Virtue No One Has” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

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 on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I have yet to meet a person who admits to being naturally patient. I’m not. I bet you’re not either. So first there’s that: dealing with your own inability to be patient with your own life.

I get it! Places to go, people to see. You don’t want to wait: “Waiting for the fish to bite/ or waiting for the wind to fly a kite/ or waiting around for Friday night/ or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake/ or a pot to boil, or a Better Break/ or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants/ or a wig with curls, or Another Chance” (Dr. Seuss).

But perhaps you’re beyond that. Maybe you’re finding patiently waiting and trusting in the Lord (cue the Psalms). Then, God steps it up: you have to bear other people’s wrongs patiently.

He has a funny habit of doing that, doesn’t he? Trying to make you more patient? Sanctification of self, as they say.

What usually happens, though: an unkind word (or two), uncharitable thoughts, irritability for an extended period of time, a fight between loved ones, or, more often, viciousness towards a stranger.

But that guy was a total jerk! He took my spot/ coffee/ bumped into me/ was super rude. You’re telling me I’m not right to be angry.

Sure. You can be angry. But of all the things to be mad about in the world, does this problem at hand really matter enough to fight back? Or would your kindness help the situation? Would your patience bring light to the matter at hand? Would this problem, too, pass because you chose patience over getting into a pickle?

Blessed Mother Teresa, saint-to-be, said,

 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

“Told you I’d be back – 3 days, people!”

As we enter Holy Week, remember the ultimate example of bearing wrongs patiently: God. We mess up every day and have to keep coming back to apologize. But he never gets tired of it: he delights in our remorse, because we apologize not out of fear of punishment, but because we love God so much that we are moved to make right when we are in the wrong.

Jesus told us that we have to forgive one person for the same offense 70 time 7 times. And if they offend you in a different way? Another 490 times. And another? 490. That’s bearing wrongs patiently. That’s imitating Christ. Is it easy? No. But more importantly- is it possible? Yes!

As one impatient person to another, let us not grow lax in our Lenten goals of self-growth. These 40 days are only the beginning of new life in Christ. If you did not add “bear wrongs patiently” to your laundry list, then perhaps you should add it now. It’s never too late to be the person God made us to be.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” –Proverbs 15:18

How are you learning to bear wrongs patiently?

Bright Maidens: Week Three: Admonish the Sinner

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 on Facebook and Twitter!

The Bright Maidens’ Lenten Anniversary Series

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Three: Admonish the Sinner


“A famous story in the life of Archbishop Sheen illustrates this [spiritual work of mercy] well. As a young priest, he was on duty at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho Square in London. A woman, an actress, came to the rectory to speak with a priest about her rather sinful lifestyle. However, to get up the courage to do so, she drank quite a bit. As young Fr. Sheen tried to speak to her about her immoral living, it was apparent that because she had drunk so much, she could not understand what he was saying to her. So he asked her, “Would you come back and see me when you are feeling better?” She answered, “Yes, but on one condition: that you promise me you will not ask me to go to Confession!” Fr. Sheen promised her. In fact, he promised three times in all: twice before she left, and once when she came back! When she returned in a sober state, they spoke for about an hour and she felt much better! As she was ready to leave, he said to her, “Can I show you the inside of our Church? We have some very beautiful paintings there.” She said, “Yes,” and as they were walking along the side aisle, they came by the confessional, and he pushed her right in. He kept his promise not to ask her to go to confession! The woman made a confession of her whole life, and later on became a cloistered nun for over forty years in nearby Tybourn Convent in London. When the woman kept saying, “Promise me you will not ask me to go to confession,” young Fr. Sheen realized that she was really unconsciously yearning to go to the Sacrament of God’s mercy! She was protesting too much, and it became evident that what she really needed and wanted was God’s forgiveness.”

– From a wonderful article by Fr. Andrew Apotoli, C.F.R.