Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Can you say “Catholic” without being ecstatic?

I can’t!!

The Catholic Church is so cool! Today is the Feast of St. Michael and the archangels. Not only does God love us, sends Himself down to earth for us, but He also has angels (I like to think of them as God’s entourage) who are sent by Him to do His will! St. Michael kicked Satan’s butt! And he will get to do it again! I’m so glad St. Michael is on my side, and I can ask for his help whenever I want. But even so, he doesn't compare to God and His power. Even his name reminds us that no one is like God.

I mean really, Catholicism is the most awesome thing to happen to the world, because it leads us to God in all His glory! Thank you Jesus for thinking it up!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My daily struggle

I lost today. Maybe I’m only fooling myself in trying to be an optimist. By the end of the day, all the mustered optimism has been drained into numerous disappointments (including in myself). I’m left feeling like a failure, but not in just what I hoped to do, but in who I am. I’m so tried of fighting against radical female ideals. Can’t we all just be who we are called to be, love who we are called to love, and help everyone in any way we can? Apparently, because I’m a woman, I have all these extra rules I must follow, just because that’s how it is!

I realized why I place human acknowledgments and praise so low on my priorities: I’ll never get it. I am just one of those people who are forgotten, or remembered for the wrong reasons. Truly this only bothers me when others point it out to me, or rationalize why being liked is actually a good thing. Their stance is along the lines of something like this:
When people like you, they will listen to you.
You can "win" friendships with them and influence them better.
If you are attractive, then you promote the Gospel and give glory to God in that. (aka, "Look at that beautiful woman God made!")

I don’t completely disagree with these, but if I made those my mottos, I would be a very unhappy person. I’ve never been the “sweet, well-spoken, lady-like Southern girl”, who wears cute clothes and just makes everyone around her feel great. It’s not that I think this is wrong, it’s just that it isn’t me. It is a struggle for me to be around people in the first place, and now I have to make it a priority that everyone thinks highly of me too? I don’t try to be rude and ugly, but I also don’t try to be doll-like. I’m not putting anyone down, I just don‘t think I can hear it being preached one more time.

Yes, women are beautiful. Yes, we should look feminine. But where I drawn the line is when you tell me people would rather have me soft-spoken, smiling pretty in a corner, only being used to inspire love for God by my well-accented figure and sugary compliments. I am no feminist, but when I start sensing a suppressment of women, I start to understand why people can think the church is anti-women.

The saddest part is, it’s women doing it to women. Absolutely none of my above statements have come from men. It’s the women who have all these ideas of how other women should be. This is what you get when women support each other, and it drives me crazy. (I also understand we are all very young, and have no clue what we are doing.)

I’ve always liked being friends with guys more (oh, and that’s a really big no-no). With guys, I don’t have to care if I’m “honing” my feminine skills, or crossing some useless line into inappropriate topics. We talk about interesting things, I laugh at what is funny, say exactly what I think (or say nothing at all), and I can serve them as I long to. And the best part is that they let me!! They appreciate me and let me try to make them happy. They don’t get upset at something that wasn’t meant to be insulting. They don’t try to smash me into a box labeled “good woman”. I feel more like a woman around guys than I ever have around other women. I will never be good enough around women. I will never be attractive enough for them to care about what I have to say (supposedly).

So I failed today in my fight of not caring about all this. And if I hear, “As women we…” one more time, I really am going to lose it. Please pray for me and my patience.

I sometimes wonder if this would be an issue at all if I went to a school just 700 or so miles more north.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Answered Prayer

The ban of abortions on military bases will remain in place! Give thanks to God, all the politicians who fought this, and those praying for this outcome!

Yesterday, a group of pro-life Senators led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) banded together, leading an effort to block a Senate Defense-spending bill that would have opened the door for taxpayer-funded abortions on military bases. The 56-43 vote in the U.S. Senate fell four votes short of the 60 votes the bill’s proponents needed to move it forward.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of AUL Action, recognized McCain and his colleagues for outstanding work as they "led the fight to win today’s key vote rejecting taxpayer-funded abortion in the military." The vote was a major setback for the abortion industry's agenda in Washington as its leaders fight to expand abortion without limitations and at any price.
"The momentum is on the side of Life," said Yoest. "We stopped taxpayer-funded abortion on military bases against overwhelming odds in the Senate. If one vote had gone the other way, the result would be different. That's why we must remain steadfast in our fight."
We've been updating you for weeks on our fight to stop the Burris Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, and - after yesterday - experts believe that this issue is now dead during this Congressional session.

Here is an article the Washington Times published on their wedsite before the vote took place.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Full news report here.

Vancouver, Canada, Sep 19, 2010 / 05:06 pm (CNA).- Brian Wood, a 33-year-old resident of Vancouver, B.C., was killed in an auto collision on September 3, when the driver of an oncoming SUV lost control of the vehicle and crossed the road into his lane. His wife, Erin Wood, said that Brian acted just in time to save her, and their unborn child expected to be born in November, by sacrificing himself.

Evidence from the crash, which also killed two passengers in the other vehicle's back seat, supported Ms. Wood's description of her late husband's final act: unable to avoid the errant SUV, Brian Wood slammed the brakes and swerved his side of the car toward the oncoming vehicle, ensuring his certain death but protecting his wife, pregnant with their first child.
“I think it's pretty obvious … that if it would have been a head-on crash, we both would have been killed instantly, along with our baby,” Erin Wood told NBC's Today Show on September 13. “He definitely saved us. He made that choice, and I'm thankful for that.”...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Dark Night of the Soul

by St. John Of the Cross

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Of Singapore and Freedom

One thing I like about going home is having a collection of National Geographic’s at my fingertips. With every issue since the 70’s kept on a bookshelf, I can always keep myself occupied. I was reading “The Singapore Solution” by Mark Jacobson from the January 2010 issue (read the entire article here). Singapore is a highly technological nation, and it only has 3.7 million people on its tiny (but expanding) island. Singapore also has very restrictive laws (some include no littering or spitting on sidewalks, failing to flush toilets and no chewing gum) and harsh punishments for violating them, although they have let up in recent years.

The overview of the country is told alongside the story of the Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew. He is credited by history and the people as being the mastermind behind all that Singapore is today. He attracted foreign investment, made English the official language, made a very efficient government by boosting salaries, and has virtually extinguished corruption. He was the first prime minister after independence from Britain, and is now the “Minister Mentor” to his son, the current prime minister. He says that he has had a plan all along for his country, and it looks as if it has been successful.

Singapore is the definition of success to the world: a great education and health system, corruption free government, 90% of households own their own home, taxes are low, 3% unemployment, and everyone has a savings plan (as enforced by the government). In the article, it says the word that sums up the “Singaporean existential condition” is kiasu (meaning “afraid to lose”). “Singaporeans are big on being number one in everything, but in a kiasu world, winning is never completely sweet, carrying with it the dread of ceasing to win.” The government is of one mind, and when members of parliament disagree with the majority (such as voting no to reduce the number of people allowed to assemble to protest), they simply will not serve another term.

Another interesting aspect is the campaigns relating to the family. “Assortative mating”, where college graduates should only marry other college graduates, is encouraged by the MM (Minister Mentor).

There is also the modern problem of depopulation, which the article traces back to the 1970’s population control program “Two Is Enough”. The fertility rate is now 1.29, which the MM calls a “worrying factor”. (The solution offered by the author is that “Singaporeans start having more sex”.) This has lead to the huge Chinese immigrant influx (25% of the island’s population is foreign born). Ironically, the MM isn’t to concerned about this. He welcomes hard-working people whose parents pushed them “very hard”. He said it’s the Singaporeans problem to catch up with them.

What is most troubling about all of this, however, is the ideology of Lee (the MM) behind his realized vision of Singapore. In his own words:
One must understand human nature. I have always thought that humanity was animal-like. The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I’m not sure he can be. He can be trained, he can be disciplined.
He disagrees with America’s thinking saying, the rights of individuals to do their own thing allow them to misbehave at the expense of an orderly society.

And to that I have a reply:
Singapore is what the world is striving for and, as evidenced by reality, the way of achieving that is ridding one’s freedom. As I read the article, I wondered what the Singaporeans thought about all this. Were they really happy? Do they think a safe, comfortable life has been a good trade off for a less uncontrolled one? Singapore isn't as extreme as some other countries in how they do things, but I wonder, where should the line be drawn?

In order to have an “orderly society” freedom must be cashed in. It is true, people abuse freedom. The MM’s conclusion from this is to limit that freedom, and by doing so, you can create any kind of society you want.

But this points to a severe mistake. The mistake is thinking it is possible to take a person’s freedom away, that laws can be written against it, and punishments enforcing it. It is true people abuse freedom, but it is also true that people must have their freedom.

And that is why I have a new appreciation for America this year. For all it’s problems, hypocrisy and sins against everything (especially God), we have at least one thing right: freedom is really important.
Without freedom, “success” means nothing (see what kiasu means above). Sure you can feel safe in your bed at night, but will you ever be fulfilled in your soul? Without freedom, people cannot choose right, and therefore cannot sustain it being forced upon them (if what was forced was even right to be begin with).

America will ruin itself. Any honest person admits this. But it will go to ruin because of freedom, because people themselves brought it there, and because of another mistake about freedom: that you don't need Truth along with it.

God gave us the ultimate freedom (free will), and will respect it for eternity. Our free will is so important to God that He will never violate it, even to save us. And this is why we must protect it. Although it can very easily lead to ruin, pain, and yes, a disorderly society, we must never seek to limit it. Only in using our freedom can we ever be saved.

God has to be the strongest, and most loving entity, for He sees us in all our confused misery, and reaches down to save us. However, He will never force us to take His hand. He knows what is best for us, and yet will still let us make the ultimate decision. Wow, God is terrifyingly amazing.

Catch-up post

I should be doing a great many other things besides typing this, but it has been a long, productive, and tiring week. So instead of forsaking the world and disappearing in a cave, I’ll just reclaim a few minutes for this.

Wednesday was Mary’s birthday! The Church only celebrates three birthdays, so the rarity only makes it even more joyful! But when I listened to the gospel, I only thought of St. Joseph, and he did play a big part in the reading.

I imagined Joseph, wanting to do the right thing, just wanted the whole thing with Mary to go away, for her sake and his. But instead, he was stopped in his tracks by the angel Gabriel, who told him what had happened and what he was to do.

Joseph was a humble man. There are two sides to it: public and private. Here is this guy, who didn’t do anything wrong, who will now be whispered about and considered a sinner (at least for a while). He decided to listen to God instead. But what I find even more inspiring is his private humility of accepting his place. Joseph was going to marry Mary, they could have had their own kids (theoretically), but instead Joseph accepted that God was better than himself and welcomed Mary’s son as his own. He didn’t question why the Holy Spirit had to be involved. He didn’t ask what God was going to do for him. He realized his place. I’m sure he also felt very inadequate as well. He is Mary’s husband. The Virgin Mary! The one conceived without sin and who has never sinned! The one who God chose to carry His only Son. Now, Joseph must care for and lead the two most important people who ever lived. Both sinless, one who is God and one chosen by God since the beginning of time. That was a tall order, and yet Joseph never asked how or why. He trusted in God, knew and lived out his place, and loved God for that. St. Joseph is a model of humility. Pray for us!

Does the devil attack babies that are still in the womb?

I’ve always thought it dangerous to delay anyone’s (whether it yourself, or a child) baptism. The time that original sin is still crushing us only makes it harder and more painful to return to God. I’ve always had in the back of my mind, that the farther apart your earthly birth and new spiritual birth, the more damage that is done. This morning I had a frightful vision. I saw myself pregnant and that the devil was influencing my baby. I would order him away, calling upon St. Michael for help, but I felt helpless, because my baby was in a state of sin and separation from God. I couldn’t baptize him, for he was not yet born. It was really terrifying. Is it possible the devil can squirm into the safe recesses of the womb?

I really need to stop having nightmares.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mary and Islam

I stumbled upon this today while searching for how Muslims view Mary. Check out the whole thing here. It is a full-circle type thing (and involves Fatima too)! Happy Birthday Mary (even if i'm a bit late)
As the Moslems swept through Spain in the 8th century, a great religious treasure was buried for safe-keeping in the earth, high in the Estremadura Mountains. It was a much venerated statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus that was a gift of Pope Gregory the Great to Bishop Leander of Seville. After the overthrow of Moorish occupation, the image was uncovered in the year 1326, subsequent to a vision of Our Lady to a humble shepherd by the name of Gil. Our Lady's very special statue was enshrined in a nearby Franciscan Monastery next to the "Wolf River."
The Moslems, during their Spanish occupation, had actually named the river. The Islamic term for Wolf River is "Guadalupe" (Guada = River; Lupe = Wolf). Hence, the famous Catholic image in Spain has been known, since the 14th century, by the Islamic name of "Our Lady of Guadalupe."
In the fullness of time, we can be sure that Almighty God knew that the Islamic religion would pose a serious threat to Christianity. God also knew that the Spanish missionaries would face grave resistance in the "new world" from the mighty Aztec Indians. The Aztecs worshipped an evil stone "serpent god" that demanded human sacrifice. It was extremely difficult to win souls for Christ from these bloodthirsty savages. However, with God all things are possible. Our Lady appeared to a humble Aztec Indian convert by the name of Juan Diego in 1531. When asked her name by Juan Diego, at the request of the local bishop, Our Lady's response, in the Aztec language, included the words "te coatlaxopeuh" (pronounced: "te quatlasupe") and meant "one who crushes the head of the stone serpent."
To Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs, this revelation had great meaning, coupled with the miraculous image of Our Lady standing on top of a "crescent," the symbol of this evil serpent god. A tidal wave of conversions to Catholicism ensued. However, Bishop Zumarraga, who was from Spain, made what was no doubt a "heavenly mistake" that one day may lead to the mass conversion of Moslems. To the Bishop's Spanish ears, Our Lady's Aztec name of "Te Quatlasupe" sounded just like the name of the revered Madonna from Spain with the Islamic name, "Guadalupe." Hence, the bishop named the Mexican Madonna "Our Lady of Guadalupe." It is interesting that the "crescent" is also the symbol for Islam and that America's Shrine to Our Lady has an Islamic name.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I suppose God rests, but…

…I have no evidence for that. Okay, except in Genesis, where it says He rested. But really, God takes no breaks with me. Since my post on humility, and almost immediately afterwards, I’ve been bombarded with “humble-talk”. That means everyday, in some aspect (whether at Mass, taking to others, reading something, or even in class), humility comes up. It was blaring in the readings last Sunday.
At a retreat I went on last week, we touched on Ignatian Spirituality in which this is the First Principle and Foundation (underlines mine):
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. All the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

It talks about many things here, and I looked at it at the time through “humility goggles”. I can’t depend to much on created things, because they are only meant to point me to God. And I should do just that for everyone I meet, and no more.
So some thoughts:

Since God thought me into existence, and keeps me in existence because He loves me, then I must (and will) be satisfied with that. I can be satisfied (and by satisfied, I mean completely with nothing more possible) because He made me, and knows me more deeply than anyone ever could. He sees my pain clearly and perfectly and knows exactly what I need. He is the only one who can, will and does save me from darkness and death. He is the only one who truly matters and I can rely only on Him to reassure me, feed me, love me. And since I continue to exist I can be sure of His love, and that will be enough for me.
I’m sure He isn’t done with me yet.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trip home

I’m at home for the weekend, and am really enjoying being here. I never know what to expect when I come home, but it has been a peaceful and upbeat visit. We took a family picture today. It’s so rare for all of us (all four siblings and Massi, my brother-in-law, and my parents actually) to be all together at once. Now that all the kids are either in college or about to move to Montana, we figured this may be the last chance for this in a while. My brother Peter looks so different, I hardly recognized him today! About six weeks ago he had jaw surgery to reposition his jaw and align his teeth. Since then, he has been on a liquid-only diet (or as much as my brother can do) and has lost about 15 pounds. Not only have I never seen him that skinny, but because they rotated his top jaw, and did something weird to his chin, his face is just slightly different. He says that I “keep staring at him”, and my mom cautioned me that I’m the only one he lets say things like that to him, but I can’t help it! The picture of him from my memory just doesn’t match up with what I see in front of me, but I am trying to adjust. Anyway, the pictures turned out really well, even if I do not know how to not stick out my neck!

Another shock (only I was anticipating this one) is all the “remodeling” around the house. The kitchen has been painted, the cabinets lightened, and a new countertop put in. My mom finally got a breakfast bar she‘s always wanted, where the counter comes out into the room, giving space to sit down and chat with whoever is in the kitchen. The pantry has also been painted and fixed up, and the bathroom downstairs is really different! All the bedrooms (including my old one) has been changed around. My mom has also been getting back into “collage-making”. The one for the bathroom is selected pictures from places we’ve been (such as Alaska, Rome, Oregon, and New Orleans). I really like looking at all the pictures.

And one last note: Did you notice a particular reading yesterday (Sept. 3rd)? 1 Corinthians 1-5 includes the verse I use for this blog. I love love love how the Catholic Church does things, and this is just another. We practically read the entire bible one Mass at a time! And how cool is it that it was also the Memorial of St. Gregory the Great! And a first Friday! Yes, I’ve had a great weekend! Oh, and Auburn just won it’s first game! WAR EAGLE!