Monthly Archives: April 2012

Validation

I found the cure for rainy day syndrome! It’s totally worth 15 minutes of your day to be in an infectious good mood 🙂

HT: Mark Shea

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The Comfort of An Old Friend

I lost my job of Friday. I still haven’t shared this fact with a good number of people in my life, because I really thought I was on the right track to a promotion. It hit me hard, and I very nearly had a full on panic attack just after, because, wait a minute, I loved this job, and I just moved in to an apartment a few months ago, and now I’m saddled with a rent burden as well as well, joining the ranks of my unemployed friends, who I had to admit I was feeling vaguely smug towards. (Pride man, I know we’ve talked it to death here, but it’ll bite your booty every time!)

My company (former company I guess) actually gave me a really decent deal. I could either keep working for two weeks, or end my time immediately and get a week’s pay for severance. Now, I think this speaks to how much I’ve grown over the past year. A year ago, I would have taken the money and run. I would have hidden under my covers for the weekend, lied to my roommate, said I was going to work during the weeks and wandered around the city until I ran out of money and went sobbing home to my parents. If you think I’m kidding or exaggerating, that is the kind of thing that I used to pull. Instead I opted to take the two weeks, it would be the extra money I needed to cover my rent, and something to do, since even if I wanted to I can’t leave my apartment until May 21st (no I haven’t decided what I’m doing yet.)

Anyway, instead of hiding under the covers, my younger sister and her boyfriend came, we went out, had a drink or twelve, they stayed over and we watched Wayne’s World. On Saturday night, I went with them back to The Bronx, where she lives, my parents met us for dinner, and I decided to go home to clear my head. Sunday morning, my father and I looked into filing for unemployment, and then we headed to mass.

Mass was being said by Father Stephen Leake, who is a Salesian of Don Bosco and taught my older brother in high school. He now works at the Salesian seminary. While my brother attended Salesian school we developed a very close relationship with the priests there. My sister and I performed in musicals for the all boys school and have our own connection to it. I feel more at home at Don Bosco Prep than I do at my own alma mater these days. After mass I went over to speak to Father Steve, he what I was doing and I told him that I’d been working, but have just been let off. He said the best thing that I’d heard all weekend:

“I’ll pray to Saint Joseph for you, he’s the worker. Keep smiling, you’ll be fine!”

I hugged him and said my own prayers to Saint Joseph. I’m feeling much better, the panic has passed.

Tonight, I’m spending the evening with another old friend, Jonathan Larson’s RENT but that’s a different story for a different time.

Anyway, pray for me.

Thomas

I went to 8:30AM mass today since I have somewhere to be at 11.  I had been planning on going but I got so little sleep last night, it’s a wonder I was able to wake up this morning at all.  When I did drag myself out of bed though, I was so grateful because of how beautiful it was.  The weather was warm but still cool enough because the sun wasn’t out and it felt so much like spring I wanted to just sit outside and enjoy it.  Church was awesome today as well.  The Gospel was about Jesus appearing to His disciples and Thomas needing to see to believe.  I felt particularly drawn to this Gospel because I was really trying to identify with the disciples.  I want to know, what would I have done if I had been Thomas?  Would I have taken the other disciples’ word for it?  Or would I have thought they were just pulling some horribly mean prank on me?  Jesus says quite clearly

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” *

I usually think “oh, I am so Blessed because I wasn’t there to see Him and I believe, yadda yadda yadda” but am I really that confident to think that if I were in Thomas’ shoes, I would have just taken my friend’s word for it that someone rose from the dead and is now walking among us?  I doubt it.  Not when it had never happened before.  Even for a man of whom I am a follower and believe to be the Son of God, I mean, He just died and disappointed us all by not being saved.  I am beginning to have doubts and then you tell me He’s living?  And not only that, but He rose from the dead?  It’s a lot to take in for a mere human, which I am.  It only seems strange to me in the sense that he didn’t believe even though that would have proved that they weren’t wrong about Jesus being the Messiah.  I think in some cases it would be easier for me to believe that He had risen because all I want is to hold on to the hope that we weren’t wrong.  Because, no matter how faithful I am, when someone I put all my faith in (seemingly) abandons me, I get upset, but I hope that there is some good reason behind it.  Jesus raising from the dead and freeing the souls from hell would be a good reason for Him to have had to have died.  I think I might have accepted that.  But still, we did not fully understand what it meant to rebuild the temple in three days, we were not yet ready to understand.  And of course I wanted to see Jesus in person!  I mean, every time someone tells you about something amazing, don’t you want to see it too?  Aren’t you jealous that you didn’t get to see it?  I know I would be.  I mean, if one of my friends told me they saw Jesus after He died, I’d be like “you’re totally lying to me!” and think to myself “why would He appear to her and not me?”  So I can see where Thomas is coming from when he doesn’t immediately believe.  And humbling is it to be told, “hey, here I am, and you really should have believe your friends.”?  Poor Thomas, all because he wasn’t at the right place at the right time the first time.  Moral of the story: Believe in God and live out His teachings.

“Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.” *

God Bless,

*Zoey*

* John 20:19-31

Day of Service

Hi everyone!  Sorry it’s been a while, still no final Lent post, it’s too long…I don’t want to bore you to death.  I sat at a picnic table yesterday.  But that’s not what I’m going to blog about…

So today was our Alma Mater’s Day of Service and I decided to volunteer locally with some fellow alumni in painting a teacher’s lounge at a high school.  It was a truly wonderful experience.  Although we will not get to see the looks on the teachers’ faces when they walk in Monday morning, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was a success!  We painted for probably 3 1/2 hours if you factor in the lunch break (yay pizza!), and there was just such a transformation that I think it shocked even us!  Volunteering got me thinking again about how much I love doing service and helping others.  I am really looking forward to becoming more involved with different projects, especially with our Young Adult Ministry basically being up and running.  While painting, I was reminded of a service week I did right before my freshmen year of college and it reminded me of how much I need service in my life and how simple a form it can take.  For instance, how could I forget that painting, something that I love and enjoy, could be used in a service sense?  We try to do good works by doing many different things, but I always forget that the easiest way to serve others is to use our pre-existing God-given talents to tailor the type of service to fit us.  Now I’m not saying don’t do certain types of service, I’m saying find what you enjoy and do it more!  I think I am going to try that when I can 🙂

I love seizing opportunities and even though my two friends couldn’t make it, I had a most enjoyable time!!

Another reason I loved taking part in this Day of Service is because even if there were only ten of us there, we were all a part of something so much larger.  Fellow alum all over are volunteering and serving others today in different places, but at the same time.  It makes me so proud to be a part of our alma mater and gives us a feeling that we can always be a part of what’s going on, even from this far off campus!  AMDG!!

God Bless,

*Zoey*

10 Signs You Might Be Called to be a Catholic Blogger

For any readers that are thinking of trying this at home: 10 signs you might be called to be a Catholic blogger at Truth & Charity.

Humility and the Heavy Burdens of Pride

Mark Shea over at Catholic and Enjoying It linked to a long, scholarly-sounding reflection on humility by Ben Douglass this morning. If you have the time, it’s well worth reading. It definitely got me thinking about the role that pride and humility are currently playing in my life and how greater humility might change that. The Prayer of St. Ephraim, which I discussed last week, brought the oft-overlooked virtue of humility to mind, but sections of this reflection helped me see the symptoms of pride in my life more clearly.

He will think he is relating information or telling a story accurately when he is in fact getting it garbled. He will answer questions not directed to him, interrupt others, and not let them get a word in edgewise, because he thinks it is more important that what he has to say be said. He is moreover dismissive of contrary opinions and hostile to correction, for if he is wrong, this implies that his intellectual faculties are less than he thought they were. The more deeply invested he is in error, the more he has defended and buttressed it and the more tightly he has integrated it into his worldview, the more painfully he must eventually humble himself, or be humbled, for the more unflattering will be the admission he must eventually make, here or hereafter.

As I read, I kept thinking about an argument I had last night with my dad about the education job market and what I should do to increase my chances of being hired. I’ll be honest- the only part of that description above that doesn’t describe me lady night is the word “he”. As I continued through the piece, Ben discussed the miseries that a proud person brings on himself by placing his own goals and ways of doing things above common sense, keeping the peace, and following God’s will.

I decided I don’t want to be prideful anymore. It’s spiritual poison and it clouds my vision of the truth. Also, I’m moving back in with my parents in June, and I’ve been worrying that it will be tough to adjust to doing things their way when I am used to being on my own. Now I realize that the root of that tendency to hate any compromise or imposition on my freedom is pride.

I’ve always felt that the Scripture which says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” didn’t quite fit with “take up your cross and follow me.” The burden Christ bore for us was heavy indeed, and Christians through the ages have been called to endure many things, even persecution and martyrdom, that I wouldn’t consider easy or light. But reading this reflection on pride and humility, I came to realize how great a burden our own inflated egos can be. The virtue of humility, especially in tandem with patience, really does lighten the load we bear and free us to live in God’s peace without constantly fussing over getting our own way or being perceived in a positive light. So in the spirit of Easter joy, I’m not being too harsh on myself. Rather, I’m just going to add humility to my intentions and think before I act about whether I’m making the choice toward humility or pride.

Since it’s still Easter Week…
Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!
Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!

4-11-12

So, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to posting my last Lent post yet, but for now, you’re just going to have to enjoy this:

They put a picnic table outside my window today.  Two, actually.  It’s not that it bothers me, it’s just…a little weird.  You see, my desk faces the window, so if someone, say, wanted to sit at that picnic table, I would be right there in the window for all to see.

And maybe that’s not too bad, I mean, I could probably live with that but then it also feels as though I’m watching my co-workers.  And who wants to feel like they have a baby-sitter at work?  Let alone a baby-sitter who works in HR so it probably seems like I’m a spy.  But it’s my  desk!  Ugh, I’m probably overreacting, but it’s weirding me out…

God Bless and hopefully I’ll have my post up soon!

*Zoey*

#40 From Lent into Easter

I had a dream last night that I was sitting at table and talking with some people I’d just met. There were two middle-aged women who I was taking with when they turned the conversation toward religion. They were members of a thriving chapter of a women’s religion. “I feel so connected to my 300 sisters,” one told me. I sensed that they wanted to invite me into their group, but they were quiet, allowing me to speak.
“The thing about Christianity is, if you’re serious about it, it eventually ruins your life,” I said by way of explanation.
“You were a Christian?” the other woman asked, sympathetically.
“I am a Christian” was all I had to say. I can’t recall the rest of the dream clearly, but I think that was the end of our conversation.

Now I often have strange dreams, and rarely do they hold any lesson, but I stand by that odd statement I made and its apparent contradiction with my own piety as a Christian. The gospel teaches us that “whoever loves his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake shall live.” (I’m paraphrasing.) So yes, following Jesus should eventually, somehow, ruin your life. But dying to ourselves (as we do in small ways in Lent) is exactly what enables us to rise with Christ in Easter. The women’s religion seemed very comforting and pleasant, but being comfortable can’t save our souls. They were happy to be in community with their sisters, but we are mystically united to our  brothers and sisters in Christ. (Btw, to my brothers in Christ: I couldn’t live disconnected from you!) So this Easter, rejoice in the knowledge that while our faith is difficult, it is true and it leads us to glory in and through Jesus Christ, who is glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Can I get an “Amen!”

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!
Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!

#39 The Body of Christ

Despite hearing nothing but sacred music yesterday, I woke up this morning with a decidedly un-holy song stuck in my head. The song was S & M by Rihanna; I’ll spare you most of the lyrics, but here’s the line that was on repeat in my mind: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me!” It made a very weird juxtaposition with the image of Christ, scourged and crucified for our sake. Adding another layer to my semi-conscious musings this morning, I started rereading Theology of the Body Explained (by Christopher West) last night before bed, so I was thinking about the true meaning of the body and sexuality. I felt compelled to find the relationship between those disparate ideas.

First of all, it’s easy to see how badly our world needs a new understanding of the body and sex when it’s considered appropriate to song about sadomasochism on the radio. The idea that pain and pleasure can/should go together is a further corruption of the more common belief that sex is to be treated as a means to achieve physical pleasure. But even that milder idea, that sex is mainly about pleasure, rings false to the human conscience and heart. Why is it, after decades of a the culture promoting casual sex, that so many young people still cling to the idea that sex is meant to express love? Even those who don’t plan to wait unto marriage often remain virgins until they’re in a serious relationship with someone they think may be “the one”. The Catholic explanation for this curiously old-fashioned idea persisting in modern men and women is that it’s part of the natural law. Some basic truths about God and humanity are inscribed in all our hearts, and any person willing to reflect honestly will find these innate truths. Thus, mavens of the culture may extol the virtues of being kinky, but the human heart says otherwise. Demeaning or harming someone for your own pleasure or theirs is a misuse of human sexuality, which should be founded on love and respect.

So where does Christ’s sacrifice fit into all this? Well, the Old Testament provides plenty of evidence that despite having the natural law written in our hearts, despite even having it carved into stone for us and reinforced by countless prophets, we as humans are utterly incapable of living up to those laws. That’s human nature after original sin– just as physical systems inevitably tend toward greater entropy, we tend toward sin. No number of animal sacrifices to atone for sins fixed the problem, so we were provided by the Father with the only sacrifice great enough to atone for the whole species in all its failures. As God Himself and a true human man, Jesus took all the guilt of our race and endured the punishment while remaining divine and sinless. In him, we finally see human nature without the fog of sin.

According to Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, it’s important to remember that Jesus was crucified stripped of his clothes, because the “naked Christ” reveals the truth of the human body. As West explains it,

Christ left his Father in heaven; he left the home of his mother on earth–to give up his body for his Bride [the Church], so that we become “one body” with him.

In Jesus, we find the truth from the beginning about why we are male and female and why we long for love, sex, and marriage. If God loves us so much that He would come down from heaven and endure so much to be joined to us, then it is truly in God’s image that we long to leave our birth families and join to a spouse in marriage. The love of the Trinity is so great that it overflows and produces all life; we are an image of that when we become fruitful and multiply. The creative power of our sexuality only makes any sense as an image of God when our love and commitment is so complete that we are united as one- that’s difficult to manage, even within the sacrament of marriage. But without “giving yourself away” to another person in marriage, it’s basically impossible to love that completely. And without self-giving love, sex does become an act of mere pleasure and humans are reduced to the level of animals, acting against dignity. In some mysterious way, the painful and degrading Passion that Jesus suffered for us is the very thing that can save us from the painful and degrading sexuality presented as fun by Rihanna’s song. A pure and dignified view of human sexuality is just one more thing we can thank our Savior for during this holy season.

#38 Becoming Catholic Adults

Maybe it’s because I’m still in graduate school, or maybe because it hasn’t been that long since undergrad, but there are still times where I don’t really feel like I’m an adult.  Well, in beginning a Young Adult Ministry at my church, I am starting to realize how different being a Catholic adult is from being a Catholic teen.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Youth Ministry, loved my friends, loved my faith as a teen, but there is just such a difference in the way we interact now.

Let me take a step back I suppose…today we held our first Young Adult “social” if you will.  We just gathered and sort of tried to get a feel for what each other was thinking in terms of the group.  I saw some people I haven’t seen really in years and some I see much more often, but in everyone I can see drastic change and maturity.  We handle ourselves differently, we make better-informed decisions, we understand the example our mentors left us and we have ideas and opinions on things.  But I think the most important part of all this is the fact that we’ve all stayed involved. This is so amazing to me because, yes, I know plenty of people who haven’t stayed involved, but I still can hardly believe that Christ has been living within us and through us through all these years in all different ways.  I mean, I think that is what I wanted to see most of in starting this ministry, the ways we have changed, or evolved in our spiritual and religious lives, but I will always continue to be amazed at the paths God has chosen for us!

As we were sitting there discussing, I realized how being Catholic adults means we forgive, we accept, and we love.  Even if it used to matter so much. Sometimes the devil throws things in front of our faces so that we cannot see the person underneath.  We can’t continue to hold things against people that happened 5, 10, even 15 years ago…that’s what we are constantly being told–to forgive!  I suppose I realized this before now, but there were a few things that happened today that I realized were just silly to think too much about.  Being an adult means taking responsibility for our actions, holding ourselves accountable  for our failings and misgivings, and being responsible.  Besides, this group needs a new start, to be looked at in new eyes, and to most of all stop judging each other and accept everyone how they are.  I think we basically agreed on that today but I need to learn to live it and not give in to the temptation to talk behind someone’s back or think negatively about someone…becoming a Catholic adult means living the Catholic faith and that is what I am going to do!  With this Lenten season coming to a close, I thank God that I have a long term goal that can only be beneficial to everyone around me…mature Catholicism.

God Bless and Happy Easter!!

*z*