Friday, December 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#12)

  1. I know that deep down inside, you think, "Man, I wish Liesl updated more... I just love her quirky thoughts and insights into everything she writes... she must be super cool." Well, worry no longer - at least for this week. I published not one, not two, but THREE whole posts this past week! I know, it was an accomplishment. Check out my post on My Christmas Pet Peeves; Believe, and Be Satisfied; and UN-Planned Parenthood.
  2. It's finals week here in GW-land, but it was a pretty relaxed one for me. I had my one and only final on Tuesday and it went much better than expected and then I proctored an exam this morning. So let's be honest... if I'd had a normal finals week, I probably would've updated twice as much as I already did this week. Sorry to disappoint.
  3. I went ice skating at the Sculpture Garden on the National Mall last night with a few friends! It was a blast being able to skate in the chilly outdoors. Definitely something I would recommend checking out if you are ever in DC in the winter time!
  4. It snowed here in DC this week, which is always fun, but this one was especially fun since it was the first real snowfall of the season. Even more so because people here haven't seen snow before, and it is highly entertaining (if not slightly wet from being pelted by so many snowballs).
  5. I'm heading home to Ohio in a few days for the holidays! So excited!
  6. Tonight I planned the second graduate student and young professional event at the Newman Center. We are having Adoration for an hour and then heading out to a local restaurant for dinner and drinks! Hopefully it will be fun; I've enjoyed being able to take a planning role to get some events for us "old" folks that hang around.
  7. I pulled out the gimp for making lanyards again today... watch out. I tend to go into a lanyard making frenzy whenever this happens! Pictures might follow...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

UN-Planned Parenthood

I sometimes wonder where Planned Parenthood got it's name... aren't most of the people that use their "services" there for an UN-Planned Parenthood? Just something that's always confused me...

Anyway, Planned Parenthood just released their 2008-2009 annual report. I recommend checking out CMR and Red State for more information, but this graphic pretty much sums it up in my opinion:

What do I get from this?

1. Our government (i.e. our tax dollars) are funding abortions.
2. The more government money given to Planned Parenthood, the more abortions they perform.

According to this report, adoption referrals were given only 3% of the time... what happened to the other 97%? Well, those babies were aborted.

I'm sorry, how many people do we have that wait years on a list to adopt a baby? I think I'm missing something here. Is it more profitable for Planned Parenthood to abort a precious life than it is to refer the mother to adoption services? I just really can't wrap my head around the reasoning as to why these numbers are so skewed.

Let us hope that all those children are in heaven praying for all those mothers who are considering an abortion and for our country, especially those in a position of power. It's time for a change. I do not want a penny of my taxes being given to Planned Parenthood anymore. It's time to put a stop to this. Let's hope the new Congress is ready to get things done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Believe, and Be Satisfied

I was first introduced to Believe, and Be Satisfied on the Women's retreat during my first year at Miami. My friend Caitlin and I were so touched by it, that whenever she or I was feeling particularly down about life or lacking faith in men and/or God, we read it aloud to each other.

We are having all-night Eucharistic Adoration at the Newman Center tonight in honor of finals week, and it was during my hour long marathon (I know, I can't normally sit still for that long... but I made it!) that Believe, and Be Satisfied popped into my head... and as I was reflecting on it, I had one of those mini profound moments of understanding.

Everyone longs to give herself completely to someone, to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God to a Christian says,
"No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, content with living, loved by Me alone, with giving yourself wholly and completely to Me, with having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone. Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another until you are united with Me, exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing... one that you cannot even imagine. I want you to have the best!
Please allow Me to bring it to you. Just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things. Keep experiencing the satisfaction knowing that I am. Keep listening to and learning the things I tell you. Just wait, that's all.
Don't be anxious. Don't worry. Don't look at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away, up to me, or you'll miss what I have to show you. And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you. With a love far more wonderful than you would ever dream. You see, until you are ready, I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time. Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have prepared for you, you won't be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me. And this is perfect love.
And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love. I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection, and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you completely, for I am God. Believe, and be satisfied." 
It's the last line in particular that has always resonated with me. I guess because it's always touched me in such a deep way, I've never really taken the time to think about what it actually means. The believe part seems simple - believe in God and His plan for your life - but the be satisfied part has always left me with a "feel good" feeling and has, up until now, escaped my deep thoughts. I had always connected it with the believe part (which it should be), but in the sense that I should believe in God's plan for me, and be satisfied with this plan. However, as I was reflecting on this in Adoration tonight, I got the feeling that I was being led to a deeper understanding with it.

WHAM. Ton of bricks. 

Alright, not really... I wish, then it would be simple. But it was profound in a miniature scale. Be satisfied doesn't just mean being satisfied with God's plan for me, it means being satisfied with God. It goes along with a lot of what I've been reading, studying, and reflecting on recently in terms of being single and discerning my path in life, and I've come to realize in the past few weeks that I cannot find satisfaction in anyone or anything but God alone. Only He can satisfy me. Society teaches us to seek that satisfaction in other places - career, money, family, friends, a spouse - but the Truth is that only God can give us that satisfaction for which we long. I've been getting this idea through all of the readings and videos and talks I've encountered the past few weeks, but it wasn't until Adoration tonight - when I was fully and completely in the presence of the Lord - that I truly started to understand that be satisfied means being satisfied with Him and Him alone. Yes, He is shaping and molding us in our spiritual growth for whatever our vocation is in life, but He is also working within our hearts so that we can experience what He offers us - a perfect love. As beautiful as the gift of marriage and family are, and as they are given to exemplify His love for us, these gifts are not where the satisfaction is to be found... it is in seeking God through these earthly gifts where we encounter the real treasure - being satisfied.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Christmas Pet Peeves

I love the Christmas season, but there are also a lot of things about it - well, more the way that people react to and celebrate the season - that irk me. No, I'm not just talking about the extra long lines at Target when all I want to get are some new pairs of black tights. I'm not even going to mention the annoying "Christmas" songs that are played on the radio (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer? Really?! How on earth does that celebrate the Christmas cheer?! It makes no sense!). I won't even go into the fact that the whole feeling of Christmas seems to dissipate like magic on December 26th (Forget that whole 12 Days of Christmas to which my true love subscribes). No, I will restrain my thoughts (for today) to just two points:

1. People who write or say "Xmas" - Yea, sure, we all love shorthand these days. We are, after all, waaaay too busy to actually write an additional 5 letters, and cutting those out saves us a lot of time that we can use instead for clogging up the line at Target, decorating the whole house to beat the neighbors for brightest house on the street, taking those coveted winter naps, updating our blogs about what annoys us about people during the Christmas season, etc. But what we do by saying "Xmas" is take the Christ out of Christmas.* And that really rubs me the wrong way... for the right reasons. Christ is the reason for the season, or so they say, so can we stop trying to delete him from the celebration? I mean, after all, we wouldn't have Christmas if it weren't for, well, the birth of Christ. Otherwise, December 25th would be just like the 24th and the 26th, another ordinary day. So please, can we just say and write Christmas? It really only takes an additional 0.5679 milliseconds.**

*Upon further research, I discovered that "X", which is the Greek letter chi, is the first letter in "Christ" in Greek, and that is where "Xmas" originates (supposedly, but who trusts Wikipedia?! - more on that in a later footnote). However, we speak English, not Greek, and "X" to us Americans means to cross something out (or if you're a pirate, the place of your buried treasure). That, and most people who say Xmas have no knowledge of Greek and/or etymology (which I don't either!) and so cannot claim this as their reason for saying Xmas. Now, if you're a Greek scholar, etymologist, linguist, etc. then you may make a valid argument and it will no longer irk me if you say it. But no one else!

**OK, as a scientist, I should not quote numerical values that are not accurate and/or precise. (Let's hope none of my students are reading this.) But I don't have a stopwatch handy with enough precision to calculate how much longer it actually takes to say "Christmas" versus "Xmas". Furthermore, the time difference it takes to write these two words would also depend on the person, which just introduces way too much variability into the experiment for this chemist's personal comfort. So we'll just have to live with my educated guess.

2. People who get disturbed by "Xmas" but forget about the etymology of the second part of Christmas - In reference to my first pet peeve, I love when people recognize that Christ belongs in Christmas. But what about the rest of the word? I really have to wonder sometimes where they think "mas" originates. According to Google, "mas" generates the following top hits:

Wikipedia even lists some meanings for the word "mas" - like an album by Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz or a fictional superhero from Teen Titans.The abbreviation MAS has meanings in computing, science, politics, and academics... the list just goes on. 

Yet, none of these seem even remotely acceptable. So what, just what, could be the origin of the rest of the word "Christmas"? I can hear you begging through the cyberwaves - please, oh please, tell us the answer already! Let's turn to trusty*** Wikipedia:
The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. "Christes" is from Greek Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass).
Intriguing! What is this "holy mass" to which they are referring? Well, if we continue to trust Wikipedia's basic knowledge, we will discover that the holy Mass refers to the Eucharistic celebration and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church! Let the trumpet blasts, bells ringing, and other exciting sounds of wonder and awe ensue. We have finally figured it out! The origin of the second part of the word Christmas refers to the Mass! I, personally, feel much more enlightened now (no, I actually do).

But to my point, yes, keeping Christ in Christmas is important, but where can we encounter Christ in his perfect sacrifice - body, blood, soul, and divinity? Why, the Mass! Without his birth, there could be no sacrifice, and therefore could be no celebration of the Mass. And so, we come full circle. Christmas is the celebration of his birth in light of the redemption of mankind, and we are able to experience this, along with all the angels and saints in heaven, through the Mass. So I ask everyone out there - why wouldn't you want to recognize and celebrate all of Christmas - not just the "Christ" part but the "mas" part too?

I honestly don't know the answers to this, but I am curious. Until I come to understand the reasons that each person has behind not wanting to experience the Mass (or even better, until everyone is evangelized and becomes Catholic!!!!), it will continue to irritate me just a bit when people complain about taking Christ out of Christmas but ignore the act of taking Mass out of Christmas. However, I will bite my Christian tongue from making a snide or sarcastic retort and instead try to use these moments as learning experiences. It only takes one person at a time to change the world, bit by bit. Let us pray that our society can return to the true origins and meaning of Christmas, in its entirety.

***I usually turn to Wikipedia in my moments of forgotten knowledge (which, let's face it, don't really happen too often) and when I need to find basic information on a topic to get me started (I never cite it in a scientific paper... doesn't mean I didn't start my search there, though!). However, I was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, when I read part of the thread on Christmas. I quote:
...several similar mythological figures, known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa Claus among other names, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season.
I'm sorry... did I miss the memo? When did Saint Nicholas become a "mythological figure"? The last I checked, St. Nicholas was a bishop in the 3rd and 4th centuries who was known for leaving secret gifts in little children's shoes. He also happens to have numerous miracles attributed to his intercession. I, for one, happen to know that he exists because every year on his feast day (December 6th), I get fun treats in my stocking. He even used to give me Beanie Babies! (who knows how long I'd been praying for one of those before I finally got one in my stocking. They were all the rage when I was in elementary school. Everyone had one... or a few hundred. Except me.) So, no, Wikipedia, St. Nicholas is NOT a mythical figure. Think of all the hopes and dreams that were just ruined for all the youth who read Wikipedia articles on Christmas! Next thing you know, you're going to claim that the tooth fairy doesn't really have wings but instead drives an unusual flying motorcar to get from house to house! Actually, that wouldn't surprise me now that I watch that video... Truly Scrumptious could totally be the tooth fairy. She even has the name for it! Tricking children into eating treats so she gets their teeth earlier... despicable.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Quick Wit Emerges Victorious Once Again

I stumbled on a new blog recently called Little Catholic Bubble, which asks and discusses theological and moral issues. It's very interesting, go check it out!

Anyway, she hosts fun interactive posts every once in awhile, and yesterday she hosted the Doctrinal Quiz Show: Moral Reasoning 101. You can check it out, as well as all the answers, over there, but here is the scenario:

You are driving up a narrow two-lane road which winds steeply around a tall mountain. There are no other cars on the road, and you are going the speed limit on a clear day. As you come around yet another tight bend, you notice a young woman standing in the middle of the road. You are horrified! You cannot brake quickly enough to avoid hitting her, but you do have time to make a decision. You can choose to swerve to your right and face severe injury or death as you fly off the cliff; you can choose to swerve to the left and face severe injury or death by slamming into the side of the mountain; or, you can choose to go forward, which will mean certain death for the innocent young woman. 
Morally, what option(s) may you choose, and why?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, my quick wit failed to reason out the correct answer, but my thought process basically went like this:
Can I kick the car into neutral and slide backwards down the mountain, away from the woman and my own certain death?
Good, right? Yes, it lacks plausibility, but then everybody lives injury free! Well, my lovely sense of humor won out this time. That's right, I am now the proud recipient of The Wouldn't the Throwing the Car into Neutral Just Make You Roll Off the Mountain Backwards? Bubble Award! Please, hold your applause. I beat out some great contenders, like the folks who wanted to take time to dial 911 while slamming on the breaks and swerving. Yes, I am very honored and humbled by this award. It was quite a spiritual workout to come up with that answer, no?

The actual moral reasoning deals with the principle of double effect, so you should go check out the reasoning behind it - very interesting! Be sure to check it out, the questions definitely pose some deep spiritual workout action!

7 Quick Takes Friday (#11)

  1. I posted about Home this week, and it makes me think of the Michael Bublé song. Enjoy, and you're welcome.
  2. I know most people reading this are probably here from Conversion Diary... but her post this week on spiritual dry spells just really hit the spot... just like the one she posted on discerning God's will last week. It's like God is speaking to me through a blogger. Blows. My. Mind.
  3. Speaking of blowing my mind, Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI blows my mind about every other paragraph or so. If you haven't taken the time to pick up this book and read it, you should do so, especially since, as I like to call it, Jesus the Sequel comes out on Ash Wednesday! Unlike most sequels, it promises to be awesome... the Passion, the Resurrection... can't get much better than that!
  4. Speaking of Ash Wednesday... which is not part of ordinary time... ADVENT IS COMING UP!!! I love Advent. Such a great season!!
  5. Do you ever find yourself making really weird leaps in your head? That totally make sense to you, but probably not to everyone else? I tend to do that a lot. So if you didn't follow my Ash Wednesday to Advent transition, sorry about that. Welcome to an inside look at my brain. It's a pretty crazy place.
  6. I also just discovered amazingly amazing mp3 deals on Amazon this week. I think I got about 100 songs for FREE, like Sister Hazel and Veggie Tales Christmas (one is never too old for some Veggie Tales!), and I also got the new Taylor Swift album for $2.99... I am just in love. I can't believe I've been spending full price on iTunes for so long!
  7. Music is such a big part of my life - it's sometimes one of the only ways I can get myself to relax, focus, and reflect on my day - and it's such a powerful way to pray! Have any good music recommendations for me? 
Have a great weekend! I will be enjoying some much needed relaxation and prayer time!

Monday, November 8, 2010


When my family moved the summer before my senior year of high school, I was really upset about it. I was born and raised in the same house my entire life up to that point, and the thought of leaving the home I knew was incredibly scary and sad for me. My parents told me though that they wanted to move before I graduated so that the new house would come to feel like home to me before I left for college. They would say, "Welcome home!" every time I walked in the door for a while until the new and much more spacious house became home.

So I often am a little thrown aback when I hear my friends say, "I'm going to my parents' house for the holidays." or "I'm going to spend the weekend in fill-in-the-city-name." Yes, some of them are married, have steady jobs, and lives of their own, or not many (or any) siblings are still living at home, and while I am a full-time student, I live full-time in DC and pay rent and bills and struggle with the transition to "real" adulthood every day. Yet, when I talk about my holiday or weekend plans, I say, "I'm going home for Thanksgiving."

Home is not about the building, which I discovered my senior year of high school. It is about familiarity - sights, smells, sounds, feelings. And even though I don't live in that house anymore - and as much as I love my family, hope to never move back into that house again - I still feel when I come home as if I haven't lost my place in that space. Yes, life there has continued on without me while I'm away, but my appearance doesn't disrupt the order of things and I still have my usual place to sit at the table and an old creaky bed to sleep in. It's a place where there will always be a place for you, because there will always be people there who love you no matter what. So using this idea of home, it is literally shocking to me to hear people my age no longer refer to home as home.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to the point where I no longer refer to home as home. Maybe when I get married and start a family of my own, or when I get settled more permanently in a house instead of renting an apartment. Only time will tell, but I just can't imagine it. Because that house is my home still, even though I don't reside there (unless government and tax officials are reading this - I am totally still living there!).

I think this concept can also be related to God as well. When we all say that we want to go to Heaven someday, we don't hope to visit our Father's house or that obscure but beautiful city on the hill - we hope to go home. It is precisely because of Jesus Christ and his ultimate and awesome sacrifice for each and every one of us that we can even have the hope of someday referring to Heaven as home. We hope to be welcomed home with open arms, not only as adopted children of God through His son and our brother, but also as sons and daughters of God through flesh and blood - through the Eucharist. Home is that place where we will be loved, despite our shortcomings and many downfalls, as long as we come knocking on the door, asking to be forgiven.

So for now, I will continue to say that I am going home (to Westerville) for Thanksgiving, but I will also continue to pray every day that when my day comes, I will be ready and able to be welcomed into the ultimate home.

Friday, October 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#10)

  1. Life has been pretty busy lately - school has been crazy, teaching has been non-stop, and spending lots and lots of time in prayer and meditation. Just a quick post today with some worthy links!
  2. I have been listening to podcasts from Catholic Answers and on my ipod on my morning and afternoon metro commute and I am learning so much! I recommend checking them out - they carry discussions on a wide range of topics! I am currently listening to some by Jason Evert and Janet Smith on contraception, NFP, and chastity.
  3. Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary recommended this post on Heather King's Shirt of Flame. I've never read this blog before but I really liked this post - short but to the point.
  4. I was at Miami for homecoming last week (which was a BLAST!) and I, of course, had to make an appearance at the hockey game to see my (now) #1 Redhawks. The game was fantastic - you can see a video of the crowd cheering in our usual fashion with the Redhawks dominating 9-1 here - and also a bit scary. Will Weber, a junior defenseman for the Redhawks, suffered a nasty neck laceration in the first period and was rushed off to the hospital. He apparently stayed calm through the whole process and is doing great, and we hope to see him back on the ice soon. Keep him in your prayers! 
  5. Speaking of Miami, I have worn a Miami shirt EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. It could be because I got four new shirts while there for homecoming or just because I love Miami and miss it a lot. It's probably both. I also now have the Fight Song as my ringtone. Yes, readers, I really am that cool.
  6. Don't forget to vote this Tuesday! I must remember to send in my absentee ballot this weekend, but voting is so crucial, especially for us Catholic voters! Here's a video that I originally posted on August, 17, 2010:
  7. Finally, a post about the Catholic origins of Halloween  - I have yet to read it but will be sure to add it of my list of things to do today. Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." (Luke 17: 11-19)

Not only have we been offered healing for our many physical afflictions, but we have been given the chance for salvation through the grace of God. Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grilled Cheesus

The theme on last night's episode of Glee was faith, spirituality, and religion. It was called "Grilled Cheesus", and while I don't recommend praying to a grilled cheese sandwich to win a football game, it did bring up some interesting ideas... about what leads people, especially youth, to God, and more importantly, what continues to keep them away from God's love.

The main plot line in this episode was Kurt's dad suffering from a heart attack that also cut off oxygen from his brain, leaving him in a coma. While this suffering brought out a desire for faith in many of the characters, it seemed to push Kurt away from believing in God even more.

It brought up the idea of suffering, which is something that we've been discussing a lot at Bible study, in homilies, and just in conversations with others at the Newman Center. I can understand why having something so awful to someone you love so much would make you question if God exists, question why someone who is supposed to love you that much would do something that causes so much pain. I think what the episode started to touch upon though was the idea that suffering exists in our world because it unites us. It brought so many of the characters together, even though they were of different faiths, in prayer for Kurt's dad. It made them realize that while they might have struggles in their lives, they still have a wonderful life to live. However, I think it stopped short and missed the big picture - that we suffer so that we can not only come closer to God but so that we can share in Christ's suffering for all of us. When we suffer, we don't feel even a splinter of what Jesus went through in the Passion, but we know that there is at least one being out there in the world that has experienced and understands our pain.

It was ultimately Kurt opening his heart a tiny bit to believe in something he couldn't see or touch or feel, but something he knew existed - and that was his relationship with his dad. I am interested to see if they bring the issues they touched upon in this episode up again, or if it will just be another thought-provoking episode.

The Cure for Sleeplessness?

It takes me a long time to fall asleep at night. There are nights where I will lay in bed wide awake, tossing and turning, unable to relax for 3 hours. It usually doesn't matter how tired I am - I hardly ever fall asleep before 12:30 or 1 in the morning.

I have been adjusting to a new schedule which requires me to get up before 7 AM a few days a week to teach labs... and not falling asleep until 1 in the morning means that this girl that likes 8+ hours of sleep a night only gets about 5. Let's just leave it at I'm not a morning person... for most of the morning.

Last night was one of those nights. I was exhausted. Yet, I rolled around trying to get comfortable for hours. I got up and moved to the futon. I grabbed another blanket. I got a drink of water. I checked my e-mail (twice). Nothing was putting me to sleep. So I'm lying there thinking, "God, can you just help me relax so I can get some sleep, please?" and a thought pops into my head - "You should see who the patron saint of sleeplessness is." So I got up, checked my e-mail (again), and typed "patron saint of sleeplessness" into Google. Upon some further looking, I discovered St. Peter Damian, who himself suffered from chronic insomnia. In the information I found, it said that he was often so eager to pray that he slept very little and began to suffer from chronic insomnia. From this, he learned he needed to use some prudence in taking care of himself, but insomnia was something with which he struggled.

So my tired brain just said a quick - "St. Peter Damian, pray for me so I can get some sleep!"

I don't remember walking back to my bed and hunkering down under the covers, but I did. And I was knocked out. I woke up with my alarm out of a deep sleep, which could have only been granted by intense drugs or the will of God.

So I think St. Peter Damian might become my new friend on those nights where I have trouble falling asleep. I am going to continue trying this out, asking St. Peter Damian for his intercession, and see if this helps me sleep better. If it does, I might look up more information on the patron saint of back pain (St. Gemma Galgani), the patron saint of strange dreams (which always occur when I am knocked out in a deep sleep), and the patron saint of winning a bajillion dollars (to give to the poor, of course).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Five Fundamentals of a Firm Faith"

I promise, someday soon, I will write a post of my own! 

I wanted to post this reflection on this past Sunday's reading, which I think is especially applicable to young people in our world today! Thanks to GW Catholic Blogspot for re-posting this from "Maybe It's God", a blog by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington. I'll be sure to check out his blog from now on.


"Five Fundamentals of a Firm Faith - A Meditation on the Readings for the 27th Sunday of the Year".  

The readings for today’s Mass provide a rich fare in describing some essential qualities of faith. Each of these amounts to a fundamental for firm faith. There are five fundamentals that can be seen:

1. Want The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5-6). There’s an old saying, “What you want, you get.” It is true that many doubt this and think that they have wanted many things that they did not get. But it is likely they didn’t want it enough. Precluding physical impossibilities and other impossible things, when we really want something enough we usually get it. That’s because we work at it and have a passion for it.

Many people who say they cannot find time to pray or go to Church still find time to golf, watch TV and eat. They find the time because they want to do these things. They do not find time to pray or go to Mass because they do not want to do these things enough.

Hence, the apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith. In effect they ask for a deeper desire to know the Lord. Too often we miss a step in our prayer. We might ask the Lord to help us to pray when what we really should ask for is that the Lord give us a desire to pray. For, when we want to pray, we will pray. When we want to be holy, we will naturally strive for holy practices. It is about what we desire, what we want. Ask the Lord to help you want Him and his kingdom. Ask the Lord for a new heart that has proper wants and desires. Ask the Lord for a new mind that has proper priorities and that prefers to think on what is good, true and beautiful. What you want, you get.

2. Wait –How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity(Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4) –

Waiting is one of the great mysteries of the Christian life. Why God often makes us wait is not always clear. Perhaps He is trying to strengthen our faith. Perhaps he is helping us clarify or confirm our desires. But, truth be told, waiting on the Lord has a lot of mystery about it. Nevertheless it is consistently told us in scripture that we must learn to wait on the Lord and that there are blessings for those who do. For example:

1. Ps 37:8 Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil….those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.

2. Is 49:23 those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.

3. Lam 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

4. Is 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

And so, waiting is a fundamental of firm faith. Gospel music is replete with waiting themes. One song says , You can’t Hurry God, you just have to wait, trust and never doubt him, no matter how long it takes. He may not come when you want him but he’s always right on time. Another song says, Weeping may endure for a night but joy will come with the morning light. Other songs counsel that we must hold on and hold out:

1. I promised the Lord that I would hold out, he said he’d meet me in Galilee

2. Hold on just a little while longer, every thing’s gonna be alright

3. Keep your hand on the plow…Hold on

4. Lord help me to hold out, until my change comes!

The reading from Habakkuk above warns that the rash man has no integrity. That is another way of saying that waiting is integral to the Christian life. It is a fundamental of faith. To have integrity means to have all the necessary pieces and parts which make up the whole. To lack patience then is to lack integrity, to lack an essential fundamental of the Christian faith.

3. Withstand – God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. (2 Tim 1:6-8) This quote from today’s second reading tells us that life has its difficulties and challenges. Things do not always get easier by becoming a Christian. In fact, they often get harder since we must endure the hatred and ridicule of the world. Thus a fundamental of the Christian Faith is that we be able to withstand such things with courage.

Notice that this courage, power and love come from God, not from us. Hence it is grace that is being described here. This is not a moralism or a slogan. Withstanding means that God is “standing with” us, and we with God. Such withstanding is only possible by the relationship with God that comes by faith. In this way we discover the power, the capacity to withstand, to courageously live the Christian faith in a hostile world.

4. Work - Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.‘” (Luke 17:6-10) This saying of the Lord in today’s Gospel can tend to irritate us and even seem hurtful if we misunderstand grace and seek to understand this text by the flesh. Our flesh is self-centered and thinks we deserve praise and good things from God for the good things we do. The flesh expects, it demands, rewards. But the fact is that we can never have God in debt to us, never. If we have good works, they are not our gift to God, they are His gift to us.

All our works of charity and faith which our flesh wants credit for, they are all God’s work and God’s gift. The letter to the Ephesians makes this clear:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)

Hence if I think that I did something deserving of praise and reward I am thinking in terms of the flesh not the spirit. All I can really say to God is “Thank You” when I have done something good like caring for the poor or keeping the commandments. His grace alone permitted me to work them. God may speak elsewhere of rewarding us but that is His business. He is not in debt to us in anyway. When we have done everything we ought our one disposition should be gratitude. We are useless servants in the sense that we can do nothing without God’s grace. We can only do what we are told and what He enables us to do.

That said, it is clear, work is a pillar of faith. The text from today’s gospel and the text from Ephesians just above both make clear that work is something God has for us. James 2:17 says, So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Likewise, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me. It was I who chose you that you should go and bear fruit that will last”(Jn 15:16) Work is a fundamental of faith.

5. Win - For the vision still has it’s time, it presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint. It will surely come, it will not be late.(Hab 2:3) Yes, it is true that we must want, wait, withstand and work. But we do not do this to no purpose. We have a cross to carry. But if we carry it with the Lord, we carry it to glory. The end of today’s first reading makes this clear. There is an old Gospel song that says,

Harder yet may be the fight, Right may often yield to might, Wickedness awhile may reign, Satan’s cause may seem to gain, There is a God that rules above, With hand of power and heart of love, If I am right, He’ll fight my battle, I shall have peace some day. I do not know how long ’twill be, Nor what the future holds for me, But this I know, if Jesus leads me, I shall get home some day.

This is what Habakkuk describes, that we will win with Jesus. He describes a victory that is 

1. Future – the vision still has it’s time, it presses on to fulfillment

2. Fantastic – and it will not disappoint

3. Firm – It will surely come

4. Fixed – it will not be late

For all those who walk with Jesus on the way of the Cross, there is victory up ahead. Even here we already enjoy the fruits of crosses past. Our withstanding of the past has given us strength for today. Our waitings of the past have had their fulfillment and are the hope that our current waiting too will have its fruit. Our work by God’s grace has already granted benefits to ourselves and others.

But these are but a small foretaste of a greater glory to come, which waits for us in heaven. Yes, if we want, and wait, withstand and work, we will win! I promise it to you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Refrain of this song says, I do not know how long t’will be nor what the future holds for me. But this I know, If Jesus leads me, I shall get home some day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the Pope to Young People

I wanted to post a message from the Pope to the youth of today from his visit to England. I just really enjoyed his speech and insight. (Thanks to GW Catholic Forum for posting first.)


Greeting of Pope Benedict XVI to Young People
Westminster Cathedral
18 September 2010

Dear young friends,

Thank you for your warm welcome! “Heart speaks unto heart” – cor ad cor loquitur – as you know, I chose these words so dear to Cardinal Newman as the theme of my visit. In these few moments that we are together, I wish to speak to you from my own heart, and I ask you to open your hearts to what I have to say.

I ask each of you, first and foremost, to look into your own heart. Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and all the love it is meant to give. After all, we were made for love. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeness of God: we were made to know the God of love, the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to find our supreme fulfilment in that divine love that knows no beginning or end.

We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known, for the love that has made us who we are, the love that has shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realize how precious we are, in their eyes and in the eyes of God.

We were also made to give love, to make love it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realize that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the great Missionary of Charity, reminded us that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Every day we have to choose to love, and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestows on us in the sacraments of his Church.

This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with him and to hear his voice. Deep within your heart, he is calling you to spend time with him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day. Often it means waiting for the Lord to speak. Even amid the “busy-ness” and the stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of his Church and the redemption of our world.

Heart speaks unto heart. With these words from my heart, dear young friends, I assure you of my prayers for you, that your lives will bear abundant fruit for the growth of the civilization of love. I ask you also to pray for me, for my ministry as the Successor of Peter, and for the needs of the Church throughout the world. Upon you, your families and your friends, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

Friday, September 3, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#9)

Check out Conversion Diary - it's a great blog!

  1. This year at the Newman Center, we have brought in four FOCUS missionaries (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) to go out and spread some Catholic love to the students on campus. Let's just say that they are pretty amazing. Already they've brought a few people back to the Church and got about 50-100 people to come to our weekly Tuesday Night Mass and Dinner. Pray that their work continues to bring people closer to God!
  2. Speaking of Tuesday Night Dinner, I am feeding the flocks next week with some delicious marzetti. It will be tasty, but it also remains to be seen if I will survive the evening after cooking for about 100 people...
  3. .......
  4. What do you say to someone who is doubting his or her Catholic faith...?
  5. I know that constant prayer is the first and most important step...
  6. But I also feeling like talking with a person about specific doctrines and the beauties of the faith should help as well...
  7. If anyone has any insight from their own personal experience, I would appreciate it.
  8. I suppose this is a lesson in trusting God. Let the learning begin.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#8)

Check out for today's Quick Takes!

  1. It's been awhile due to a busy last few weeks, but I am back!
  2. Check out this video (courtesy of Creative Minority Report), and then be sure to VOTE this November!

    The strength of our nation, it's not only in its military or economic power, but in our commitment to moral values.
  3. While my family was here in DC, we did a lot of really interesting things that are not necessarily on the list of "Top Ten Things to Do in DC." I plan on writing up a post about some "Must Sees in DC", but if you ever find yourself in the DC area during the summer months, be sure to check out the Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps performs two full shows (complete with drill! on an unmarked field!), the silent drill team performs, and they also honor all fallen and current Marines with a gun salute and the playing of taps. It really is quite an humbling experience and a fun way to spend time with people. Bring a blanket and a snack and get there early if the weather is nice!
  4. I have now officially be in DC for a year. It seems so weird - sometimes it feels like the time has passed very quickly and sometimes it seems to just drudge on by (usually when I am anticipating going back home to see friends and family!). I have to say that one of the biggest accomplishments I've made in the past year though - surviving DC traffic while managing to not get lost 95% of the time. It's been quite a feat - lots of studying maps and road signs as I drive!
  5. My new roommate moved in this past weekend! The former roommate had to move closer to work, but I was able to find someone new to take her place through a mutual friend at the Newman Center. It has been making me anxious with all the boxes and things in the apartment the past two weeks, but we are finally getting everything organized. I also think we get along really well, and I think it will be nice to have a roommate who is not only a respectful person to live with but also a friend. Here's hoping it works out!
  6. It is so good to be back at daily Mass! Due to visits and traveling and priests being out of town, it had been a few weeks since I had been to regular daily Mass, but I am back again.
  7. Unfortunately, I failed at completing the Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I made it a little over half way, but with traveling all over, it just stopped happening. I'm a little disappointed, but am glad that I made it that far - and hopefully I will give it a shot again next year! Check out a great homily from the Feast of the Assumption here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why do we go to Mass....?

This post is to act as a note to self for future reference... maybe it will be a note to yourselves as well!

What's the easiest, quickest, and most understandable answer?

So that we can encounter Jesus through the Eucharist. There is no other place on earth where we can be in the Real Presence of God like we can at Mass!

Friday, July 16, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#7)

Click the picture!

  1. MY FAMILY IS COMING TO VISIT TOMORROW! We have lots of fun things planned for an epic adventure in DC and NoVA. I am sure there will be lots of fun things to tell next week! We are planning on spending a day in Mount Vernon, taking a cruise along the Potomac, going to see the memorials at night, touring the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonians, playing a "friendly" game of softball with some of my DC friends, and probably lots of other fun things! There will definitely be some activities crossed off the DC Bucket List. I can't wait - I haven't seen my family since March and it will be nice to have them for a visit.
  2. This video is hilarious. Why have I spent all these years playing flute when I could have been one of the only two people in the world to be a professional typewriter musician?
  3. See more funny videos and Music Videos at Today's Big Thing.
  4. Well, so far, I haven't found that $100, but I did find some wall tacky I spent 20 minutes looking for yesterday. So thanks St. Anthony for the prayers... now how about that $100?
  5. I have been injury prone lately. Usually, it's softball that causes my bumps and bruises, but this time it was all me. I tripped over the coffee table. My pinky toe is very large and bruised, but I think it's just jammed, which is good since I have softball next week and tournaments the week after that! 
  6. This past week, I started re-reading Harry Potter for the 5 millionth time. I am almost finished with Prisoner of Azkaban. I LOVE THESE BOOKS! No matter how many times I've read them, I still read something I never noticed before
  7. I am getting a new dishwasher today! I am so excited... all I did was ask my landlords if I was up for new kitchen appliances anytime soon and they came to check them out and decided I needed a new dishwasher! It will be nice to have dishes that get clean the first time instead of needed washed after I take them out of the dishwasher.
  8. Is anyone doing the prayers for the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary? How's it working out as a spiritual workout?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Consecration to Jesus through Mary

Here is the ultimate spiritual workout that will last for the next 33 days! I recently heard about the Worldwide Consecration to Jesus through Mary:
Total Consecration to Mary, explains St. Louis de Montfort, "consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary" (The Secret of Mary, No. 28).
Today starts off the 33-day preparation to the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th, according to St. Louis Marie de Montfort. What a great way to add some prayer and reflection into your daily routine. It's also great because it is bringing people from all over the world together via the internet, where the daily prayers and reflections are posted. To top it off, religious orders from all over have agreed to pray for all those participating in this year's Consecration.

If you'd like to follow along with the daily prayers and reflections, you can find them here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#6)

Click the picture! Do it.

Despite all the fun things that have happened this week, I just cannot seem to muster up any energy to recall what all these fun things were in order to post them in my quick takes. Therefore, this week's quick takes features 7 works of fiction that I think are worth a try (in no particular order)...

  1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - this is not a surprise that this is on my list. I am re-reading the series for the umpteenth time.
  2. The Green Mile by Stephen King - it is difficult to find literature as well written as this story is, with such excellent characterizations (even down to Mr. Jingles, the mouse), and written with such believability.
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - one of my favorite books growing up that I still read from time to time.
  4. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - a classic tale that all ladies and all men hoping to be someone's Mr. Darcy should read.
  5. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - a beautiful story about the power that music has to bring all kinds of people together.
  6. Atonement by Ian McEwan - actually, read almost any of his novels. They are all excellently written, but this one is a tale that keeps you thinking up until the very end, when it suddenly all makes sense.
  7. Timeline by Michael Crichton - science geek out moment. Quantum mechanics take center stage here with quantum tunneling... and some French medieval history as well. Great read, especially if you can follow the science!
Do you have any book recommendations?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A DC 4th of July

I love the 4th of July. Parades, good food, good music, fireworks - many of my favorite things. So I was excited to be spending the 4th in DC for the first time, to see if our nation's capital could celebrate in style. While I failed to do enough research in advance and missed out on a lot of the celebration, it was still a night to remember.

The Good:

Like I mentioned before, I didn't do enough research in advance, so my 4th of July plans were a lot less than normal. However, I did spend a fun evening with some friends from the Newman Center! We met up around dinner time at a friend's apartment and snacked on some tasty treats - I provided pasta salad and delicious watermelon, two essential summer foods. Then we packed up the cars, drove to the metro station and hopped over a couple of stops to Rosslyn (more on the metro adventure later!). We decided to watch the fireworks from the Iwo Jima Memorial, as it supposedly had good views and was less crowded than going across the river. Well, it was crowded, but it was a wonderful place to sit. We arrived about an hour before the fireworks started and found the most PERFECT seats on the lawn. From where we were, we could see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building lit up in the evening sky, and when the fireworks started, it quieted down and it was a spectacular view. While it was shorter than what I was used to and we didn't have a radio, the fireworks were excellent! There were tons of people taking very professional photographs, but we all preferred to just enjoy the show! It was quite an experience to see our nation celebrating over iconic images for our country.

The Bad:

The Metro... what can I say? Leading up to the celebration, everyone and everything was recommending that people take public transportation to get to the fireworks. Many of the roads to get across the river were closed which would make traffic awful. However, we were not across the river, but still thought that the metro was best. What an adventure. They had cops and metro police everywhere trying to streamline the process, but it was still a fiasco. I can't imagine how awful it would have been without them there, though. After the fireworks, we waited in line just to get to the escalators about 20 minutes. When we finally reached the platform, the guys managed to run and make their train heading back into the city - they were the lucky ones. We headed down to the platform heading west and began our wait for an orange line train. The platform was packed and sweaty, and each time a train pulled up, people herded each other towards the doors. Unfortunately, there were so many people on the cars already from the district that we were often only able to squeeze a few people onto each car at a time. So we waited... and waited... and waited... finally a train arrived that had room, but we realized as it pulled up that the glass was fogged up on the car. When the doors opened, we saw sweat pouring down people's faces and their looks of horror at the prospect of more people getting onto the un-air conditioned car. One girl wrote on the window in the steam "CAN'T BREATHE!". We decided to skip that car. So we waited... and waited... and waited... finally, after about an hour of waiting, Danielle and I managed to squeeze onto a car. And I mean squeeze. Her ponytail was in my nose and mouth and I think she was standing at a 30° angle to fit inside the door. But we made it! This left the last 4 from our group waiting on the platform, which we found out later that they had made it onto a train and got home.

While it was an epic, sweaty adventure on Metro, we learned a very important lesson - DO NOT TAKE METRO ON THE 4TH!!! Ha! We decided that all the notices to take Metro was a conspiracy - Metro just increased fares, people were everywhere, and it was a way to cash in and try to make up for that budget deficit. Well, maybe it wasn't a conspiracy, but it's a possibility...

The Things I Shouldn't Miss Next Year:

I missed watching a nice orchestra concert. A couple of my friends went to the rehearsal for the Capitol 4th Concert on Saturday night, but I already had plans and wasn't able to make it. That is something I do not want to miss in the future. It is a great way to catch some good music - musical artists and the National Symphony Orchestra - without having to deal with really intense security and major crowds.

Also, growing up in my nice little suburb, I enjoyed the community aspect of the 4th celebration - seeing people you know in the parade, cheering on or marching with the band, grabbing Graeter's Ice Cream from down the street, beating up little kids to get all the Cheryl's cookies (OK, maybe not beating them up...), listening to the community orchestra play patriotic tunes out on the lawn, and watching the fireworks celebration along with the music on the radio. Not surprisingly, DC is not a nice little suburb, and it just can't really do these things like a smaller community can. Next year, I will have to see if any of the communities in NoVA have town parades, concerts, and fireworks so I can still get that community 4th of July celebration.
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