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.
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