Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Anyway, I wanted to write because we have 2 weddings coming up! 2 of our own, Clare and Tess, will be married this summer. Clare's wedding is this Saturday, May 18th, and Tess' wedding is not much later, on May 25. Such exciting news! But as beautiful and joyful as weddings are, getting married is also a lot of work. With that said, please join me in praying for these two lovely women who are about to enter the married state of life. I hope they will not disappear completely from this little blog, but let us pray for them, their spouses, and the upcoming changes in their lives.
Clare and Tess: I'm praying for you, and I hope you have unimaginable blessings in the upcoming weeks. May God send His endless blessings on you and your future husbands. You are such a shining example of Catholic womanhood, especially in relationships.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Anyway, I can't figure out how to keep both urls, so the old one (booksmartgirl.blogspot.com) is gone. In case anyone is trying to find the old blog, now you know where it went. And if you weren't trying to find my blog, but you're looking for a new blog to read, may I welcome you to come on over and join the conversation? :)
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I was going to pray more, reflect more, and "pour myself out on the Lord as Mary Magdalene did" (a striking reflection from my devotion on Monday). It was going to be deeply impactful, let me tell you.
And I was going to blog. Every night. Yep, I had ideas for blog posts for every night of Holy Week.
According to my plans, my Holy Week has been a failure. My personal prayer time has been small, my time for reflection even smaller, and though I feel empty I can't say it's because I've been busy pouring myself out on the Lord.
And since I'm writing this on Holy Saturday and haven't blogged since Monday...there went that idea, too.
Yet as I look back at the week, I realize that I may not have lived my Holy Week the way I wanted to...but I may have lived it in step with Jesus more than I thought.
I wanted to tell you about the Apostles on Palm Sunday. How they were joyful and perhaps a little boastful or prideful as they processed triumphantly through the street. How they wanted to let people know they were with Jesus, one of His friends. Yet a few nights later they would run from Him in confusion and fear.
Instead I lived it. I was excited about Holy Week, chattering away about my love for the Triduum and traditions and this victorious Jesus we serve. Yet how quickly my energy and passion faded as the week got more difficult, as conflicts and crosses popped up. Fear weaseled its way in and I forgot--or chose not to--trust that same Jesus.
I wanted to set aside time to be with Jesus in the Garden, comforting Him, appreciating and imitating His steadfastness.
Instead I found myself in my own agony, feeling darkness pressing in, anxious and distracted and stressed. Yet I found immense comfort in the fact that this Savior was also a suffering Servant who had experienced some of these same emotions (Isaiah 53.)
I planned on attending Holy Thursday Mass with P. and celebrating the Eucharist together.
Instead the night found me rushing around and slipping alone into a pew at my home parish, still stressed and distracted from the unexpected crosses of the week. Yet the reality and beauty of the night penetrated my heart and mind and tears flowed as I followed the procession with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and then quietly stayed with Him in the chapel for awhile.
On Good Friday, I wanted to watch the Passion of the Christ and get together with one of my girlfriends from far away who is home for the weekend. I wanted to fast on bread and water and remember Jesus' Sacrifice throughout the day.
Instead I battled sleep deprivation, did the minimum for fasting, and cancelled with my girlfriend. I was frustrated by the busy-ness of my week, the downcast attitude of my heart, and the heartache of imperfection. Yet redemption found its way into the evening as I quietly sat alone in candlelight, reading the Passion narrative in the Gospel of Luke.
My Holy Week was so completely different than I had planned. Several unforeseen circumstances became crosses. I became preoccupied with them and at times overwhelmed by them. I was discouraged that I wasn't praying more, reflecting more, and staying in the present moment with love for my neighbor.
But I was missing the big picture of what Holy Week is all about.
Redemption. A Savior. One who teaches us that victory is found in the cross. That love is a sacrifice and not alway a fuzzy feeling. That sometimes life is blood, sweat, and tears. And that's okay. He still uses that in big ways.
So if your Holy Week didn't feel very holy, take heart. I don't think it did to Jesus, either.
The Resurrection is coming, my friends.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I took a little break from the blogging world to finish writing and then defend my senior thesis.
Now that I’ve jumped that hurdle, or rather now that God has pulled me over it, I’m looking forward to having some free time to write for the blog.
As long as you don’t mind the possibility of an increasing frequency of wedding-related posts! It’s less than two months until the big day now, so my thoughts grow more and more absorbed with it. *smiles*
Keep praying for us!
Monday, March 25, 2013
It's Holy Week. The holiest week of the Church year.
The only thing that dampened my fervor this morning was looking out the window and seeing two inches of snow covering the ground...in March...the week before the holiday of springtime and growth and new life. Really, Ohio?
That's okay. Even snow has its symbolism. Purity. Cleansing. Melting. And sparkling in the light...
P. has a priest-friend who is an exorcist. When asked about his schedule for Holy Week and exorcisms, he replied that it's a very light schedule. They've found that there's such an abundance of grace and light during this week that evil seems to cower and hide.
Our God is a God of power and light and victory...this is indeed a week to raise your expectations and open wide your heart to His grace and miracles.
It's also a week to immerse yourself in the events of the last week that Jesus spent on earth before His death. It's a time to enter into the Scriptures and walk with Jesus, to draw so close to Him that we can't help but hear His laughter with the Apostles at the Last Supper, to feel Him shake with anguish in the garden, to see His tears mingle with drops of blood and sweat as He falls yet again under the weight of the cross. And yes. To reverently touch those empty burial clothes and kneel before Him risen as He calls your name so softly and lovingly.
Will you join me this week as we walk with Him? Can we stay beside Him or will we too run away as the disciples did? Will we get too busy in our schedules and routines to take the time to enter into His Passion and Death?
Feel His grace around you. Hear His invitation...Come.
Are you ready? Let's go.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
So simple a word, and yet so fraught with meaning.
It's a word that both challenges and beckons. What is Lent...and why do we observe it?
There are many answers, but perhaps the simplest and most personal is that it's a time when God reminds us to turn to Him. It's a season when He stirs our hearts and whispers, "I'm here. Beneath the flurry of classes, beneath the ceaseless noise of keyboards typing, iPhones beeping, teachers calling out assignments, and the sound of each day being lived out...I'm here. Right now, with you. Waiting for you. Ready to give you peace."
I've written before in past years what Lent means and why it's celebrated. But this semester, I was struck with its meaning in an entirely new way. God showed me through several experiences why Lent is associated with penance, with sacrifice...it's not the most joyous time, Lent. None of us like forgoing our favorite foods, sweets, coffee, Facebook, or whatever it may be that we've given up for Lent.
It's because Lent is about realizing our brokenness. It's the quiet realization that we are not the most important thing in this enormous, amazing universe - and that we never have been. Lent is looking in the mirror and understanding that if we shine, it's because we are reflecting the Most Beautiful Person who is, has, and will be.
Because when we acknowledge that we are humans who fall, when we accept that we perhaps haven't done the best job, we're acknowledging that God's presence in our lives is the only perfect thing about us.
But the good thing about realizing that we're broken? Broken things can be repaired - and our God is a God of love. He is gentle, He is kind, He is tender. And He's calling us to Him.
Perhaps this semester's started off on a rough note. Perhaps you're stretched beyond your means. Perhaps you're feeling inadequate. Perhaps you're struggling with a toxic relationship, or one that isn't going the way you wish it would. Friends, it's this exact time - during these exact hardships, that God is waiting. For you. While He may not be "a tame lion," He's not going to force you to love Him. Instead, He waits for you, because He knows your heart better than anyone else. And another thing, friends. Only He can truly satisfy it. Because He knows you perfectly, and no matter how dear your family, your friends, or your significant other is...your heart is always longing for God. Because true peace and joy come from Him.
So this Lent, take some time to carve out a moment - even if it's just a moment - to rest in God and ask Him for peace. Take a step back and evaluate how you are doing with your Lenten goals? Do you feel worried and stressed, guilty that you haven't been participating in Lent like you feel you should have?
Breathe, friends...breathe. And gently bow your heads, swallow that pride that we struggle with daily, and ask God for His graces. The grace to rest in Him.
- Follow a Lenten scripture reading plan - there's a great free Bible app for the iPhone called "Holy Bible" by YouVersion that has a wonderful selection of bible study plans. #SheReadsTruth is wonderful!
- Try making it a goal to attend morning or evening Mass during the week - even if it's only once or twice
- Join a Bible study and really delve into scripture
- Check your church's bulletin or website for information about any Lenten services they may offer.
- Chose one day during the week, like Friday, on which Lenten penance is especially observed, and commit to 15 or 30 minutes of prayer that day.
- Many Catholic churches offer a plethora of Lenten services from daily Mass, Adoration, Confession, reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet (a special series of penitential prayers), and the Stations of the Cross
- It's okay to start small!
So that brokenness? That aching heart? That spirit, so overwhelmed and exhausted by everything that needs to be done?
Bring it to Him. I guarantee you, He won't let you down. This is God, we're talking about, after all. He happens to be amazing.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
St. Edith Stein, who with Pope John Paul II was a supporter of women in the workplace, summed up the nature of woman in this way: “Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole.”
Can you imagine what good could be done in the world if women going out into it approached their work in this way? If their approach to work was living, personal and whole?
True to form, virtue lies in the mean, and there is the concern that a woman can approach work too much like a woman. In other words, I’m sure we’ve all seen the tendency of some women to infuse their work with the wrong feminine traits for the occasion. We’ve all seen the controlling woman, the bossy woman, the nanny woman who views her coworkers, her subordinates, and sometimes even her authorities as lazy husbands at best and helpless children at worst.
I think it’s safe to say that this is not what a genuinely feminine approach to work means, and is not a good characterization of what St. Edith Stein is referring to when she talks about the living, personal, and whole.
If I turn back to Lark Rise to Candleford, I see Miss Lane (at least in the first three episodes… I can’t judge any further at this point!) exemplifying the woman who gives the living, personal, and whole to her work. Despite her efficiency in her work and her independence in having such a job in the first place, what she offers to society is distinctly feminine. She pays attention to rules and regulations as anyone should, and she recognizes when they don’t apply to a particular circumstance as anyone should. She holds her employees to high standards as anyone should. But her mode of operation is personal. When a rule held to too strictly inadvertently causes devastating pain in someone’s life, she goes in person to apologize and empathize. When an employee is going through a rough time, she offers gentle support and encouragement. When gossip is ruining another employee, she exerts her influence in the town in an unobtrusive way.
In her essay The Ethos of Women’s Professions St. Edith Stein points to what some might consider an unlikely model for the working woman: the Blessed Virgin. In particular she points to her conduct at the wedding feast at Cana. The quotation is lengthy, but good enough to quote in full:
The participation of women in the most diverse professional disciplines could be a blessing for the entire society, private or public, precisely if the specifically feminine ethos would be preserved. A glance toward the Mother of God becomes indicative for us again. For example, Mary at the wedding of Cana in her quiet, observing look surveys everything and discovers what is lacking. Before anything is noticed, even before embarrassment sets in, she has procured already the remedy. She finds ways and means, she gives necessary directives, doing all quietly. She draws no attention to herself. Let her be the prototype of woman in professional life. Wherever situated, let her always perform her work quietly and dutifully, without claiming attention and appreciation. And at the same time, she should survey the condition with a vigilant eye. Let her be conscious of where there is a want and where help is needed, intervening and regulating as far as it is possible in her power in a discreet way. Then will she like a good spirit spread blessing everywhere.
St. Edith Stein concludes the essay I mentioned above by going right to the heart of manner. What it comes down to in the end is love. This applies to men as well as women, but the different sexes are called to give love in different ways. The source of love is God, and every woman who wishes to give the richness that her femininity has to offer to her work should begin by contemplating True Love in the Holy Eucharist, and frequently replenishing her heart through His.