Monday, June 30, 2014

My Favorite Method of Prayerfully Meditating on the Stations of the Cross

Happy Monday!

For lots of Catholics, Lent is synonymous with "Stations of the Cross." Each Friday, in churches and Catholic schools, people gather to prayerfully meditate on the Passion. And there are tons of methods to use when praying the Stations; lots of different booklets and whatnot. You've got St. Alphonsus Liguori's booklet, St. Francis of Assisi's "Way of the Cross," and a plethora of booklets for kids (some better than others) to pray the Stations of the Cross. Well, several months ago I discovered my favorite (and surprise! It's not St. Francis of Assisi's method).

Last Fall on household retreat, I was introduced to the Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross. Immediately, I fell in love with them, and started using those particular Stations for prayerful meditation, especially during Lent.

What this Method is Like: 
1. Each Station has a Scripture reading. And how can you go wrong with Scripture? It's the best way to meditate on Our Lord's Passion.

2. After the Scripture, there is a paragraph for the "celebrant"--and this paragraph consists of the words of Christ. Yup, it's awesome. These passages are from Jesus' words in St. Faustina's Diary.

3. The people's response is written by St. Faustina. So the next small paragraph is taken from a section of St. Faustina's Diary. 

It's not rocket science, it's not complicated, and above all it's not sugary-mushy-gushy meditations (I've definitely prayed with some booklets for the Stations that fall into this category).

The words of Christ + the words of St. Faustina + Scripture = An epic meditation on God's merciful, sacrificial love (which is what I personally want to pray with during the Stations). Plus, since many people never crack open The Diary (let's be honest, it's huge and looks somewhat terrifying), praying the Divine Mercy Stations is a fantastic way to begin prayerfully reading sections of it.

The Divine Mercy Stations are available at some Catholic bookstores, but I--as a poor married college student--do the cheap option and print them off here.

I highly recommend taking a look at these online or buying the book (I think the book also includes St. Alphonsus Liguori's "Way of the Cross," but I could be wrong), because they are super great! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'll Skip the Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Take the Detour to Awesomeness

Sometimes in life, our routine slips out of the "normal" realm, and weird things happen. Things we're not used to. A random detour, a shortcut to the park, a traffic get the idea.
"A shortcut to what?"
But have you ever intentionally changed up your normal routine? Have you ever left the "beaten path," the place of your comfort, to do something different? It doesn't have to be an Earth-shattering event, but even the small things to take you away from the typical daily routine. We may not think about it often, but God has many wonderful blessings and adventures just waiting to happen if we leave our "normal zone" and do something crazy. Even if it only requires walking home a different way.

On Sunday, Jacob and I walked to the park to throw around a Frisbee for a bit. Afterwards, on our walk home, instead of walking up Woodlawn to directly get home, Jacob walked with me down another street (Pershing) to take a slightly longer way. I wasn't entirely sure why we were going that way, since we have a defined route we always take (the shortest and most direct route) to the park and campus, but I was cool with it. As we walked down the street, praying our Rosary, Jacob stopped me. He gestured to a group of kids who were huddled around a table. "Want to get some lemonade?"

It was the cutest thing ever: a bunch of young kids gathered around a lemonade stand. A piece of paper tacked to the table was filled with scrawls and misspellings, right next to a pitcher of lemonade. We asked them for some, and Jacob handed over a dollar. Some of the kids gasped. "A whole dollar? Whoa!" One girl (probably the oldest one there, about 10 years old or so?) stood a little taller, and, with the air of a monarch, plucked coins off the table to give us our change. I asked them what they were saving money for, and they chimed in with "We're gonna give it to our friend. Our neighbor." We thanked them and went on our way. It was such a small thing: a lemonade stand and a bunch of children on a Sunday afternoon, having fun and helping a friend. But really, it was such a blessing sent from God. Not only a yummy drink, but the chance to make the day brighter for those kids (and they made our day brighter, too). All because we went on a detour from our "normal" route. 

Wednesday afternoon, I was walking around the neighborhood, and it was time to head home. Again, instead of going my typical way--to get directly home--I walked a down a side street, to take a longer way. Down the sidewalk, I could see a red-haired boy (probably about 9 or 10 years old) shuffling down the sidewalk, mumbling and singing to himself. As I passed him, I smiled and told him that he was singing nicely. He stopped, his face lit up, and he said, "Look at my moves, too!" and started pulling a couple "break dance" moves on the sidewalk. I smiled, and said if he kept it up, he could probably get famous someday. As I prepared to walk on, the kid stopped me. "Hey, do you want to sing with me?" he asked.
"Uh, okay, sure," I replied, suddenly blanking out as to what I could sing. (every song I knew decided to flee from my brain.)
Then, the boy (who had an extremely short attention span) excitedly pointed to my hand. "Hey, I like your necklace!" (I was holding a rosary that is made of several irregularly shaped, bright, flowery beads)
I jumped at the chance, and excitedly started telling him how awesome Mary is, and what the Rosary is, and how we meditate on Jesus' life. He smiled at me, got a blank look on his face, and said, "Um, so what are we going to sing?" Since I did not know Tim McGraw songs (the boy's first choice), we settled on Disney music. So, for the next few minutes, this kid and I were exuberantly singing "Hakuna Matata," "Let it Go," and a little bit from "Tangled." I then went on my way to do chores at home, leaving the boy alone, shuffling down the sidewalk alone. Stopping to sing with him and be his friend was such a small thing, but such a glorious blessing. The boy's face lit up when we sang, and I could tell he didn't want me to go (he kept asking me questions as I was going to leave), because he liked having someone to talk with. It was a way to encounter Christ in that little boy--to show him God's love by being there for him. And it all happened because I left the "beaten path." 

It can be so easy to stick to the normal routine. Walk a certain way to class, sit in a certain pew at church, talk to these certain people. But God can do crazy things when we do something radical--walking down a different road, meeting someone new, introducing yourself to that person you've seen every Sunday for years but have never talked to (I'm very guilty of this...)--you get the idea. Routine is good, peaceful, and can be very healthy. But I think it's very important to work under the Holy Spirit's guidance, and step off that beaten path of normalcy sometimes. Who knows how God will use you? 

"The apostle has no aim other than letting God work, making himself available." 
~St. Josemaria Escriva (and it's his feast day today, which is awesome!!!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Braums, Breviaries, and Awesomeness: The Liturgy of the Hours

Our Tuesday Night Prayer group a long time ago!
 (We had a Star Wars dress-up night, which explains the lightsabers)
Several years ago, when I was in my early years of high school (man, that makes me feel old! Haha!), I heard about this group that gathered every Tuesday night during the summer at my church. The bulletin said it was “Tuesday Night Prayer” with ice cream afterwards. And so I started to go. 

What a wild time! Tuesday after Tuesday, year after year, myself and other teenagers would do the same routine: meet up with a seminarian friend of ours (who was just ordained a deacon a month ago!!!), pray Night Prayer, then head to Braum’s for ice cream and shenanigans. The group had been around for a few years before I started going, and it’s still going strong—as people grow old and move away and whatnot, new people are coming in to continue the group. It’s bound together by God, fun, ice cream, and the Liturgy of the Hours.

 Liturgy of the Hours? I know that this term is completely foreign to many people. If we’ve ever heard of it, it’s because we’ve read a book about how monks pray Liturgy of the Hours at all times of the day and night. But lay people praying it? What’s up with that?

While monks, priests, religious sisters, etc. are under obligation to pray LotH, it is not just for them. We, the awesome lay people, can definitely pray the Liturgy of the Hours. But before getting into that, let’s talk about what it is.

Where does Liturgy of the Hours Come From?
The origins of LotH go way back. See, back in the Old Testament, the Jews were sent into exile in Babylon. As such, they were not able to offer sacrifices in the Temple. And, according to good ol’, the “synagogue services of Torah readings and psalms and hymns developed as a substitute for the bloody sacrifices of the Temple, a sacrifice of praise. The inspiration to do this may have been fulfillment of David's words, "Seven times a day I praise you" (Ps. 119:164), as well as, "the just man mediates on the law day and night" (Ps. 1:2).

The Jews got back to the Temple after exile, and incorporated the psalms into their services. Remember, Jesus and many of His early followers were Jews. So…when you pray LotH, you are doing what Jesus and His Apostles did! (and how cool is that???) In Acts 3:1, we read that “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer.” In Acts 10:9, records that “Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.

Throughout the years up to present day, monks and religious communities center their lives around this community prayer together.

But What is this Prayer?
Each of the “hours” is comprised of psalms, Scripture readings, and prayers. I’m going to focus on Morning Prayer/Evening Prayer (they are the same format) and Night Prayer, since those are the ones I pray most often.

  1. Opening Verse and Response: You open with the Sign of the Cross and the “Liturgy of the Hours” Glory Be (which is slightly different from the normal Glory Be prayer)
  2. Hymn: You sing a hymn! (or recite it, if you don’t know the melody)
  3. Psalmody: For Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, and Evening Prayer, this consists of 3 Psalms (or Old Testament Canticles).
  4. Reading: A reading from Scripture!
  5. Responsory: A very short verse-and-response that helps us meditate on God’s Word.
  6. Gospel Canticle: For Morning Prayer, we pray the Canticle of Zechariah, from Lk 1:68-79. For Evening Prayer, the Magnificat, from Lk 1:46-55. For Night Prayer, the “Nunc Dimittis,” from Lk 2:29-32.
  7. Intercessions: These aren’t in Night Prayer. And it’s pretty self-explanatory.
  8. The Lord’s Prayer: Also self-explanatory.
  9. Concluding Prayer and Dismissal: You end with a final prayer and the Sign of the Cross.

It can seem super confusing at first, when you have to flip back and forth between different pages, and are just learning how to pray it. But it doesn’t take long to pick up. Soon, you will be able to pray LotH like nobody’s business!

Why Should we Pray the Liturgy of the Hours?
It’s a way to steep our daily life in prayer. Liturgy of the Hours covers all areas of the day. There’s Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer(s), Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. The day is consecrated to God, taking time to consciously pray and meditate on His Scriptures at various points. It’s awesome. I know some of you may be thinking, WHAT? That’s way too much! Let me assure you, though, that many lay people I know (myself included) typically don’t get all of these various prayers in each day. Different routines work for different lay people (since our lives aren’t like monks, centered around the Mass and Divine Office). This summer, I have made a routine of Morning Prayer and/or Daytime Prayer plus Night Prayer. Doesn’t work every day, but we do what we can, right? Also, since the LotH is comprised of psalms (which are songs), they have a habit of sticking in my head throughout the day, which is super awesome.

This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to "pray constantly," is "so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God."47 In this "public prayer of the Church,"48 the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in "the form approved" by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours "is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father.” (CCC 1174)
It builds community. First off, it’s “Liturgy of the Hours.” So, it’s the whole, entire, huge Church praying together. Even if you’re praying by your lonesome self on your porch swing, you’re still praying with the Church. And that whole Tuesday Night Prayer thing? A community of crazy teens and young adults build on Liturgy of the Hours. Also, when I was in high school, there was a super awesome group called God Squad. We basically treated Lent like a sports season, and each morning would pray Liturgy of the Hours together (starting at 6:45 a.m.) with different devotions afterwards. I made tons of friends in that group, for we were brought together by LotH. 

When I first came to Franciscan, some classmates of mine started a group that prayed Evening Prayer every day, so I got to know people I normally didn’t see around that much. And way back when I met Jacob, I taught him how to pray LotH, and we began praying it every day together. Which, over time, increased to multiple times each day…and, well, we’ve been married nearly a year now, so you see how that went J

My Breviary! 
Also, I have another cool “community story” to share: While I was reading "The Confessions of St. Augustine" and praying in the Port yesterday afternoon, a bunch of lay men (seminarians?), a CFR friar (I'm guessing) and a man in a habit I didn't recognize all cram into my pew and the pews around me (keep in mind, the Port is pretty small...really tiny...). "Well, there's not a Conference going on right now, so what's this?" I wondered. Then Dr. Hahn walks down the center aisle and looks at me and the other people in there. "We're going to pray Liturgy of the Hours now, and you can join us. I wanted to tell you all, and didn't want anyone to be surprised when we started praying."  So…yeah. I totally got to pray Liturgy of the Hours with random religious, guys who were probably seminarians, and Dr. Hahn. Take about community!

It extends Mass and strengthens our devotions. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Liturgy of the Hours, which is like an extension of the Eucharistic celebration, does not exclude but rather in a complementary way calls forth the various devotions of the People of God, especially adoration and worship of the Blessed Sacrament” (CCC1178).

It’s great for a crazy schedule. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are a little longer, so I would say allow about 25ish minutes for each of those. Night Prayer and Daytime Prayer take about 10-15ish minutes each. Really not that much time, in the grand scheme of things. You just have to plan the time for it (such as: “I will pray Morning Prayer after breakfast” or “I will pray Mid-Afternoon prayer in between classes”) and then find that, after you pray, you still have loads of time to get lots of stuff done!

But Will this Cost Me Tons and Tons of Money?
Check it out here!
No way! There are free or low-cost apps of Liturgy of the Hours, and Christian Prayer books are pretty reasonably priced. There’s the “Shorter Christian Prayer,” which is small, has the bare-bones basics (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer), which can be good for beginners. I started with one of these! It doesn’t have Daytime Prayers or a very big Proper of Saints, though. The “Christian Prayer” is what I have, and usually runs about $35 or so (and though mine is a little beat-up, I have a cover for it, and it’s lasted me 5 ½ years). It’s one-volume, has a big Proper of Saints, Daytime Prayer, selections from Office of Readings, and I personally think it’s a good option for the average layperson. Lots of good stuff in there! The big “four volume” (which priests, seminarians, and religious use) are a bit more expensive.

Be courageous, take the plunge, and start praying Liturgy of the Hours! Pick one of the "hours," and pray it, working your way up from there! You can do it! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

When Life Gets Crazy

Happy Monday! 

So you know those times when life gets ridiculously overwhelming? For me, it typically happens during the school year, around midterms, or when I have lots of papers and projects due simultaneously. St. Faustina is awesome, because while she got crazy overwhelmed at stuff, she directed her fears and whatnot all towards the right direction: her most loving Savior. 

"Today, at midnight, I big good-bye to the old year 1936 and welcomed the year 1937. It was with fear and trembling that, in this first hour of the year, I faced this new period of time. Merciful Jesus, with You I go boldly and courageously into conflicts and battles. In Your Name, I will accomplish everything and overcome everything. My God, Infinite Goodness, I beg of You, let Your infinite mercy accompany me always and in all things. 

As I enter this year, fear of life overwhelms me, but Jesus brings me out of this fear and lets me know what great glory this work of mercy will bring Him. 

There are times in life when the soul finds comfort only in profound prayer. Would that souls knew how to persevere in prayer at such times. This is very important." 

(Diary of St. Faustina, Notebook II, 859-860)

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Splendor of Daily Life

Happy Friday!

What an AWESOME week!!!! You know, it is so much fun to do big, crazy, and wild things, but seriously--the "ordinary routine" of daily life is quite extraordinary. God dumps so many blessings throughout daily life!

For random conversations with super random people, I am grateful. Jacob and I ran into this guy here for the Steubenville Youth Conference last weekend, and he was able to give us a prayer intention. The other day, while I was at the campus library, a graduate of FUS (who is now a seminarian in California!) randomly popped up across from me at the table. While playing Frisbee today, Jacob and I got to talk with some cool Dominican sisters (and they are from Nashville, so they know Sr. Natalie--She's from Wichita, too).

For Julie Klassen novels, I am grateful. Several weeks back, I discovered Julie Klassen's "Regency Romance" novels, and I read two. In this past week, I read three more (I took a day for each of them). They are so great! Very much in the line of Jane Austen. The author does a great job with research--at the beginning of each chapter, there's an excerpt from literature of or about the time period (newspaper clippings and such). I have liked the five that I have read, but if I had to recommend three, take a look at The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, and The Lady of Milkweed Manor. 

For fireflies I am grateful. The other night when Jacob and I were chasing fireflies outside of our apartment, it was crazy--there were tons of fireflies in a small area, and they were all lighting up really brightly really quickly! It was awesome!

For St. Augustine, I am grateful. The Confessions is tough to get through at some parts, but I really am enjoying it immensely! I am growing in my appreciation for him so much!

For Doctor Who I am grateful. I watched "Series 4" this week, and greatly enjoyed it. Now for Series 1!

For Mass, the Rosary, and Liturgy of the Hours, I am grateful. A staple in daily life. I love it!

For an epic husband who plays chess, cards, and board games with me, I am grateful. Definitely an awesome part of married. life. We love playing games, and spend time pretty much every day at chess, cards, or other games (we've recently added Mario Party to our mix).

I hope that you all have a great finish to the work week, and a fabulous start to your weekend! To God be the Glory! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mercy Monday: The Awesomeness of the Eucharist

Hello, friends!

Happy Monday! I hope that you are all having a wonderful week thus far!

“O merciful Jesus, how longingly You hurried to the Upper Room to consecrate the Host that I am to receive in my life. Jesus, You desired to dwell in my heart. Your living Blood unites with mine. Who can understand this close union? My heart encloses within itself the Almighty, the Infinite One. O Jesus, continue to grant me Your divine life. Let Your pure and noble Blood throb with all its might in my heart. I give You my whole being. Transform me into Yourself and make me capable of doing Your holy will in all things and of returning Your love. O my sweet Spouse, You know that my heart knows no one but You. You have opened up in my heart an insatiable depth of love for You. From the very first moment it knew You, my heart has loved You and has lost itself in You as its one and only object. May Your pure and omnipotent love be the driving force of all my actions. Who will ever conceive and understand the depth of mercy that has gushed forth from Your Heart?” (Diary of St. Faustina, Notebook II #832)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Concerning the Confessions of St. Augustine and Doctor Who

Warning: The following blog post contains large quotations and is my random train of thought. So things may or may not connect.  

There. You’ve been warned. Now read on if you so desire.

Today I’d like to talk about St. Augustine. He’s pretty much awesome, and had a crazy journey to Catholicism. A few months back, I decided that this summer, I would tackle The Confessions. We translated some bits of it in Latin class, and it sounded incredible. And it is. I’ve been reading one “Book” (basically the equivalent of a chapter) a day, and it’s so, so good. St. Augustine has beautiful reflections on his life experiences, and this is what I want to share with y’all today.

St.  Augustine notes that people watch sorrowful theatrical shows to be moved to compassion and mercy, and even enjoy that feeling of sorrow (he many times watched theatrical shows that fit his sinful lifestyle while he was a student in Carthage). However, he cautions against being flung into these passions that arise (the bolded bits are my emphasis):

“It is sometimes right to entertain compassionate feelings. But beware of impurity, my soul...I rejoiced with lovers on the stage who took sinful pleasure in one another, even though their adventures were only imaginary and part of a dramatic presentation, and when they lost each other I grieved with them”

Right away, I was like—whoa, St. Augustine, you got us there. How many times, while watching movies or TV shows, do we do this same thing? Rejoicing in the sinful pleasure of lovers—sounds like a bunch of chick flicks (and books) I’ve heard of. …

“A person who sorrows for someone who is miserable earns approval for the charity he shows, but if he is genuinely merciful he would far rather there were nothing to sorrow about…We must conclude that, while some sorrow is commendable, no sorrow is to be valued for its own sake. You, Lord God, lover of souls, show mercy far more purely than we can, and in a way free from all taint because no sorrow can wound you. Which of us is sufficient for that?” (Confessions 3.3)

St. Augustine continues to point out:

 “At that time I was truly miserable, for I loved feeling sad and sought out whatever could cause me sadness. When the theme of a play dealt with other people’s tragedies—false and theatrical tragedies—it would please and attract me more powerfully the more it moved me to tears. I was an unhappy beast astray from your flock and resentful of your shepherding, so what wonder was it that I became infected with foul mange? My love for tragic scenes sprang from no inclination to be more deeply wounded by them, for I had no desire to undergo myself the woes I liked to watch. It was simply that when I listened to such doleful tales being told they enabled me superficially to scrape away at my itching self, with the result that these raking nails raised an inflamed swelling, and drew stinking discharge from a festering wound. Was that life I led any life at all, O my God?”  (Confessions 3.4)

Honestly, if you look at the books, movies, the news, and TV shows of today, you will find a bundle of darkness. And while there is merit, as St. Augustine notes, in being moved to compassion and sorrow through the media, what good will come from a society where darkness is filling our minds completely? As St. Augustine points out, “Was that life I led any life at all?” Despair breeds upon complete darkness, when all hope is gone from sight. And despair is so very lame.

     “There were times before mass media when the amount of evil seen was tempered considerably because of the relative isolation of villages. When a neighbor’s house burned down, all would pitch in and help out in whatever way they could. The suffering was just as real, but there was always a feeling of solidarity, and a tangi
ble means of showing compassion, built on a hope in God…
      Presently, a high school student can go home, watch three or four wars enfolding before his eyes, see plane crashes killing hundreds, natural disasters …All this takes place before the evening meal with the family. There’s no sense of solidarity, and no tangible means of showing compassion for suffering all over the globe…and when most children haven’t seen the inside of a church or a catechism book, obviously there is not much hope being fostered. Rather a subtle feeling of despair pervades everything.” (Fr. Michael Gauvreau: The Providence of God and the Existence of Evil)

Yeah, there’s darkness in the world, in the media, in our entertainment, etc. So what’s a Christian to do? Cultivate hope and trust in God’s goodness, mercy, and omnipotence! It’s all fun to talk about doing that, but really. We need to actually cultivate the virtue of hope. And hope joyfully! Because God is all-powerful and has complete control, and He has amazing mercy. So we need to trust Him! Yeah, easier said than done. But that still shouldn't stop us. 
"The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1818)

And this is why I like the BBC show Dr. Who.

Yup. It happened. I got hooked on the show this week. 

In the past, I have seen a few DW episodes scattered around here and there, and many of my friends are Whovians. Honestly, a lot of people here at FUS (and all colleges, most likely) are into Dr. Who. Plus, my family is into it: my older brother is a huge DW person. And my parents started watching the show several months back. My youngest brother has gleefully told me that he wants a Sonic Screwdriver. So, I decided that this summer, I would get  a one-month free Netflix trial to watch a couple more episodes, to understand a bit more. Keep up with my family and friends.  Just so you know, I don’t like committing to TV shows much, because they take up a ridiculous amount of time (especially the longer shows). Just a few shows here and there was my plan...
 Well, the other day, a friend of mine informed me that Franciscan U’s library has seasons 1-7 of the Dr. Who reboot. So…I picked up season 3, and over the course of the past 3 or 4 days (I lose all sense of time), I watched the season.

It’s epic.

The Tenth Doctor
For those of you unfamiliar with Doctor Who, its a BBC show about a Timelord known as "The Doctor." The show ran for several years, stopped, and in 2005 or something they started making episodes again. Basically, The Doctor travels around through time and space with a female companion, and they battle aliens and people who threaten the universe. So anyways, like I alluded to...I greatly enjoy Doctor Who because of the joyful hope that it cultivates
(at least in season 3, which is the season I’m going off of in this post). In every episode, at least one massively hugely terrible thing happens, which many times threatens the existence of the human race. Terrifying, creepy aliens. Weeping Angels (who I personally didn’t find as scary as I thought they’d be, but they were still creepy), crazy robots that kill...and multiple people die in many of the episodes.

The Doctor and Martha Jones, his companion in Season 3
Joyful hope? You bet. The Doctor many times runs around during those dangerous situations while telling people to hope, explaining to them that he’s got things figured out (or that he’s figuring it out as he goes, but that he’ll still win). When the Doctor is not the one actively cultivating hope, his companion (in Season 3, Martha Jones) is. In fact, Martha Jones laughs a couple times as she’s threatened with death, because she has a joyful hope and trust and knows that everything will be okay. Because The Doctor will fix all problems.

Things get intense. Every episode I have seen makes me feel like I’ve been running, because the escape from darkness and evil things is continual, and I get really caught up in the action. In Season 3, one encounters people who have lived inside of cars in a polluted tunnel for up to 20 years without seeing the light of day, humans who are being plummeted towards the sun, individuals in danger of man-eating creatures. But when I watch the show, I don’t get conquered by darkness or despair. Because the joyful hope is constant, and I know that good will always triumph. There are times where I don’t see exactly how The Doctor is going to get himself, his friends, and others out of danger, because things just look really, really bad. But there’s always some way that he wins, and I know that without a doubt, The Doctor will defeat the evil, no matter what.

The Tabernacle at the Chapel of the Miraculous
Medal in Paris, France 
Doctor Who challenges me to live with a joyful hope and trust throughout daily life. How many thousands of Whovians and random viewers of the show trust that the man in the blue box will always save the day, but don’t trust the God who lives in the little gold box in their local church? (And though the TARDIS is “bigger on the inside”, the Tabernacle contains an infinite God—way bigger on the inside) The Doctor and Martha Jones saw suffering, and they themselves also suffered. But they persisted to have joy, and The Doctor saved the day, time after time.  We see suffering. We suffer ourselves. And we can live as joyful, trusting, hopeful people.

“And in the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. In these situations we are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink. At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from His pierced side, that our Lord gave Himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!”
(Pope Francis, Evangelium Gaudium #86)

Don’t just talk about “hope,” but live hope joyfully every day.
And watch some Dr. Who. Just don’t blink. 

One of the infamous Weeping Angels. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mercy Monday: Stitches for Souls

Happy Monday!

Sorry I haven't posted from the Diary in forever! Life has been crazy! But here ya go:

Photo courtesy of Google :)
“This morning after completing my spiritual exercises, I began at once to crochet. I sensed a stillness in my heart; I sensed that Jesus was resting in it. That deep and sweet consciousness of God’s presence prompted me to say to the Lord, “O Most Holy Trinity dwelling in my heart, I beg You: grant the grace of conversion to as many souls as the [number of] stitches that I will make today with this crochet hook.” Then I heard these words in my soul: My daughter, too great are your demands. “Jesus, You know that for You it is easier to grant much rather than a little.” That is so, it is less difficult for Me to grant a soul much rather than a little, but every conversion of a sinful soul demands sacrifice. “Well, Jesus, I offer you this whole-hearted work of mine; this offering does not seem to me to be too small for such a large number of souls; You know, Jesus, that for thirty years You were saving souls by just this kind of work. And since holy obedience forbids me to perform great penances and mortifications, therefore I ask You, Lord: accept these mere nothings stamped with the seal of obedience as great things.” Then I heard a voice in my soul: My dear daughter, I comply with your request.

(Diary of St. Faustina, Notebook II, part 961)

People, it is time to pick up our crochet hooks (or knitting needles, or whatever your equivalent task is) and get to work! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Elephants, Hippies, and Twirls, Oh My! Why I Love Skirts that Swish and Flow

Some people get all passionate about shoes. I don't wear shoes. So, I get passionate about skirts.

My name is AnneMarie, and I have been wearing skirts and dresses nearly exclusively for three years. (Gee, this feels like an AA meeting introduction. Instead, how about an SEA meeting introduction? Skirt Enthusiasts Anonymous...?)

A declaration like this may generate a couple shocked responses:
"Are you Amish?"
"It's probably 'cause you think pants are immodest, evil, and send women to hell."

Well, I'm not Amish (though I think Amish people are super cool!!),and  I don't think  women who wear pants go to hell (yes, there are people who believe that!). When all is said and done, I wear skirts because they are awesome!

I've gone through my phases; I had the phase where I favored straight skirts with ruffles at the bottom, then I went through a pencil skirt phase, and these past few years I have been in a "flowy skirt" phase. I've always liked wearing skirts when the occasion called for it (nicer events, Sunday Mass, job interviews), but in the past would frequently don a pair of capris or basketball shorts in the summer months; in the winter, jeans or slacks.

But, three years ago, I met this super awesome young woman through a mutual friend. She was my age, super nerdy and geeky, and--every time I hung out with her, she was wearing a skirt. Not in a frumpy way, or an overly dressed-up way, but just a feminine, fun way. Inspired by this woman, I decided to purposefully wear more skirts. When I went off to college at the end of that summer, I brought a bunch of skirts and one pair of jeans. Well, the jeans got pushed to the back of my tiny dorm room wardrobe. Skirts were just as easy--if not easier--and far more comfortable. Now, I typically wear flowy skirts that hit just above the knee, though I have some favorites that are a bit longer, and it's great!! And I've decided to share this passion for flowy skirts with anyone who desires to here we go!

Why I Love Skirts that Swish and Flow:
1. They express a wide range of personalities and styles! 
My sister-in-law gave me this skirt last summer.
Yes, those are giant giraffes on it!! Super fun!
Seriously, jeans are so generic. Everybody wears 'em, and even though there are different styles and colors, they are still super similar. But with skirts? The sky is the limit! Whether you like soft pastels and chiffon overlays, or bright patterns and loud colors, you can always find the color or pattern you desire. I cannot even express the wide range of skirt styles out there, either! Gypsy skirts, A-line skirts, peasant skirts, broomstick skirts, hippie skirts, fifties skirts, pleated get the idea.

2. They are super fun!
I have some skirts with crazy patterns, and I love them! The creativity and fun in my outfits is expanded immensely with skirts.

3. They are great for my mentality regarding body image. 
It's definitely a plus that wearing skirts takes my mind away from worrying about body image. Let's be real:  pants and shorts many times bring our weight, fat, and body shape to the forefront of our minds. Whether we are thinking about the added fat to our upper legs--which would be totally noticeable in a pair of shorts--or trying to find a pair of jeans that fits perfectly, us women are plagued by clothes mocking our weight. Pants and shorts tend to point out where we haven't been exercising, or call our minds to those extra cookies we had at dinner.

But flowy skirts are a lot more forgiving. Unless you wear a skirt that barely covers your legs (which I really do not recommend), nobody will notice added fat on your legs. In fact, since flowy skirts often gently swish around your legs, people aren't really focused on the details of your body shape at all. Some skirts have elastic waistbands, so you don't have to worry about being able to pull up that zipper. And, some of my personal favorite skirts are from the hippies.

My latest find from the Goodwill in Wichita!
Just $2 got me this awesome wraparound hippie
skirt that is covered with elephants and cool swirls,
which all look very Indian : )  
I LOVE HIPPIE SKIRTS! When I was a freshman in college, one of my southern friends took me to a hippie store in Georgia. Amid the wafting incense and chatter of the New Age cashier hippie, I discovered just how wonderful hippie wraparound skirts are. Many of them are labeled as "free size." Not, "Size 4," which automatically makes you grimace if you aren't a size 4, but "free size." Wraparound skirts can fit many women with different body shapes, so we aren't trying to fit into a particular skirt size. Isn't that great?

5. They are incredibly economical, which is great for a poor college student like me :)
Sewing your own skirts is easy, fast, and super inexpensive, if you get bargain fabric. If you don't want to sew a skirt, or don't know how, hit up a thrift store! Many of my favorite skirts have been
thrift store finds, typically costing $3 or less! Which, I want to point out, is far cheaper a cost than most pairs of pants.

6. They are extremely convenient. 
Grabbing a skirt and tossing it on is really fast and easy on those mornings when I've overslept the alarm. I typically like to have at least three different tops I can wear with each skirt, so that way, I have plenty of convenient clothing options on hand.

7. They are so comfortable! 
Always a plus with clothing in my book. It's like having a comfy blanket wrapped around your waist!

8. Wearing clothing that swishes is awesome. 
Not gonna lie, sometimes, I look down and watch the way my skirt swishes, because it feels awesome. Especially on windy days, when my skirt ripples in the wind...oh, I can't handle how cool it looks :P

Yes, skirts can be worn while hiking in the snowy
mountains of Austria! In fact, I prefer hiking in skirts,
because my movements aren't constrained
by pant legs. Just wear bunches of leggings
underneath to stay warm!
9. They are all-purpose and interchangeable. 
 I know many people think skirts are only for "fancier" occasions. I used to think something along those lines. But skirts are good any time! Many skirts I have can be dressed up or down for the occasion, depending on what top I'm wearing. If I'm running errands or doing housework, I might throw on a simple t-shirt or light cotton blouse on with the skirt. If I'm headed to a job interview or Sunday Mass, a satin top, sweater, or lacey top is much more suitable. One of my favorite bloggers has a great post about this here.

I highly encourage anyone who wants to expand her skirt wardrobe to obtain a black skirt. The main black skirt I own is just above the knee-length, made of a simple knit fabric, and its awesome. I've been wearing it frequently for the past 7-8 years. It goes with anything (since its black), and can be dressed up or down. I also am a fan of the denim skirt. It works better for more "casual" days, and it also goes with anything. Plus, denim skirts are pretty durable.
The glory of denim skirts! Hanging out in
Nettuno, Italy, where St. Maria Goretti is buried. 
When I moved to Kansas, I decided to start wearing shorts under my skirts, in case the wind happened to blow crazily. Now that I live in Ohio, I continue to do this, because I can run around and play freely, and have no worries! When I wear shorts under my skirts, I can hike, sprawl on the lawn, play on the swingset, play kickball...its awesome! Skirts are so versatile and all-purpose!!!

10. They are feminine. 
When I wear a skirt (particularly a flowy skirt), I feel a lot more feminine than when I just throw on a pair of jeans or basketball shorts. Flowy skirts exude a simple elegance, whether they made of a fancier knit fabric or a more casual cotton. They affect how you act, how you feel, and how others perceive you. A blogger friend of mine (who I first met in high school!) has a great post about that as well.

Thanks for staying with my ramblings about clothing; I promise that I'll try not to ramble about clothes too much anymore :)
Keep being awesome, and have a great day!