Friday, November 13, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXXII)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.  


Modern Dinner Party.

I posted outside of my normal Friday 7QT earlier this week to tell a story about a recent dinner party we attended.  Political affiliations and salaries were discussed.  Awkward?  Yes.  As the days continue to pass, it's still on my mind, so I know it must have bothered me.  It only recently occurred to me that perhaps I had differing political views from everyone else because I am in a different tax bracket/economic status.  Le sigh.

What do you think?  Is every topic of discussion fair game these days?


Introvert Offices.  

I'm a introvert who loves people.  (Hello, fellow INFJs.)  One of the frustrations of my job is that I don't interact with others as much as I'd like.  On other hand, working in a cubicle that has no door and is "exposed" to passersby 100% of the time is also draining to me as an introvert, not to mention that there is absolutely no ambiance.  I realized that my "alone time" at works comes...during my bathroom breaks.  Even though it's not a private bathroom (i.e., there are stalls), having a DOOR to close and not be bothered or seen by anyone else is a relief.

Here's the glorious view out my cubicle doorway.  No view of the outside world, but 100% view of me anytime anyone walks by.  I can't take a lunch break without interruption, so I usually leave for lunch.  I can't speak with anyone in the cubicle without everyone overhearing me.  This is bothersome to me.  It doesn't seem to bother my coworkers, who have discussed everything from their child's divorce to their cat's special food to their own prescriptions within earshot of others in our cubicle world.  (True stories.)  Study after study has proven that open concept office spaces are not as effective, not just for introverts, but for all employees.  But, they do seem to prevail in our modern day workplaces.

Oh well.  I shall survive.    

FYI - For Your Inspiration Information



As part of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis sent Saint Maria Goretti on a voyage around the world. We were fortunate enough to see the relic in person last week.  I had never heard of her before, but the story is amazing.  She not only forgave her attempted rapist and murderer, but her mother then adopted him.  The mother forgave him too.  He had a vision of St. Maria Goretti forgiving him, which led him to repent and turn his life around (up until then, he had been a violent inmate and claimed innocence in the crime.)  He then forgave himself.    

Here is a video which details some of the same information I learned that night.

I have to say, as a Catholic convert, this kind of thing really rubs against my natural sensibilities.  I can see how those who do not understand think that we are being superstitious or taking away from God's glory or being pagan.  I was thrilled that so many thousands of people would take the time to pay respects to a saint, but I felt like one of those "crazy Catholics."  I do believe in the communion of saints, and I think St. Maria Goretti's story is very powerful.  I feel sometimes like immigrants must feel in their adopted homelands.  I doesn't come naturally to do things like this, but I believe it's true. Amid the huge crowd, the hours in line, the loud people speaking English and Spanish and Vietnamese (which was distracting from the atmosphere of prayer, to be sure), I still know God was there.

Yes, Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.   

St. Maria Goretti - pray for us!

I have a new favorite for my personal litany of saints, the Little Saint of Great Mercy.



When God speaks to me, He has to be very clear, or I just don't get it.

It wasn't until earlier this year that I realized the voice of self-hatred and condemnation, even if it's your own inner voice, is not of God.  If it's not from God, then who is it from?  The enemy.  Plain and simple as that.  I learned this from Fr. Timothy Gallagher and from Deacon James Keating as I read and listened to talks about spiritual discernment and marriage.  It was a powerful revelation.  My "self-talk" has always been extremely negative.  I would never speak to anyone else out loud the way I am accustomed to inner self-talk.

Well, within 10 days, I have gotten three separate messages about self-hatred being of the enemy. The first was Fr. Robert Barron's series about The Mystery of God.  In discussing the Trinity, he talks about the idea that as God knows Himself in the Son, the only proper response is to love, which is the Spirit.  (This is originally from Aquinas or Augustine, I believe.)  In a similar way, as we learn who we truly are, in Christ, the only natural response is to love ourselves (in a healthy, balanced way).

Next, our priest gave an excellent homily on All Saints Day.  While the focus of the homily was not self-love, he made a remark in passing that struck me.  To end up in hell is to end up in self-hatred. In other words, when you end up in hell, it is because you have disobeyed God.  One of the primary ways we do that is to reject his divine design, the goodness we are created for and to live according to our own designs.  It's idolatry, essentially.  And, as the good priest said, in not following God's design, you aren't your truest self.  And hell is the culmination of such self-hatred.

Finally, the homily at the mass surrounding the viewing of the relics of St. Maria Goretti... The priest instructed us on how to pray when we venerated the relic.  This is a saint of great mercy and forgiveness.  He told us to pray something like, "Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of St. Maria Goretti and in your name, I forgive (so and so) for doing (such and such) to me."  But, then he made an excellent point.  St. Maria Goretti's murderer and attempted rapist had a vision of her forgiveness.  He had a vision of God's forgiveness.  But, had he not also forgiven himself, he could have never lived the rest of his life in peace.  So, we were also instructed to pray, "Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of St. Maria Goretti and in your name, I forgive myself for doing (everything you are most ashamed of)."  This piece of the forgiveness puzzle is absolutely crucial.

It was the third confirmation within 10 days that God does not want me to hate myself.  My husband squeezed my hand when the priest said that, knowing the journey I'm on.  And a tear fell from my eye.  I knew it was a message for me.

Let us all be free.  Let us all forgive others and ourselves.  Lay it down at the foot of the cross and leave it there.


Old Friends.

I've had an old friend in town this week.  It's been great to catch up.  Funny how it's easier to pick up where you left off with some people than it is with other people.  I'm grateful to know such interesting and brilliant people.  This friend of mine is an English professor. We ate lunch together. Then after work, we went to an amazing art exhibit with my husband and then dinner all together.  I miss being able to talk about society, the arts, and ideas with people the way I can with this friend of mine.  He's a deep thinker and very insightful.  He also said that he wished he had friends like myself and my husband back home.  I guess the feeling is mutual.  



This is not a metaphor of any kind...there was a snake in our office yesterday morning.  This is not a drill.  I repeat: a snake in the office.  

It's gone now.  It was caught and taken outside, but my-oh-my, I could not concentrate until it was removed.  EEK!!!!!!

As Jim Gaffigan says, "I'm what you call...indoors-y."

I found this hilarious image on Etsy


Happy feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who said:
"Love and God will take care of the rest."  

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Modern Dinner Party

We were happy to be guests last weekend for a dinner party held by someone from our church.  She invited several of us in the young adult class (some married, some single) to dinner at her house.  Our favorite priest was also there.  Plus, we've wanted to connect more with these same people and have more of a sense of community, especially among other young married couples.

Everything was fine and dandy (in my book) until the host said that it was time for us, one by one, to go around the dinner table and reveal who we were planning to vote for.  My husband was wise and said he hadn't decided yet and wasn't informed enough yet (which is true).  I was the only person at the table to say I really liked a person from one certain political party.  Every single other person at dinner really liked candidates from the opposite party.  I am a registered independent voter.  I have to admit, I'm pretty cynical about politics.  I, too, feel not as informed as I hope to be on election day. I'm also weary of the whole thing and not very loyal to any specific party.  I care more about individuals and certain issues.  Narrow the field down to two candidates, then I'll select the lesser of two evils.  I don't have a lot of faith that electing certain people will completely change our country or our life.  We feel pretty divided as a nation, to me.  And, I also feel cynical that even if a bunch of changes are pushed through with one president, they might be overturned by the next one or by Congress. It makes me very pessimistic.  That's how I feel about politics.  If I could refrain from voting in good conscience, I would.  I vote because I feel a moral obligation to.

Well, you could have heard crickets at this point in the dinner party.  The host's husband (jokingly) told me that I could see my way out when I gave my answer.  "There's the door," he said.  I tried to take it all in stride, but this conversation led to about 30 more minutes of political discussion, some of it directed at my supposedly faulty notions.  I noticed our priest stopped talking after giving his answer.

"So, Bridget, how's your love life?  Why are there so many women your age still single?"
*If you've seen Bridget Jones, this is exactly how I felt when answering the political question.*

After that point, the conversation then turned much money people in our given professions make. While we weren't required to go around the table and give answers to that question directly, several of the people there gave their two cents.  Suffice it to say that as a person working in higher education, married to an artist, I now know for a fact that we make way less money than everyone else there, except for the priest..not that we revealed that information.  But most others there felt free to say a "starting salary" in their field is in the range of X-Y.  I, for one, had sticker shock.  Of note, after about 30 minutes of silence during the political discussion and making a joke about his salary, our priest promptly left.

So, is this conversation in bad form?  I know that politics and religion are not the most politically correct topics to discuss.  However, the only way we know one another is from sharing a religion, so maybe our host figured politics wasn't a big jump.  But...delving in to how much money people make?!  I thought it was tacky and embarrassing...maybe because, aside from the priest, we were clearly the lowest earners there.  I'd wager to guess that I have more degrees than anyone at that table, but no one ever gets degrees in music for the sake of earning lots of money.  Still, it left an odd taste in my mouth.

I really believe that our host is someone who likes to talk about controversial things.  She has no problem disagreeing with people, and in fact, I think that's how she naturally communicates.  It's difficult for someone like me not to take it personally when she disagrees with every statement I make.  Gretchen Rubin would say that she is someone who uses oppositional conversation style. While I still find this conversational style a bit exhausting, I do understand it better with this paradigm in mind and try to accept this person the way she is.

I don't know how much money my friends, or even family members, make.  I'm sure, like a person's age or weight, you could probably make an educated guess.  After last weekend, my notions of what the average person makes should probably be multiplied by two or three.  I do tend to know people's political leanings, not from asking directly, but because they share their views as related to certain issues, current events, as it naturally arises in conversation, or from their blatant posts on Facebook.  Maybe I would feel differently about the whole evening if I agreed with everyone else's politics or if I made a much higher salary in alignment with theirs (three to five times the salary I do.)

But, it okay to discuss who you're voting for and how much money you make, even among friends?

Friday, November 6, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXXI)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you Seven Quick Takes from my world this week.  


Litany of Saints.

You might be Catholic if... don't think one day is enough to commemorate all the saints in your life (both official canonized Saints and friends or relatives that you're sure are saints).  Thank goodness, the Church uses the entire month of November to reflect on this topic, remember the dead, and pray for them.  I love the communion of saints.  As a convert, this is something that brings so much more fullness to the body of Christ for me.  Having unity with believers of all ages - past, present, future - believers in all states of being - militant, suffering, triumphant - is amazing.  Having examples that bridge the gap between the stories of the Bible and ancient times and the modern world, people to whom I can relate.  The stories are so varied.  

I heard someone recommend once that each person should build their own Litany of Saints...not just your confirmation name or the Blessed Mother or your middle name (if it's Christian), but all the saints who are dear to you.  If you don't have a growing list of favorites, get to reading and learning about the lives of the saints.  They are our allies, our friends, our advocates, our family.  They are fascinating, diverse, brilliant, humble, and encompass nearly any and every walk of life.  

If you know anyone who has passed away (and we all do), then make sure to pray for them.  Maybe they were holy and you think they went straight to heaven, pray for them anyway.  Thank God for their lives, the love they showed you, their example.  Ask God to have mercy on them and bring them to Himself, if He hasn't already.  If they're already in heaven (and only God knows), ask God to apply those prayers to all those in purgatory.  Ask them to pray for you, but pray for them too.  Do not lose hope for those loved ones who may have lived less-than-faithful lives.

St. Cecilia...
St. Therese of Liseaux...
St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin...
St. Benedict...
St. Anthony...
St. Dymphna...
St. Frances of Rome...
St. Vincent de Paul...
St. Rita...
St. Faustina...

All the angels and saints...

...Pray for us.



"Don't speak against the provision of God."

I heard a nice reflection on gratitude that I really needed to hear.  God provides for us, just as He provided manna from heaven.  Eventually, they got sick of the manna and complained about it.  Don't we do the same thing?

"Another day at the office?"
"Another diaper to change?"
"Another run to the grocery store?"

Whatever the case may be or the cross to bear, be grateful for the provision God has given you.  Don't bite the hand that feeds you.  (I'm saying this to remind myself, too.)

Sometimes we need relief, help, or sometimes we need a big change.  But, be grateful for what you have.



I love decorating the inside of our house (much more than maintaining the outside).  I don't know that I'm good at it, but I have specific ideas of what I like and what I don't.  I have always wanted my home to radiate peace and to reflect our faith, while not feeling like a museum.  

Jen, over at Graceful Living at Home compiled a list of some of the best decorating websites around, including her own.  Follow, click, add to blogroll, like, etc.  It'll give you a great list of inspiration if you like this kind of thing the way I do.


10 Tips for Online Behavior.

I guess it's link week on my 7 Quick Takes.  But, behavior seems to have taken a down turn, and this article is a good reminder.  It's enough that I'm considering deleting Facebook, Instagram, this blog, etc.  We all need a few reminders that behavior online doesn't get a "pass."  Just because it's behind a screen doesn't mean it's meaningless or a way of getting by with bad behavior.  Especially as Catholics, keep in mind that others are watching how we treat each other, how we speak of the Church, and how welcoming (or unwelcoming) we are.  Food for thought.  


Jennifer Fulwiler referenced this long ago on her blog, and it's FABULOUS.  A “Decalogue for Daily Living” from none other than Pope John XXIII.  Such wisdom here.  

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.


The Battle Is Real.

Apparently there are those people out there who don't think the devil is real. While I don't want to give too much emphasis on ole' hairy legs or make him an evil equivalent to God (keep in mind he is a created, fallen angel)...I think it's dangerous to think he doesn't exist at all, to play with things that are condemned by the Church, or to otherwise be unaware. 

There is an enemy to all that is good. There is a spirit of resistance, self-hatred, and condemnation. It's a voice I know all too well.  Stay in a state of grace as best you can (by God's grace), use sacramentals, say your prayers, and of course, Carry On.  We are the victors in Christ.

**Note, I had a hyperlink, which I later removed because the article disappeared, and the website no longer exists.**


This is your daily reminder to TRUST YOURSELF...

And, in the spirit of offering basically nothing original this week on my seven quick takes, you simply must read the meditation that Elizabeth Esther posted on her Facebook page on November 4.  It was so good that I copied and pasted it to re-read over and over later as a prayer.  I feel like I need to meditate on this daily until it becomes second nature.  She thoroughly explains how to overcome some extremely damaging teaching that many of us were exposed to.  It really resonated with me, and it might with you.

Here is a copy of the text of what she said:

This is your daily reminder to TRUST YOURSELF. Growing up, I was actively taught NOT to trust myself because my heart was "desperately wicked" and everything I was feeling was suspect and that the only way I could know the truth was by checking in with the authority figures. When something bad happened to me, nobody believed me. "What? That didn't happen!" they'd say or "You're exaggerating!" or "Stop trying to get attention!" This is what I learned: that I wasn't trustworthy, that I couldn't even trust MY experience, that what I felt and thought could only be understood through the filter of other people. So I learned to repress my feelings, to push down my memories, to pretend that what was killing me wasn't really killing me.
WHAT I KNOW NOW: I can trust myself. When something feels bad, I am allowed to say "that hurts" or "that makes me feel bad" or "that makes me uncomfortable." I am also allowed to do what I need to do to make myself feel safe. If someone is making me feel unsafe, I am allowed to protect myself. And I don't "OWE" anyone an explanation for that.
I AM ALLOWED TO MAKE MISTAKES: not trusting myself meant I was hyper-vigilant about not making mistakes, not messing up. Inevitably, I *would* make mistakes and then I would go into a terrifying SHAME SPIRAL and believe I was the worst possible person in the whole world. Vile. Evil. Basically, a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was "bad" and making mistakes PROVED I was untrustworthy and bad.
WHAT I KNOW NOW: everyone makes mistakes. It's ok. It's what I DO with the mistakes that matters. Making mistakes doesn't mean I am a "bad" person. It means I'm human. I get to experience the natural consequences of my mistakes just like everyone else. I'm no better and no worse than other people. And above all, I am loved. Making mistakes doesn't mean I'm not trustworthy. It just means I get another opportunity to learn how to live my life.

I have a select few people with whom I trust my whole self. I listen to them. When I've gone off the rails, I know they'll be honest with me. But they'll be gentle about it, too. They won't blame or shame me. They won't bash me. And they'll always affirm their love for me. How did I get these good friends? By being a good friend TO MYSELF. By being whimsical and light with myself. OOPS, I did it again. Pick myself up, brush myself off, start again. Yep, I messed up. That's ok. The sun will rise again tomorrow. Take a warm bath, say sorry, eat a cookie and give it to God. Go to sleep. You're a good person because God only makes good things. xo. EE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As a reminder, heaven is our destiny.  May we not forget what we were made for, who we are meant to be.  All the angels and saints, pray for us!