Friday, June 24, 2016

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXXIX)

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


Here is an awesome article about overcoming sins of the tongue.  Even us introverts can be very guilty about this.  I love and crave silence, but that doesn't mean I don't have inner noise.  At the same time, that doesn't mean I don't sin in my words also.  Lord, have mercy.


Speaking of loving silence and being introverted, Susan Cain, author of Quiet, wrote an interesting article here about our personalities as we age.  Do you ever feel more introverted or extroverted with age?  It turns out that in our younger years, most of us are more extroverted overall because of the biological tendency to be seeking a mate and "putting ourselves out there."  As we age, we settle in more to our natural personalities and tendencies, become more emotionally stable, and sometimes more pronounced in our introversion/extroversion.

While I love people, I am an introvert at heart, although it oddly took me years to figure that out.  My growing up family did not exactly value introversion.  On the one hand, if my parents hadn't pushed me, I might be afraid to speak to people.  On the other hand, it was not "okay" in their eyes to not be a "people person."  As a pastor's kid and also with some narcissism in our household, there was this mindset that we had to appear one way to the outside world and put forth a certain image.  Part of it was also an attempt to convert people to Christianity.  In college, I constantly put myself in very extroverted situations - performing music, giving campus tours, being a freshman orientation leader.  Later in my twenties I worked as a college recruiter/admissions counselor.  I met with strangers constantly on campus as well as in travel.  While it was draining on some level, I also enjoyed it.  That interaction is one thing I miss in my current job...even though I'm an introvert.

I moved to one of the largest cities in the US a few years ago (where I currently live).  The constant flux of people in traffic, work, every store you visit, every activity you do outside the home, whether it's grocery shopping or church attendance, is quite draining to me as an introvert.  Even if I don't interact directly with all these people on the bus or in the store, I find the hustle and bustle of the big city to have its own quirky effects on my introverted personality.

What do you think?  Have you gotten more introverted or extroverted over time?  Are you married to someone who is opposite of you?  Do you find big cities taxing on your introverted soul?  Did you, like me, miss a call to the life of a hermit?  


Here is an awesome article about not giving into despair.  With our world the way it seems lately, it's easy to despair.  I recently heard a podcast on the Catholic Commute about the three cardinal virtues: faith, hope, and love.  His point was that most of us struggle primarily with one of those three, while to some degree, we all struggle with all three.  I'm pretty sure that I struggle with hope the most, as I am prone to despair.  I didn't even know it was a sin for a long time!  Growing up Calvinist, despair and the wringing of hands were commonplace when we evaluated our world.  I somehow internalized the message that despair and self-hatred were holy.  Now I know that hope is a virtue, one I seek to cultivate.


I have to say, after the Orlando shootings, not only was the event itself devastating, but the reaction in the culture was equally devastating to me.  This article by Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble was one of the best responses I have seen.

"I pray for anyone who uses the media to promote violence, including any kind of petty division and animosity toward those we perceive to be our ideological opponents."

"Will this tragedy move us to become more like Omar Mateen or more like Christ?"


As a classically trained musician, it was heartwarming to see this article about a priest who uses his piano skills to relate to people, much like others would use sports.  I wax nostalgic for the days in which everyone had a basic music education, could read music (such as a hymn), and in which a piano was in most middle-class homes.  


It seems the Pope has made yet another controversial statement by saying that most Catholic marriages are likely null.  I have to say, if our marriage preparation was any indication of the typical Catholic marriage preparation across the US, then he is probably right.  It was abysmal.  

We took a personality test, which had wildly inaccurate results for us, and reviewed it with a non-therapist over several weeks.  We attended a one day-long workshop with a minimal discussion on issues such as finances, sex, extended family/in-laws, religion, etc. with input from a non-therapist facilitator, a married couple, and a priest.  

If it weren't for the fact that I had dated my husband off and on for seven years before we married, and for the fact that we had been going through a reputable couple's relationship book and workbook on our own (at the recommendation of a licensed therapist), and the fact that I was seeing a therapist due to my family's rejection of our marriage and my Catholicism, and the fact that my husband came from a very stable, loving home, and the fact that we (on our own) sought out and attended sessions about NFP, Theology of the Body, and Natural Law all before getting marriage...then, I fear we would have no tools going into our marriage and be another statistic.  

I remember looking around the room during the one-day workshop and wondering which of us would make it, and which of us would not.  I feel too young to already know people who have been divorced and remarried.  And yet, with the lack of Catholic marriage preparation we received and the way our culture is, I understand why many marriages fail, or why they are deemed "null" in the first place.  Maybe there are more annulments now because more people really do not know what they are getting into and how to fulfill their vows.  

If the marriage of a man and a woman is a profound mystery, a union that mirrors the love of Christ for the Church, it is no wonder that it is so messed up.  It's a prime target for the enemy, and we have few examples of long, loving, healthy relationships. 

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 
and the two will become one flesh.  
This mystery is profound, 
but I am speaking about Christ and the church."
~ Ephesians 5:31-32 ~


I'm doing a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.  So powerful!  I'd never seen this image before.  

Pray for us!

Friday, June 17, 2016

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXXVIII)

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


I'm devastated by the shootings in Orlando this week.  What's more, I'm also concerned by the reaction I've seen.  I have lots of gay friends, even a few who live in Orlando (they are okay).  My more liberal and/or gay friends in general have said that Christians are responsible for this shooting, despite the fact that the shooter was Muslim.  I have seen memes and posts that equate lack of support for gay marriage or a lack of support for gun control with the murder itself of gay people, posts that have said that straight people are responsible for creating this atmosphere.  I am sad that these deaths are being politicized over gun control and bathroom laws, over labels of hate crime versus terrorist.  No one deserves to die in that way.  Our religion says to love another, and thou shalt not kill.  I am trying to understand where they are coming from.  It is no coincidence that the majority of the countries in which you can be killed simply for being homosexual are Islamic countries.  By the same token, I don't appreciate the Catholic bishop who basically fed into this mindset by indicting Catholics as well or the ACLU for somehow blaming a different religion than that of the shooter for his actions.  We cannot even discuss anymore rationally.  We cannot disagree without it being seen as "hate" or irrational fear (the definition of "phobia").  Due to the sad divisions with Christianity, those who also hold to the label of "Christian" might propagate hateful ideas, and we are all indicted.  Despite the fact that many cry "not all Muslims" are terrorists, it seems that the battle cry that "not all Christians" are bigoted spewers of hate, the logic does not seem to apply equally.  I understand that this specific attack can be seen as a hate crime aimed at the LGBT community.  That is wrong.  I also think there is room for both/and rather than either/or.  It can be terror and hate.  Sadly, I don't see how the label matters.  I am listening, trying not to wound further my friends who are directly hurt by this. I understand how this attack seems like a threat to all, and I don't want to minimize that.  

Yet, I foresee a dark future for anyone who holds to true Catholic teaching as it relates to marriage, sexuality, the human person, etc.  In the meantime,
        "May the souls of these victims in Orlando, and the souls of all the faithful departed, 
               through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen."


Quite related to number 1, Joseph Sciambra provides a nice Catholic response to this tragedy as an ex-gay man.  He is much more qualified than I to have an opinion about the best approach.  (This post on his blog was also featured on Lifesite news.)  He also was interviewed in a wonderful podcast, which you can catch here.  I believe this is the defining issue of our time: sexual identity. It's not abortion, the death penalty, divorce and remarriage, it's sexual identity.  The Church quite simply has not done a good job of providing the truth with clarity, and not just that but providing healing.  If we view this as a wound, not just a sin, then we need to help people have alternatives.  We provide healing retreats from those involved in abortion, why not provide healing retreats from those who have had unwanted same-sex attraction?  There is much to be done, and as a married straight woman, I have no idea what I am to do, I just know we have got to respond better as a Church. Learning about natural law and Theology of the Body was life-changing for me.  It changed my mind and my behavior.  It is likely the reason I am still Catholic.  If I had not understood these issues on a deep level, I would possibly have left the Church over them, before having a re-conversion of sorts. Pray, pray, pray for our world and our Church.   


It's not every day that you get to hear one of your favorite authors speak.  This week, Dawn Eden gave a talk about her book Remembering God's Mercy that was I able to attend in person.  It was great.  I hope I didn't act like too much of a dork when I met her, since I was saint*-struck.  Again, it's the best book I've read this year, and I read about one book per week of non-fiction Catholic theology or spirituality books such as this.  I highly recommend for anyone struggling with past pain or painful memories.

(*Catholic equivalent of star-struck upon meeting a future saint)

They're making a documentary about Misophonia!  Here's a link to the trailer.  Very depressing preview, I have to say.  I'm not sure I want to watch it, but the fact that it exists makes me feel less psycho.  Don't forget, it's thought that Therese of Liseaux had this too.


On a much-needed lighter note, there is now such a profession as a water sommelier.  That's right - an expert in how different waters taste, impact your meals, or when enjoyed alone.  All you have to do is visit a bar in Los Angeles to consult a water menu, cultivated by the water sommelier.

Ain't America decadent grand?


I'm behind the times, since we don't have cable (or even the free channels).  But, we watched a cute movie this week.  It promoted nice family values, even though there were tear-jerking moments, it was overall a happy, sweet story.  I recommend for kids and parents alike, The Good Dinosaur.


One of my favorite depictions of the Blessed Mother - Madonna of the Lilies by Bouguereau.  

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God!

Friday, June 3, 2016

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXXVII)

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


Motherhood is on my mind lately, ever since Mother's Day.  And ever since two of my closest friends (bridesmaids at my wedding) have announced their first pregnancies.  Here are two articles about it - one that's from a more "worldly" perspective - you never know why someone has the number of children they do or the struggles they're going through.  Another one from Meg that acknowledges the crosses that come with blessings. 

Is "tidying up" actually magic?

I finished reading the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Gretchen Rubin posts here about her take on it.  Overall, Rubin's point is that TLCMOTU tends to give a one-size-fits-all approach, whereas Rubin's research on habits reveals that there is no such thing.  You have to "hack" habits (including tidying up) in a way that works with your nature so that the effect is long term.  I agree with Rubin, having read her book on habits, which was not my favorite, but definitely seemed like it would apply to many more people.  

I enjoyed the book, but I won't say it changed my life.  Honestly, I think the novelty of someone from a different culture proposing a drastic approach must be very appealing in its exoticism and claims of success.  I read it as a way to gear up mentally for some summer cleaning.  What I got from it is "when in doubt, throw it out."  Also, be grateful for your stuff.  If you're getting rid of something, be grateful for the purpose it served during that time.  (Kondo injects this with some animism, but it's easy to translate into gratitude.)  My beef with the book was that it barely addressed the kitchen, which contains a LOT of stuff for most Americans, I'd guess.  The other issue I had was that she clearly saw one best way to do things, and only one.  One best way to fold your socks, one best way to deal with your purse, one best way to clean the shower, etc.  While it does present a comprehensive approach, it just didn't seem like it would work in reality for many people.  What Kondo calls "tidying up" I would call minimalism.  In that sense, you do it once, you're done for life, as she claims.  If you read the book in that paradigm, I can see how her claims are believable or would work.

Bottom line, Americans overall have way too much stuff.  The questions - is it necessary? is it beautiful? - are much more helpful to me as I go through my stuff.  The thought of just purging once (Kondo's version of "tidying up") and being done for life strikes me as completely unrealistic.  If you're going completely minimalistic and have family buy-in, it might work that way.  My guess is, like laundry, tidying up seems to be an unfortunate part of life's drudgery that is never done.  

Currently Reading.

Someone very close to me suffers from short-term memory loss, whereas I have a very good memory. The role of memory in holiness has fascinated me.  Dawn Eden explores this really well in her book Remembering God's Mercy (my favorite book this year) as it relates to the line about memory in the Suscipe prayer: 

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

I have loved that prayer, ever since I heard it.  The part about memory stuck out to me, as I could vividly remember abuse from my past.  I remember one day asking God about that.  The next day, I had a clear dream or word of knowledge that it wasn't the fact that I remembered something that was significant, it was how I remembered it.  Did I remember it in context of God's love?  Could I re-frame it in a healthy way?  The memories weren't going anywhere, but my understanding of them could change.

Here's a really interesting (somewhat related) article about why we should memorize, even though the classical approach of memorization in learning has somewhat gone out of fashion.

Suffering and Aging.

There were a few articles this week about suffering, dealing with aging loved ones, and loss.  I think our culture is in a time that disregards suffering and wants to do away with the dying.  Follow these links if interested.


There has been a lot of disaster-level, emergency-inducing weather where I live lately.  We are okay, aside from the inconvenience of road closures and roads flash-flooding, but many are displaced.  Pray for them!

Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Before I was Catholic, I visited the Sacre Coeur basilica in Paris.  I loved it and brought a cross home from there.  A few years later, at my confirmation, my dear friend gave me a necklace with the Sacred Heart of Jesus on it.  I was always drawn to it, but still am learning so much about it.  We recently watched Fr. Gaitley's Divine Mercy series via Formed dot org.  I learned the connection between the Sacred Heart, the Little Way of Therese (also one of my favorites), and Divine Mercy (another of my favorites).  

Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, depicted as on fire with love for you.  You can run to that heart, hide in that heart, hear that heart beating with love for you and for the whole world. There is no fear when our God has a heart like this.  Let his heart heal your heart.    

Ezekial 36:26
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."