Sunday, March 30, 2008

St. Teresa of Avila Quote

"Whether you have much or have little, the Lord requires everything."
One of the vendors at LA Congress had little books of daily thoughts from various saints, and being somewhat fond of my patroness, I snatched up the Teresa of Avila meditations.  I've wanted to post the lines before, but realized there were so many great ones I would really just be transcribing the book one day at a time, which I don't think is quite legal.
That said, I figured I'd be okay posting just one... for now...

And We're Back

To work, that is, as this second Sunday of Easter finds me locked up in my classroom getting my act together for tomorrow -- indeed, for the rest of the school year.  My 4th quarter plans, for example, are due tomorrow.  Ask me if they're done yet.  Go ahead.
On a related note, there are only eight and a half weeks of school left, which I suppose is still plenty, but compared to the thirty-six or so weeks we were facing down in August, it's minuscule.
Clearly, for all my bloviating, the primary purpose of this blog remains keeping my family informed of the goings on in my life and the random mind spew that they would still be hearing first hand if I were home, because as soon as I am home, posting comes to a plummetous halt.  Fear not, Dear Not-Related-to-Me Readers, I'll be back to blowing hot air in no time.
And no, I don't think plummetous is a word, but it will become one if you all go out and start using it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

You Have Two Cows...

From the Whapsters: This made me laugh. A lot. Favorites:

SSPX: You have two cows. You raise them precisely according to USDA standards, c. 1950. One cow denies that the USDA exists and runs off to take care of itself.

Salesian: You have no cows, but work to improve the welfare of calves orphaned by factory farming. You are a visionary when it comes to cattle futures.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Out for a Bit

Being home, I seem to have fewer things to write about, or perhaps I am simply less interested in blogging when I have my family so near me. In either case, the lag in posting will continue as I venture to Newark to see my old posse and pretend I'm in college again for a few days -- minus any responsibility. Sweet.

In the meantime, if by some sad chance you rely on me for reading material, keep an eye on the little widget of shared blog posts to the left. There's always something good someone else wrote there.

Vietnamese Church, San Antonio

January, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tolkien on the Eucharist

Under the heading of blog, borrowing, and stealing, I found this quote on this site, which I found through Jennifer F. at Et Tu, in her lovely reflection on the anniversary of her reception into the Church.

Emphasis original to the site I stole it from, and I left it because it all reminded me of one thing or another I've been dealing with or thinking about lately.

"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste -or foretaste- of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires.

The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.

Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children - from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn - open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand - after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come."

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to his son.


Not the feast. This actually fits quite snuggly into the season of Easter in which we now find ourselves.
"In short, we're meant for more than the sin and death we have come to expect from this life, and it is in learning to love God and one another, in accepting His love poured out in the blood of His Son, that we can become the people we are meant to be."
Fallen Sparrow has been giving us, in pieces , the story of his conversion (reversion?). The above is from the most recent installment, but it's all worth reading.

I think, in my barely cathchised opinion, that this quote sums up, in its own way, the central concept of Christian faith, and what we all must understand if we're even going to approach the Risen Lord and the resurrection waiting for us.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Madonna and Child

April 2007

National Gallery of Art

Happy Easter!

"Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness.

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

Behold, you shall call nations that you know not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

"Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 1-11

(Note: I swear I posted this icon before I saw Mark Shea's site. Really. I promise.)

Gratitude Day

Alright, so I'm a little late. This was all last Saturday.

Each year, the FMAs and Salesian lay people gather to express their thanks to their provincial for everything she does for the sisters in the province. The provincial, in secular terms, might be likened to a governor, except that she is not only responsible or the practical care and functioning of all the schools and communities in the province, she is also charged with the spiritual leadership of all the consecrated women entrusted to her (Britney, you read this, if I'm off base, for Heaven's sake, correct me). This is, appropriately enough, called Gratitude Day.

The community at Mary, Help of Christians in Laredo hosted us this year. We had lunch, entertained by mariachi players, and a program by the school's 5th graders. As I've mentioned, one of the best things about the Salesians is the very real way their family spirit manifests itself, and I was happy to once again run into some sisters and lay folks I've met along the way this year.

In the afternoon, we scattered to the four winds. Five or six sisters, three pre-nuns, and I went over the border to Nuevo Laredo to see the mission the SDBs are building up there with the help of the FMAs. Nuevo Laredo isn't the kind of town tourists really flock to to begin with, and we skipped right by the nice part of town to the more rustic, shall we say, outskirts.

As is my custom, I took a few pictures, and I think the pictures say more about the place than my words could.

You can click on the logo on the bottom right of the slide show to go to the album if you want to see larger sizes of the pictures.

. .

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And We Wait

This day is oddly still. It feels empty, the emptiness that follows incomprehensible loss, when you feel as though your heart has been pulled out of you, and you wait for it to come back.

We sit, not sure exactly what to do, and we wait.

We happen to know what we are waiting for. We wait all the more anxiously.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Linkage

Why Good Friday is so good.
Pope Benedict: "Love Has Triumphed"
From Chesterton, via Mark Shea: "It is the best things in the world that are at their worst."

Narcisim in Full Bloom

Time's quote of the day informs me Sarah Jessica Parker was named "Un-Sexiest Woman Alive" by Maxim. They also tell me her response was:
"It's so brutal in a way. So filled with rage and anger."


I don't agree with Maxim, either their evaluation or their running of such a piece in the first place. Actually, I think we'd all be better off if Maxim vanished from the face and memory of the world.

But really, Sarah? The simple fact that not everyone in the English speaking world is ga-ga over your show or you qualifies as brutality?

Gee whiz. All this time I thought the ladies of SATC were supposed to be role models for independent young women. Here's the message I'm getting: sleep with everyone you please, and be so dependent on the approval of others that a poll in an adolescent men's magazine throws you and your husband into a frenzy of self doubt.

This is why the world needs Jesus: he saves us from even worrying about this kind of crap.

From the Cathedral Plaza

March 18, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Am Outta Here!!!


I've got a plane to catch. See you on the other side!

Sr. Esther

March 18, 2008

Holy Thursday

Tonight, and the next few days, affect me physically.

It starts at the Mass of the Lord's Supper (which I will miss this year because of travel), when I try to wrap my head around the paradox of the Son of God washing the feet of men, men who would betray him hours later, and offering up his body for all of us who would follow -- both in following Christ and in betraying him.

I fail in understanding much, but my heart burns in my chest and my mind buzzes with wonder, and I hope this is a sign my feeble little intellect is getting something from all of this. My soul feels something between gratitude and shock, because she is so unworthy of what is being undertaken.

The last few years, I have found myself sitting or lying awake late into the night, into Friday morning, staring at the clock and thinking, "Now? Right about now, I think," imagining myself in Peter's place when they came for Jesus -- or in Judas's place.

What would I have done?

Happy, Blessed, Glorious, Long-Awaited Spring!

Some of us in this wide world are not what you'd call fans of cold weather and darkness.

Some of us might go so far as to say we dislike cold.

Some of us, around December 21, become rather morose and start muttering about winter's literary significance as a symbol of death and hopelessness.

Some of us are very, very, very happy to see spring come again.

Happy first day of spring!

(As a side note, I am so out of touch that even with my deep and abiding love of the vernal equinox, I didn't realize it was today until I saw Google's homepage.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

San Fernando Cathedral

March 18, 2008

Following the Chrism Mass.

More Evidence of Growing Up

My friends just keep going off and getting engaged!

Congratulations to Jeromey and Bethany!!

Holy Week, Day Four

It's getting close to "that time". You know, the three days around which all of creation is centered? Remember that? Yeah, that time.

For God's sake, get ready (Get it?? It's a pun!).

Catholic Blog Award Results

Here's how I came out in the various categories some kind person nominated me. I was pretty sure I'd stay at two votes (me and my parents) in everything, but evidently some of my Dear Readers are either out to boost my ego or don't read many Catholic blogs.

I kid. I shouldn't insult my Dear Readership, who apparently appreciate whatever it is I do here enough to take the time to vote for me. I appreciate it, I'm humbled, and I'm so glad this wee little thing is beneficial enough to you to even book mark, never mind vote for. Thank you!

Best Designed: 10 votes (winner: New Liturgical Movement, 210)
Best Individual Blog: 8 votes (winner: What Does the Prayer Really Say?, 154)
Best New Blog: 8 votes (winner: Creative Minority Report, 56)
Best Overall: 7 votes (winner: WDTPRS?, 170)
Best Written: 9 votes (winner: WDTPRS?, 145 -- In other words, Fr. Z owns the Catholic blogosphere)
Funniest: 8 votes (winner: the Curt Jester, 170)

Sincere and heartfelt thanks to those of you who voted, and to everyone who reads this regularly. Now go comment on something!

Full results here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Preparations for Palm Sunday at the Salesian mission in Nuevo Laredo, one of many things I will be blogging about when I'm done being responsible (Thursday afternoon, when Sr. Gloria drops me off at the airport).

Blogging Gives Way to Responsibility

This may be a first.

Archbishop Gomez is coming to our school to say mass tomorrow. Big deal? Yes. As I'd like to be awake for it and find myself inexplicably* exhausted again, I'm quitting early.

*Not really accurate. Following yesterday's busy day, today was nearly as zany, and I'm extra toast. Tonight we went to the Chrism mass at the cathedral (of which I took a bajillion photos, which you will see later). I've been going to the Chrism mass for whatever diocese I'm in at the moment for years, but thanks to my association with the sisters this year I got to help bottle and package the oils. It was, in a nerdy Catholic sort of way, really awesome.

Plus, my hands are saturated in chrism, which is even better. Have you ever really inhaled that stuff? It's delicious. Next time you go to a (Catholic) baptism, sniff the baby afterwards. Seriously. The head, mind you, not the other end.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Not Really St. Patrick's Day! (A One Post Serves All Post)

It's reflexive, even if the feast was moved this year. Besides, I need a reason to post some old fashioned Muppet silliness.

Today was one of those days when you don't stop moving, for more than two minutes, anyway, from sun up to past sundown. In my case, that was from 5:30 to 9:30, and as a result I'm whatcha call "tuckered out".

Our 8th graders presented the living Stations of the Cross tonight, and I spent the day in the gym with them and Sister Rosann putting the finishing touched on the production. Right after school, I had play rehearsal for two hours (I'm the teacher/director, not a performer, thanks), and then I had about 30 minutes to clean up and take care of some miscellaneous things before call for the Stations, which ended at 9, followed by clean up of said event.

The production, by the way, was beautiful. One of the great joys of teaching is that big swell of pride you get when you're students do something really good, great of small.

Before I conk out, the promised link fest:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Brushes With Fame

This past week was the high point of my blogging "career".
  • On Monday, one of my blogging heroes/role models, Mark Shea, linked to me. Be still my heart!
  • Thanks to that, I reached an all time high for visitors in a single day (about twice the previous record).
  • On Thursday, my other blogging hero/role model, Julie D. the Happy Catholic, commented. I'm not worthy!
  • And yesterday, someone from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, visited my site.

I first heard of Kill Devil Hills on the Weather Channel during coverage of some hurricane, I think when I was a wee college freshman. From the moment that name floated to my ears, I have been hell-bent on eventually visiting. My mania is driven entirely by the fact that Kill Devil Hills is the coolest possible name for any town, ever.

In other news, like my "coverage" of the Religious Ed Congress, further details about Gratitude Day and my first trip to Mexico will be delayed until I get my act together. I'm not a very good juggler, I'm afraid.

Scorsese Better Watch His Back

My little seven-year-old brother, Charlie, has joined Dad and I in the movie making fray. He's already miles ahead of us: whereas his sister and father stick to glorified slide shows, Charlie has a whole plot going here.

This movie clearly demonstrates several things:
  • Mild insanity is a genetic trait, and one that runs three miles wide in our blood.
  • Seven year olds have lots of free time.
  • My dad has too much free time.
  • Art is by no means required to make a lick of sense.

Enjoy The Adventures of James and Frank.

Palm Sunday


Today is, in my experience, the donkey's day in the spotlight. Over the past few years, I've head everything from "Be the donkey!" to "Don't be the donkey!"

Poor donkey. The big idea is that the King of Glory is arriving.

Brittany posted this, inspiring me to repost it, both because of the day and because it's so darn funny.

Passion Week

“Keep your eyes on the crucifix, for Jesus without the cross is a man without a mission, and the cross without Jesus is a burden without a reliever.”
-Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Today is Palm Sunday (in case you were totally not paying attention), the beginning of Holy Week or, as it's sometimes also called, Passion Week. I'm having plenty of deep thoughts about it all, but I'm just not smart enough to offer anything of value for the rest of the world, at least where contemplation of the passion and death of Christ are concerned. Many of the fantastic bloggers I read, however, have plenty to give. Therefor, I intend to spare you my ruminations and instead post a metric ton of links to these superior minds in hopes that you, Dear Readers, find something of value to you.

I begin with the Deacon's Bench, which brings us an article by Patrick Madrid about why we make a fuss about this in the first place.

The Chinese Are NUTS a good way. At least this time.

My thoughts:

"They can't top that. Whoa! Well, there's no way they can top that. WHAT?! Ok, they'll nev--:

:slack jawed:

Let that tide you over until I have time to write about Gratitude Day and Nuevo Laredo, which will be tomorrow, because it's late and I'm sleepy.

Hat tippage to the the Anchoress.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Im in Mexico!

Which is, i realize, not a huge deal, but believe it or not i've never been before. Were visiting a salesian mission in nuevo laredo. More on that later too.

Road trip to Laredo!

Its gratitude day! Ill explain what that is when i get back. In the meantime pray for us. Sr Ester is infamous throughout the province for her crazy speed demon driving.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Best. Movie. Ever.

Please do not tease me for making two posts about Beauty and the Beast in 4 months. It's just that I'm watching my favorite movie, and I wanted to share the joy of one of the greatest musical numbers ever with you.

I am not childish. I'm 23, and I'm going to grad school. That makes me a grown up, dadgummit.

"Aw, I'd Rather Eat Dirt!"

It's Friday night in the convent.

What does a 23-year-old do in the convent on a Friday night?

She watches movies her mother introduced her to.

But it's a fantastic movie, and I'd do this even if I wasn't in a convent.

St. Patrick's Catherdral, New York

March 18, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

An yes, today is St. Patrick's feast day. Being as this is the feast of a saint of the Catholic church, and the Catholic church has the authority to move stuff around as she sees fit, and March 17 falls during Holy Week, and as our saints are not as important as Jesus, said Church moved said feast out of said Holy Week to today.

So. Happy St. Patrick's day.

Notre Dame is clearly going downhill...

...because they just let ME in.
Details to follow.


[Disclaimer/reminder: this blog's first and primary purpose is to keep my scattered family up to date on what's going on in my life. I'm not tooting my own horn for the hell of it, just givin' mah people the news.]

Alright, so here's the dish: I applied to Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education way back in November. Since then it's been various stages of waiting: waiting to hear anything, waiting to hear if I got an interview, waiting for the interview, waiting to find out if I'd been accepted.

Which all ended this morning, when I found our I'm in.

I'm excited. Just a wee little bit.

What exactly does this mean, you ask? I will go to Indiana for classes this summer and next summer (2008 and 2009). For the interveening school years ('08-'09 and '09-'10), I'll move down to Brownsville, Texas, with other ACEers, and teach at Guadalupe Regional Middle School. Summer 2010, I'll graduate with my Masters in Education.

On a side note, I think it's appropriate that I "went Irish" on St. Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Towards the end of the summer of 2006, right before our senior year, one of Mark's friends gave him a duck for his birthday.

A real, live, flapping, quaking duck.

The logic of such a gift to a guy who lives in dorms where no animals are allowed (the students are destructive enough), to this day escapes me, but logic aside, Mark became the proud owner of a duck.

He named the duck Trogdor.

Trogdor lived contentedly in his crate in Mark's dorm room, at least until the RA and Mark's roommate both ran out of patience. The duck had to go, or Mark was out of the dorms and in debt (breaking dorm regs apparently carries fines).

Out of all of Mark's friends, guess which was the most responsible pushover who happened to live in a house, not a dorm or apartment?

Trogdor stayed with Bec, Megan, and I at out little house for a couple of months, stinking up my room and working his way into my heart. We spent hours on the patio, where he would sit on my feet until I tried to touch him, when he would run just out of my reach, then return to his perch.

Anyway. The point is, that's why I named my giant stuffed duck Trogdor the Great.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Race: Jet vs. Car

The nerd in me went nuts.

A Spectacular Backfire

I really don't go for people making a fuss about my birthday. This is especially true at school, where I neither expect nor want my coworkers and students to pay tribute to my entrance to the world. In the past, my strategy has been to be very elusive about when my birthday is, since if no one knows it's coming they can't do anything about it.

I employed the same method with my students this year. The problem, and what I didn't consider, is that when you intentionally withhold information -- especially personal information -- from middle schoolers, it just makes them that much more hell bent on finding out.

Thus, I've spent all year deflecting the question of how old I am and when my birthday is. It quickly became a game: trick Miss C. into giving up the big day! And I kind of enjoyed it. It was funny.

Then they discovered that each teacher has a list of the other teachers' birthdays. And some of the teachers have this list hanging somewhere. By about a month ago, I think half of the student body had the day committed to memory.

So my plan backfired. Big time. And I knew this yesterday when, as they always do at morning assembly, they asked who had a birthday and the entire fifth grade class said, "Miss C.'s birthday is tomoooooooroooooooow!"

Welp, so much for that.

The end result was actually really heart warming and morale boosting. My 7th graders made me a huge card, and a couple kids actually got me gifts. That's exactly what I was trying to avoid, but I couldn't help being tickled. Among the pile, a large stuffed duck I have christened Trogdor the Great.

The sisters also made quite the fuss. I hear they tried to go out last night to find me Boston cream donuts (my favorite) and, failing that, then drafted my partner teacher into stopping this morning to get me some. They gave me not one, but two lovely gifts, including a statue of Mary Help that will hold a prominent place in my home for a long time.

They sprung a cake on me at dinner, this after the lovely front office staff presented me with a homemade one this morning.

Finally, kudos to my parents for funnest and most clever gift of the year: a box with 23 more-or-less random gifts, including a recorder and a squirt gun. The family brilliant comes through again.

In summary: my grand scheme failed utterly, but this ranks among the top birthdays of my short little life. As usual, I can't complain.

See? Silly Media

"The conference released a statement today clarifying that an interview published Sunday by L'Osservatore Romano with Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the tribunal of he Apostolic Penitentiary, was misinterpreted in the media as an official Vatican update to the seven deadly sins, laid out by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century.

" "The Vatican has not published a new list of seven deadly sins; this is not a new Vatican edict," said the conference. "The story originated from an interview that Bishop Gianfranco Girotti gave to the L'Osservatore Romano in which he was questioned about new forms of social sins in this age of globalization." "

My Dad Made Me Cry


Yet another example of why my dad is the best dad ever: he takes the time and puts his heart into doing things like this for his kids.

He also never fails to embarrass me and make me go, "Daaa-aaaaaaaaaad!", even from 1,500 miles away. He's got mad skills (perhaps I should say dad skills. Get it?! HA!).

Incidentally, yes, today is my birthday. I'm a whopping 23.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Prayers, Please

(To all of you out there who aren't family)

My Aunt FiFi (thus christened by a speech-neophyte Noona many years ago) could use your prayers, please. The details communicated to me were fuzzy, but from what I understand, she was teaching class today when she suddenly could not find words -- meaning could not speak -- and felt as though she were in a tunnel. Then she passed out. Doctors suspected she'd had a stroke, did some tests, and found nothing. At present she's awake and talking and more or less fine, but more tests will be done to figure out what happened.

Remember her and lift her up. Thank you!

No, There Aren't "New Sins"

You can't rely on the main-stream media to cover anything about the Catholic Church accurately. Recently, according to our secular gumshoes, "the Vatican" "announced" a "new" list of "seven deadly sins". Now, you're going to hell for using plastic bags.


One person published an article talking about sin in relation to contemporary issues, including the environment. Not Pope Benedict, not "the Vatican", not an official from the Vatican.

Sin is not sin because dudes in Rome say so. Sin is sin because it is contrary to God's will for us, and that is not subject to the decrees of man.

More at What Does the Prayer Really Say? and the Deacon's Bench.

Speaking of English Nerds... Sort Of

My drama kids are doing a version of Through the Looking Glass, including a recitation of "Jabberwocky", one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.

While YouTubing for something to help them get a rhythm down, I found these guys. Never heard of this show, but I'm sorry I missed it. I can't dance, but I love watching people who can.

English Nerd Humor

My aunt sent me this awesome card.

If the word awesome could talk, it would take one look at you and say, "Now, that's what I mean!"

Ha ha! Ha! I love it! Thanks, Aunt T!


June 2007

Monday, March 10, 2008

'Tis the Season to Do Pennance

Fa la-la, la-la, la-la-la-la!

Julie at Happy Catholic has some great, concise, accessible advice for how to approach the sacrament. Great if you're new, nervous, or just haven't been in a while.

Actually, it's just plain great. Julie, while we're on it, is my other blogging hero. As my seventh graders say, I heart her.

Be Still, My Heart!

Mark Shea, my blogging hero, linked to my puny little know-nothin' blog. AND wished Theophany a happy birthday.

Will wonders never cease?!

I am rather honored, and welcome all of you who have stumbled here from that link. I'd give you an introduction to who I am and what I'm about, but... well, this operation is just a bit too random for that. You'll do better to just poke around a bit.

REC pt 3: Salesians Never Say Goodbye

Previously, on your humble (award-nominated) blog:

REC over, and plenty to say about it. In short:

Salesians have been around for about two hundred years now. The Salesian brothers and priests (SDBs) are the second largest order of religious men in the world, and the sisters (Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, or FMAs) are third. They've been in the United States for over one hundred years. In that time, they have cared for and educated thousands upon thousands of children, and thousands of lay people like myself have been fortunate enough to join them in their mission.

The core of Salesian education is the Preventive System, which I am far to inept to condense effectively. The vastly over-simplified idea is to prevent kids from making bad choices, rather than punishing them after the fact. It has been said that "family" is a sort of synonym for the Preventive System, and since I arrived at St. John Bosco I've heard the term "Salesian family" almost daily. As I've mentioned before, one of the things I love about SJB is how truly a family it is, but I didn't realize the full depth and breadth of the Salesian family until I worked the Salesian booth at REC.

First, I re-met all sisters who were at the Chapter in November, as well as the young women in formation to become FMAs (who I shall henceforth collectively refer to as "pre-nuns"). As soon as I walked into the house in Bellflower, I felt at home and perfectly at ease (which never happens to me in new places), because it was Salesian. They, likewise, welcomed me right in and treated me like I'd been there all along.

The first day of congress, Jonathan met up with us. He's a VIDES who did his formation here in January, and in no time flat we were chatting it up as if no time had passed. Jonathan and I are both, at this point, sort of superficially Salesian, still being pretty new to it, but we've both lived with them for a few months and immediately had that to talk about, as well as how awesome the Salesians are.

Then on Friday when we got to the booth, I saw Patricia, a former VIDES who helped do my formation last summer, and who has worked with the Salesians in California for years. It hadn't even occurred to me she would be there, but it made perfect sense and I could hardly have been more excited to see her again. She introduced me to all the SDBs floating around the congress, and again, in no time flat we were all old buddies.

I met some of the collaborators, the tertiary order. I saw some other lay delegates who'd been at the Chapter. I met Adam, the director of the SDBs' volunteer program out east, and a bunch of the other lay people who work with and for the Salesians in California. Then there were the droves of current and past pupils who just wanted to linger around the booth to soak in the Salesian juices. The whole Salesian hoard of us -- VIDES, FMAs, SDBs, colaborators, teachers, students, and miscellaneous -- were one big happy family. It was as though we had known each other for years, and while some of them had, what was incredible to me was that we all felt that way.

It was absolutely amazing.

At one point, I was talking to a young guy who was curious about VIDES when in my periphery I saw a woman stop dead in her tracks as she saw out big poster of Don Bosco. Her friend, in Spanish, said, "What?"

The woman didn't say anything at first. Finally she took her hand from her mouth and pointed. "Salesians!"

Her friend laughed. "Yes, good reading."

"No," the woman said, coming towards us, "You don't understand."

Brother Al smiled at her and greeted her. "You know us?"

"Yes! You taught me when I was a little girl in Colombia. I grew up with the Salesians." Her eyes started to well up, and her friend chuckled.

"For God's sake, don't start crying."

"I haven't seen the Salesians in years... forty years." One of the other SDBs scrambled to get her some contact information for the Salesians in L.A. The woman was crying for real now. "I'm so happy you're here. I'm so happy to see you."

At that point, of course, the kid I'd been talking to and I were just transfixed by this. After a few minutes talk and hugging, and her friend teasing her, the woman moved on, still wiping her eyes. I looked back at the boy I was talking to and smiled.

"So, you wanna join us?"

"That was incredible," Brother Al said, rather dazed. "That's what this is all about."

At the end of the day on Sunday, as congress attendees and Salesians alike are dispersing, I looked at someone and said, "You know that feeling you get at the end of a party you wish wouldn't end?" He smiled and said, "I was just thinking that." As we cleaned up the booth after close of business and got ready to go, several of them said to me, quite seriously, "So you're coming back next year, right?"

"You should just move out here," one said.

As I left, I felt I was leaving people I'd known for much longer than three days. Even so, I can't say I was sad, because I am positive our paths will cross again. As people scattered, no one said goodbye -- everyone said "See you soon!"

Providence, of Late Pondered Upon

As applied to God, Providence is God Himself considered in that act by, which in His wisdom, He so orders all events within the universe that the end for which it was created may be realized. That end is that all creatures should manifest the glory of God, and in particular that man should glorify Him, recognizing in nature the work of His hand, serving Him in obedience and love, and thereby attaining to the full development of his nature and to eternal happiness in God.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia (emphasis mine)

That's a mighty packed pair of sentences.

To know, really understand, that God is who he says he is, and that he does indeed have a plan, and that he loves us, like, for real, makes it seem rather silly to worry about anything.

Which is, naturally, easier said than done when the stuff hits the fan.

But it's good to remember.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Bloggaversary to Me!

Last year, while I was sitting in my student teaching class room and should have been observing and learning from my cooperating teacher, I made my very first entry on this blog. In the year since then, I have blossomed as a blogger, and with my direction and purpose clear, I foresee great strides in the year to come.

[Scoff] That's a total lie.

This thing is as scattered and schizophrenic as ever (like its writer), and it's going to stay that way. With a mix of family fondness, teacher tales, and fumbling reflections on faith, I will never have a solid audience, except my parents and their siblings.

And doggone it, I'm okay with that.

A smattering of some of the high points from this last year:
Heartstrings, pt 1 (on my leaving college and going to mission)
A View (explaining this weird-o blog title)
Heartstrings, pt 2 (on leaving my family to be a big girl)
Into the Deep (when this whole thing became "real, whatever that means)
A Day in the Life (monotony is funny when you only read one day's worth of it)
Mildly Inappropriate Convent Humor (still probably the funniest thing all year)
Officially Addicted (my first teacher Christmas)
A Falling Out (when words abandoned me)
Talking to an Affectionate Wall (the density and cuteness of sixth graders)
The 2007 Retrospective
Killing Time (a theophany at a cold wet bus stop)
Why This is Worth It (and it so is)

REC pt 2: Universal Church Awesome

Previously, on your humble (award-nominated) blog:

REC over, and plenty to say about it. In short:
I do my fair share of complaining about some of the ridiculous things that happen in the Catholic Church, at least in the United States, because God knows there's plenty of ridiculousness to complain about. What gets me going is the epidemic of irreverence for the mass and the huge numbers of people who hear the Church and her officials, who speak from thousands of years of tradition, experience, and study, and wave them off if the teaching is inconvenient or uncomfortable to them (hence my recent rants on pro-choice Catholic politicians and such). We're not just pulling this out of the air, people.

That said, I am always comforted and amazed by the variety of people in our church who are sincere and devoted. Far be it from me to judge anyone, especially those who are earnest in their faith. On the contrary, I find it to be an inspiration, even if some of them might need a little deprogramming. I heard there were 45, 000 attendees at the Religious Education Congress this year, and most of them were there on common purpose: they wanted to leave better able to educate and evangelize the children they work with. They love their faith and their God, and they love their fellow man.

There were more than a few speakers who could benefit from a sound tongue lashing from a bishop more orthodox than Cardinal Mahony. I managed to dodge those bullets, but several of my friends did not, and I cringe to think how many hundreds of people heard that codswallop ("All human love starts with erotic love." I wish I were kidding) but lacked the background to realize it's hooey. Those speakers and the organizers who invited them need to go read a Catechism.

But the faithful who attended were, for the most part, joyful and searching. They were sincere and devout.

And I was glad to see them all there for a few days. Our Church goes so far beyond our local parishes, our own groups. It is, truly, physically, global and universal. Going to mass with thousands and thousands of people, even when the mass includes interpretive dance, is pretty awesome. When the hoards of us all said the Our Father together in one voice, for a little while we were of one accord and one purpose -- to praise God and petition his help -- and it occurred to me Heaven must be a little like that.

The Time Change Got Me

Alarm goes off. Clock reads at 7 a.m.

I creep out of bed and proceed to get ready for mass across the street at the Provincial House.

Fully dressed, I glance at my phone.

Cell phone reads 8:15.

Mass started at 7:50 (Don't ask. They're nuns, they like to mix it up a little.)

Shoulders slump.


Glance at as-yet-unmade bed.


Re-enter said bed, still fully dressed.

The cathedral has mass at 2. I'll go there.
And no, I didn't just get back out of bed. I joined the sisters for breakfast at 9, thank you very much.

Very Sweet, and Very Strange

And I'm not talking about my sister.

Dad sent me this video. The story is this woman found the lion when it was near death, nursed it back to health, then turned it over to the local zoo. This was the lion's reaction when he saw her again.

I would like to know how a woman in Colombia happened to stumble across a lion.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Yesterday, my homeroom came in before lunch to get their things together. One of my girls was clearly very agitated, and before long I discovered that her real dad - meaning the one she is not on good terms with, not her step dad, with whom she lives - was here. "I haven't even talked to him in months," she said.

I herded the kids to the cafeteria, and when I got to my roost from where I watch all my seventh graders, the girl was sitting at her usual spot, but with her dad. The discussion, even from twenty feet away, was clearly very heated. My partner teacher came and sat down beside me.

"That's a sticky situation there, isn't it?" I said, discretely pointing.

"It's not that she doesn't want to go with her father, she just wants to go home with her boyfriend."

First thing in the morning, this girl had handed me a note from her mother giving her permission to go home with her little boyfriend's family. While I don't think a seventh grader should have a boyfriend, it's totally her mother's prerogative to let her daughter go home with a friend. Then the non-custodial parent came in and wanted to take her. What I found interesting, after the whole thing was settled, was how my partner teacher and I each reacted.

My partner spoke from her perspective as a parent and felt the father had a right to take his daughter home. She also didn't like the thought of her own seventh grade daughter going home with her wanna-be-boyfriend (wanna-be because my partner will not allow her daughter to have a boyfriend, because she’s in seventh grade, fer cryin’ out loud), and so she thought, "Her father is here, he wants his daughter, and he has more right to her than the boyfriend."

On the other hand, because of my experiences, I immediately "sided" with the girl. I related to how she was feeling about seeing her father, and I felt strongly about her mom's primacy as the custodial parent.

I don't really know who was right. I think, legally, the custodial parent's note overrides the non-custodial parent. In the end, dad backed down and the girl went home with her boyfriend as planned.

What was more significant and striking to me was how different our responses were.

The Oft Posted "Last Lecture"

Everyone watch this. Really. I mean it.

It's been making the rounds for a few months now. Yes, it's long (about an hour, plus some post-lecture festivities), but it is so worth it. This is Professor Randy Pausch giving his "last lecture". The original idea was for Carnegie Mellon professors to give the lecture they would give if it was their last. In Pausch's case, it's a reality: he's dying of pancreatic cancer and has months to live.

It's funny, and it's beautiful.

Really. Take the time. Watch it.


If you want to keep up on Pausch, he has a site here.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

2005... I think.

More Reasons to Wish You Were From Texas

Texas A&M's Catholic campus ministry is downright legendary. They have a retreat called Aggie Awakening, which I hear is pretty stinkin' awesome. Last year's leadership put this video together.


Hat tippage to Mary's Aggies.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Jet SettingPays!

Since June 2007, I have flown eleven legs (5.5 round trips) on Southwest alone (and two more on other airlines). Seriously, I can't even remember what all those were to and from. None the less, the result is a really cheap spring break ticket.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Classy Insults

My favorite:
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” - Oscar Wilde

Much more here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fountain, National Gallery of Art

April 2007

REC pt 1: Wrap Up the Dance Business

Previously, on your humble (award-nominated) blog:
REC over, and plenty to say about it. In short:
I think I will address each item in it's own post, or something like that, and to begin with I'll wrap up the liturgical dance thing. There's not much left to say, but I will at least feel like I have accomplished something there.

As you may have seen in the comments, there are a few schools of thought on this. I can totally see how doing dance can be a form a prayer, and it's legit for a dancer to want to use his/her gifts to praise God in that way. As Sine pointed out, there is a time for dancing, but as most everyone in the discussion agreed, that time is not during the mass! Dance is performance, and the mass is not, ever, performance. It's the sacrifice on Calvary all over again, and it deserves -- demands -- dignity, not theatrics.

Every mass I went to at REC had dancers, and I found it distracting at best. The best use was in the procession and the carrying of the gifts at the Nigerian mass. That actually felt like something a people would do for a king, which was appropriate. As Britney pointed out, however, most of the masses reeked of "I didn't make the cut in ballet" meets the Happy Hands Club. On steroids.

Everything in the mass should put an even greater focus on Christ and his presence in the Eucharist. In my experience, liturgical dance is usually about the dances, with occasional notice of the worshipers' feelings. Believe it or not, our warm fuzzies are not what the mass is about.

A fact I had to remind myself of, as I found myself being distracted by the guy in the yoga pants with a purple sash (I kid you not). My fellow VIDES, Jonathan, and I ended up looking at it as a chance to practice really focusing on Jesus. Ridiculous or not -- indeed, licit or not -- Christ is at every valid mass, and the faithful ought not let anything get in the way of that understanding.

I don't know how Jonathan did, but I think I'm just going to avoid dance masses for a while.

On Being Discharged

While my father has spent about half his life in the armed forces, I have spent my entire life identifying myself, quite proudly, as an Air Force brat.  On those grounds, I contend that Dad's upcoming retirement is much more difficult for me than it is for him.  He sent me this e-mail in the wee hours:

Yawning, more than ready to go to bed, and the clock reminds me that, as of this moment, you are no longer my dependent.

 I loved having you as such for almost 23 years.

 I love you!

And then there were three…


Which is, aside from genuinely sweet, deeply depressing, for it reminds me -- as if I needed the reminder -- that my last dependent military I.D. expired yesterday, thus severing me from an entire sphere of the world that has heretofor been my home.  No longer can I freely move between military and civilian life, nor shall I ever again inhale the sweetness of a base exchange, except as a guest on someone else's I.D., or casually lay eyes upon a tarmac of gray-bellied beasts on my way home.

A moment of silence for my way of life, please.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


(No, that's not a typo. )

Well knock me over with a wet noodle and mix my metaphors! Someone out there likes me!

Each year, the Catholic Blog Awards create a nifty little stir in the Catholic bloggosphere. This year, at least one someone out there nominated me for not one but six awards! They are:
  • Best Designed (what? I use a template!)
  • Best Overall (I don't even wear overalls)
  • Best Written (this, I would LOVE to win, but against the likes of Amy Welborn I have a snowball's chance)
  • Funniest (...really?)
  • Best Individual Blog (If I have a chance in this, it is only because best describes the blog, not the individual)
  • Best New Catholic Blog (which I'm not sure I technically qualify for, but I'm not about to split hairs)
...all of which rather baffle me, because I'm usually pretty happy when I write above a third-grade level and make myself laugh (which is not difficult). Someone likes me a lot -- thanks!

If you'd like to boost my ego, follow the above link and vote for me! Alternately, you could save me from the sin of pride and vote for people who actually deserve to win, like any of the people in my sidebar.

Seriously, I truly appreciate the esteem of whoever it was that nominated me, and all of you who take the time to read my ruminations. I don't get you, but I thank you.

Down Time

January 2008

I WILL Write About REC

...but it's a lot to think over and put into not-boring words. It may be a few more days.

Meanwhile, more mindlessly but just as detrimental to my sleep cycle, I think I'm almost done tweaking colors and such on the new formatting. I'm especially pleased with the new header, although it required exactly no creativity on my part, except in taking and cropping the picture. I think she looks nice there, and it seems fitting to have her permanently at the very top.

Blog Dust

On a whim, I changed my layout. I now have to go through and change the colors, arrangement, and such so they look nice again. Be patient with me and do not think I'm usually this careless with my presentation. I'm very professional. Except on weekends.

I also welcome your feedback. All five of you.

Monday, March 3, 2008

REC Over...

...and plenty to say about it. In short:
  • Universal Church good
  • Salesians awesome
  • Blatent disregard for Church teaching bad
  • Liturgical dance stupid
**UPDATE** Inspired by the comments, I'd like to amend my previous statement. Agreed, liturgical dance is not in and of itself stupid. The liturgical dance at Congress was farcical, but even then the thought in the back of my head was, "I'm sure they get a lot out of this, but I just find it distracting". Thusly, I clarify my position and apologize for making a statement that didn't accurately reflect my position in the first place.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Taco Bell Wins Cool Points


Hat tip to American Papist.

A Horrible, Awful, Terrible, No-Good, Failure of a Daughter.

That's me.

For the second year in a row, because I was caught up in a flurry of activity and the fact that it's March snuck up on me, I forgot my parents' anniversary.

Allow me to publicly flog myself before I put on sack cloth and ash and wail.

Really, it's their fault for getting married on the first of the month. I have no warning that their anniversary is coming. All of a sudden it's March and it takes me at least three days to switch mental gears. I can't be held accountable for missing any important annual events on the first, second, or third or any month.

...Only I can.

Happy anniversary to my wonderful, awesome, slightly-mental parents!

My dad's tribute to my mom:


**And for the record, I did at least remember this before I checked my e-mail and saw the above tribute in my in-box. When it was already past midnight in Maryland. See post title.