Wednesday, June 29, 2011

through the temporal, glimpse the eternal

"It was once said[...] that men couldn't organize the world without God.
That, in fact, is not true; atheistic humanism disproved that claim.
What atheistic humanism had also proven, however, was that without God, human beings could only organize the world against each other."-- Letters to a Young Catholic

I just finished George Weigel's Letters to a Young Catholic.
It's one of those books that's been sitting on our bookshelves for a while. No one's quite sure how it got into the house it sort of found its way inside. It's one of those books that just appears and bides it time. Then, one day, you're walking into your room, and you see it lying innocently on the floor in front of your doorway. Since your dear friend recommended it to you, you think "Oh! Look! That's that book that my friend recommended to me. I guess I should just pick it up and read it." And because it's summer, you do end up reading it.
It's one of those books.

It's a beautiful, easy (but contemplative and thought-provoking) read. Mr. Weigel takes his readers on a tour of the Catholic world-from the Chartres Cathedral to the Olde Cheshire Cheese-the interior and exterior worlds of Catholicism. He touches on everything from John Cardinal Newman to World Youth Day, from Evelyn Waugh to Theology of the Body, from iconography to the liturgy.

He writes about the value and joy in suffering, and how the importance of suffering is a foreign idea in our modern world. He writes about love, about living in communion with others, the truth that the secret to human happiness is "self-giving, not self-assertion." He writes of a University students in Poland that participate in the liturgy as if their lives depended on it. Which, in fact, they do.

Although he introduces us to many famous Catholic intellectuals: Hilare Belloc, Chesterton, Newman, and Waugh, etc., he insists "We cannot meet the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob[...] by reason alone." Mr. Weigel writes of the sacramental imagination of Catholicism. 
To be Catholic means to live not with one foot in the world and one foot in the church, but to understand that there is no gap between Faith and everyday life. 
To realize that the spiritual world intersects the material world in a profound way-a sacramental way. (After all, that's what a sacrament is-a material manifestation of grace.) 
And that through the things temporal we will see clearly the things eternal.

It's a clearly laid-out basic overview of the Catholic worldview. It's so refreshing and beautiful, and very encouraging. As a call to action in our brave new 21st century world, Mr. Weigel's book also reminds us to hold onto the traditions and memories of our ancestors. After all, only a deeply rooted tree can grow the tallest. Letters to a Young Catholic visits the deepest roots, and explores the newest budding branches.

Moral of the story:

"You're not alone, as a young religious believer and a young Catholic. And you're not on the back side of history. You're on its cutting edge."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the secret habits of rabbits

Have you ever noticed how inanimate objects somehow mysteriously manage to be fruitful and multiply? It's ridiculous, borderline absurd.

E.g.: I came home from college with two pillows. Two(2). My sister came home with one. One(1). There are now a cool seven pillows on our bed. Seven (7). Last time I checked 2+1=3 and 2+1≠7. How did this happen? I don't get it.

Example the Second:
Bobby pins. Bobby pins (a.k.a. kirby grips) are never there when you desperately need one to fasten a stray piece of hair. Never. But then, when you reach into your pocket/bag/purse to find one, you inevitably pull out at least a dozen. I still don't get it.

Example the Third:
Just kidding. I can't think of a third thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Give it to God

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.
You have given all to me; to you, O Lord, now I return it all; all is yours, dispose of me wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.
~Ignatius of Loyola

Give it all to God.
Don't fret finding your own answers.
Frustration, depression, confusion, elation.
Take the weight off your shoulders,
Drop it at His feet.
Give it all to God.

'"It was pretty risky of God to give us free will."
"Very Risky," Grandpa Bowman said.
"Do you think it was a mistake?"
"I am not God," Grandpa Bowman said. "But I am happy that I am human being who can make mistakes, and not an insect, who cannot."'
From A Certain Woman, by Madeleine L'Engle

Friday, June 17, 2011

Being Alive

And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor's shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.--C.S Lewis, in Mere Christianity

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And Then Who Knows?

  • Snarky Sister and I enter elevator. Snarky Sister points to the sign that reads "Capacity: 4000 lbs." She turns to me and intones solemnly: "I think you have to get off." Boom. Roasted.
  • Mormons can't eat coffee or chocolate? No wonder they endorse polygamy. Something's gotta make up for the absence of chocolate... *
  • I ask the chicklets "What do you kids want for lunch?" Sassy Brother responds: "Food." Spicy Sister: "Naww, we had that yesterday."
  • The sibs and I play "Radio Roulette" in the car. In which the person elected DJ flips through the radio channels trying to find something that they and the others in the car all want to listen to. Songs like "Cooler than Me," "Rude Boy," "Need You Now," and "Rolling in the Deep" are all automatic: "switch to the next channel ASAP." Not that they're all necessarily bad songs, but yes, my peeps, there can be too much of a good thing.
  • Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every Hipster. (The Good News? You probably haven't heard of it.) He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, He who does not believe shall become mainstream.
  • Playing Radio Roulette in the car this morning, and in the absence of all acceptable songs, in a move of desperation, I turned to the classical music channel. The announcer lady was speaking in that voice all classical music radio announcers use; the voice that sounds like it's wafting through a thick velvet curtain-a soothing effect and yet at the same time rather disconcerting. Anywhoodles, I popped in just as the lady was intoning: "from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst, my personal favorite is Mercury, but we'll be listening to Jupiter." Finna. I eagerly listened to Jupiter until the anthem that is used to create "O God Beyond All Praising" started playing. Then, I cranked up the volume, rolled down the windows, and soared down the highway. Bless you, Classical FM 99.5.
  • There's nothing like a healthy sense of sass. Our family's snarkiness level has skyrocketed recently (see above thoughts), and everyone has benefited. Truly. The constant banter whets our wits. And yesterday I had a four-hour sass sesh with friends. Nothing like it. It feeds my soul, and plus also the Quotebook is always hungry for spicy material.
  • Our Adoration Chapel has new carpet, and it has roses on it. Total win? I'm thinkin' yes.
  • Best Thing About Summer #453: Edge of Glory dance parties in the car.
  • Don't search for Jesus in far lands-He is not there. He is close to you; He is with you. Just keep the lamp burning and you will always see Him. Keep on filling the lamp with all these little drops of love, and you will see how sweet is the Lord you love.--Mother Teresa
  • Seussical the Musical is one of my faves. Finna. The end.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

People-Watching Hardcore

So, I work at The Mall. Needless to say, my workplace is a rather prime people-watching locale. The following are some of my favorite things that I notice while working at The Mall:
(Author's note: in somewhat approximate order of how much I love them)

1) The Bevies of Buddhist Monks that inevitably wander through the garish, brightly colored theme park approximately once a week during the summer. Always a delightfully thought-provoking juxtaposition, they're a stark and beautiful reminder of the contemplative life in the midst of the most materialistic of places. Love them. Plus also, I love their orange habits. Those monks are finna stylin'.

2) The beautiful, amazing, lovely-tastic, gorgeous saris. Sometimes, Indian women wearing these treasures will casually saunter by, unaware of the desire that awakens in our hearts for clothing as rich, elegant, and just plain wonderful as theirs. I have sari-envy. When I go to India, I'm going to buy myself at least five saris, and then I shall wear them with abandon whenever I please. Sorted.

3)Boys with the perfect imitation Bieber hair. 'Nuff said.

4) Little girls in fancy dresses. When they wear their adorable mini-formalwear, it's just too cute to handle! They waltz around in satiny dresses with puffy sleeves and shiny white mary janes with roses on the toes. It reminds me of those days when my favorite dress was a blue and white gingham with a white ruffly pinafore. Ah! Excitement: thanks to a little internet-browsing, I uncovered a picture of it! Here's 'tis: Favorite dress ever.

5) The Energetic Young Mothers with their impeccably lovely yet breezy-casual sundress+cardigan combination. Love it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

FALLing in Love

Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to start my day off the right way. So I scrounged around in the kitchen until I found a scone and some blueberries, and hunkered down in front of this movie-The Fall.
NB: Starting the Day off by Watching a Movie is Reason #356 why summer is fantastic (yes, I know, this is definitely a change of tune from my last post. But right after I wrote that letter, the hot spell ended. [Coincidence? I think not.]Well played, Summer.)

The director of the play that I'm currently workshopping suggested that all of us watch this. So I looked it up, was simply blown away by the trailer, and I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as humanly possible. And it didn't disappoint. The Fall is a unique movie. This film is what would happen if Pan's Labyrinth met Pushing Daisies, but they switched directors halfway through and recast the film with actors from Bride and Prejudice and Laurence of Arabia. Capiche?

But what makes The Fall stand out as the gem that it is, is its imagery. It's literally breath-taking. The camera cuts to a new scene and all you can do is gape at the mesmerizing images that are presented to you, and just let go and let your soul soak in the beauty that bursts out of the screen.
It's filled to the brim with lovely actors as well. Justine Waddell (from Wives and Daughters !) plays Roy's perhaps-true-love: the beautiful Nurse Evelyn/Butterfly Princess.
Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day plays Roy. Peeps, I'm just going to come clean: my heart melts into a big lump of butter every time he comes on the screen. He's a wonderfully fantastic actor, and a joy to watch.
Tangent: In other news: apparently he's playing Thranduil in The Hobbit movies. (?!!) Get excited. I know I am.

Suffice to say that when Lee Pace makes this face:it tears me apart. I can't even deal. This scene made me utterly fall apart (see what I did there?). But truly, in all seriousness, the climax is one of my favorite movie scenes ever. It's an amazing story of redemption, love and beauty tightly packed into several breathless minutes. One of my friends astutely summed up the final moments of the film in one deft-(oft-used but never hackneyed)- phrase: "Love never fails."

Couldn't say it better.
St. Paul, I tip my proverbial hat to you.

And then, there's the queen of the movie. Our miniature-sized protagonist, Alexandria. Played by Catinca Untaru, her simplicity and earnestness is so real it's shocking. She feels likes a real little girl- so similar to many of the young ones I've babysat or taught over the years. She's the farthest thing in the world from affected. She's pure, simple and thoroughly delightful.

Our story begins with little Alexandria in the hospital with a broken arm. While wandering through the corridors, she ends up wandering into the room of broken stuntman Roy. He begins to tell her a fantastical story full of adventure, romance, peril, danger, and magnificent locations and exotic peoples. The bond that forms between them is the centerpiece of the movie.

She makes him laugh. She argues with him. He makes her smile. She is enchanted with the story he's weaving for her. And through their friendship, Alexandria's pulled into Roy's life and changes it in a deeply profound way.

"Are you trying to save my soul?" a bemused Roy inquires of Alexandria, after she naively feeds him (unconsecrated) communion bread. Unwittingly, Alexandria saves Roy in every sense of the word. The friendship that blossoms between the two of them is heart-wrenchingly real. Although the movie is a cornucopia of lush images and indescribable beauty, it's the friendship between the broken and despairing man and the simple and perceptive young girl that outshines all the exterior beauty of the piece.

One could wax poetic about the locations for this movie for ages and ages and never do justice to the ridiculous amount of beauty that the viewers are bombarded with for a solid two hours. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are some of the gorgeous images from the film:

Behold the beauty of The Fall:

See. This. Movie. It's richly original, sensuously lush, heartbreakingly lovely, incredibly intelligent, delightfully magical, exquisitely crafted, and vibrantly alive. It will wrap your heart in its gorgeous enchantments and take your love prisoner. And it is 100% worth it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Dear Summer,

I love you. Please, let me just begin by saying that I think you're legit. Like, too legit to quit. I've so enjoyed our time together over the years. We always have so much fun together-going to the beach, running around barefoot, and in general just getting into summer shenanigans. You're lovely; the sun is shining, and we have fun together. What's not to love? I love the ice cream trucks, being outside with friends, bonfires and games of soccer, dipping toes in lakes, lemonade slushies, picnics in the grass and wandering around under the warm starlight sky. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

But seriously? 102 degrees??? Is this acceptable and/or appropriate and/or called for? No. No it's not. It's not you, Summer-it's me. I just can't take the heat. Literally. This hot spell is the most demoralizing weather I've ever encountered. Hot tears would be streaming down my cheeks at the very thought of this oppressing heat.
BUT OH WAIT THEY CAN'T BECAUSE MY TEAR DUCTS WITHERED UP FROM THE HEAT AND DIED. The relentless, burning-hot sun pounds on my head like an unrelenting...ummm...let me think of an appropriate metaphor. Oh yeah. IT BEATS UPON MY HEAD LIKE A BIG GIANT BALL OF INCREDIBLY HOT GAS SHINING DIRECTLY ON MY HEAD.
Not fun.
Not fun.
In a word: misery.

I'm not trying to throw a pity-party for myself here, Summer. I'm just trying to be honest, and express how I feel about your actions. (Translation: I hate your guts right now, and until this heat spell goes away we are not on speaking terms.)

That is all I have to say at the moment. I'm disappointed, Summer, truly disappointed and sadly shocked. I didn't expect this from you. I thought you were cooler than this.

Sincere Regards,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

CPR for the Soul

So I had a whole blog post written. But I couldn't get it quite right. Frustration.
So I just did away with the whole thing in one cruel blow. Ahhh the backspace key. You can wreak so much destruction with just one stroke.

So what was this post (now lost forevermore in the black hole of cyberspace) about exactly?

*Points to title*. CPR for the soul, my friends. Get some.
This whole weekend most definitely refreshed and renewed me in ways I didn't even know I needed.

Lemme break it down now for y'all:
  • I get coffee with a dear friend of the heart on a beautiful Saturday morning.
  • Venting ensues. (Nothing like a good venting sesh.)
  • But better yet, we had beautiful conversations about love, holiness, wholeness, brokenness, trust, vulnerability, love, and leaning solely on God. An unlooked for, much-needed, and much enjoyed gift of a conversation.
  • God is beyond awesome. He's awesometastically fantastic. Or something like that.
  • Squidward makes me happy. In general, I find grumpy people so utterly endearing. Don't know why, but I've never encountered a grumpy person who hasn't melted my heart into a pile of butter. From Oscar the Grouch to Mr. Darcy, those dour dears have all won me over with their adorably cranky charm.
  • I dropped a cup of water. It was the most epic fall of a cup of water to probably ever happen. And it happened in my very own kitchen, peeps. Just saying.
  • Peanut-butter-cookies-with-milk picnic=Happiness.
  • Had a beautiful discussion with soulmate-friend about finding beauty in all things, and searching for the good. Finding out what the good is, and then discovering how all the beautiful things in this world reflect the good in their own unique way.
  • Imagined what Mother Teresa would say regarding church architecture and baptismal fonts.
  • God is beyond awesometastically fantastic. He's superbly incredibly amazingly finna astounding. Something along those lines.
  • Coined several new words with the Noxious Marmoset. Two of the bestests being: pernicocity and dramaticality.
  • Beautiful Sunday Mass. The Gospel was one of my all-time favorite passages. "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt. 28:20) Dear God: Thank you. Love, Renée
  • Pretty skies. Pretty sun. Pretty fountains. Pretty green grass. Pretty day.
  • Dissolved into laughter at the dinner table with the fam. Successful family dinner? I think YES.
  • All this to say: God is so good. He just keeps sending us blessings without number and mercies without end, don't cha know? We simply have to lift our hearts before Him and wait upon His word, and then we'll uncover all the untold beauties He's carved into each day for us.
  • God's beyond superbly incredibly amazingly finna astounding. God is Love.

Friday, June 3, 2011


You can tell a lot about a person by their recent Google searches.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I love hashtags. #don'tjudgeme
I can't help it- I think they're hilarious. #comediclinguisticdevices
Don't get me wrong, I think they're destroying the English language's beautiful syntax, and encouraging the slow erosion of our beautiful grammar. #whocares #languagepurists
I mean, seriously, guys. Lewis Carroll and Shakespeare made up their own words. The English language is a fluid creation-it's rules are never set in stone, right? This makes hashtags and improper grammar okay, right? #greatwriters #settingaprecedent #legit
I don't understand Twitter. #technologyfail
But I think I understand hashtags. #what'snottounderstand.
And I like them. #redundancy #understatement
Although sometimes they make my brain hurt. #gotspaces?
That's really the only point of this post. #utilizeasmanyhashtagsaspossible.
I really should go to bed. #downwardspiral
This is getting out of control. #can'tstop #hashtagaddiction #winning