Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hop to it

Haven't done much reflection on lightbearing recently. Found this gem in our Catholic Social Tradition class today:

"When we share our talents and our possessions with the forgotten ones of this world, we share Christ. This is not the prelude to evangelization, it is the essence of evangelization itself."--
"What We Have Seen and Heard"

And it popped out to me as a sentence worth pondering.

Plus also, I am having a jolly good time going around introducing myself as a theatre and theology major (theatre-ology, one friend dubbed it), and enjoying the varied and sundry raised-eyebrow reactions. Some people are surprised by the theatre, some by the theology, and most by the combination of the two.

But I find that they're both more connected than one might think. We just finished reading Evangelii nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI's apostolic exhortation, calling upon all Catholics, but particularly lay people, to renew and refresh their perspective on evangelization. And, like the quote above says, the essence of evangelization is to share Christ. Period. Whether through actions, words, or merely a smile; or, to mirror the action of the Author of Creation, through storytelling.

Theatre and theology are both in the business of storytelling. Theology seeks to tell us the story of God, of salvation, and essentially, the story of what it means to be hnau-truly human. Theology tells the One Story.
Theatre is the art of bringing that story to life.
Boom. Connection.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

this moment contains all moments

Light is something. Darkness is the absence of something.--Professor Fagerberg

Ash Wednesday is an important day for the Church. We begin the holy season of Lent and the journey starts with ashes and the invitation to do something to transform our lives. It is a wonderful opportunity to grow in our faith as we journey with Christ to his death and resurrection.

The gospel calls us to the practice of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. We are often asked this question. What are you doing for Lent? We may respond in many different ways.

Some people give up something they really like. Sweets seem to lead the list.

Others attend daily mass or read scripture.

A few may make donations to a charity or give of their time in service to people in need.

These are good things to do, but we might be missing the purpose of Lent.

The season of Lent is the final preparation for those people who are members of RCIA and will be baptized, confirmed and make their first communion at the Easter Vigil. The community who gathers with them and those at Mass on Easter Sunday is asked to renew their Baptismal promises. We reject Satan and all his works and profess our faith in God. Easter is a time of renewal for everyone in the Church. Lent is our preparation to do so.

What does this have to do with our practice of Lent? It is our turning away from the negative things in our life and making a deeper commitment to follow the risen Lord. Prayer, Fasting and Alms giving are not meant to be something that we give up. They help us move towards a renewal. It is to do it as a community.

May we be transformed by what we do leading up to the celebration of Easter.

Rev. Joseph .H Carey, C.S.C.

Lent is about replacing a negative with a positive. It is about pouring life into our lives and pushing out the dark. Yesterday, in our discussion of The Great Divorce, Fagerberg was discoursing on good and evil, and how good is something. Evil is nothing. Evil is like a dark room-you can block out all the light and "create" darkness. But you haven't really created anything. It's just a void. Then, as you slowly open the shutters and doors and windows, light floods the room, pushing out the darkness. Or it's like oil and water. If you add water to a cup filled with oil, the oil will spill over.
If we add light to our lives, the darkness will spill out of it. Lent is a time of light. Of preparing our hearts and souls to receive the light of Christ at the Easter Vigil.

Lent is a time of growth. It's about widening our souls and hearts to look beyond the pleasures of this world to encompass Christ. In The Great Divorce, we learn that souls of the blessed in heaven are too large for Hell. They can't fit inside the crack in the ground that Hell has become. Evil shrinks us, withers us, dries up our salitter--our divine essence. But Heaven is about becoming more solid. Becoming more ourselves, more of the human beings we were created to be.


I had an edifying post written about C.S. Lewis and light and love and the Great Divorce, and all things beautiful and grand.
But then I found this song, and my heart just melted into a small little pile of butter. So much romantical whimsy in one little lyrical piece.

Beauteousness. This past week has been a week of beauteousness. And mostly just random little moments of delight, little dots in an impressionist painting, that all blend together to create a full picture.
And P.S. When I grow up, I want to drive a vegetable car.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

youth is supple and the world is sand.

Some Sunday morning poetry, in honor of the fact that Ash Wednesday is almost upon us, which means that Lent will soon be upon us, which means the Holy Week is fast on its heels, which means The Triduum is nigh. I've been looking forward to this since Christmas, guys. I've been trying to cut back on the Rebecca Black quotes, but: we we we so excited.

Between the brown hands of a server-lad

The silver cross was offered to be kissed.
The men came up, lugubrious, but not sad,
And knelt reluctantly, half-prejudiced.
(And kissing, kissed the emblem of a creed.)
Then mourning women knelt; meek mouths they had,
(And kissed the Body of the Christ indeed.)
Young children came, with eager lips and glad.
(These kissed a silver doll, immensely bright.)
Then I, too, knelt before that acolyte.
Above the crucifix I bent my head:
The Christ was thin, and cold, and very dead:
And yet I bowed, yea, kissed - my lips did cling.
(I kissed the warm live hand that held the thing.)

--Maundy Thursday, by Wilfred Owen

Friday, February 17, 2012

whispers of the household gods

Author's Note:
Dear Keats,

Why are you so great?


Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there

Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;

The stars look very cold about the sky,

And I have many miles on foot to fare.

Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,

Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,

Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,

Or of the distance from home’s pleasant lair:

For I am brimfull of the friendliness

That in a little cottage I have found;

Of fair-hair’d Milton’s eloquent distress,

And all his love for gentle Lycid drown’d;

Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,

And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown’d.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

the I where there is no I

The Edith Stein Project has come and gone, ladies and gentlemen. And what a vulnerable weekend it was. The highlights of my weekend were:

Friday afternoon, Dr. Vicki Thorn gave a beautiful biological explanation of human bonding, and our vulnerability within this beautiful dance of human sexuality. She touched on how our society fails to understand the complexities and intricacies of human bonding, and how our lack of understanding of our body and its need to bond renders us vulnerable to our own selves.

Saturday afternoon, Sr. Anne Astell gave a marvelous talk on the Carmel of Edith Stein; on how our human spirits are called to mystical participation in the Incarnation. How at the CORE of a person, there is God.

Also Saturday afternoon, Ashley Crouch of the Love & Fidelity Network gave an incredibly beautiful talk on feminine beauty, and vulnerability within a woman's body, beauty and self-image. In her speech, she mourns that society uses feminine beauty as a selling tool--beauty is translated into market power. Thus, woman have to separate their feelings and emotions-their selves-from their beauty. But our beauty is an integral part of ourselves, and society needs our beauty--body and soul--in order to be enriched and renewed. My favorite quote from her talk: "Vulnerable surrender to God is key to understanding [oneself]."

And here is my own contribution to the conversation on vulnerability, published by the Good Woman Project.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

hi mom

On Monday, I received an e-mail which made me incredibly excited, and in the words of Jo March: "exceeded my finest dreams." Naturally, the first person I had to share the news with (besides the friends and strangers in the immediate vicinity) was my mummy. I called her, but since I wanted the surprised and joy to be immediate, I refused to tell her what it was until tomorrow. In response, I received this e-mail, which was just too delightful not to share. It perfectly captures her whimsically goofy quaint humor:

"Top 10 worst things a daughter can do to her mother:
10. Pinch her
9. Play Twister two weeks after back surgery
8. Feed her liver and onions
7. Elope
6. Date a jerk
5. Eat all the chocolate in the house
4. Short sheet her bed
3. Leave dirty laundry under her bed
2. Paint her fingernails black
1. Tell her something wonderful has happened, but [you] won’t tell her until tomorrow....."

Ladies and gentlemen, my mother.
[notice how dating a jerk comes before eating all of the chocolate. My family has our priorities straight. Especially where chocolate is concerned. There are many things in life to be trivial about. Chocolate is not one of them.]
What girl could ask for a better one? She's the best in the business.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's, love God

Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for [God] useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.

--C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters

Monday, February 13, 2012

it's high tide

From Bad Catholic: The Church of the Rebels. (and the hipsters?)

That's just a stellar article.
We were in the Basilica, singing Ave Maria last night during vespers, and I looked up at the ceiling of the Lady Chapel of the Basilica. It looks like this:

(minus the ND watermark)

And I was just struck by how beautiful and majestic life is. It overwhelms you with its beauty, it drowns you in the mystery and the glory that hides in every moment.
It made me so grateful to be Catholic. A Church that fearlessly believes in and stands for Beauty--the transcendent beauty that exists within the human being, a reflection of the beauty and glory of God, which we get to participate in. A beauty and majesty which the Church fights for even when unpopular, even when outdated, even when they're all but ignored.

It kind of makes your heart smile real big, and your feet do a little happy dance.

So sue me, I'm marginally obsessed with Catholicism.
Slash Beauty/Truth/God/Life.
It's casual.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I think animals talking in all caps presents us with an interesting and unique portrayal of the feline species.

I also think the author must be a dog person:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

give of your heart

Dear popsicle sticks:
I'm writing to you live from the Edith Stein Project this afternoon. Despite a car accident, an early birth of a baby, and lost luggage, everything has been going smoothly and happily.
I can't wait to recap each and every wonderful talk.

Right now, I am currently sitting in Kathryn Lopez' talk on vulnerability in the media. She is discussing how the media has currently featured different pro-life, pro-woman, and Catholic phenomena in the media.

She said:
"One who has hope writes differently."

And that's what this weekend is to me: it's a renewer and restorer of hope. As Dr. William B. Hurlbut says in the film The Human Experience (which we watched last evening--and was a stunningly beautiful film), "The nature of life is to be hopeful." And this conference fuels and encourages our hope.

And it's also a chance to get mah vulnerable on.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

0 to 60

I sat in Mass, and my mind was revolving over and over on itself in endless whirls and circles.
pick up book from library
brush teeth
write paper

So many things.
And then silence.
And I just smiled, because I was sitting in front of the One Thing. And despite the hurricane of life whirling outside the chapel doors, I had found peace in the eye of the storm. And as long as you have that peace and silence, then the hurricane is exciting and exhilarating.
"But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
-- Luke 10:42

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

something more stern and splendid

"What does not satisfy when we find it was not the thing we were desiring."
--Pilgrim's Regress

Dear Lord:

Thank you for the gift of C.S. Lewis. You did a really stellar job with him. He's a winner, that's for sure.

In class, we just finished reading The Pilgrim's Regress, which I never really loved. But now that I re-read it in the context as Lewis' fictionalized account of his own conversion, it makes me the happiest. It is the story of a soul who seeks Joy. Who seeks something beyond the far reaches of the world. It's a tale of wanderlust, desire, and the story of how you can run away from God, but if you are seeking happiness, you'll find yourself bumping into Him at every corner. Because all those substitutes for the happiness that God offers leave the soul feeling cheated and faded.

"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

--The Weight of Glory

How fickle my heart and woozy my eyes, sings Mr. Mumford and his sons. And how true. What should be at the center of our lives is desire. Overweening and unquenchable desire for our beloved. Auntie Seraphic recently wrote in a brilliant post:

Love," I said, "is when you hate being on the wrong side of the ocean from someone because you are haunted by the fear that you might not be able to get back on the right side, or that he might not be able to get back to you."

"Love is also when you are sitting in your parents' house across the ocean for a month waiting for your temporary Spousal Visa, and you cry every day because you are on this side of the ocean and he is on that side of the ocean, and what if a volcano blows up and you can't get back? And it hurts and hurts and it sucks but that is the price you pay for love and it is worth it."

Love is also being happy most of the time you are around the beloved. When you are truly in love, you love almost everything about the beloved, including his country and his family and his friends and his ties and everything that reminds you of him, and because you are surrounded by all these reminders, you are generally very happy, and people feel happy around you because your happiness leaks out by osmosis.

I recognize that this is a lot for the Single readers to take on board, but I am writing it out for you to read because our societies are so in love with love that we are willing to take a chance on counterfeits and squint intellectually, or take off our emotional glasses, so that the counterfeit SEEMS like what I have just described. We WANT to be in love, so we IMAGINE ourselves into it, and when we feel terrible because the man we are "in love" with is a jerk, we rationalize that by saying "Well, love is pain."

But love is only pain when you are separated from the beloved, not when you are around him.

We are currently on the opposite side of the ocean. And we are longing to cross the sea.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

martha stewart does college

Got flowers?
Got no vase?
We call this the #socollege solution.

It's all about makin' do with whatcha got.

Monday, February 6, 2012

time to get vulnerable, peeps

This weekend, the Identity Project of Notre Dame is presenting their annual Edith Stein Project.

This year's project is entitled: Encountering Vulnerability: Courage, Hope and Trust in the 21st Century.

It should be a beautiful weekend, full of refreshing, renewing talks, fellowship, and insight into what role vulnerability plays in our lives as men and women. There are talks about adoption, eating disorders, marriage, relationships, sexuality, and last but not least: Jane Austen. (I'm really excited for that one. Surprising, I know.)

If you're in the Notre Dame area, and you don't know what to do this weekend, then check it out!
I'll be there, pumped full of coffee and ready to party--Edith Stein style. I'm beyond pumped, I'm stoked.
I'm even buying run-free nylons in honor of the occasion. And as a poor, transportation-deprived college student, that's saying a lot.
(And I may or may not be super excited about the biz-cajzh dress I purchased. And as an arts and letters student, the fact that I own a biz-cajzh dress is saying a lot.)

And whether or not you're in the area, please pray for the success of the conference, the safety of all those traveling to the conference, and for a spiritually and intellectually renewing and rejuvenating weekend for everyone.

Also, I will finally get to see The Human Experience.

So excited for this.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

daily doses of Lewis

It does not always take the form of an Island, as I have said. The Landlord sends pictures of many different kinds. What is universal is not the particular picture, but the arrival of some message, not perfectly intelligible, which wakes this desire and sets men longing for something East or West of the world; something possessed, if at all, only in the act of desiring it, and lost so quickly that the craving itself becomes craved; something that tends inevitably to be confused with common or even with vile satisfactions lying close to hand, yet which is able, if any man faithfully live through the dialectic of its successive births and deaths to lead him at last where true joys are to be found.

--Pilgrim's Regress

"When I was in my cradle, a wood woman, a Dryad, spoke this verse over me: 'Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet, Doubt not, Reepicheep, To find all you seek, There is the utter East.' I do not know what it means. But the spell of it has been on me all my life."

--The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

"I idly turned the pages of the book and found the unrhymed translation of Tegner's Drapa and read, 'I heard a voice that cried, Balder the beautiful Is dead, is dead.' ...I knew nothing about Balder, but instantly I was uplifted.... I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described....I will only underline the quality common to the three experiences; it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic... in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again."

--Surprised by Joy

Here's the Thing about C.S. Lewis: he finds some brilliantly beautiful concept-such as Joy- and then weaves it into all his stories. It's like one of those good infections he's always talking about. All of his work is infused with these beautiful concepts. And that's the wonderful thing about reading Lewis. The more you read his books, the more familiar they become- you begin to see the beautiful consistency and overlap in his thought.

I love the man.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

opaque beauty

From the C.S. Lewis reading for this week:

"You cannot go on 'explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. you cannot go on 'seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. it is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to 'see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To 'see through' all things is the same as not to see." --The Abolition of Man

Boom. C.S. Lewis does it yet again. That's my man.