Saturday, March 31, 2012

jamzzz

May or may not be dancing around my room to this song instead of reading some encyclicals. Whoops.




HAPPY SATURDAY.

Friday, March 30, 2012

well that happened

Somedays you wake up, yawn, stretch, hop off the bunk, and say your morning prayers. You work out, do homework, take a shower, get dressed and start the day off right-- with singing in the shower and smile on your face.

That's somedays.

Other days, you wake up to a phone call from a committee member with a question about the event later that day, also, you've missed a text from a friend, so congrats, and it's about two hours after you set your alarm, so you've missed two meetings with professors. So you say [expletive], scramble out of bed, and feel exactly like you have no idea what you're doing with your life. (Also, that bed-head is looking SO GOOD on you. When will you be able to shower next? Who knows.)

So that was yesterday, which got off to the roughest start imaginable. It's those days when you wake up and all you can do is put your ratty hair up in a messy bun and say: "Lord, you've gotta take this one, because I really don't got it today." And then, He does. When I decided to stop scowling halfway through the day, I realized how much God had just reached down and smoothed things over.
My saint of a mother, who patiently listened to me vent on the phone [thanks, Mom], sent me the the most darling e-mail, with Mother Teresa's famous words: "God does not require us to succeed. He only requires that we try." That woman knows me too well; nothing like a little Mama T to soothe the savage beast. And then I declared a Theology major, and I glowed with happiness. (A beautiful and happy conclusion to all the PLS/major/life angst we were experiencing around about here.) And then I learned my wittle brother got into ND!!!! Boom. Trading in one sibling for another. Love it.

And then the event we planned--a party for kids in the local community and their families went so well. All the kids who came were preshdorable, and the families were just awesome. One of the dads was just having a great time with his kids, making paper airplanes and dancing around with them.
Have you ever seen an eight-year-old boy shuffle to Party Rock Anthem? It might be the best thing ever.

And then the most roller-coaster-ish of days ended, appropriately, with laughter and realtalk and milkshakes and burgers at Steak 'N' Shake, at 3 AM.

Lesson of the Day: Thank God for people who make the world a brighter place [lightbearers, I guess you could call 'em]. And thank God for God.
What a guy. Amiright or AMIRIGHT?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

bursting at the seams

Reporting again from C.S. Lewis class. It's been a good one. We've read swoon-worthy letters from Jack to the kids. Absolutely sincere and lyrical, whimsical and adorable, kind and clever. And now he's dropped another gem:

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

As we grow older, our capacity to understand Him grows with us. The more we grow in Him, the larger, greater, and more brilliant he appears to us. The older we become, the closer we grow to Him, the more of His glory He will reveal to us. And as a corollary, I suppose, the older and older we'll gain a greater and greater capacity for happiness and joy.
Growing up doesn't sound as bad as it's cracked up to be--Peter Pan's missing out.

T minus four days til Holy Week. #justsaying.


Monday, March 26, 2012

itching for Holy Week

I am the MOST Italy-sick right now.
I just want to go back Rome. I want to return to Italy. There was absolutely no work to worry about. I just sat in the warm Tuscan sun, writing in my journal, listening to the birds sing.

I just want to go back to a place where the street names are engraved on the corners of buildings, and the pavement is cobbled and uneven, where there are palm trees and olive trees growing side by side. Where the sky is always blue, where the flowers always smell sweet-the small baby wildflowers on the roadsides, and the overwhelming forests of flowers that the flower stands sell on the side of the street.

I miss how I felt each morning, waking up with slightly greasy hair-the hotel shampoo never really cleaned it well enough-- (whoops) slip into a sundress, head downstairs for espresso and breakfast, and then walk out into the crisp morning air, and embark on another incredible adventure into some magnificent church, or story-filled ruins. I just want to go back to where we kept to a strict diet of pasta, gelato and pizza. Or delicious wine, that can be yours for only 3 euro.
What a magic place. I miss it so so much. I just want to go back to the non-real world, where I felt happy, healthy and whole, alive and beatuiful, warm and surrounded constantly by love, friends, and gladness.

So you know what I keep looking forward to?

Holy Week.

If i can just make it through this week, then we'll get to Holy Week. And during Holy Week, it'll be like we're back in Italy. We'll be spending all our time in the Basilica, or singing. The world will be swimming in love and the Holy Spirit, and we'll have so much free time, and we'll just get to spend it all together. We'll be solemn and sing with hearts a-trembling at Tenebrae and Good Friday, and then on Holy Saturday, the vigil will come. We'll celebrate with cake afterwards, meet people's parents, and we'll shout "Hallelujahs" and be drunk on the Holy Spirit and Easter Joy. Then, we'll wake up bright and early and sing mass again. We'll head to the dining hall for the feast of victory of our God, and we'll celebrate with Cantata. Then, we'll sit in the sun all day together, until Easter Vespers, which are unbelievably beautiful luminous. And we'll sing Hail, Gladdening Light and weep with joy. Then, we'll go to dinner all together afterwards. And then finally we can feast on Nutella at the Indulgence party. And then, exhausted and joyful, we'll finally look at homework on Easter Monday.

I can't wait. We just need to make it to Palm Sunday.

Let the count down begin.

Day one. Here we go.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

oh my people

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, (which I've heard called Miserere Sunday before, but can't find anything to support that, so I won't call it that officially), on which Psalm 51 is always chanted, and the focus of the liturgy is repentance, mercy and forgiveness. Thus, I thought this Pray.nd.edu reflection was totes appropos, and I found it a beautiful and inspiring reflection. And a beautiful meditation on the relationship between forgiveness and mercy. Solid themes and reflections for Lent, for sure, my peeps.

Especially during Lent, it is important to reflect on the gracious mercy God extends to all of us. Jesus paid the debt of sin through his Passion and death and also reconciled us with His Father. When we open ourselves to God’s mercy, we must show mercy to others. Each time we recite the Our Father, we pray “Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us…”

It is challenging to forgive someone who has hurt us. We recall events from years ago as if they happened yesterday.

Forgiveness does not usually happen in a moment, rather it is a process. Recognize the need to forgive and pray to God for the grace to forgive. Don’t be afraid to express to God your struggles and frustrations with forgiving. Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis. Forgiveness happens through God’s grace and will bring joy and peace.


Have a beautiful Sunday of Peace and Joy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

the holidays have begun

Well, people, here at Notre Dame, the sky is blue, the air is warm, tulips and flowers all over campus are blooming, and in general, it just feels like summer. And with the sensation of summer comes the feeling that school should end, and the holidays are commencing.
Sadly, the holidays are still several weeks away, and yesterday they felt further away than ever. I had slept a total of thirteen hours since last Friday night, due to strange travel sleeping patterns and the paper I had due at the beginning of the week, and the fact that I didn't do any homework while in Italy. (Whoops.) So, yesterday, I felt as if my heart was too tired to beat. Everyone in the world seemed bent on going to the Hunger Games midnight showing last night. And while I desperately desired to go, I had to refuse those invitations. Usually, I have to force myself to make healthy sleep choices, but last night I knew that I simply wouldn't be able to walk anywhere. My eyes were drooping like weeping willow branches, my muscles were so limp, I couldn't even smile, and it was so hot, I just wanted to bathe in ice cubes and never leave my futon. In fact, what I really wanted was a futon made of ice cubes. I was not a very personable person yesterday. The only person who didn't annoy me yesterday was my sister, who was also in a rotten mood. We proceeded to have a pity party dinner in which we consoled ourselves in our misery. It was delightful, and it's at moments like those that I am so grateful to have a sister here at school.
But today, I woke up and I started the day off with a barefoot run in the rain, a rosewood rosary, a muffin and vanilla tea, and C.S. Lewis. We're reading the Chronicles of Narnia now, and it was a very Narnia-ish type day. It was a mixture of sheer, unadulterated natural beauty, and just simple homespun happiness.
The best sight so far today: Swans on the lake sheltering themselves from the rain with their wings. They look like miniature white ships floating on the lake. So beautiful.
The best feeling so far today: Walking barefoot in lush green grass. It's the most luxurious and happy feeling. It's like your feet are receiving a massage through Mother Nature.
Our professor re-won my heart for the thousandth time when he began our first Chronicles of Narnia lecture by listing reasons that they should be read in published order. I remember vehemently quarreling about that fact with the friend in fourth grade. It was my own little fourth grade soapbox, I suppose. As our professor argues, you should read the books in the order published, because the first book drops you right in the thick of the dramatic arc of Narnia's story, which makes for much more interesting and dramatic storytelling. Also, that's how real life works. While the story of creation stretches back for eons and eons, we arrive in the middle of everything. Our own stories start not at the beginning of time, but at random moments in time.
And C.S. Lewis clearly meant for the books to be read in the published order. Besides the little editorial comments that one can find in several of the Chronicles that reference this, the most important point in this argument is Aslan. In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is a mysterious and slightly terrifying being. The reader can only get a proper sense of how the children are feeling towards Aslan if they themselves are slightly trepidatious, and share in the excitement and uncertainty of who He is. The unveiling of Aslan is a glorious moment, and would be ruined if a reader had read about Him in a previous book. There is an indescribable sense of familiarity with Aslan that grows throughout the books. And that is what Lewis was working to achieve through his Chronicles. As our professor writes:
Combine all this when we arrive at the threshold of the Chronicles of Narnia: Lewis is showing truth to the reader. He is not describing it, circling it, propositionalizing it, categorizing it, filing it, footnoting it, or recounting it. He is showing it. He is showing a truth to us in order to create new capacities in us. He does not describe emotions in his fiction, he tries to create a sentiment in the reader.
Because, to paraphrase the Great Lion himself, once we grow familiar with Him in the world of Narnia, we can begin to know Him as Himself in our world.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spirit of Adventure

So guys, I'm like a pretty adventurous person.
I'm like totally down with adapting to new situations and I'm always up for new different exciting things.
Which makes me sounds like a really cheesy personal ad, but it's da truth.
There is one thing that makes me uncomfortable. Actually there are two things.
One is Fritos chips. Like, what even are those things? Are they real food?
I don't know. All I know is that when someone opens up a Fritos bag, you don't want to stick around long enough to find out.

The second thing that makes me really uncomfortable is the number of raccoons in this courtyard. There are two of them, and they keep circling this bench where I've taken refuge to think and write. And on a scale of one to "I don't really like these raccoons" I really don't think I like these raccoons. I love ND animals in general, but these guys...I dunno. It's all fun and games until someone gets bitten by a rabid raccoon.

[Author's Note: I relocated when I thought I felt one of them paw at my sweatpants.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I make all things new

"Brothers and Sister: whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."
-- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Theme of this Lent: rebirth, renewal, and metanoia. Truly keeping in mind that at the end of Lent, we arrive at the Easter Vigil where we recommit ourselves to our baptismal vows. We go through our own rebirth, by reliving Christ's death and rebirth.

In that sense, the journey to Italy was a truly Lenten experience. I feel so different. Coming back to school has been marvelous, because there's nothing like returning home after traveling. You are a new person; you have transformed. And you're able to experience your home in a new, transformed ways, looking at everything through different eyes.

Whenever you return from a vacation, pilgrimage, or life-changing event, it's so difficult to express how wonderful it was. When every moment is filled to the brim and overflowing with beauty and magnificence, every new sight is a revelation, every new smell a joy, and every new bit of the world to take in and mull over, it's difficult to parse into words the days so full of life that you are constantly in a hazy state of beauty-drunk. That said, every single moment of the trip was a blessing and a joy. But, I think my four favorite moments, perhaps the four most transformative moments are these:

Fourth
Nutella Cannoli. I couldn't make it through a week in Italy and not be changed by the food, ya know? (I don't think I'll ever be able to drink American coffee again. That Italian espresso was beyond delish--it revealed what coffee is supposed to taste like.) But this nutella cannoli was a revelation. It was my first and only cannoli I've ever had. And the reason it was so transformative is beacause if it's the only cannoli I ever will eat, I will be happy. It was the most joyful, innocently pleasurable gastronomic experience I have ever had. In C.S. Lewis class, we read Perelandra right before break. In Perelandra, an unfallen world, the human mortal Ransom eats fruit off the trees. With his first bite, Ransom is overwhelmed by the goodness of the fruit. He enjoys it and takes pleasure in it innocently and unselfishly. He does not desire more and more of it, he does not crave it. When Ransom has finished it, he is satisfied. He has enjoyed the fruit the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
God, in the words of Screwtape, is a hedonist. He made the world good and beautiful for the joy of it. And when we enjoy it in the correct, rightly ordered way, we participate in its joy.
All this was discovered in the first bite of that cannoli.
The Italians know how to make good food.

Third
I've mentioned this one in a previous post, but it's worth mentioning again. When we were in Assisi, after dinner, we climbed up the hill of the city. We happened upon a clump of choristers singing, and we joined in. Then, and this is a moment I will always remember forever and ever, even until I'm ninety-nine and three-quarters: we sang Hail, Gladdening Light. I wept.
Stand on a hilltop under the stars, with beautiful people singing your favorite song, at the base of a medieval castle, with the city of Assisi and the lights of Umbria at your feet, and tell me you don't walk away a changed person.

Second
Our last day in Rome, we ditched the tour group as the entered St. John Lateran, and visited the Scala Sancta right next door. According to tradition, St. Helena moved the steps from Pontius Pilate's palace in Jerusalem to Rome. They are the steps that Christ walked up to receive His judgment from Pilate. Pilgrims journey up the steps on their knees, moving slowly from one stair to the next. It's an incredible experience. Much more painful than I was anticipating. And it's humbling. You're just sort of kneeling there before God, absolutely vulnerable, stuck on this stair, and your knees begin to hurt, and it's all so deeply spiritual in such a physical way. It's just you and God, but there are several other pilgrims with you on the stairs, and you're all making your way together, and there's quite the comfort in that as well.

You receive a plenary indulgence for making the journey up the steps, and I don't know why that fact struck me as it did. But how incredible and undeniable awesome is it that He made that journey to receive condemnation, and we crawl up the stairs after Him to receive forgiveness and mercy?
I think awesome (or awful) is precisely the word to describe the experience. In the old sense of the word. As in the experience was just one of awe. You feel as though you're being put in your proper place, but with none of the belittling connotations that phrase often carries. The world is just rightly ordered, and you have your own place in the order of the world, which is an overwhelmingly beautiful gift.
It was very real. I think it was one of the realest experiences of my life. The physical reality of you kneeling on the steps is intertwined completely with the actual reality of you kneeling before Christ. That much reality can only really be handled in small doses.


First
St. Peter's Basilica. Entering the Basilica for the first time, and wandering around, I stuck with the tour group up until the adoration chapel. Then, I popped around a curtain and sat down for a few moments with Jesus. So many people have expressed their dismay over the feeling they get from St. Peter's, which is that it's so much that it borders on museum-like. But as long as you find Christ and put Him at the center, I think it puts the rest of the church in context. And you find your place in the church. I was standing by a towering marble pillar as my friend approached to give me a giant hug. And the whole church felt just like that hug. A huge hug--an inundation of love--from God that just sweeps you up and makes you feel so small. Small in a good way. Like when you're wrapped up in a giant bear hug.
And peeps, that church is on fire with the Holy Spirit. There's so much joy and life flowing through the air. It makes you want to dance. So, accordingly, my friend and I waltzed for a bit by the main altar. Then, we espied Mass being offered across the altar in a side chapel. We arrived at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer, so we sidled into a back row and joined in.

When I went up to receive communion, I got the chills. The light was streaming in through the windows, brilliantly illuminating all the gold in the church. The gilded dust specks dancing in the light were flying up towards the sky that peeped through the windows, just like thousands of souls flying towards their maker. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful, and the thought: "I just received Jesus in St. Peter's" was a little too much to handle. My friend and I looked at each other, and we both had huge grins and tears trickling down our faces.
That's one of those moments where you feel God's love, and you're like:
Whoa. That's a lot.
And then you realize that that's only a small taste of Heaven.
And your mind kind of explodes from trying to comprehend it.
Talk about a transformative experience.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the lights of evening round us shine


This is our final concert in the beautiful Basilica of San Ignatzio in Rome.
This is my absolute favorite song that we sing, and we opened the concert with this. It brought a brilliant smile to the face of our beloved director.


Imagine singing this under the star-filled Umbrian sky, at the top of the hill of Assisi.
Best. Moment. Ever.

(Check out other songs from our concert.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

sono molto molto contento

Buon giorno, amici!
This morning, [yesterday morning, rather,] we departed from Italy, and journeyed back to the USA.

It was a phenomenal pilgrimage and spiritual journey, and I will definitely write more about it to come, but I am currently working on finishing a paper (about the trip) for my class--which is in approximately five hours.

Spring Break Problems.

But not really.

Because I got to see this:

St. Peter's at sunset. Bellissimo.

Assisi at Sunrise.
This is the view from our hotel balcony. Note the moon at the top, and the mist blanketing the Umbrian hills and valleys. So incredibly peaceful and beautiful.
Assisi itself is one big retreat center. Absolutely incredible.

FLORENCE.

We only had about four hours to spend in Florence (not even kidding). But this is the beautiful Cathedral of Florence, named Il Duomo. And although you can't see it in this picture, there is a beautiful cupola on the other side of the cathedral that you can climb to the top of, and look out over the city. Although the stone stairs were so steep they verged on ladder-like, the view was completely worth it. Florence is such a gorgeous city.

Ohp. And look we have the Coliseum, being magnificent and ancient. As it is wont to do.


And finally, the Bridge of the Angels, casually spanning the Tiber.
We just got back from our pilgrimage, and I am already looking forward to returning. Italy just stole a piece of my heart. Look at that lighting, those colors, that architecture. It's impossible not to fall in love.

Now I must go write that paper.
How do you say sleep-deprived in Italian?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

all roads lead...

to Roma!

We're about to embark on a fantastic journey to the Eternal City.

Our choir will be embarking on a whirlwind tour of Rome, Assisi and Florence. Needless to say, I am excited out of my mind.

Thus, the blogging will be put on hold unless I manage to find some wifi in a sweet little Italian espresso café.
But for now:
Ciao!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the liturgical ascetic

I'm in C.S. Lewis Class right now. I've decided I want to be proposed to in this class. So darn beautiful.

Madeleine L'Engle wrote:
We are called to be co-creators with our God.

In Fagerberg's book on asceticism, he writes most beuatifully of Liturgy being the central work of our race. Liturgy is our vocation, our vocation to create ourselves with God. To turn ourselves towards God, and then turn into beings that are not only made in His likeness, but are His images.

God became man so that he could descend to the last last place, so that he could find them there, broken and shackled, grab them by the wrist, and say, come up with me.

I don't really have words sometime to express how this class hits me. It makes me want to dance with a sort of inexpressible Joy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

feminine wisdom


"College is a rough environment for emotional, hormone-riden ladies, a
nd sometimes, you've got to take the break you need, whether or not college is gonna give it to you.

If college was invented by women, we would get 'hormones-going-like-crazy-absences' not just sick absences.
Or 'i'm about to cry' absences or whatever is applicable-- including time-of-the-month absences (wouldn't that be sweet)."

I have a wise sister.

Love dat girl.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

HEY GUESS WHAT


SO.
I MADE A DISCOVERY THIS WEEK.

GUESS WHAT IT IS?

It is that

I AM ADDICTED TO COFFEE.

It finally happened. Sad, but true. My last years in high school, I would listen to my sister call home from college with horror stories of her coffee addiction: caffeine withdrawal headaches, tremors, and seven+ cups of coffee per day. I would make sympathetic clucking noises, and supplied endless streams of empathetic phrases: "oh you poor thing," "of course, you darling dear," "uh-huuhh, oh yes, I see." And vow to myself that I would never find myself in the same position.

(cue the wry chuckles)

And for the past several years, I have done myself and my family name proud, and managed to avoid addiction. I would have a cup of coffee and feel no side effects, except that my chattiness factor would increase. Coffee is my social lubricant, it's true. I had a 9:30 am call this morning for filming, and my scene partner and I arrived somewhat bleary-eyed and spare of speech. After provided with a cup of java (infinite blessings upon our darling director for her munificence and thoughtful kindness), we both magically transformed into unstoppable chatterboxes.

But then--
On Tuesday, I could hide no longer from the truth. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Or, rather, my headache that afternoon was like a ton of bricks sitting in my head.

For then--
Oh horror of horrors.
Oh joy of joys.
Oh miracle of miracles.

I filled a styrofoam cup with the nectar of life. I sipped a draught from that drink-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought.
A magic feeling pervaded my entire being as I felt the elixir of joy flow through my veins and renew my body.
My headache disappeared.
Life seemed worth living once more.

And today, I've overdosed, and have been literally unstoppable. I can't stop moving. Must move. Must dance. Must type. Must tap out rhythm. Must sing. Must hug everyone. Must skip.
Must MOVE FOR I HAVE SO MUCH ENERGY.

SO MUCH COFFEE.

I have succumbed, and this sad fact fills me with shame and remorse.

But, in the end, such trifling details and fleeting emotions are immaterial.
Because I have:
COFFEE.

An Addict's Prayer:
Dear Lord, we thank you for all these gifts that we are about to receive from thy bounty. Especially for coffee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

little drops of sunshine

Hey guess what?
This has been a pretty wonderful weekend, despite the threat of midterms looming. But just beyond the ominous grey clouds one can just catch a glimpse of the eternal city--Rome.
Roma, I'll be with you in a week!

Until the final victory over midterms has been won, here are several small victories that have been brightening the snowy day.
1.
This. Just this. One more reason to be excited for Brave.
I think the word we're looking to describe this is preshdorable.

2.
Okay.
So, my thing about college is that it is not a free pass for bad/gross behavior.
Throwing up all over a dorm room? That's gross. Sorry. It's just gross. And you can't just excuse your behavior by shrugging and saying: "It's college, man." Nope, doesn't work that way.
But, I'm afraid I haven't been quite living up to that.
You see, today, I washed my sheets.
#socollege.

3.
My little sister--Newly-Minted Teen Sister, as she's been called before on this blog-- was born today. I couldn't ask for a more radiantly beautiful drop of sunshine in my life. Now no longer a Newly-Minted Teen, she's grown into a beautiful young lady.



So lucky to have her in my life.
College is marvelous, but I miss being constantly surrounded by my siblings. Siblings are definitely the most precious of God's gifts. Older siblings are constant (even if unconscious or unwilling) role models, and little siblings are the best teachers. They teach you how to live, how to find the joy and excitement and newness in everything.

We were recently discussing the sadness that comes from leaving childhood behind. While I agree that there's something lost you can't get back, I believe that you can still keep all the good of childhood with you, and retain a lot of those child-like qualities. Siblings remind you how to be young, because they remind you of yourself as a youngster. And they invite you to join them at their level. If you accept that invitation, then you get the incredible gift of going back in time and allowing yourself to be a child again.

One more reason why families are the bomb.