Posts Tagged With: i was thinking

I was thinking…about temptation

One of my Lenten goals is to be more mindful of my time usage, and part of that is to be more aware of what I’m trying to accomplish each day while simultaneously not beating myself up if life gets in the way of it. (“Life” in this instance being things like “the baby refused to sleep outside my arms,” not “and then Facebook kept being interesting.”) (Though since I do conduct a great deal of socialization via Facebook, I’m not cutting it out completely. But I AM trying to be more mindful, and keep up with my correspondence. Anyway.)

Since I’m usually lucky enough to get a good solid afternoon nap out of the baby (who is TEN MONTHS OLD your pardon is begged), I thought I would try devoting one afternoon nap a week to posting on the blog again. So here we go, with some baby steps, based on this past Sunday’s Gospel reading.

A quick recap: the reading, Luke 4:1-13, is at the bottom of this page. I’ll copy the parts I specifically want to address here:

(vs. 1-2) Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.

Last fall my CWOC group read the first half of Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which is a lovely mix of scholarship, travelogue, and spiritual reflection focusing on grounding the Gospel–and thus, the human Jesus himself–in the physical reality of the Holy Land. It’s given me new tools for considering Christ as well as a better understanding of and perspective on the stories contained within as well as, I have to say, deepening my affection for Jesus as a person. I mean, obviously he’s a person, and a Person, and as a Christian I am striving to love Him while also being infinitely (or finitely, I suppose) aware of my inadequacies and ignorance in that department. And obviously, Ignatian meditation is all about putting yourself in the Gospel scene, so it’s not like this is anything new. But I find myself better able to picture walking alongside Jesus–a guy, a friend, someone who laughed at jokes and liked washing the dirt off his feet at the end of a long day of walking–and with it has come an affection for his human frailties, which he experienced as clearly as I experience my own.

(Perfectly, of course, and with less complaining.)
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Categories: Scripture | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

I was thinking…about Mary

I’ve been writing (almost) every day for about a month now, so I feel like I (sort of) have a routine, and so it’s time to revisit this blog thing. With an “I was thinking…” post, because baby steps.

  • Last night in his homily our priest took pains to point out that the Immaculate Conception isn’t directly tied to Mary’s Perpetual Virginity–that is to say, if God had willed she not be a virgin but that she live out that part of her marital vows with Joseph, she still would have been doing her will and still would have been sinless. Sex in its proper context is not a sin. Tension in the congregation of the “there are kids out here, Father” variety aside, I thought it was a beautiful and well-made point.
  • I was praying a decade of the Rosary last week, I think to keep myself awake while nursing, and I realized something that made me laugh. Every Ave starts with “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” right? But Scripture tells us “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”

    I mean obviously, now up in heaven, she knows perfectly well what sort of greeting it was, and the songs of the angels are a comfort rather than a fright. But I still imagine a gentle sort of ironic smile on her face as we petition her using words that once scared her out of her wits. It’s natural to us to say these things to her; when she first heard them, they were remarkable, and new, and terrifying.

  • I think I felt closer to the Christmas story last year, when I was pregnant, than I do this year, chasing after an almost-eight-month-old. But then I was thinking about Christ on the cross, and how the Eucharist is Christ crucified, and how the flesh we eat was once soft little baby skin stretched over tiny little baby bones and chubby little baby fat. I pray I never have to experience Mary’s grief, but it makes her all the more incredible that she endured it.

I had another thought, but I’ve slept since then. Happy Advent, all.

Categories: motherhood, theology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Note of Concern

Okay. I’ve seen a couple young ladies on my newsfeed link to a blog post entitled “The Day I Decided to Stop Listening to What Everybody’s Saying I’m Supposed to do & Why I’m Not Ready to Get Married in 44 Days.” The first time I read it, most of the comments were still sensible, but apparently many more people have discovered it since then and the sense has mostly been buried.

If you go back through the comments, I highly recommend reading the original comment from “Nathan” and also one from “Sandy.” If you’re too lazy/anti-internet-comments to do so (understandable), have a soapbox moment from me instead:

1) This post very much reads like it was written by a young twenty-year-old. There is nothing wrong with being twenty years old! It is a transition time from teenagerdom to adulthood. And some people are older at twenty than others, and this young lady falls into the latter category.

2) On that note, I’ve read blogs and talked to people who were married at twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two. Some of them were young, like the author of this blog post, and those whose marriages have lasted will unabashedly tell you how difficult being young and unready (which in this case often means “completely unaware of the sacrifices involved”) made the first few years of their marriages.

Others were older, and though unready in the sense that it’s impossible to truly understand what the sacrament will do to you until it’s done, had a sense of the responsibilities involved–had the sense that they still had growing and changing to do, but were committed to going through those experiences together.

3) In that sense, being “ready” to get married can, in part, be understood as being “ready” to submit yourself to God and to your spouse–and in THIS is freedom.

4) The author of the blog post defines freedom as “God created me as a [free spirit/the person I am right now and therefore I can do whatever I want because that’s who he made me to be.” This is not Christian freedom. Christian freedom does not elevate the individual above the community, nor does it provide justification for your every action. Christian freedom is the freedom to follow God, freedom from the slavery to sin, freedom to serve one another as Christ served us.

5) This is what God created us to do, to be. Each in our own unique way, with our own gifts, yes–but we are called to submit those things to him, and to do with them as he wills. Oftentimes that means submitting ourselves to the authority or will of others–rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, or honoring our fathers and mothers.

So ironically, the message the blog post author wants to convey is, technically, correct–we are called to the freedom of God’s children, which often bucks conventional “worldly” wisdom. She is, however, completely INcorrect as to what that actually looks like. Her words are quite romantic, but it’s an adolescent understanding of freedom–a young twenty–that fails to understand that her “free” (in this case, we could charitably call it “blind”) spirit is not the primary nor final arbiter of right and wrong, nor even of the path God wants her to follow.

God doesn’t always speak to us directly in our hearts. Sometimes he uses those around us–because after all we Christians are a communal people, one body bound in the breaking of the bread–to be his voice in our ears. True discernment–of marriage, of moving, of all the decisions we make–lies in learning to hear his voice, to see past the cloud of our desires into the clear sky of his light–and then learning to align our desires with his. Again, THAT is true freedom. Not walking barefoot at your wedding (a neutral act), nor putting your feet on someone else’s desk (actively willful–and somehow, I doubt that will is God’s).

So please, when reading this article, take it with a grain of salt. Or better still, skip it. But at the very least, recognize the difference between ramblings and wisdom, between a young woman experimenting with her understanding of the world and a young woman who understands that the world does not revolve around her.

Categories: marriage, theology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I was thinking…about objective truth

I know when you go on hiatus you’re supposed to announce it, but I didn’t quite realize it was happening until I was knee-deep in the middle of it and couldn’t muster the power to mention it here. Apologies!

If it makes you feel better, I have at least three posts half-begun sitting in my draft folder. They are all turning out long, however, so I figured I would start with something shorter (ha, ha).

  • I believe in objective Truth. Even putting aside that to me Truth is also a Person Who Loves (that Truth is Love is Goodness, that these three things are inseparable), my understanding of the world includes this concept that there exists a Truth and that if we put our minds to it we can discern facts about it. Kind of like scientific laws, Truth is one of those underpinnings in the cosmos.
  • Since there’s objective Truth, that means there are things that are True and things that are False. Alongside this, there are things that are Right and that are Wrong. Period.
  • Since Truth is something to be studied and understood, like science, it is okay or at least understandable if we don’t have a perfect understanding of it. It’s a life-long process.
  • Our misunderstandings, however, don’t change truth. I can think leaves change color because they get tired of being green and want to show off, but that’s not why it happens. (It’s very pretty and poetic though and I’m going to use that somewhere else some day. You saw it here first!)
  • Obviously we, as human beings with limited understanding, occasionally (or regularly) get Truth wrong. Or, more likely, we are going to ignore the nigglings of Truth and do what we want because in our short-sightedness What We Want sounds way better than some objective standard we’d rather not think about. (Scientifically speaking, alcohol will destroy my liver, but man binge-drinking is so much fun!)
  • We’re also fully capable of twisting Truth around to our own ends, or picking and choosing bits of Truth in order to create the picture we want. (Okay, so scientifically speaking alcohol will destroy my liver, BUT scientifically speaking drinking lots of water and taking aspirin in the morning will help me avoid a hangover, so I’ll keep binge-drinking and just make sure I have pain meds on my nightstand, and my liver will probably be fine because I don’t feel so hungover so probably I’m fine.)
  • Again, our cherry-picking doesn’t change the whole seamless objective Truth that is still out there.

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Categories: philosophy, random thoughts | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

I was thinking…about today’s readings

in which I abuse bullet points beyond redemption.

  • This time last year might not’ve been the first time I recognized it, but it’s the first time it’s made enough of an impression that I remember it all the way to this time this year. “It” being the pattern of Gospels during Ordinary Time. I’ll have to wait till next year to know if it’s the same every cycle, but I’m guessing it is. That would be a very Church thing to do.
  • Anyway, after Easter, the Gospels are grouchy, one might say–heavily focused on the nature of sin, and what constitutes sin, and wailing and gnashing of teeth. We’ve been revitalized by Easter and confirmed by Pentecost and now we’re back to the grind of daily life, nothing special, and in the U.S. it’s the hot days of summer, which are at once busy and dangerously lazy. So, a good time to remember sin, but also a bit of a downer after that fifty-day party we’ve been having. On the other hand, a sobering reminder of the struggles that we face on the way to that Easter joy.
  • Those weeks are a downer. They’re hard, and they don’t let up. Jesus is constantly hitting us with the requirements: love God, love neighbor, no really, every neighbor, no, even if you’re just thinking you’re still guilty, you gotta love, you gotta follow the commandments, no, really, you gotta give everything and then some, no, give everything, I am going to die on a cross for you okay kids look there’s gonna be wheat and there’s gonna be chaff so listen up because nobody wants to be chaff.
  • I don’t like those weeks. They make me anxious about my every action.
  • But I like these weeks that come next! Last week’s first reading was one of my absolute favorites, and this week’s–well, read them.
  • And then after these next few weeks we’ll start heading into the eschatological readings that lead into Christ the King–you know, the end-of-the-world, final-judgment, remember-what-I-said-about-the-wheat-and-the-chaff, I-was-serious readings. Also not much fun.
  • But sandwiched between the sin and the end we are given the beautiful respite of God’s love and God’s support and God’s goodness, how God nourishes and feeds us, how God will call us to him and catch us when we stumble along the way. It’s the model of the love that Jesus was telling us we had to live, the love that we must be if we are to be wheat; it’s not only the model, it’s the reality of what is already ours. It’s the outline for how to hear God, how to know when he is calling, how to listen to his voice. It’s a picture of what is to come, a reminder that no matter how scary and uncertain life or the devil or the end times might be, God is constant, and constantly for us (and so, we smile, who can be against us?).
  • Come to the water, and when (because it’s always when, not if) the river turns into a tempestuous ocean, do not be afraid.
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NFP: A Few More Thoughts

Probably I’ll come back to the subject eventually–it is part of my life, after all–but for now, just a few more things.

I talk about NFP because it’s what we practice and because it was an awareness week, but really I’m mostly just trying to encourage general non-hormonal methods that are actually reliable (sorry, condoms and withdrawal). So, in my book, if you’re looking into FAM, that’s awesome.

“But you’re Catholic aren’t you trying to take away all my pills ISN’T THAT YOUR REAL AGENDA?” asks the reader of this blog who’s new around here.

I don’t want to take away pills so much as I want to encourage a worldview where a woman’s fertility is something to be celebrated, not dreaded or feared or dismissed, and as long as the Pill is an assumed norm that’s probably not going to happen. Also, I want to encourage education and knowledge and freedom and taking charge of one’s self. Also, I weep for those mothers who feel like they have to put their daughters on birth control just in case they get raped. Talk about the exact opposite of female empowerment. (I vote for the spike-toothed female condom in that instance, myself.)
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Categories: feminism, NFP, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

urticaria existencial

I have all the links for a Friday Link Spam collected but not formatted, and a post about thunderstorms hastily scribbled across several pages of a notebook, but this week has been busy with entertaining so instead I leave you this Friday with my New Favorite Phrase:

“urticaria existencial”

or, en anglais,

“existential hives.”

It comes from our very own Papa Francesco, in a interview that I read part of here. The whole interview is here and no doubt says lots of interesting things but tragically I still don’t know Spanish well enough to read the whole thing.

Anyway, thanks to Google Translate/my smattering of French, il papa was here concerned with talking about contemporary portrayals of Pope Pius XII, who was pope during a little conflict called WWII and, as Pope Francis put it, “le han tirado encima de todo.” He went on to say, “También quiero decir que a veces me da un poco de urticaria existencial cuando veo que todos se la toman contra la Iglesia y Pío XII, y se olvidan de las grandes potencias” which, as far as I can tell, means, “Also I wanna say that I get a little bit of existential hives when I see everyone ganging up against the Church and Pius XII and ignoring the Allies,” i.e., ignoring that the Allies made mistakes too.

And OH what a glorious phrase il papa has given to us here. Who doesn’t know the feeling of sitting there while someone says something that’s, at best, technically correct in a very narrow sense sorta kinda but not really OH WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING LET ME AT LEAST EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS ON THIS ISSUE COME ON? If you haven’t been there, probably you should take a moment to read the comments section on any blog (excepting mine). Come back when your fingers are just ITCHING to start typing, and we’ll talk about existential hives, okay?

Of course, as the linked comic implies, it is not always the best idea to scratch our existential hives. If we want to correct someone else for the sake of self-aggrandizement, if someone is proposing an alternative that would require change and effort on our parts, or if our correction veers too deeply towards the ad hominem approach, we ought to practice discipline. Look at the pope. His hives stem from attacks against his Mother Church and predecessor and usually come from people who are seeking to tear down both for the sake of their own historical agenda, rather than to build anything up. That’s worth some gentle correction. (Needless to say, all existential scratching should be gentle. Souls are fragile things, and scratching so hard you draw blood only offers the occasion for festering infections.) (SEE HOW GREAT THIS METAPHOR IS?)

People trying to convince you say that any of the The Hobbit movies are worth spending money on and they really enjoyed them–maybe internally you are screaming NO NO NO WRONG but since it’s subjective (oh and you wince at that because come on) you shouldn’t harsh on their joy EVEN WHEN THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY WRONG–let it go. (People insisting that Frozen is good cinema despite its uneven pacing, confused thematic elements, and subliminal messages that all the movies you loved as a child were stupid DESPITE RELYING ON THE SAME TACTICS–)

I spend a lot of my time suffering from these hives. I am better about not scratching mosquito bites. But now I have a phrase to describe my suffering! Thanks, Papa Francesco. Now, to work on that whole meek and humble thing you’ve got going…

Thanks to Fr. Jerabek for wondering what this phrase meant. Next time on Jo Interprets the Pope: “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism.” It might be a few weeks, folks.

Categories: random thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

I was thinking…

A new series where I jot down quick thoughts because I wrote a giant post yesterday and don’t have the time to do another one today.

 

  • There’s the whole “scare” about “over half the population being Spanish-speaking” or whatever, but I think it ignores that a) the language of the one percent is still English and is likely to remain that way and so if you want to become part of the one percent you’d better speak English and b) as far as I know other countries are still mandating their students learn English.
  • I did that thing where I remembered something I usually don’t think about, namely that Europe is really rather tiny compared to America, and so probably a large part of why they learn so many languages over there is because their neighbors four hours away speak something entirely different from them.  In America, unless you’re along the border with Mexico, four hours away people will still speak English.  We’d be better off trying to learn each others’ dialects.
  • Obviously that doesn’t work as well in a global economy, but think about the languages you had to learn in America.  Latin, if you were a boy, but that was over by the twentieth century; French, if you wanted to be cultured or a diplomat.  And think too about how so many immigrants quashed their native language in an attempt to assimilate and/or show their pride in their new country.  Then English becomes the new language of diplomacy and if everyone speaks it, well, it allows for laziness in foreign-language-learning.
  • We’re also “lucky” that of the two countries with the largest concentration of people, one of them was colonized by the Brits and so the population was more or less forced to learn English.  That’s handy!  /sob
  • Part of me really wishes I had seriously studied linguistics in college, or that I had at least been aware enough of it to take a few more classes on it.  A greater part of me wishes classes didn’t cost so much money.
Categories: random thoughts | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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