Sunday, September 13, 2009

Log vs. Splinter

A month or so ago, I bought the book "Captivating" off of I had already read it, but I gave my first copy away, as I so often do. A few weeks after it arrived in the mail, I got the email from the Amazon people inviting me to review my purchase. So I did. I wrote a congenial review saying, among other things, that it was an inspiring book even though it wasn't Catholic and I was (ie there wasn't anything against Church teachings that I could remember) and I highly recommended it. (4 stars)
A few days after that, an email popped up that said someone had commented on my review. Oo, how exciting, I thought, and followed the link. Imagine how my stomach sank when it turned out that some very adamant man had taken "issue" with my statement that "the book didn't go against Church teachings" and had proceeded to make a long list explaining what was wrong with the book. I skimmed the list, feeling a little embarrassed, and started to write a response that was something to the effect of "O sorry about that, I didn't realize there were so many discrepancies, it's been a while since I read it, thanks for clearing things up, etc. etc." But before I posted it, I scrolled back up to read the list in detail. And some of the stuff he was arguing was... well... kind of messed up.
He wasn't just arguing about a few bad sources in the book or a couple faulty references. No, he was challenging the core ideas of the book, the very ideas that had inspired me and fed me spiritually right when I had really needed it. The more I read, the more he seemed to be attacking the book rather than critiquing it.
The book had emphasized the beauty of femininity. He argued that "beauty is vain" according to scripture. The book had brought attention to Eve as the finishing touch on creation, the last and most wonderful creature of the story of Genesis. He spat out that the authors had overlooked Jesus Christ as the pinnacle of creation. And on and on. He even concluded that not only did the book contradict Protestant and Catholic church teachings, but it was also promoting New Age ideas!
At first I was shaken. Then I got mad. Really mad. I stormed into the kitchen where my mom was cleaning up, needing to vent to someone. I had a theological argument for every point that he made on that stupid list (which I proceeded to rain down upon my poor unsuspecting mother.) I would tell him! I would write my own witty and scathing defense and... but no. I couldn't just go on my own rampage. The Holy Spirit! He would help me! I discussed true beauty with my mother, and how much the Catholic Church cherishes her daughters. She suggested that I look for a quote from JPII on the feminine genius. So I did. I curbed my anger. I sat down and looked for a good quote. And I found one. My response read something to the effect of the following:

Sorry about the mistake! I should have been more clear.
"The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity: they are merely different. Hence a woman, as well as a man, must understand her 'fulfillment' as a person, her dignity and vocation, on the basis of these resources, according to the richness of the femininity which she received on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the "image and likeness of God" that is specifically hers."
~ JPII, Mulieris Dignitatem
I believe that, although this book has some gray areas and is certainly not endorsed by any church, if read in the light of Catholic teachings as outlined in the Catechism and expanded upon in Theology of the Body and The Dignity of Women, it can be a wonderful aide to becoming a young woman of Christ.
(Even if you're not Catholic I'm sure you can take something from this book. Read it and see for yourself! :)

I knew it was the Holy Spirit. How could it not be? If it had been up to me, I would have been ripping him a new one. Thank you sweet Lord for the gift of self-control!
But I wasn't satisfied. After I posted, I read through a few of the other reviews for the book and found that I wasn't the only one who had received a comment from the vengeful defender of all that is good. Even people who had reviewed the book less agreeably than I had been rebuked. I paced the floor of the kitchen, gritting my teeth and growling that I wanted to DO something!!! How dare this man spread such a version of Christianity?! THIS, I told myself, was just the kind of angry, judgemental, self-righteous Christian who turned people off to Christianity in droves! How can I change this? Reverse this influence? Perhaps one day, as a writer... but no! I want to do something now! And how DARE he??? Ya, I was pretty pissed.
Pissed enough that, the next day at Mass, I was still seething a little. I was just getting into my anger a little more when the priest stood up to read the gospel. And lo...

"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

BAM! Just like that. I almost fell to my knees and cried right then and there. How dare I?? How could I??? How could I judge what is going on in this man's life, where he is coming from, what wounds he is dealing with? By labeling him as judgmental and angry and self-righteous, I myself was being judgemental and angry and self-righteous! What a trap Satan had set for me! How readily and easily I had walked into it! How humbling and touching to have the Lord show me my error so clearly.
I took away a few lessons from this. First of all, we as Christians should ALL strive to be non-judgemental and humble! Nothing is more attractive and, more importantly, nothing pleases the Lord more. Secondly, there has been kindled in me a deep and fiery apostolic zeal. My desire to draw souls to Christ was, for an agonizing hour or so, the most important thing in my life. True, I was acting out of anger at that time, but when the desire is cleansed of anger, it becomes a pure and powerful one, capable of accomplishing much. Let us also as Christians strive for this spirit of evangelization, bound tightly to the Holy Spirit, ready to do His bidding at every moment, and so on fire for Him and for souls that we will stop at nothing to accomplish it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Last night, I had a series of really horrible dreams. Some samples:
1) My house was under invasion by all sorts of monsters and evil beings and try as my family might, we could not fend them off.
2) My dad DIED while I was at some sort of 8-day camp. Nobody told me, and by the time I got home he was gone and buried and my Mom had a new boyfriend already. (Mother dear assured me that that would never ever happen in real life when I told her this morning, accompanying her assurance with the exclamation, "gross!" Praise God for my wonderful mother!)
3)The Servants of the Pierced Hearts were under house arrest during the Nazi invasion in a house with no bathroom, only a small shower in the wall.

I have never in my life been so happy to hear my alarm clock's cheerful beeping. As I pulled the covers off and shuffled to the bathroom to brush my teeth, I realized that, comparatively, my life really is not bad at all. Sure, commuting sucks, but at least my dad isn't dead and my house isn't under attack. As I climbed on the trolley this morning, I felt truly happy for the first time since school started. I most certainly can make the best of things.

And one more thing:
I pray a rosary every morning on the trolley. Usually I keep the beads enclosed in my palm, with only a few peeking out over my thumb and forefinger as I count the decade out. But today, I let my rosary fall loosely over my lap. I made the sign of the cross joyfully and noticeably. No more hiding. I'm ready to show the world my faith. Is this display in response to my dreams of last night? Perhaps. For without God, all things seem impossibly bleak.

More Humility

It is excruciatingly difficult for me to admit this...
but I tried out for Pitt Repertory Theater and got absolutely nothing. Not even a callback. That's 4 different shows that all passed me by. That hurts my pride. A lot.
I used to consider myself to be a good actress. I absolutely love to perform and so many people have told me that they enjoy watching me. But the truth of the matter is that in the real world, (as in, not high school theater) I am not that good.
Normally when I audition for anything I keep it very secret. I tell as few people as possible. If I fail, I don't want to have to tell everyone who asks "How did your audition go?" that I didn't get anything.
But this time is different. My purpose for posting this is absolutely not to receive compliments or words of comfort. In all honesty I would love to forget that this whole thing ever happened.
This time, though, I know for sure that things happened exactly the way the Lord wanted them to, and I don't want to keep His beautiful plan a secret.
I prayed so hard about these auditions. I almost backed out countless times. I prayed that if it was not His will that I be in shows this semester that He stop me from getting to the audition somehow. I was looking for the easy way out; I don't like to try for anything that I don't think I will get. But notice: He allowed me to go sign up, fill out a form, pick out a monologue, practice over and over, get to the auditions, and worry all day today about call-backs. All for nothing. And the thing is that along every single step along the way, I knew that He wanted me to keep going. You see, I had much to gain from this experience. Humility. Perseverance.
"No," He says through it all, "You are not always going to get what you want or be the best at everything. But that shouldn't stop you from trying. And when you fall, bless the opportunity to grow in wisdom and virtue, for I Myself fell three times along the road to the cross. You don't have to be perfect, little one. But you must try."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


sucks. It's been a day and a half now, and it's really getting on my nerves. Seriously, I need to devote 2 hours of my life every day to travel from my house to my classes and back again? Not fun. Not at all fun.
I waited for a trolley for over twenty minutes this morning!!!! What is that all about?? I was 10 minutes late to my first class this morning because of it. And what if I oversleep? There is no throw-on-some-clothes-and-walk-5-minutes option now. Nope. No room for mistakes.
Also, I am on campus with 3 1/2 hours of free time and nowhere to go chill out. I miss my little room. I have to sit in the computer lab and blog instead of watching old episodes of Scrubs. Boo.
Plus also, I forgot my Pitt ID today, so I had to shell out $4.60 to get here this morning, and tonight I'm gonna have to shell out $4.60 more to get home. That's almost $10 down the tubes!!! I could have bought a journal with that money! Or makeup! Or food! Or ANYTHING but bus and trolley fare!!! Ooo I'm so angry. >:(
And also, I don't have a meal plan anymore, so I'm going to have to pay real money for my dinner tonight. Argh!