Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five Road Trip

From RevGalBlogPals:
We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?

Oddly enough, I'm leaving on a road trip this morning too!
So this will be a practical answer version--the things that I have to remember to pack:
  1. The gift for my friend's baby shower. I crocheted her a blanket--it's very pretty! And I put that here trusting that she won't have time to look at my blog between now and tomorrow morning. (Her in-laws are at her house--I think I'm safe!)
  2. Water. Lots of water. It's too d--- hot to forget things to drink.
  3. Traditionally, I forget to pack socks and pajamas. Socks are unnecessary this summer, but I must remember pajamas...
  4. Books on CD. I only have time for two or three, but I always have lots of extras just in case. Today's variety includes two Agatha Christie mysteries (Hallowe'en Party and another that I can't remember), Steve Martin's novel The Pleasure of My Company, The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, and The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. The Agatha Christie ones are always fun. And Steve Martin is reading his own work, so I'm sure that will be fun too. I'll try to remember to post comments on the books when I get back.
  5. Cell phone. I'm driving by myself through rural Louisiana. It's nice to have a little security.
Everyone, enjoy your weekend!

Pictures of the baby blanket:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking Out for Number One

So, becoming a nun is counter-cultural.

Huh. I never would have thought. (Sarcasm drips...)

I've just been visiting some people, and while I had realized how different my mindset is becoming, it was really brought home to me this visit.

I'm a pretty quiet person, and so often I listen more than I speak. Which seems to mean that sometimes I hear lots more than I care to. This weekend, it was stories about sex (not my favorite topic), and a little bit about how "I used to be Catholic, but..." which usually ends in the sex abuse scandal.

And then there is the whole attitude about money and self-promotion. Here's a sample of one conversation:

A friend: So, what do you do about money?
Me: Well, the order takes care of my needs and my salary goes to them.
Friend: So, how does that work, exactly?
Me: I don't really know yet. It's not all that important to me.
Friend: I guess you never really have been focused on getting money.

And also about careers:
Friend: What if they ask you to do something that you don't want to do?
Me: Well, I'm not sure of all the details, but I know that we discuss those sorts of things together.
Friend: So, you can tell them what you want.
Me: Yes and no. It's a conversation, like if you were married, you wouldn't make big career decisions without consulting your spouse. I let them know what I think God is calling me to do, and we discuss the issue. If they need me to serve in a particular way, then I will take on that ministry.

I got the feeling from that conversation that my friend never really understood that I'm not "looking out for number one" anymore, but that my life will be in service to others. {As I write, perhaps it's that I'm looking out for number One? Doing what the Divine One needs?)

It makes me sad for two reasons: that the people I love don't really understand what I'm doing, and that so many people in the world are attached to sex, money, and self-promotion. I want to just shout--does this really make you happy? If it does, then why is it never enough???

But I'm trying to simply patiently explain what happens, and to hope that it starts to make sense to those I care about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Father Damien to be canonized!

I read a few days ago that Fr. Damien of Molokai was going to be canonized--how exciting! There is an article about it at Catholic World News, here.

I first heard about Father Damien by watching a documentary called An Uncommon Kindness: the Father Damien Story, which came out a few years ago and was narrated by Robin Williams. It's a very well done film--I highly recommend it, and have used it for several different courses on Christianity.

Part of the fascination is that it offers students a greater understanding of leprosy. Leprosy is mentioned so frequently in scripture, yet we generally don't have a clear understanding of what it is. This film includes images and interviews with people who have/had the disease (now called Hansen's Disease), and also those who were exiled because of it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ignatian Spirituality

I just began reading a book by Joseph Tetlow, S.J., called Making Choices in Christ: The Foundations of Ignatian Spirituality. It's very good--a very clear explanation of the Ignatian version (flavor?) of spirituality, especially as it is lived out today. Fr. Tetlow makes the point that Ignatius always intended it to be used among the laity, and that this intention is being lived out very widely, especially since Vatican II.

He says that all traditional spiritualities are ways of life, in addition to ways of relating to God. This is an important point--how we relate to God and understand ourselves ought to influence how we live. It seems to me that this only happens after some self-reflection and consideration of our actions. (Which, by the way, is a particularly strong characteristic of Ignatian spirituality.)

Fr. Tetlow describes the difference between this spirituality and others: "Other spiritualities seek the God of love, or of beautiful order, or of truth. Ignatian spirituality seeks the God who is always at work in the world and in each heart. The purpose of the spirituality is to help us find how we are to work along with God to bring the reign of Christ to human life and good order to the natural world--to the everyday world as it is now." (p. 2) I think about some of the other spiritualities that he is talking about -- ones that speak only of my heart, my relationship with God. It seems that some of them are missing the crucial point of looking to the world and seeing God in it.

I just watched Hotel Rwanda. I am trying to reconcile in my mind the horrors of human hatred with the work of God in the world. But I think one thing Ignatian spirituality teaches me is that I have to look at the world and see the pain and suffering. That is the world, which is where we live, the situation we have to deal with here and now. So then, the question becomes, where is God in all of that suffering? In the aide workers, in all who seek to protect those in danger and comfort those who suffer.

It makes me so sad that we live in world where money is still considered more than people, than human life. But I have to remember that not everyone agrees, that there are many of us who would always stick up for anyone, even if they can bring us nothing more substantial than a smile or a little joy.

How do we change the world? I don't know--I know that I don't have control of the world. But I can change me, and I can show to others the love that God has for them. If enough of us want to do that, the world will change.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Reflection on the World

I've been writing some reflections for my application to the society, and I thought I would share this little bit:

I have never (and still do not) understood how we could separate God from the world, despite the attempt at separating church and state. Even when I took philosophy courses in college, I failed at arguing a position philosophically without making it theological. I very firmly believe that it is all united—body, spirit, World, Spirit. I cannot remove the “God” from my worldview anymore than I can remove my heart from my body.
I'm not sure when I realized it, but this worldview places me at odds with our society. I think this must be the case for many Christians who seek to live out their faith. How do we justify and explain what we do without some reference to God?

This seems most evident when I try to understand how an atheist or agnostic understands morality. For me, it is all wrapped up in the fact that human beings are precious, because they were created by God in God's image and likeness. That's the foundation of all Christian morality, really--that everyone must be respected because every life, every individual is so valuable.

Friday Five: Summer Camp

From Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals:

We're settling into our new new apartment, and after a lifetime at Montessori Katie is having a fantastic summer at YMCA day camp. Meanwhile, Nicholas is packing up for a week at Camp Julian, shared by the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego. His lists of supplies and rules--except for the ropes course available to the teenagers and the ban on IPODs and cell phones--bring back memories of my own happy times weeks at Y camp Ta Ta Pochon, funded by selling countless cases of butter toffee peanuts. So, in celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp.

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?
I went to Legendary Lodge, by the Catholic diocese of Helena, Montana. It is a lovely place--on a peninsula in the lake, surrounded on three sides by water, with a mountain at the back. You have to take a boat to get there. Wish I could find a picture.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
I like camping, but it's been a long time. Camping in my family always meant a tent, sleeping bags, and hard ground. And, of course, campfires and smores. Nom nom nom.

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?
I was a "volunteer" camp counselor at Legendary Lodge while in high school. It was a lovely way to escape the long (boring) summer!

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
Two things. The best memory of camp is climbing the mountain at sunrise. So lovely. And of camping: seeing a bear. Fortunately, it was as we were driving away (otherwise camping would have been a little uncomfortable).

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
Hmmmm... I think I have to say the girl scout song:
Make new friends
But keep the old,
One is silver
And the other gold.
A circle's round
It has no end
That's how long
I want to be your friend.
Sappy, huh?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wonderful Life

I just watched "It's a Wonderful Life" the other night, and I love this part:

"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey! That's a pretty good idea! I'll give you the moon, Mary. ... Then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve see, and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of you hair ... "

I love Jimmie Stewart, and this is such a lovely film.

And then I started thinking... Moonbeams shooting out of fingers... Sounds like a miraculous medal, doesn't it?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Down from the clouds

Well, in my last post, I was still on that just-returned-from-retreat high. I have to say that it has gone away. I am back to normal everyday work, which means teaching summer classes. It's going well (and quickly--the summer session is already half over).

I am also finishing the application for the Society. It is lengthy--about 20 pages of forms and short-answer questions, and then an "autobiography" section. I'm guessing that it is pretty similar to most religious orders nowdays. It also has gone surprisingly well, and I hope to turn it in in a couple of weeks. Just have a few things to collect a baptism certificate, proof that I am actually Catholic! (I really am! I promise!)

I mentioned before that the spirituality conference gave me a new sense of love for God's creation. Several things have caught my eye lately in that regard. I finally started bringing canvas bags to the grocery store after reading (not for the first time) about how many end up in landfills and oceans, and how they come from petroleum.

I was also caught by the post over at Musings of a Discerning Woman, on the Jubilee Act that is going up for vote in the Senate shortly. It concerns debt cancellation for poor countries.

The Legislative Alert Center that she posted is an easy way to contact your senator.

Until later!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


This poor blog is so woefully out of date. Well, here is a brief post to say that all is well!

I just returned from the Sacred Heart Spirituality Forum in Chicago. It was a wonderful experience--one that gave me energy, hope, and peace to continue in my journey of discernment.

I will try to synthesize some of my experience in future blog entries, but for now this will have to be it. Suffice it to say that:
1. I feel profoundly loved.
2. I want to share that love with every person on the planet, and even with Mother Earth and the universe!
3. God is great, and greatly to be praised! Amen! Alleluia!

Photo: my own, from a mountaintop in Montana.