30 June 2013

Brave New World

I had perhaps the most unsettling experience at Mass today (there's a sentence I never thought I'd say). During Communion there was a hymn sung and two songs just with music after that were America-themed. Then the song at the close of Mass was America-themed again. I can understand the reason for those songs since it will be the 4th of July this week, but with the recent HHS mandate text release and SSM rulings of the SCOTUS, it doesn't seem appropriate to celebrate our country and its liberty if it is moving against the Church so quickly and boldly.

I get it. This country didn't start out as a Catholic-friendly place, so how should I expect it even now to be Catholic-friendly? Still, I cannot stand and sing along with others at Mass about a country which is making every step away from and against the Church that they can. I cannot celebrate this country's independence this week if I do not believe it will defend my freedoms.

Father Z posted yesterday, citing from this post:
“People, myself included, lament the moral decline of America,” reflected Fr. Fessio, “Without this stunning intellectual decline—where one can claim that an unborn baby is not a human person and that man-to-man copulation is equivalent to marital union—we could not have sunk so low. With this decision we are about to sink even lower. God help us.” He said that he thinks it is clear that the rulings are “going to make it far more difficult for those who defend marriage.”Asked how the rulings will affect the Catholic Church in the United States, Fr. Fessio remarked that they “will call forth saints and scholars who will ‘shine like the stars in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation’. They will also be humiliated and very likely, in time, persecuted. Welcome to the Brave New World.”
Persecution and humiliation doesn't sound as bad as it once did to me. If it means I can "shine like the stars in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation," and that it will bring glory to God and His Church, I'll do it. Now is the time for prayer and fasting and returning to the Lord. "Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.... Between the porch and the altar the priests the Lord's ministers shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people..."

26 June 2013

Catholic|Protestant Ramblings (pt. 2)

I've been having a lot of trouble lately understanding where Protestantism stands in my life. Maybe that isn't the exact right wording, but I'm not sure I've figured out the right way. Maybe I should try again:

The things I know:

1. Catholicism is the truth. The Church has become to me a brilliant light, the cracking open of the door to the world of Heaven. It is beautiful and powerful and mysterious because it adores the Beautiful, the Powerful and the Mysterious.

2. I could never de-convert. Marc (Bad Catholic) is basically my favorite blogger right now. In a recent post he sums up my ideas very well: "Christianity is a transplant of the eyes and of the heart, by which we see the world differently by becoming incredibly different. I can no more take back Christianity than a man can take back his heart transplant. Christianity is an essential, permanent change to the disposition of the human person. It places an indelible mark on the soul and binds his very life to another.Word.

3. Anything that isn't Catholicism cannot be the true faith. (By this I mean, the whole of Catholicism. I could probably agree on something faith-based with another religion, like "God is benevolent," but a few general claims aren't enough.) I have to take this step if I believe Catholicism to be true and to be something I could never turn from. I could not go to being a Buddhist or an atheist or anything else after experiencing the Catholic Church, and that includes Protestantism too.

This is hard to deal with, not because I am particularly drawn to Protestantism (otherwise I wouldn't have converted), but because the majority of my family is Protestant. By this point it is an acknowledged fact by most that my beliefs have differed from theirs, but we don't often talk about those differences or why they are there. One of the most difficult parts, naturally, is the question of salvation. This hit me hardest when my great grandmother died because, while others consoled one another saying she was in Heaven free from pain and reunited with her loved ones, I couldn't console myself with the same thoughts. If I know Catholicism to be the one true church begun by Christ and know that she did not live as a Catholic, how can I be sure of her place at His side?

23 June 2013


I think I originally wrote this post about a week ago. Since then, I have moved back home with the promise of a new job. I have kept busy cleaning and organizing the house, my computer and my mind, though I still have much to do. I decided to post this anyway because the desire to travel, learn and create is still soaking into my skin, making it hard to sit still unless I am doing something I deem "productive." I decided to post this anyway because I know this restlessness is more than a phase or accident. I imagine I shall always feel this restlessness because "our hearts our restless until we rest in You," as St. Augustine said.

Sometimes I wonder whether I should have studied art at university. Or literature or history. Something that would get me thinking about cause and effect, get me looking at Rembrandt, get me talking about great works and how they affect society and individuals. I want to delve into these things from a Catholic perspective. There is certainly enough sacred art to fill the Louvre multiple times. There are enough texts, contemporary and ancient, relatively unimportant (like this blog) and captivatingly doctrine-centered, to line the walls of my home and mind, enough that I could never finish reading in a hundred lifetimes. There are enough background stories about my favorite saints, enticing tidbits about the papacy and what Jesus' life must have been like, dates and places where decisions and documents and martyrs were made that I would need eternity to understand them.

Half of this retrospective desire comes from the love of learning deep seated at the center of my brain, probably not too far from my medulla and amygdala, basic and central as it is. I want to know more all the time: why do these ingredients interact this way? how can I get a certain type of stain out of a certain type of fabric? what does this disease do to your body? what are the arguments for the existence of God (and what are the good ones)? what does he do with his free time? would she think it strange if I proposed we spend the afternoon together catching up? where is the nearest beautiful park I can visit? how can I make my life more sustainable? where will I be living five, ten, twenty years from now? what homeschooling program would I use if I had one? how can I make the lives of 17th century royalty relevant? what can I learn from the example of my family? Any question, basic to complex, abstract to concrete, philosophical to historical pops into my brain and I am able (luckily, with the resources I have) to find out more about the subject. Why should I not take advantage of that?

11 June 2013

An Examination of Nudity in Sculpture (Focused Particularly on the Intimacy of Cupid + Psyche)

I discovered Bad Catholic only this year, if I remember rightly, and I think Marc has something going on these subjects. He is also the only blogger I have seen (so far! I haven't searched the whole internet, obviously) to deeply consider topics of modesty and sexuality inspired by and citing Catholic documents to explain his thoughts and enter discussion with others. I am particularly interested in the modesty topic, as were you to ask me what that should look like I would have a difficult time answering in a full, concise and satisfying way.

So anyway, these posts, especially those which included pieces of art (paintings and sculpture), got me thinking about the art I saw at the Louvre in March. Especially, I focused on sculptures with female nudity, since that really seems to be a major issue we deal with when we talk about modesty ("Cover yourself up!") and sexuality ("Breasts. Everywhere."). Since sculpture largely seems to ignore our modern outcries, what is it focusing on?

[A couple things to note: I know not everything modest centers on the female, centers on breasts, excludes men, etc. I just wanted to consider the "role" nudity plays in these pieces, beyond it being the style or culture when these pieces were sculpted. Maybe it will make sense as I go on.... Also, I am not a fancy-shmancy, trained art student, so these are just my musings; I don't claim to have the exact interpretation which everyone takes, but isn't that kind of the point of art: examining and thinking and expressing one's ideas?]

Photo by me.