Monday, August 25, 2014

The Catholic Bookshelf | The Big Book of Women Saints

The Big Book of Women Saints
by Sarah Gallick
So completely do the saints correspond to God's grace that- for a millennium and more after their bodies have lain lifeless- their very bones remain a channel of grace. -Scott Hahn

There are few things as inspiring to us women as the stories of women who have gone before us, and few things more inspiring to Catholics in general than the Saints. Some of my favourite Saints are men (Saint Pope John Paul II, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Edmund Campion [holla holla, Peregrin], Saint Joseph the Guardian of Jesus and Mary, etcetera), but some of my closest friends are female saints- and I was introduced to several through this book.
A compendium of the 'greatest Catholic women of all time' may seem a little daunting, but this book is anything but dull. With a woman-Saint or Blessed for every day of the year, many of whom you've probably never heard of, one's knowledge of canonized women can expand to high Heavens (pun intended)!
The introduction includes a few pages that briefly describe the process of becoming a Saint, a few lies debunked, and a little blurb on Saint Pope John Paul II (who canonized 482 Saints, making the Pope to elevate the most people to beatification and canonization than any other Pope in history!). We then start on the First of January with the Solemnity of Mary.
Each piece is about a page long, and includes the Saint's name (as well as modern or alternate names), dates/approximations of birth and death, biography, 'The Genius of Saint _______', and a reflection (usually in the form of a quote or Bible verse). What I like about this system is that we are given facts, should we ever need to alternate names so that someone else will recognize the Saint, as well as the general idea of the time we lived, which explains some of what the woman in today's age might call outlandish, unholy, or even cruel behaviour (Henry the Good once made his wife, Cunegunda, walk over red-hot plowshares to prove her faithfulness, and they were considered a very happy couple- as you can imagine, that would not fly in this day and age). The 'Genius' and the 'Reflection', on the other hand, rather than providing fact, are more heart-food than mind-food. The biography tends to be a little bit of both; Ms Gallick's approach is well-written, and extremely personal. This bothered me a bit at first; it seemed almost irreverent to refer to Saints by their first-names only, or to give descriptions of women who had died hundreds of years before the author was even born, but I saw this as a valuable trait as time went by. By making her accounts of the lives of the saints so very personal, Ms Gallick succeeded in making them real- what would, with only pure fact, be insufficient for one to develop a proper awe of the Saints or to foster any hope that such holiness was achievable with God's grace, became inspiring when the women were made to seem like humans- which, of course, they are- rather than a separate race that we lowly twenty-first century Catholics can never join. It was this woman-to-woman study that pulled me into learning more about the Saints I admired, and to grow in friendship with them, as well- it was, in fact, the book that caused my liking for Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, that finally taught me who Saint Teresa of Avila was, that introduced me to such courageous and God-loving women as Saint Edith Stein and Saint Margaret Clitherow; it was the first real study of the life of Saint Lucy of Syracuse, who is my Confirmation Saint, that I read. It was like reading a grand guest-book which makes you want to meet all the guests; the signatures were their lives that left an immovable imprint on even a tiny corner of the world, a thumbprint of history that will inspire generations to come.
Kind of makes you want to make your own thumbprint, eh?

Other stuff~
~This book sometimes presented one vocation as being superior to the others, which always annoys me. People, the best vocation is the one you're called to follow.
~The names. Some of the Saints had, literally, the weirdest (and/or most awesome) names ever. If you're looking for baby-names, pick it up some time and flip through. Wiborada. Frideswide. Elfleda. Ethelburga. How can you go wrong?
~No, this book is not at all Tumblr Feminist. I suppose you could call it Catholic Feminist; I can't recall any whacko mumble-jumble about women's ordination or 'reproductive freedom'. Everything is within the boundaries set by God for His life-giving Church, so there shouldn't be anything icky you have to sift through.
~One of the things I learned in the reading, and that I may have mentioned before, is that Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies is actually Lacock Abbey, built by Blessed Ela Fitzpatrick! Such wonderful Catholic Nerddom. And such quotes!

The Verdict~
An altogether informative and inspiring volume that I would not, however, recommend to anyone who isn't really into the lives of saints. If you are trying to learn about new Saints, and/or find a patron for Confirmation, I'd say that you should check this book out.

Strive for sainthood. Read books.

Grace

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Keep Calm and Ora Pro Nobis {7 Saints Every Woman Should Know}

As I love the Saints, as I am female, and as lists are splendid fun, why not combine all three into a list of Saints whose intercession comes in very handy in a woman's everyday life?

1.) Saint Monica, patroness of mothers

There she is, praying for Saint Augustine.
What a lady. Find out more here. There
is also a prayer to her over here.
Yeah, yeah, yeah; I know we aren't all mothers and yada-yada-yada, BUT. Women and women alone can be mothers ("No matter how hard a man tries, he can never be preggers." -Jackie Francois Angel, Steubenville Toronto).We do have a capacity for motherhood that is literally mind-blowing. Whether you're mother to a child, spiritual mother to someone, or a crazy cat lady, chances are that you will mother something/someone at one point. Just make sure it's that which is worth mothering.



Getting sassy in this 'hood.


2.) Saint Raphael, patron of youth and of the lonely

Do you wish to know more about this slightly-
frightening-looking Angel of the Lord  who
brings couples together and has
one of the most beautifully-gooey prayers
in history?
I'm glad.

Be honest. Have you or have you not prayed at least one Novena to Saint Raphael?

I know this one is used far too much and isn't even fully accurate,
but... wait, he goes to Daily Mass? *swoon*


3.) Saint Maurice, invoked against cramps

What a studmuffin... though probably not too accurate,
as I believe he was Egyptian... but what the hey. Read up
on the extent of his saintliness over here.
I won't dwell on this one, but I just have to ask- why is a man invoked against menstrual pain?
Bonus: there's also a place in Switzerland that is apparently named after him. And what do you get when you Google Image-search 'Saint Moritz'?

WHAT. Take me; take me now...

4.) Saint Maria Goretti, patroness of rape victims, purity, and young women



We live in a world that really, really lacks purity. Nobody is trained in temperance anymore- which is why one needs someone like Saint Maria to give them a slap upside the head. Yes, this is an everyday thing, because there's that one friend who flirts way too suggestively, that cashier that eyes you way too grossly, and the constant impossibility of finding clothes that don't resemble bikinis, not to mention the creeping temptations and endless frustrations that surround striving to live virtuously.



5.) Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of young brides and difficult marriages

She also happens to be a good friend of mine.
Whether bride to a man or bride of Christ, Saint Elizabeth is the one to see. She and her husband, Louis of Thuringia, set a very good example for holy marriage. Besides Louis' amazing quote that contains more romance than the entire script of Twilight Saga.



6.) Saint Rose of Lima, invoked against vanity


What's black, white, and red all
over? A sunburnt Dominican. Hehe.
No, not really (it was actually pepper
rubbed on her face).
She's also patroness of those ridiculed or misunderstood for their piety, so basically everyone who wears a mantilla to a Novus Ordo Mass (where my ladies at?). She's a good one to keep a picture or Holy Card of; maybe even tape it to your mirror.

You know you watch too much Barchester Chronicles when you look for an excuse
to use  Ecclesiastes 1:2, King James Version. GET IT OBADIAH GET IT?!

7.) Saint Joan of Arc, patroness of Women's Army Corps, WAVES, and a favourite of Christian Feminism


Oh, you go, girl!
If you want to hear the actual words from her legendary trial, there is a silent film from the 1920s called, I believe, The Passion of Joan of Arc that I would highly, highly, highly recommend. Anyway, I do so admire her. Joan of Arcadia really doesn't do her justice.

Is there a Saint who has been particularly helpful to you in your journey to authentic womanhood? Who?

Lots of love,
Grace

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The 10 Problems of a Novus Ordo Girl

So. I'm a Novus Ordo girl- we speak English in Mass, there are fewer chapel veils, and there is considerably less incense. Despite there being many aspects to the Novus Ordo way of doing things that I do not like, I think that, on the whole, we get a bad rap ("Oh, so you must all wear shorts and Hawaiian T-shirts and have skits and clowns!"). There are actually some parts of the Novus Ordo life that I think are awesome and that I love. That being said, it's hard being a NO (just look at how horrible our abbreviation is- NO? Really? NO?) in some ways and easier in others, so I thought I'd just list some of the trials for clarification.
Now, some of these might apply to non-Novus girls, so just roll with it.

1.) Mantilla conflictions
Being the only one under eighty who wears one might encourage a girl into vanity, but what about the reverence points? At least the potential weird looks would be humbling.


2.) Impiety inheritin' the congregation
Did you see him not genuflect? You saw it, didn't ya?!


3.) Traddie snobbery
I came here to have a good time and you're making me feel like a criminal.



4.) The naive misconceptions surrounding a Novus Ordo Mass
Nope, actually I've yet to see a priest in flip-flops, baptisms in a kiddie-pool, or electric guitar in Mass. Oh, and never once has there been a hint of clownery.


5.) A weird sort of tension between you and your friend of another Rite
And this doesn't just go for friends. That priest from the _______ Catholic parish whose accent is so thick you can't understand your penance during Confession, much less the homily? Yep.


6.) Latin mispronunciations
Do y'all remember Corpus Christi when we sang that beautiful song, but nobody could tell which verse we were on due to all the mispronouncing?



7.) Less-than-beautiful vestments
Father, I don't pretend that having lovely vestments is as important as you being here to celebrate the Eucharist. Nor do I think that the Apostles were the fashion police. But I'm pretty sure Saint Peter is shaking his head right now.



8.) Sign of the Peace PDA
Ahem, this is a Holy Sacrifice. So sacrifice your hormonal urge to obsessively kiss your significant other, okay?


9.) Holding hands during the Lord's Prayer
Hopefully you get to sit in between people whom you know really well. If not, well... hope they wiped their palms before clutching yours.


10.) Being the only young person at Daily Mass
This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine...


#DontBeHatingOnUsNovusOrdoGoers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 QTF in Which I Have Angst Over Podcasts and Not Being at Steubenville

~1~
Where am I? At home. That's not bad. But where am I not? Steubie 2014. 
...
AND THAT IS BAD. C'mon, people, I'm a Catholic teen! I should be at a Steubenville Conference, right?! It's practically my duty (I'm just coming up with excuses to hop the border and sneak in at the last minute, y'all).

~2~
Mum: *turns on Orthodox Christian podcast quite loudly*
Me: *glowers in corner reading Scott Hahn and letting him unknowingly correct everything on podcast*

This is the daily problem of the interdenominational household. It's not as educational and illuminating as it sounds.
I jest. I jest.
I also digress.

~3~
If you could please offer up a prayer for me, I'd be really obliged. There is an important change that may or may not happen this year on the horizon. Saint Joseph, ora pro nobis! Thanks, dearies. [insert heart emoticon] I'll be going to Adoration tomorrow night, so if you have an intention I can pray for, let me know!

~4~
Now that I'm done being obnoxious and angsty over little piddly conferences (THEY AREN'T PIDDLY WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT): hey, there, all of you who are going! I'll be praying for you! [insert second heart emoticon]



~5~
So, guys, novels. I'm really feeling like reading Great Expectations again. Then again, I'd also like to read Jane Eyre. My father also thinks I need to broaden my horizons and read something other than 'the classics'. End of story. I just bought a ToB book, and read King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, which I absolutely loved. What have you been reading lately?

~6~

Ros and I. I'm taller than her, which brings me evil satisfaction to no end.

~7~
Mady's July Photo Challenge

Day 7 | a smile

Well, that's... awkward.

Day 8 | childhood toy


Day 9 | frozen treat

{my mother decided that ice-cream was not a necessary purchase. Bah, humbug.}

Day 10 | board game

I don't really know what the brown paper bag
is doing there, but that's doable.

Day 11 | denim



Day 12 | your handwriting



Day 13 | inside your closet



Day 14 | earrings


Day 15 | toenail polish



Day 16 | i drew this!



Day 17 | stripes



Day 18 | hands on



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bunburying vol. 2 | Alberta Bound

*Please note that the Gordon Lightfoot reference in the title is entirely coincidental.

Recently, the clan and I took a weekend-trip to the Badlands. 


Its funny- I never really liked the prairies until recently. They're kind of plain and homely, right? And yet, lately I've quite fallen in love with them.

You know you're in Alberta when...

Canola. Canola everywhere.






Be blessed.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why the Church is Opposed to Masturbation

The Catholic Church identifies masturbation as a sin. And so should we all. The issue of self-gratification is somewhat covered-up in comparison to the pornography epidemic (please don't think I'm downsizing the gravity of the latter), but it remains a widespread problem.
Some churches and religious groups deny that the action is evil, and its even supported as a healthy exercise in many secular circles, but no matter how much sugar we pour onto it, how many frills we don it with, or how many excuses we come up with, the fact remains: masturbation is sinful.
"How could that be?" one might ask. "It can't hurt anyone. And its consequence free! No unplanned pregnancies, and you can retain your purity while getting a pleasure fix- its practically the perfect solution to premarital relations and infidelity. Why doesn't the Church support it?"
Whoa, buddy. Let's break this down. The Church has not, is not now, will never, and cannot support the action of self-gratification because:
It does hurt someone. Like all drugs, it hurts the user first- dopamine, the happy-drug chemical reaction in the brain, is highly, highly, highly addictive (think cocaine), and things like pornography and masturbation cause it to rush through like the wind in quick doses. As masturbation is virtually accessible at all times, that shot of dopamine easily becomes a crutch that you cannot do without. Eventually, you need more, and more, and more, and there you go- a full-blown addiction. What do addictions do? They drag us away from God. They make us neglect prayer, neglect our studies and chores, neglect relationships; they draw us away from Mass early (or keep us from going at all), they turn Confession into a nightmare (and we therefore avoid it like the plague), and slowly tighten themselves around us like the chains of evil that they are. As Jackie Angel once intoned, "When you can't say 'no' to something, you're addicted to it". When you can't deny an urge, after a while it takes over the place that God should have in our hearts. And so, there it is- idolatry, plain and simple (for more information on the effects of brain chemicals when related to lust, I found this article on pornography to be quite concise).
It is not consequence free. Masturbation can cause physical injuries of various degrees, depending on what method is used to get high; but even more common for the men who engage in it are (a) erectile dysfunction and (b) premature ejaculation (I'm focusing on the men's symptoms because the women's are less obvious). Which doesn't sound like a big deal, but... suppose that a man who has been administrating pleasure to himself for several years meets the girl of his dreams. They don't sleep together until their wedding night, whereupon... nothing happens. That relationship will take a huge kick, because not only are they prevented from consummating their marriage after months of patient abstinence when they had been so looking forward to it, but the bride will probably be able to guess, if the groom doesn't tell her, that the reason is either pornography or masturbation, two of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. As for the second physical consequence, what happens when a couple is wanting children, but that gets difficult because the husband's semen is not reaching the wife's cervix, as he ejaculates too early? Every time that frustrating instance occurs, the relationship is going to be struck a Dolorous Strike. Add all of this to the fact that he's cheating on her with himself, and... well, how long do you think the marriage will be healthy?
You cannot retain purity while living a masturbatory lifestyle, anymore than you can retain your purity while regularly engaging in intercourse with someone you are not married to, anymore than you can while watching pornography everyday, anymore than you can while supporting prostitution, anymore than you can while using contraception. 'Purity' is not code for 'virginity'. 'Purity' is synonymous with 'chastity', and chastity means the integration of soul and body, striving for holiness with one's body, and treating one's body with holiness (I talked more about chastity here, if you aren't embarrassed enough by now). A sexually-active woman can be purest of the pure, whereas any virgin can be totally unchaste. To give yourself pleasure through sexualized fantasies and genital movement is a mockery of sexual union, and, like 'sexual expression', premarital relations, and everything else that debases and disgraces the name of sex and marriage, kills purity.
Masturbation is not the solution to anything. Self-gratification stems, primarily, from lust (an inordinate hunger for sex, and the willingness to use people/things to get a similar experience; viewing people as objects and so on), loneliness, and selfishness. Ergo, it creates a whole mindset, a lifestyle, of lust, loneliness, and selfishness. Lust weakens one's capacity for real love, loneliness prevents us from truly being intimate with Our Lord or one another, and selfishness keeps us from the acts of self-giving and unconditional compassion that make us into saints.
Saint Margaret of Cortona, ora pro nobis!

  So, what can be done?

  • Confession. Frequently, properly, reverently partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is nothing like Confession to help us heal from sin, and a healthy sense of shame from wrongdoing helps us to resist temptation in future.
  • Eucharist. Our Lord in the Bread of Life nourishes the soul, strengthening us to fight against 'Satan and all other evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls'.
  • Pick up the pebbles. While masturbation may be the biggest boulder blocking the road, strengthen yourself by picking up the pebbles. Pray for purity, keep Christ company in Adoration, and work on being selfless in small, seemingly-insignificant areas.
  • Get help. There are many online services (RECLAIM , for instance), and I'm sure you can find a support group or counselor to help you reclaim your purity.
  • Find another release. Writing. Exercising. Start dispensing of your excess energy which is usually funneled into self-gratification by doing something healthy and satisfying.
And always, always, always, always pray for the strength, prudence, love, and mercy to get back up, shoulder the cross that is leaving a vice behind, and follow Him.

Lots of love and prayers,

Grace

Friday, July 04, 2014

7 QTF: the Swiss Chalet Titanic and Other Adventures

~1~
'ello, 'ello, 'ello! I haven't been very present here lately, which I'm sorry for, but we've been so busy.
It seemed that the minute school ended, the celebrations began. My grandparents graciously hosted a marathon-celebration (three or four days of cake and tea, people) for their 50th Wedding Anniversary, which culminated with a night on a riverboat going up and down the North Saskatchewan River. The smell of the buffet and the general eeriness of being in a ship prompted my cousin to dub the boat, "The Swiss Chalet Titanic". 

"Never let go, Jack! Never let go!" Oh, shut it,
Rosie.
 July the 1st was Dominion Day/Canada Day; we didn't have fireworks, or any other Statesian shindigs, but there were a lot of sales at various stores. My cousin and sister and I went to the mall to get new clothes, and so the extent of my celebrating was purchasing a pair of socks. But, hey, they're red-and-white and made in Canada, so... patriotism and all that.

~2~


It happens to be Harry Potter month over at The Book Chewers (which makes tons of sense, if you think about it, since July is Harry's birth-month)! I have plans to write a post with that theme this month, which I'm excited about. I'm not revealing it yet, but I'll say that it involves foodstuffs/beverages. 

~3~


This is the logo for World Youth Day 2016!! Who wants to go to Krakow with me (I don't know that I'll actually be going, but I sure want to, and it would be swell if the Catholic Blogosphere could go together, amen?)?!

~4~
Because I'm away with the fairies, shall we have a butcher's at this video (just click the link and Robert is your father's closest male relative)?
 I thought that Americans did use, "Bob's your uncle", but apparently not.

~5~
Happy 4th of July, friends to the south! I hope you have a lovely celebration.


~6~
 Bought a copy of Emily of New Moon for Eves' birthday, but I've never actually read it; so, if you've read it, please let me know what you think of it.

~7~
I have a bunch of pictures from Miss Abbey Noelle's June Photo Challenge that I still haven't gotten around to posting on the Facebook page, but here are some from Mady's July Photo Challenge! Thanks for the fun, girls. 

Day 1 | favourite colour

Crimson isn't actually my very favourite colour.
My favourite colour is brown, but I couldn't
find anything that was... brown. Anyway,
red is pretty, and I do love it.

Day 2 | socks

{all of my socks happened to be in the wash. I'll get around to taking pictures eventually.}


Day 3 | jump!



Day 4 | red, white, and blue



God bless you, now and always,
Grace

About the Pictures...

I may not be the world's best photographer, but all the photographs on this bloggy are mine unless I tell you otherwise. Please ask before you nab, and credit the pictures back here. Thank you!

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