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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dwelling Among Us {Where #TeamForeverAlone Meets the Eucharist}

You've probably heard of that estimable hashtag, #TeamForeverAlone (or just #ForeverAlone, if one wishes to express that they truly are alone and, therefore, do not belong to a team). You've probably also supposed yourself to belong to it at some point. Maybe it was sobbing into a half-pint of Ben & Jerry's that did it. Or perhaps Chick Flick Night a la Nicholas Sparks. Or maybe one too many nights when, completely exhausted and freezing because the heater is malfunctioning, you think that some human company wouldn't be so bad. But then again, there isn't another human in sight. And then again, one is also practicing chastity, so... there one is, chillin' at TEAM FOREVER ALONE IN ALL CAPS.



Truthfully, we all get lonely. Sometimes it isn't so bad- "Thank You, Lord, for this time of singlehood; I know You have a purpose and yada-yada-yada...". And then, sometimes it explodes, something snaps, and the aforementioned hashtag is employed; if not in an anonymous Twitter rant, then in an infuriated journal entry, long period of weeping, or a sudden boiling-over of righteous wrath whenever a friend posts a couple-selfie online: "Whaaaaaaaat?! They're engaged?! But... but... but... this is preposterous! One less sympathizing single friend! I shall soon be the only fancy-free maiden of our old quartet 1! I hate them. I hate their guts. I curse the days of their births, and I wish with all my soul that his wife may plague his heart out.2"
[That may seem dramatic, and it can be, but it also happens all the time. Nothing makes one feel as worthless as being alone; even if we have realized that our worth is not based in our relationship statuses, it is still so easy to think that we aren't good enough; that there must be something wrong with us, or we would be being pursued already. This drives us to shoddy makeovers, immodest clothing, and losing our self-esteem. Others of us feel guilty, as though we're implying that God is not enough for us because we do things like ask Him to bring Prince Charming to us really, really soon because the thought of dying an old maid or wrinkling up before 'The One' comes along is absolutely terrifying. Even twelve-year-olds think like this.]
Our world is one of lust and infatuation, and we, the ladies who are striving to live virtuously, are being constantly told that our standards for men are impossibly high, that we are stuck up, and that chastity isn't worth it. These are lies. There is such a thing as a fellow who is perfect for you- not perfect, but perfect for you. Piety is not the same as snobbery. Chastity and holiness are so worth it. But even so, loneliness creeps into our lives, and we end up sobbing, our bodies smarting, and our hearts crushed within us 3.
But it doesn't have to be this way. We have Christ.
"That's different! It's not like He's physically here with me- here in Spirit, yes, but I cannot feel His arm around me, or His hand lovingly guiding me towards goodness, or see Him right next to me."
Wrong. Do you know that, any day, you can not only physically see Christ, but also feel Him, and even enter into a very intimate physical partaking in the Greatest Good of Life 4? Well, you can. Where? Mass.5



Physical proof of God's Love is in the fact of His humbling himself, coming down to dwell among us, first in human flesh... and then in a simple, bland wafer. Christ becomes Bread to feed us, body and soul, with Himself, because He loves us that much.
"The greatest love story... is contained in a tiny, white Host." -Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
The True Bridegroom, The One, is waiting to fill you with Himself, Body and Blood. He wants to fulfill you, and make you whole, and you can meet Him in the most intimate and special manner through Adoration, through Mass, and through all of Sacraments in their beauty and complexity.
That is how the Eucharist combats #TeamForeverAlone.
So, my fellow loners, chat it up with Saint Raphael, watch some Leah Darrow talks, and lay out your clothes for Mass tomorrow. Hang in there.

Love,
Grace


1: kudos to you if you caught that obscure reference to Anne of Green Gables.
2: and that one's from Sense & Sensibility. Double kudos. 
3: if this sounds nothing like you, feel free to adapt it. 
4: I'm not trying to make this sound overly-sexual, m'kay? There is a difference between sex and eating.
5: if you're Catholic. Perks of Catholicism, yo!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thy Sacred Heart


O JESUS dear, Thy Sacred Heart
Is fraught with purest love.
Much joy to me Thou dost impart,
And comfort from above. 


O Sacred Heart, celestial feast
Of all the blessed above, 

I hope in bliss Thy sweets to taste,
And glow with heavenly love.
Thy Sacred Heart was pierced for me,
And bled at every pore,

From past offenses set me free,
Oh! them I will deplore. 


O Sacred Heart, celestial feast
Of all the blessed above, 

I hope in bliss Thy sweets to taste,
And glow with heavenly love. 






Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Catholic Bookshelf | Falling for Your Madness

*contains many spoilers

Falling for Your Madness
by Katharine Grubb 

"I always defer to the lady."



This book, to put it eloquently, messed me up. 
I know that I have previously spoken of my strong dislike for romance novels, but this was recommended to me by a friend who has a good sense of propriety; seeing as the man on the cover was not shirtless and the reviews said nothing of anything too intense, I thought I would give it a try.
The plot centers around Laura, an artist and web-designer in Boston in a dead-end sort-of-relationship, who is introduced to David, an eccentric professor with an over-the-top British accent, who refuses to wear casual clothes, has a rather odd servant, and lives in a situation that doesn't match his income. He also has such a hard time keeping his hands to himself that, when sitting next to Laura and driving through a darkened tunnel, he sits on his hands and recites Tennyson. Laura, however, ignores all of this rather creepy weirdness, and soon agrees to become David's 'friend', knowing that he is on the search for a wife and that she just may be his first choice. Their entire relationship is given over completely to Laura- she decides if they move on to 'sweethearts', she decides if he is allowed to propose to her, only she can initiate a break-up. The rules of their relationship are clear- they meet three times a week, he always has a flower for her, they are not permitted physical contact apart from him kissing her hand, he is not allowed in her apartment, she is not allowed in his. Their dates are timed. Merle, David's servant, accompanies them most places. The main point seems to be the power of chivalry, that David treats Laura like a princess, respects her, and defends her. 
This book was enjoyable to read, and often funny, but I found two things very disturbing.
Early on in their 'friendship', David is walking Laura home when a mugger tries to take her purse. David attempts to protect Laura and, in the process, is hurt. Laura, despite his entreating her not to, takes him inside to medicate his wound. Laura removes his shirt, which is fine, because she's only doing it to get at his injury... same with his shoes... however, it decidedly became creepy when she removes his socks. David then goes to lie down on her couch while she fetches help (note: her roommate is currently away), and asks her to please go to the kitchen, which she does not. Instead, she starts kissing him. Now, there are few things as stupid as kissing a half-undressed man whom you barely know, at night, in an otherwise empty apartment, when he is very possibly seriously injured, perhaps completely crazy, and a lot stronger than you. What follows is a brief sequence in which, after a few moments of snogging, David apparently 'misinterprets her intentions' and attempts to force himself on her. He might have succeeded if Laura's roommate hadn't walked in. I was going to stop reading it right then, but I wanted to see how it impacted their relationship, how it made Laura feel, and the overall consequences of her stupid actions and his heinous behaviour. However, in a flash, Laura... gets back together with him? Moves on to being his sweetheart? And this relationship is not at all tainted by its brief sojourn into what verged on full-on sexual abuse? 
The second thing that bothered me was the idea of Laura having all the power in their relationship, or thinking that she does. Why? Because smarter people have roamed the earth (case in point: knowing David's problems with 'touchiness' and still inappropriately kissing him without thinking that he might take things too far). David couldn't take any initiative whatsoever; all the responsibility for moving on in the relationship was dumped on Laura. She didn't seem to mind (like I said, she is sometimes less than bright), but think about it: what kind of a relationship is it where one person, without any need to discuss things with the other, decides where everything is going? A bossier person would destroy the relationship through abuse of 'authority'. A shyer person would resent the lack of problem-solving help from the other end. A stressed person would crack from under the weight. No matter how you slice it, that does not sound like a healthy relationship with a basis in mutual affection and personal growth; it sounds more like a desperate man's scheme to land a responsible wife (which he doesn't, because 'responsible' is the last thing I would label Laura as).
Lastly, about the main theme of the book: chivalry. David is not a gentleman. Yes, he brings Laura flowers, protects her (with a fencing-foil at one point... that was fun), and appears to treat her lovingly, but that is merely the gentle part. A true gentleman retains the man part. David is vain, sometimes passive-aggressive, and is not clear about his problems with sexual propriety; he respects Laura to an extent, but not enough to remove himself from the situations which might lead to another breach on her boundaries. Laura does not respect him enough because she is consistently providing him with these situations by being unrestrained and overly-physical. But then again, Laura does seem to be one-dimensional, a bit shallow, and not a straight thinker. My point is, however, that in order to be a gentleman, you must not only hold the door open for girls, look the other way when someone is immodestly clothed, and, as the saying goes, support your local chivalry. You must also take responsibility for your actions, be honest about your problems, and do your best to stay away from potentially hurtful circumstances; and, yes, you must take initiative in the courtship.
Also, there was no believability factor, if that's what you're expecting. I didn't mind it, because I'm the girl who intends to raise any future children on How to Train Your Dragon and Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. 

Other stuff~
~If they ever made this into a movie, Benedict Cumberbatch would play David magnificently. I'd also vote for Zooey Deschanel as Laura and Meryl Streep as Aunt Honoria.
~This book reaffirmed the popular belief that Americans love royalty... AS LONG AS THEY AREN'T BEING RULED BY IT. I found the inclusion of the British monarchy to be humourous, but annoying. Maybe that's just my Commonwealth side speaking.
~The openness to life was fantastic.
~Their relationship was far too touchy to be considered chaste, but as they waited for marriage for the most serious aspect, it is fairly pure compared to other rom-com relationships. The amount of physical contact definitely impacted their relationship and seemed partially to blame for the hasty decision-making and their eagerness to get back together after every mishap. TOBers: discuss.

The Verdict~
It seemed like this book was trying to be quirky and cute, but it ended up as more creepy and bizarre. While the premise was interesting, I think the topic should have been further explored and the characters a little more well-rounded and less insane with more common sense. Overall, though the writing was good and the jokes funny, it left me far too disappointed and confused to recommend it.

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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