Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For the Beauty..

(Suggested listening: Into the Mystic by The Swell Season - Van Morrison cover)

I took a drive on Saturday since it was a bit chilly. I'll have to do #3 another time. :) But I did cross another thing off my list. Go check it out.

So, I took a drive on some back roads. You know the ones.. They curve this way and that, roll up and down hills; passing the occasional farm and surrounded by lush nature. Sometimes it felt like I was the only who'd been on that road before and I barely passed another vehicle. I rolled down my window, put on my summer mix CD and.. Looked. Really looked.

The beauty of the day, of the earth, brought tears to my eyes a few times. I often slowed down the car to just revel in the magnificence. Wow.

I'm not sure how one can look at a meadow, the sky, a passing river and deny a Creator.. It makes me so, so, so thankful for my parents, my family, my friends, my parishes and the crosses I have beared (born?barren?). Why? Because they've shaped me to be able to see God -- to feel Him and to be overwhelmed by His presence, brought to tears with the sight of His hand -- in the little things.

Lately I've been thinking about this. What my crosses have given me, rather than what they've denied me. And it's the same experience as this country drive.

I have driven these roads many times. I've passed these same farms, these same verdant pastures. But only when my eyes are truly open and watching can I see the beauty.

Similarly, I have picked up my crosses every day. I've carried some for years, not necessarily well, and known them intimately. But only when I've opened my heart to them have I been able to really see the journey; to experience a glimpse of soul-beauty as I crest the top of an emotional hill or feel the sweetness of a virtue gained as I reflect on a hardship carried. 

It's like: Oh! Look! There's where I really learned to be empathetic. Hmm.. I see how He's helped to guard my purity there. Oh boy.. Here comes the hill of honesty! Uh oh.. The valley of humility.. (that one is deep).

Up and down.

Winding roads.

Our lives are one big country drive, aren't they?

Question is.. Are you fueled up? (The Sacraments) Are you listening to the GPS? (The Church) Do you know the way? (Jesus) Do you have the right road-trip drink? (Canada Dry Ginger Ale)

Because the end result of one of these drives is not the middle of nowhere.

It's home.

It's Heaven.

And each leg of the journey isn't necessarily this enjoyable and peaceful.. But its moments like these that remind us of the big picture. The destination and scope of the experience makes it meaningful.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Quick Takes - The Family & Friends Edition

Hey there! Hope you're having a good week! :)

I have been so looking forward to this weekend! Last night: drinks with a group from Church. Today: coffee with my soon-to-be ordained pal, lunch with my mom, dinner/movie/concert with friends. Saturday: shopping with my BFF, wedding shower planning with fellow bridesmaids, and birthday party for Heather*. Sunday: brunch for my youth ministers, the wedding shower, and Benediction. Whew! I hope to find some time on Saturday afternoon to head to Happy Hallow park and read in the grass (#3). I work a lot and sometimes I feel like my social life suffers. With everything going on this weekend I think I’ll be making up for lost time!

I am the oldest of 8 kids and I would like to officially nominate my family for the “Most Unique” award. Everything thinks my brother Tommy is the exciting one as he is an actor (check out his IMDB and a preview of one of his movies, Healed by Grace), but believe me: everyone else is just as animated. Our friends leave their families on Thanksgiving to come to our evening sing-a-long each year (it’s not as lame as it sounds! LOL), our yearly extreme Easter egg hunt is quite the hit, and we frequently hear, “Man! I wish I was part of your family!” But I really think we’d win the award based on my brothers' favorite past time.. Creating stupid tongue twisters. When I call them idiots, I do so lovingly. :)

Eddy Vedder's better leather letter sweater could weather wetter weather better than any other. 

Leave lots of Lilly's little left handed ladles in the middle of little Italy lining the little Italy little fiddle league lane like last leap year.

Steven Cleaver, the meaner steamer cleaner and Jesus believer, was relieved when his beaver's fever reliever relieved his Bieber fever. 

It’s ridiculous, I know.


Speaking of the fam and Tommy’s film experience, have you seen “The Shot on Shawnee”? This is the youngest in the family.. There are 21 years, five burly brothers and one darling sister between us. Enjoy.


* My friends Heather and Jeremy got engaged this week! Heather asked me last night to be one of her bridesmaids and I am thrilled! :) I love weddings. Check out the Maid of Honor speech that I did for my BFF Michaela. The DJ and other wedding workers said that, of all the weddings they’d ever worked, my speech was their favorite! :) I don’t mean to brag but.. It really is that good! LOL

I started a list of 50 things I want to do this summer.. From an outside concert to learning Italian to Pinterest crafts, I’ll be updating as I complete each one. :) If you make your own list and comment on the post I’ll be happy to link to yours! The summer goes so fast.. This is a great way to savor each day. Join me!

Tonight I'm going with a group to see Star Trek. Wars? No, Trek. I have never seen a single second of either of these movies. Or series or whatever. I might skip it and go see a band who plays at our Irish festival  who will be in town tonight. What is the point of sitting through a movie I won't be interested in? Or maye I should go and try to appreciate it.. My friend Theresa once made me watch the whole Battlestar Gallactica series.. Snore! I have no interest in watching a bunch of people with gills talk about spaceship turbulence or whatever. What do you think I should do?

Finally, our diocesan ordinations are coming up! I found out that the soon-to-be-ordained young man from the parish where I work is being assigned to the parish where I grew up! And my dear also-soon-to-be-ordained friend from the parish I grew up will be assigned to a parish near where I work! I have such a love for both of these places and I think they will be excellent priests! I got tears of joy when I found out, but that was no surprise.. I once cried at a parish All Council meeting. Don't judge! I was speaking about the faith of our awesome teens in youth group.. It was very touching!! (Sigh) Okay, I'm lame. :)

Now, go check out the REAL DEAL at Conversion Diary! Jen is so awesome!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Summer Fun-list!

My favorite summer song.
And winter song. 
Okay, all the time song.

Listen while you read! :) 

I made a list of 50 things I want to do this summer.. Some big, some small. But I'm on this kick where I try each day to do something that brings a breath of fresh air to my life! It might be lunch with a dear friend or a walk on local trails, but I find that no matter how small the act making this a priority is inspiring and uplifting to me! So, let's make a summer out of it! These are in no particular order and once I do them, I'll add a picture and a description!

** Okay.. You won't believe this.. I made this list, THEN numbered them and came up with exactly 50! Hello, Holy Spirit! :) Now I'm excited!!

✔ 1. Go to a concert at outside arena Deer Creek (Jimmy Buffett, maybe?) - It was Jimmy Buffett!! I got three free tickets and took my friends Jenna and Ruby! It was a bit crazy!
2. Sit at my neighborhood pool all. day. long (I live in a retirement community, it's great!)
3. Read a book in the grass
4. Plant herbs
5. Learn to make the perfect Mojito

✔ 6. Explore a new place - My brother Michael and I went to the prison where they filmed Shawshank Redemption! It was soooo cool!

✔ 7. Spend a weekend at the cottage on Lake Erie - Even though it basically rained the whole time, I had a few days of rest at the cottage and spent some time with my family in Cleveland. 
8. Go to the Farmer's Market and try something new - I went to an Olive Oil booth and got this Honey Balsamic Vinegar! It's fantastic!
9. Resurrect the Moscow Mule cocktail

✔ 10. Try a new recipe - Well, this is actually an old recipe. For our Irish festival my grandmother makes thousands of scones, but I went to help for the first time! It was a lot of fun!
11. Put my fav photos in frames

 12. Start going to the library again - I joined the Westfield Public Library and started a'rentin'!
13. Take my siblings to the zoo
14. Leave notes on co-workers cars
15. Win something (not hard.. I win stuff all the time!)

16. Make a summer 2013 mix CD - I kind of had a "bands covering other bands" thing going on!
17. Go to the State Fair (I've never been!) - It just never worked out. I watched this instead.
18. Spend a day at the spa - Got mani/pedis with my mom for my birthday!
19. Find a new summer make-up product - I love heighth in my hair. The bigger, the better! This is called Backcomb in a Bottle and it's amazing! Keeps the efforts of my teasing comb apparent all day! Wow!
20. Organize all my keepsakes - It's nothing pretty, but when I moved out of my old place I took one rubermaid container and organized all my pictures, letters and memorabilia! It was fun to go through!
21. Make some jewelry (I'll go to Vons!)
22. Take dinner to a friend for no reason
23. Catch some lightening bugs
24. Sketch and frame a pretty scene
25. Swap a book with a friend -
26. Make s'mores
27. Meet up with an old friend - MK! My first college roommate and a friend I haven't seen in 9 years! After spending 4 years teaching English in South Korea & Kuwait, she now lives 15 minutes away and she invited me over to her house! We laughed/talked/reminisced for hours! Love that girl!
28. Do a difficult Pinterest craft
29. Record a few songs
30. Play at O'Bryan's again
31. Go to the drive-in movies
32. Make a photo album of the summer

33. Play at an open mic night - Done and done! I covered Grease's "You're The One That I Want" and had a blast!
34. Learn some Italian
✔ 35. Do something different with my hair.. Not too crazy! - Well, this is crazy for me! A dear friend of mine convinced me to grow it out! I've never had my hair longer than shoulder length and I've been getting lots of compliments!
36. Join a book club
37. Get a dog - He is still not really named, but soo loved! He is my dream dog -- a mini English Sheepdog! And he's perfectly behaved and already trained. Love!
38. Order and sell my CDs again

✔ 39. Enjoy a root beer float - I had this one at Bruno's in West Lafayette. It had vanilla vodka in it. 'Nuff said.
✔ 40. Wear a toe ring - Okay, there is no reason why a picture of my foot should be online. Trust me. I got a toe ring. 
41. Attend a community event
42. Watch the sunrise - I did this, but it was a cloudy day and the pictures weren't very good.

✔ 43. Watch the sunset - At the lake! Yes, ma'am!
44. Stargaze
45. Use the canvases sitting in my garage and paint - I don't think I'm done with it yet, but its a start. I did this in about 12 minutes before some of my friends came for the weekend! When the first one arrived I asked her, "Umm.. Does it smell like paint in here?"
46. Make a Catechetical video
47. Build a sandcastle
48. Have an all-night movie marathon - My sister and I didn't make it the whole night, but we had an "H"-themed movie night! Hairspray, Hunger Games and

49. Get a new summer purse - I found this at Claire's today (while I was getting my toe ring) and although I don't usually go for the across the body bag, I like it! Very bright and summery! Update: this bag was horrible.
50. Go fishing

Whew! That got me excited for the next few months! What are your plans for the summer? If you have your own list of to-do's the summer tell me and I'll link them below!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stay tuned -- The Gay Debate Continues!

"Same-sex couples and opposite sex couples are really different when it comes to the great reality on which marriage is founded which is: regulating the sexual relationships of the opposite sex so that they serve children and don't hurt them... So how does society do this? It's not because of what people do privately, it's not the wedding ceremony. It's the consensus around the idea that you gotta bring together the two great halves of humanity; male and female, to make and raise the next generation. If we had a powerful marriage culture, gay marriage would make no sense. Because the marriage culture is dramatically weakened, it's plausible to some people. But gay marriage institutionalizes the idea that marriage is just about romance." - Maggie Gallagher

This is the best short answer to the gay debate that I've heard and it is what I will use in my next post in the series to explain what children have to do with gay marriage. I'll post in the next week.. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Music in the Church

I saw this from Catholic Memes and I wanted to talk about it..

I'm not a big fan of this attitude toward contemporary sacred music..

Now, let me be clear. I grew up at a parish with an organ and a beautiful devotion to chant and old hymns. Do you have the St. Michael Hymnal at your parish? Yeah, that was created at mine. I have a deep love for this kind of sacred music in the Church and I love the solemn reverence.

However, I have also always found a great level of prayerfulness and devotion in some contemporary songs. They may not be as solemn, but it doesn't mean they are any less reverent! Are they all appropriate for Mass? No. But remind me.. In what year did sacred music and the culture become so incongruous? THANK GOD someone invented the organ. Otherwise all our efforts would be in vain.. (Sigh)

Listen, I've read the documents. I understand that chant should be given a place of pride and that the organ is the instrument of the Church! I love both! But don't you think, at some point in history, somebody could have come up with a hymn that all the right moves but didnt bowl people over? Really.. When did God stop inspiring Catholic composers?? The fact is, our attempts at worship will never equal the glory of God! We're all grasping at straws.. Some just may be those curly straws you get at birthday parties. :)

American Catholics make up 6% of the world's Catholics. Go to a Mass in Africa and tell me that there's only one hymnal for the universal Church. It seems that we limit God when we say that He can only be praised in one way. What about the sweet, childlike wonder that can be found in adoring Him with a simple song from the soul? I think Jesus looks at the disposition of the heart of the singer, not the composition of the music on the page when He is pleased with our worship.

Let me be clear: I don't have a problem with promoting chant or hymns. If the Church considers it #1, sounds good to me! :) What I have a problem with is dismissing the quality of worship of any other type of music in a way that demeans the faith of the composer or those who enjoy it. It's comments like the above meme that I think are pitiful and I know we can do better at promoting musical restoration in the Church.

Now.. Excuse me while I rock out to "Long Live the Pope".

What's sex got to do with it? The gay marriage debate continues!

This is part two in a series of blogs about gay marriage. The first is about the rights of marriage but I'll really encourage you to check out the preamble.. It explains why I won't be using the Church or Scripture to defend (although at the end I will do a Theological explanation). Be sure to check those out and stay tuned for other topics like children and gay marriage!

Maybe I should have done this post first.. It's really looking at the essence of marriage. And it's all about..


P.S. When I give my chastity talks sometimes I have the kids yell out "Sex!" beforehand. I'll say, "Oh, c'mon!  You can do better than that! Embarrass your teachers! Let's really yell it out.. Ready?" LOL They end up screaming and laughing and it totally cuts the tension. :) I love chastity talks!

So let's do the adult version here. No need to be shy.. Wherever you are, just yell out "Penis!" or scream "Vagina!" Ready? Go!

See? That wasn't so bad! Oh.. You were at Panera? They're escorting you out and you had to leave your Bacon Turkey Bravo behind? Ehh.. Sorry about that.

But really taking a look at sex can be enlightening when it comes to marriage as it is the physical union between two, mirroring the union in the relationship of marriage.

So, what is sex? Let's head back to our Oxford English Dictionary:

Now, I'm not sure how anyone could disagree with this, but sex involves a penis and a vagina. With two of the same I'm sure you can have a grand ol' time! Rubbing and.. Whatever. But ya can't have sex. 

Notice that this definition does not talk about love. Rape can include sex. And on the flip side, it doesn't matter much love is between the two, a same-sex couple cannot have sex. It is, what the French call,  impossible. 

Like the Kraft singles (see last post in the series.. Kraft Singles can't be called cheese because they lack the essence of cheese), it doesn't matter how naked two people are, how many orgasms they have, how sexy their time together is.. If there is not a penis, a vagina and penetration involved, it might be sexy, but it ain't sex, my friend. 

And this is my basic argument for why gay couples cannot be married. Marriage IS the union of a man and wife with the potential for new life between them. It doesn't matter how much love is between two women or two men, how much commitment they have for each other.. Romance and commitment does not a marriage make. It's a distinct relationship of husband and wife with the potential for new life.*

We can't deny that the penis and vagina fit together so perfectly! You cannot bring two vaginas or two penises together like you can their counterparts. Why are we so surprised then when we make the statement that the men and women who are attached to that genitalia are, in the same way, harmoniously united? Men and women, like their "sexy bits" (*wink!*), fit together in a way like no other relationship! It is distinct! And it is worth protecting. 

When we start saying that anything sexy is sex, then sex becomes anything! Our ideas about sex become blurry, our standards and expectations are lowered, and suddenly sex is no big deal. Similarly, if we start saying that any romantic, committed relationship is marriage, then marriage will be -- eh, whatever. When you have marriages that are suddenly no different, really, from any other relationship and a society that does not support it, the institution itself will crumble. 

This is important. We MUST have a society that sees the relationship between husband and wife as sacred and supports and protects it with a vengence! Our culture should surround marriage and the family as the basis of our civilization. If we don't, and the institution of marriage fails, the family will fail. The building block of our society will break down. We cannot be a strong people without strong marriages. 

Protecting marriage is protecting our way of life. 

* Someone is going to ask: well what about infertile couples!? You have a man and a woman but no potential for new life, you know! But there is a difference between not being able to reach the potential vs. removing it completely. And just like any fluke of nature, it does not contradict the entire system. Infertile couples are the exception when it comes to marriage. But every. single. same-sex couple is, by nature, sterile. It is not a comparable phenomena. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Exciting, Disturbing & Reminiscent

Hey there! Hope you had a great week!

1. So, you know I was born in Ireland. And I can turn my accent on and off like nobody's business. My junior high class has been asking me to speak with the accent and I said if they could remember one of my lessons from earlier in the year, I would think about it. In the fall I taught them how to make a good apology. I don't remember where I read this, but it's been a great lesson for myself! You say;
-- I'm so sorry.
-- It was my fault.
-- It won't happen again.
-- What can I do to make it better?
So I asked them.. "How do you make a good apology?" And one kid raised his hand quickly and said, "I remember!" He crumpled his face, started to fake cry and said, "Pleeeeeease don't haaaaaate me!!" LOL I laughed so hard that I gave them playground time. I love my job!

2. I'm going to Italy for the first time! Okay, it's still more than a year away, but I'll be heading over the sea with my pastor and youth group on an amazing two-week trip next summer! Until then I'll be learning Italian, reading travel books and watching Under the Tuscan Sun over and over and over again! (Sigh) "It even smells purple." I can't wait!

3. Michael Mette came to Goretti! Have you heard him? Michael is an amazing Catholic musician (seriously, the kids said, "Caitie Rose, why don't YOU play guitar like that?" I told them they couldn't handle my talent at full throttle) and is touring the country with his family in an airstream! If you don't bring him to your parish, ya crazy! Get it on and get on his "Bring Forth the Light" tour! My favorite song he sang went like this: "When I consume Your Body, and I consume Your Blood, please consume my heart." He's awesome!

4. Even more exciting tho, we had 80 students Confirmed this past weekend! The Mass was beautiful! All week I had been singing this song and, having interviewed each and every teen myself, it was truly an honor to see them receive this Sacrament! *Weeeep!* P.S. A peice of advice for my fellow youth ministers: get more cake than you think you'll need. Ain't nothing more scary than the mothers of new Confirmed teens after the cake runs out. Whew!

5. Have you been keeping up with the case in Cleveland with the three girls who escaped their abductor? I visit Cleveland frequently and have read about these girls for years! I have been obsessed these last few days! I'm just riveted! But at lunch with my co-workers I realized I might have a problem when our Religious Ed coordinator put her sandwich down as I brough the others up to speed on the grusome details of the case. I can't help it! I'm glued!

6. Speaking of, since I don't live in Cleveland, I didn't have access to TV newscasts so I was watching online streaming video. One news network left theirs up between newscasts and as it filmed a street corner, a production assistant came in front of the camera and, while talking to the control room, repeated a phone number and code a couple times. I wrote it down and, when curiosity got the best of me, called it, entered the code and was shortly connected to the station's tele-conference in preparation of that night's 11 o'clock news. Remember when you first heard that THREE guys -- not just one -- were being held for questioning? Yeah, I heard that an hour or more before you did. Thankfully the producer said it was no big deal but I felt like a young Diane Sawyer.

7. Finally, I was going through my Facebook pictures and found a whole album of Graffiti drawings I'd done for people a few years back.. Some are inside jokes, but my talent is really quite notable and I have to share.. Don't judge me for the time I apparently had on my hands back then. I wasn't in youth ministry at the time. :)

Go see Jen at Conversion Diary and read something worthwhile!

 My gay marriage debate will resume again in the next week or two! Come on back and say hello! :)