Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Seinfeld Spirituality

The shut down is over. Just when I was getting used to retired life!

Much to my surprise, several super nice people read my Quick Takes last week. So I've decided that everyone who comments on (or just reads) my blog will be added to my book of prayers. Here it is relaxing in my prayer nook which, it turns out, is not a nook at all for it is not a corner or recess and does not offer seclusion or security. My prayer book is decorated with stickers commemorating satellite missions--All for the Glory of God!! ;o) Holy Mary, St. Monica, St. Anthony, and I will intercede for you each night--expect amazing things!

My snazzy prayer book reminds me of His Holiness Benedict XVI, a great lover of science. Here is a small portion of his interview of the ISS crew. Cutest Pope EVER!! Now that he has some free time he should come visit NASA. Check out his Coat of Arms HERE--really interesting stuff!

I've been scanning images from my old children's books and The Almost-Forgotten Teddy Bear by Ann Harler is a book that seems way more creepy to adult Sarah. I think Toy Story ruined it for me. This looks WAY too much like Sid's room. Spoiler alert: Teddy almost gave up on life but somehow made his way back into the light and avoided lifelong imprisonment with the misfit toys under the bed.

This past weekend I went on an Opus Dei retreat for young professional women. The Opus Dei ladies leading the retreat were pretty much the opposite of the creepy albino guy from The Da Vinci Code in every way I can think of. I suggest that anyone wanting to know the truth about Opus Dei read John Allen's book. He covers the good, the bad, and the ugly. I guess any spiritual direction that is good enough for Scott Hahn is good enough for me.

Part of the retreat focused on living a life of integrity, which is a goal that can be embraced by anyone. If I want to be respected at work and, therefore, avoid telling crude jokes then maybe I should seek to be equally well respected outside of work rather than allowing my mind to dive into the gutter. Rather than lower my standards whenever I can get away with it, why not always hold myself to the highest standard? Something to consider.

Public Service Announcement: this item tastes like neither pumpkin nor cider. It tastes like ginger. If you like carbonated ginger juice then this is the product for you. You can find it at Aldi. Happy Fall!!
My mom is on a spiritual retreat called Walk to Emmaus, which is apparently based on Cursillo. I've been told that Cursillo is pretty much the coolest thing in the whole world. So hopefully mom is experiencing a similar level of coolness this weekend. Anyway, I wrote a poem for her which I guess I can post here since she doesn't have internet access on the retreat. It's based on I Love You More Than Applesauce by Jack Prelutsky.

I love you more than internet,
Than Facebook and my blog,
Than cheap used books,
And knowing looks,
And going on a jog.
I love you more than power naps,
And caffeinated tea,
Than winter hats,
And fluffy cats,
And laughing til we pee.
I love you more than corned beef hash,
Than smashed up eggs on toast;
I love hugs and ladybugs,
But I love you the most.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 (moderately) Quick Takes

Since I'm horrible at communicating with long distance friends I'm starting 7 sort-of-Quick Takes on Fridays. I don't promise regularity or that the 7 takes will necessarily be from the last 7 days. 

I have begun a two year formation period with the Lay Missionaries of Charity (LMCs)! This is an extension of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The LMCs make annual vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and free and wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor. The formation period involves discernment (Am I really called to make vows as a Lay Missionary?), spiritual formation (Am I able to live by the statutes of the Lay Missionaries?), and integration (adoption into the lay community and closer collaboration with the Missionary of Charity Sisters). In other words, a lot more of this.

The Sisters asked me to stay and serve dinner to the residents after our September LMC meeting. The Gift of Hope houses roughly 10 men, many of whom were previously homeless, suffering from HIV/AIDS and a myriad of other ailments. Fortunately the guys are good at helping each other because I must have been the slowest volunteer they've seen in a while. Fortunately Albert, one of the LMCs, was there to supervise the house for the night and helped serve while the guys continued to ask me, "Have you been here before??" But I must have served well enough because the Sisters allowed me to come back and serve breakfast during the shutdown. The guys were a little slower moving early in the morning so I was able to keep up.

As we cleaned up after dinner, Albert began to explain the Sisters' view of the vow of poverty. Not only do the Sisters try not to own or spend money on anything they don't absolutely need, but they also live in the spirit of poverty. They want to be united to the poor in their suffering, something that makes little sense without an understanding of spiritual communion. However, the Sisters also claim that the more "comfortable" we are, the less we think about the poor. So the Sisters try to use hot water as little as possible, wash and reuse everything including foil and plastic bags, and turn down even hand-me-down donations of things like electric mixers--"We do this by hand." Good thing I've got two full years of formation!

One Sunday the Sisters needed a ride to Mass and I readily agreed. Turns out the Mass was of the Syro-Malabar Rite and was celebrated by the Cardinal from that Rite. Pretty neat experience but 3 hours long! Fortunately the other Latin Riters next to me, who had driven the Missionaries of Charity from Gift of Peace in DC, were just as incapable of following the translation in the book since we had no clue how the swirly written language related to the syllables that were uttered.

Perhaps inspired by Pope Francis' example of how to live a vow of poverty, I decided to downgrade from my apartment. Why spend three times as much money on rent when I live alone and would be perfectly happy renting the master bedroom in a Cape Cod style house with a young couple and their baby and two cats? And PERFECT timing. I was able to weather the government shutdown.

I have a new friend named Lion Heart. Or is it Lionheart? Anyway, Charlamagne is not quite my friend because he's much crazier. But he is also orange.

The shutdown gave me extra time to check out the new neighborhood. One day I visited the Belair Stable Museum which is far more entertaining than I expected. Who knew that Gallant Fox is not just the name of a street near McDonald's but also the name of a triumphant racehorse? His brother Fighting Fox was apparently quite a stud too. Most interesting was the history of black jockeys in the 1800s.
The other day (and by the other day I mean three weeks ago), I was grabbing something from the back seat of my car and noticed an old cigarette butt on the floor. Eventually I remembered that while walking through Baltimore with FrC one night, a homeless man asked for prayer and a ride to the hospital. Of course, FrC jumped at the opportunity (in his mind, the privilege) to give this man a ride somewhere. On the way to the car he informed me that I would be driving the three of us, which was surely my penance for calling him a maniac Baltimore driver. Some time between picking up Aaron on the street corner and leaving him at the ER the cigarette butt must have fallen on my floor. As I picked it up I thought that if I could only bring FrC with me wherever I go then I might seem like a compassionate person.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 4, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis was a small and lithe Italian who lived during the middle ages (1181-1226).  He was a courteous man, often praised for his impeccable manners, but he was also spontaneous and full of energy.  In having nothing, St. Francis was the freest man who ever lived. In Chesterton's book on Thomas Aquinas he describes St. Francis:

"St. Francis was a lean and lively little man; thin as a thread and vibrant as a bowstring; and in his motions like an arrow from the bow.  All his life was a series of plunges and scampers; darting after the beggar, dashing naked into the woods, tossing himself into the strange ship, hurling himself into the Sultan's tent and offering to hurl himself into the fire.  In appearance he must have been like a thin brown skeleton autumn leaf dancing eternally before the wind; but in truth it was he that was the wind."

If St. Francis resembles Christ, then Christ resembles St. Francis.