Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes: More thanking.

Another Thanksgiving post. And one more to go!

Days 15 through 21 of Thanksgiving:

--- 15 ---

I am thankful for NAPPING!!!!

--- 16 ---

I am thankful for martyrs! I got this video from another quick taker.
As far as I have strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant. I bind myself in this way so that for the rest of my life I will have neither permission nor freedom to refuse opportunities of dying and shedding my blood for you, unless at a particular juncture I should consider it more suitable for your glory to act otherwise at the time. Further, I bind myself to this so that, on receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit. --St. John de Brebeuf--

--- 17 ---

I am thankful for online stores that offer free return shipping. Otherwise I would never ever buy shoes or clothing online.

--- 18 ---

I am thankful for perpetual adoration chapels, especially one within 15 minutes of where I live. The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration have a community near the National Shrine. You can literally knock on their door any time between the hours of 7am and 7pm and they will let you into their parlor where you can worship Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. During one of our summer storms that knocked down tons of trees and took out the power I decided to visit the Poor Clares. Without any electricity that was the sweatiest Holy Hour I've ever prayed though.

--- 19 ---

I am VERY thankful that one of the guys at our science meeting in Hampton, VA drove me back from lunch after walking "three blocks" in my high heels to get there--which translated into half an hour of walking time.  I literally prayed for a way out of walking back because my ankles had started turning toward the end of the first walk.

--- 20 ---

I am thankful for separate checks! It seems like on every work trip there is at least one dinner at which half the people order appetizers, steak dinners, bottles of wine, and multiple desserts and the other half order a small salad with a glass of water (thank you very much!). The second half waits around for at least an hour after finishing eating until the rest are finished and the bill comes. Then the organizer of the dinner, generally from the first half of the group, decides that it makes the most sense to split the bill evenly. Yes. I am cheap. Deal with it.

--- 21 ---

I am thankful for Mormons (see #20). One great thing I've learned about Mormons is that if one happens to be organizing your dinner party, he/she will probably arrange separate checks in case someone wants to buy alcohol.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Thanksgivings 9-15

I started this so I guess I should keep doing it even though it's impossible to adequately express my gratitude for the most important things like family and friends.

Days 9 through 15 of Thanksgiving:

--- 9 ---

I am thankful for the Cook family. My much younger cousins have somehow persevered in believing that I am a fun person. I'll admit, there were brief moments throughout their childhood during which I mustered the energy to be fun. But for the most part I'm the tired grump sitting on the couch chatting with the grown ups. I am thankful for their continued assurance that I can be fun if I just make up my mind to be. I am also thankful for their parents who were in the "fun" grown up position when my brother and I were kids. They willingly participated in synchronized swimming competitions and the ten foot pole game (until I decided to start throwing the pole). Definitely fun people.

--- 10 ---

I am thankful for my landlords whom I frequently overhear saying great things like, "If the theology you are learning does not affect the way you live your life then it's not a true theology." They share their dinner with me several nights per month, listen to my venting, and provide sound advice. One of their baby's few words is Jesus and he has started picking up a little wooden crucifix on a stand in their living room and kissing it. He did this when they were about to leave the other day and his parents told him "That's so sweet! Now we're leaving Jesus here." "But he's still with us." "That's right! He's coming with us because we're among the Baptized!" Now that's what we call a Domestic Church.

--- 11 ---

I am thankful for my vacuum cleaner, which sucks up all the creepy bugs that I don't want to smoosh. Some day I may transition to the bug gun which supposedly catches the bug in a chamber so that it can be released back into the wild. I guess it's like the bug version of a have-a-heart trap.

--- 12 ---

I am thankful for Freecyle through which I received an amazing bright yellow desk and chair. I also ditched some weird things that have moved around with me since college, including some awkwardly sized poster frames which had never even been opened AND the broken down remains of the wooden loft bed that I used in NH.

--- 13 ---

I am thankful for my car, which has treated me well during five years of service. I'm really hoping to get to and from VT at Thanksgiving and Christmas without spinning off the road like that one other time. But that reminds me that I'm also thankful for AAA and the state trooper who helped me.

--- 14 ---

I am thankful for a place to live, for heat and blankets and winter coats and hats and scarves and mittens--all of the things that keep me warm so that snowflakes are a blessing rather than a curse. I am thankful for the masterpiece of creation in which no design was ever repeated. And I am thankful for the photographs of Snowflake Bentley, a really awesome Vermonter.

--- 15 ---

I am thankful for my friend Jeremy and all the seminarians at Mount St. Mary's. So far I've met at least five of the other guys and they're all amazing. I can't wait to see Jeremy's story when the Spes Nostra video comes out!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

7 Day-Old Quick Takes.

I see lots of people doing the however-many-days of Thanksgiving thing. I assume it's 28 days? Well it seemed like a good idea for November quick-taking. Since Friday was the 8th, I'll count my gramma bday post as my first day of Thanksgiving. Like I said, gram was always getting us out of jams!

Days 2 through 8 of Thanksgiving:

--- 2 ---

I am thankful for my brother, who at certain times has been my only friend. He can always make me laugh when I'm sad. And he never believed me that January is spelled with 2 r's.

--- 3 ---
Science conference church in San Francisco

I am thankful that my work allows me to attend Mass almost every day, and that I have time to stay for the rosary and divine mercy chaplet. And for 91 year-old Joe who brings me a bag of dried fruit and a granola bar for breakfast every morning and chats with me about the time Micky Rooney flew his airplane.

--- 4 ---

I am thankful for all of my coworkers whom I see every day and my colleagues from around the world. The science community is like a strange family, with the same fun and the same drama. It's such a blessing to go to work with a bunch of people I actually enjoy being around!

--- 5 ---

I am especially thankful for Allison, who is largely responsible for the successful completion of my previous several AGU posters, including Knudsen's Magical Diffuse Aurora Eraser. Without her help there would NOT have been anything magical about it. We survived the mudslides of the Maroon Bells and a trolley car robbery. It will be interesting to see what the next trip has in store.

--- 6 ---

I am thankful for the prison ministry and everyone I have met there. Sometimes people send us poems they've written or pictures of their kids. One person decorated some pottery for me. But most of all they're all so loyal in prayer. Sometimes I wonder what kind of a miserable person I'd be without so many prisoners praying for me!

--- 7 ---

I am thankful for the Happy Fault and for God's mercy. Felix Culpa: "O happy fault. O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer."

"In order to die for us--because as God he could not die--the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Immortal One took on mortality that he might die for us, and by dying put to death our death."
--St. Augustine--

--- 8 ---

I am thankful for the B.I.G. Book Sale in Annapolis, where I can donate all the weird books I've accumulated and pick up gems like "Three by Flannery O'Connor" including Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, and Everything That Rises Must Converge. Her stories are brutally violent and meant to convey the "action of grace in territory held largely by the devil." She also said and wrote amazing things about her Catholic faith. She must have been an introvert. In one of her letters she described so well how I often feel when attending dinner parties and/or explaining the faith:
I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, A Charmed Life.) She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn't opened my mouth once, their being nothing for me in such company to say. The people who took me were Robert Lowell and his now wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously suppose to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child she received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the "most portable" person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it." That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy All Souls Day--a celebration of death!!

Today is All Souls Day, the final celebration of Hallowmas (the Triduum of Hallows) which started with the Vigil of All Saints Day (All Hallows Eve) and is celebrated as Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.

In celebrating this triduum, we make the bold assertion that death is a gift! As St. Ambrose wrote: "Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing... No longer will the bride be held in subjection to this passing world but will be made one with the spirit." Death is the ultimate display of God's healing and mercy.

I disagree with National Geographic that this is a minor holiday in the Catholic Church. Rather it is one of MANY major holidays in the Catholic Church. Hallowmas was traditionally celebrated as one of several days-long festivals. Fr. Steve Grunow explains that "A holy day of obligation has not always meant spending 45 minutes in church for Mass and then going back to work. Holy Days were times for a party and if you look at the Church’s calendar, past and present, with this ethos in mind you will discover that the reasons for a party happened with great frequency." I think we need to return to the tradition of grand celebrations.

So let's visit a cemetery and remember where we came from and where we are headed!

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Happy Bday Gram and Andy!!

Today is one of the awesomest days of the year. It's my brother's birthday AND my gramma's birthday AND All Saints Day. Happy Birthday to Gramminator and IndiAndy Jones!! :o) Perhaps someone in the family could show gramma my Quick Takes? Thank you in advance. (Is this a Quick Take rather than an intro? Am I cheating?)

My brother's girlfriend made him a totally amazing cake! Last I heard, she was the only one brave enough (er... "hungry" enough) to eat any of it. But I still think it's a HUGE success.

Dear Andy, let me send a much belated response to a letter you wrote (quoted below) and say that I would, in fact, like to do something fun while I'm home for the holidays.

I want fun! :o)
No fun! :(
Dear Sarah,
Sorry to keep
Bugging you
But there's
Nothing to do.

Dear gramma, I remember you always helping us out of jams. I particularly remember gramma reading Andy the literary classics that were required for school because he just hated reading. I would hear her voice start to tremble and she would pause and say "This is really sad!" at the tragic death of yet another faithful canine companion. But gramma persevered through Where the Red Fern Grows and Sounder and a host of other traumatizing youth fiction novels.

One year my class at school had an International Food Day. We were divided into groups and instructed to choose a country. Someone in my group decided to make Swedish meatballs, forcing the rest of us to identify and produce some other Swedish dish. (Seriously??? Name another food with the word Swedish in the title.) In a small Vermont town of about 3000 people, we did not have a Scandinavian store within a reasonable driving distance. So I did the only thing I could think of in that situation: whined to gramma! She found the one Swedish recipe in her old cookbook, for cookies that we had never heard of and certainly couldn't pronounce. But wouldn't you know, those sandbakelsers were amazing!

In my senior year of high school I took a French class which included a French Food Day. I remember one guy basically made grilled cheese sandwiches out of French toast, which is apparently something that French people do. Again gramma came to the rescue making a Strawberry Glace Pie. To this day we do not know if the word glace has two syllables or one. UPDATE: the word glace does have two syllables, like the McDonald's Frappe. THANK YOU GRAMMA FOR COMING TO OUR RESCUE!

I found this picture of me and Andy looking very serious outside of our indoor play tent. Bed Bath and Beyond sells play tents but they look way too high in quality. Simply scaling a grown up product down to a child's size takes some of the fun out of it. How about stretching the imagination?
I have to admit that All Saints Day overwhelms me. How am I to celebrate ALL of the Saints in one single day??? This year I went with friends to a beautiful vigil service (All Hallows Eve!) at the Dominican House of Studies. I did not see Fr. Justin this time but I did see a Brother who happens to be the godfather of my landlords' baby. But, speaking of Saints, the Bishop of Northampton has begun the fact-finding necessary to open the cause for canonization of Gilbert Keith Chesterton!! This gigantically wonderful and brilliant man is not your typical image of a Saint. But I'm rooting for him, along with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Dorothy Day, Blessed Mother Teresa and some others (like Mother Angelica and His Holiness Benedict XVI, whenever the Lord decides to take them).

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around."
--Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton, 1908--

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!