Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Why We Crave Horror Stories": A Response

Today I had to read "Why We Read Horror Stories" by Stephen King for my research paper English class. It is a very intriguing essay, but very dark. I don't have time or desire to recapitulate all his arguments, so in order to understand my response I recommend you go read the essay yourself here. It isn't long, only about a page.

King's argument is indeed interesting, and I think I agree with some of it, especially this: "We also go [to horror movies] to reestablish our feelings of essential normality...Freda Jackson as the horrible melting woman in Die, Monster, Die! confirms for us that no matter how far we may be removed from the beauty of a Robert Redford or a Diana Ross, we are still light-years from true ugliness."

...up to the succumbing to the crave part.

I've never seen, nor particularly craved, a horror movie. Yet, from what I got from King's article, I know I never desire to see one. (Actually, I knew this before.)

I feel that...Somehow, contrary to King's cynical approach that we must indulge this base, monstrous "lyncher" within, those of us who experience this gnawing crave for violence must instead seek to eradicate it from their soul through starving this desire any nourishment.

I do understand King's point on catharsis. Aristotle, in his Poetics, makes a similar point about tragedy: we enjoy tragedy because the sadness and loss experienced by the characters reflects that which we may ourselves feel, yet without actually happening to someone in real life. Therefore, we can feel and cry over this dramatic sorrow, while still realizing that it is not reality. Therefore, after we cry and release our pent up grief, we can experience relief and move on.

King seems to think the same is true of a human's base desire for violence: if we indulge this internal depravity with something "innocent," a horror movie, gory video game, or WWE wrestling, this will allow the built-up pressure within us out just enough to keep us able to hide our "insanity," as he calls it. Our violent longings can live vicariously via these entertainment genres, and so be contented and subdued for a time.

Yet, experiencing catharsis for grief and seeking the same for violent, murderous, and depraved desires are fundamentally opposed to one another. The former, the ability and need to grieve, is an inherent part of our humanity and was placed there by God himself. Certainly, the most powerful words in all of scripture are "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Christ, perfectly God and perfectly man, would not have grieved over Lazarus's death if grief itself was not a holy and acceptable emotion. But the desire for depravity and violence is found nowhere in Christ. It is evil; while it may perhaps, to some extent, exist in all humans, it is thus a result of Original Sin, and was not intended to reside within us at the creation of man, nor ever.

Therefore, catharsis through vicarious experience is certainly the wrong approach for dealing with such a disordered desire. This would be akin to visiting a shooting range and pretending that the silhouette on the target is actually one's most despised enemy; then taking full pleasure in "pretend" murdering him.

Such an act of "pretend" would be vilely sinful, and make one hate said enemy only more.

Again, this could be compared to a person seeking lustful sexual satisfaction through pornography. As all studies show, porn is never cathartic. Rather, this vicarious unchastity makes one crave sex more and more, never lessening the desire but instead amplifying it exponentially.

I do not necessarily condemn all horror-movie viewing. I myself do not prefer it, but I'd have to research and contemplate its ramifications more fully before I could form any sort of qualified opinion.

However, I do believe, if one's purpose in enjoying this genre is in any way akin to those stated in King's essay, that is incredibly unhealthy and sinful. The more a sinful desire of any sort is indulged within us, the more indulgence does it constantly demand. Therefore, the more one feeds the violent "lyncher" beast within oneself, the more of that beast will he himself become. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

My 20th Birthday

Yesterday, my friends here provided me with one of the best birthdays I can remember. I love them all so much!!

When I woke up, I encountered my door covered in artwork, spelling Happy Birthday with aspects of all my favorite things! (There was even the burning couch from Herodotus, thanks to Sweet Mary!) I was so touched, and realized that these wonderful people actually listen and pay attention to my crazy, bizarre monologues!






Then I noticed a lovely little Christmas tree on top of the fridge complete with gifts underneath, including a Mario Brothers Question Mark Box, courtesy of Bea, and a beautiful card from my roommate, Sarah. Sweet Mary wrapped her gift in graph paper which she meticulously drew butterflies all over!



I went to a Tridentine Low Mass at noon, where my friend Dana joined me. Mass was exquisitely beautiful, and I was so thrilled to receive the ultimate gift of my Lord's entire Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

That afternoon Carina and Bea hung out in my room while I tidied up (which was muchly needed! My poor roommate is so patient and kind with my clutter ineptitude). Then I opened my gifts: a beautiful silver butterfly ornament from Sweet Mary, with bright sapphire glitter, which I hung on my wall; a lovely travel mug from Molly; and cappuccino k-cups and a book of cat poetry called I Could Pee on This from Bea. (After doing some dishes) we enjoyed my new cappuccino and read aloud from my new poetry, then played a highly amusing Victorian Parlour Game.



I had hoped to order pizza that evening and spend it watching a movie, but Carina and Bea indicated that their cash supplies were running low and that they really had work to do that evening, so we agreed to meet at the Caf for dinner together and then get some work done. Maybe we could do something later after getting work done.

Bea came to walk with me to dinner, and on the way there we encountered Star Wars Liz, saying she needed our help to kidnap Sweet Mary and drag her to dinner. She was playing the homework card, as usual. I yelled down her hallway that she had to come to dinner, it was my birthday and she had no choice. We easily swayed her, and then Liz remembered that she wanted to show me the movie room upstairs, since I'd never been there. We climbed the stairs, followed the confusing hallway, and I was presented with a door thoughtfully decorated with these signs:

                    "I'm happy on your birthday because you're one year closer to being dead"


                       "Happy Birthday! As you're getting older let us know if you feel lonely!"


                I was then fully shocked to find my wonderful friends all congregated to meet me!!



Planned well in advance, we partook of Domino's pizza, soda, hummus with veggies and pita bread (YUM!) and they presented me with a rice crispie cake! John-Damian sang a dreadful birthday song and gave me an original short story as a gift.



We watched one of my favorite movies, The Count of Monte Cristo, courtesy of David (thank you!!). We ate rice crispie cake, and then watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I. All in all, it was an incredibly relaxing, meaningful, and memorable day. I am so grateful for these people that God put into my life!!

Thank you once again Bea, Sweet Mary, Star Wars Liz, Carina, Molly, John-Damian, and David, and everyone else who made me feel so blessed and beloved this week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My thoughts on "The Fault in Our Stars"

Last night, I had the distinct privilege of enjoying a thorough "girls' night out" with Rika, a good friend of mine. Since I was homeschooled and the majority of my closest friends are guys, and most of the ones who are girls live about an hour away, occasions like this are rare and much enjoyed. We went out for Chinese, to the movies, shopping, and froyo. It was glorious.

I so want to have liked this movie. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore love stories, from fairytales to Nicholas Sparks to superhero relationships (WHY Gwen?!?!?!). But I could not like this one, and I did not. Thus, if you love said movie or the book it was based on, you might want to leave now, so that our friendship can remain intact. Or if you dislike spoilers, now would also be a good time to exit via stage left.

I will not attempt to discuss the faulty theology the film presents, because someone named Jay Younts at Shepherd Press already did that, and did it well. Check that out here.

I'm going to call out the big elephant in the room, and talk about the virginity thing. The biggest reason I could not like this movie was the virginity problem, as usual. See, one of the rather large plot elements in the story is that Gus, a truly sweet, charming, attractive, and gentlemanly 18 year old boy, is still a virgin because he had a leg amputated below the knee. Toward the end of the film this problem is rectified in a fairly explicit scene with Hazel. Sound familiar? It is the same plot as so many other young adult romance films these days. Just see the IMDb page for Now Is Good (a film I have not seen). The plot bio there reads, "A girl dying of leukemia compiles a list of things she'd like to do before passing away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity."

I do not understand this. Yeah. I know. I was homeschooled. I'm Catholic. I'm old-fashioned. Most would say, I'm sheltered. But people, come ON.

Why is virginity now the biggest illness people can possibly face today? When did that happen, that until you've lost such a precious gift, you are an outcast from society? (Or at least high school/college social status.) Why is it that the most important thing to do when dying from a terminal illness is making sure you sleep with someone before you die? How is that love?!

In this film, after Gus and Hazel spend the night together, Hazel's mom asks them how their day was yesterday. See, they were in Amsterdam visiting the author of their favorite book, and had spent the rest of the day sightseeing. She asked what they did after that, and they vaguely responded, "Oh, you know, we walked around a bit..." Which made her smile knowingly. WAIT. WOAH. Hold up. What true, loving mother simply smiles knowingly when he knows her daughter spent the night with her boyfriend the night before?!

See, my problem with this movie is that it was a love story, and the characters did not love each other. They used each other so they could experience sex before their death. How is that love? I know everyone will be horrified that I would simplify it down to that. They will argue that there was so much more complexity to it than that. But not really. See, if they loved each other, why didn't they get married, like in A Walk to Remember? You want a love story with real love? Now that was a love story.

I read a book recently, upon the recommendation of a spiritual director, called Man and Woman, A Divine Invention, by Alice von Hildebrand. The book is mainly about the inherent beauty in femininity, unlike feminism. Most of the book is devoted to motherhood and being a wife, but there is also a truly inspiring section on the beauty of virginity. She explains how highly God looks upon this gift, and mentions also how when there is a saint who is a virgin, that fact is always remembered, because they gave that part of themselves to God as a beautiful gift.

I know for a fact my patron saints, all virgin martyrs, were not thinking to themselves as they were murdered, "Man, I wish I'd thought to lose my virginity before I die for Christ. I really regret that. My life would've been complete if I'd just slept with a man once. But no, now I shall die with regret." Yeah, no.

In fact, one of my patronesses, St. Maria Goretti, was stabbed with a knife 14 times at age 11 by a 17 year old boy, because she refused him when he tried to rape her. She refused him because she understood, even at such a young age, how important her virginity was to her, and she did not want that sin on either of their souls. On her death bed, she openly forgave him, and hoped he would one day join her in Heaven.

St. Philomena, one of my confirmation saints, chose martyrdom over giving herself to a Roman Emperor, because she had already promised her virginity to God.
How far have we fallen? These beautiful women understood the dignity of their purity and cherished it so much they chose death over losing it. Now, we have movies glorifying pre-marital sex for the terminally ill, so that they would die with no regrets.

I sat in the theatre, wishing to like the movie, and finding no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't. It wasn't on principle. I didn't choose not to like the movie because I knew the characters had chosen lust over love. No, it was much deeper than that. I sat there with a sick feeling in my stomach, knowing how much of a lie the movie was. And I hate being lied to.

Sts. Maria Goretto and Philomena, please pray for an increase of purity in souls.


If you want a movie featuring true love, or showing the beauty of goodness, check out one of these:

A Walk to Remember
It's so beautiful. She is so good. So beautifully good. So Holy. Caution, this movie is SO SAD.

Snow White and the Huntsman
In this movie, Snow White's ability to conquer the Evil Queen is based in her purity and goodness, from which her beauty is derived. I am hesitant to like Kristen Stewart in anything, but I loved her portrayal in this. Her Snow White reminded me of St. Joan of Arc. And the evil in it? There is absolutely no shred of that fun, "free" attractive evil in it. It is evil, and it is intensely disturbing. This movie is not for little kids. Furthermore, the evil queen is not modest. AT ALL. Which makes her more intensely disturbing, and heightens her contrast to Snow White who is pure, modest, and beautiful. But you may want to warn any brothers or guy friends viewing with you.

October Baby

The Last Song

Casablanca

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Saints and Depression

I just finished reading an amazing article: The Saints and Depression.

Depression is in my genes. My parents both suffer from it, and there is reason to suspect that generations before theirs suffered from it, too. I have definitely seen it, at times, manifesting it's dull talons in my own life as well, during much of my teenage years.

I have often wondered if someone who suffered this way could become a Great Saint. I know "we are all called to holiness and sainthood." I am sure many people have suffered from numerous forms of mental illness and and are now in Heaven. My question was, can someone who suffers this way become a Great Saint? Can he or she be beatified or canonized? Can they make it that far, despite the feelings of doubt and temptations to despair; the mood swings; the feelings of being intensely overwhelmed; the emotional highs and lows?

According to this article, yes, indeed they can. Apparently God has allowed Great Saints in the past to suffer from these same difficulties, and has sanctified them through it and beyond it and brought them to Holiness. So how can I doubt that He would do the same for me? I need to be gentler with myself, and I need to pray for more perseverance and the ability to keep trying even though I fail over and over (and over) again. My M.O. is to try something for a while, and when it gets hard I give up. Well, I can't necessarily change that. But God can, and He will. I just have to let Him, and I need to accept the grace to keep trying in the meantime. Who knows? Maybe He intends to make me a Great Saint after all, despite all my depression, frustration, sinfulness, failures, and temperamental nature. I hope so.

Here is my favorite part of the article.

St. Ignatius experienced first-hand what he was later to refer to as desolation in his Spiritual Exercises. Much akin to depression, desolation is a state in which we feel restless, irritated, uncomfortable, unsure of ourselves and our decisions, assailed by doubts, and unable to persevere in our good intentions. According to Ignatius, God cannot cause desolation, although He may allow it for His own purposes — such as to remind us of our profound need for Him, or to “shake up” a sinner so as to bring about repentance. Feelings of desolation, Ignatius notes, are often caused or provoked by the evil one, especially after we’ve taken practical steps to grow in holiness or to discern and follow God’s will. Based in part on his own experience, St. Ignatius of Loyola offers three very important pieces of advice to anyone undergoing desolation:

·Don’t change an earlier good resolution, for after you’ve made a decision that’s pleasing to God, the Devil may try to make you have second thoughts.

·Intensify your religious activities — that is, spend more time in prayer, meditation, and good deeds. For if Satan’s temptations merely cause you to increase your efforts to grow in holiness, he’ll have an incentive to leave you alone.

·Persevere in patience, for the Devil’s authority and ability to assault you is strictly limited by God, meaning that you’ll be relieved of your spiritual sufferings if only you hold out long enough.

Read the rest here:  http://catholicexchange.com/saints-depression#.U40TFc6Nxv0.facebook

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Prayer to Resist Temptation


My Christ,
You are the loving spouse of my soul. Protect me from temptation as a mortal husband protects his wife from harm. I do not want to succumb to these thoughts or desires; but I am weak and unable to resist their allure on my own. Battle them for me, and do not permit them enter or linger in me. Fill the void the evil leaves with grace and holiness; that is what I desire!

Blessed Mother, my beloved friend!
Shield the eyes of my heart from these temptations to evil, as a physical mother covers her child's eyes from the depravity, violence, and horror in this world. Turn me away from it to gaze upon the goodness and beauty of your Son.
Amen. 


(This is a prayer God has been forming in my heart recently, when I have struggled with temptations to impure thoughts, but it can apply to any spiritual struggle, which is why I love it so much.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Novena to St. Maria Goretti


St. Maria Goretti, strengthened by God's grace, you did not hesitate, even at the age of eleven, to sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity. Look graciously on the unhappy human race that has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially our youth, the courage and promptness that will help us avoid anything that could offend Jesus. Obtain for me a great horror of sin, so that I may live a holy life on earth and win eternal glory in heaven. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be...

Novena found in 30 Favorite Novenas published by Tan Books.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

Okay, first of all; it is The Feast of SAINT Valentine, and it is a Holy Day, not a Holiday. Let's get this straight people.

I'm starting to have a big problem with this so-called "Valentine's Day." And don't misunderstand me. I am the type of girl who loves pink. A lot. I love pink and hearts and fairies, flowers and chocolates and anything romantic. So, a day that is dedicated to all those things, all wrapped up with a big, fluffy bow?! Of course I'm all for that! And I do truly love the idea of one day, a dashing young man in a suit and crookedly tied bowtie, bearing a single red rose, standing on my doorstep and picking me up to take me to dinner and a movie on valentine's day. As my Dad glares at him through the blinds and makes motions of cocking a pump action rifle. It warms my heart.

BUT. That is not what today SHOULD be dedicated to. Today is the feast day of a holy priest. A PRIEST, people. And good priests, as St. Valentine surely was, live celibate lives. So where exactly does this whole romantic thing come in??

So. Here are my three biggest issues with how this day is represented in our culture.

1. Revolting focus on sex. Planned Parenthood, stick your nose out of this holiday. It is about a Holy, celibate priest, giving his life in martyrdom for God. It is about the TRUEST LOVE, and your disgusting diabolical scheming has no place it in. Butt OUT.

2. Whiny single people. I mean, come on! Again! This. Holiday. Is. About. A. Good. Holy. Self-sacrificing. CELIBATE. Priest. SO get off your couch and stop gorging on chocolates in front of the newest trashy Nicholas Sparks movie, bemoaning God's cruelty in making you single for yet another Valentine's Day. Today is literally a special day only because it celebrates a man who decided to give up earthly pleasures and even relationships to be a priest and then was martyred. SO KNOCK IT OFF.

And don't even start griping that I don't know what it's like. I'm 19 and I've never been on a date. And I'm completely okay with that. Instead of focusing on the fact that you are miserable because you don't have a girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/trained monkey to "complete you," realize that even if you did, that person (or monkey) would still not complete you. Only God can complete you. Only God can fill that aching chasm inside you that longs to be satisfied. If you are seeking a relationship, hoping to be completed and fulfilled by it somehow, then you are in for a difficult awakening, my friend.


St. Valentine obviously figured out that only God can ever "complete" us. I mean, he DIED for God. If God has allowed you this time of single-hood, then learn to love it and use it well. He wants you use this time to get to know and love Him above all else. When you do, He will allow the person into your life, provided marriage is your vocation, who is best suited to help you attain heaven. So grab a tissue, wipe your tears and chocolate crumbs off, and go read this prayer. http://madeinhisimage.org/whenacuteguyasksyouout/

3. People who have decided to boycott or be unkind, even jokingly, on Valentine's Day. Listen. This feast is indeed about LOVE. Just not necessarily about romantic love. So giving out "un-valentines," even though they may be amusing, really is just as counter productive as getting all mushy about this holiday. Giving a person a silly card saying "I don't like you," or "Don't be mine" may indeed be very clever. But it only shows you have accepted the culture's definition of Valentine's Day and have decided to rebel against it.

Let me say it again. This feast is about LOVE. But it is about God's Love; Christ's Love; a martyred man's love of the one who is Love. It is about loving your neighbor. Even the one who cuts you off in traffic, glares at you at work, or reliably makes your life more difficult day in and day out. So today, I challenge you to smile at people. And not a fake smile, either. Use that real, beautiful, genuine smile that God created in you. One that says, "I love you. I'm holding nothing back. I'm smiling at you for all that I'm worth, and all I want to do is impart to you a bit of that inner joy Christ has filled me with." In the words of Mother Teresa, "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." So smile at people. And mean it.

And find other ways you can show love to other people today. Hold the door for someone. Take your brother's dinner plate over to the sink for him. Yes, I know he can be impossible, and I know you end up taking it over for him every night because he forgets to do so. Every. Single. Night. But today, take it over before Mom asks you to. And do it with love, rather than frustration.

Buy someone a coffee. Text your Dad at work and tell him you appreciate him going to work to support your family. Stop in a church and pray in front of the tabernacle for a few minutes. Just tell Christ you love Him, without asking for anything.


It doesn't have to be anything big. Just do something to acknowledge that today is indeed dedicated to love. True, self-sacrificing love. And let your actions today be a reflection of Him Who is Love.

xoxo

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hallelujah

Lyrics by Marie Kopp & Christina Heath
Music by Leonard Cohen

Swept away, my hopes are gone.
I'm feeling lost, all alone,  
I just don’t know how I'm gonna get through.
I've sunk into my darkest days,  
I can’t imagine now singing praise,
But I hear somebody singing Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, hallelujah.

A broken home, a father gone,
A mother who has lost her son,
And several million people who have no one.
Yet somehow in their miseries
They're crying out "Let glory be
To God in all His mercy, Hallelujah!"
...
Though sometimes I can't see your face
You are my life, my source of grace;
Without you my whole world begins to fall through.
In this dark, you're guiding me
Your hand is there unfailingly,
It gives me strength to cry out Hallelujah!
...
Before the tears can even start
Your bleeding Hands and broken Heart
Hold my shattered soul through these disasters.
Though I can hardly feel you here
Through my failure, through my fear,
I go to you with mournful hallelujah.
...
My God you know my dreams and plans
But I place my future in Your hands,
So this is all that I ask from you now:
That You would hear me as I sing,
I make my life an offering,
My life remains your broken hallelujah!

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, hallelujah.
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, hallelujah.


Instrumental version of the music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNIdlxtNu_o

Me singing this at my graduation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbBlxr_I5Co

Perspective for Pro-choicers

So, all pro-lifers have heard this argument:
"It is your right to believe abortion is wrong, but it is wrong of you to try to force that belief on everyone else on the country. Just because you don't agree with it, doesn't make it fair for you to try to force that upon everyone else and make it illegal. It's each woman's individual right to choose, that's why we are PRO-CHOICE, and it is wrong of you to try to take away that choice!"

Blah Blah Blah.

Okay, so, hypothetical situation to put things into perspective for ya:

America legalizes rape. (I dearly hope this remains hypothetical, just saying. Anyways.) You, liberal pro-choicer, are outraged. (As you WELL SHOULD BE. Every conservative pro-lifer in their right mind is too!) So, you take up a campaign, and try with all of your might to spread the word about how wrong this is. You do your utmost to attempt to make rape illegal again. You ignore the rotten tomatoes and moldy bagels thrown at you out of car windows, along with vulgar insults, as you protest outside of the new weekly rapist support group meeting. (The bagel and vulgarity is a true story, it happened to me when I protested outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pittsburgh. I smiled and waved back, and enjoyed watching the birds who came, grateful for their new snack.)

People in support of the new legislation tell you you are wrong to do this. They tell you you are unfair and judgmental; you can't decide what is right for other people, you don't walk in their shoes; what is right for you isn't necessarily right for them. Your peers are angry at you when you post about your mission on social media. Your coworkers glare at you when you try to bring it up at work. Even people at your church plug their ears and tell you that you are the one who is wrong here.

These people believe that it is the rapist's right to rape a woman, even though it compromises the woman's rights. And they don't want to listen to your judgmental, hypocritical, self-righteous rant  to the contrary.

So, do you stop opposing rape? DO YOU, liberal pro-choicer, agree to let it go and roll with the new legislation? Hmmm? Do you stop going to marches, rallies, protests, lectures, etc., in support of your mission, simply because people disagree with you? Do you allow the fear of persecution or of offending others with your opinion to stop your fight against this heinously disgusting new legislation? NO, you don't. (At least, I hope you have that much backbone left in you.)

Well, we, conservative pro-lifers, are the same. We believe that abortion is wrong. Yes, we know your arguments to the contrary. We understand that you think it is wrong for us to try to make abortion illegal based on "our opinions." We know you get upset when we post about it on social media, when we bring it up at work, school, or even, unfortunately, church. We know you'd rather not hear about it, and ignore the horror you are content to allow. But that doesn't change our decision to fight you tooth and nail, which we will continue to do as long as we have breath left in us.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Harry Potter - My Two Cents

So.
I just finished the Harry Potter Saga. For the first time.
Yes, yes, I know. It is truly the first time. No, I have not seen the movies yet, either. Well, none but the first at least.
Why is this the first time I've read them when everyone else read them eons ago?
A) Dad thought they were evil.
B) I'm a strange person. In my strangeness, I avoid trends like the plague. If something is popular, it isn't for me. So, I have to either read/watch it before it is trendy, or wayyyyy after. Otherwise my enjoyment of it is immensely diminished.

Anyways. They were a fun read, but they left me dissatisfied. My thoughts on the matter are thus:

- I enjoy fantasy novels. Thus, I enjoy magic in books. But the Harry Potter magic was a little too dark for my tastes. No, they didn't call on demons. But they call themselves witches and warlocks, and their potions especially are creepy, in an old fashioned witchcraft sense. I didn't love that.

- As far as secular young adult literature goes these days, I thought they were fairly well-written. The characters were loveable, human, flawed, but still trying to be noble. Good qualities.

- I don't like that they are set for such a young age group. I don't think I would like anyone under 14 reading them, simply because anyone reading them needs to be old enough and mature enough to realize this is fiction, and in the real world, "witchcraft" is not harmless. It is evil. They need to be able to understand and grasp this, while still being able to enjoy the stories.

My biggest bone to pick with the series is this:
It makes such a big deal out of the difference between good magic and the Dark Arts, as it indeed should! I would not approve of any book containing magic that didn't. BUT! Why make that distinction, that MAIN PLOT of the story, and then allow the main characters to practice those same Dark Arts with no consequence?! What makes that okay, people?! I understand they are human characters. I love them for that. I understand they have weaknesses. But I don't understand what makes Harry any better than Malfoy. The series makes such a big deal about the Unforgivable Curses, but in the last book, as well as previous ones, Harry uses these curses. He attempts the Crucio curse in The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince, & successfully uses it in The Deathly Hallows; he also uses the Imperius Curse multiple times in The Deathly Hallows. Why is this never addressed at least? Why are Crabbe and Goyle and Malfoy so evil for using them, but not Harry and Ron and Hermione? I'm in a quandery here. I think this would have been a perfect time for the author to discuss this. To explain why it is wrong for the characters use them. To show consequences. But she doesn't....it is simply a frustrating, unadressed thread that is thoroughly ignored. Humph.

My two cents.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

You Will Be My Only Love



Behold, I am Your handmaid, Lord,
I repeat Your Mother’s words;
Be it done unto me, yes I will follow Your Will,
I give You my heart, my King.

This path You laid out before me, Lord,
Is full of the loveliest roses.
It twists and it turns
Around every bend,
So that I cannot see,
But I will fix my eyes on You, my Lord,
No I will not have any fear.

These roses are soft as they caress my feet,
But underneath are the thorns and the stems.
The thorns cut and tear at my feet,
Like the ones in the braid of Your Crown.
But my Lord, my Christ,
I will focus on you, and the pain will not be too great;
But whenever it is, Oh! I can hardly yet wait,
For tis then I will I will be lifted into Your arms.

My heart, my King, is tender and young,
At first quite fearful of You;
But You proved yourself, my God and my All,
You treat my heart ever so gently;
You are sweet and kind, and I now have faith,
I can trust You with my heart.

I give my heart to You, my Love,
Do with it what You will.
But no matter what, if I beg or plead,
Never give it back to me.

I give it all to You, my Love,
Do with it as You will.
You may keep it and I will marry you, I will be a joyful nun.

Or Lord, if you choose,
You may give it away,
To a good and holy man,
But no matter what,
I will always be Yours,
You will be my Only Love.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Graduation Programme

At my graduation on Saturday, we did things a bit differently. As I am homeschooled, we had a private ceremony, with my dearest family and friends, with a party immediately following.

For the ceremony itself, I wrote some words, and read them aloud, then sang a song that has been somehow very instrumental to my life. Here is that part of the programme.

(I apologize for how horrid the audio quality in the videos is...)



               This is a reflection on the most important things I've learned these past years, through the medium of music.
                 My confirmation saints are Joan of Arc and Philomena. They both died young, martyred for Christ. I have always been inspired by this loyalty and confidence in Our Savior, even unto death. St. Joan of Arc lead led the French army to many victories over England, and after her martyrdom, her soldiers were inspired to continue their fight, and vanquish England altogether. St. Philomena was asked to marry the Roman Emperor in return for her country's safety. But she had promised herself to Christ, and so she would not yield either to the Emperor's charms or tortures. Thus, she, too, was martyred. Both these young women, clearly, fought hard for the God they believed in. But, that sort of fighting is never easy.
                I was once told that Joan's greatest fear had been fire. During her trial, at one point she became so afraid, that she agreed to the terms of the court, to lie about and so deny the Saintly apparitions she had received, out of her fear of her threatened death, which was burning at the stake. However, what makes this important, is that even though Joan gave up, through fear, through grace Christ renewed her courage. She returned to the court, and told them she would hold firm to her original testimony, that she had received the visions, and that God had told her through them to lead the French army to victory over England. So, you see, when she was overcome with fear, even this mighty saint tripped and fell. But Christ did not condemn her! He helped her back up, and gave her the courage to try again.
                Christ has given me so many blessing throughout my entire life. 2 parents with a strong Catholic faith, and the zeal to teach it unwaveringly to my brothers and myself, even when it required great self-sacrifice; their decision to homeschool us, to make sure we were formed in these beliefs and would carry them for the rest of our lives; these blessings, and so many others as well, such that it seems Christ has been extravagant in his blessings to me! But, since I was so deeply blessed, He must also allow me a particular suffering. This suffering mostly took the forms of overscrupulousity, which is basically a form of spiritual OCD, and distrust of Him. I became so afraid of Him, that my internal perception of Him became completely disfigured. I could only see a wrathful, angry, judging God, waiting to see me fall so he could punish me.
                I often felt like I was in a deep pit of black ooze, pulling me down, and I couldn't escape it. I was not far from the edge of total despair.
                I know now how inaccurate this perception of God is. I will get to that in a minute. But what I want to touch on here, is that somehow, even when I was at my deepest and darkest, Christ never let go of me completely. He always gave me the strength to keep going. To try one more time, everytime. Until the time was right for Him to heal me of this struggle.
                Over Easter, the refrain from the song Hallelujah was stuck in my head. But when I looked it up to learn the rest of the words, for I really liked the melody and refrain of the song, I was disturbed. I hadn't been sure what this mournful, yet beautiful song was about, but I somehow thought it was about praising God even when life was darkest. The lyrics I found, however, seemed to be the opposite. I didn't understand them well, but what I did understand was that the whole piece seemed to be mocking God, His love, and claiming all women were treacherous temptations, like Bathsheba was to King David, or Delilah to Sampson.
                I was really upset to find it so, for I truly was beginning to know and love this melody, and it had so much potential. So, I wrote to a very dear friend of mine, Christina Heath. She is brilliant, and an amazing writer and poet. Over the months since Easter, we have worked together on rewriting this song. And here it is now.

   


              As I said before, that perception I had of God is a distortion. The real, one true God is full of love and mercy, and the veil hiding that fact is finally being lifted from my eyes. Many dear, beloved Saints are helping me learn this fact. Saint Augustine, one of my favorites, says that,
                "Fear is the enemy of Love."
Being afraid of Christ, at least for me, led me to hatred of him. But that is not what he wants. He wants trust, confidence and love. Our Lord told St. Faustina,
                "Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for                 I know by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me."
And St. Therese of Lisieux reveals that,
                "Since He has granted it to me to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus, I confess                 that He has chased all fear out of my heart."
In a book I am reading right now, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, the author tells the story of a young man in adoration, who Our Lord spoke to.
                "Joseph, why are you hesitating, why do you fear? Haven't I shown you how gentle I                  am with you? Haven't I shown you only kindness? ...Joseph, all I want is for you to be                  my friend. All I want is for you not to be afraid of me, and to come to me....That's all."

                Christ is slowly and gently healing me of this struggle, to see Him through eyes of confidence and trust, rather than fear. I have learned so much on the 11 or more retreats I have made in this Holy building. I am constantly learning more and more through the friendship and spiritual direction I receive from the Sisters. One sister in particular, Sr. Mary Magdalene, has been one of my dearest friends since childhood. She is the first guide I was sent, to lead me to know Christ through eyes of trust and love. This next song I will sing, Restless by Audrey Assad, was her favorite, and she taught me to love it as well.


    


                I have learned so much from so many people over the years. Some of those people have passed on, and I pray are in Heaven, sending down prayers for me and still guiding me to Christ.
                I learned a great deal, especially, from my Grandparents, Kay and Jim, who are no longer here. My grandfather taught me the virtue of kindness. He was always in a good mood, and I remember many projects the 2 of us did together. And he was always grateful for anything anyone did for him, be it when my grandmother made him his favorite homemade Mac & cheese, or when the nurses came and helped him every day. But my favorite memories of him are when we would sit together and watch musicals, most often The Sound of Music. We both knew all the words, and would sit and sing along. We didn't need to say anything, but there was such a feeling of camaraderie between us during those times.
                I learned so much from my grandmother, too. She taught me to love textile arts, such as sewing and knitting. We spent many joyful hours baking together. She taught me to always do as much as possible for others. And she passed on to me her love of literature and theatre, which I hope to continue studying when I go on to college. Both of them really taught me to appreciate musicals,  So I will now sing Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from The Phantom of the Opera in their honor. 



   

                 I owe so many people for what I have learned the past few years. So many friends, ones who I've known since I was born, or who I've met more recently, but each of whom is so dear to me, and each has helped me become more of what God wants of me. Also, my extended family, who have always supported me through the years. My aunts and uncles, my godfather Uncle Mark. My cousins, who I love getting to see nearly every week, who I get to watch grow up into what God wants for them.
                Especially, my grandparents, Louise and Bill. You raised my father staunchly Catholic, and thus made it possible for me to have my treasured faith today. You have both taught me the virtue of generosity, helping people whenever they need it. You are always happy to have people into your home, no matter how many, and you have taught me the beauty of family and kept us all close as we grew up,  coming over every Sunday for Dinner.
                Most of all, I want to thank my brothers and my parents. My brothers have been my closest friends my whole life. They are always there for me, challenging me to be better, to grow, and to learn patience with constant whistling. They are the best. And my parents: they have given everything for me. They raised me in my faith, they made sacrifices so that they could homeschool me and form me completely in accord with Holy Mother Church, and they love me unconditionally, even when I know it isn't easy. I love them and am so grateful God made them mine. To all of you, thank you. You have all made me Who I was Born to Be.



   

 Then my parents presented me with my diploma, and we ended with my elder brother Mike and one of my best friends, David, leading Father I Adore You as a round. It was, in a word, beautiful.