Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Before the Cock Crows

First of all, I want to wish you all a joyous feast of Saints Peter & Paul! This feast day brings back so many memories of Rome for me. It was on my "do before I die" list to see Saint Peter's, St. Paul's, and St. Paul Outside the Walls, and each surpassed my expectations in its representation of a human recognition of the grandeur owed to God, displayed through art, architecture, precious materials, and (the most important part) the bent knees of faithful pilgrims. However, this glorious feast also calls to mind an unfortunate parallel . . .

Today, Canada became the third country to nationally legalize gay marriage. The third slap in the face of Christ, the "Catholic" Prime Minister approved a bill that directly contradicted the beautiful teachings of his Lord on the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman. Peter too turned his back on Christ three times. He did not merely contradict Jesus' teachings, he denied any relationship with Him at all. Yet, Christ welcomed him back with open arms and told him to care for His flock. We can only hope and pray that, like Peter, these nations (or at least these leaders) will come to recognize their error and turn back to God.
On another blog (http://quidhocest.blogspot.com; "Oh Canada!") I was reading a discussion between an American and a Canadian (both Catholics) concerning whether the USA is headed in the same direction. If you're interested, visit their blog and/or I included my comments from that site as a comment to this post . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Grit Your Teeth Smiling

Once upon a time, Nokesville was a quiet, unobtrusive little hick town of one street. The kids all went to school in t-shirts and blue jeans and spoke with a charming drawl. Tucked into the corners of that street were our family’s vet, dentist, library, post office, gas station, car repair shop, tiny general store, etc. Well, the dentist is still there, but Nokesville’s atmosphere has changed dramatically in 20 years. Sadly, the farmers have had a hard time keeping their land and have given in to the temptation to sell out to Washingtonians with big houses, small families, fancy cars, and no sense of the beauty they’re destroying by deciding to build in the middle of a 10 acre field. [Ok, deep breath …] Anyways, to remain competitive with the ritzy new crowd, our sweet, Christian dentist office had a complete make-over, literally. All the staff members got make-overs and are now called “Smile Ambassadors.” The whole place looks like a spa. As I walked in they set me up on a massage chair with a warmed neck roll. Last time Mom was in, they gave her a wax hand treatment too. A little weird in Nokesville, but it was all fine until my “Smile Ambassador” said, “Open wide for Mr. Thirsty!” What?! What is “Mr. Thirsty”??? Oh, the spit sucker—of course … ok that was a little over the top my friends. Then, when you walk out, they have cake, cookies, nuts, soy drinks, raspberry iced tea, etc. for your enjoyment (it was probably provided by the development and financial personnel as a way to increase visit frequency—tempting and it destroys your teeth.) However, some things about Nokesville you just can’t change. Vicky, who has known me since before I could see over the counter, was still at the reception desk. As I checked out, she chatted gaily about my future career doing voice-overs because apparently that’s a perfect occupation for a voice like mine. Go figure! I love quirky country towns. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in one, but mostly it’s what speaks “good ol’ Americana” most to me.

Monday, June 27, 2005

All Accomplished Without Coffee

Hello my dear friends and random people who visit! It's been a rather busy week. Mom, Dad, and Erin have all been gone on trips, so I've been quasi-mom all week plus normal job stuff. Bridge & Nora have been awesome though, really helpful, and it's been a pleasure to spend some extra time with them. Saturday, we spent the day at a feis (Irish dance competition) and Nora did extremely well and moved up a level in two steps because she got two 1sts out of a group of 20 girls! She was ecstatic. I love that girl- she has boundless energy, a refreshingly positive attitude about everything, a beautiful smile, and she idolizes me (her one flaw.) Yesterday, we spent half the day out by the pool, just relaxing and ignoring the bits of housework that we justified not doing because it was Sunday and the house honestly does look pretty good. And the girls were sweet enough to give me permission to have a night out with Larry too. :)
At work, we've (well mostly just me because everyone but my boss is off in North Carolina or Rome or the Holy Lands) been compiling information for a new Guide to US Catholic Colleges and Universities. It will be awesome when it's done and a great resource for people who want to go to a Catholic university but also want a specific major and need to find a school with both criteria. It also will have a list of objective questions regarding Catholic identity which will give prospective students a way to better judge the fidelity of that school to the values they profess. However, in the process of hounding these schools until they please please please answer our questions so that we can complete their profile, I have committed two unpardonable sins (in the eyes of some). First, I've succumbed to the modern journalistic tendency to limit myself for a significant part of each day to speaking and writing in combinations of pre-fabricated clauses strung together with the proper, politically correct conjunctions and transitions. You'd think I'd never heard of never mind read Orwell's essays on language. Unfortunately, creativity in today's world sticks you in hot water rather quickly. :) Secondly, I have developed a new pet peeve . . . Sometimes I wonder if operators get a secret pleasure out of connecting you to an unknown person in an unknown office, after you have given them several options of people that you may like to speak to in order to get your questions answered. And inevitably the said unknown person is having a sleepy Monday and lazily answers "hello?" without department or name identification. "Hello, this is Kelly blah blah blah, may I ask who I'm speaking to please?" Oh well, it's just more practice in the all important arena of people skills right?
Have a lovely week everyone and one of these days I'll try and jot down something more organized and intelligent . . .

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

PRAYER INTENTIONS

Dear Friends,
Recently, a lot of prayer intentions have been e-mailed to me or have come up in conversation. I'm sure you have many pressing intentions of your own. Feel free to post them as comments to this post, and I'll do the same. Then, please click on the link on the sidebar every so often and offer a quick prayer for all those who need God's graces most at that moment.
God bless, Kelly Jo

Breath of Air

This is a beautiful quote that has been posted in my office that I thought I'd share as a reminder to us all to keep our priorities in line...

"Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are proceeded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The Holy Hour becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world."
~ Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Murphy's Law

Just because she was the only kid in our family who didn't need orthodontic work . . . Last week BB took a really bad fall over a low rope and onto concrete and smashed the front of her face, lost three teeth, and spent several hours trying to get to the ER and actually get something done about it. Since then, she's been rather swollen, marked up, and in varying amounts of pain. It looks like the teeth (which got popped back in) may be fine, but she had to get root canals today (really big ouch!) and not all the numbing stuff worked or something because she's really feeling it. Anyhow, now that your mouth is probably tingling with sympathy pain, please offer up a quick prayer for her. I know the whole thing has been pretty rough for her. I wish I could just *poof presto chango* and it'd be better, but I guess I'll have to trust God for that one. Anyways, I just thought I'd send a shoot-out prayer request to all you prayer warriors for her. Thanks!

Ever-Munching Bookworm

Yesterday, I relished of the choice pleasures left to modern man (or woman for that matter) . . . I actually made it to a local library. The last few times I've tried to stop by our miniscule local branch I've left disappointed and in tears (well, at least on the inside) because they've cut back on their after-work hours and were closed. Ok, touching digression done- I picked up The Brothers Karamazov (because I had finished all but 100 pages before I left for Europe last summer), My Antonia (because I haven't read it since 10th grade and think I would appreciate it a lot more now), and H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (because it was there looking at me and because the stupid secular library system doesn't have Chesterton, which is what I wanted in the first place.) Short reviews will follow as I complete them. Remember, I always love book suggestions if you have any!

Monday, June 13, 2005

For Lack of Time

For lack of a decent amount of free time to actually call my dear friends and talk to them individually, here's a continuation of "My Life" by Kelly Jo...

Lars and I went to see "Cinderella Man" last Wednesday. Quick review... CONS: Defaming the guy he boxed in the final match was unfortunate [though it put Tyson's recent fight in an interesting light for the media]. I've never been a fan of crude language and using the Lord's name in vain, and, for the sake of being "time period," the scriptwriter obviously didn't share my sensitivities. Finally, I still will NEVER understand why boxing is a respected art among guys. It's one of those things that my non-existent brothers never taught me (along with why killing things, scars, hours of videogames, and tobacco are integral parts of guy culture). Oh well. PROS: I really enjoyed a lot of the family scenes and the presentation of the Depression era and its effect on individuals and their families. In general, I like sports-themed movies (because I'm so incompetent in the sports themselves that I appreciate the story without noticing technical errors of recently trained actors). Overall, I thought it was pretty good, though I couldn't recommend it to people like Michele. :)
I was sincerely told that I ate "exotically" for the first time ever. For those of you who know me well, you'd appreciate how hard I laughed at that one.
I also was informed three times in the last 24 hours that my voice sounds "exactly" like my mom's. Go figure.
Saturday was Bo's Graduation party. There was a decently large crowd and most everyone seemed to have a blast. I got to talk to some friends and relatives I haven't connected with in way too long, and I hope Larry has recovered from the dizzying effect dozens of hurried introductions. :) And we have enough extra food to feed an army... (I think Mom's already been starting to do that.)
Sunday, Daddy, Mom, Goober, and I went to a party hosted by some family friends (who I hadn't seen since before highschool). It was at their gorgeous bay-house off the Chesapeake. I spent the afternoon chatting a bit, riding their boats, eating fresh bay crabs and tubing. Dad and his college friends were all tubing too, two tubes at a time. After watching them, I was "prepared" for the boat driver to try all his tricks to throw me off as well. I managed to grip tight and stay on while my partner (on the other tube) got thrown twice (both times when he tried to ram me and get me off). It was a ton of fun until I woke up and tired to move this morning... argh. I think I forgot to use a few of those arm and back muscles for quite a while; must get back in shape... maybe I'll go "play" tennis or something. ;)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Paradox of the Phoenix

The last few days have been full of the paradox of the phoenix-that strange turn of events through which one thing terminates only to give life to a new thing.
EVENT #1: Bo's Graduation from High School
I recall my own graduation vividly. I was thrilled to be done with a challenging senior year, an awful thesis paper on Redgauntlet, and about a hundred-and-one activities (some things don't change). I loved Seton, but I was also ready to try something new, meet new people, conquer new challenges . . . something, anything, that didn't consist in donning the same blue uniform and entering a building that by habit had become both beloved and slightly dreaded by me. That day, I really had no apprehensions about the future; and, of course, like most seniors, I was ready to handle anything (or so we all thought.) I'm sure Bo feels somewhat the same. The primary word on her mind is probably "FREEDOM." I'm incredibly happy for her. She's done an excellent job in her leadership positions, schoolwork, and sports; and she's ready to move on to new challenges. At the same time, I can't help getting the big sister compulsion to relate a list of warnings, stories, and mistakes derived from my own last few years in college. I know she'll have to learn it all on her own, but it's so tempting to jump on a soapbox and protect her from having a less than perfect life. However, I'm certain that God will guide and protect her always, as He has for me, and she'll be in my prayers.
EVENT #2: Goober's 9th Birthday
Nori, her friend Kateri, Dad, and I all had a lovely evening celebrating her birthday last night. We were supposed to go canoeing, but they closed earlier than we thought. We had a ton of time to waste before Dad's softball game. Therefore, Dad, being the genius father of many girls, took them to a Dollar Tree, gave them each a couple of dollars, and said pick out whatever you like. It took plenty of time, and provided us with pop-rocks and a light-up toy among other things for entertainment during the game. Thank God for simple pleasures!
EVENT #3: Goober Lost a Tooth
Ok, so this isn't any incredible event in an of itself, but her comment to accompany it was perfect: "Mommy! I lost my tooth when I was trying to put it back in!" [What?!? I guess that translates as, "I was wiggling my tooth to show it to someone, and when I tried to put it back into a normal position, it popped off.]

P.S. Yay! I figured out the codes to change color schemes so my page doesn't look like everyone else's; it's uglier. :( Oh, well. It will do for now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Necessity of Compliance

This post is especially dedicated to my dear (though few) readers who prefer "My Life" by Kelly Jo to "Thoughts and Rants" by an English Major.

This past weekend was lovely. Friday, I attended High School Awards Night at Bo & BB's school. They both did exceptionally well this year. While there, I got a chance to talk to a good friend of mine who is entering the novitiate for an order in Spain. If all goes well with his visa (pray!), then he'll be in blacks in a month. I'm incredibly excited for him and pray that God will bless him as he moves into the next stage of his education, training, and spiritual preparation.
Saturday, I went to Mass and out to coffee with my fellow writing/lit. analytical enthusiast. I miss the luxury of late-night chats and debates in the Basement, but we still have another year for that. :) The rest of the day was spent doing all the things I ignore all the rest of the week, which somehow take up an obnoxiously large amount of time. I also got to take a nice long walk with Goober and pick flowers and feed horses and experience the joys of being with an eight-year-old who doesn't have a care in the world and sees (almost) everything as beautiful!
Yesterday, this tall German guy stopped by my house, so I spent a restful afternoon hiking a bit, visiting Ted, and hanging out with him. :) Could a girl have a nicer weekend?


[Sorry that's all for now Dorothy...]
P.S. Since some people have problems with their name being displayed all over the net, I'll use nick-names in this and further posts unless given express permission by the individuals themselves to stop being cryptic.

A Search for Self

A friend recently sent me this wonderful quote from Ratzinger (pre-election to the papacy):

"Today an illusion is dangled before us: that a man can find himself without first conquering himself, without the patience of self-denial, and the labour of self-control, that there is no need to endure the discomfort of upholding tradition, or to continue suffering the tension between the ideal and the actual in our nature. The presentation of this illusion constitutes the real crisis of our times."

[Joseph Ratzinger and Hans von Balthasar, Two Say Why, trans. by John Griffiths (Franciscan Herald Press, 1971), p.87.]

It reminds me of C.S. Lewis' discussion of the ego and self-esteem in The Four Loves. He notes that our society puts an emphasis on having a good or high self-esteem. To do this, man must find himself and be confident in his virtues and talents. However, many see themselves as having a low self-esteem and find that as they try to know themselves better they can only see the bad. Sometimes, people make the mistake of glorifying this as "humility." Lewis notes that neither of these are good things. They are each another name for pride through comparison. The former compares and finds himself better, the second finds himself worse than the human ideal he desires. Very much in line with Ratzinger's presentation of an objective against which you must measure yourself, Lewis advocates an ideal of no self-esteem.. He says we should simply look at ourselves as Christ sees us. We should recognize the gifts God has given to us and try to actualize that potential He intended to be employed for the Kingdom. At the same time, in true humility we mush recognize that "all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God" (Rm 3:23) and ever seek to be more like Christ. In doing so, we will more fully discover ourselves. (Gaudium et Spes 22!)
Isn't it beautiful that Christ has given us the keys with which to unlock the gift of who we are, not merely in an abstract, biological, or psychologically examined way, but rather as an individual creation of a loving God?! In this truth, we can join the Psalmist in praising God for we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Exploring Power

At work I’ve finally begun to learn some basic web design and management skills. It always excites me to learn a new form of media control. That doesn’t mean I want to spend my life in front of a computer or soundboard, but it does mean that I enjoy being a dilettante in the vast world of communication technologies. The intrigue is partly derived from an awe of the power media has in today’s society. I watch so many of my “received an average liberal education with a good dose of feel-good propaganda” friends and relatives just absorb the “objective” opinions of TV and radio personalities. They unwittingly become passive sponges of good and bad instead of rational, analytical human beings that know when a false theory should be expunged from their minds and society. And still, the media talks on and is listened to.
On the flip side, I’m thrilled to see the good effects of the brave few who decide to use media to serve the good. Not to equate, but rather to list a few: the religious overtones in “Signs,” the influx of Christian music and wholesome bands (Switchfoot, Stacy Oricco, Mercy Me, etc.) into mainstream radio, revived (Christian) classics like “Lord of the Rings” and (possibly, if it’s good) “The Chronicles of Narnia” in cinematography, and of course Mel’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Add to this the countless writers, speakers, and Christian news castors that speak the Truth and we’re slowly aiming a small, but accurate, fusillade at the doors of the liberal press rooms. I’m doing a very little part on a largely ignored webpage for CNS, but it’s rewarding to know that I’m helping to fire one more shot for the allied good. [Ok, end of my rant on thesis related topics . . . ]

After Daddy treated me out to lunch [Thanks Daddy – It was wonderful to talk and hang out with you!], I got a random call asking me to replace a sick alto and sing at HFA’s graduation tonight. Our little quartet wasn’t stunning, but it was lovely to sing Palestrina again. I miss choir! Yet again, I was singing with all CC grads - go figure - polyphonic Latin seems to magically draw them to events. :)

Reading list: I just began Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross and JPII’s Threshold of Hope – I’ll write up quick reviews when I’m done. Anyone have suggestions for good reads for the summer?