Fall quarter / Prayer request

This quarter has been exceedingly busy. Our professors have not been shy in giving us homework, and as it increases in amount and intensity it is easy to get overwhelmed. I think that in the past four weeks I have broken my own record for how many times I finished my homework a few minutes before class. On Mondays, I meet with our business group for three hours–it is going really well. We have a team of two media students, Daniel & I, and an advisor that has taken particular interest in our business. By the end of the quarter we will have a business plan and presentation as well as a promotional video and a website. Tuesday is full, with six hours of class: three hours on risk management (a general business class), and three hours in our global cultures class. Global cultures is pretty interesting, because we are striving to understand people from other cultures by reading their writings and news and watching films. The past two weeks we have even been corresponding with English students from China! On Wednesday afternoons I have a class on the philosophy of nature, which goes through how we understand the world around us; it is based on Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings, and is both interesting and difficult. On Thursdays I have my last class, which is on Public Relations. I am enjoying this class as well, as but it is also difficult and work intensive. By the end of the quarter I will have a press kit, portfolio, and another presentation for our business.

Our school is really experiencing growing pains right now. Our student body went from about 80 students to 120 students this fall. There is another class of freshmen, as well as the start of a MBA program and a Masters in Biblical Theology program. The rearranged class times have made it more difficult to both go to Mass and eat between classes, but we are (very) slowly adjusting. The school halls are always busy, and it is often hard to find quiet places to work in on campus anymore…hopefully it will get a little better after the seniors graduate in December. Student activities are about the same as usual. About the only difference is that I have been spending more time in the common rooms again, trying to get to know some of the freshmen.

At the beginning of the quarter, I moved apartments. I went from a 3-bedroom apartment with 7 girls into a 2-bedroom apartment with 4 girls. It is really nice–I have enough room in the refrigerator and freezer to go grocery shopping, I can do laundry when I need to, and it is almost always quiet enough to study up here! I am thoroughly enjoying it, and hoping that I don’t have to move in January after the seniors are gone. If I can stay, I will likely not move again until I graduate in September.

A little while ago, my theology professor asked if I would be willing to help catechize a blind lady (Desiree) who is in the RCIA program with our local parish. His wife has been working with her before, but is having a baby very soon and will need someone to take over. This past week was the first time that I actually talked, and it went well. Desiree is a sweet lady, and I think it will be a good experience for both of us.

Please pray for the Cabral family; one of the girls, Alena, is in my class here at school, and her brothers have been in wheelchairs their whole life. Yesterday two of her brothers were rushed to the hospital, and one brother died last evening; as of this point, two of her other brothers are in the ICU but in stable condition. They need as many prayers as they can get in this difficult time…thank you.

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Media is the Medium…The Efficient Gospel

(This was written as a class assignment. We listened to two podcasts and had to comment/summarize them; they were talking about how media changes us not only by the content, but by the means that we receive the content.)

Both the podcast that we listened to in class as well as the one that we listened to on The Efficient Gospel talked about how the media that we use changes us, regardless of whether the content is good or bad. I have seen this time and again in my experience; it could be said that I am living with one foot in a simplistic way of life and one foot in the new media world. I grew up in the country, with no friends that played video games, had their own phone, or watched much if any television.

For about ten years while I was growing up, we did not have a television; even now, I can easily go for an entire quarter without watching a movie. However, we did have computers all the while growing up (my Dad was and electrical engineer), and we had internet from the time that I was about 12 or 13. Although I was not allowed to go on the internet a lot, I did pick it up more quickly and began doing things first for my parents and then as they allowed me to do more, connecting with other Catholic youth over the internet. As I grew up and began making these friends outside of our home school groups and connecting with them through letters, the internet, and my job (at a fast food restaurant), I noticed that there were many differences. Most of the differences that Shane Hipps talks about I still notice on occasion.

One of the frustrations that I have found with people who are immersed in the pop culture and media world is that they have such a utilitarian, entertainment mindset. They have little use for the Faith, and it is more often thought of as a way to avoid hell rather than a relationship with Christ that will bring us true freedom. This seemed to be the same point that was addressed in The Efficient Gospel. As our culture has evolved around entertainment—first with radio, then with movies, television, telephones, computers, the internet, cell phones, and so on—we have become more desensitized to the people around us. As we have had the ability to build a quantity of relationships, the quality has gone down…which takes away the natural experience of love and service that is the basis of what we are supposed to emulate as Christians.

Although I have had the experience of people sending text and instant messages without pleasantries, I have always found it rude and utilitarian—it may be efficient, but to me it still gives the message that they do not even care enough to say hello. The medium does change us to an extent; for example, because I have the huge resource of the internet, anytime I want to know something about anything I can find out quickly. Things that I would not have much knowledge of if I did not have the convenience, I can look at briefly and move on. The temptation to be available to anyone at anytime is always present; but there are some things that are not inherently in the medium (such as not using pleasantries) yet are used in that way in our culture. I think that, especially as Christians, it is important to practice detachment from technology as with other things; if we allow it to have too much of an impact on our life, it will take its toll on our relationships and we will be just another person in the crowd going in the wrong direction.

Authentically Christian Culture

What does Christ teach us in the Gospels that the ideal culture would look like? In my perception, it would be based around “the greatest commandments”: first, to love God with our entire heart, mind and soul…and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). However, this must not be thought of in terms of feelings; this would be to complicate things beyond measure. There are as many feelings in the world as there are people, and so to feel as though we love God and love our neighbor could just turn into seeking a good feeling for ourselves.
First of all, what is love? The most basic explanation that I know of is a gift of self—the kind of gift that was exemplified on the Cross (John 15:13). At the end of his life, Christ gave us the example of what it meant to love God with our entire being, and placed the salvation of all people above the good of his own human life. In this, we see an orientation to a greater culture than simply that of our humanity. There were countless cures in the Gospels, but many sicknesses were the result of being possessed by demons (Luke 8:36) or needing the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 9:6). The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us how to love our neighbor; we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.
If there is more to humanity than our current state, an ideal culture would recognize the goal that we are striving to. As mentioned in a previous paragraph, our first goal is to love God above all things. This entails having a personal relationship with the Father, as taught by Christ (best seen in meditating on the Our Father, found in Matthew 6). We must be entirely detached from sin, personal gain, wealth, power, and pleasure. It is our joy to live in relationship with him and so follow his laws, because they will only bring us greater happiness. The many parables in the Gospels reiterate the need to follow his laws with our hearts, and not just in our outward actions. The Ten Commandments and Eight Beatitudes are the greatest guidelines that, if we follow with our heart, will lead us directly to Christ. In order to serve others, we must have a great prayer life (Mark 9:29).
In a perfect culture, people would work for the glory of his kingdom, and give of what they have, freely. They would be detached from things, but be so attached to Christ that they consult him for every decision. We would not worry about our needs, the poor would be supplied for, and everything we would love God and others for their own sake.
To love our neighbor as ourselves, we must be willing to die to our own desires each day. A culture focused on these commandments would not be saturated with ulterior motives; there would be the simplicity found in the life of Christ, with many people having the strong character that will stand for what is right but remaining humble and realizing that everything that we have is a gift from our Father.

What does Christ teach us in the Gospels that the ideal culture would look like? In my perception, it would be based around “the greatest commandments”: first, to love God with our entire heart, mind and soul…and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). However, this must not be thought of in terms of feelings; this would be to complicate things beyond measure. There are as many feelings in the world as there are people, and so to feel as though we love God and love our neighbor could just turn into seeking a good feeling for ourselves.

First of all, what is love? The most basic explanation that I know of is a gift of self—the kind of gift that was exemplified on the Cross (John 15:13). At the end of his life, Christ gave us the example of what it meant to love God with our entire being, and placed the salvation of all people above the good of his own human life. In this, we see an orientation to a greater culture than simply that of our humanity. There were countless cures in the Gospels, but many sicknesses were the result of being possessed by demons (Luke 8:36) or needing the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 9:6). The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us how to love our neighbor; we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.

If there is more to humanity than our current state, an ideal culture would recognize the goal that we are striving to. As mentioned in a previous paragraph, our first goal is to love God above all things. This entails having a personal relationship with the Father, as taught by Christ (best seen in meditating on the Our Father, found in Matthew 6). We must be entirely detached from sin, personal gain, wealth, power, and pleasure. It is our joy to live in relationship with him and so follow his laws, because they will only bring us greater happiness. The many parables in the Gospels reiterate the need to follow his laws with our hearts, and not just in our outward actions. The Ten Commandments and Eight Beatitudes are the greatest guidelines that, if we follow with our heart, will lead us directly to Christ. In order to serve others, we must have a great prayer life (Mark 9:29).

In a perfect culture, people would work for the glory of his kingdom, and give of what they have, freely. They would be detached from things, but be so attached to Christ that they consult him for every decision. We would not worry about our needs, the poor would be supplied for, and everything we would love God and others for their own sake.

To love our neighbor as ourselves, we must be willing to die to our own desires each day. A culture focused on these commandments would not be saturated with ulterior motives; there would be the simplicity found in the life of Christ, with many people having the strong character that will stand for what is right but remaining humble and realizing that everything that we have is a gift from our Father.

Busy and happy

On June 10th, I finished the first quarter (of three) of my junior year of college. I am more than half done with my degree, and as we go the time seems to speed by even faster. I was really stressed for most of the quarter because of all the work that we had—even more than the senior class!—but lived through it and am looking forward to getting my grades. I think that I did well…much better than I expected.

It seems like no matter where I go or what time of year it is, I am always a carrier of busyness. When I found out that I would only be working about 10-12 hours each week for the three weeks I was home, I figured that I would have a restful break in which to get a lot done. I guess I did get a lot done, and it has been fairly restful, but the organized plan that I had in my mind was entirely thrown off.

Even amongst some difficulties, there are many things to be happy about right now. Daniel was able to come home with me for more than a week—we had some good times, including helping my family rearrange some of the bedrooms and fixing and painting the walls in the boy’s room. We helped chauffer my siblings to their activities (the two youngest to Vacation Bible School, one of the middle ones to his tractor safety class), went to a few of their baseball games, and visited my grandparents.

Since he went home on Tuesday, I have been getting a lot of things done that I have been procrastinating on for awhile due to a lack of time; hopefully now I can get some of the reading done that I was planning on before I leave this coming Wednesday. Then we start our new quarter on the following Monday. There is never a lack of things to do or people to see.

I feel strangely confident about school right now; it could be just because I am not there right now, but I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I am even more looking forward to finishing my schooling and moving on to the next stage of my life. Although I am not so optimistic to think that everything will be peachy keen all the time, I am looking forward to continuing to grow and mature, as well as have a family to raise children to be saints for the Kingdom.

I have many plans for this coming quarter, and will be trying to break habits that I have had at school. Please pray for me, as I know that it is going to be very difficult; however, I really want to do it. It will help me live my current vocation to the fullest. May God bless and Mary keep you…until I write again!

Europe and goodbye

Europe was both fun and exhausting. There was so much that we had to do, places to go, work to be done that I was very glad when it was time to return home. On the way to Dublin on the 28th of February, we had a layover in Chicago–my family drove down, and we got to visit for a couple of hours. The first week, we enjoyed the slower life or rural Ireland. It was really pretty–a lot of green, a lot of rain, and quiet. The stars were visible (when it was not raining!) and there were good times with others on the trip. We went to daily Mass at a parish that was a five minute walk away, visited a few surrounding towns, talked to locals for a report we have to write (including two nuns at the Convent of Mercy!), visited a castle, went to the beach (it was in the 30’s and windy, so no swimming!), enjoyed some local food, and did LOTS of walking. Saturday morning we got up early, finished packing, and caught the bus at 7am to start our trip back to Dublin, so that we could fly to Rome.

We got into Rome late on Saturday night (March 7th), and found our way to the bus station. From there, we made it to the convent we were staying in a roundabout way. Even with the help of a nice local girl who spoke a bit of English, we got off the bus at a stop too late, and had to wander up and down the street trying to find where we were going. A few queries later, we finally found it–it was about 10:50pm, and the convent is locked every night at 11pm. I was a little paranoid that we were not going to get there in time…spending a night in a completely unfamiliar country, with a different language, in a large city, in a not very safe environment made me really nervous. It did not help that I was on the worst day of a head cold, and felt terrible physically. God provided, though, and we made it there, got a room, and were able to get a significant amount of sleep.

On Sunday we went to St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus, and then had a bit of free time. With his permission, we followed around the gentleman who put most of the details of the trip together for the day to get our bearings on the transportation system and such in Rome. We enjoyed a full Italian meal (one of two the whole week…other than that we ate cheap pizza and home made pb&j sandwiches) and then made our way over to the Roman Forums (the old city). We were pleasantly surprised that women got in free that day–apparently it was national women’s day in Italy! It was enjoyable and very interesting to see the old buildings. We also went into the prison where Sts. Peter & Paul were held before their martyrdom. After all that, we made our way back to St. Peter’s for Holy Mass at 5:30pm. Later that evening, the remaining part of the group joined us from Ireland, and we had our official meeting which kicked off the week.

Forgive the following names…they are a mixture of English and Italian. The ones I remembered the English names of, I wrote…but my schedule had them in Italian so that we could find them if we got lost while there. 🙂 Throughout the week we visited the four major bascilicas: St. Peter’s (multiple times), St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls. We also visited many other churches: St. Peter in Montorio (The Tempietto), St. Cecilia and St. Maria in Trastevere, St. Sabina, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Sistine Chapel, St. Maria degli Angeli, St. Maria della Vittoria, St. Susanna, St. Peter in Chains, St. Praessede, St. Clement, Il Gesu, St. Ignatius, St. Maria Sopra Minerva, the Pantheon, La Maddalena, St. Louis of France, St. Ivo alla Sapienza, Piazza Navona, St. Augustine, and St. Maria Del Popolo. Other sites included Piazzale Guiseppe Garibaldi, the Holy Stairs, the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, and the Vatican Museums.

Finally, we got up early again on Saturday to start our journey back. Our flight from Rome to New York was 9.5 hours, and then we had a 5.5 hour flight to Los Angeles, California. We were exhausted and very glad to get back. Now we are finishing papers and such, while enjoying spring break. On the 30th, we will start into a new quarter…I am getting back into the swing of things.

If you made it through the rest of the post, I congratulate you! Now I will explain the “goodbye” part of the title. I have enjoyed blogging for the past few years. I hope that through it I have been able to impact others lives in a positive way. However, since I have come to school I do not feel like I have been doing it justice. I wish I could post on here more, and sometimes it becomes a point of stress because I feel like I am obligated to keep it up, and I don’t even know if there are many people who read it. After thinking and praying about it for awhile I think it is time to say goodbye, ate least for now. If I get inspired to write something, you may see a post or two–but until I graduate in September 2010, so much of my time will be consumed by school that I doubt there will be much. I want to use the time I have spent on here to build up my prayer life, foster personal relationships, and pursue what I discern is God’s Will for me. Please keep me in your prayers, and feel free to browse through previous entries. I hope there is something edifying that you can receive from them! May God bless and Mary keep you all!

Lent, finals, Europe

Time has gone so fast! To be honest, I forgot about my blog for awhile. The past few weeks have been a flurry of getting assignments done, studying for finals, and getting ready to go to Europe. A few days ago, I realized that Lent started today, and began thinking about that. I am so scatterbrained that I am not going to attempt a long post…but thought I would post to ask for prayers for my last two finals, a safe trip to Ireland and Rome (and back!), and a blessed Lent. I will be praying for you all!

Another day

Today will be filled with:

  • More writing (four pages, double spaced) to finish my research paper
  • Walking to Holy Mass
  • Reading for homework
  • Enjoying my flowers
  • Praying

Please pray that I can finish a good amount. If I can finish my paper, I will be quite happy. 🙂