Monday, December 26, 2011

Fruit of the Vine, Work of My Hands

I have done a lot of damage to myself through the use of my hands. And somehow, through the mysterious grace of God, through those instruments of destruction, I will also find redemption. I always thought that meant through my writing. I have been a storyteller since I could talk and writer since before I could really write. I dreamed of growing up and joining the ranks of the great authors, in fact, I told my high school English teacher I wanted to be a combination of Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson.

While I find much good coming from writing, I find that much more is coming in other ways. Through making and packing my husband's lunch for him, cleaning our apartment, washing dishing, holding my husband's hand or giving him a massage after a long day-- things that some would consider extremely mundane and ordinary. But these are the things that have provided me with the most healing. Why? Because I am no longer serving myself, as masturbation led me to do, but I am serving others and most importantly the one who I am one with. Service and healing start at home and then overflow from there to flood the world.

While addiction and masturbation were horrible, it provided me with two necessary things: strength and trust to carry on through the dark times and a deeper understanding and gratefulness for mercy. Time to go clean the kitchen from our Italian Seven Fishes meal last night :) Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Free At Last, I Am Free At Last

I was told love is the cure, that all I must do to find freedom from my bonds, my chains to "the habit" was to fall in love. To direct oneself outward, the easiest path is to fall in love with another person, be in relationship. I heard this from a friend who heard it from a priest. But we hear it all the time from the world-- love (in the shadow of lust and infatuation) is the cure to any problem you might have and it only has to be love a little bit. I'm sure the priest was well-intentioned and now I can see the higher wisdom in his words, but falling in love was not the cure to my addiction.

Love was the problem. Not because I could not "fall in love" (some friends described me as boy-crazy), not because I did not desire that, and not because I was not in love with the Lord. Contrarily, it was love of the Lord that brought me to this place of desiring to destroy this addiction and sin in my life. No, the problem of love was that I did not believe I was lovable. I did not believe I was beautiful or could be loved. And that fueled the infinite, fiery pit of addiction in my soul.

Only someone infinite could extinguish that hell and fill me.

Love was the answer. Not love for or from the Lord or another person, but self-love. I could list every minute problem, weakness, and failing I had, I could come up with every reason possible why I was not lovable or beautiful. It took Infinite Love for me to realize that it was not He who did not love me, but me who did not love me. I gazed upon the Crucifix like Mary Magdalen gazed upon Christ when caught in adultery and felt how she felt-- Love was standing before me, forgiving me, inviting me deeper, and I had one choice left, whether or not to forgive myself. The Magdalen followed Christ the rest of her days, even following Him to the Cross because she found she could not remain unforgiving to herself when so infinite a mercy was being poured out upon her. In a moment that can only be described as the Divine rushing wind in the small whisper of the Holy Spirit, I said, "Theresa, I forgive you for being too weak to stop masturbating."

Love is still the answer. Even though I have fallen in love and married a wonderfully godly man, my struggles have not magically left me. Those envious, parasitic temptations still vie for a place in my soul to dwell, but I recognize them now. I see them as they are now and I see me as I am-- Theresa, fallen yet good.

The chorus of "Martyrs and Thieves" (by Jennifer Knapp) begins:
So turn on the light and reveal all the glory
I am not afraid
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness
I have a kingdom to gain
I am a slave to sin nor to my own mercilessness anymore. I am free. And I am running and fighting, inching however slowly towards that Kingdom. I have left my chains and old ways behind.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Allow Me to Explain

...why I call myself the "Fetal Theologian". You see, fetuses are teeny, tiny human beings and in the realm of theologians, well, I'm about as far from a Doctor of the Church as a fetus is developmentally to a very old lady, maybe even further. But yet even the tiniest voices should be heard and so I give you mine. But perhaps St. Therese better explains my title when she writes:

"O Jesus, I know that for You the saints have done foolish things as well as wonderful ones, for they were eagles. I, however, am too little to do great things, and my foolishness lies in hoping that Your love accepts me as a victim; it lies in counting on the angels and saints to help me, my beloved Eagle, to fly to You on Your own wings."

For the First Time, In Technicolor

The day I found freedom from my addiction haunts me. It haunts me like a beautiful mysterious lady haunts you after a simple hello. And I desperately want to have a conversation. I had given up on conversation right before this. I had tried talking and conversing for so long and still I was saddled with this ugly, hidden "habit"; this thing that made me less woman in so many ways and made me certainly not worthy of God, and it seemed there was nothing He was doing about it.

I self identified not as Theresa but as Masturbator. It had been with me for so long-- 20 years of "the habit" itself and approximately 10 of those 20 in actual addiction-- that it seemed like who I was. I could no longer see Theresa as separate and innately different from Masturbator. I didn't think God could either.

But, as is often the case, I was wrong.

The day I found freedom from the addiction to masturbation hit me like I imagine dying and going to heaven to be like. The old self not just melts but is violently ripped away and you are submerged into so much glory there is no possible way for you to take it all in, except in eternity. The veil had been lifted. As though I were the in the nitty underground of a black and white picture, I saw color for the first time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Got Married!!

Just a little note to say...I GOT MARRIED!! Yay! It happened back on Thanksgiving weekend and I have been busy settling into my new life for the past few weeks now and loving every minute of it! Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my husband who is my best friend and for the gift of imaging You through marriage. May You bless us and help us be evermore a light of Your love and glory. All for the greater glory of God! All for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, all through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with St. Joseph. Amen!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Biggness of My Littleness

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being a part of something bigger than myself that I forget to be just me. It is good to buy TOMS shoes (I own three pairs) and donate to and start charities. We are part of something bigger than our own here and now, but big, meaningful endeavors are not started by people who lose sight of who they are.
My tendency is to so impersonally be a part of an endeavor or charity that in my personal life I feel lost and without mission or purpose. This is not how I was created to feel! Every moment of my life is meant to be jam-packed with purpose, whether I'm writing a book, starting something big, writing an email to a friend who is struggling, or spending time with my friends and family.
Life is about the small, everyday things we do creating ripples that get bigger and bigger. Don't get lost in the impact of a tidal wave that makes the world better. Be the unique pebble you are and create your own ripples.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

On the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux and the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World

Today is the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, co-patron of France, co-patron of the missions, Doctor of the Church, my patroness and heroine. Today also happens to be the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL; the expansion of Walt's dream. Both of these celebrations should reverberate with us--they are extremely important for childhood.

St. Therese was born into a well-off French family where she never wanted for material necessities but was given the simple faith of a child yearning for more. She knew she was not made exclusively for this life; a fact that was abruptly pounded into her with the death of her mother when Theresewas only 4 and a half. But, for all the suffering she encountered in her life, she never lost her zeal or her faith or her imagination, and she had a big imagination! She used all of her faculties to propel her towards the reality that this world is passing and that we are made for another.

Walt was a man of a simple, unorganized religious faith. What mostly encompassed him was patriotism, love of family, and imagination. He saw a picture bigger than himself and bigger than the reality he was living in, and let nothing stand in his way. Walt created and innovated until the day he died, never losing his grounding and affection for his family, and never losing sight of the bigger reality--that there is more to this world than what we see, more than the here and now.

When we think of Walt Disney, we think of this man who created Mickey Mouse and otherbeloved characters, along with theme parks and experiences to allow us to be a part of the magic. What we sometimes overlook is his dedication to humanity, to making the now as good as it can be and to making the future an even better place. It is easy to say Walt loved childhood and imagination, but really, Walt was obsessed with childhood and knew that in order to be a good adult, a person needs to have the virtue of childlikeness.

Childlikeness was thevirtue that paved the way for St. Therese's ascent to holiness. She knew that in order to be big, one must be very small. Who is smaller than a child? Even God chose to come into the world first and a tiny, vulnerable baby, a child. Upon entering the convent, Therese took the name Sr. There of the Child Jesus; she is sometimes still known by this today, although she is much more widely known as Therese of Lisiuex or The Little Flower. Her devotion to the Child Jesus is of no surprise, nor is it a surprise that we know her as the Little Flower--tiny, delicate, often overlooked, hidden. St. Therese truly took to heart and embodied Christ's words, "Let the children come to me" (Matthew 19:14) and she ran to Him!

Walt wanted the children to come, also. He envisioned a place where children could live out all of their fantasies and use their imagination and a place where their parents could come and spend time with them, once again opening their minds and imaginations to their younger days. He said, "Every child is blessed with a vivid imagination" and meant that we should never outgrow our imaginations, that imagination is what pushes us forward and makes us great.

It may be argued that Walt was a greater imagination than St. Therese as he made and produced 73 animated and live-action movies from 1937 through 1966 and also worked on "The Jungle Book" (released in 1967 after his death) which was the last movie and animated feature he worked on, opened one theme park and planned another, along with producing television shows, and many other ventures. But in three years, St. Therese wrote, directed, and starred in eight plays that she performed for the convent, wrote countless poems over her five years in the convent, and also wrote her autobiography at the request of her sisters. If you're into a little math, if you divide the number of plays St. Therese wrote in her three years as compared to the number of movies Walt made in 29 years, it comes out to almost the same number. But this isn't a numbers game, we're talking impact.

St. Therese was not seen as someone great really until her death, while Walt was known as someone great early on. St. Therese did nothing outward to gain affection or glory for herself and Walt leant his name to these great things that he dreamed up to let people know they were of good quality and wholesome--in different ways, both achieved becoming something greater than themselves.

While Walt Disney has made a much more outward impact on us, calling us on to childhood and imagination and innovation, St. Therese has had just as much of an impact calling us on to childlikeness, dependence on God, and holiness. Both show us that littleness, childlikeness is superior to bigness and pride, and that, perhaps, the way of childlikeness and littleness is the most pure and quickest way to our dreams and to holiness.

"You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them." ~St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux and Walt Disney loved without borders and performed every action, executed every idea with the greatest of love. Today is a celebration of the human spirit, imagination, and greatness through childlikeness and littleness. Happy Birthday Walt Disney World! St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us!

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Want to Be Little Again

I want to be little again. I long for the times when going to my friend's house meant that she and I would run around the house and play games downstairs while our parents would talk upstairs. When there were no worries except if I would like what we were having for dinner or falling asleep during Mass. When all I wanted was to see the newest Disney movie and live adventures. When Mommabear was alive and I had no doubts that she would always be there to help me and care for me.

Things were simpler when I was 7. In fact, things didn't start to get complicated until I turned 12. Oh puberty. I can pinpoint all of the ages where I have felt a significant leap or development in maturity (if you're curious: 12, 16, 20, 23). I have a feeling another leap is coming upon me as my wedding is impending (I'm 26 now).

Sometimes things are too much, too heavy, too complicated, too involved. Being home makes me yearn for the simple, the young, the living, the past. The photo project I have started does not help this. I have gone through all of the rolls of pictures my parents had taken throughout the years, organized them according to year, then gone through year by year to take which pictures I want, put them in order, and then label them (and my labels are very detailed). I'm averaging 75 pictures per year and I have pictures from every year from 1984 through 2000, plus extras. It has been good for me to go through my life year by year, see who I was, what my parents looked like, where we went, and to remember. And it has been healing.

For the first time in many years, I am truly ready to move on with my life. I am ready to keep growing. In fact, I'm not sure that I've ever been ready to grow before; it normally just smacks me upside the head as I'm in the midst of it. I'm glad I'm home, I'm glad I'm where I'm at, I'm glad I have forewarning of growth, I'm glad I'm ready to grow, I'm glad for growth, I'm glad for life. I miss being the carefree child I was, but now I can be a carefree adult. Sometimes much harder said than done, especially as I feel the complete weight of familial burdens. I miss Mommabear. She was my safety net, my buffer, my partner, my friend. But something I learned from being a child was to believe in the invisible and to have faith and trust. Even when I could not see Mommabear or be with her when I was little, I always knew she was with me, I carried her with me. So I do the same now, but in an even more profound way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Hair

My hair has grown very long (and I have let it mostly on account of the wishes of my fiance, Jess. But I have grown to love it, too) and I have been contemplating a cut and dye after I get married, especially since I am moving to Texas where
it gets very hot. But some background: I enjoy having long hair, I'm just a little bored, but I think my current grown-out cut suits my face very well. Also, I am in love with my natural color, it is perfect for my complexion; however, I am beginning to get grays and so will have to let go of my love for my natural color sooner anyway (I know what you must be thinking...grays?!? How? You are far too young for grays! Why, you can't be older than 18! Wrong, I am 26 and while I still think I am too young for grays both my cousin Paula and my soon-to-be-brother-in-law Jon laugh in my face as they began going gray at 16).Me now:
What Jess thinks I should do:

What I'm thinking is a little more length than Lily here, maybe a little below shoulder length (that still takes about 6 inches of hair off) and with lowlights of her color and blonde highlights. That way, I can keep some of my natural color and length and still do something new and fun! Thoughts?

Every Flower Must Grow Through Dirt

I've always been entranced by stories of homeless people, especially young people, and people who come through such debilitating and gritty situations to find life and love and meaning. I devoured stories about life on the edge, punks, rebels, addicts. My life seemed so whitewashed and clean compared to theirs and so...boring. I wanted a life of excitement and the straight and narrow path didn't really seem to accomodate that. Why did I find beauty and excitement in these other lives and not in my own? Because there is beauty in grittiness.There is rawness and realness to a gritty life, a life on the edge. There is no room for maybe or maybe not, only do or don't, live or die. In a way, it is a very profound life. You must always be real and up-front, in touch with who you are, and because, most often, a gritty life is a life at rock bottom or close, you can be who you want to be. Being empty leaves you with space to fill up with and what you fill up with is your choice.

But what we know about a gritty life is that it doesn't normally end well. With that emptiness come the natural desire to be full and some people do not know how to fill themselves with good things. Addiction, over-dose, death, and suicide often ensue. This does not appeal to me.

I want a raw, real life full of adventure and excitement. I don't want to just explore a place, I want to play in it. But I don't want a whitewashed life, never experiencing any suffering. Why? Because out of our suffering emerges such beauty and virtue, resistance and perseverance--all of the things that can make us great.

And that's how I fell in love with Christ. That's when I discovered who I want to be and how I want to live my life. God, Who did not spare Himself any pain or suffering but Who also led an amazing life of joy, excitement, intimacy, and love.

There is realness in pain. When we have nothing left, there is no fear in showing who we are or where we are at. This is Christ's call to us everyday, to be who we are, who we are created to be. And above all else, I am His.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why Virginity Matters

A great reflection and article. Also, some really insightful comments. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Women: More Than Society Allows Her To Be

Feminist and Feminism are not the same things. Women's Movements in the United States have done great things for women and their goal was always equality. Women gained the right to vote through one wave of the movement, which told the world that women have just as rational a brain and an ability to choose leaders as men. But the thing is, equal doesn't mean the same because, ask anyone who's dated someone of the opposite sex (I'm sure my fiance would gladly add his two cents), men and women process the world differently. One is not better than the other, it can be argued (but not wholly) that one is better suited for certain things than the other and vice versa, but the basic truth is men and women are different. Equal but different. Why is this so hard for us to understand?
Feminism shows us that being a woman is good and beautiful and capable and dependable and just as awesome as masculinity but in a different way. It shows us that being a woman is valuable and respectable. Feminist tells us that being a woman is inherently less. Sure, being a woman shouldn't tie me down to any social norms or acts of depreciation, but my womanhood is only good insofar as I can make it masculine. This is where we get a view of babies as a burden or even a disease; because, in the work place, for any woman who wants to climb the corporate ladder, be a financial success, or just scrape by, babies are a nuisance. Enter abortion and women's right to "choose". Women are giving women the ability to choose to kill the baby in her womb and therefore strip away what makes a woman a woman, taking away the "superpower" only women have, that is, to make babies as no man can carry a child inside of him and nurture that baby and then survive labor like a champ (please note: that transgendered man who gave birth to his and his partner's child kept his lady parts in his operation and therefore is not wholly male and thus a man did not birth a child). Some scientists will disagree with me here and say that a man could carry a child in his abdomen, after being artificially inseminated, and then give birth to a healthy, full-term child by a modified Cesarean (however, all will agree that this poses significant health hazards to both parent and child and is not advisable). So let me modify my statement: no man is born with all of the necessary parts to carry a child within him through an act of sexual intercourse. Only women have the ability and privilege to do this! But I digress...
Feminists seek equality through the destruction of womanhood and the woman. Feminism seeks equality by noting the differences in the genders and showing how each is valuable and good. A real way to get equality for women would be to reinvent the way corporate America sets up her business structures, allowing for men and women to work side by side in an environment that protects femininity and masculinity by giving each the allowances necessary without the destruction of one sex over the other (we have begun this with more generous time and benefits for mothers on maternity leave and the ever-increasing ability to work from home).
But this issue goes far beyond the workplace. Feminist views tell us that to be good, successful, respectable women, we must constantly be doing and achieving things and undervalue the good of doing at home: the good of teaching your child his first word, succeeding as a parent at raising good citizens, etc. Feminism seeks integration of all of these; no woman is better than another simply by holding a job in the workforce over raising a stable family at home, and neither of these is mutually exclusive, women can do both.
What I'm getting at is I hate abortion. It is morally indefensible and inexcusable to recklessly and brutally kill an innocent human life for the advancement of one's own purposes (seriously, dogs get more protection and outrage over cruelty done to them than kids in the womb). Not only this, but it strips women of exactly what makes them women and leaves them androgynous male-wannabes. Most women probably don't feel this when they have abortions, some even feel empowered by it, but they are not being empowered as women, they are being empowered as pseudo-males. It's time to take femininity back and I'm starting today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What It Feels Like For a Mother

I've been asking a lot of questions about motherhood recently. I'm preparing to be married and with that comes the possibility of children (God willing!)...and it's something I have a lot of head knowledge about but little deeper understanding. Thankfully, I have some great friends who are mothers that don't mind answering my thousands of questions. Today I was able to have a lovely conversation with a friend that went like this:

Friend: "Being a mother is a concrete, constant reminder of sacrificial love. It has given my life a more beautiful, deeply meaningful depth than I could prior understand. My life is not my own, it belongs to my kids in that they completely depend on me to meet their needs. At times I hate it because I don't have a choice. I love them and so I sacrifice for them. But with that sacrifice comes a continually deeper love and in that love I am drawn closer to God and brought fulfillment. In that sense, being a mother bring my fulfillment."

Me: "Do you think there is a way to fall into a negative side of that? Like to lose sight of the fulfillment and grace it brings?"

Friend: "Sure, actually quite easily with little ones who seem to need ALL THE TIME and rarely say thank you."

Me: "Through being a mother and the self-sacrificial love of that you become more you. Do you think it is possible to lose yourself, who you are, become less you, by losing sight of everything? Make it all about self-sacrifice instead of about God?"

Friend: "So like play the martyr instead of actually being one. Makes sense to me. Instead of being who I'm meant to be, which happens effortlessly, being who I think I ought to be, which takes great effort. I think the intent is good but it's misguided. Maybe looking for fulfillment in the action instead of through the action."

All for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, all through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with St. Joseph.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why I Love the Princesses (and fairy tales in general)

In today's society, we focus a lot on doing instead of being. We must do something great, earn something great, having something great to show off, to be great. Our doing should be a reflection of our being but our doing should not be the measure of our being. I find this especially true in the world of women since the feminist movement.

The princess fairy tales (and most of those commonly referred to as "Disney Princesses") are given a lot of flack for portraying women who only sit around and wait for true love to rescue her from whatever peril she is in. She does not do anything (other than fulfill stuffy old values of cooking, cleaning, marriage, and the like, if that). But what I propose is that the princesses show us the value of being over doing, show us that to amounting to something great is attainable because we are all born great because we are. I propose that the princesses teach us values that make us better, stronger, more feminine women who are then able to engage the world and because our personhood is great, we can then do great things.

This is why I (have come to) love the princesses. I don't have to do anything spectacular and I don't have to look all over the place for my spectacular thing to do to make me great, I already am great and therefore can do great things, even small things in a great way (like Uncle Ben [Spiderman, in case you didn't know] says, "With great power comes great responsibility"). We must do great things precisely because we are great.

Herein lies the problem, though: how do we measure this greatness? What scale is there to tell me if I am doing great things? What is great to a person in desperate need will not be the same as to a person with plenty. Then do everything with all of your heart, all of yourself; do everything in love. That is the true measure of greatness--how much you open your heart to those around you and simply love.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lunch Club, Ex-Boyfriends, and God's Mercy

 Currently, the girls and I have begun week 2 of the Princessology lunch group and so far so good! The group grew from about 5 interested girls to about 10. Also there are currently 4 girls who cannot come yet but have requested the materials each week so they can at least learn it on their own. And when asked, all of the girls talk about how great the Princessology is, how much they are learning and growing, and how much fun they are having. I am overjoyed!

For anyone who has every wondered what girls are interested in or talk about at lunch, let me give you a peek inside the first week of our group when we were discussing Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). We were discussing what are the needs and desires of our hearts that we have tried to fill with other "love" instead of the love of Jesus. Blondie turned to me and with somber tone asked "Ms. Bey, has anything ever led you away from God?" Oh gosh. Being truthful, yes. And hence they fanangled me into sharing about my first love/high school boyfriend. Since I was 16 when he happened they of course wanted to know all about him and they started asking what he looked like. Having internet projection abilities, I was able to bring up a visual aid--some pictures of him, as we are Facebook friends. Punky was head-over-heels, in fact, I believe she verbally declared him to be her type of Prince Charming. What a discussion this led to! Oy! Thankfully (especially for Punky) we were able to see how damaging my relationship with him was to my relationship with God and how much more damaging it could have been to me if I had continued in the relationship and not had good family and Church support to guide me. The girls agreed that although he and many other boys are hot that it is definitely what is inside that counts and they resolved to only be interested in boys that could help them grow as women and in their relationships with God.

I'm pretty sure God was laughing at that entire lunch group, especially at me. Though that boy and I were never physical (didn't even hold hands), emotional damage can run deep and I have sought much healing from my relationship with him over the years and have reached a place of peace (which is good since I'm preparing to marry a man who truly does bring me to Christ in every way and helps to strengthen my relationship with Him). Apparently my journey with my high school relationship is not quite over. Perhaps it will never be. There is something of value in the relationship I had with that boy--I have learned what I was looking for in a man, what I am still looking for in a man, who I am as a daughter of God, as a princess, and that God's mercy runs wide, deep, and long. My fiance and I do not have a perfect relationship and there are some things from his past that we have had to work through, but because God has given me such an amazing opportunity to know Him and His mercy and to receive His mercy, we are able to work through those issues with open hearts and compassion. God's plan is so good and I would have never guessed that a relationship I had in high school would still help to inform my life, relationship, and spirituality years later.  Truly thank God for the Princessology and the lunch group, for my ex-boyfriend, for my fiance, and especially for His mercy. All for the greater glory of God!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My new project

Joy Anderson, a friend of mine and my household sister, studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville with me and was also a Theology and Catechetics/Youth Ministry major wrote a "Princessology" as her senior thesis (please check out her blog).This Princessology has been on my heart and mind for a long time and last year I had her e-mail me what she had (I was a youth minister at the time and thought that perhaps I would be able to implement something for my girls based on it...that didn't happen). About 6 weeks ago I began teaching Religion at a Catholic high school and a few weeks in some girls approached me about started a girls lunch group where we could be women and learn about being women of God together. At the time I had to turn them down as I was overloaded as it was and had no idea what to prepare for them (not to mention planning my wedding...). I was going through some papers several weeks later and found the Princessology and read through it again. It was a Divine incident. I had the perfect material for a girls' lunch group!

The problem. The Princessology currently only covered three princesses. Joy designed the Princessology around Disney princesses because the are the most universally recognized and their stories are well-known, but she only had time to analyze three of them: Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), and Ariel (The Little Mermaid). We all know that there are many more Disney princesses! Snow White and Cinderella to name two! Not to mention the "unconventional" princesses like Nala (The Lion King) and exemplary Disney heroines like Wendy (Peter Pan) and Alice (Alice in Wonderland) and several lesser known Disney princesses such as Eilonwy (The Black Cauldron). I knew what I must do. I must put all of my talents (and majors--Theology, Catechetics/Youth Ministry, English Writing) together and expand the Princessology.

This is my project--expand the Princessology in quantity of both princesses and content. I currently have a list of 25 princesses (including Thumbelina and Anastasia--non-Disney princesses) that I am researching and analyzing seeing if they fit as individuals into the Princessology. Also, in Joy's tradition, I am attaching Marian virtues to each princesses and other virtues as they fit. What I will also be doing creating is a "test" to find out which princess you are--containing elements of both your personality as compared to a princess's and also a spiritual dimension to see where or how you wish to grow in the Lord.

This could potentially be a great break-through for women's ministry. I guess we'll see how it goes with the girls' lunch club! I will keep you all updated with the Princessology progress and will share parts of it on here from time to time as well.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Begging for Life like Mary Magdalen: Lenten Post 1

It was Fall 2004 at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Jenn and I were attending a women's seminar on sexuality. A lady began talking about her experience with masturbation and not only did I connect, but I felt like she was reading my soul. I was shocked at her accuracy for things I did not even know how to articulate. That is the plight of 19-- lots of words and feelings but little understanding and articulation. The lady finished and we were given a ten minute break. Jenn and I walked to the restroom, but I waited outside for her. I leaned against the wall trying to take in what I heard and was experiencing. Jenn walked out and looked concerned. I must have been in a daze. She asked if I was alright. I opened my mouth and what came out in a whisper was a roar from deep inside of me, from something that I did not know existed in me: I didn't know I hurt so much. I could not stop repeating it; tears slowly began to roll down my cheeks. Poor Jenn, she did not know what to do, so she fond one of the evening's coordinators, Dr. Storm. Trulie talked about her but this is how Storm and I met. I could not say my name, nothing except that declaration of my being. I new masturbation was wrong, I knew it hindered my relationship with God, I knew that I had struggled with it for all of my life that I could remember, but I did not know the damage it was doing to me, did not know the wound that started or perpetuated it. I began that self-discovery and healing that night, a journey that would culminate a little more than a year later, a journey that still takes places today, little by little, day by day.