Sunday, September 27, 2009

Longer School Days?

In this article from yahoo, I read about President Obama wanting longer school days and shorter summers.

My first response? Yea. That'll be good for family life...

Kids today spend far too much time away from their parents. They spend far too much time away from their siblings. They spend far too much time outside of the family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the family to be a community of faith, hope, and charity; it is a "privileged community, the "original cell of social life." The Catechism states that society has a particular responsibility to support and strengthen the family. (CCC, 2204-2210)

In order for a family to be everything the Church tells us it is, the family memebers must physically be present to each other. That is how a family functions. Through the good times and the bad times, through the sibling rivalries and the fun of sharing time together, through the challenges of living together in love, and through the perfection and holiness that come as a result, a family is meant to be together.

That said, am I fully opposed to longer school days? Unsure. As true as everything I have said is and as much as I believe that it is the vision for family life we need in today's world, there is still one problem.

As a future teacher, a large part of my training has addressed the sad fact that not everyone's home life is good. There are many, many kids in our communities today who don't have the opportunity to experience that kind of family life. For many kids, school is the only structure in their lives. The school becomes the only place where they feel safe. Their teachers become the only people who seeem to love them. What about those kids? For those kids a longer school could be a blessing. A longer school day means that they are supervised longer. A longer school day means another meal that fills them. A longer school day means more time that they won't be around drugs and alocholic, abusive parents. A longer school day means they will be less neglected.

I don't agree with President Obama's motives. I don't think family life should be sacrificed in the name of competing with the test scores of the other industrialized nations. However, his poor motive doesn't necessarily make the whole idea terrible...

There never seems to be an easier answer...comment with your thoughts; I'd love to know what you are thinking.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Not Really That Simple

"Modern Beauty." That is the title of Mary Kay magazine's new "look." My copy of the magazine came in the mail today, and I laughed upon reading that term on the cover. Modern Beauty. As if beauty today is somehow a different thing than beauty in the past. On page 4 of the magazine is this quote,
It's simple. It's soft. It's glowing. Beauty today embraces all things feminine. This is empowered femininity. It's you looking and feeling pretty while living life to its fullest. So experiment. Play. Be you.

Suddenly, because we have progressed towards this new, modern beauty, we have a way to embrace all that is femininity. It seems to be saying that since we've conquered this whole outward beauty (because this is a make-up magazine) thing now women can be empowered. Notice how this magazine chooses to define this empowered femininity. "It's you looking and feeling pretty while living life to its fullest." When I read "living life to its fullest" I can't help but see a cry for further power. We've conquered beauty, so now let's go conquer the rest of the world. "It's simple. It's soft. It's glowing." We've got it. Now that we've "embrace(d) all things feminine," now that we possess beauty and femininity we're ready to show our power. "It's simple."

Yea right. I believe that almost as much as I believe Santa Claus still comes down the chimney bringing me my Christmas presents.

Everything in the preceding paragraphs is about as far as possible from embracing and empowering femininity. Do you know why? Because it is based on the disillusion that arrogant confidence, isolating independence, and manipulative power make up true femininity. I don't believe that the essence of woman wants to continue fruitlessly pursuing the demands of the world. I don't think the essence of woman wanted to start that empty chase at all.

The saddest part is that the words used in that magazine are meant to be words of freedom. They are meant to be words that give women permission to "be you." But they are the same words that are trapping women. They aren't giving her the keys to freedom. They are continuing the lie. They pretend that the facade of a strong and empowered exterior is what a woman needs to be happy, to find fulfillment, and to encounter who she really is.

Woman does not find herself in the constant fight of the world. Rather, she finds herself when she steps away from a desperate attempt to "feel pretty" and "experiment" with the ways of the world. She finds herself when she trades this shallow vision of femininity for God's true vision.

Beauty is not something that modernity has perfected. True beauty is what will perfect modernity.

First Day of Fall

Take a deep breath. Do you feel that? This is the time of year when the crispness of the air makes it feel good to breathe. Fall has officially begun.

Between the crunch of the leaves, the chill of the wind, the smell of fires burning, the taste of soup and the warmth it brings to my lungs, and the depth and richness of color outside, I could enjoy no season more.

Fall is a time of death. The world outside must slowly die so that it can resurrect again in the life of springtime. This is a season I can identify with.

The magic of it all lies in the beauty of this death. Fall is beautiful. If we let this be an example to us of the human person we will find true beauty in our own dying to self. As we surrender our lives, as we empty ourselves of all that is self-serving and prideful, we encounter the beauty of a life lived in accordance with God's will.

Go ahead. Breathe again. And this time, when you do, make it a conversation with the God of the universe.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Things We Say

Daz: I know! I'm going to get some of my sherbet and put 7-up in it and have...a...
Melissa: A sherbet float?
Daz: No...what's's something...
Melissa: It's a float. Put Vodka in it if you want to call it something else.
Daz: PUNCH! That's what it's called.

The Things We Say

Today in Theology of the Church Dr. Blosser called on Karmen to answer a question. She didn't know exactly what he was talking about, so her answer wasn't perfect. Later this conversation occured...

Dr. Blosser: Karmen, do again what you did before. Can you do that?

Karmen: What? Not know the answer?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Things We Say

I'm not sure why it took until today for me to realize this brilliant idea. My friends and I love to laugh. And we find each other (and ourselves) very funny - frequently when no one else sees any humor at all. SO - here's to a new "feature" on my blog, one that will allow you to share in the pleasure of the things we say...

(As we are thoroughly enjoying eating the cookie dough we mixed up without intending to ever bake):

Daz: What are we going to do when we aren't in college anymore.
Me: The same things, just lonelier.

{I have this feeling my apartment may be the only ones who enjoy these posts...)

Monday, September 14, 2009


Today I am grateful that while I frequently abandon God, He never abandons me. Today I am hoping that I figure out a less stressful way to manage my week. Today I am discerning what God wants for me in the present moment. Today in my prayer life I will not neglect personal conversation with God.

Today my friendships will grow because Kristie brought back the missing Alias disc. Today my mind will be fed by my homework.

Today I will celebrate the blessing of a fresh beginning of the week. Today I will be a better daughter because I will hold my family more deeply in my prayers. Today I will be a better student because I will not procrastinate [too much ;) - Alias is back...] Today I will live Catholicism by enjoying St. Paul's letter to the Romans.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Judgment Day

I was home this past weekend and had the opportunity to watch the funeral mass of Ted Kennedy as well as the brief prayer at the Capitol building and bits of the burial. I found myself proud to be Catholic. There was something empowering about seeing three former presidents as well as the current president present at Mass - though I know they are not in full communion with the Church. I felt proud to know something of the power and meaning behind the rituals they witnessed. I was honored to believe with all my heart in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Liturgy they attended. I was pleased to be part of the Body of Christ, the Universal Church, that mourned and prayed with a faithful family.

 I know that Ted was pro-choice, but this did not taint the celebration of his life. There was much focus on his passion for helping people, on his sense of responsibility to them, and on his natural tendency to turn to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in times of great need. We thank God for the good he did fight for in his life. We remember that we do not know the state of his soul upon death; we did not hear his last Confession. And we can celebrate the man that he was knowing that his soul is in God's hands - the judgment is reserved for God alone, which is the only place it ever really was.

Tonight I had the always needed opportunity to reflect on my own entrance into eternity - the day when I will stand before my Lord and He will take me through all of the good that did and all of the evil that I did. The terrifying loneliness of that moment leaves me feeling hollow inside. I have done so little good and so much wrong. There is something deeply unsettling when thinking about souls. Every person that I encounter will one day either be in the eternal bliss of Heaven or the eternal damnation of hell. There is no time for trivialities.

Following my reflections, I had the opportunity to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I have never prayed that prayer with so much of heart. In that moment of judgment, all we can offer God in defense of ourselves is His mercy.

Begin with One Our Father, One Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed

(On the mystery bead) Eternal Father I offer thee the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Your dearly beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ: in atonement of our sins and those of the whole world.

(On Hail Mary Beads) For the sake of His sorrowful passion: have mercy on us and on the world. (Repeat for each decade)

Close with: Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us and on the whole world (Three times)