Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Turning in 2 papers, check!
The beautiful sunshine
"Wash my Feet" posters look fantastic
Mass is in 20 minutes followed by community night
Phone date with my Hunny
Lots of friends willing and ready to help serve
UST faculty who really care about me
An enthralling Catholic Studies class this morning
The smile and encouragement of one of my besties and only housemate, Maria
The good morning text I received from my mother
The feeling that I have finished everything that needs to get done before spring break which starts Friday!
God is good, and I am thankful for everything He sends my way.
I think the weather may FINALLY be getting warm. *Fingers crossed* I really hope to be able to wear a breezy spring/summer dress once I return back to Minnesota after spring break.
Monday, March 14, 2011
An Untoppable Chicken Salad: Mom's Recipe
Since returning to the carniverous world, I hadn't tried my mom's world-famous (in my opinion) chicken salad. Growing up most of my life I had always had her special tuna salad (I'll share that recipe a different day) but not the chicken salad.
Yesterday (Sunday) I took her recipe, went shopping, and made myself a large batch of it. It's good on sandwiches, salads (especially spinach), on crackers, and eaten by the spoonful. And maybe there are even more possibilities.
Anyways, it was TERRIFIC....yesterday I had it in a toasted sandwich and today as a salad. :-) My mom has made this for bridal showers/baby showers/pitch-ins and more. She told me that one time she used 24 chicken breasts....that's a lot of chicken salad!
I decided to make the lowest fat version as I could attempt, so I decided to nix the nuts and use low-fat Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil (green lid), non-fat Cool Whip (Target brand), and non-fat Jimmy's Slaw Dressing. Depending on where you shop, you should be able to find similiar products that will keep your recipe low in fat. I bought my ingredients at Target.
4 large chicken breasts (baked and torn into pieces)
1 lg. apple (peeled and shredded)
2 cups green grapes (halved)
1/2 cup celery (diced)
1 cup Mayo
1/2 cup cool whip
1/2 cup slaw dressing
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 1 hour. Makes 4-5 servings.
I give it an A+. Make sure that your chicken to dressing proportion is correct. I did not initially make enough chicken (I have small chicken breast tenderloins in my freezer) so if you are not using large chicken breasts, you need to use at least 7 tenderloins, minimum.
I hope that you all enjoy this recipe and give me your feedback! :-) Blessings on your Monday.
Ideas of what you want me to blog about? Comments are always welcome and appreciated!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Jammin' out today!: Some music you REALLY ought to listen to
Last night I had the privilege of going to a concert where Luke Spehar released his new cd "No other way" which has 10 new tracks. It is PHENOMENAL and it is the music that he wrote during his first year of seminary at St. John Vianney at the University of St. Thomas. To me, his is an Amos Lee meets Jack Johnson meets Dave Matthew...does that make any sense? He's got a really unique style and is a Catholic artist. He has a new website that he is still getting all set up which is www.lukespehar.com. you can also find him on Facebook. Unfortunately I can't find any videos of his new songs, but if you want a taste of his music, check out this video which has his song, "The Champion" from his first cd Be still : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvGjkjvE0dI
Hopefully his new album will be available to the general public SOON!
I also have a friend named Heather Bartlett who is going places! First of all, she is just about the most friendly, cheerful, sweet, smart, and fun girl ever. She just released an album that is on ITUNES. She has a gorgeous voice and sings pop with a twist. Her album is available for purchase in the UST bookstore, and also up on Itunes. One song that you CAN'T get on the bookstore copy ($5) is "In the End". If you buy this single, she will be donating the profits from the song so that a priest Fr. Loya (who knew JPII personally) is able to attend Pope JPII's Beatification in Rome this spring....way cool Heather. Such a good idea of a "fundraiser" of sorts. My favorite song from her album is "Two Straws". You see, I'm a huge country fan, so my favorite thing are stories as lyrics, and this one totally revolves around the story of a couple and their love story from high school through family life with 6 kids. A heartwarming story revolving around their growing love and constant enjoyment of strawberry milkshakes together. Makes me wonder what traditions will remain in my future marriage with Bill. Whatever they are...I sure hope we continue to pray always and trust the Lord, eat lots of red velvet cake (and cupcakes),take roadtrips, and slowdance to our favorite songs. :-) I'd be willing to trade all the skype dates and letters (oh long distance!) for those things.
Happy Saturday 'o studying folks! I'm always happy to promote the music and books of people who really move and inspire me.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Chastity and the moral life: It involves a cultural effort
I must say, I really enjoyed the talk I went to last night which was titled "A Muslim Perspective on Chastity". Students for Human Life of St. Thomas invited Professor Adil Ozdemir to speak. He is from the Theology department and Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center. Professor Ozdemir is a Muslim scholar and is a practicing Muslim from Turkey. We all ended up having quite the discussion about Islam in general, and specifically practices and viewpoints on the human body, sexuality, marriage, and gender.
One particular point I see as very similiar between Islam and Catholicism is the emphasis that faith is an integral part of life and we witness to that reality of God with our lives, bodies, words, thoughts...In his words, "Everything you do is related to your faith." "Muslims are to fight the good fight against temptations, against the Devil." I would completely agree regarding the Christian duty. He also reiterated that faith is not private or personal, but rather communal. Our actions (or failure to act) affect others. The Holy Quran gives Muslims a law to be observed to live and co-exist in harmony in the relationships in life. So too for Catholics (and Christians) does the Bible give a law to be observed regarding our relationships.
Then, he went on to discuss the masculinity and femininity of our bodies. He said, "God created male and female from a single soul as different genders so that we can know and discover one another." He said that the majority of creation was made in couples/pairs (fruit, animals...). A male and female who join together to be married complement each other and he used the analogy of clothing to describe the intimacy/closeness of mates. A person's husband or wife should fit so tightly in love, care, compassion, and respect for his/her spouse that he/she resembles clothing on the other. And thus, modesty is required for both sexes (inside and outside of marriage) to be able to protect the nature of the other. Sex is only permitted inside of marriage (like the Christian/Catholic teaching) because it is meant as a gift to be given to those who have made a covenant for their lives. When people choose to have sex outside of marriage, it can have multiple repercussions that hurt themselves, but also friends, family members, their potential offspring, and society at large.
I think Professor Ozdemir hit upon a critical point here. Chastity is about a lifestyle and it is fully integrated into the person's life. It is important to mention that there is a way to repent from past actions that have not been in accord with God's will for us. In Catholicism, it is through the sacrament of reconciliation where we confess our sins and ask to be made anew, and Christ wipes away our sins. The Christian journey is not about being perfect, because if we were perfect, we would not have such a longing and need for Christ. If we were perfect, God would not need to outpour his mercy upon us. God rejoices when we return to him wholeheartedly. In Islam, Muslims rely upon Allah (God) who is "All-forgiving", they repent sincerely during their time of prayer, even for those sins they aren't aware they committed. What a beautiful act of humility! Professor Ozdemir said that God's forgivenss and love is so great that it is greater than the love and anxiety of a woman looking for her newborn child who was lost in the desert. God loves us that much and is so eager for us to return to Him.
What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about chastity? Well a lot actually and it is worth reading the entire Article 6 on the "The Sixth Commandment". But just to quote a small portion:
"Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being...The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and teh integrality of the gift." (2337)
The Church sees chastity as an integral virtue, one that is meant to be part of our daily lives, and that does not ask for us to repress our sexuality, but rather to embrace it fully in our words, thoughts, actions, dress. When we do this, we are saying with our actions that each person has utter dignity and the act of sex itself is beautiful and should not be compromised by seeking that gift outside of its proper context in marriage.
The Catechism also teaches:
"Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion." (374)
"Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is 'an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.' Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life." (2525)
Chastity is a societal good! It can't be stated any clearer than that. When we recognize the dignity and goodness of each person (heart, mind, body, spirit) spiritual communion will be possible, and it may, indeed, be a foretaste of what is to come in Heaven. Cultures should help to build up a society that prizes chastity, and I'm sad to say that it seems in many ways that our society does not always value chastity. How many movies have you seen lately where the unmarried couple "hooked up" very shortly after meeting each other? Okay, now compare that to the times you have seen a movie that portrayed a couple waiting to give themselves to each other on their wedding night? The numbers are much more in favor of the first, I think. But it doesn't mean the fight is lost...why? Chastity "is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort" (1810). The Lord alone, who has more power than anyone or anything else, wants to give us the grace to be pure, if only we ask Him. And we ought to ask Him for this grace all the time, especially as young people who want to live purely.
Chastity is something I am very passionate about in my own life, and I know just how difficult it can be. I would recommend asking St. Philomena, Our Lady, St. Joseph, or St. Maria Goretti to be your intercessors for this intention. Look them up- they all modeled beautifully the virtue of chastity, and I go to them often to ask for this grace from the Lord so that I might embody holy chastity with my fiancé, my family, my housemate, my friends, and all that I encounter in my day-to-day life. There are also a lot of fantastic books on the subject, I would especially recommend "If you really loved me..." by Jason Evert, "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge (for women), "Wild at heart" by John Edlredge (for men) and of course the "Theology of the Body" sermons by JPII if you're really adventurous.
I am so happy to know that Muslims share this foundational belief with Catholics about the beauty and good of sexuality and how we as a society ought to work for its promotion among all people so that we can truly achieve a spiritual communion and integration based on love, respect, and generosity.
To end in the words of one of my favorite Holy Fathers:
"Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happpiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness." -Pope John Paul II
Blessings on your day!!! Stay posted for my next blog post.
Comments on this post, please leave them below!!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Happy Ash Wednesday everyone! This year Lent is super late, depending on the calendar, some years it has been as early as before Valentine's day (rough for those who give up sweets). I'll be honest, until a few days ago, I thought I still had one more week before Lent began. I have been nervous for the arrival of Lent, just because it inevitably invites us to get out of our comfort zone to make sacrifices that will carve out more room for the Lord in our lives and steer away from the me-mentality. Now, Lent is here, and as Catholics, we begin this season by going to mass to break bread and receive ashes on our foreheads, a marking that associates us with Christ and the cross he carries, to be celebrated 40 days from now on Good Friday.
I found some excellent information on the origins/history of Ash Wednesday by Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin at Catholic Answers. You can read his short essay here: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0104fea1sb.asp
Ashes in the Bible are typically associated with mourning or penance. A mark on the head is associated with ownership. Thus, this mark reminds us "to adopt an attitude of prayer, repentence, and humility" (Akin). The ash cross is a sacramental, an exterior sign of an interior devotion. So it joins the rank of holy medals, rosaries, holy water, and the various other physical, tangible things that we use to grow closer to God, embracing our existence as physical, material, but also spiritual beings.
I just went to Mass a few hours ago, and BOY it was packed!! And the Chapel is not small by any means. Afterwards, I was talking to my dear friend Meghan about how the crowd compares to a Holy Day of Obligation (Ash Wednesday is not one) and it didn't even come close. And...there are a good 4-5 other masses on campus either at the Major Seminary or Chapel that I wasn't even at. Our conclusion: maybe more Holy Days need to have sacramentals associated with them...perhaps there could be a complimentary blessed rosary given out on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception or a blessing with chrism on the Assumption. I invite your suggestions. Anyways, I was just so happy to see the Chapel as packed as it was.
I remember two years ago on Ash Wednesday, I was interning in the MN State Senate and I had my ashes on at work as I had been to mass that morning. Wearing ashes in a secular setting really sparks conversation, and I ended up talking to a few people about the faith that I might not have otherwise. One of my co-workers even told me that my ashes had reminded him that he needed to find a mass to go to that night. Even though Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, I have found that PEOPLE WANT THEIR ASHES.... :-) Being sorrowful is something we can all relate to as humans, and we can enter into the season, knowing that Christ fully understands the suffering and persecution we undergo because he experienced it during his life. At Mass earlier, Fr. Erich Ruetton (UST Director of Campus Ministry) challenged us to "pick our team" as we anticipate Easter. He encouraged us not to merely jump on the bandwagon at the end, but to make the sacrifices willingly and loving for Christ as we get ready for the "quiz" at Easter. "Do you reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises? Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,and life everlasting?" (Rite of Baptism) This, my friends, is our faith! It is important that we reflect upon these questions during these upcoming 40 days so that we might prepare our hearts to say No to Satan and Yes to Christ with firm resolve.
The number one question circulating at this time of year is "What are you giving up for Lent?". So I thought I would share my plan with you:
I am giving up Facebook, one of the biggest vacuums of my time and something that I surely can do without. I have the phone numbers/e-mails of anyone I'd need to talk to, and I think it will allow me to spend more time focusing on the Lord and in nurturing my friendships. It will be tough though, I check Facebook quite frequently. I will, however, still keep up this blog and check Facebook on Sundays.
I am also trying to eat more simply (spend less money at the grocery, no alcohol, less meat, no sweets, etc.). I really really enjoy food and cooking, but in an effort to simplify this Lent, I will make Sundays my day of culinary "splurge" and eat more simply during the rest of the week. Simple can still mean gourmet and I will try and post a few more recipes up here for your enjoyment. I know a lot of mean fish dishes from my 9 years as a pesco-vegetarian (sounds like a good topic for a blog post...shoot, I've got to keep a list of these!), and that might come in handy for those of you who have gone cold-turkey (haha) vegetarian for Lent or just for all of us on Fridays.
I also think that it's important to make some new spiritual goal. My spiritual goal this Lent is to spend more time with the Scriptures in the practice of Lectio Divina. I loooove reading good spiritual books, but sometimes at the expense of reading the Bible, so I'm going to go back to the basics and focus upon the word of God.
What are you giving up for Lent this year? Never participated in Lent before? I encourage you to give it a go...Catholic or Christian or non-Christian.
- Write a letter/e-mail each day to someone who is lonely/needs a friend
- Go to daily mass
- Give up sweets
- Give up half your wardrobe
- Don't wear make-up
- Fast between meals
- Pray 10 minutes per day (or more!)
- Volunteer regularly
- Pray at 40 Days for Life (in MN the prayer will occur at Regions Hospital) for an end to abortion
- Baby-sit for a family with children (for free)
- Give up coffee/tea/hot chocolate
- Give up driving (if possible)
- Give up shopping for anything other than necessities
Know that I am praying for all of you, my readers, if you need any particular prayer intentions prayed for, you can always leave me a comment and I will include your intentions in prayer.
Tonight, I am going to a meeting of Students for Human Life. The speaker will be giving a talk on a "Muslim perspective on Chastity". Should be very cool and maybe it'll be something I blog about soon. :-)
St. Veronica, pray for us!
Jesus, Merciful Savior who died for our sins, have mercy on us!