Sunday, July 29, 2012

A prayer for purity

A Prayer for Purity

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity.

Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity.

And when the "Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me" in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.

Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

There's Something About Mary

Originally posted on Catholic Exchange's now extinct Theology of the Body page:

There’s something about Mary.  More specifically, there’s something about Our Lady of Guadalupe.  When studying in Europe for a semester, my fellow traveler, Kate, and I would scout the streets, churches and religious gift shops of the continent for a glimpse of our good friend OLG.  Surprisingly, she turned up on several occasions.

It was with a knowing smile, then, that I received the words of Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, who recently addressed students at the John Paul II Institute, saying that the true miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe is her international following.

As I began contemplating Our Lady’s universal appeal, it struck me that she is a model of the theology of the body.  In most Marian apparitions, the enduring “legacy” is found in words – in a message of repentance or greater prayer or ongoing conversion.  With the exception of the phrase, “Am I not here who am your mother?” it is rare to hear people quote Our Lady of Guadalupe, and yet we see her image more often than most Marian art.

That’s precisely where we see her typification of the theology of the body message.  It is through the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s body on St. Juan Diego’s tilma that she communicates to us.  As Msgr. Chavez beautifully said, “In her image, Our Lady of Guadalupe wrote a letter from God to you.”

With our 21st century American brains, we tend to look at this particular image and see nothing more significant than a woman with her hands folded.  For those to whom the tilma was first revealed, however, the intricacies of the image symbolized who she was, and more importantly, who her Son is.

Everything from the colors to the flowers to Our Lady’s garb communicated to the Indian people who she was and what she wanted to tell them.  The Knights of Columbus have done a superb job in breaking down various aspects of the image on their website in preparation for their first Marian Congress.

The fact that Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image appears on a tilma is itself a beautiful sign.  In an article, by Br. John M. Samaha, “A Scientific Note About St. Juan Diego’s Tilma,” Msgr. Virgilio Elizondo is quoted, "In the Indian cultures of that time, the tilma was the exterior expression of the innermost identity of the person.  By being visible on Juan Diego's tilma, Mary became imprinted in the deepest recesses of his heart -- and in the hearts of all who come to her."

According to Msgr. Chavez, in the Mexican culture, a tilma provided protection, symbolized sustenance and was used in marriage ceremonies to symbolize the linking of the couple.  A tilma with color noted the dignity of its owner.  The greenish-blue color worn by Mary was only worthy of an emperor, thus Our Lady of Guadalupe’s title, “Empress of the Americas.”
There is a fascinating dichotomy in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  On the one hand, she is a model for inculturation, a concept discussed in the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes, particularly in paragraph 44.  The intricacies of her image spoke directly to the culture to whom she appeared in the 16th century.  And yet, there is a universal devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Everyone has a body, and despite the specific time in which she appeared, her image and her legacy touch the hearts of everyone open to her.   The message of life and love that she came to present 500 years ago, remains incredibly important today. 

In the image, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s face is that of a mestiza – various cultures harmonized into one.  Her message of her Son is one for everyone, regardless of individual race, culture or era.  May we all heed a lesson from Our Lady – that each of us has the capacity to powerfully communicate the universal love of God through our bodies to the world.

Just how important was the image and appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe?  At St. Juan Diego’s canonization in 2002, Pope John Paul II said, “’The Guadalupe Event’, as the Mexican Episcopate has pointed out, ‘meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation’ (14 May 2002, No. 8). Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.”

Yes, there’s something about Mary and her ability to reach to the heart of a culture in order to transform millions of lives that resonates with our own desire to bring souls to Christ.  As we seek ways to communicate the message of Christ, may we ask the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe who continues to be a witness of hope to the life-destructing culture in which we live today. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quote book

"Man's life comes from God; it is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life." -- Bl. John Paul II 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Courtship, Etiquette and the Adolescent Male"

What do parents have to do with this?  Randall B. Smith has some great insights in his piece from Crisis Magazine.

What’s strange is not so much that the rules of respect have been dispensed with – it’s hard in the best of circumstances to keep a reign on adolescent male hormonal rage. What’s strange is that these rules weren’t done away with by men – even young men – but largely by women.  As for that, I’m not sure what they were thinking.  Did they really believe that by making young men open doors for young women, they were encouraging young men to think that young women couldn’t open doors for themselves?  Do such people imagine that young men in those days thought that young women, upon coming to a door, merely stood there helpless until a man could come along to open the door for her?  I think not.  I remember as a child being told by my rather “old-fashioned” mother that I should hold a door open for a lady.  I thought it strange because I had seen ladies open doors for themselves all the time.  “Why should I? I asked my mother.  “They can open the door for themselves.”  “That’s not the point,” she gently scolded.  “Well I’ll be darned if I can see the point, then,” I remember saying to myself as I skulked away.  At that age, I couldn’t quite see why you shouldn’t punch girls either.  I punched (and got punched by) my guy friends all the time.  What was so different about girls?
Well, as it turned out, there was something different about girls, but I didn’t really get the idea until much later.  

Read it all here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part X

X.                   Living up to a challenge

The sun was no longer as oppressive, because the sky became dark. This wasn't the type of dark that occurs when it is 9 pm, however. It was only 6 or 7 in the evening. And the dark was accompanied by a strong wind. The dust and rocks that covered the airfield became live and active, dancing in the air, encircling our faces and sending people to find a way to cover their mouths or eyes. We saw the clouds, we saw the lightening, and we also saw the Pope. There was the Holy Father -- the man who brought us to this spot in the first place -- the man we wanted to see. But across the sky we could see that the vigil was not going to be smooth sailing.

The vigil began, and the first formalities were undertaken. Then the rain began. It poured. The wind made it fall horizontally. We grabbed our ponchos, covered our heads, ensured that our backpacks were covered by the copious amounts of plastic tarp that our Italian friends made sure we had available to us, since we were relegated to a tiny sliver of space for the night.

The vigil had stopped. The Jumbo-trons no longer worked. I wondered for the first time if perhaps we would all be sent home, though the nightmare of evacuating 2 million people couldn't be any better than our current situation.

And then the rain slowed. The Holy Father offered a few brief reflections, much shorter than what he would have liked to have said. It was determined that really only one thing was necessary for the vigil, and that one thing was speedily brought to the stage: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Suddenly, the crowd of 2 million pilgrims dropped to their knees in silence. In silence. Has it ever been possible to gather 2 million people who speak dozens of different languages and to witness their complete silence, even those who are so far back they cannot see the monstrance? And they knelt. They knelt in puddles of water accumulated on tarps. They knelt in mud. They knelt on rocks. They knelt on ant hills. But they knelt. And I did not hear one complaint.

The time of Adoration didn't seem to last very long. It was then time for Pope Benedict XVI to get his rest for the evening. The emcees told us that we had all prayed for relief from the heat, and that God had given it to us. The rain continued for a while, but not with the same intensity as before.

We found our little spots for napping that night -- spots that now had puddles, or dirt, or piles of ants. Spots that we normally wouldn't find worthy of sleep. But to see the Pope, well, yes, we found it worth it.

After ten posts about insights learned about Catholic youth from last summer's World Youth Day, what can we conclude?

Youth want to be challenged.  They can live up to the challenge.


We need to be challenged by youth.  

As Pope Benedict XVI said at the end of Saturday night: 
Dear Young Friends, We have lived together an adventure. Strengthened by your faith in Christ, you have resisted the rain. Before leaving I wish you all good night. Have a good rest. I thank you for the sacrifice that you are making and I have no doubt that you will offer it generously to the Lord. We shall see one another tomorrow, God willing, in the celebration of the Eucharist. I am expecting all of you. I thank you for the fine example that you have given. As happened tonight, you can always, with Christ, endure the trials of life. Do not forget this. I thank you all.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part IX

IX.                   Seeking a challenge
The pinnacle of World Youth Day -- as I adamantly related to my fellow chaperones who were a bit reluctant to participate in this pinnacle experience -- is the Saturday vigil and Sunday Mass, both with the Holy Father. This was my third World Youth Day, and so I've had my share of adventurous overnight vigil experiences, as well as powerful Sunday Mass encounters with the Vicar of Christ. Madrid's experience, however, was in a class all its own.

Most of our group left the hotel at 12:45 pm, walking to the Metro with our backpacks full of overnight supplies and our hands full of grocery bags. We each had our 1.5 liter bottle of water, a quantity that would have to be doubled or tripled in order to counteract the possibility of dehydration and heat exhaustion that was imminent in Madrid's extreme heat. The Metro, of course, was jammed with pilgrims. I watched sweat literally drip off of people's faces and onto the floor. But eventually -- perhaps after close to an hour -- we arrived at our stop.

But the Metro was not the end of the journey. We next began the walking portion of the pilgrimage, traversing a couple of miles with our gear in tow. And what a beautiful sight! Yes, it was hot. Yes, we were tired. Yes, the backpacks became heavy. But what a wonderful, jolting image of our pilgrimage to heaven -- thousands of people from every possible background and country, joining together in their walk toward a common goal, encouraging each other and meeting one another and enjoying the walk on the way to the destination. We had an image of the saints too -- the men and women who stood from their tall apartment windows, splashing water on the pilgrims below. There they were -- one's who had "arrived" at a destination and were equipped with more than we currently had -- and they were encouraging us and cheering us and giving us what they could. They hung shower heads out of the window, emptied cold water from bottles on us and used their cupped hands to disperse refreshing water out of buckets. With the extreme heat, even a small splash of cold was a welcome encouragement along the way. One women stood at the side of the road and quickly dunked pilgrims' hats in her icy bucket, giving them some cold water to last awhile.

We continued our trek to the airfield, where the vigil would be held. Eventually we made it to the line heading to "security" checks. The firemen rode around in trucks and hosed us down with water. We made it onto the field and scurried to find our section, C-4, as quickly as possible.

We arrived at C-4 (this whole process had taken more than three hours), and were rather stressed to find no home for our meager sheets, blow-up rafts and ponchos-turned-blankets. There was a small strip of empty land -- perhaps 10 feet long by 2 feet wide -- that we decided to claim. But the Italians around the small space were not pleased. "Walking path! For walking!" they cried, gesturing, and placing their hands in their hair in frustration. We argued with them for a bit, but how does one argue when neither party really speaks the other's language? They wanted "walking space," and World Youth Day veteran that I am, I wanted them to know that "walking space" does not exist within the vocabulary of the Saturday vigil. They tried arguing by kindness, "Por favore, you cannot fit nine people there!" And I calmly replied, "Actually, we have twelve. And in any event, where else do you suppose we can go?"

We pitched our clear tarp on the ground, piled up our backpacks and then realized that it truly was 102 degrees in Madrid that day. Oh the heat! There was no shade, no cold water, no more fire hoses gushing free showers. There was a great big sun beating down on the masses, heating up our plastic tarp and leaving us exhausted.

"Water! Drink more water!" I had to command my group every 10 minutes. We had experienced a case of dehydration the day before, and I wanted to ensure that everyone stayed healthy in this particular predicament. Still, commanding others to drink water that feels as if it were made for hot chocolate or Ramen noodles, not a refreshing drink, is a bit of a challenge. When two of our pilgrims returned with our World Youth Day meal sacks, we took the ham and salami that was still cold, and held it to our faces for a few seconds of refreshment.

"Whose bright idea was it to have World Youth Day in Madrid?" I asked myself. And I think we all prayed for a break in the heat. Oh yes, I think the Lord wanted to show us that He does listen and He does answer prayer.

Our youth are seeking challenge.  They want to be called to more.  They want to be held to a high standard.  They want much to be expected of them.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part VIII

VIII.                   Reverent
-          I saw young people kneel in a sports arena, in mud, on ant-infested blankets.  I saw youth singing at Mass, following the readings in the Magnificat.  I heard youth requesting opportunities for prayer, times to go to Adoration.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part VII

VII. Joyful
The infectious smiles -- even in the midst of extreme heat, odd food and lack of sleep -- the singing, the gratitude, the enthusiasm ... this is a hallmark of Catholic youth, and one which both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the youth to cultivate.  Authentic joy is a witness and an invitation to the world.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part VI

VI.                   Love to be a witness
-          At World Youth Day in Madrid there were 2.5 million young people together at once!  Think of the impact this sight had on those who live in Spain, who passed by singing, praying, dancing Catholic youth at every corner.  

-          One of my favorite memories from last summer's trip occurred on the subway.  The youth I was with decided to sing the Salve Regina.  We began to sing in our little corner of the subway.  Toward the end, I looked up and noticed an older man in the corner, singing along.  I doubt the Salve was part of his daily commute, but on this occasion he was inspired to sing a prayer to Mary with strangers from another continent.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part V

V.                   Have tremendous respect and love for the priesthood

-          At the English catechesis sight we visited each morning at World Youth Day, there were hundreds of priests celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.  We would walk through the halls and see priests hearing confession everywhere – in the stairwell, down the hall, sitting, standing.

-          And the youth would cheer for their priests, eagerly count how many there were, look for their own pastor amidst the sea of liturgical vestments.  

       What a gift for the youth, too, to have so many priests present for World Youth Day.  Priests who gave up all sorts of things in order to accompany their flock on this pilgrimage.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part IV

IV.                   Willing to sacrifice
-           During Mass for English speakers, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, in his typical wit and wisdom, said: “Sometimes we see the Church, the Body of Christ, as radiant, knock-down-dead-beautiful, and other times we see the side of the Bride with curlers in her hair and Noxema on her face. The nails that pierced Christ's hands on the cross have held His Church together for 2,000 years. We are heirs to the nails.”

-          At World Youth Day, young people were making all sorts of sacrifices, and often not complaining, for the pilgrimage of a lifetime.  Similarly, during our Called to be More vocations pilgrimage walk last summer, I saw young people willingly being "heirs to the nails" -- embracing blisters, swollen ankles and knees, long days and late dinners in order to witness the Lord's love to those they encountered.  And to suffer those things for the sake of others.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part III

III.                   Love the Pope
For those who travel to World Youth Day, a great moment of anticipation is seeing the Holy Father, in real life, feet or yards or half a mile away, and to hear his voice and know he is speaking to you. In fact, as we spent a day in Burgos, Spain during our pre-WYD pilgrimage, I told our teens that Pope Benedict, an eighty-something-year-old man was undergoing the rigors of travel for them. Very beautiful, very moving, very true.
Yes, I took this picture of Papa B.

So, when Thursday arrived, and every young pilgrim knew that the Holy Father would be in their midst by the end of the day, I asked our group if any of them would like to spend the afternoon in the blazing Spanish sun with the chance (not the guarantee) of a good spot to see the Vicar of Christ. Four of them said yes.

Following our morning catechesis and Mass, Fr. Tim Ralston (our group's chaplain) and I set a brisk pace through crowds of pilgrims, seas of flags and chants about the Pope in order to attempt to secure a good spot. Eventually we arrived at the plaza where the Holy Father would begin his welcoming ceremony. We followed the barricade until we found what I do believe was the last remaining three feet of space along the winding barricade. And like a veteran of scouting ideal places to see the pope, I barked out commands about not moving for any reason, not letting anyone invade the space, how to create our own personal barricade of backpacks and where the most strategic places to sit for the next five hours would be.

Yes, we had five hours in Madrid's intense heat to wait for a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI. And the heat was so great that volunteers began running near the barricades to spray people's faces with little spray bottles. But this was not enough. So they brought out plastic containers typically used to distribute lawn chemicals, but instead they sprayed us with water. But that was not enough. Eventually, the firemen came onto the scene, lugging their fire-hoses and grinning with glee. Yes, the fire-hoses were enough! We were showered with enormous gushes of water as we all cheered on the firemen, "Agua! Agua! Aqui! Aqui!"

With our hats dripping and our sunscreen battling the effects of the makeshift Madrid waterpark, we waited for the big moment. There was music and videos and reports and footage of Pope Benedict alighting from the plane earlier in the afternoon.

And then it was a little after 7, and we watched on the screen as Papa B came through the streets of Madrid in his popemobile. We readied our cameras and steeled ourselves for the crushing enthusiasm (literally crushing) of those around us who wished to be a centimeter closer to the Pope as he drove speedily by.

He drove by, smiling and waving. We cheered with the Spaniards. We cheered with the French. We cheered with those from the British Islands across the way from us. We cheered with the girl from Cincinnati who happened to be near our group. We cheered with people from every populated continent.

And then? We collapsed. Yes, all six of us didn't last in our prime spots because there was no longer room to sit. We had been standing in the exhausting heat for so long, and the Holy Father's gentle voice in Spanish was not jolting us with renewed energy. So, we sat along the side, followed along with the prayer service as best we could, and then attempted to beat the crowd. This attempt was thwarted when one of our teens spotted her first "real life" Missionaries of Charity. As a great fan of Blessed Mother Teresa, she had meeting some of the sisters at the top of her World Youth Day wish list. It's a good thing we stopped to chat ... they informed us that the Holy Father would be passing by the road on which we were standing. So, we found an opening in the crowd and watched as he sped by again.

So, the six of us had our close encounter with the Pope. One girl said the waiting and the watching were worth all of the money that it cost to get to Spain. I can only hope that the close proximity to the Vicar of Christ will continue to inspire the teens' faith as they grow in holiness for years to come.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part II

II.                   Need encouragement in the faith
-          One of the most common benefits young people share about World Youth Day is the fact that it bolsters their faith.  The culture of today is hostile in many ways to faith, and young people are consistently beaten down for it.  They are also told by adults that they – the young people –are incapable of desiring or of living a higher standard.  And so they are given very little and told that it must do. 

-          Young people at World Youth Day admit that they need the witness of others.  They need encouragement.  They need fuel to continue living the faith they have received, which they want to live.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ten insights from Catholic youth, Part I

Several months ago I was asked to speak about my experience at last year's World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, as well as the state of Catholic youth today.  At the time, someone asked me to reprint my notes on the blog.  Clearly, it has taken me a ridiculously long time to do so!  Nevertheless, since I am pre-blogging (scheduling posts ahead of time since I just got married on Saturday), I thought this would be an ideal time to share the ten insights I have learned about Catholic youth, particularly from my latest World Youth Day trip.  

I.                   Bold
-          What other word could describe the desire of 2.5 million young people to raise thousands of dollars to spend a week in a foreign country, walking for miles, eating what is available, living out of a suitcase or a backpack, cramming onto public transportation and becoming part of a billboard to the world that the Catholic faith is alive and thriving? 

      Our young people are bold.  They are not afraid to live their faith, proclaim their faith, and live the radicality that the faith truly deserves.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Alter Christus

Tom Hoopes wrote this piece around Father's Day, but it's worth a good read now.  He shares some "unforgettable images of the priesthood."  Among them, his final story is the most profound:

But the greatest priestly action I have ever seen was at Mass on a hot summer Sunday at St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven, Conn.
This was back before the parish had air conditioning. It was tough for the congregation, but worse for the visiting priest who said Mass in the summer. He had diabetes and some kind of degenerative nerve disorder that made his hands shake.
 “It’s hot for you,” he would joke. “But I’m up here wearing a horse blanket!”
This priest’s homilies were excellent, showing him to be a great student of Catholic social teaching, but the moment that is burned in my memory happened during the Eucharistic prayer.
Father was slowing down through the first part of the prayer, like an old record player that needed to be cranked. When he started the consecration, it sounded like he was going to stop altogether.
But after he started the consecration, it quickly became clear that nothing could make him stop.
“Take this,” pause, “all of you,” pause, “and” … long pause … “eat it.”
He took a long gasping breath and looked like he wouldn’t recover. A parishioner ran to his side. The priest made it clear he wasn’t about to leave the altar, so the parishioner brought a chair for him to rest on.
“This … is … my … body … which will be … given up … for you.”
He lifted the host with shaky hands. We watched in rapt silence.

Find out what happened by reading the rest here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A new saint -- wife and mother

Some are calling Chiara Petrillo a second St. Gianna Beretta Molla -- a woman who gave her life so that her child might live.  It's a touching story -- the loss of her first two children almost immediately after birth, a diagnosis of cancer during her third pregnancy, and a healthy son given life because Chiara sacrificed her own.  She died a few weeks ago.

It's a story that causes me to think, too, because Chiara and I are the same age, 28.  Chiara's situation could happen to anyone, and yet she accepted it extraordinarily, trusting God's plan and surrendering herself fully to Him.  It leads to a self-examination of where I need to grow in trust and surrender.

It's the Chiara's of the world that remind us that we, too, are called to be saints.  And it's the Chiara's of the world that gently ask us if we are fulfilling that mission.    

I'm eager to read more about Chiara and to watch her cause for canonization begin, as I am sure it will.  Meanwhile, let's also pray for her husband and young son as they grieve the loss of Chiara and begin to share her in a unique way with the world.  You can read her story here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bl. Peter To Rot, pray for us

It's the feast day of a little known blessed -- Peter To Rot.  I remember reading his story in a book about modern saints I received around the time of my Confirmation, "Faces of Holiness, Faces of Christ."  But it wasn't until our Kenosis teens began researching saints to be the patrons of Kenosis that I realized the reason for his martyrdom near Papua New Guinea.  He was a martyr for marriage.

Fast forward more than a year later, and my fiance and I were told that the only day available in July for a wedding at the church in which we hoped to marry was July 7.

Fast forward another few months, and I realize that July 7, our wedding day, is the feast day of Bl. Peter To Rot, a martyr for marriage.  God is good!  And, no worries, I am not typing this post on our wedding day.  In fact, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have pre-posted until the beginning of August to allow me time to marry, move and travel.  

But I had to share the saint of the day and a link to his powerful story.  

The Martyr’s example speaks also to married couples. Blessed Peter To Rot had the highest esteem for marriage and, even in the face of great personal danger and opposition, he defended the Church’s teaching on the unity of marriage and the need for mutual fidelity. He treated his wife Paula with deep respect and prayed with her morning and evening. For his children he had the utmost affection and spent as much time with them as he could. If families are good, your villages will be peaceful and good. Hold on to the traditions that defend and strengthen family life!
Let's learn from this martyr's story and ask him for his prayers today.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Prayers, plans and posting

Things might be a little different around here for a month or so.  I'm getting married this weekend (prayers are greatly appreciated as I say yes to my vocation) and will be taking a month or so away from active blogging in order to properly celebrate and settle into our new home in a different city.  That said, the blog will not wither away.  I've pre-posted several things to last the time, so I hope Unshakeable Hope continues to serve you, even if I'm not posting on the latest news stories or trends.

Thanks for the prayers.  I'll be blogging on the other other side of the 7th with a new name ... 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Long thoughts on shorts

Summer time brings with it new amounts of sun, and therefore of heat and therefore of shorts.  Yes, shorts.  Those articles of clothing that these days do a very good job of living up to their name.  I want to be very honest and share that something that completely mystifies me is giving a talk to young ladies about modesty, wherein the young women are nodding their heads and saying things like, "Yes, my friends dress inappropriately all the time, and they just don't realize what kind of message their sending.  I'm different.  I want to dress in a way that communicates respect."

And I think, "Bravo!  So true!"

Until I notice the shorts.

The shorts that barely cover anything.  The shorts that inevitably become even shorter when sitting or bending or even moving.  

But somehow shorts are seen as exempt from a modesty policy.  (Maybe because they're shorts.)   But I think this is a problem.  

I've always heard the longest fingertip rule -- that shorts should be at least as long as the longest fingertip when one's arm is extended along the side of the body.  The fact of the matter is that longer shorts do exist -- even Bermuda shorts -- and it is not impossible to find a pair that don't flash a strobe light that says, "Look at my legs and only my legs."  

Is there something bigger at stake than just looking at one's legs though?  I think there is.  There is something dignified and lady-like about wearing a bit more cloth, whether it's a skirt that at least reaches the knee or a pair of shorts that extends to at least mid-thigh.  There's something that preserves a sense of mystery, a sense of, "I am not your property.  I am a daughter of God."  And there's something that declares where one's sense of dignity lies, and how one defines womanhood -- as a gift to be given or as a stare to be grasped at.  

So, why seek a longer hem in the midst of the summer sun?  Because who I am is a body and a soul; who I am is a person who deserves to be loved.  Because those around me deserve to see me as more than legs and a T-shirt or tank top.  Because the incredible mystery and depth of my person and my femininity can be expressed in a unique way by what I wear, and short shorts just don't do this task justice.  

Ladies, I realize that dressing modestly can come with a few challenges -- finding clothes, hearing the confusion of friends -- but I'd like to encourage you that these few challenges do not compare with the confidence, grace and beauty of reflecting your uniqueness, mystery and depth in a veiled way to the world.  It's worth the sacrifice.  And the new pair of shorts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quote book

"The joy you are seeking has a name, a face; that of Jesus of Nazareth, who waits for you in the Eucharist." -- Pope Benedict XVI