Sunday, April 28, 2013

and Then my eyes were[n't] opened

10-day is meant to be a time of adventure.  Of learning about European culture and about yourself.

I got that and more.

I also learned about the Church.  Of how it is different everywhere we go.

I think I mentioned in one of my Sunday Musings that I have come to a better understanding of how the Church is Divine, yet made up of human members.  And sometimes (read:a lot of time), those human members mess up.

Last summer, as I traversed all over the northern states, I saw some interesting things within the Mass.  Sometimes, I scratched my head and thought, "Uh, why was that necessary?"  But still, I could accept it.  I mean, I grew up in what is apparently one of the "top 2" conservative dioceses in the States.  Who am I to comment on the Liturgy in other places?  I don't know the background, therefore I can't judge.

But when I was in Lourdes earlier this month, I was shocked.  The numbers of "off" things happening at almost every single Mass were astounding.  Slide shows, music during the consecration, and summaries of the readings... where on earth was I?  Is this not a Marian apparition site?  Of all places on earth, shouldn't this be one of the most reverent?

I stood in the sanctuary, reading the Epistle for the International Easter Vigil Mass, and I was shaken.
What am I doing here?  What is going on in this place?

It is unnerving to be part of something so great and grand, but is at the same time, to be uncomfortable with it.

Again and again I questioned.
Again and again, I forgot what was really important.  

I had to get over the fact that I had expectations, and remember for a moment that the Mass is still the Mass, Jesus is still Jesus.  He is present, even through our human failings and mistakes, both great and small.

In Lourdes, I learned the power of prayer.  The beauty of raising voices in petition, with people I don't understand and who I have never met.
In Lourdes, I learned priority.  Would I rather receive the King of Kings (while hearing drums and saxophones), or would I rather sit by myself in a chapel?
In Lourdes, I learned acceptance.  Acceptance of God's will and of the difficulties He places in my life. Difficulties that are always for my own good.

In Lourdes, I learned love.

Sunday Musings: Vol. 5

Time and Place... 4:13 pm, the library

What I can hear...  Grace sketching of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and this: 
This past week... Whew.  So much this past week.  It’s been a week of ‘lasts’: last one of each of my classes, last Sunday brunch, last Liturgy Committee meeting… yeah. It’s bittersweet.

I've been reading... The Catechism and Canon Law (for finals, of course.  I wish I was cool enough to make those my choices for casual reading.)

Recent realization... 8 days.  8 freaking days left in Austria.  that is all.

I'm oh-so-grateful for... chocolate and coffee, and my awesome roommate Grace.  She’s been such a blessing this semester, and I don’t even want to think about not seeing her for 3 months this summer.  waahhhh… I’ll miss you, girl!  Prepare yourself for frequent visits in your room next semester.

yeah, we've had a lot of fun in Europe together :)

Next week... 3 days of finals, 1 full day of cleaning and packing, 1 (literally, purposely*) sleepless night, 3 days in IRELAND, 16 straight hours of travel, and home.  Yes.  It’ll be one heck of a week.
(* since most people are flying directly home, we have a midnight mass and then they keep us up and drive us right to the airport around 2:30 am.  It should help with jet-lag in the States.  Unless, of course, you’re making another stop before the States, as we are.  So basically, we’ll be 5 completely exhausted, brainless, wanderers meandering around Ireland.  Hey, I’ll take it.)

I'm looking forward to... Right now, I’m really, really looking forward to Ireland.  It’s been my dream since I was 7 to go there, and Irish Dancing for 11 years definitely helped that wish increase.  Homeland, here I come!!

And last but certainly not least, prayers for my sister, brother-in-law, and their 5 kiddos, as they've all caught a stomach bug.  Not fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 9)

7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted at Conversion Diary

It's finals week..... which means that we're all stuck in the library while the birds are chirping and the sun is shining!  Thank goodness for European windows which really allow the breeze (and bugs!) inside while we're working.  Finals start tomorrow (Saturday) and go through Wednesday; Thursday is 'packing and cleaning' day, and we're out of here on Friday (at like 3 am... meh).

We're doing ALL the Austrian things!  Last Friday was the Austrian Ball, which involves dirndls and leiderhosen, Austrian dancing, and yummy food.  AND I finally climbed a mountain!  Book mountain, to be exact.  Josh was here visiting, so Sunday after Mass and brunch, we set out to climb to the top.  We made it, and even though it was exhausting, it was totally worth it.  Gaming is beautiful from above!  And now I have a better picture in my mind of the whole town.
(Gaming from above)

As the finals-mindset really sinks in, I begin to realize how many other things I want to be doing.  Things like re-organizing my computer files, or setting up a different personal website, or going through all my photos from the semester... The good thing is, I will able to do it all when I get home!

I don't want to go home.  I will miss Gaming, the Kartause, these friends I've made, my amazing classes, the professors who live what they teach, the scenery... Heck, just Europe in general!!  Let me stay!!!!
(Vienna and the Kartause)

I can't wait to get home.  There are some things that just aren't the same here that I really miss... and my goodness, I've missed my family and friends!  

(suffice it to say- I WILL be back some day.)

I just found out about a program called "Blogging for Books".  Very simply, it involves the company sending me a book, which I review and blog about.  They get honest reviews about their books, and I get free books!  (Because I definitely need more books... *ahemahem*)  I've already ordered the first one, entitled "On Heaven and Earth", co-authored by Pope Francis (pre-papacy) and Abraham Skorka, a Jewish rabbi.  I'm really looking forward to both reading it and sharing my thoughts with you all!

And finally, a quote from my Scripture class for you to ponder:
"Since Christ, in instituting the Eucharist, linked it in such an explicit way to the priestly service of the Apostles, it is legitimate to conclude that he thereby wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is 'feminine' and what is 'masculine'.  It is a relationship willed by God both in the mystery of creation and in the mystery of Redemption."
-JPII, Mulieris Dignitatem

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

that time of year

Yes, it is once again the week before finals week.  And as my dear friend Robyn pointed out, the week before finals week is always worse than finals week itself.

What does that mean?  That blog posts will be sporadic over the next 8 or so days.  I will most likely post when I need a study break, but who knows when those will happen?!

Please say a prayer for us all as we study, write and edit papers, and prepare to leave Europe for our homes in the States!  It's a stressful time of the year for any college student, but especially for students living abroad.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Musings: Vol. 4

Time and Place: 10:35, the hallway outside my room ('cause that's where the internet is!)

What I can hear... the guys upstairs talking, and a door squeaking very loudly

This past week... I had class and more class, wrote some papers, read some catechism, and went to Vienna to meet up with Josh*!!  It was also the Austria Ball, where we all wear dirndls and leiderhosen.  It was a lot of fun!!

I've been reading... articles about the role of women in the Church and purity, for two different papers

Recent realization... 3 hours of sleep + 2 1/2 hour trip to Vienna + walking around all day + playing Settlers of Catan = very tired Allison ;)  (I'm caught up now!)

I'm oh-so-grateful for... the hike I took today- it was amazing to see Gaming from 'above', and all of the beauty in the mountains!!

Next week... exams start in 6 days.  6 days.  That is terrifying beyond belief!!!!

I'm looking forward to... Saturday afternoon.  It means more time to study, and no exams the next day!

*Josh is one of my friends I did Crossroads with- he's in the seminary, studying in London this semester!  I visited him and another friend there a couple weeks ago.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Musings: Vol. 3

Time and Place: 10:17 pm, one of the smaller classrooms at the Kartause

What I can hear...  Grace skyping her parents and “Feels Like Today” by Rascal Flatts

This past week... I was back in Gaming after 10-day, for which I am very grateful.  10-day was good, but Lourdes was unfortunately not what I was expecting.  I also got to talk to and catch up with my friends Robyn and Stephanie this last week.  Today I took a break from schoolwork and went on a bike ride with Grace and Elyse!

I've been reading… articles for one of my papers :P

Recent realization... The Church may be of Divine origin, but She is made up of human members.  Which means they mess up.  It’s such a comfort to know that no matter how far “off” the members of the Church go, Christ is still there guiding her!

I'm oh-so-grateful for... the opportunity to get to know some people better over break.  Friendship is a beautiful gift!

Next week... we have 5 days of classes, instead of the usual 4.  Friday is always the hardest…. but we will make it!

I'm looking forward to... being done with these papers!

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 8)

I have just gotten back from 10 days in France.  My goodness, my brain is cooked!  Who knew that speaking in French for that long would lead to thinking in French by the end of the time there!

Lourdes was beautiful, but… not exactly what I was hoping for.  I was surprised that the liturgies weren’t more ‘traditional’, and that at times, it seemed too much of a ‘Disney World’ atmosphere.  Still, Mary is guiding all the pilgrims towards her Son, and He will lead their hearts to Himself!

I miss reading.  Like, a lot.  I miss being able to grab a book off my bookshelf and sitting for an hour (or two).

I have a job for the summer!!  I will be the sacristan for the Steubenville conferences on main campus!  I am really excited to 1) serve in this way 2) get to know the rest of committee 3) maybe hear a couple of the talks!  The great thing is, I'll have about 6 weeks at home over the course of the summer to see people and do "home-y" things.

Someone recently asked me if I was ready to go home.  That’s both a yes and no answer.  There are a couple more places that I wish I had been able to see (Belgium especially!), but I am also ready to dive back into American everything.  And see my family and friends :)

Speaking of home, I will be home in 24 days!  Yikes!  It’s so hard to believe that in less than 3 weeks, exams start.  And that before that, I have 3 papers due.  *sigh* It’ll all get done, somehow!

And lastly but not leastly, Congratulations to my niece who made her First Holy Communion last weekend!  And Happy Birthday to my godson and my mom who both celebrated birthdays last week.  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

It’s not just a saying anymore.  It’s oh-so-true.  Every single one of us communicates with others every day.


They are beautiful.
They are powerful.
They can build up or they can hurt.

I have been what could be considered hyper-aware of words recently.  I think there are words that we use in our daily language that are used almost equivocally.*  This understanding has been heightened very recently because of my trip to Lourdes, and my contact with the sick there.

Take, for example, the word “retarded”.  It makes me shudder to hear this used casually.  I think in the past couple years, more awareness has come concerning using the “retarded”, vs. actual mental retardation, which is certainly not something to joke about.

Well, what about other similar colloquialisms?  In the cafeteria on a typical day, you can hear “That’s so depressing” or “I’m starving”, among any number of other such phrases.  Are you really experiencing depression?  Are you actually dying of hunger?  I doubt it.  

Using these terms in such a common and thoughtless manner is decreasing the significance and knowledge of these problems.  As we incorporate “starving” into daily language, it ceases to take on the shock value when I say that “These children are starving in China”.  When the professor says that an idea is depressing, it decreases the impact of someone saying that they legitimately have depression.  We are de-valuing these problems and saying that they are less serious than they should be.

Why do we joke about such things?  There are such huge problems in the world today like eating disorders, cutting, depression, psychological issues, etc., and these should not be discounted or minimized.

I can’t say I’m great at this right now.  But I am actively working on it, and I encourage you to do the same.

Pay attention to your words.  They can build up, or tear down to the ground.

*please take note: despite my apparent lack of understanding, I am incorporating philosophy into daily life.