Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Edith Stein on the Woman's Soul

"Just so, woman's soul is designed to be subordinate to man in obedience and support; it is also fashioned to be shelter in which other souls may unfold."

"The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings; it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as to not benumb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call."

-Edith Stein, Fundamental Principles of Women's Education

I've noticed that you have all really liked my quotes from Edith Stein. I am pleased to announce that our next Ladies Night Out will feature a presentation by Anne Costa on Edith Stein!!!! 

Please join us on April 7th @ 7 PM at Stein's Restaurant in Camillus!!! 

Please RSVP with Rita Condon at or (315) 673-9458.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Edith Stein on Living for Christ


"The complete surrender of [a woman's] entire life and being is to live and work with Christ; but that also means to suffer and die with Him--that fruitful death from which springs the life of grace for all humanity."

-Edith Stein, The Church, Woman, and Youth

This is one of several "creepy" quotes I found in reading her work. It sends chills down your spine considering the way she died.

Note: I had trouble with the previous sentence. "She died" sounds too passive, too neutral. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein, as a Jewish convert to Catholicism was one of 6 million Jews slaughtered in the Shoah (Holocaust)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Woman from the Bible #2: Abigail

I took a quiz on Buzzfeed a couple days ago called “Which Bible heroine are you?” and I got Abigail. At first, I didn’t recognize the name, so I had to look her up. Once I found her, I discovered that 1) I had read her story recently and 2) the comparison is quite apt.

Unless his stupidity is about to get you all killed. (Photo Credit)
Abigail appears in 1 Samuel Chapter 25. Her husband is a stubborn man. When David and his men are coming through his land, they ask for food and lodging. He refuses to help them. This makes David angry and he makes plans to burn the man’s property down and kill everyone in his household. His wife, Abigail, catches wind of this and she makes a feast of the finest things that her farm has to offer and she brings it to David and his men. She apologizes profusely for her husband, asking David to have mercy on him because "he can’t help it, he’s just a jerk" (my paraphrase). David grants his mercy. A few days later, when her husband dies, David brings Abigail into his household as one of his wives.

Lately, I have found myself needing to clean up a lot of other people’s messes. And I’m not just talking about diapers. There are college students that I work with that sometimes do foolish things or neglect things and I have to pick up the pieces. There are household messes to clean up. My son has taken to having an accident in our bed a couple times a week, so the bedding needs to be changed. Sometimes I'm lucky to get to do the dishes once a week. And if I'm really lucky, I get to go to the bathroom and close the door.

I have gotten into a position where I’ve had to learn a lot of people skills the hard way and quickly. And that’s what Abigail uses in her story, people skills. She shows intelligence, initiative and courage to go behind her husband’s back and appease the King. Remember, this is still a very strictly patriarchal society. She could have gotten in big trouble for going behind her husband’s back. The King could have refused to see her or hear her request. But, like the honey badger, she didn’t care.* She did what she had to in hopes of saving her family and livelihood. May we all show such courage and initiative in our lives. 

*Pardon the language in the link. I just wanted to explain the reference

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Woman Saint of the Week #2: St. Margaret of Cortona

Here is saint whose story could be found anywhere in the United States in 2014.

In the thirteenth century, she was born to farmers in central Italy. Her mother died when she was young. Her father remarried. She got along with her step-mother like oil and water. The situation got so intense, she ran away with a wealthy young man who showered her with attention. She lived as his mistress for nine years. They had a son out of wedlock. One day, her lover was killed by thieves. Like many young people in a bad situation, seeing a friend killed served as a wake up call.

She tried to go back home, but her father and step-mother didn't want anything to do with her and her son. In despair as a homeless single mom, she heard a voice tell her to go to a nearby Franciscan monastery. They had pity and took her and her son in. She became a Secular Franciscan and earned her keep by caring for the sick and begging. She founded an order devoted to Our Lady of Mercy that worked with the poor and suffering.

She lived a life of severe penances. She felt so horrible about all of the things she had done when she was younger, she lived without even the most reasonable of comforts. One biographer notes that she needed a confessor to look after her and make sure that she at least treated herself like a human being.

She was still a very attractive woman. She would always spurn the attention men gave her, but she was regularly falsely accused of having affairs. At one point, she had to be stopped from mutilating herself. She wanted to destroy her face so that the advances would stop.

She had many mystical experiences. Toward the end of her life she had a couple notable ones featuring St. Mary Magdalene. She has been called the "Second Magdalene." Reportedly, Jesus referred to her as "povervella"(little poor thing) in her visions of Him.

Her feast day is February 22. Surprise, surprise, she's the patron saint of: the falsely accused, the homeless, the insane, the orphaned, the mentally ill, penitents, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, and stepchildren (all of which, besides maybe the prostitute, were roles she played during her lifetime). 

St. Margaret of Cortona, please pray for us 
that all women learn that their dignity and worth come from God alone, not from man. 
Help us to learn of and accept the mercy that God offers us. 
To realize that no matter what we do, God will always take us back. 

To learn more:

PS: Am I the only one who wonders about her son in all of this? What was it like being the son of such a woman doing severe penances? To basically grow up in a monastery? It says eventually he became a friar. I'd like to read a biography about him. 

Be Easy On Yourself

I've been pretty high strung lately. The smallest of inconveniences have royally hacked me off. My voice has become shrill with every little move my toddler makes. I don't know why. It's probably a combination of things. Being stretched too thin, my time of the month, cabin fever, my toddler becoming a real toddler...

Parenting is hard. There is no doubt about that. Some days we just want to give up and then we feel guilty about it. But we need to be easier on ourselves, we can't be happy and supportive every second of the day. We're human.

I remember when James was really little and I'd feel guilty about crying in front of him. Postpartum depression was really hard for me and it was only compounded by the fact that I hated the fact James came when he did and how he did. Looking back, it was kind of funny. I'd cry and then I'd cry about the fact I was crying. Yup, parenthood sucks.

But just the fact we can say that means we aren't terrible parents. Comedian Jim Gaffigan in his book Dad is Fat puts it much more succinctly:
"If you complain about how you spend your Saturdays taking your kids to birthday parties, that means you are taking your kid to birthday parties. If you complain about how hard it is to get your kid to read, it means you are trying to get your kid to read. If you are complaining about your kid not helping around the house, that means you have a fat, lazy kid. You joke about it. That's how you deal. If parents don't like being a parent, they don't talk about being a parent. They are absent. And probably having a great time out having a great time somewhere."
It isn't an easy job, but it is one of the most important jobs in the world. These are tomorrow's leaders, helpers, voters, artists, scientists...and parents! All this pressure needs to be dealt with somehow. So, you'll joke, you'll cry, you might even have the occasional irrational angry outburst.* It happens. You're still a fallible human being. To use another quote from Dad is Fat:
"Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent."

Wait a second, she gets to close the door when she goes to the bathroom. I'm jealous. Credit:

*but physically lashing out is inexcusable. Yelling is to be expected. Getting angry for no good reason is to be expected. But never physically attack your child.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Believe Reflections: God Moments

A couple weeks ago, nearly 75 women came together at Two Talls Too to listen to Andrea L. Blair, DMHG, talk about her experiences with cancer and divorce. Her talk inspired a number of reflections from me, this being the third.

As I told you about last week, Mrs. Blair shared with us a moving story of a time when she heard the voice of God. She heard a voice outside of her self call her, "My daughter, My precious, My child." Her voice cracked and tears fell as she told us about this experience. This was a life changing moment for her. This experience led to her suffix, DMHG, Daughter of the Most High God.

This makes me ask two (okay, maybe 3) questions, the second (and third) of which I'll ask this week:

Don't we all have God moments? Why are we so reluctant to share them?

Yes, Mrs. Blair's experiences really touched her. It was exactly what she needed at the time, but don't we all have such experiences? Let me share a couple of mine:

I'm a convert to the Catholic Church. I was a college student at the time. I was at home visiting my family for Thanksgiving about a month before I was scheduled to be baptized Catholic. For days I had been praying for God to give me a sign that I was on the right track. I knew that being initiated into the Catholic Church was a big deal and it was a decision I would never be able to take back. 

One day I was in the pew before Mass asking yet again for a sign. Then, a voice spoke to me. It was definitely outside of myself, I wasn't making up these words myself. It said essentially that if He didn't want me to be Catholic, He wouldn't have put the people in my life who were so influential in my conversion. I would have never met my new Catholic friends if God didn't want me to be Catholic. That was the sign I needed. 

But God moments don't have to be that dramatic. That is the only time in my life I have ever heard a voice. It can be as simple as laying in bed with your child. 

Baby asleep in his own bed, not in his parents' bed. Hint, hint.
One night a few months ago, my son and I were in our bed waiting for my husband to get done with whatever video game he was working on and join us. My son rolled around until he fell asleep. I was in one of those moods where I didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't want to read. I just wanted my husband to get his butt in bed so we could turn off the light and I could go to sleep. In the silence of the room, I could feel everything that was going on. I was aware of my breathing. I could feel my heartbeat and my son's heartbeat. 

I could feel a heartbeat separate from ours. It was deeper and stronger. I felt like it must be the heartbeat of the Earth. It made me think about how interconnected we all are. It reminded me of all those paintings of Mary with all of the people of the Earth protected underneath her cloak. Ultimately, it made me think about the Sacred Heart. 

So, this leads me to my second question. Why was it so difficult for me to share with you my stories? In my last blog, it took me months to get up the courage to post my story of my experience with the devil. Why was that so hard? Why don't we share these stories all of the time?

Maybe we are afraid people will think we're nuts? We are taught that only things that are tangible and measurable are real. But that's unreasonable. There's a term for that, "scientism" and it's been denounced by popes for generations. It's the opposite extreme of Bible literalism, and the Truth is actually somewhere in between. In some sense, these God moments are more real than our everyday life and we need to take comfort in them and "comfort others with the comfort we have been given" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Maybe we're also afraid of coming across as prideful? "Look at me, I'm special. God talked to me. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!" I still think if we were all honest with ourselves and with each other, we would discover that each and every one of us has had a least one God moment in our lives. God is always there and He cares about us deeply, why wouldn't He at least attempt to communicate with us all every once in a while? We might not always be listening, but I'm sure He's almost always talking.
I guess you need to test the spirits, but that's a post for another time. (Source)
All readers: You are welcome to join us for the next Ladies Night Out, Food and Faith! Stay tuned. We have them every other month on a Monday evening. I'll be posting the details once we have them. There will be an announcement very soon about who will be speaking in April!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Edith Stein on the Importance of Grace in the Pursuit of Holiness

"No book learning can give this acuteness of vision to our blind sight, no straining of the will can provide the energy to clip the wild shoots within ourselves and in those dear to us. Supernatural means must now come to our help."

-Edith Stein, The Significance of Woman's Intrinsic Value in National Life