Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Best Combination Ever!

Bassoons and Super Mario Bros...woohoo!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Come Chat with C-YA!

I'm very excited to announce the new and improved C-YA Board! Complete with our own domain name, stmarycya.org. Now, in my experience people are either "board people" or they're not. A lot of the people we've met in person so far and gotten to know through C-YA are wonderful, enthusiastic Catholic young adults, who happen not to be particularly big "board people." And that's cool! We absolutely need the kinds of people that actually talk in person. I'd prefer sitting in a room with individual laptops and typing to each other, myself, but hey not everyone is as normal as I am.

I am hoping, though, to put feelers out and find those who ARE board people, as often they'll be less likely to join us in person unless and until they feel more comfortable.

Honestly, one of the main reasons I joined the planning committee in the first place was because I typically hate putting myself out there in person right off the bat in the way that is usually required, and I figured there were other people like me, and I wanted to help provide a comfortable way for ALL types of people to join us, which doesn't often happen in newer groups. We introverts often tend to get forgotton when these kinds of social groups are starting up, completely inadvertently, because we're not social in the same way as the types who are completely necessary to start up groups! We absolutely need the extroverted, enthusiastic, go-get-'em types, they're the driving force! But I'm hoping that we'll be able, over time, to attract the less outgoing types as well, and end up with a nicely balanced group.

Ok, I admit, part of the reason is pretty selfish...I find that introverts tend to talk "deep" and extroverts tend to talk "wide." I'm not good with chit chat, "wide" talk, I'm better with one deep topic, lol, and I need more people like me to talk deep with, so I don't end up boring all the wide talkers!

So if you're an Austinite who attends St. Mary Cathedral, or even if you don't but you might stop by once in a while, and you're a "board person" who enjoys chatting online, come and help the C-YA board get rolling! Boards tend to grow exponentially, if no one is talking, no one starts talking, but if there are conversations going on and the board is active, more people will be inclined to join in the conversation. I could talk to myself a lot on the board, but somehow I don't think that would be very enjoyable for most people. ;-)

So come on by and chat with me! We had a nice Harry Potter discussion going on for a bit, feel free to add your 2 cents.

C-YA at the Trail of Lights!

Every Austinite knows that come Christmas Time, Zilker Park is transformed into a magical trail of lights.

Ok...well it felt more magical when I was a kid, lol, but it was still cool to visit, especially with the Catholic Young Adult group at our parish, C-YA! Unfortunately, my camera died after only a few (pretty blurry artsy) shots, but oh well!

I'm making a new C-YA tag, and I plan on talking about our events and outings here on my blog, to hopefully get the word out to other Catholic Young Adults who attend St. Mary Cathedral, and anyone in the Austin area who would like to join us. Cam and I are involved in the planning committee, specifically with the spiritual aspect of the group, and we're making plans for some great spiritual events. So stay tuned for more about C-YA!


This was my other little anniversary surprise. My favorite! :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Pleasant Surprise!

Tonight was our "civil wedding" anniversary...5 years. :-) We don't actually count it as our "real" anniversary (that's in June when we had our church wedding in France...it was a complicated ordeal.) But we use any excuse to celebrate, lol, so we usually go out to eat on our civil wedding anniversary.

First hubby brought me roses, which was a lovely surprise in and of itself! Then we went to Outback, and just planned on going back home afterwards. But as we were waiting for dinner, an older couple across the way came over to us and asked if we had plans tonight. We said not really...and they offered us tickets to the Nutcracker!! I'd wanted to go but we never got around to getting tickets. The wife said she had just been feeling yucky and didn't feel like coughing on people, and they had received free tickets from work, so asked if we would like them and we said definitely! We also mentioned we were celebrating our anniversary, and they were so sweet and said congrats and hoped we enjoyed the night. We went to the ballet and very much enjoyed it! (It had been a long time since I'd seen the Nutcracker in person!)

So, I just wanted to give thanks to God for that nice little surprise, and to ask for prayers and blessings for the nice couple! :-)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

We sang the Lourdes Ave Maria today at mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which reminded me that I hadn't yet put up a little video I got of the bells at Lourdes ringing the tune.

It's not very long but it's a bit slow to load, sorry!

Friday, December 07, 2007

French Stupidity

And just to prove that I'm an equal opportunity critic, lol, here is a clip from the French version of "Millionaire."

For the non-French speakers out there, this is the basic rundown:

The question is, "What orbits around the Earth?"

The options are A: The Moon; B: The Sun; C: Mars; D: Venus.

As you can see he looks thoroughly perplexed...so he decides, after some hemming and hawing, to use the "poll the audience" option. The result of that is what really shocked me!

You can probably figure out the rest from watching!

American Stupidity

If I didn't, at one point, have a real life roommate who asked me if London was in France (she also happened to be a cute blonde with a very thick East Texan accent, lol), I would have a much harder time believing that this wasn't an act:

*shakes head sadly*

Monday, December 03, 2007

Reclaiming Christmas

With Advent upon us and Christmas on its way, I am reminded of the kind of forced separation and compartmentalization I had to endure growing up around Christmas time in the CoC.

We did celebrate Christmas in our family, though it was stripped of all its religious meaning and reduced down to a time for family to spend together and talk about Santa Claus and reindeer and chimneys. While most Christians were attempting to "keep Christ in Christmas," we were trying to do exactly the opposite. My sisters and I once asked if we could write a message on the fence with Christmas lights, and our father said that as long as we used "xmas" so that people didn't think we really thought it was Christ's birthday, it would be ok. (Yeah, he obviously doesn't know what the "x" stands for, and apparently didn't mind that most people would just assume we were shortening the word to fit on the fence!) And so, our mission, alongside atheists and anti-religious folk oddly enough, was to keep Christ out of Christmas.

It was kind of a confusing time as a child. A mention of Jesus out in the secular world that I normally would have considered a good thing was tainted by the fact that it was because of Christmas, and so I had to frown upon it and regard it as bad. For once, images and pictures and talk and music surrounded us proclaiming the glory of Christ, but any good was overshadowed by the fact that this was of pagan (i.e. "Catholic") origins and was considered idolatrous and bad. It seemed that the most important thing was to be different. If the world didn't talk about Christ, we should. If the world was talking about Christ, they were doing so for the wrong reasons and we shouldn't join them.

And so now that I am pagan...er, Catholic, I love being able to embrace the good that comes from the general increase in awareness of Christ around the time of Christmas, and I welcome it with open arms! On the other hand, some well intentioned folks can risk running to the other extreme by wanting to completely separate their religious Christmas from any secular "tainting." But, even this gives me flashbacks and makes me cringe a bit.

I think for me, personally, the CoC just kind of wore me out on stressing the "we're SOOO different from the world" idea, and so that kind of makes me cringe now in any form, and even more I find it fascinating to see where the world actually picked up traditions because of our faith, and to see that our culture really is influenced by Christianity, even if they've forgotten, and I want to reclaim that and be proud of it! After being in the CoC, where we claimed that the best way to let our light shine was to continually separate ourselves from "the others" around us, it's still thrilling for me to see a real light shining in the midst of all those people in the world, even when they don't realize it. It's amazing to me that pretty much everyone in our culture knows the story of the birth of Jesus, even if it is only because they watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and heard Linus read about it from Luke. I also love just celebrating the authentic and original traditions, and pointing out to people where their own supposedly secular traditions came from when it turns out they originated from something religious.

I'm reminded of a blog post from Mark Shea I read a while back about Harry Potter and Pharisees. (Yeah, I know...go with me here!) He describes how the Pharisees are so focused on remaining clean by remaining separated from all "unclean things", that they completely miss the lesson when Jesus comes. The laws from God that were supposed to humble them and teach them that there was no way, through their own power, they could be sanctified, to prepare them for the idea that Jesus alone has the power to sanctify, were kind of twisted around. They set up so many rules to try and keep themselves clean (which was a noble idea) that they ended up convincing themselves they didn't need any cleansing.

And so in an ironic way, they take the mirror of ritual uncleanness that God has given them in the Mosaic Law, and instead of seeing in it an image of their own uncleanness and defilement by sin, the turn it around and say to those around them, "See how unclean you are!"

Naturally then, when Jesus appears on the scene, they simply do not know what to do with him and are motivated by their pride to misunderstand him. Jesus, in Matthew 8, turns the Pharisaic understanding of the law on its head. He touches lepers and they are healed (8:1 4), receives Gentiles and they receive faith (8:5-13), consorts with demon-possessed people in a cemetery and they are restored (8:28-31), and, in the next chapter, permits the touch of a menstruating woman and she's healed (9:18-22), touches the dead and she is raised (9:25), and eats with tax collectors and sinners and makes them saints (9:9-13). Yet, in all this, they see only the ritual defilement, not the revolutionary reversal in the flow of power. For, as Jesus points out elsewhere, pride has blinded them (John 9:35-41). They are so certain they are clean they cannot say, "Lord, if you're willing, you can make me clean." And so they miss the crucial lesson that the time for separation is past. In Israel's childhood, separation from uncleanness and sin was necessary just as it is necessary for us to keep our children from "bad influences" lest they become imitators. But with the dawn of the power of the Kingdom of Heaven, it is the bad influences that are to be conquered with good ones, sin that is to be conquered with virtue, and death that is to be conquered with life.

So what does this have to do with Harry Potter?
[And Worldly Christmas?]

Well, the funny thing about the gospel is how often, in the history of the Church, the Church has fulfilled Jesus promise, "if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them" (Mark 16:18). The Church has drunk from all sorts of pagan wells, ranging from Plato and Aristotle, to the various ways in which Norse, German, Druidic, Roman, Indian, and other forms of pagan culture have been baptised and turned to the service of Christ. The Pharisaic approach is to reject--as the Pharisees rejected Christ--the possibility that he really holds power over the devil. It is a mentality that never considers the opposite possibility: namely, that Christ has power to conquer what defiled us under the old law and turn it to his glory.

And that is why I'd rather reclaim the worldly versions of Christmas and re-sanctify them in people's minds, and turn them to the glory of God as they were originally meant rather than separate myself from them completely.

And on a side note, it never ceases to amaze me how closely the CoC resembles the Pharisees when I read more about the Pharisees and their understanding of things! They both often have the best of intentions and the strongest of convictions, but they just miss the mark, largely because of blinding pride.

Edited to add: I just found out that Mark Shea made a whole 3 part series on the subject! All three parts are just piercing with witty truth, as usual!

Part 1: Pharisaic Purity
Part 2: A Christian Approach to Purity
Part 3: Sterility and Fruitfulness

Mistress of My Domain

I have some exciting news! I'm now officially the owner of my own domain name...www.coctocatholic.com

The board is still being hosted on 110mb, but we went ahead and bought the domain name. So feel free to update your links and bookmarks! The 110mb link will still work to get here, but I think that because of some cookie issues, if you use the 110mb address and login with that, because of the different name it might not keep you logged in. Something like that...so update your stuff!

Thanks everyone!!

**Update: Well wouldn't you know it, there are some whacky things going on.

If you're having problems logging in and staying logged in, try using this specific address:


For some reason, the proper address (with the www) is being redirected to the above address, which messes with cookie stuff and doesn't keep people logged on. Sorry!!