Insert “Rome” word pun here

Over Spring Break I was immensely blessed with the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. To say it was incredible is an understatement to the max.

Before even stepping foot on the bus, Matt Reisen told me,

“Caitlin, there better be at least one good blog post about this trip.”

I hope I do you proud, Matt.

It’s taken me approximately 72hrs to process my 9-day pilgrimage, and to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what all went down. But, here are some things I gathered from my trip to the Vatican, my Rome Sweet Home, Papa Benny’s place, Peter’s Pad, etc.

1. I love my German Shepherd, and he loves me

We didn’t attend a Wednesday Papal Audience because Papa was jetting off to Mexico and Cuba to be a straight up G, read more official text here.

But we did attend the Sunday Angelus. Oh man. Seeing that wonderfully holy man in his tiny window was amazing. Hearing him bless us in 6 different languages was unreal.

2. Catholic beats Pagan, always

Oh, this obelisk is used as a solar symbol that represented a vital flow between heaven and earth, a way of communicating to the divine (source)? Well, we are going to put a piece of the True Cross on top of it and dedicate the whole thing to Christ.

You guys used to use this giant red porphyry disk to christen emperors on, and no one else could stand on it? Well, Pope Leo III is going to crown Charlemagne on it in the year 800 and then put it in the entrance of St. Peter’s so that every single person who walks in will stand on it.

I could go on and on but the real point of this post is #3.

3. The Eucharist is the greatest gift ever given.

I’m that person who tries to touch art at museums. Signs say “Don’t Touch” you better believe I’m going to try to poke it. The Vatican is pretty picky about what you can and cannot touch. Art is set up high and protected by sharp fences, and saint tombs are encased in glass and often behind velvet ropes (which don’t stop anyone, let’s be real).

So as I’m crawling on my knees to get closer to St. Peter’s tomb (under the velvet rope), I start thinking about what I am allowed (and encouraged) to touch within our faith…the Euchartist. I receive God. I consume God. I am invited to take my Living God and eat Him.

Can we just talk about that? We’re going to because this is my blog post.

Let me drop some Catholic knowledge on you.

Dulia is a theological term we use for the honor and love we have for saints, hyperdulia is reserved for the unique veneration we have for our Blessed Mother (Queen of Saints/Angels/Heaven/Earth), and latria is the worship of God alone (more here). I love words and the power they have, in our faith especially. English is ridiculous because we use love for things like pizza and our families. We use worship for artists, musicians, and God. Ancient languages are legit because they distinguish different levels of affection, they clear up and set guidelines for what or who deserves greater levels of love.

With these three words we see that saints are honored, Mary receives more honor than saints, but only God is worshipped.

What’s the 1st Commandment? I am the Lord, your God, you shall have no other Gods besides me. So we’ve basically established that God is number one.

So can we talk about incredibly scandalous it is that we eat Him? In all His glory He has seperate terms, seperate rules for how we interact. He can seem like a far off, vengeful God, but then He looks at us and says, “Eat my flesh, drink my blood“.

We become fleshy, watery, unworthy tabernacles of His sacred body.

“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.” – St. John Chrysostom

The humility of God is unreal.

“For One in such a lofty position to stoop so low is a marvel that is staggering. What sublime humility and humble sublimeness, that the Lord of the Universe, the Divine Son of God, should stoop as to hide Himself under the appearance of bread for our salvation! Behold the humble way of God, my brothers. Therefore, do not hold yourselves to be anything of yourselves, so that you may be entirely acceptable to One Who gives Himself entirely to you.” –St. Francis of Assisi

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.”  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“No one should be upset. Think about the Eucharist!”Becca Smith-Vandergriff

I love you,

Caitlin

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Love boldly

Challenge accepted, rosalablanca!

In case you missed it, on the Writer’s Block post she suggested:

I’d like to hear about what you think of homosexuality and the Church in general. Suggestion – resist googling it, looking up articles, et cetera, and just write what you think based on what you know right now without using any outside sources first.

Now, to be fair, I recently spent a lot of time googling Catholic doctrine on homosexuality for my Bible study so I apologize for the unfair advantage.

But, to be even more fair, I will discuss what I think about homosexuality and the Church without using Cathechism quotes (#372, #1605, #1644, #1616) or Biblical references (Genesis).

Instead I will focus on Truth and Love (and then use resources for a later post).

A very wise woman told me that I should always show charity in truth and truth in charity. It is very true. There is no point in loving someone if you aren’t going to be honest with them, and there is no point in being honest if you aren’t doing it out of love.

With that being said, here we go.

I have a family member who died of an AIDS related disease. He died when I was 6-years-old and he is my godfather. His funeral is one of my earliest memories.

I say this not because I want pity, I say this because the issue of homosexuality hits close to home for me.

I have always loved my uncle. His sins, like anyone else’s, do not make me love him any less.

What I dislike about this whole debate is that at some point we as a society decided to start labeling people based on their orientations. We don’t refer to people who are heterosexual as heterosexuals. And, if you believe that homosexual actions (not the state itself, because suffering temptation is not sinful but how we respond to those temptations) are sinful, then we are classifying people by their sins. When did that become okay?

I recently found a Youtube used called Vlogbrothers. It’s two brothers who, instead of sending text related messages, they make video messages and post them on Youtube. They are hilarious and insightful.

This video in particular discusses why our society is so obsessed with the sexual orientation of other people.

So, here’s the deal. I don’t care if you are straight or gay, bisexual or pansexual (whatever that actually means), whatever you are, however you’ve decided to define yourself, I’m going to (through the grace of God) love you as boldly and truly as I can.

I love you,

Caitlin

Nebraska Walk For Life

You’re so pro-life, Dr. Seuss!

Okay, so I know the whole “season-for-pro-life” things has ended…but that’s exactly why I’m bringing this post up now.

The crowd at the State Capitol gathers.

In January sometime, I’m pretty sure the third Saturday of the month, but I’m getting old so I can’t quite remember, the Diocese of Lincoln (my home diocese) has their annual Walk for Life, mirroring the National March for Life that happens in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Now, if you’re not from the Lincoln Diocese, you may say to yourself, “Oh wow, a podunk-y little walk with a hundred people maximum. Good blog-worthy post, Hannah.”

And I am here to say – oh ho HO you are so wrong!

A view of part of the crowd gathered between St. Mary’s and the Capitol.

As the fourth most pro-life state in the country (source), Nebraska has no shabby showing at even a seemingly small event such as this. This year an estimated 6,000 protesters showed up to defend the rights of the unborn. Pretty legit considering that would make us the 30th largest city/town in the state at that moment!

Now, sometimes this is a somber affair, especially when recent legislation may have been bad or things aren’t going our way. But this year, it was full of absolute joy! There was laughing, talking, singing, and joyful sharing of experiences throughout the whole march from the State Capitol to the Union on the campus of the University. From grandmas with wheelchairs to babies being hoisted above the crowd, there was not one demographic unfulfilled.

See? Baby on shoulders.

And you also may say to yourself, well, that’s just Catholics. But no! I saw multiple signs for Protestant, Baptist, and Lutheran supporters of the pro-life cause. Cool, right?

I have only been going to the Walk for about 4 years now. And I can tell you, I really do feel like I’m making a difference. Besides praying for abortion – which is a necessary and completely worthy cause – sometimes it’s right to do something a little more. That means a lot of different things for different people. Maybe that’s taking time once a week to go pray at your local abortion clinic. (Did I mention that there have been around 50 students praying at the local abortion clinic from my Newman Center these past couple weeks? Forgive me for bragging, but it’s at 8 a.m. and quite a drive from campus…yeah, we’re legit.)

It was cold! and weirdly shadowy!

However it is you are called to further the pro-life movement, I urge you to take those steps and defend our nation’s unborn. For the first time in history (May of 2009) more citizens of the United States are pro-life than pro-choice (Gallup poll). I’d say that’s pretty neat!

God bless,

Hannah

Nun Run 2011

One time, in passing, I mentioned to my FOCUS missionary that I wanted to visit the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. I literally just said it because I thought it would be cool, not because I had any real intention of going.

But somehow my beautiful and holy missionary heard that as,

“We should plan a Spring Break Nun Run”

If you don’t know what a Nun Run is, I will tell you:

It’s an excursion that involves young women running around and visiting convents in order to better discern. Or they aren’t discerning and they just want to have an awesome Spring Break.

So that’s what we did.

We started by driving 8hrs to Des Plains, IL to visit the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth:

That one in the middle is a statue.

Then we drove 4hrs to Ann Arbor, MI to see the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist…the Oprah nuns. The nuns-where-we-almost-left-Hannah:

Beautiful does not cover how incredible of a chapel they have.

Fun fact: someone is photoshopped in. And by someone I mean it’s clearly me.

Talk about incredible. Most of their postulants enter right after graduating from high school. Their order is exploding and is a true testament to the beautiful of truth and tradition, more on that later. Also, Hannah is going to write about them because she loves the crap out of them.

Then we drove 10hrs to Philadelphia to visit some more FOCUS missionaries, St. Katharine Drexel’s order, and our friends at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Independence!

Priestly vocation!

St. Chuck Chapel. C’mon…seriously?

St. Katharine Drexel is an amazing saint, and you should definitely take some time to read up about her.

Unfortunately, her order has fallen into the lie that they need to become more “modern” in order to survive. The women don’t live in community, are not habit-ed, and have not had new vocations in a loooooong time. They were the sweetest and kindest women but we left feeling sad. Pray that they (and the many other religious orders who have drifted away) will see the beauty in Truth and return to it.

And then. The whole reason the trip started. The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.

So we drove 2ish hrs to New York, into Harlem to Our Lady Queen of Angels Convent.

Table of gifts for those coming to the Solanus Casey soup lunch

It was great. We spent time in their beautiful little chapel, went to the postulant house, had Adoration and Confession (by Fr. Lawrence, who heard my Confession barefoot, LEGIT), and helped with their Venerable Solanus Casey soup kitchen.

Sr. Francis

I could write a million words on how much I love the CFRs (and maybe I will, who knows) but I mostly want to impress how incredible this trip was.

Things We Learned

1. Truth and Love: our generation is drawn to intense Truth. The orders who follow the Church very specifically have the most vocations.

2. Regardless of your vocation, nuns are great: Not all of us were/are discerning religious life, but spending time with beautiful Brides of Christ is an incredible experience for everyone.

3. 12 days in a Suburban is a long time, but it’s worth it: if you want to learn how to barely survive, get in a vehicle with no extra space, minimal money for supplies, and a FOCUS missionary who loves the crap out of you.

4. This trip should not have worked: Seriously. We should not have been able to drive all over the country, never have car trouble, never run out of gas, never run out of money (which we probably did, who knows), and somehow make the 24hr drive back to Lincoln in time to make it to a sibling’s musical.

Literally, I could start a whole new blog and write solely about the Nun Run, and if you have more questions, ask me!

Hooray for counter-cultural-Spring-Break-trips!

Peace,
Caitlin