Ne-Yo’s Wisdom (aka Songs Caitlin Hates, Part 1 of Infinity)

Well, I was going to write an awesomely detailed post about the reading for the Gospel on Palm Sunday.

Then Sunday came and went. Quickly, I might add.

So, instead, via promptings from my lovely roommate, I am going to tell you all about how out of all the cheesy and terribly-messaged songs on the radio, Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You” is a great example of two things: a song that has a great message and one that could easily be interpreted as Jesus singing to all you lovely ladies (and men too, if you change some pronouns) about how much you deserve His love.

This maybe isn’t the timeliest article, as the song has been out for awhile, and considering Holy Week and Ne-Yo (NeYo? Ne Yo? The internet can’t agree) don’t seem to jive well together.

Let me just reaaal quick prove you wrong.

First of all, here’s the video:

Okay, let’s take premise #1. I will first of all admit that my and my roommate’s conversation about this topic generated from a disagreement with Caitlin, who seemed to think this song was bad. Ohhh, silly Caitlin. How wrong you are. It’s okay, I forgive you.

On a very basic level, this song seems to Ne-Yo singing to some girl (hopefully a girlfriend/wife, but to be honest I’m not going to spend time looking up things about his biography) about however damaged and unworthy she might think she is, he will still love her and support her no matter what.

The chorus goes,

Girl let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself
Girl let me love you
And all your troubles
Don’t be afraid, girl, let me help

Etc.

Perhaps for just a millisecond, I can see Caitlin’s hesitation with this song through the lyrics “until you learn to love yourself.” But if you think about it, how bad can this be, in reality? He’s not saying he wants to get with her, or make her love him, or do anything forceful of any kind. He’s simply stating that he will love you, girl, until you can also appreciate the same things he sees in her.

Not once in the song does he expect anything back from the girl – he spends the whole time trying to convince her how beautiful and worthy of love she is! He wants to show her “what true love can really do” and wants to be the guy who reminds her “what it really is to smile.” How cute is that, and how realistic (for once in hip-hop’s history)! And isn’t this often how real relationships are? Often times you can get down in the dumps, seeing only your flaws, hurting the person you’re with whether intentionally or not. But they love you through it, no matter that you can’t see what there is to love about you. Ne-Yo does a fantastic job of expressing this through pretty catchy melody.

Translate this same thing to Jesus. Just imagine as if He were singing (dancing, saying, whatever you wish) this to every person in the entire world. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you look at it this way, Jesus is saying to each and every one of us that He loves us, no matter how full of flaws and mistakes we might be. He knows we get caught up in our own sins, in our flaws and how hard we find it sometimes to live in the way we are called. He says, “You know what, Son or Daughter? I love you through it. I have loved YOU from the beginning. I will love you, no matter how long it takes for you to see the same worth in yourself that I do. I will love you until you learn to love yourself.”

(See what I did there? I made it as if Jesus was singing Ne-Yo’s lyrics. Pretty clever, huh?)

I think everybody struggles with this idea sometimes. It’s easy to see how flawed we are and how far away we pretty much always are from our goals – but Jesus calls us back to His Sacred Heart to tell us truly how much He loves us, no matter how flawed we are, no matter how much we don’t think we deserve His love. He knows we fall, and knows we try ardently to deserve what He gives us, but in reality we can never deserve His infinite love and mercy, because we are finite beings in comparison to an infinite God. So He says to us, over and over again, every time we fall: “I will love you until you learn to love yourself.

This is always especially important for me to remember during Holy Week. I look on the cross, and meditate on His suffering, and say to myself, “How could I, this weak person who falls time and time again, ever deserve all of this LOVE poured out for me?” And then Jesus says to me, “Child, I love you no matter what you do. I would do this all for you, time and time again. I will always love you.”

Happy Holy Week, everyone, and have a Happy Triduum!
Love,
Hannah

Out of the mouths of babes

We are super blessed in Lincoln to have the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, also known as the Pink Sisters because:

1. Gosh, they are super stinkin’ cute

pink_sisters_community

2. They are praying for us constantly and we can’t even imagine the amount of graces we are receiving because of their prayers

And finally,

3. For some reason, kids come to that chapel completely uninhibited by normal Church-going-standards and just do whatever they want and it is beautiful. And it makes me remember how often I complicate prayer and how I over pack and over plan holy hours and just in general over-complicate every aspect of my life.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Pink Sister chapel and was getting my rosary on, when a mom came in with her two kids. I’m going to make a confession, now that we are all so close, I sighed internally in frustration because these kids looked ornery and because I’m a terrible person.

Jesus heard my sigh and then proceeded to rock my world.

The mom knelt down, silently encouraged her sons to do the same (with her mom eyes, so scary) and then the younger of the two, folded his hands and whispered, “Hey Jesus, I love you,”

He repeated that prayer a dozen times and I realized that his prayer was just about a million times better, more authentic, more loving, and more true than mine. Man, nothing like a 5-year-old to shatter your pride and bring you back to earth. Praise God.

So I finished my rosary and didn’t take out any books or anything, I took a lesson for that little babe of a man and just told Jesus that I loved Him, and that felt like real prayer. A real experience of me and my Creator, expressing love in the simplest of terms. So, needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway) it was pretty great.

This weekend I went to the Pinks again, around the same time, and wouldn’t you know, a mom brought in her two beautiful daughters. The youngest one decided she wanted a pew to herself, picked up some pamphlet I’m fairly certain she couldn’t read and then just smiled at the monstrance.

The worst/best part was that she could sit still and gaze at Jesus for longer than I can.

How often do I go into a holy hour, or just a quick visit, and fill my time with reading, writing, thinking, obsessing, analyzing etc? Of course, some of these excellent tools for prayer, but I neglect the use of silence and being still.

Be still, and know that I am God, Psalm 46:10

So I’m going to be childlike in prayer, more silence, simple phrases, just gazing upon my Beloved, and allowing Him to carry me in His arms.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 18:3

HAPPY ALMOST HOLY WEEK!

Caitlin

Pope Francis

Simply put, I am in love with Pope Francis. I knew from the moment I heard the name “Francesco” uttered that I would love this man at an intense level. And then he came out, no fancy mozzetta, no golden cross, and a slight look of panic on his face and I knew the entire world would fall in love with him.

Because here is a man who understands humility. His bishop’s crest reads Miserando Atque Eligendo, “Lowly But Chosen”.

Something the modern media couldn’t seem to understand is that no cardinal wants to become Pope. Honestly, who would want to be Pope? You are Enemy #1, you are responsible for every single soul in the entire world, you are running the biggest charitable institution in the entire world, also people hate you and everything you stand for. Not to mention it’s the Church of Christ, the one He founded and you’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.

But in our modern day of campaigning, gaining, grasping, taking, climbing and clawing, the mentality of “Thy will be done” is completely foreign. The gentle embrace of the Cross cannot be fathomed, how could someone accept the inevitable suffering that will come with this and approach it with such love?

Pope Francis’s timid approach at the balcony, his shy wave, his tentative smile shows us all what an intense responsibility this man has agreed to.

And then he smiled and greeted us, and then he asked for our prayers before he blessed us. A friend of mine is in Rome now studying at the NAC and said that the deafening roar of St. Peter’s square went completely silent when Pope Francis bowed in prayer.

I have a lot of feelings about this and will write another blog post about the response of secular media, but for right now, I’m just going to soak up how awesome this is and probably cry some more.

HABEMUS PAPAM

Caitlin

An Interview with Caitlin

crm

Because there are two of us, here’s are questions by Hannah, answered by Caitlin.

1. Who are you, and why are you so cool?

I’m Caitlin Rose Cecilia, my parents made me cool because they literally made me. I honestly don’t know how I got to be so cool. I definitely have to credit my brothers because they are funny and I want to be just like them. It also helps that I have amazing friends who (for some reason) encourage my behavior. Also, being made in the image and likeness of God certainly helps with the whole cool thing.

2. In your opinion, what’s the most inspiring part about the Catholic faith?

GOSH, all of it?

Well, definitely the fact that it’s been around for thousands of years and has outlasted dynasties and empires and wars and revolutions, etc. There’s something to be said about Tradition and the indomitability of our scrappy Church. What else is inspirational about the Catholic faith is how it continues to inspire others. From five-year-olds who are caught up in the excitement of bells and smells, to 85-year-olds who are reminded of the Truth; it truly is a faith for all ages.

3. Do you consider yourself an evangelist? Why or why not?

I hope and pray that I am an evangelist. I mean, that’s the job of the Church, constantly bringing more souls to Christ. What I really love about the New Evangelization is that it makes being an evangelist more attainable. We literally have no excuse not to share the faith simply because there are millions of ways for us to do it.

4. How much do you love the Mass? Details, please!

So much. I love Mass so much.

I don’t mean to geek out about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but it’s when Heaven and Earth meet, Jesus is brought down, we consume Him, it’s great.

Also, here’s something that blows my mind every time I think about it: Mary went to Mass. I just…can’t even…fathom it. She would have gone to (essentially) the same Mass we are attending now, she would have re-received Christ in the form that we receive Him. I don’t know, next time you think Mass is boring I just want you to image Mary, the Mother of God, patiently waiting to re-receive her beloved Son.

One of my greatest pet peeves is when people tell me that Mass is boring or that they don’t get anything out of it, mostly because I was the queen of that in high school. If you think Mass is boring, you are making it boring. You are literally receiving the God of the Universe who would go through His passion again just for you.

5. What’s the most personal area of Catholicism to write about for you? Are there any issues you’d like to talk about but feel unqualified to do so?

All of them! But seriously, we live in a world that tells us never to talk about religion so sometimes it’s still hard for me to be like, alright, Caitlin, time to be authentic and put your opinion on the internet where anyone can and will rip into it. It’s beautiful and humbling for sure.

I am gearing up to write a post about contraception and a post about the dangers of assigning genders to certain sins…and they are really difficult topics. It’s hard because I’m not a medical expert (I’m literally not an expert at anything) or a theologian so I want to be able to articulate facts correctly and Church doctrine but also realize that individuals way smarter than me have been trying to write similar topics for years. I know that I’m called to work hard and let the Holy Spirit work through me, and as long as I present these topics with love, then it’ll be a success.

6. Who is your favorite Catholic/Christian writer? Who inspires you to write, in other words?

I’m reading “Heart of the World” by Hans Urs von Balthazar and it is blowing my mind. His use of language is unparalleled and his grasp of the Catholic faith is inspiring. Also I really like Tolkien (obviously) and Lewis (also obviously) and Blessed John Paul the Great and Mother Teresa and Fr. Timothy Gallagher. It really depends on what my soul is hungry for and how invested I am in the topic.


7. What’s the best way for our readers to join the New Evangelization?

Just join it. I mentioned this earlier, but it is so easy to reach out to people these days because of the magic of the internet. The issue is that we stay “connected” to people on such a superficial level and then become comfortable with that distance. Penn Jillette, famous magician and atheist, in an interview once recounted the story of a very nice Christian man who would come up to him (Penn) after every show and ask if he could share the Gospel with him. What struck Penn about was this man’s loving persistence to share what was important to him. This man truly believed that Jesus is the Christ, that God exists, that God loves His children etc. Penn said something along the lines of, “how much do you have to hate someone to not share this with them?”

So that’s stuck with me, which is one reason why I embraced this blog with such enthusiasm, if this can be another way of presenting the Gospel to others then I definitely need to do my part.

Peace!
H + C

An Interview with Hannah

hjb

It has come to my (Caitlin) attention that people besides my beautiful mother read this blog. And by other people, I also mean people who don’t actually know us in real life.

Praise God!

So, we wanted to take some time and allow you, our beautiful/handsome readers to get to know us!

1. So, Hannah, you came up with the idea of twocatholicgirls, what was your inspiration? Why on earth did you think we should do this?

To be honest, I think it was sort of a random shower-inspired idea one day. I like blogging and have for a while (thanks to you, Caitlin, who introduced me to the hilarity of the Internet long ago) but never really thought about it as an evangelistic tool I could use for the benefit of others and myself. And to be honest, I never thought people would actually read it. So it was more of a spiritual exercise for myself rather than the beautiful thing it has become.

2. You’ve written a lot of thought provoking and spiritually stimulating posts, out of all of them, which one was your favorite to write? Or, perhaps, which one was the most difficult to write but in the end the most rewarding?

I think my post about Leggings Are Not Pants has to be my favorite and was the most difficult at the same time. I had a hard time writing the post because, I honestly see why women wear them and why it is difficult to not go along with what everyone else is doing. But, I knew that someone needed to really delve into WHY there are legitimate reasons not to wear them. It was spiritually and emotionally taxing to write because I knew the responses weren’t going to be the most positive of all of my posts. But I completely stand by what I wrote in that post and I’m happy I got the feelings off of my chest.

3. Who is your favorite saint and why? Please answer in complete sentences

Easy question – St. Kateri of Tekakwitha is by far and away my favorite saint. I’ve had a special devotion to her (you could say I was a hipster fan, because I liked her back when she was a Blessed…teehee…) since I was young, and she’s been one of my best friends ever since. She is the patron saint of a Catholic youth camp here in the diocese of Lincoln, and so I got to know her going to summer camp there, and just haven’t been able to know enough about her since. She quietly models what I want to be as a woman – natural, honest, humble, and completely devoted to loving Jesus and bringing Him into my life, no matter the cost. She’s one of few saints from the Americas, too, which is great – and I just get really excited even thinking about her. I feel like I can really tell her anything, and I like to think we’re going to give each other big hugs when I get to Heaven (God willing). She’s awesome and you should all investigate her.

4. What is your favorite liturgical season?

Ohh, good question. I would say that Lent is probably my favorite liturgical season, just because I feel like the most movement and growth in my spiritual life happens during Lent. I absolutely love praying the Stations of the Cross, and can’t get enough of all the different spiritual readings and reflections out there for us to meditate upon. I love spending 40 days meditating upon how much our Lord was willing to suffer so me, a sinner, could be with Him forever someday. Also, redemptive suffering is totally worth it.

5. Why do you think things like blog posts and podcasts (new media platforms) are so effective in the New Evangelization?

I think they are effective because young people are the ones who are searching for truth, and they are the ones most present on the internet, using blogs and podcasts not only for entertainment but also for educational purposes. I think it also has a bigger impact than people expected because of its accessibility. Before the internet (a time which I don’t really know), it had to be somewhat difficult to find modern people speaking about Catholic things – or perhaps you just had to try a lot harder than you do now. Any time I want to, I can download Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies and listen to them while I work out, access the Vatican website and read the Pope’s daily addresses, or subscribe to a great Catholic blog and get emailed every time they post (wink, wink). It’s just so right there and ready for me that it gives the average student/young adult absolutely no reason not to investigate their faith and learn more about it.

6. If you could have infinite knowledge and research abilities (also, more time) what would be your dream blog post? The “white whale,” if you will (English major allusions).

This is such a hard question to answer. I think if I had infinite knowledge and research abilities, I would want to write a condensed version of every philosophical proof for the existence of God. I’m not a philosopher, nor have I ever studied philosophy more than surface deep, so a post like that would take a ton of research and time to make sense of it myself and then convert it to blog form. I’ve had many priests and teachers give me basic run-downs of different proofs for the existence of God (St. Thomas Aquinas’ 5 proofs, for example) but never had to convert them to my own thoughts and processes to relate them to someone else. I would want to make it the post of all posts, though, not just do one at a time, so that if someone searched on the internet for a concise summary of the Catholic proof for existence of God, they could find it and read it in 10 minutes and be convinced (ideally, of course). But like I said, that would take a ton of time and brain power that I don’t have right now (school, work, and prepping for a wedding are kind of time-suckers).

Thanks again for reading and commenting!
C + H

Are we really pro-life?

According to this Gallup poll, the number of pro-choice Americans is down to 41% of those polled, which is obviously encouraging for the pro-life movement. Gallup started polling Americans in 1995 which had the pro-choice side in a commanding lead, but over the years it seems the American view point has been slowly shifting to the pro-life side.

Of course, this poll posed the question in regards to abortion and not necessarily a complete pro-life stance because if you look at the pro-life stance as a whole, it’s not just about abortion. For many Catholics it’s obvious that abortion is wrong; it’s murder of an unborn child, it causing incredible damage to the women who have the procedures, etc.
What other sides of the pro-life argument are we ignoring? Because I think it’s easy for us to look at abortion and see it as evil, but can we do the same with other pro-life issues?

Euthanasia: refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, the word comes from Greek and basically means “good death”. It “is illegal in all states of the United States. Physician aid-in-dying (PAD), or assisted suicide, is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Montana. The key difference between euthanasia and PAD is who administers the lethal dose of medication. Euthanasia entails the physician or another third party administering the medication, whereas PAD requires the patient to self-administer the medication and to determine whether and when to do this”.

CCC: 2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable
“Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.”
Read CCC 2278 which goes into “over-zealous” treatments and when it is morally acceptable to end those types of treatments.

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide often say that everyone has a right to die, a right to their own death and there is a great deal of misplaced compassion towards those who are sick and dying. We should have compassion for those who are suffering, we should pray for relief and peace in their trials, and we should always pray for God’s will to be done.
Something specific that concerns about euthanasia and its practice is when ordinary means are denied from patients in order to “ease their sufferings”. For example, in the case of Terri Schiavo she was classified as in a “vegetative state” but her parents believed she was still conscious to some degree. Her husband, who became her legal guardian while she was hospitalized, petitioned the state to allow her feeding tube to be removed. Her parents and husband fought in multiple different court cases and with each verdict her feeding tube was removed, or reinserted based on which party won the case. Her parents argued that Terri was Catholic and wouldn’t want to violate the teachings on euthanasia, but in the end Terri died from dehydration in 2005.
I then read this terrifying article from 2005 saying that death from dehydration is usually peaceful, but let’s be real, the person who wrote that article has never died from dehydration. Maybe that’s a naive statement to make but…maybe not.
Obviously, I can’t pretend to know a lot about medical practices and biology, but how does the societal view on dehydration and starvation shift from barbaric to merciful and compassionate?

Capital Punishment: is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution

CCC 2267: Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person…the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent” (whole quote from CCC, final quote from Blessed JPII, Evangelium vitae).

A lot of the arguments for the death penalty are that it is a deterrent for others committing those crimes, saves tax payers money, and ultimately saves lives. There are a lot of studies that point to both sides of the deterrence argument, a lot of research that support both sides of the money argument, and a lot of speculation about whether or not it saves lives.
All this inconclusive research does not convince me that it is worth it to take a human’s life.

How can we say that at x amount of money, a person is now so much of a burden we should kill them? When did people become a means to an end?

Ultimately, the death penalty is denying a person’s chance for receiving God’s infinite mercy. The Death Penalty Information Website claims that since 1973, over 140 people have been exonerated and freed from death row. How many other lives were taken because they were “guilty”?
When did we decide that we could play God and determine who deserves to die? We seem to believe that we are entitled to everything in life, even when our life should end. Why do we think we can deny God’s mercy to other people, His infinite mercy that He is so desperately trying to give us?

If we are going to call ourselves pro-life, we need to know what that means. How much harder is it to defend the lives of those who are suffering and those convicted of crimes? But Jesus did, and we are called to love like Him.
I encourage you to educate yourselves on these issues, especially when it comes to legislation that you can vote on. We need to be able to say “I love babies” and peacefully pray outside of clinics, but we also need to acknowledge God’s mercy, the redemptive power of suffering, the beauty and dignity of every human life.

More gold from the CCC:
Euthanasia: 2278, 2324, 2277, 2277 (see also Pain)
Death penalty: (bringing about death to others 2261, 2269, 2277, 2296) 2267,
Mercy: 1847, 2840

Caitlin