Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Advent

Hello Newomen,

Lauren and I would like to wish all of you a blessed advent!

I often forget about advent and can't say that I have really ever tapped in to the grace that comes with preparing for Christmas. As a student adding more pray or reflection to these weeks before finals seems impossible. This time of year while full of traditions, cookies, and songs can also be filled with stress, family tension, and an overwhelming to do list before the end of the semester. I often feel small, incapable, and unqualified. It is hard to meditate on the holy spectacle of Bethlehem while I feel so much chaos.

But I think this is such a beautiful place to find myself. Mary was young, scared, and overwhelmed. The shepherds were frightened and really clueless to the significance of the nativity. Joseph thought of running away to avoid the responsibility and stress. But all of them came and all of them said yes. This advent I want to do the same, I want to show up and I want to say yes. I invite all of you to be more present this advent in your prayer, in sunday mass, and with the people in your lives. This season can be one of discernment and openness to Christ if we simply offer our attempts to our Mother and trust.

The following post from Anycia is a wonderful example of what God does with our hearts when we are willing.

Come Emanuel.

Mary Jaros

* This post is from senior Anycia Flynn. Anycia is a buisness major who spent her sophmore year in Rome and learned a lot about her femininity and her calling.

I never wanted to have children. I just didn’t see the point. That was until I went to Rome. When I was there I took a class called Theology of the Body. I learned fundamental things such as; what it meant to be a woman, what it meant to be a wife, and what it meant to be a mother. As the year unfolded I felt like my vocation was unfolding too. I suddenly felt like St. Paul, only it was John Paul II who had entered my life and let the scales fall from my eyes. I saw my life in a radically different way. I recognized the beauty of femininity for the first time in my life. I came back to the United States with a greater zeal and passion for life. A far greater understanding of myself and my vocation; which I assumed was marriage. I saw this path Jesus was taking me on and thought, well….He showed me what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother….obviously then I’m called to marriage. That however, hasn’t necessarily been the case. After a trip to Chicago with some religious sisters I saw that Jesus might be leading me in a totally different direction than I had anticipated. And I got mad. I kept thinking that if I really am called to religious life that means all of my time in Rome was pointless. Why do I need to know what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother if I am going to be a nun? I knew in my heart that Jesus led me to Rome and that He was the one who taught me the things I learned. Why then was he suddenly changing his mind? It took me awhile, but I realized Jesus wasn’t changing His mind at all. I saw very clearly how marriage and religious life intertwine. How one cannot be without the other. The beauty of both vocations suddenly became very clear. And I saw, the foundation that marriage is to religious life. Jesus showed me that I could never be His spouse until I learned what it meant to be a spouse on this earth. He showed me that I could never be the mother of many if I didn’t have the desire to be the mother of a few. He showed me that learning to be a woman, a wife and a mother is necessary to understanding the religious life, not contrary to it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

rainy day reading

And what a cold, rainy day it is! My favorite thing to do on a day like this is read a great book (or in this case, write a blog post). We recently had an event for freshmen women who asked for a few book recommendations about femininity and the Faith in general. Here are a few Mary and I talked about that day and maybe a few more. Enjoy!

On Femininity and Relationships
Captivating and Wild at Heart by John and Staci Eldredge
For Women Only and For Men Only By Shaunti Feldhahn
Three to Get Married by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II
Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II (I would recommend reading Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West first!)

On the Church and Spiritual Life
The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva
Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn
Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly
Discernment of Spirits by Timothy M. Gallagher
Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

For a little preview, from my personal favorite book of the list above, an excerpt from Three to Get Married:
"Love is triune or it dies. It requires three virtues, faith, hope and charity, which intertwine, purify and regenerate each other. To believe in God is to throw ourselves into His arms; to hope in Him is to rest in His heart in patience amidst trials and tribulations; to love Him is to be with Him through a participation of His Divine Nature through grace."

Discussion: Have you read any of these books? What did you think? How did they effect your spiritual life and understanding of God's will?
Comment with any more suggestions you might have!

Many blessings and much love.
Your sister,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

* This is a guest post from Courtney Dravitzki. Read, comment and enjoy!

Sororities. The thought that first comes to mind and came to mind for me was the All- American party experience. Sororities have the stigma of being the girls who are ditzy, blonde, rich, scandalous, partiers, the material girls…I for one can vouch for what a sorority girl stands for. I am writing now to enrich you with a snippet of insight about why I am not ashamed to call myself a sorority girl, despite these stigmas that are present, or the rumors that are spread.

One of my greatest investments throughout my college experience thus far has been the decision to join my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Founded in 1870, it is the first Greek Letter Fraternity known among women, and will remain first in my heart forever.

Coming to UNL in the fall of 2008, I was scared to death. I was scared about fitting in. I wondered whether I could be myself and still find friends that would love me anyway. My Theta sisters are those girls who first stood by me when everything was uncertain. They will continue to stand by me when my world is crumbling down and to cheer me on when I accomplish a huge feat.

Sisterhood is not the only thing that Theta gives me everyday. Theta holds me accountable, knowing that no longer do my actions only reflect myself, but reflect Theta and the ideals that it was founded upon.

Independence, Perseverance, and Faith.

Leadership is another quality that stands out strong not only in Theta, but in all sororities throughout campus. There are so many examples of Greek Women who are both leaders on campus and those who have also graduated to become successful women in the world today.

Joining a sorority is also an amazing opportunity to apply yourself to better the world around you through service projects and philanthropic events. For example, every sorority organizes a philanthropic event of some sort once a semester to raise money for a particular charitable organization. A few examples of these are CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Friendship Home, etc.

It is shocking to think that you can take one hundred plus women with different childhoods, schools, backgrounds, personalities, visions, and desires and throw them all under one roof and expect them not to annihilate one another. For that much estrogen to even function normally is madness. But what is unbelievable is how it becomes much more than just “functioning” or “getting along”…what is formed is an unbreakable bond.

I love each and every one of my sisters--for their faults, for their strengths, for their niches, for themselves--. We are not perfect and do not pretend to be. We fail, just like every other person on campus. We also succeed. We fight, and we resolve. We laugh and we cry. Most importantly, we love. For each sister I am eternally grateful and forever changed. There is not a single girl in this house who has not affected my life in some way, whether great or small.

Being in a sorority has taught me how to reach beyond myself for the greater good. It has taught me and continues to teach me lessons that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. I have learned to put aside selfish motives for the sake of my sisters. I have learned that being the best person I can possibly be is in turn what is best for my house as a whole. I have learned what it means to be truly empathetic by loving, hurting, or feeling sincere happiness that someone whom you love is experiencing.

Not only does Theta give so much to me, I feel that God has put me in a beautiful position to give myself back to this sorority with His love.

I am able to live as a witness to this house 24/7 in my natural environment, just Courtney being Courtney, truly LIVING my life out in front of them. These girls see me in all elements and emotions, in all of the highs and lows. What better way to show Jesus to someone than by living in His love? I also have the amazing opportunity to lead and attend a bible study in my house! God has truly blessed me.

Being in a sorority-being in Theta-is much more than wearing letters proud on a sweatshirt, rolling with your girls on a Spring Break trip, singing songs and chanting chants, or dressing up goofy for an upcoming social…it’s about being there for one another.

I urge you the next time you find yourself judging “sorority girls” too quickly, to take a step back and get to know some of the girls. You may find yourself surprisedI know I was.

I for one am a sorority girl, and proud to say so.

As with any organization, there are flaws and areas that need work and improvement. For these flaws, I am thankful. Why you may ask? It is an incentive. It is an incentive to push each other to overcome these struggles and obstacles. It is an incentive to become the best women that we can be regardless of what stages of our lives we are going through.

Theta is a choice that I committed to. A pact that is unfailing and unending. Theta is a treasure that is held close to my heart. A blessing that I count at night before I fall asleep. Theta is for a lifetime.