Author: Sarah (Page 1 of 5)

What Does It Really Mean to be Pro-Life?

Originally published on Catholic Stand

The March for Life has just passed. The shouts, chantings, and ever-creative handmade signs are still vivid in many minds, images vibrant with pro-life passion. I’ve been to the March several times, and in other years have assisted spiritually from a distance. Every year, I see much that’s beautiful and inspiring—many souls full of dedication, courage, and love, giving me hope for the advancement of the “culture of life.” Of course, this kind of action isn’t limited to the penultimate week of January; it’s at work all year.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen much less encouraging things within the pro-life crowd. The desire to save the unborn, noble as it is, can become so consuming that it blinds one to other persons in need, who also deserve concern and help, and to evils in the world or in oneself. Furthermore, when passion is not purified and directed, it easily degenerates into hate and vitriol. Demonizing those who support abortion becomes too easy a temptation. Politics, ever a divisive and emotional subject, explodes into the discussions. Too often, it’s not long before those who should be friends or at least allies end up turning on each other.

Need this be so? Of course not. We are called to defend life—but not by doing the things just described. It’s not hard to see that this kind of behavior is really detrimental to the pro-life movement.

Thus, we might benefit from considering: what does it really mean to be pro-life?

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Don’t Miss the Magic of Childhood

Originally appeared on Catholic Stand

Every year around this time, I notice a widespread, often implicit idea that Christmas is a particularly special time for children. Of course, this attitude follows logically if the occasion consists only of emptying packages and stockings under an explosion of lights and tinsel. Decorations and presents generally become less exciting as we grow older.

On the other hand, if one understands Christmas as anything more substantial—certainly for Christians rejoicing in the newborn King, but even for those who view it simply as a day to celebrate values like kindness and family—one should be able to take joy in that as an adult, instead of regretting the diminished excitement of the sparkling wrapping paper.

While this problem seems especially pronounced at Christmastime, it exists all year. Adults talk about the “magic” of childhood, and wistfully remark on its fading as they mature. The ability to greet life with wonder and delight seems to be widely considered the exclusive property of the under-age-twelve crowd.

This line of thought may be understandable, but does not work long-term. Nature shows us that children are meant to become adults; this is fulfillment, not degeneration, for them. From the added perspective of faith, God made humans to grow up. Lamenting His design for us hardly makes sense.

To offer a more effective, helpful response to this issue, however, we should first consider: why do people feel this way, and need they feel so?

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Advent

Quietly the frozen earth
Pregnant with its seedlings lies;
Quietly the waters rest,
Still and reverent in their ice.

Fluting birdsong now is stilled,
And the insects’ rasping choir;
Softer voice of plaintive wind
Sends its calls to heaven higher.

Autumn’s flaming glories now
Have dropped, faded, from the trees,
Which in plainness penitent
Raise gray hands in skyward pleas.

They echo sweet, solemn tunes
Of the organ and the bell,
Taking up our rising cry,
“O Veni Emmanuel!”

Now atop a purple stalk
Blooms a single fiery glow;
Soon another answers it,
Then the rose light burns to show

That this still and silent time
Brings a beatific reign;
Blest are all whose lamps are lit;
You who wait, wait not in vain.

You who’ve watched through darker night,
Trustful hearts awaiting Him,
See your waited Dayspring come,
Brightening skies that were dim.

You who wander in the night,
Who know not for whom to wait,
See the Son who brings a light
You could not anticipate.

You who shrink like beaten curs,
Thund’ring wrath for sins to flee,
See redemption come for you,
Like the dewfall, tenderly.

Set the fourth light burning now!
Brighten lamps and tune your strings,
Branches bring and winter flowers,
Find all fair and gladsome things;

Pray with hearts more earnest now,
Bright, hot, quiv’ring, like the flames,
Watching eagerly for Him
Whose Name is above all names.

All lights but reflect His light;
Every hope from Him derives;
Gladly we our watch have kept
For this time—when He arrives!

Consecrated Virginity: The Obscure Glory

Originally appeared on Catholic Stand

Consecrated virgin: To many, the phrase sounds outlandish, not only unfamiliar but unsettlingly strange. To most of the world outside the Church, it means a crazy woman who has promised to renounce marriage for an unfathomable idea. Even to many Catholics, such a woman looks like a puzzling quasi-religious, taking vows but not entering an order. The subject evokes blank looks or dubious, fumbling responses, as I’ve found from my own experience. Some even suspect that such women may simply be too lazy to look for the right religious community, living their lives by a sort of half-measure.

Some of this confusion may be understandable. A consecrated virgin doesn’t look different from a laywoman, as a nun in a habit would. She lives in the world and supports herself; she wears ordinary clothes and is not called any special title like Sister. Her way, however, is based on a special calling. Her whole life is sacred to Christ, and she serves Him in a way that nuns cannot. Hers is a life of love for Him, and she follows Him wherever He asks her to be.

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Notice: Quasi-Hiatus

Dear readers of Gilded Weavings,

I’ve come to an unfortunate but, I think, necessary decision. During the next couple months, I hope to focus on acquiring some new skills and experience, which will mean that the posts here will, not cease, but be considerably less frequent. I hope to be back at full strength sometime around the New Year. (Note: I am no less available for freelance editing work.)

Meanwhile, to anyone looking for good reading, I highly recommend Nachtstürm Castle, a brand-new novel by rising author Emily Snyder, and would also suggest staying tuned for her Presumption, slated to come out early in December. I’m only just discovering Ms. Snyder’s work—her talent is truly remarkable.

May God bless you all in this loveliest time of the year.

Yours truly,

Sarah Elisabeth Therese

The New Country

Yester-eve I left the quiet plain,
The path washed out by a night of rain;
Now past the mountains, a dawn bursts clean,
Glowing in glory, golden and green.
I know not what hides in the trees and grass
Spread below me now, where I soon will pass,
But with springing step now I run to meet
Moss and roots and thorns all beneath my feet.
For inside my soul burns a pure white star,
Summons, strength, and joy, kindled from afar,
Promising me sure that my home is there,
Of which I hear whispers in sky and air.
So now whether pathways be rough or smooth,
I run on in strength of a singing truth:
That the rush of wind, and the burbling stream,
And the glow of leaves in a stray sunbeam,
And the clouds above and the stones below,
And all things wheresoe’er I may go,
Are my Love’s unceasing pledge and call,
And His word is joy, for He is my all.

Purgatory is Not an Insult

Originally published on Catholic Stand

As All Souls’ Day approaches, homilists may find themselves tiptoeing around discussion of Purgatory. Advising people to pray for their deceased family or friends can be difficult. Many perceive this as an insult to the departed, contending that their loved ones are surely in Heaven already and need no prayers.

Much of this mindset is based on emotions rather than intellectual decisions, and so calls for a tactful, gentle response. Part of the problem, however, arises from misunderstandings about Purgatory. Those unfamiliar with Catholic theology often seem to confuse Purgatory with Hell. Even in Catholic circles, popular assumptions imply that genuinely good people always go straight to Heaven, while Purgatory is for the mediocre souls not quite bad enough for Hell. Another phrasing of this idea is that, to compare these states to school grades, Heaven is an A, Purgatory a C, and Hell an F.

None of this is even remotely true.

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Solomon, Aquinas, and Lilies

A reflection on 1 Kings 3:5-15

 

What do a king, a friar, and a flower have to do with each other? The question sounds like a very strange riddle. I unexpectedly discovered the answer while rereading 1 Kings 3:5-15, coming upon a sequence of thoughts that initially seemed both familiar and sobering, but ended on a fresh and deeply joyful note.

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The White and Black Bouquet

To Thee I bring, dear Savior,

An offering tonight,

And pray it may find favor

By Thy grace in Thy sight;

No show of noble powers—

Such grandeur small souls lack—

A humble bunch of flowers,

A mix of white and black.

 

White blooms, star-shaped, sweet-smelling,

Their stalks all smooth and green,

Their snowy glow is telling

Of triumph’s happy sheen;

All this day’s little glories,

Sweet joy and bright success,

I offer Thee these stories,

With hymn of thankfulness.

 

The black blooms, shaped like crosses,

Less sweet and sharp with thorns,

These are the stings and losses

For which man’s nature mourns;

Pain, disappointment, folly,

The times when foes prevailed,

The springless melancholy,

The times I tried and failed.

 

I bring Thee these small prizes;

Thou only know’st the worth

Of any gift that rises

From human hands on earth;

So I pray that Thy splendor

May wash these in its rays,

Their fragrance of surrender

Rise pleasing to Thy praise.

 

And I’ll thank Thee, my Dearest,

For this day’s white and black;

Faith’s eye sees Thy love clearest;

My small heart gives love back.

For everything is beauty

When seen with love of Thee,

And e’en the humblest duty

Is joyous then, and free.

Beasts of Fire and Water

Gyna stumbled wildly across the dim, cavernous room, wondering how much farther her trembling legs would bring her before she collapsed—and that would be the end. She listened for any sound other than thunder, wind and her own gasping breath, but the thumping had ceased, and the fiendish cackling had vanished. Not daring to hope that she might have lost her pursuer, she hastened into the only opening she saw ahead, a dark and empty doorway. Perhaps the blackness would hide her there?

A few paces past this exit, she glimpsed a faint light, seeping around a corner in the passage. Approaching more slowly and trying to quiet her panting, Gyna peered cautiously around the corner and saw a long, spiraling staircase, descending to what looked like a pool. The light, a pale greenish, sickly glow, seemed to be coming from something in the water . . . was there some sort of creature down there? Yes, it looked like something with tentacles, and a big something at that.

It figures, she thought, with a sort of frantic bitterness. After all this, now a water monster. Well, what should I have done?

She took a few small steps backward, her thoughts scrambling for some other way out, when something rough sprang around her and knocked her down—a net. The witch had caught up, without a sound.

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