Thought-Provoking Reads, vol. 2

Suzanne Tanzi, Traces, “The Gift of 9-11”:


From a 2011 interview with Tiffiny Gulla, former Frassati NYC leader, who passed away last week:

The melting down of all the PVC pipes, the shattering light bulbs, and other burning materials caused the metallic poisoning. And the treatment was really aggressive. Most people were able to sweat out the heavy metals from their systems. But in my case, my immune system shut down after the treatments, and the SCL-70 antibody the doctors found indicated scleroderma. Maybe it was the treatment, and/or maybe I have a genetic disposition…Whatever the scientific reasons, which are still a mystery, I know that God allowed me to have this for a reason—this awareness dawned on me within minutes of hearing my diagnosis. This is because of a path I had been on for some three years before the disaster. In 1998, I had begged Him to show Himself more in my life, and from that day He has been preparing me for this, my cross. I was on my way to a fashion show when I got the diagnosis. I remember that I went to the show anyway, on the arm of a friend. I think I must have immediately given everything into God’s hands in order to continue with my daily life as I did. I went on with great hope and promise, which came from Another.

Haley Stewart, Carrots for Michaelmas, “Dreaming of that Political Candidate Unicorn”:


I dream of many other things, but this simple list all points to the basic, crucial belief that human beings are valuable. That human life is sacred. Acknowledging the dignity of every single person on this earth is essential and safeguarding their lives imperative. Is that really so much to ask? Apparently so.

Katrina Harrington, Cedars and Tiny Flowers, “Shoo, fly, don’t bother me! (a very long reflection on postpartum depression/anxiety)”:


That’s true, but this is also true; it can be a hard life, but it is always a worthy life. Disliking a season and hating a moment and suffering from anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t love the life you are living, the life you have happily chosen and will continue choosing. Disliking a season and hating a moment doesn’t demean the worth of life as it is.

Marc Barnes, Bad Catholic, “How to Know That You Are Beautiful”:

CCo. Photo courtesy of Flickr

We overcome the paralysis of envy, vanity, and profound insecurity over our bodies by limiting the affirmation of beauty to its genuine source—the eyes of the people who see us. It’s neighbors that we need, not giant industries, to feel comfortable leaving the house. We must disavow the vague hope for some objective, disinterested affirmation from the world out there, and consent to the logic of community, which says that it is familiarity and affection for person’s that unveils the truth about them—not the “objectivity” of a general “world.” When a husband tells his wife, “you are beautiful,” it is a perverse construction that has her think, “Yes, you think that, but the ‘real world’ may not.” When a father tells his daughter that she is beautiful, she must take his love for her as an insight born out of care-filled study—an insight that no pop-star, no matter how sincere his general affirmation to a faceless crowd, can make. We must trust our communities to tell us about ourselves with greater truth than a faceless public—with greater truth, even, than our own reflection.

Simcha Fisher, National Catholic Register, “Before and after: A Fairytale”:

CCo. Photo courtesy of Flickr

Before and after pictures very often lie; and the same is true for the mental images we keep of our spiritual lives. If you’re worried about your spiritual state, don’t worry about before and after. Don’t compare yourself to the way you used to be, or the way you think you used to be, or the way other people seem to be, or the way you think you could be if you followed this glossy, packaged spiritual wellness program.

Never mind before and after. What about right now? You can’t see yourself clearly, and you don’t really need to. You need to present yourself to the Father and say, “Here I am. You know me better than I know myself, and you love me better than I love myself. Tell me how I should spend the rest of this day; beyond that, my trust is in You. Teach me how to love You, because that is the only thing that matters.”

Frank Bruni, New York Times, “The Olympics Make a Grown Man Cry”:

Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

Don’t tell me what’s wrong with the Olympics. Let me tell you what’s right with them.

In a world rife with failure and bitter compromise, they’re dedicated to dreaming and to the proposition that limits are entirely negotiable, because they reflect only what has been done to date and not what’s doable in time.

They make the case that part of being fully alive is pushing yourself as far as you can go. Every Olympic record, every personal best and every unlikely comeback is an individual achievement, yes, but it’s also a universal example and metaphor….

I know that there are flaws in the system, even corruption. I’m reading and I’m hearing plenty about that, about the inane remarks that NBC’s commentators have made, and about the excessive commercial breaks that the network builds into the prime-time telecast. A certain crassness and greed have taken over. It’s true.

But I fear that with the Olympics, as with so much else, we’ve let the language of complaint supplant the language of wonder, and there’s wonder aplenty here.

Br. Athanasius Murphy, O.P., Dominicana, “Noisy Boredom”:

Alfred Hitchcock Yawning

Boredom is not sitting and doing nothing. That may really be enjoyable! Rather, boredom is the constant and exhaustive activity of throwing things inside the human heart without ever knowing what shape the heart has so as to fill it rightly. And we can spend our whole lives bored; trying to fill a heart we haven’t ever really seen; tired of things we have seen; bored by the void of interior noise. What, then, is the antidote to noisy boredom?

Love! Real love! Boredom affects the heart but everyone knows the heart is made to love. To attain love we need to let go of trying to fill our heart ourselves.

Meg Hunter-Kilmer, Held By His Pierced Hands, “Heavy Blessings”:


When you spend your life trying to be okay with a difficult situation, eventually it becomes too much. “It’s good, it’s a blessing, everything’s fine, I should be grateful” explodes into anger and self-pity. But looking at your marriage or job or friend or child or health and calling it a heavy blessing gives glory to God while acknowledging your weakness and that is exactly what Christians are called to do.

Beth Griffin, CNS News, “Sisters of Life hold up dignity of single moms in 25-year-old ministry”:

CNS Photo / Gregory A. Shemitz

“At the heart of our charism is a focus on the sacredness of all human life and a profound sense of reverence for every human person,” said Sister Mary Elizabeth, the order’s vicar general.

“Cardinal O’Connor often said every person reveals one facet of God that no one else will, and the loss of even one human life is incomparable,” she said.

“One of the reasons for the joy in the community is we believe each person has some beautiful, unique goodness and we have the joy of discovering that in them and reflecting it back so she has the experience of her own dignity, goodness and strength,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. “That person becomes a gift to us in our recognizing her for who she is. She reveals to us the splendor and beauty of God.”

Jenny Uebbing, Catholic News Agency, “The News Is Still Good”:


As a finite human creature with a limited capacity for understanding, I don’t possess the necessary bandwidth to handle all the bad news from all the places. Not if I want to be effective in any real capacity in my actual, daily responsibilities.

…we are not meant to stay there, in that place of stuck, shocked, sorrowing, and scared. You cannot live in that place. There’s no life there. We can—and we must—pause, bow our heads, say a prayer…but then we must move on.

Because the only real way that I can combat evil in this world is by living out my particular vocation to my greatest possible ability. If I am actively seeking and responding to God’s particular will for my life, I can change the world.

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