Archive for the ‘Free Writing’ Category

Do you ever have those sudden burst of inspiration that you have to what ever you’re doing to write it down? I don’t really know how to describe it other than a burst of inspiration. They kind of sneak up on you when you least expect it and it’s like, “Hold on y’all, BRB. Gotta get this before I loose it.”

This moment came for this piece when I was gluing a chipped wooden frame my dad dropped. I was lucky and had a notebook nearby to write this. Other times, I haven’t been so lucky. Sometimes I have my phone with me so I’m able to take a few notes, however I run into a problem when I look at it later and go, “What the heck was I trying to say?”

Sometimes I get it when it’s not appropriate to have my phone out; like in mass. My mind starts drifting and I think of something to write about. I pulled my phone out once to just write literally the title of a piece I thought of, but I was met with dirty looks from the elderly ladies around me and then I made really awkward eye contact with the priest as I was putting my phone away. One time, I took an envelope meant for the offering and the mini pencil they keep in the little box in the pews and started taking notes. The envelope was covered and I got a pretty good piece out of it!  Finally, I figured out “Hey, I get my best ideas in mass” so I started bringing a little notebook and pen with me. Sometimes I use it. Sometimes I don’t.

People ask me, “How do you come up with these ideas? Well, most of the time, it’s not me. I give all the credit to a higher power because their is no way I could come up with it on my own and make it sound halfway decent. It’s all in those bursts. If I don’t get them, I have to force myself to write and I end up with a really bad piece. There wouldn’t be as many posts then. Other times, I have so many “bursts” that I can’t keep up. I have had an experience where I would have another burst in the middle of writing a different one. It may sound crazy, but I think that those who write and write often know what I’m talking about.

I know a piece is really good when I can’t remember writing it. I will remember sitting down with a pen in my hand or with my computer, but the actual writing is a blur. Then I publish it and see people’s responses then think, “Wait, what did I say again?” Then I re-read what I wrote and think, “Huh, that’s not bad at all. How did I come up with that? Is that quote really mine?”

It feels awkward getting complemented on it. It’s great and I appreciate all feedback, but it’s hard to believe it’s really mine when it feels like I have a co-author who adds ideas and words that I can’t remember thinking or writing. And those bursts I was talking about, happen while I’m in prayer for a reason. There is a reason that when I don’t pray as diligently as I have in the past, I struggle to find the words to write.  I can’t write without my co-author. I just can’t, none of it is good without Him.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about “Catholic” topics, although he certainly helps in that area. I write a lot of poetry for fun (GASP!) and short stories that are pretty secular, but without prayer and a relationship with my co-author, I don’t feel so inclined to write.

 

This first year of college has flown by so quickly. Even with it being finals week, I find myself procrastinating by reflecting on what the Lord has done for me since August when I arrived. There is no doubt that I’m going home this summer a different person.I’m very happy and very excited to go home, but there is also a lot of sadness in leaving, especially because I won’t be back on campus as a student until Fall of 2015. What has this city on the hill taught me in the last year.

Gaudete in Via Crucis Womans Household.

Gaudete in Via Crucis Woman’s Household.

1. Naps are a magical gift from God delivered by a chubby naked baby with wings wrapped in a bright red bow.

2. The Office is (without a doubt) one of the greatest sitcoms that graced American cable.

3. It’s really hard to study in the dorm rooms. There are way too many distractions.

4. Always be grateful when the WiFi is running smoothly without many glitches.

5. Don’t be too quick to judge anyone. You never know the kind of struggles they are going through.

6. Family doesn’t end with blood. I have to thank my household sisters for teaching me that.

7. St. Michael the Archangel is one of the coolest saints I have ever met. Get to know him because he is a boss.

8. The same goes for St. Joseph. The man literally raised God. He’s pretty awesome too.

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The Troubadour Staff 2013-2014

9. College has a lot of free t-shirts to offer. And they’re actually really cool and creative (Thank you
Troubadours, March for Life, Gaudete, Last Class Luau, and Student Government)!

10. Colorado has no idea what cold is like. The cold in Ohio literally touches your bones. In Colorado, you go inside when it’s cold and you warm up right away. In Ohio, you go inside, and it takes at least 10 minutes to defrost yourself.

11. Working out is so much more than just trying to get the perfect body. It can be so much more fruitful and more than just a physical action.

12. Always keep a full stock of White Cheddar CheezeIts, Twizzlers, Mug Cakes, Cheesy Noodles, Annie’s White Cheddar Mac’N’Cheese, Chi Tea, and Cream Pie. If one or all of these things run out, it’s a sad thing indeed.

13. The bookstore’s stuff is so ridiculously overpriced. I got a book for $5.00 on Amazon that was $26.00 at the bookstore. This includes textbooks, guitar strings, luggage, everything.

14. Priests and religious people are wonderful. Believe it or not, they are not all the same. They have their own personalities and funny quirks. Get to know some, because they are awesome.

15. If an opportunity comes your way, do not be afraid to take it and run with it, even if it seems beyond your reach.

16. You are your own harshest critic. I learned this when I wrote my post for the chastityproject.com. I sent it in several weeks before it was posted. While waiting, I decided to re-read it and immediately thought, “I cannot believe I sent them this crap?!” Luckily, people seemed to like it.

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The one and only Father Nathan.

17. It’s not a good idea to procrastinate. Deadlines come and go so fast and you’ll really regret it if you let that happen.

18. Rugby is far more superior than football. ‘nough said.

19. It is very, very easy to over pack. No you really don’t need that extra set of sheets and towels or an entire shelf of books. You do laundry and just stick the sheets right back on the bed, and you don’t have time to read all of those books. Choose two or three and if you (by some miracle) get through them, just raid your roommate’s books! (Chances are they’re not reading them either)

20. Kids grow up really fast. I left for school and came back four months later and my brother was literally a foot taller with a deeper voice and pimples. The heck?

21. Learning how to play the guitar is really cool! It’s become an escape for me and it’s kind of cool to brag about.

22. A year after leaving the high school speech and debate team, I’m very out of practice when it comes to public speaking. I should probably get back on mastering those skills again…

23. You don’t have a come to Franciscan and just be a Theo/Cat major. There is so much more to the school than those departments. The nursing department is amazing and cranks out some really great nurses. The education department is huge and the student in that program do really well. The Communications department is fabulous as well.

With Billy the Elephant

With Billy the Elephant

24. Guys get broken hearted too and sometimes just need to rant. There is no need to be caught off guard if they do. Just be there for them.

25. The social aspect of high school really doesn’t matter in college. Nobody really cares anymore who hooked up with who in high school and who was considered cool and popular then. The world is a big place, and if you’re stuck in high school, you might miss out on how awesome college is.

26. Twenty bucks is a lot of money. If you have a 20, hold onto it and never let go!

27. I am more like my mother than I thought I was when I left in the best ways possible. When I’m stressed, I clean my room. Mom does the same thing which used to drive me crazy, but now I can sympathize.

28. Quarters are a rarity in college. But they are so necessary when doing laundry or getting a snack from the vending machines in the academic buildings between classes. Bring a huge ziplock bag of them every semester no matter how much security at the airport or your friends judge you. You’ll regret not bringing a bag when you are running around campus trying to find a machine that has enough quarters to break your $5.00. (Hint: if you do end up in that situation, go to the vending machines, put your money in a vending machine and hit return change, it’ll return the money to you in all quarters. Magical!)

29. Be thankful for two ply toilet paper. I’m not kidding, it’s one of the things I really, really missed about home.

30. Treat yourself every once in a while. Nothing huge, but you deserve it!

31. You don’t have to go to every event on campus. School comes first.

32. As weird as they may be in the classroom, most professors are really cool and awesome when you visit them in their office. They tend to get bored during their office hours. Visit them if you need help, they are really nice about it and more than willing to help.

A beautiful day in D.C with my bestest buddy.

A beautiful day in D.C with my bestest buddy.

33. You can’t choose your family. Especially not your extended family. Love them for everything they are including the good, bad, and the ugly.

34. It’s okay to do something crazy every once in a while, like shoving balloons up your shirt and taking fake pregnant pictures with your best friend to recreate when you’re actually pregnant or wake up 2:00 in the morning to watch history in the making, when Pope Francis canonizes Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI present.

Please don't hate me for sharing this ;)

Please don’t hate me for sharing this 😉

35. Don’t put off laundry. You’ll regret it when you have to do four loads to get it all done. It eats up those quarters!

36. Don’t let your earring holes fill in even a little bit because it really hurts to re-pierce them when they are partially closed.

37. Appreciate the opportunities you have to go off campus. They are rare when you are a freshman, but much needed.

38. You don’t really know stress until you get to college. When I think about it, I was never truly that stressed in high school. College takes stress to a whole new level.

39. Get to know the history of your school. It’s cool knowing it’s story and gives you a greater appreciation for it as a whole.

40. Drink lots and lots of water. You feel better when you do. I was never good about drinking water as a kid, but now I think it is the best stuff in the world!

41. Don’t be afraid to do things for you. I spent a lot of time wondering how my decision to go to Washington for a semester next spring instead of back to Franciscan would affect my relationships with my friends and the activities I’m involved in. It took a friend telling me to go to Washington for me, not for anybody else, to ultimately decide it was what I should do.

42. Keep your computer updated with all the latest programs because after a while, it will get mad at you and not want to connect to the internet and you may not be as lucky as I was to have nice IT people who are willing to fix it at no charge.

Knocking on doors

Knocking on doors

43. Having a boyfriend in college or looking for the “MRS” degree isn’t everything. What I really need is someone who is able to keep up with me, my schedule, and my weirdness.

44. Playing sports is actually really, really fun when you have the right people playing. Go Weapons!

45. Franciscan is not that different than other colleges. We’re just all Catholics with Christian values and morals. There are the hippies with the long skirts and hair who wear rosaries as ankle bracelets, that guy that always has a guitar who knows every Matt Maher song by heart, the Matrix wannabes, the extremely pale girl who is always in the library, the guys who never leave the gym but don’t appear to be doing a lot of working out, the guy with the ponytail, the girl who is involved in literally everything, the girl who always has snacks, the RA who takes their job way to seriously, the guys who always seem a hungover, the guy who doesn’t study or work hard but is still somehow able to graduate with honors, and so, so many more. I could have a lot of fun making a list.

46. You family’s lives will go on without you home. They’ll miss you a lot, but they are still going to take an awesome vacation to Florida without you, but it’s okay, you’ll get live an entire semester in Europe without them. Love you guys!

47. Be weary of your actions. You never know who you maybe hurting.

48. Do something you wouldn’t normally have the guts to do. For me, that was praying outside of an abortion clinic. It was really hard spiritually and emotionally but I am so glad that I went the few times that I did and wish I did it more often.

49. You meet friends in some of the most unexpected ways, whether it be while beat writing endless Student Government meetings for the Troubadour or while filling out applications together at the job fair, you just never know.

Cuties <3

Cuties ❤

50. Finally, I learned the most about myself. I learned that I am a risk taker, I like surprising people and myself with what I can do, whether it be writing a story in a couple hours about a fire scare in an academic building without an adequate amount of training or resources or leads; writing a post for a blog known around the world; making the decision to leave everything I know and live in a new country for a whole semester; surprising someone I love with 50 cat facts all over her side of the room; praying outside of an abortion clinic; fearlessly knock on strangers doors to promote a political candidate. Even the choice to leave my family and friends in Colorado to live in Ohio (of all places) without any inclination what the Lord was calling me to do with my time in college was a huge risk. People are different here, the air is different here (literally), the lifestyle is different. But I’m glad I decided to make the move.

I’m going to miss Ohio like crazy next year. I’m spending fall semester studying in Austria, then taking an internship in Washington D.C. for the spring semester, which means I won’t be walking around as a true student at Franciscan for a little while. I admit, it makes me sad thinking about that because this hill is my absolute favorite place in the whole world. This year has been long and difficult. Many temptations have risen that I haven’t had to face before and a lot of insecurities resurfaced. However, the Lord blessed me with such amazing opportunities that I will be forever grateful for. If you were to tell me a year ago everything that has happened this year, I would find it difficult to believe. Never in a million years did I think I would go to Austria so soon, write a blog for one of my favorite organizations, win writer of the year, or make friendships that will last a lifetime. I wouldn’t take back a single moment of any part of the year. Despite the stress and the struggles I wouldn’t want to have any of them any where else.

Okay y’all. I’m about to get sentimental. So last week was a tough week. I had a lot of tests and assignments due. I didn’t get a lot of sleep. A lot of things were happening and among those things was that I got into a huge argument with my best friend. After all of the hugs and tears, we made up. In the midst of all of that, I wrote this with no intention of showing it to anybody. But here it is; 55 reasons she is best friend, my soul sister, and my person. Find your person, because it’s awesome. Love you buddy!

  1.       We are two imperfect people who have refused to give up on each other.
  2.       We spend a lot of time laughing about what messes we are.
  3.       We are okay with silence. We don’t feel the need to fill every second with words.
  4.       She’s the one that my future spouse has to really win over.
  5.       She is literally my therapist, and probably the best one I’ll ever have cause she’s unafraid to tell me if I’m just being dumb.
  6.       Our Snapchats get uglier as time goes on. They tend to get grosser and uglier as time goes on.
  7.       We act like an old married couple. We are not afraid to  carelessly bicker, and when we really are mad, we can’t stay mad for long because we have important stuff to tell each other!
  8.       We are not embarrassed to cry in front of each other.
  9.       We make room for each other in the other’s life, even when life is crowded and busy.
  10.   She is able to ferret out my secrets when I really want to talk, but can’t quite bring myself to do it.
  11.   Our favorite nights are staying in with each other, watching Once Upon a Time, and just being together.
  12.   My parents ask about her when they call.
  13.   I’m as needy as heck and she tolerates it. I could yell PAY ATTENTION TO ME and she actually will.
  14.   We have code names and words that are not subtle at all when we use them in conversation and when our conversations are so infused with them we actually sound insane.
  15.   We’re Facebook friends with each other’s families.
  16.   We’ve stopped keeping track of who owes who what in terms of money borrowed it’ll probably even itself out eventually.
  17.   We know what the other needs when they are upset (chocolate and cheesy parodies of Frozen songs).
  18.   We live in different states while school is on break, communication is tough, but when we get back, we’re still as weird and dysfunctional as ever before.
  19.   You bring your problems to me and let me help you solve them
  20.   We are dangerous together because when out and about because we feed off each other and just spiral into insanity.
  21.   There are a few things lurking in my past and you’re the only one who knows about them- but you don’t hold them against me.
  22.   We knew we were going to be best friends as soon as you met. You still don’t know how or why. We really are nothing alike
  23.   Sometimes you give me tough love when I really need gentle love- but I know that’s because you’re worried about me.
  24.   We take pride in each other’s accomplishments.
  25.   We’ve hit a few rough spots, but with love and patience we smoothed them out.
  26.   The good, the bad and the ugly- we’ve been through them all and we’re still friends.
  27.   One hug from you is worth 10 from any other friend.
  28.   You never get clingy, but you don’t mind if I occasionally do.
  29.   Sometimes you don’t have time for me. That might make me sad or hurt for a while, but hey, you’ll be back. The same goes for me.
  30.   You always know the right thing to say.
  31.   We pray for each other.
  32.   You laugh at my horrible jokes.
  33.   You send me encouraging texts and messages at critical moments and I send them to you, too.
  34.   Sometimes we’re under a lot of stress and we snap at each other. Look, these things happen between friends. We get past it.
  35.   You know my dark side and I know yours. No judgments.
  36.   We don’t look alike and we don’t sound alike- but we think alike on all the important things and that’s what counts.
  37.   When I’m procrastinating hopelessly, you give me the push I need to get going.
  38.   When people talk to me and they understand that you’re the exception to the confidentiality rule.
  39.   Almost all of our college stories start with “So this one time, Hannah/Sarah and I….”
  40.   No topic is off limits, no boundary has gone uncrossed by the duality of our fierceness when the other is hurting.
  41.   Occasionally we get sentimental and tell the other how we’d be alone/miserable/dead without them. Probably not often enough.
  42.   It’s cliche but we do actually do reference our wedding speeches for each other or how our kids will grow up together.
  43.   We are able to glance at each other in a group conversation and when we’re finally alone we start saying I knew what you were thinking, Is that what you were thinking? OH MY GOD YES THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING!!!!
  44.   We know each other’s favorite songs by heart.
  45.   If I’m way out of line, she’ll tell me. If I’m doing a good job, she’ll tell me too.
  46.   We consider words such as jerkface, poopface, meanypants terms of endearment.
  47.   While shopping we see things that the other person would like and yell at them to come. We find things for the other more than we find things for ourself.
  48.   We share food.
  49.   We are comfortable with judging each other.
  50.   We know the other’s salad toppings.
  51.   We tell each other every little, pointless, dumb thing that happens in the day because somehow everything means something and for some reason, the other really does care who you were sitting with in lab and what offhand comment Harold made in Ethics. Essentially, we talk about basically nothing all day and yet it’s always fascinating conversation.
  52.   We always understand each other, even before we tell the other what’s wrong. We’ve to developed  this telepathic understanding of each other, and that’s what makes us inseparable.
  53.   The things that we laugh at would make no sense to anybody else.
  54.   No one else gives me the total attention the way she does when I have a problem or just need to talk.
  55.   No argument or disagreement would ever end our friendship.

Why I Write

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Free Writing
Tags: , ,

I’ve always loved writing. I don’t know what it is about it that I enjoy. I’m just able to communicate better on paper than I do with my mouth. My hands can keep up with my busy mind better than my lips ever could. I feel less afraid of being judged or saying something stupid. It’s a way for me to feel heard, even if no one reads what I write.

In kindergarten and 1st grade, my best friend at the time and I would sit in her basement and think of stories to tell. I would write them down, and she would draw the pictures. We would come up with these elaborate stories and spend hours brainstorming agreeing and disagreeing. Sometimes we would act it out.

Once we wrote a story about two young girls who got lost in a magical forest. It didn’t have much of a plot, however, we would go into my backyard where there were a row trees for us to explore in, then decide where the story would take us next.

I like telling stories, whether they are true or made up. Stories are how we connect with people. It’s how we get to know them. When making new friends, you tell them about your past experiences, that’s a story, more importantly, your story.

Telling someone your own story about your past is probably one of the best ways to tell someone you love them. It means that a sense of trust has been established and they are almost sharing a piece of themselves with me. I value that, which is probably why it’s often times so difficult for me open up and talk about myself. It takes a lot of time and an established sense of trust.

Sometimes, I like being a mystery too.

However, I never saw myself being a journalist until my senior year of high school. I wanted to be an author who writes long and elaborate novels that would land on the local book shelves. I wanted to go to college and major in Theology and Catechetics, graduate and get a job as a youth minister and be a freelance writer on the side until I had my big bestseller and I could quit my job and write.

But then I discovered journalism, in the most random way possible. I was okay with this sudden change of plans and joined the school newspaper. I could talk to people, learn their stories and opinions and not have to share mine. It’s okay for me to ask stupid questions for the sake of wanting a quote and gaining knowledge on something I would otherwise have no interest in.

I did an article on Franciscan’s new core. My interview with the VP of Academic Affairs ran almost an hour long, not to mention the other interviews I did with other faculty and students at Franciscan. That article gave me a new perspective on the core. I still despise it, but I understand why it was created and appreciate the education that I am getting.

I did an interview with the father of a young family who is an alum of Franciscan and won a national contest. In the middle of the interview, this man requested that I turn off my recording device and be off the record to tell me the story of how he and his family struggled economically, living with his wife’s parents with their kids struggling to afford diapers, and how sense winning the contest, they moved into an apartment and he found the courage to start his own business and be successful, allowing his wife to stay home more often with his their kids.

I was touched. He told me this story to because he trusted me and wanted me to better understand the impact that the contest had on his family to write the article with a new respect.

I write because of those moments. To hear the stories of how people got to where they are now. I write to find where people are most vulnerable and try to find a beauty in it. I write because often times the unknown stories are the best stories. I write because sometimes I’m too much of a coward to use my actual voice. And that’s okay.

It’s very rare that I know what I’m doing. Most of the time, I completely wing it and write whatever comes to mind. Rarely do I have a plan. I’m not patient enough to have a plan. Planned writing seems to concrete. It’s the free flowing writing where the best material comes. It’s why I hate editing my own stuff.

Above all, I write because I love it.

Fun fact of the day: Out of the billions and billions of people that have lived and died in the world, there are only two people who are truly without sin. They are literally Mr. and Mrs. Perfect who never do wrong. They are like that person in high school or college that you kind of secretly want to dislike, but they are so awesome and nice that you physically can’t. You sit and wonder, “Is it just me or do they just not have a bad day?”

Mary ant the Baby Jesus

Mary and the baby Jesus

Person numero uno, is my dearest confirmation saint, Mama Mary. Here’s her dirty little secret, she still suffered and had bad days. The woman carried Christ for 9 months in her womb with threats of being stoned or exiled looming over her head. She also had to watch the same child suffer and die the most painful death known to man. Jesus hung on the cross for over two hours, not to mention the hours of watching him carry the cross out of Jerusalem and watching him be beaten and humiliated by the Romans before he was sentenced to death.

The second, of course is Christ, who had a really bad day. I won’t go into detail of exactly the suffering he went through, but many theologians would argue that God chose to die on the cross during that specific era of history because it’s designed to be painful and long. The Romans found satisfaction in their victims suffering.

I’ve been Catholic my whole life and if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that being Catholic doesn’t always feel very good. You see these saints and expect to see them dancing around a daisy field, hand in hand with God and everything is peachy all the time. We are persecuted, we are tempted, we are tried. Being Catholic is about over coming that with God in sight.

How do we overcome those sufferings? The main think that has to be done is that we have to know who God is. The journey to the Lord is the longest journey that you will ever take in your life. For most people, it takes a lifetime. I’m still working on that journey. There are good days where I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress and then days in which it feels like I’ve taken 20,000 steps in the wrong direction.

You could be a platinum member of every airline in the world and it’s still the hardest. I’m pretty sure climbing Mt. Everest is easier than the journey to Him.

But y’all, he is there with his arms wide open and ready to love you. He isn’t leaving you hanging, waiting for you to find him. The only thing keeping you from him, is you. Learn to accept him. Accept that He is real and alive and he loves you

genie-lampOne of the things that you have accept is that God is not a Genie. You can’t rub a lamp and expect him to grant all of your heart’s desire. Don’t treat him like a Genie. I tried it, and I’m here to tell y’all that it doesn’t work. He’s not a genie, he’s a lover who is only going to give you exactly what you need. He loves you so much, and sometimes, in order to grow closer to him, suffering is necessary.

When you were little, and you got a scrape, you ran home to your mom to kiss it and give you a band aid. The same thing works for God. Run to Him with all your scratches and bruises and He will kiss it and make it all better. The difference between someone who goes to Heaven or to Hell is that the ones who go to Heaven are the ones that say, “I need you, Lord. I can’t do this without you.”

Jesus is calling you to him and begging you to stop running away. He is screaming, “I know your sin; I understand your sin! I know it better than you do! Let me fix it and make you whole again!” Your sin is not too big for God. You have not seen him flex. The only sin that the Lord can’t forgive, is the one that you don’t ask forgiveness for.  No matter what you’ve done, you are not your sin or your failures. You are the sum of the Father’s love; what makes you is God’s love.

He sees your potential more than you do. He cares more about you than anyone else in the world. He thinks about you more than anyone else.  The Lord makes over 4,000 promises in the Bible . Imagine how many more he has made to each and everyone of us that aren’t documented in the Bible? One of the things He promised is that  He will not give us a pain He knows we can’t handle and overcome. He promised that when He died for us. Because He died, we don’t have to endure the same pain and suffering that he did. It’s okay to get angry at God.  He can take it and give you peace.

1003285_10151697209994742_96657247_nBut forgiveness is crucial on this journey. Because of forgiveness the person I was before is not the person I am now. It’s not the person I have to be anymore. Y’all I am endorsing the Jesus thing, I tried the Jesus thing. It works.

You can run from God. You can be the fastest runner who wins all of the Olympic Gold medals, but God can run faster. You can play hide and seek, but the Lord has had thousands and thousands of years playing hide and seek with sinners and you will loose that game. Go to confession, get your sins out in the open. People are so afraid to got to church, but  Church is not a museum for saints; it’s a hospital for sinners. You will not shock the priest because (believe it or not) he’s a sinner too.

After word vomiting all of that onto you guys, I leave y’all with one last message. If you are going to take one thing from this post, take this:

Only Jesus can turn a mess, into a message;
a test, into a testimony;
a trial into a triumph;
a victim into victory.
He is worthy to be praised.

A few nights ago, I was sitting in Golden Corral with my family to celebrate a couple birthdays.  In my family, all the birthdays fall into a couple different parts of the year (February/March, June/July, August, and November), so around that time, the entire extended family get together for dinner to celebrate.

I had just gotten back from school for spring break the night before and was still recovering from the time change and the late night of traveling. My mom was sitting across the table from me talking to the people around us about my school. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something along the lines of, “Franciscan has such a wonderful, conservative environment.”

That’s when I zoned back into the conversation and felt the need to correct her that it’s not the conservative environment that Franciscan University of Steubenville is known for, its the Catholic environment. To my mom’s credit, she was talking to my dad’s side of the family who aren’t Catholic, and have very strong conservative views, so she may have said that due to the audience, but I really felt a need to clarify this confusion:

Franciscan University is not a conservative school, it’s Catholic. YAF-logo

At the beginning of the school year, the Young America’s Foundation released a list of its Top Conservative Colleges to give young Conservatives a list of schools that will allow them to harden and deepen their conservative values. Franciscan University was on the list.  I don’t disagree with YAF’s categorizing Franciscan University, especially since it did acknowledge Franciscan’s Religious Environment. However, it’s political standing should not influence a student’s decision to go there.

Franciscan has never classified itself to one political view. As long as the Franciscan TOR friars and sisters are there, it probably never will. Some folks would argue that is does declare itself a conservative organization due to its involvement in the March for Life and opposition to the HHS mandate.

marchforlife2Franciscan sent aprox. 500 students to the 2014 March for Life earlier this January. Student’s braved the cold to march for those who couldn’t. They go every year because its students are passionate about defending every human’s right to life. They even have  a small tomb where the bodies of aborted babies have been laid to rest where students can pray and meditate.

Franciscan was also among the first universities to speak out against the HHS mandate, particularly because it forced employers to pay for late term abortions.  They even went as far as to file a federal law suit which was later dropped.

Due to both of these events, as well as many others, many have confused Franciscan for being a Conservative University. But both issues are a result of Franciscan University sticking to its Catholic identity. Students who attend Franciscan go because it is “Academically Excellent and Passionately Catholic”. Over 700 students attend daily mass and the same number join the on-campus faith households.

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Franciscan University Tomb of the Unborn Child where the bodies of aborted children have been laid to rest.

It just created a new core in order to help students become better informed and educated classes, requiring all students to take at least 9 credit hours on the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and on Christian Morals and Principles. The presence of the TORs is crucial in maintaining that Catholic identity that survived the 70s and 80s, unlike other Catholic institutions like University of Notre Dame, Gonzaga University, Creighton University, and Georgetown University (just to name a few).

I really encourage y’all, when discussing Franciscan University, don’t call it conservative. While it is a very conservative university with very similar ideas and missions, it’s not. It’s never identified itself as conservative. It’s Catholic. It runs based on what the Catholic Church teaches and knows is true.

Franciscan is a wonderful school that produces incredible young Catholics who are so passionate about their faith and using it for good.  Even in the seven  months I have attended, I have decided to no longer identify myself as a conservative like I did in high school. I (like Francican) am Catholic, both politically and religiously.

We all have little things that stay with us, long into our adult years. They are things that we close our eyes and remember and feel joyful and remember. For me, that image is Michelangelo’s Pieta.  Random right? I don’t know why, but it’s definitely my absolute favorite work of art.

I remember visiting my Grandparents in small town Nebraska as a little girl. I always got so excited to visit my grandparents because of how simple life was. Everybody in the town knew and loved each other. People went to church every Sunday and attended the high school football game on Friday. It was okay to show up to someone’s house unannounced, they would always have a baked good and a glass of water prepared.

One special treat I got to enjoy while visiting them was that I got to have Strawberry Toaster Strudels topped with frosting for breakfast. It was perfectly sweet with just enough crunch that went perfect with an ice cold glass of milk and apple slices. I never had them at home because they were on the super unhealthy side and I could not (and still can’t) eat them in moderation. I would wake up early and sit alone at the breakfast table while the grownups got dressed and ready for the day. In my Grandparent’s kitchen, there was a little indent in the wall where their was a crucifix and a rosary displayed, and a miniature replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

I remembering sitting at breakfast, facing the wall to look at the display and absolutely marveling at it. I thought it was the most beautiful statue in the world sitting right by my breakfast table.  I could’ve stared at the tiny statue forever if I could.  I loved Mary’s beautiful porcelain face mourning for her crucified son. If you looked really closely, it almost seems that Jesus was smiling as he laid in his mother’s arms.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized their was a full size version at the Vatican for viewers to see. I learned more about the incredible artist who created it, and about the damage done to it when it was attacked by a hammer during Pentecost Sunday in 1972, which made me feel absolutely sick.

Ironically, I joined a household at Franciscan University of Stuebenville that has an image of the Pieta on its wall of the common room. We have a small replica, very similar to the one my grandparents had, sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room, which used to belong to Franciscan’s former president, Father Michael Scanlon TOR, who is the man responsible for growing Franciscan to the university it is today. It sat in his room at the old friary until the new friary was built and he had left Franciscan. He gave the replica to Father Gregory, the household coordinator,  to give to a household who he thought would honor and venerate it.

Every once and a while, during rosary or Lord’s Day, I’ll find myself marveling at the image on the wall or at the tiny replica, admiring its detail and the beauty of the mother and son, remembering the days when I stumbled into the kitchen in my Winnie the Pooh pajamas to eat my breakfast.

In a matter of a few months, I’ll get to see it, live and in person. I’m not one to stand and marvel at a statue or a painting. I’ll glance and look it over, then move on. I don’t know how I’ll react. Maybe I’ll stand there and marvel at it until my group drags me away, or maybe I’ll walk by, take a few pictures, and move on. I don’t know.

I’m not sure where the little statue is that used to belong to my grandparents. It was packed away when my grandma moved out of her house. It could be in a box somewhere at one of my aunts and uncles houses. I never asked the story of where my grandma got it.  I’ll have to remember to when I see her at my cousin’s wedding this summer.

I do know that it’s an image that will reside with me for the rest of my life. It’s something that I want to have sitting in my house someday for my children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to marvel at. Maybe it’ll speak to them like it spoke to me as a little girl and now, as a college girl trying to get through midterms and anticipating studying abroad in Europe.

When I do see the real thing, I’ll let y’all know what I think…

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More Info on the Pieta:

Anniversary of the 1972 attack on Michelangelo’s Pieta

The Making of the Pieta

 From Saint Peter’s Basilica