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Eureka! A Patron Saint for this Blog!

Albertus Magnus, where have you been my whole life?!?!
After much searching and many default prayers to St. Benedict regarding incubator contamination (among other things that went awry in the lab)...I have finally found the patron saint of scientists! His name, St. Albert the Great aka ALBERTUS MAGNUS! 

According to Wikipedia, his interests included logic, theology, botany,  geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry, zoology, physiology, etc. Less reputable sources (*cough* *cough) even claimed that Albertus Magnus discovered the Philosopher's Stone. How do you like them apples, Nicholas Flamel!?! (Sorry, I had to throw that in there...being the Harry Potter nut that I am.)

Apparently, Albertus Magnus did dabble in all sorts of science and alchemy...on top of being an advisor to the Pope...eventually becoming on of 34 Doctors of the Church! However, that is not all! Word on the street is that he even mentored Thomas of Aquinas! Talk about awesome....and considering how tough St. Thomas of Aquinas's works are to tough to digest, Albertus Magnus must have been a genius!

On a more religious note, it was Our Lady who instructed him to join the Dominican Order. Even though he had such a great mind for science, he listened to her! One of the things that really spoke volumes to me (besides the dozens of books he wrote in his life time) was that Albertus Magnus (this name is really just too awesome to use only once) advocated a peaceful coexistence of science and religion! 

Peaceful coexistence of science and religion!!! This is what I advocate in my own daily life! 

Considering how this blog blends science geekery as well as all that is good and Catholic, The Catholic Science Geek now has a patron saint! I will have to make Albertus Magnus a permanent fixture here once my finals are complete! 

"The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature."
 ~Albertus Magnus

Can you say "intellectual crush?" I feel like a teenage girl gushing over insert celebrity heart throb here's latest haircut. Albertus Magnus had me at "not simply accept the statements of others." My geeky heart is all aflutter. I have to hunt down a medal for this guy to add to my collection (I think I have ~17 that I carry with me on a daily basis and a few more lying around in my room). I really hope this saint is ready for all the neuro-related prayers heading his way! I need all the intercession I can get these days!

Pax Vobiscum

New Translation Review

On this last day of Thanksgiving break, I attended mass at Saint Pete's with my family. There were three major changes since I last visited home...and I liked them.

First Change: 
There was a new statue of La Santissima Virgen del cisne (Blessed Lady of the Swan). Saint Pete's church has been home to a long line of immigrants, and each one seems to bring their own traditions. We had a wave of Germans, followed by Italians, followed by Portuguese, followed by Brazilian, followed by all sorts of South American and Eastern Europeans. I've been around since the Portuguese wave and remember when all we had was the one statue of Our Lady of Fatima. With the Brazilian influx to Saint Pete's came a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Aparecida. Now, we have the Lady of the Swan. I'm all for cultural diversity and Our Lady, so I welcome this change wholeheartedly. 

Second Change:
With all the Thanksgiving hubbub, I completely forgot about what time of year it was until I walked into the church and saw all the purple. At first, I wondered where all the green went...then it hit me. IT'S ADVENT. You know what this means (no, it doesn't mean shopping season). It means that we, as Catholics, are in "Anticipation mode." It means that we are awaiting and preparing for the coming of the Christ Child. Forget Black Friday specials and all the crappy holiday music (I will probably have to start a petition to have "Christmas Shoes" banned this year)...this season is about something far more great than we can ever imagine. All that purple in all these churches is here to remind us about what this season is all about, before we're tempted to pepper spray or shoot fellow bargain-hunting shoppers

Third Change:
Okay, I admit it. I messed up the words 4 times. The first time caught me by surprise. The second time was because I wasn't paying attention as I should have been. I caught myself midway through the third time (which I had recited out of habit even with the translation sheet in front of me). However, it was too late to correct myself, so I kept going anyway. The fourth time, I managed to correct myself as soon as I started. I was tempted to make it not count towards my final score, but ultimately decided to keep it. Even with all of this said, I liked this change the most. Why?
Roman Missal III: SAME MASS, DIFFERENT WORDS
Well, I learned all of my prayers in Portuguese. My parents were Portuguese, my CCD classes were in Portuguese, and my catechism was in Portuguese. Our family even went to Portuguese mass for most of my childhood. As a result, I ended up forming most of my religious life around this language. I find that this new translation is a lot closer to the prayers and responses present in Portuguese masses and masses all over the world. it is more similar to all of the masses I have ever attended outside of the United States. This, in turn, leads me to believe that this new translation brings more unity to our Church. 

Call me crazy, but I think that these translations also explain and describe things a lot better. Truth be told, I never understood "begotten not made, one in being with the Father" part of the English Creed (please see my previous post on this). What does "one in being with the Father mean?" Does it mean that God and Christ dwell in the same place? Does it mean that they're the same person? Does it mean that they share the same way of thinking? Is it a place that they occupy together, a way of thinking that they share, or is it a state of being that Christ somehow achieved? Do you see how this translation could lead to all sorts of heresy (for  people like me at least). Okay, so let's toss this part out and replace it with the new translation "consubstantial with the Father."

Consubstantial means "being of the same substance', meaning that Christ is of the same substance as the father. This, in turn, reiterates the "true God and true man" part of the divine praises (see below)...as well as some of the most important theological teachings of the Church. The beauty of it is that it uses one word....only ONE WORD (consubstantial) to summarize something that even a CCD teacher could stumble through if some kid went up to them in the middle of class and asked them to explain what "one in being with the father" meant. Call me paranoid, but can you see how something so seemingly innocuous as the older translation could easily become a breeding ground for heresy?

While this is the only part of the mass that was tough for me to really interpret, an analysis of the "new missal changes" cards given to us at the beginning of mass seemed to ground my feelings regarding the new translation. As much as I am used to the old sayings, phrases, and greetings I've used in mass for 20 odd years, we needed these new translations. They clarify some of the more old school theology and do away with some of the wishy-washy terminology we've been using since Vatican II. I am not saying that the old translation was terrible. It was more like a temporary alternative that was never meant to last as long as it did following a translation of our mass from Latin to England. Following Vatican II, mass had to be translated from Latin to insert language here. It was a lot easier for our European counterparts to come up with suitable translations because their own romance languages were very similar to Latin. However, considering how only about 60% of English is derived from Latin, we did lose some things in the transition...and I'm glad we're finally retrieving them several decades later. Better late than never.


Pax Vobiscum


Let me now end this post with a quick (and calorie-free) Latin treat for anyone still trying to recover from all the times they messed up the new translation in mass this weekend:


The Divine Praises                                                Laudes Divinae

English version:Latin Version:
Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name.Benedictus Deus. Benedictum Nomen Sanctum eius.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.Benedictus Iesus Christus, verus Deus et verus homo.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.Benedictum Nomen Iesu.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.Benedictum Cor eius sacratissimum.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.Benedictus Sanguis eius pretiosissimus.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.Benedictus Iesus in sanctissimo altaris Sacramento.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.Benedictus Sanctus Spiritus, Paraclitus.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.Benedicta excelsa Mater Dei, Maria sanctissima.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.Benedicta sancta eius et immaculata Conceptio.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.Benedicta eius gloriosa Assumptio.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.Benedictum nomen Mariae, Virginis et Matris.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.Benedictus sanctus Ioseph, eius castissimus Sponsus.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.   Benedictus Deus in Angelis suis, et in Sanctis suis. Amen.

First World Problems

In this day and age, we tend to feel sorry for ourselves over the smallest things....and complain about extremely trivial matters aka "first world problems." We tend to freak out over these things in our lives, even when these problems are NOTHING compared to what other people are suffering across the world. We have no right to complain about half of the stuff that causes us to use our 4-letter word vocabulary list.

My own first world problems of the day:


  • I lost my all-time favorite hat today. I lost it somewhere between a velvety kneeler at the front of St. Paul's Chapel (behind the organ) and my front row seat in Neurobiology. It's either in one of those buildings or outside on  a handicap access ramp, lost forever in a waterlogged and extremely uneven brick walkway,  or even stolen away by some squirrel (unlikely but still somewhat plausible). I may never find out. However, I am kind of upset by this. My sisters won it for me in some sort of raffle and it is a hat that suits me well. It screams "Rutgers Pride." Yes, it's one of those hats... red with black, flannel-lined ear flaps that I can tie around my chin, a tiny little puff at the top, and a monstrously huge "R" right above the forehead. I'm going to miss that hat...because it suited my own eccentricity so well.
  • My 4GB mp3 player died on me. I have all of the music saved on my computer, but there is a slight chance that I have one or two lectures saved on it...that weren't saved on my computer. I haven't had the courage to do a full inventory of the damage. I use it for my music and lecture-recording backup in case my 8GB gets full or runs out of batteries before I can get to my computer. 
  • The banana I packed for lunch was a bruised, soggy mess by lunchtime.
  • Rain + extremely uneven brick walkway + cloth shoes = ICY COLD FEET
  • Pandora started playing Christmas music before advent.  For the record, I am one of those people who hold off on Christmas music until at least mid-December. Usually, I only start playing Christmas music so late that I almost miss the Christmas music season altogether. This is great for those of us who can't stand that awful "Christmas Shoes" song...but terrible for those of us who happen to love my future husband's rendition of "Oh Holy Night."

Sorry, I could not resist Josh Groban in all of his beautiful, singing glory...


Yeah, I know. First world problems...which is why I have no right to complain. Fortunately, I have learned to be thankful.

  • Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow. As much as I love the food, it's not the most important thing for me during this day. The important thing about this holiday, for me at least, is that I get to see my family for the first time in weeks...and I even get to see some extended family for the first time since this summer. Being a PhD student, I don't get to see my family as often as I would like even though we live in the same state. Therefore, the mere fact that Thanksgiving brings us all together is enough to make me excited for this day. 
  • I got to go to Saint Paul's chapel today and got a good 10 minutes of peace in an otherwise hectic day. 
  • I made a great cup of tea during lunch.
  • I had a few laughs in the lab today. 
  • God has given me a pretty sweet life. There are so many people out there so much worse off than I am. A look at Penn Station on a typical morning or night will show you just how many people out there have nothing. There were so many homeless people at Penn Station tonight and it was very sad. It was especially sad because so many of them were just there trying to get some sleep and shelter from the rain. 
  • My 8 gig mp3 player is still alive and kicking (along with all of the lectures I have stored on it).
The list could go on and on...and fortunately, I am able to acknowledge a lot of the positives in my life. Even if there aren't too many positives to go around...God's given me a pretty good sense of humor. I can, and usually do appreciate the humor of pretty much any situation...

...and I do mean ANY situation. A good example of this was the first New Year's Eve after my mom passed away. So many terrible things had happened that year that my family just wanted that year to end. Well, the Portuguese eat a lot of fish during the holidays and we had an octopus in a pressure cooker. At some point, my dad had lost the heavy little knob you place on top of the pressure cooker lid to allow the air to escape while keeping the contents pressurized.  He replaced it with a tiny stick. I guess the stick must have expanded due to the humidity of the steam being released and this, in turn,  must have prevented the release of the rapidly expanding air within the pressure cooker. Needless to say, the pressure built up and next thing you know BOOM!!! ....Octopus on the walls. Octopus on the floor. Octopus on the ceiling. Octopus on every appliance. Octopus on the windows. Octopus on every kitchen surface imaginable...including the blown up pressure cooker. 

It would be an understatement to say that the idea of cleaning the now-pink kitchen was pretty depressing. However, in the middle of this...I start laughing. I imagine telling my grandchildren about this event and their reactions...and laugh until my sides hurt. My entire family still laughs about this story now...but it really was depressing at the time that it happened...and even then, I was laughing. 

Attitude is everything when it comes to living your life. No matter how many things go wrong in our daily lives, we will never have a bad day if we make the most of it. A teacher told me this in middle school and I have tried to make the best out of each day ever since...and it's worked. Forget buying "Eat, Pray, Love" and forget all those books by Joel Osteen....you don't need any of them. You will also save a fortune at the local bookstore. 
Ignore the nice smile...and gorgeous hair...
YOU DON'T NEED THIS BOOK.
Just stick to what this teacher told me in middle school. Or, if you prefer something a little more official: 
"In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things; hold fast that which is good. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves. And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful who hath called you, who also will do it."
~Thessalonians 5:18-24

Be thankful for what you have at all times and appreciate it all. If you are able to read this blog right now, I assure you that God's got you covered...

Pax Vobiscum



Oh, and since I share a confirmation name with this saint, I can't end the post without saying happy feast of Saint Cecelia!
Saint Cecilia
John William Waterhouse
1895


Would this be offensive?

As much as I love awarding the "Catholic Facepalm" to things that are otherwise classified as "epic fails" and the "Cool Catholic" award to cool Catholics,  I have come to the conclusion that my award system is incomplete. My award system needs some form of positive reinforcement that can be awarded to people, places, ideas, things, etc. that may or may not be Catholic. They must, of course, be awesome in some way. While searching for nun pictures yesterday, I came across a picture that I thought was pretty awesome and would like to make an award out of it called the "21 Nun Salute." It would, of course, be an award of honor similar to the military's "21 Gun Salute." With this award, I will finally be able to award all sorts of awesome people, places, things, and ideas!



My only problem is while I think this idea would be awesome, I don't want to offend anyone out there. Any thoughts?

Pax Vobiscum

Saint George to the Next Level

I just had to share the doodle I started yesterday...because it may just be the most badass Catholic thing I have ever started doodling. You've seen St. George slay a dragon...but have you ever seen him defeating a dragon several times his size by driving a shield into it's mouth and then delivering a mortal blow with a two-handed sword? Exactly...which is why I had to share. Perhaps I may have to show the finished product (which may take anywhere between a day to a year or so...depending on how much time I have on my hands).

In case you are interested, King Arthur is the runner up for most badass Catholic doodle (King Arthur would have been Catholic if he ever existed).



And in third place, is my quasi-Catholic work is this triptych depicting Beren and Luthien. My defense for adding this work to the list? Well, Tolkien was Catholic and Beren was badass. That's close enough for me to add Silmarillion-based art to this list. 


What do you call a sleepwalking nun?

A ROAMIN' CATHOLIC!

Get it!?!? This was the best Laffy Taffy joke I have ever and will ever find.

While looking for a suitable picture for this Laffy Taffy joke post, I came across this pretty awesome article. It's almost two years old, but I enjoyed it. While I am not the biggest fan of Oprah and though this is the only time I have ever read anything on the site, or even visited the site for that matter, I got to say...it's pretty good. It features what life is like with the Dominican Sisters of Mary in Detroit. Apparently, this particular order is doing pretty well. Some of the stories these women had are pretty incredible.

One stood out in particular...
Sister Francis Mary...
One of the most awesome people on the internet.
Sister Francis Mary, now 26, says she received the calling when she was 22. Though she was baptized Catholic, Sister Francis Mary says she wasn't particularly religious. In fact, she thought she was meant to marry her serious boyfriend, who was also Catholic.
All of that changed when her boyfriend invited Sister Francis Mary to see his own sister take her vows to become a nun. "Something within me changed," she says. "All of a sudden, I knew that Christ wanted me for himself. And it was mind-boggling. I was afraid."
Eventually, she had to tell her boyfriend of her new life plan. "We both cried," she says. "He was really shocked at first, but then again he was extremely supportive and I am so grateful to him."
As it turns out, God had plans for her boyfriend as well. "God takes care of everything," she says. "He's going to be ordained a priest the same year I make my final vows."
Talk about awesome story! I highly suggest reading this article. It pretty much made my fruitless search for a relevant sleepwalking nun photograph worth it. Word to the wise: Be sure to turn on some sort of content filter when Google image searching anything nun-related. There are some pretty gross people out there with pretty disgusting imaginations...which can only mean there are more people out there in serious need of prayer.

Is it really that big of a deal?

I came across this "making mountains out of mole hills" article today and could not help but shake my head.


I've never been an altar server and I couldn't care less whether the altar servers are boys are girls. Most of the time, I don't even pay attention to them. If I was forced under pain of death to tell you whether the altar servers at mass today were male or female...I'd be a dead woman. Why? BECAUSE I WAS THERE FOR CHRIST. I wasn't there as part of a feminist movement. I wasn't there for my own personal agenda. I wasn't there to stir a ruckus. I was there to witness the miracle of transubstantiation, and worship God along with my fellow Catholic Christians.

This is exactly the type of insignificant garbage that really makes me wonder why some people go to mass. Do they go there for Christ? Do they go there for social hour? Do they go there to show off their newest ensemble? Do they go there out of habit? Do they go there more for appearances than they do out of good faith?

In this article, some mother allegedly just started attending a particular church in Virginia. This church apparently does not allow female altar servers. Why? Well, they want to reserve this role for males. I'm a woman, and I couldn't care less about this. I'm sure they have their reasons, but I honestly don't care about whether altar servers are men or women.

The mother, apparently, did care. She cared so much that she burst into tears and ran to the bathroom because her two daughters could not be altar servers. I'm sure she had her reasons, but I honestly don't care about them either. You see, it's tiny and ridiculously insignificant things like this that take away from the grand scheme of things when it comes to mass.

Mass isn't about doing what we want. It's not about upstaging Christ. It's about Christ being the center of our lives. It's about coming together as a community to serve and adore Christ for his sacrifice and love...not about flower arrangements, music selections, and whether or not you like guitar mass. It's about partaking in the mystery of the Eucharist and being part of a living, breathing community of people who wish to do the same...a community of people who believe as you believe.

How in the world this makes national news is beyond me. Papa Benedict is finishing up his historic tour of Africa, but none of his messages of peace and hope are being broadcast in the media. Thousands of Catholics are out there serving their brothers and sisters in some of the poorest places on earth, but none of this makes it to the media. We got miracles happening all over the world as we speak, but none of this makes it onto the news. All we see on the news is another article of Evil Church vs. Woman, sex abuse scandal, Evil Church vs. Abortion, sex abuse scandal, Evil Church vs. Contraceptions, sex abuse scandal, Evil Church vs. Other Evil Religions, sex abuse scandal, Evil Church vs. insert new group here.

It really never ends and considering my own experiences with the Catholic Church, I know that quite a few of these are taken out of context and out of proportion. Don't get me wrong, there are members of the Church that have messed up big time and did deserve the bad press about it. However, do we all (collectively) really need to get lumped together into the "bad guy" group to be dragged through the coals over and over again for everything these days? Needless to say, this women altar servers article got ugly pretty fast. It quickly went from a simple matter into an article about sexism, the Church's "need" for women padres and modernization, etc. and that's without even going into the comments section.

My advice to the mother of two daughters: FIND ANOTHER PARISH. If being in the presence of Christ isn't enough to stop you from storming out of mass over the tiniest things, RE-EVALUATE YOUR RELIGIOUS LIFE. Instead of rushing off to do interviews with the local paper and pose for "victimized family" photos, consider going to the priest in charge first and address your grievances. If this doesn't work, just try that other Catholic Church around the corner. I can easily think of 4 alternative churches around my house that I can attend if I was bothered by something or other about the church I went to this morning. Therefore, I don't see you having to drive through state lines to attend a parish that suites your palate.

The Catholic Science Geek
CATHOLIC FACEPALM AWARD
This award goes to the media this time...
for making a mountain out of a molehill....again

*shakes head*

Anyone want to join me and this young whippersnapper to pray for unity within the Church?

Pax Vobiscum



As Prolife As....Our Lady of Guadalupe

‎"He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” (Luke 20:38)

....so none of this is necessary...EVER.
A long time ago in South America, human sacrifice was the norm. In those days, it was okay to sacrifice people. It was perfectly acceptable act and no one really questioned it. I'm sure if I was to go back in time and tell them that sacrificing people was an insane thing to do, they'd probably look at me like I had two heads. They would probably tell me that I had no business in interfering with their personal choice to take part in such a "normal" activity. They would tell me that it was for the greater good. They would tell me that it was a necessary action that would ultimately improve the quality of life for others. Human sacrifice was their way of appeasing the sun god and ensuring that there was enough to go around.
Though humans were being killed of by the dozens, hundreds, and even thousands...there were many that stayed silent. They probably did not really agree with human sacrifice and probably did not directly take part of it. They did not hold the sharp tool used to cut someone else's heart out. They probably did not get sacrificed themselves or even known anyone within their own circle that was sacrificed. Instead, they went on and lived their lives without ever raising a voice for their fellow human being. Some may have even supported the sacrifices.

Then something happened.

...a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars...
Describing herself as Coatlalopeuh in Aztec ("She Who Has Dominion over Serpents" in the common tongue), she stood before the sun. The importance of her own message triumphed over the image of the sun god. She came not to demand sacrifice, but to bring a gift. Her hands appear to be held in prayer. Yet, to the indigenous, her hands are held in a manner similar to their own when they give gifts (note how her pinkies are placed). A dark sash, similar to those worn by pregnant women, is tied around her waist. She brings the gift of salvation...a gift requiring no sacrifice because the ultimate sacrifice has already been paid. This God did not require His people to kill each other in His name. He came to  earth, was born of this woman, became man, and sacrificed Himself for us. Why? He loves us too much to demand that any of us be sacrificed for Him in the manner that had dominated the Aztec culture.

The world had no place for human sacrifice and so it was brought to an end.


The Same Story Retold (at some point in the future)

A long time ago in America, abortion was the norm. In those days, it was okay to sacrifice the unborn. It was perfectly acceptable act and no one really questioned it. I'm sure if I was to go back in time and tell them that killing the unborn was an insane thing to do, they'd probably look at me like I had two heads. They would probably tell me that I had no business in interfering with their personal choice to take part in such a "normal" activity. They would tell me that it was for the greater good. They would tell me that it was a necessary action that would ultimately improve the quality of life for others. Abortion was their way of appeasing the misguided abortion lobbyists, misguided feminist groups, misguided politicians, misguided overpopulation awareness groups...and their way of ensuring that there was enough to go around.

Though human children were being killed of by the dozens, hundreds, and even thousands...there were many that stayed silent. They probably did not really agree with abortion and probably did not directly take part of it. They did not hold the sharp tool used to cut someone else's child out. They probably did not get abortions or even known anyone within their own circle that had an abortion. Instead, they went on and lived their lives without ever raising a voice for their fellow human being. Some may have even supported abortion.

Then something happened....

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days. And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven
This world has no place for abortion and I am praying for its end. 

Care to join?

Pax Vobiscum



My Subway Buddy

Moses had to climb a mountain to get a religious experience. Saint Peter had to walk on water (almost drowning in the process). Saint Paul had to go blind. Saint Francis got the stigmata. The three shepherd children in Fatima  had to see the Blessed Virgin Mary. I got to go on a subway train ride.

So I was leaving school for the day on a packed platform, hoping to get a seat in the packed subway train that was rolling up. I had my rosary in hand because a friend of mine had posted that their grandmother was passing away from cancer. I was making good on my word to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for their grandmother. As the subway train screeched to a halt, I got super excited to find that there was a plethora of seats available towards the front of the car. My inner tired scientist rejoiced. As I walked in, a very intense odor hit my nose. This isn't the first time I got on a particularly smelly subway car. However, this was the strongest odor I had encountered to date. A split second upon entering the car, I realized why it was so empty. The smell was very strong and very terrible.

At first, I was too absorbed in prayer to notice the source of the smell...but after some time, I realized that it was coming from a homeless man who was seated at the very front by the door. One by one, everyone that had come into the car with me either got out of it or moved to the back. I, on the other hand, remained where I was. I offered up it up and continued to sit a few yards away from this man as I prayed.

Every so and so often, my eyes kept straying back to him. He was homeless. He had dread locks. He was overweight. He was wearing very shabby clothing. He looked like any other homeless man. None of this really caught my attention. What really caught my attention was his loneliness and acquiescence to his state of life. I wondered when he had last had human contact. Judging by how people were so repelled by the smell on the subway, I quickly surmised that he must have had very little human contact. I was so moved by pity for him that I started praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him after I took out the $2 in my wallet and put it in my pocket.

In intended to give the money to him as I left the train. When it comes to giving money or food to the poor, I tend to do it as I leave the car. I tend to stick out like a sore thumb when I am on the subway. I dress like a broke college student (because that's what I am for the most part), but I am usually the only white girl in her 20s riding the subway at certain times of the day. As a rule, I try playing the poor college student card as much as I can so I don't get mugged or robbed. I've had a few instances in my commute where I have been called something or have had someone try to intimidate or scare me because I didn't fit into a particular group...so I try not to draw too much unwanted attention. Also, I try to practice caution just in case the homeless person I am helping has some sort of mental instability (this has happened too). To make a long story short, I tend to give money or food as I am leaving a place.

Back to the story...

At one of the stops, a group of young men and a woman came in. They must have been in their twenties, or early thirties at most. As soon as they walked into the train (it was filling up at that point), they start being completely obnoxious. They literally start making fun of the homeless guy, pretending that they are spraying themselves with deodorant, and pretty much being the worst examples of humanity that they could possibly be. They start loudly making fun of everything about this homeless man. They loudly make fun of his weight, his smell...treating him like he has no dignity whatsoever. They start laughing raucously and some other passengers start joining in with the laughing.

A great example of righteous anger....
Christ Cleansing the Temple
by Bernardino Mei
Can you believe how easily it can be for society to scorn an individual and/or make them invisible? Can you believe how little it takes for our cruelty to come forth? Can you believe how terrible we can be? These people acted like little more than animals in human bodies. Nothing like picking on the most marginalized members of the human race and getting cheap laughs to make us feel better about our own lives. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting behavior.

I see this disgusting behavior, and I start getting hot tears in my eyes. I am almost shaking with fury...and a need for action. I am not afraid of this boisterous group of young men and women. I am angry. For the first time in my life I felt a powerful sense of righteous anger. I felt the same anger that Saint Michael must have felt when he drove Lucifer from heaven. The same anger when he cried out "QUIS UT DEUS!" or for us English-speakers "Who but God is great!?!" I was so incredibly angered by their actions and yet, I found myself asking God for forgiveness on their behalf. I wanted to just get up and yell to their faces "THIS COULD BE YOU ONE DAY! THIS COULD BE YOUR DAD, YOUR LOVED ONES, YOUR FRIENDS ONE DAY! YOUR FINANCIAL SECURITY NOW MEANS NOTHING!!!Therefore, treat him as you would hope to be treated if you ever found yourself in his situation."

I was so completely consumed by this feeling of complete anger at their actions...but I still could not help but love them as well and feel sorry for their terrible attitudes. I did not look at them and ask God to strike them down with lightning. I looked at them and understood "Forgive them, for they know now what they do." Perhaps they will one day see their mistakes. Perhaps they never will. However, as I watched them go on and on, I got so angry that I just got up from my seat and went over to the homeless man. I stood right next to where he sat,  between him and the people making fun of him. I didn't care that I was supposed to get off a few stops later. I figured the homeless guy just needed to be treated like a human and part of me just wanted to show these other people that at least one person on the train was capable of taking "love one another" to heart...

The homeless guy asked me if I had a dollar and I was reminded of the $2 in my pocket. I gave them to him and we started talking. He asked me if I was Muslim, because he had seen me praying with beads. I told him no, that I was Portuguese. I then realized what he asked and told him that I was Catholic. He starts telling me about how there's so many terrible people in this world and I tell him that there are a few good people out there. He then proceeds to say that there aren't enough of them and that the world is full of greed, corruption, and evil. His tone was not angry, even though he had a right to complain. He had the tone of someone who had lost all hope in human kindness. He seemed to have simply accepted the fact that the world was a cruel place. This guy, I am sure, had suffered a lot and still suffered living on the street. The example of those other people on the train gave me some idea of what he most likely had to suffer on a daily basis. If anyone out there has a right to complain and be bitter...it's this guy. However, he is not bitter and angry at everything. In fact, he's soon cracking jokes and sharing laughs with me.

At some point we just started talking like we were old friends. I don't smell anything anymore...but I find that I like his sense of humor. I tell him that he only thinks there's no good people out there because all the good people live in Jersey (where I am from). I ask him if he believes in any higher being and he tells me his a Christian. This floored me. You see, there are so many people out there who turn their back on God when life goes awry. There's people who give up on God over the most trivial things. If there's anyone out there you'd expect to give up on God...it's this guy. Yet, he's still a Christian. He's on the street. He's being humiliated every day by people who took it upon themselves to deprive the poor of their humanity. He's cold. He's hungry. He's dressed in rags. He's isolated from the world around him and he is treated like dirt every day...but he's still holding on to his faith.

Wow. If there ever was a time that I wished I was carrying a pocket full of $100 bills...this was it.   There are times when I cannot help but question God and times where my faith is hanging on by a thread. This guy's faith puts mine to shame. Here I am, struggling through my own life and sometimes feeling like God's left me to fend for myself. Here's this homeless guy simply accepting his lot in life, simply telling God "thy will be done" as he continues his struggle to survive. Talk about strong faith. It's faith like his that make me realize just how much more faith I need.

We had a nice conversation and then parted ways once my stop came up. He told me that he hoped he would see me again. I told him that I would like to see him again too...and you know what? I actually meant it.

Pax Vobiscum

Just Fire Your Kid's SAT Tutor...



I got to say, based on what I have heard thus far about the changes taking place with this New Roman Missal, Catholic kid SAT scores are going to skyrocket once Advent rolls around....at least when it comes to verbal scores. Check out some of the words we will soon see:

Consubstantial- (adj) of the same substance
Clemency- (noun) a disposition to be merciful
Ineffable- (adj) incapable of being expressed in words
Oblation- (noun) the act of making a religious offering

Whoah! Talk about giving Catholic kids an advantage! I can't think of any other place that will use the words above and most of these words on a weekly basis.

Each homily I've heard for the past few weeks has been mentioning this huge change to the Roman Missal in English speaking countries. I guess the padres have been trying to ease us into all the changes that are about to happen. I know that there will be some people out there that will be dragged into this new translation kicking and screaming the whole way (like some of the people in the comments section here)...but I welcome it (hence my reply to Northernwriter...you can probably guess which one I am). I will even go so far as to say that I can't wait for it. I can't wait to use terminology that's closer to the Latin that I love so dearly, and to speak in a way that better reflects the ideas and beliefs passed down to us from our Church fathers.

Aragorn's thoughts on the New Roman Missal...
As I mentioned above, there are going to be quite a few advanced words thrown into the mass. Not all of us will be familiar with the new vocabulary...but I feel that it may be necessary. It's a good way to freshen up the mass and the new terminology is just what we need in an age where things are increasingly dumbed down for us. We may revel in our new technologies...but how much do we push ourselves to learn and understand new things. Terms like "LOL" have become the norm in today's culture...which demonstrates that new words can be introduced into everyday life. Lengthy, polysyllabic words, on the other hand, have come to disappear over time. Today, you mostly see them on flashcards and exams.

As much as I hate to admit it, we seem to be getting increasingly stupid as the technology around us advances. We may have progressed from black and white television to flat screened HD goodness...but what have we got to show for it? Watching garbage TV on these gadgets hasn't made us any smarter than we were in the days before television. If we were to get thrown into the middle of the woods with nothing but a compass and a map...we'd be screwed! I've learned how to use a compass as well as a map in my day, but even with several years of plant courses under my belt...I still would be as good as dead. However, if you were to throw someone in the middle of a forest 200 years ago...they'd have a log cabin built and smoked sausage hanging from the rafters within a year. Sure they may not have had penicillin in those days, but they probably could take care of themselves far better we can today. Just think of how many times you've run off to the doctor fearing you were on death's door, only to have them say that all you need is rest and fluids because there's no real cure for the flu.

Call me old-fashioned or crazy, but implementing old school terminology is one of the best ideas our Church has had in these modern times. Not only will we use new words, but we will get out of our comfort zones. We cradle Catholics will be on the same footing as those just entering our Church when it comes to the things we say in mass. They won't be the only ones stumbling through the Credo anymore! Remember the days where you would just repeat things out of memory for decades on end? Well, those days are going to be over as we change things up this Advent. Considering how rarely we use words like "chalice" in real life....it may take a while for us to memorize these words and grow comfortable with them. We will get to use our brains again and immerse ourselves in Catholic theology as we learn these new words and incorporate them into our religious lives.

We will be challenged to think about the terminology we use and even be forced to look up the words we use once we get home...if we don't understand them. Furthermore, we will be given an opportunity to truly understand some ideas, like "consubstantial with the father." This sentence fragment may look like a hot mess...but the belief it stresses is absolutely amazing. "One in being with the father" is an expression that's so vague that it can mean a bunch of things...especially to Catholics who memorized the mass more than they truly understand it. "Consubstantial with the father," on the other hand...means just one thing. It means that Christ is of the same substance as the Father. That's a pretty big deal...especially when you try to understand  the Holy Trinity.

With that said, as far as the New Roman Missal goes...I got two words for you... BRING IT.

Old-school Fairy Godmother

I am probably the worst when it comes to dropping hints...so I'm just going to put it out there....

I want to be a godmother.

Only a lot more badass than this one...
There, I said it. Unfortunately, every time someone is expecting...the opportunity never comes. You see, I'm not really the type of person that comes to mind when it comes to choosing a godparent. In my circles, it usually goes to a relative and even though there have been kids born among my relatives, I was a bit young to be chosen as a godparent. Gone are the days of my father's childhood, where people had so many kids that everyone tended to have a godchild or two. In the case of my dad, he was a godparent to quite a few people...including one of his siblings. Then again, I do have one cousin who tends to be first in line for the godfather role whenever his relatives and/or friends have babies. I myself asked his wife to be my confirmation sponsor...because these guys are awesome. Therefore, I don't blame all these people for choosing my cousin for this role because...let's face it....he's pretty awesome.

However, I cannot help but be a very tiny bit jealous of all these people when they get picked for the role for the second....the third....fourth....fifth time.

Let's face it. I'm a PhD student. I don't really have time to form those lifelong "cocktails every Friday" BFFs. I am not the type of person who gets to see people very often. Therefore, I will most likely never get chosen for a role as badass as "Godmother."

In the days of early Christianity, people tended to enter Christianity without having the background or knowledge that we are born into these days. Let's face it, we were a persecuted people that could not necessarily throw a baptism party for every baby that was born. No, Christianity was a thing of secrecy that exploded in its early age. People who had formerly worshiped the Roman gods of the state, etc. joined the Christian world in secrecy, fearing for their lives. They feared the same persecution that is going on now in the Middle East. Even so, they loved their new-found faith and sought to learn more.

They couldn't just pop on by to the local library and pick up a bible under the cover of night. In those days, the bible was circulated in single letters, our early doctrines preached in abandoned graveyards in the dead of night. Our gospels were written on parchment, hidden in clay pots, or destroyed for fear of discovery. Also, not everyone could read. Therefore, in those days, godparents served a pretty important role. They acted as another set of parents that would guide their newly baptized Christian brothers and sisters and teach them the ways of the faith. They would preach whatever gospel they had once heard from a travelling band of preachers. They would share whatever mysteries of the faith that they had learned by word of mouth. In short, they acted as teachers, preachers, CCD teachers, parents, protectors, and so many other roles.

Okay, this is more like it...
That's how I look at the role of a godparent. I mean, I would definitely be there for the kid's baptism...but I would not want to stop there. I would not want to be the type of godparent that attends the baptism and then falls off the face of the earth...beyond sending the mandatory birthday card with $10 stuffed into it. I guess I would be more old-school about it. I would want to be there for the child's big moments (graduation, soccer games, etc).....but I would definitely also want to be a part of their faith formation. I would love to be able to take them to mass and brunch afterwards. I would love to give them their first rosary and help them learn to pray. I would love to be there for their first communion, confirmation, and even wedding. I would love to share my own knowledge, experiences, mistakes, and other things usually reserved for parents or mentors. As crazy as it sounds, I want to bring back the days where the godparent IS like a parent or mentor...rather than a "godparent in name only." Even Sirius Black was more than that to Harry Potter...and he was on the run for an alleged murder!

When I was younger, I had a great set of godparents. At least, my mom thought so. Don't get me wrong, they are great people. The only problem is that they were based in another country and I never got the chance to really do much bonding with them...until a few years ago. Before then, I still remember being at the dinner table with my family and proclaiming that I had no godparents. Though this was stated in the days of my teenage rebellion stage...I still regret how unfair I was in my judgment. It wasn't their fault that they lived in Portugal, while I lived in the US. It wasn't their fault that they couldn't be there for me when it came to major live achievements and holidays. I know that now. However, at the time, I think it was jealousy that drove me to make such an unkind declaration. I wanted to have a closer relationship with them, but it just was not possible. Fortunately, in this day and age, we have Facebook. I am friends with my godparents on Facebook and have even had the chance to visit them in the last few years....so we DO have a more personal relationship than we had in my younger years. I am thankful for that.

I hope that I get to become a godparent one day. If the chance never comes up, well, I suppose I can handle it. I have plenty of cousins that I can continue to spoil with Renaissance Faire trips, science, geekery, and all that is good and Catholic (like a children's bible in Portuguese--->SWEETEST FIND EVER!!!). With that said, I cannot wait to see them all again for Thanksgiving. I'll be the nutty older cousin sitting at the kid's table, telling jokes, and playing with my food as I explain how tryptophan works.

Pax Vobiscum

How we Cradle Catholics Roll...


I am probably the only cradle Catholic in my lab. Does this bother me? Nope. I got to say, having so much religious diversity in my laboratory is pretty interesting and makes for some pretty great discussions. Today, for example, I had a great time trying to explain how the Catholic faith rolls when it comes to the Eucharist. I have to say, as normal as all of it sounds to me, I tend to get a lot of confused looks when I try to explain anything uber-Catholic to people of other faiths. Sometimes, when I try to understand the confused looks, I try to imagine what it would have been like to step into something like Catholicism with a clean slate. This isn't too easy...because I'm a Cradle Cat. Some ancestor of mine beat me to the punch when it came to entering the Catholic faith. Considering that most of my ancestors were probably some form of barbarians or Celts, I can only imagine what that must have been like....

What the #$@! do you mean NEW ROMAN MISSAL?!?!
@#!&!!! YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
I just finished memorizing all the words to the last one!
To this day, I am still at a loss to coherently explain the Eucharist, the Holy Trinity...and even something as simple (or relatively simple) as Purgatory. How do I explain why I've broken down in tears in front of the Eucharist...when all they see up there is a piece of thin, crispy bread? How can you possibly explain the beauty of a Latin mass to someone who probably has never even learned Latin in school? Another issue when it comes to explanations of all that is good and Catholic is time. How in the world can you sum up something like all the beliefs covered by the Nicene Creed in one theology class let alone a 5 minute conversation?!? I got to hand it to modern day people like Bishop Sheen and all those old school missionaries from back in the day...because explaining all the stuff we too often take for granted is very tough. Throw in my lack of theological training (minimal,save for the RCIA classes I took in college because), my insecurities, and my own lack of thorough understanding...and everything becomes even tougher.

Still, I rise to the challenge. If I can't explain it in words, I demonstrate it with action. If I can't demonstrate it with action, I simply go on and live my life as all Catholics are taught to live their lives...with faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance....all while trying to adhere to the 10 commandments...and doing what I can to love my neighbors. I may not be the best Catholic out there. However, I try to live my life and my faith in a way that can enable everyone I know to say "Well, I do know at least one Catholic out there that doesn't suck."

And that's how I roll.

Pax Vobiscum