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Lent: Weekend #1

Well, we are at Weekend #1 of Lent and I have a midterm for Neuro on Tuesday that is worth 40% of my grade. Needless to say, I have been pretty busy between studying, the laboratory, and a brief hospital visit ....almost too busy to post. Don't worry, I am okay now....but still a bit busy trying to keep up with everything. As much as I'd like to focus on Lent posts right now...midterms are upon me.

I don't have much time to post something long and reflective. Don't worry, I will get to that eventually...after I get everything else out of the way. In the meantime, I give you a video that made its rounds last year during Lent. I love it and really want to share it with all of you in the hopes that you can appreciate it as much as I have. Hopefully, you can draw some inspiration, or at least appreciate the artwork/music combination because it is truly fantastic.
May it inspire you on your 40 day journey of Lenten awesomeness!

Illustrations are by Simon Smith and the song is "How He Loves" by John Mark McMillan. Enjoy!

Oh, okay, for those of you who aren't really inspired by videos...check out this wonderful Lenten awesomeness homily on how to deal with temptation like "The Kid" by Fr. Jim Chern. Future warning to all you fellow Red Sox fans out there who end up reading the homily....Fr. Jim is a Yankees fan. I am not responsible for any cringing and negative feelings evoked by the *cough* *cough* Yankees references.

Pax Vobiscum fellow Saints in Training!

Lent: My Favorite Time of the Year

It's that time of the year again.

My sister and I went to A&P this weekend and played the "Guess who's Catholic?" game. This game consisted of going to the supermarket, asking each other what we were giving up for Lent food-wise. My sister tends to pull a hardcore Saint Benedict-like fast when it comes to I have to double-check about what she can and cannot eat before I find myself cooking for two and finding out that she'd given up meat and anything "unhealthy" for Lent. It looks like meat is out of the question this year (she always gives this'd think I'd get used to it by now).

Well, after stocking up on veggies, Greek yogurt, milk, and avoiding the meat aisle altogether...the game began. We piled box upon box of tilapia, shrimp, salmon, fish name it...into the basket (we should have gotten a cart!). When we had enough fish piled into our basket, we used our best game show host impersonation to ask "Guess who's Catholic?" If my parents had ever done that in a supermarket when I was young, I would have died of embarrassment. However, we thought it was pretty funny.

Today, in lab I was asked about the lab meeting dinner.

Lab Manager- "Hey Barb, what do you think....baked chicken parm or insert Mexican dish I can't remember to save my life?"

Me- "They both sound really good, but I'm out this I am probably not the best person to choose dinner."

Lab Manager- "Oh, are you missing lab meeting?"

Me- "No. It's Ash Wednesday tomorrow and I'm fasting."

Ah yes, Ash Wednesday...the day that starts off one of my favorite times of the year. It is beginning of a season of  penance, fasting, and a lot of reflection. It is a season that reminds us of our humble origins (for dust you are and dust you shall return). It is the time of the year where I take a deep look at my life (regardless of how busy I get) and reevaluate the things that need changing and the things that need improving. I take Lent very seriously...probably more seriously than I should. I fast, I pray, I reflect, I attempt to be more charitable, and I offer up all sorts of penance for my own soul and for the souls of others.

I was asked about the fasting by someone else in the lab. Why do I do it? I almost could not believe how easily my response rolled off my tongue. You'd probably expect a response like "Because I have to" or "because the Church says I should." However, the response I gave was quite different. I pretty much ended up giving a Cliff's Notes version of this post.

I fast in order to defeat my physical self and strengthen my spiritual self. I fast so that I can gain better self-control over my body and defeat the weaknesses that attempt to hinder my soul's purification during my time on earth. The fact is, I do believe that I have a physical form that is little more than that of a standard animal. My soul, however, is more like an angel than it is an animal. It is this part that ultimately makes me worthy of the presence of God. It is this component that must be nurtured and purged of all weakness, blemish, and sin. It is this component that I attempt to nurture and strengthen during Lent.

How do I do this? Well, I do it through penance, reflection, charity, and fasting. These are three tools that we can, hypothetically, use 365 days a year...but seldom do. Lent is almost like a wake up call for me. It reminds me of my own mortality by reminding me that even Christ suffered here on earth for 40 days and nights. It reminds me that I am a mortal being that cannot rely on material goods and conveniences when it comes to salvation. It reminds me that I need work. That I am not a perfect being. That I have been slacking in my spiritual life.

I love Lent because I have always found some manner of improving my inner self for 40 days each year. Sometimes, when I am truly blessed, the lessons I learn during one Lent season will carry on for the rest of my life. This blog was started during Lent and it has truly become one of the best things I have ever done for myself and for my vocation. Several years ago, a Lent retreat helped me repair a relationship that I had deemed lost (turned out to be more of a matter of pride than it did a lost cause). Lent has also helped me become more charitable in my own life...and more willing to put the needs of others above my own. Don't get me wrong. I am not perfect in any way and I am definitely not a least not yet. I still have lots of room for improvement...and Lent always turns out to be the best opportunity for me to attempt improvement.

Lent has given me some great lessons in improvement over the years. If I am able to fast for 24 hours during Lent in the name of Christ's suffering...then I am certainly less likely to complain the next time I cannot eat lunch on time. If I am able to go to make time to go to Ash Wednesday mass, I am able to make time to pray every other day of the year. If I am able to out myself as a Catholic every year by wearing ashes on my forehead, then I am able to out myself as a Catholic when it comes to standing up for my faith. If I am able to meditate on Christ's suffering for these 40 days, then I am better able to meditate on every other lesson he sought to teach us every other day of the year. If I can be more charitable during Lent, I can certainly be more charitable throughout the year.

Lent is the perfect season to toss bad habits and pick up good ones (especially because there are so many people on the same boat as you are). It is a time for me to shut out the world by quitting Facebook and use this extra time for prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, you name it. This is the time of the year to remind ourselves about the things that really matter in this life. Computers aren't important, chocolate isn't important, material things aren't important. These things come and go. However, a permanent improvement to your spirit, an improvement that ultimately leads to less sin and more piety....this is something that will follow you for the rest of your life.

  1. This year, I am giving up Facebook and using this otherwise wasted time for spiritual growth.
  2. This year I am going to strive to reflect upon all matters of the faith more often in order to better understand my faith and God's plan for me. 
  3. This year I am going to fast more least twice a week (one day for the souls of purgatory and one day for a personal intention). 
  4. This year I am giving up alcohol. 
  5. ....AND YOU GUESSED IT! No meat on Fridays.
I may add more onto this list as I go along...because my spiritual journey never seems to follow the rules (even when I start getting things right). 

I really do like Lent because it never fails to make me a better person (in some way or another). I also like Lent because it is a constant reminder of who I am as a Catholic. Not eating meat on Fridays is a great reminder to thank God before each meal. Not drinking even when I am out with friends is a great reminder of the mortifications that others experienced in the past in the name of faith (such as being called a mackerel snapper). Not being on Facebook is a great reminder of the talents I am wasting that I could otherwise be using to better glorify God (it should not take me months to finish a St. George drawing). Fasting will remind me of the people (living or deceased) in need of prayer, time, a good friend, etc. We were put on earth for various reasons. Ignoring others for the sake of our own needs is not one of these reasons. Reflecting upon matters of the faith should help me make more time for God and help me better understand the Lord I am attempting to serve and love above all else. Perhaps it may even help me bring more of Him into my own life and the lives of those around me through acts of charity. 

I really can't wait to see what sort of improvements God has planned for my soul this year!

Pax Vobiscum

Only the Penitent Man Arrested?

How to get arrested like a badass, Pro-Life Padre:

Step 1. Decide that you should stand up for what you believe in.

Step 2. Go to Washington DC with fellow pro-life protesters to make your voice heard.

Step 3. Assume you will get same "Aw, shucks, they are just exercising their power of free speech" treatment as the Occupy Wall St. crowd got a few months ago from the Commander in Chief.

Step 4. Decide to pray, because you believe that doing so may just get a few things changed.

Step 5. As many religious folk have done before you, get on your knees in an effort to pray with greater reverence. Remember, Indiana Jones fans, only the penitent man shall pass!

Step 6. Get arrested for praying on your knees because it falls under "disobeying a lawful order."
We didn't know about the kneeling...honest!
Step 7. Pay $100 fine and get out of jail.

Step 8. Become an overnight legend/hero to penitent miscreants all over the world!

On one hand, I totally understand why they got arrested. Law enforcement is pretty clear about what you can and cannot do when it comes to protesting in DC. On the other hand...had it been me...I'd have pulled off a promesa-style prayer where penitents pray while shuffling forward on their knees. Sure I'd end up with bloody knees...but when it comes to religious freedom and the protection of the unborn...I SAY BRING IT.

In all seriousness, Rule 1 when protesting at the White House: STAY ON THE MOVE. You cannot stand still, you cannot sit, and you cannot camp out. You cannot remain stationary at all, because doing so is...well, not allowed. Still, as far as standing up (or in this case, kneeling down in prayer) for what you believe in, I'd say the $100 fine was well worth it. Someone please start a donation drive for these penitent miscreants.

Speaking of penitent miscreants:

Sorry Tebow, no kneeling exemptions for you... dreamy, dreamy man.
No exceptions! Not even you Aragorn...
you gorgeous, gorgeous King of Gondor.

Disobeying a lawful order by LOITERING!?!?
What is wrong with you guys!?! Geesh!
Next think you know, you'll be Occupying Camelot...
In other news tonight: US BISHOPS FOR THE WIN!!! Now when they say that Catholic means universal, they do mean UNIVERSAL. This story here is what they are talking about....and it is definitely worth a Catholic Science Geek 21 Nun Salute!

HUZZAH for the Bishops!!!
Pax Vobiscum

Congratulations to Sarah, the Geeky Godspell Contest Winner!

Congratulations Sarah for winning a voucher for 2 tickets to Godspell!

I had some pretty good submissions....they were so good I wanted everyone to win. However, as I only had one voucher, I drew lots to determine the winner. So congratulations again Sarah!

Sarah was kind enough to let me share her response to the two questions I posted, so here you go!

1. What is your favorite Gospel story?
I have always been drawn to the story of the Good Samaritan.

2. Why is it your favorite Gospel story? 

There's just something beautiful about the way it urges us to compassion and mercy, and lack of judgement, reminding us too that help can come from the most unexpected sources.

Pax Vobiscum

Stop Whatever You are Doing and Watch!

Sister Miriam James Heidland
coaching volley ball
Okay, it may take about 52 minutes of your time...but they are quite worth it! This is time that may greatly improve your life and inspire you. I know I was very inspired today. If you don't have the time to watch it, turn up the volume and listen as you clean your house, cook, or do other chores. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Also, if even I found the time to listen to her can as well!

If you're a desperate parent who has just about given up on your unruly it. If you are an alcoholic struggling to recover from it. If you wake up every morning, hating your it.  Whatever it is that makes you upset in this has nothing on all the inspiration just waiting to be experienced upon watching these two videos of Sister Miriam James Heidland...and awesome athletic partygirl-turned-nun. You will not be disappointed. I assure you.

Part I

I am having a tough time linking directly to the click here for Part II

If you are a captive to fear, despair, doubt, disappointment, etc. please watch these videos. 

Anti-Catholicism at its Finest (and Most Redundant)

I'm going to avoid using names, dates, events, and any other references that may add to the hype. Personally, I feel that Catholic rage is all the rage these days (pun intended) and all the cool people tend to incite it whenever they want some free publicity. There really must be a line-up somewhere for all the mediocre voices and talents out there in dire need of extra hype at little or no cost to the music industry. Perhaps it’s some form of initiation ritual into the music industry? Gone are the days where publicity was reserved for incredible talent, acts of heroism, and...well...other worthy reasons. I refuse to even mention these “Let’s-Go-and-Offend-a-Catholic-Today” artists because even a name mention is free publicity. (Yes, the pictures below will certainly lead to some extra image search results somewhere down the line...but I am just going to use them to illustrate a point.)

I've heard a lot about the latest fancy-schmancy award show celebrating mediocre talent and Adele (who actually has a great voice, in my opinion). I didn't watch it as I was too busy studying (how nerdy), but I have a pretty good idea about why people are offended. Between all the status updates and pictures on the internet, I have a pretty decent play-by-play description bouncing around in my head. I refuse to watch the video because that's one more undeserved Youtube hit. I also have a pretty good idea of how offended I would be by watching I refuse to watch it. To this day I have yet to actually watch the last half of some woman's video for a song titled the Spanish version of the name Alexander (use your imagination)...because the first half offended me enough.

Yes that video ended up bothering a bunch of Catholics and other folk due to the religious imagery used (and abused). However, what disgusted me most from the get-go was the objectification of the human male and female body in this video. I find nothing more demeaning to human sexuality, or more offensive to my belief that the body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, than the treatment of the human body as little more than a means to an end. I didn’t even care about the homo-eroticism part of the video.

What bothered me first and foremost about this video was simply the way the men "danced" and writhed around her as well as each other. It was extremely demeaning. They were acting like animals…not human beings made in the image and likeness of God. It bothered me as much as I am usually bothered by hordes of half-naked women “dancing” around males in other videos. It’s just the lack of dignity these “dancing” individuals display. It’s the portrayal of these individuals as little more than means for physical pleasure. I don’t care what sort of wages these background “dancers” made in order to trample over their own dignity…but whatever it was…it definitely was not enough. Watching such objectification, regardless of sex, just makes me extremely uncomfortable…and so I stopped watching and never resumed.

Well, before I get too off topic, back to the statuses following this weekend's latest Anti-Catholic display of “talent.” Among my friends' statuses, there was disapproval. There was outrage. There was annoyance. There was even some disbelief. I can understand the first three reactions...but not so much the fourth. Why?

Well, considering how often I've seen a variation of this:
Because nothing says "Anti-Establishment and Anti-Religion Badass" like the Cross of St. Peter 
and demons rocking out on a mountain of creepy blood-soaked dismembered bodies... 

How many times we have been bombarded by variations of this:

We get don't like the Pope....but was this really necessary? 

How many times I’ve wanted to burn this out of my mind:

Your uber-Catholic grandmother must really be proud...
...of you mocking her religion

And how many times we've seen these....

Just because the KKK did it, it doesn't mean it's ever a good idea...

...Are we really that surprised that this was allowed to happen?

*shaking my head more out of embarrassment for her than any offense*

Yeah...I am neither shocked...nor surprised. Maybe it's because I've seen it time and time again. Maybe it's because everyone else has done it. Maybe it's because it's just redundant at this point. Whatever the case, this was pathetic. I’m just not surprised by stuff like this anymore. The whole "Let's bother the Catholics to make more headlines" thing is just getting old.

Please...please...please...for the love of all that is good in this world...somebody please pick some other shocking thing....something that doesn't involve the very much played-out anti-Catholicism. Please give me something NEW and ORIGINAL to make headlines.... something that would be so extremely out of place in the music industry that it would surely make you stand out among all the mediocre singers out there with strangely-named children....Wait...what's this?!?!?

Thanks for helping me out with my new idea Tebow... dreamy, dreamy man....

Well, here's something completely shocking...prayer! I know I don't see "artists" doing much of that these days (genuine or not). This whole faith thing certainly made headlines in the football maybe there's a place for it in the music industry. NOW THAT would be something so new, edgy, and original...that it may just lead to a little "unwanted" publicity.

Oy vey. I guess I will have to start praying for religious tolerance (including Catholicism) more often.

Pax Vobiscum.

My First Scathing Letter to the White House

I sent this to the White House just now in response to their most recent attempt to "compromise" as well as the condescending response they sent regarding the petition to toss the HHS mandate. This is the first time I actually sent a scathing letter to the White House and may not be my last by the looks of things. Feel free to read:

To whom it may concern,

This response to our petition to remove the HHS mandate is an insult. Pardon my language and frankness, but you must really think that people like me are idiots. As disappointing as this may seem to you, I can actually read and understand the true intent of this letter...just as I understand the intent of this mandate. You can't hide your true intent behind the niceties of this letter. Your intentions are clear and they still threaten quite a few freedoms.

This response proves to me that you are ignoring our concerns and simply going ahead with a plan that violates the consciences of many employers who will now have to choose between adhering to an unfair law and forgetting about religious freedom...or refusing to violate their conscience and face the legal repercussions. For an administration that sold messages of "hope" and unification in the last election, I have never seen such a determination to divide a nation for the sake of self-interests. I know exactly what sort of organizations support this mandate and who they supported during election time. You can't hide this between pleasant words and your futile attempts at relating to our cause and concerns are appalling.

Your response to our petition is shameful. You should be ashamed of your condescending tone, your attempts to patronize the people behind the petition, the biased sources you used to justify your argument...and your inability to cooperate with those whose conscience you refuse to understand. I am ashamed that this country's history will be forever blemished by this unreasonable administration and forever tarnished by the lack of willingness on this administration's part to truly cooperate with people who simply cannot and should not comply with a law that violates consciences. America was not created for the rights of its citizens to be trampled upon by a government that refuses to genuinely address our concerns. It was created in defiance, in response to an unreasonable king and empire that refused to address the concerns of its colonies....a king that chose, instead, to impose restrictions and unfair laws on his "colonists."

Surely you must see how this mandate controversy parallels with the controversy that led to the formation of this nation.

I was born into a country that prided itself in the freedoms held by its people. These freedoms made this nation great and they were a hope to the oppressed of nations ruled by tyrants. How dare you support a blatant violation to these freedoms? How dare you attempt to promote a known carcinogen as health care? How dare you quote Planned Parenthood in a matter of conscience and religious organization that PROFITS from abortions, contraception, etc?

How dare you mock us with such a rubbish compromise? Even if the burden falls on insurance companies to carry these "treatments," it is still the money of the employer (Catholic or otherwise) that pays for this coverage. NOTHING CHANGED WITH THIS COMPROMISE. Did you really think we were stupid enough to believe this "compromise" was actually a true compromise? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED for attempting to pull the wool over our eyes. You should be ashamed for insulting our intelligence with your condescension. We are not fools. We are Americans who know our rights. We know what the word "freedom" truly means...even if the current administration is confused by this concept.

America deserves better than this administration. America deserves better than this mandate. I will continue to protest against it. I will continue to make my voice heard.

Thank you,

Barbara Soares

A Little Silence Would Be Nice....

This semester's courses can be summed up with one word: meh.

Neuroscience is pretty exciting. It's tough...but it's the only class I've really been enjoying lately. The material is fascinating and the professor is fantastic. I even like the TA in charge of recitation for this course. He's smart but not pretentious...and he even brought in a special guest speaker today. This guest speaker was a bit of a celebrity because he was a co-author on a paper that was published in Cell. In the science world, this is like winning the lottery. Getting published in Cell will make and break the guy just oozed badass intellect as he casually explained a paper that took me hours to read...and even longer to understand (I still don't understand it completely).
I want stained glass! Lots and lots of stained glass!

 Journal club is tolerable. Everyone else seems to be hating the extra work and impromptu assignments during class...but I think the subject (Fukushima-related radiation) is pretty interesting.

The mandatory research conduct/ ethics course is pretty redundant and...dare I say it...pointless.I have already learned (quite a few times) what to do and what not to do in the laboratory in the 7 odd years that I've spent in school. Don't make up an animal protocol as you go along, don't make up results, and don't steal other people's ideas/work....etc....etc...etc... On top of that, my Catholic guilt would never let me live with myself if I ever had an ethics violation under my belt. Ethics is ethics is ethics. If you can follow the rules from a Catholic should be golden when it comes to ethics from a researcher's perspective. Needless to say, this class is pretty boring.

Give me art from the days where artists cared about realism!
I am still on the fence with Epidemiology. On one hand, the instructor can certainly keep an audience listening. She's got quite a presence at the proverbial podium and her course is pretty interactive. On the other hand, my molecular science-heavy background puts me at odds with some of these new-fangled epidemiological methods and ideas. There was a row earlier this week regarding mutations and what sort of "effect" they have on phenylketoneurics. You could tell who was who in that class based on who sided with whom. The people with the genetics background (myself included) argued one thing...the instructor (and her TA that kind of had a grasp on the genetics concept) argued another thing...before turning a deaf ear and moving on. Sometimes I think epidemiology is a useful science...and other times I consider it a pseudoscience with only one purpose: Find a way to make numbers support your theory. Maybe I am being harsh here...but this class is definitely torturous at times.
Yes! What my Catholic conscience wouldn't do for a good
confession in thisbeautiful confessional from
the forgotten days where carpenter and sculptor
alike took pride in their well as time!

Between this and a few other things going on in my hectic life, I haven't had much time to do things that I want to do for days on end.  "Me time" tends to be short and sporadic...a few stolen moments here and there to work on a novel, draw, knit, craft, make jewelry, blog, etc. You get the idea. Normally, I end up sacrificing sleep time for me time...but it is usually worth it. You see, something inside of me is starving.

My inner artist is dying to break free. My inner crafter would kill for some alone time.  Even my soul is more restless than usual. I have been dedicating far too much time to science. Don't get me wrong...I like my lab and I really do like my research. However, I feel like I have been neglecting quite a few parts of my life...

Silent, meditative prayer...the perfect escape for some 1 on 1 time with God!
I miss art, I miss silence, I miss meditation, I miss adoration, I miss tranquility, and I miss quite a few other things these days because I am always rushing back and forth trying to get as much done as I can.

With that said, I think it's time for a pilgrimage. I kind of just want to break free from my current life and make a run for it. I would like to just find some holy shrine, church, place, you name it...and just sit there in quiet meditative prayer for hours on end. I want to spend several days at peace with myself and at peace with God. I may even want to finally visit Medjugorje, go to Fatima again, or even Jerusalem. I want to surround myself with as much holiness, prayer, silence, reverence, art, old architecture, incense, and ritual as I can. Even a simple but silent monastery would do. (I hope they finish construction at the Holy Face monastery soon!!!). I need some time away from all the noise and responsibility.
What I wouldn't give for a silent, empty church all to myself!

Just a few days would be nice....

Pax Vobiscum

Geeky Contest: Win Voucher for 2 Free Godspell Tickets!

The people over at Godspell have given me a voucher for 2 free tickets to Godspell for one lucky blog reader!. This voucher is valid until 5/1/2012....and would be a great date or outing if you happen to be in NYC.

If you have no ideas what to do for Valentine's Day...
If you've never been to a Broadway show...
If you're looking for a fun outing with a friend or loved one...
If you're a broke college student looking for something to do at no cost to yourself...

...then this is the contest for you!

How do you win? 
I'll keep it simple. 

Just email me your answers to the following questions (one sentence per question...I'm a PhD student with no time on her hands):

1. What is your favorite Gospel story?
2. Why is it your favorite Gospel story?

Rules/Legal mumbo jumbo...
This voucher/these tickets have NO MONETARY value whatsoever and CANNOT BE RESOLD.

Email your answers (or any questions you may have regarding this contest) to
I will pick one winner at random within a week or so.
I will email the voucher to the winner.
This voucher is good for a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday show.
The winner reserves the right to remain anonymous.

Pax Vobiscum

Condensed Catholic with a Touch of Mantilla, it's not a type of soup....even if it does sound like one.

Andy Warhol prints

I always seem to take detours from studying...
Who wouldn't when the path of procrastination
looks a lot more fun than epidemiology...
It's more like 7 links to a few good reads that I've checked out this past week...when I felt like taking a break from studying. If you haven't already noticed...I am such a procrastinator. 

If you follow me on Facebook, you've probably already seen many of these links. If not, you are in for a condensed version of some of the stories and blog posts that I have enjoyed recently. Feel free to check them out and join me as I venture farther and farther into the land of procrastination!

Oh, and just so you know... a padre complimented me on how I dressed up for mass. He said that it was how people should dress up for mass. Let's just say it involved an ankle-length cape, opera gloves, and a mantilla.

Who would have ever thought that I would ever look nice for mass?!?!
Can you believe it?!!
This person...THIS PERSON....dressed up nice to mass.
Just look at me...I'm one step away from Barbarian on a typical day...

I must say that I never expected for a mantilla to make such a difference in the way I present myself on a  given Sunday. I used to be (and can still be...) a t-shirt and jeans mass-goer...but I don't feel as comfortable in t-shirts and jeans anymore when it comes to mass.  I am not saying that there should be turned away at the church entrance if they don't try dressing up for mass or that I look down upon people who dress up in t-shirts and jeans. However, I will say that I've been putting more of an effort into my Sunday wardrobe ever since I started donning the mantilla....and I feel better about it. There's something about the reverent wearing of lace over your head...that makes you want to make sure the rest of you looks nice. 

It's almost like that mantilla is a reminder that I am, in fact, in God's presence...and that I should be respectful of that and attempt to look my best. I am sure that God doesn't care what people wear as long as they exhibit some form of modesty and dress up within their means. However, He probably does appreciate when people do their best to look nice when they are in his presence. 

Did I ever think I would ever be one of those people who would dress up nicely for mass? No...especially not during the rebellious teenage years that resulted from a childhood of Sunday dresses and white Easter bonnets (that matched those of my sisters!). I guess stranger things have happened....

Pax Vobiscum

Because We Need All The Help We Can Get...

Between the HHS mandate and all the other rubbish going on these days, it is quite fitting that I finally had a few hours to myself to finish the Saint George drawing I had been working on...for months. I hope I didn't disappoint when it came to kicking this already awesome saint up a few notches.

Well, here it is:
Saint George
Medium: Sharpie markers and ink on paper
This is what it originally looked like:
So glad I took a risk with adding color!
The story of Saint George is one of courage as well as faith. He was a soldier under the rule of the Emperor Diocletian. Saint George's father was an extremely well respected soldier, so Diocletian was pretty excited to have Saint George join his ranks when he came of age. He became known for his bravery as a member of the imperial guard. Now around 300AD, Diocletian decided to issue an edict for the arrest of all Christians. Saint George openly rebuked this edict before the Emperor and openly declared himself as a Christian even though he knew that it would likely lead to his death. Diocletian did not want to get rid of one of his best soldiers, so he attempted to persuade Saint George to renounce his faith...going so far as to resort to bribery. Saint George did not back down. He did not back down with threats. He did not back down with torture. He did not back down under threat of death. Ultimately, he was beheaded for his faith and quickly became one of the most well-known saints of the middle ages. 

People sought his intercession for protection and help confronting all sorts of dragons. Contrary to the image presented here, Saint George did not necessarily slay a dragon per se. The dragon is mainly used to represent the ultimate defeat of evil at the hands of those who are good and strong in faith. It also symbolizes our struggles with inner demons/dragons in our day-to-day life. Intercessory prayers through Saint George are quite popular even today. (For all you fellow anglophiles out there, Saint George also happens to be the patron saint of England...which is AWESOME.)

Here's a version of the Saint George prayer...feel free to try it out if you have any of your own inner demons in need of a good, old-fashioned thrashing.

St. George, heroic Catholic Soldier and defender of Your faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor, and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position, but you preferred to die for your Lord.
Good St. George, obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark all soldiers of Christ.

Pax Vobiscum

Broadway's Godspell: A Geeky Review

A few weeks ago, I was asked to review “Godspell,” which is currently on Broadway. I’ve seen a few Broadway shows before, mainly Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, but I am no expert when it comes to Broadway. This is a whole new level of geekdom that I have yet to explore. Therefore, most of the review that follows is based on the story and the acting rather than effects, lighting, etc. In essence, consider it a review from an old-school Catholic “average Joe” reviewer.

I went to the show not really knowing what to expect. I had heard about it before, seen the advertisements, and vaguely remembered that it had something to do with Christ and the Gospel. It had also had good reviews. I will admit that I was somewhat skeptical about whether or not the show would remain faithful to the Gospel and was hoping that it would not be offensive. Considering how today’s culture seems to have a good time of misusing Christian doctrine and symbols for the sake of entertainment, I am a little too wary when it comes to religion in the media.

I invited “The Boy” to come along with me. He’s more of a film/media buff who has had experience in theater and making films. Also, I trust his opinion when it comes to whether or not a show is good (just don’t tell him I said so).

The start of the show was AMAZING. The actors and actresses entered the stage wearing articles of clothing or props with the names of the philosophers they represented. I recognized a few right off the bat…and was excited to see that Aquinas was among them! *Catholic Geek Squee!*  They sang fragments of their philosophies and battled for supremacy on the stage. It was a little difficult to keep up (I'm pretty sure that was the purpose!), but it was a faithful interpretation of just how difficult it can be to make sense of so many great minds…and how much confusion can arise if we lose sight of truth. These philosophers each fight to get to the top (quite literally once the ladders got involved), and are ultimately silenced by the voice crying out in the desert.

Hunter Parrish
Bradley James...
John the Baptist to the rescue with an amazing voice!  John comes to baptize all of these people in preparation of Christ’s arrival. Christ, played by Hunter Parrish, takes some getting used to. He was a great actor…but I was not a huge fan of how Christ was portrayed. I watch a lot of BBC shows…one of which is Merlin. In one of the episodes, Merlin casts a spell on King Arthur and temporarily turns him into a dunce. By chance, Hunter Parrish kind of looks like Bradley James (who plays Arthur).

I am under the impression that Parrish was attempting to play a docile and na├»ve Christ…but what I kept seeing was goofy Arthur. As a result of this and the baseball tee/corduroy pants wardrobe combo...Jesus came off as goofy (maybe that was intentional?)…even when he started teaching in parables. I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief at times. Don’t get me wrong, Parrish had a great voice when it came to singing and he was FANTASTIC when the time came for him to portray Christ’s anguish during the Last Supper and the Passion. He even did a great job with righteous anger when the time came for it. All in all, I really liked Parrish as an actor and singer...just not goofy portrayal of Jesus. My boyfriend, however, thought Parrish’s performance was overall fantastic.
As I mentioned before, I was a little wary about just how many liberties would be taken when it came to this Broadway portrayal of the Gospel. I was concerned that some of the material would be offensive and had my doubts regarding some of the wardrobe used (again, the baseball tee)…but there wasn’t anything too offensive.  I may be nit-picking here, but the only part that I could see as potentially offensive to some Catholics was during the Good Samaritan parable when a priest sees the beaten up man on the road and speeds off with a “I gotta go…I’m late for cocktails-at the Vatican.”

Yes, it was a pretty liberal interpretation of the Gospel…but I did not find it offensive. The essentials to each parable were still there and audience was quite visibly pleased with the show overall. The Boy and I enjoyed the music (very catchy) and were very surprised with just how entertaining the whole show turned out to be. There was audience participation, great effects, and a pretty fantastic set of voices (some of those female vocals were PHENOMENAL).  The acting was also phenomenal and the audience seemed to think so as well. I caught some stray comments at the end of the show…and heard nothing but positive things.
Even if you aren’t really into the Broadway scene, it was a fun show that seemed to pack in quite a lot of parables and moments in Christ’s life. 

The Boy was kind enough to snap the picture for me!
Overall, I liked it and probably would see it again (schedule allowing. It had a bit of everything. There were quite a few funny moments in the show…as well as serious moments that really brought some of the scripture to life. The temptation of Christ, for example, was a pretty well executed scene that I found to be quite powerful…as was the Last Supper. For a light-hearted show…they did manage to keep the solemnity of the Last Supper intact.  Christ’s sorrow as he says his goodbyes to his disciples was heart-breaking. Parrish did a phenomenal job during this scene. Again, Parrish’s strongest skills lay in the more serious points of this show. THAT’S when I saw Jesus and not “goofy Arthur.”

The cast was pretty great. It was a pretty chilly night, but a lot of them took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with the extremely enthusiastic crowd. I was among them…and even introduced one of the cast members to Saint Anthony after she mentioned that she had lost her phone in a cab that morning. Even Parrish, who was on vocal rest for the night, took the time to sign autographs, exchange a few words with well-wishers, and even pose for a photograph with this fool. 

All in all, The Boy and I loved the show and had a great time. 

I’ve been given a code for readers to get a discount to the show.  Follow this link and type in  GSPRD719  to get tickets as low as $79.50. The regular price is $125. 

Something Lighthearted...after a week or so controversy

Not everyone has been happy with what I've been posting lately. My open denunciation of abortion, my open support of March for Life, my very open opposition to the HHS mandate, and my support for Komen's defunding of Planned Parenthood on this blog and on Facebook have led to quite a few ruffled feathers, lengthy discussions, and even some very nasty comments and accusations from a few of the internet's anonymous. I'll be honest, some of the dialogue I've had this past week or so has been respectful and I appreciated some of the questions and concerns. However, some of the trolls out there...weren't so nice. Big deal...I have a PI who can make the nastiest internet troll look like this guy...
Cue "harpsichord of learning music" from Full House for every ill-informed,
ALL CAPS, miss-spelled accusation...and BAM!
 It's like Danny Tanner dropped by to say hello....annoying...but tolerable.
In all seriousness, my PI is not as bad as I am making him out to be. He's tough, but fair. However, I am just trying to make a point that working in a lab is far more scary and stressful than anything I can ever read on the internet. If any trolls are reading this, don't bother taking this as a challenge. You can't break spirit has already been broken time and time again by chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, toxicology, neuroscience, and even organic chemistry. Throw in a dose of self-deprecating humor...and the Catholic Science Geek starts looking like the female version of this guy...
Consider this guy to be any one of the badass cowboys played by Lee Van Cleef.
Yeah, I watched a lot of westerns as a kid and still do...they're one of my dad's favorite genres. How in the world did I turn out to love sci-fi and fantasy so much having been raised on westerns? We may never find out...but I do know a badass cowboy when I see one and Lee always played the most badass gun-toting hombres.

Okay, back to the point of this post. I have decided to share a list I've been compiling. It contains some of of my favorite search "key words" that ended up linking people to my blog. Some are hysterical. Others are just plain bizarre. Some of them are all too appropriate. Enjoy. 
  • covert operations and catholics 
  • god science and mercy 
    • Because we science PhD's definitely need a lot of mercy
  • i want to marry sirius black 
    • Don't we all?
  • geeky christian bands 
    • Aren't all Christian bands geeky for Christ?
  • cool catholic pictures 
    • Yeah, I haven't been following up on my "Cool Catholics" posts. However, someone else has...and they're blog is worth a visit. Check out Universal Coolness!
  • pope facepalm 
    • The HHS Mandate certainly deserves one....
  • kathleen sebelius heresy  
  • st joseph of cupertino exam prayer 
    • I'm so glad I got a few people into this.
  • catholic prayer religious freedom 
  • catholic woman scientist 
    • I'm on my way there!
  • is it better pray in english or latin 
    • No brainer...definitely Latin.
  • body respect women 
    • Theology of the body anyone?
  • badass catholic pics 
  • catholic women giving up facebook for lent
Pax Vobiscum