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“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” he said. Funnily enough, I was expecting him to say that.

For as long as I can remember, people have been taken aback by my favorite genre of music. I’m never quite sure what they think I’m going to say, but it isn’t “oh, old school R&B”.

Maybe it has something to do with growing up in Memphis, the home of Rock and Soul. Maybe it has something to do with how R&B singers have voices smoother than a cup of warm cocoa on an Alaskan winter day. Whatever it is, I love R&B.

Now my relationship with R&B hasn’t always been what it is today. Like the time I heard there was live music at an R&B lounge and I drug my sister along only to find out by the unwelcoming stares that we were probably the only Caucasian people who had ever attempted to enter somewhere called Onyx. But that’s a story for another day.

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No, the reason my relationship has been rocky with R&B is because of the lyrics. It became a chore picking through artists’ albums, carefully looking over the lyrics to each song, and figuring out which songs were okay and which weren’t.

I knew all too well the type of mood an R&B song can put a person in: I mean, seriously, is there anything more enticing than those smooth voices singing love songs? Exactly.

So a lady has to be careful what she lets into her ears, because her ears can connect with her mind and heart. We all know how moving music can be, so for those of us wishing to live lives of purity, we desire to protect our hearts from unchaste influences. If you’ve turned on the radio in the last ten years, then you know how R&B today is often a slippery slope of impurity.

Yet, here’s the thing: in nearly every rap, hip hop, and R&B song I reviewed, there was always at least one truth about love in there.

For example, there’s Trey Songz song “Sex Ain’t Better Than Love” where he sings about how a monogamous relationship with one woman who truly loves him is better than “casual, meaningless” sex with many women.

Or there’s the music video for “How to Love” by Lil Wayne that shows a woman running out of an abortion facility last minute in order to save her child’s life. That’s a wholesome message if there ever was one in a rap video.

Then there’s pretty much every Brian McKnight and Craig David song in existence. Throw in a little Joe Thomas and you’ve got a library of love lessons.

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But, the song I want to talk about today comes from our very own R. Kelly. Anyone familiar with Kelly’s less than stellar behavior at certain times in the past might be quick to dismiss him. But, you might take a listen to his song below. Of course there might be a distasteful word or two, but his song is getting at something deep.

The song is called “Religious”. The essence of the song is that R. Kelly is in love with a woman who helps him see God. He sings:

Because of you, girl, I repent and change my thuggish ways
Got a playa wakin’ up extra early on Sunday


And you always prayin’ for me, oh, that’s why I say

There’s somethin’ religious about you
I wanna testify, oh
There’s somethin’ church about you
And I just wanna tell the world that you’re my girl

You make, you make me better, this is forever

While some might say this is just another song on R. Kelly’s record, it is an example of how even the most “rough around the edges” artists and songs often times speak to a greater truth: we are seeking God.

R.Kelly sees God through the woman he is with and she brings him closer to God. Because of her he is up on Sundays going to church, he is confessing and repenting, and he wants to be with her forever.  All the while she is praying for him.

Is it me, or did R. Kelly just sing the meaning of marriage? It seems like he did. The purpose of marriage is to help each other get to Heaven. We are to pray for our spouse, encourage our spouse to draw closer to Jesus, to go to church, and to confess his or her sins. We are called to be Jesus to our spouse by serving him or her and because of this our spouse will hopefully see God in us.

So, yes, R. Kelly, there really is something “religious” and “church” about your girl. Because we are all seeking God, whether we realize it or not. And when we love, as your girl has loved, others know there is something different about us.

That is the call of every Christian: to love so radically that others see Jesus and want to love Him. We become religious, we become church, we become witnesses of Jesus out in the world. And since Jesus can use anything for His glory (because He’s good like that), he can even use R&B to speak truth to our seeking souls.

Is there something religious about you? Is there something church about you? Those are interesting questions for us to ponder about ourselves. While you’re at it, check out R. Kelly’s song below:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq4Dj5LMlp0

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Have you ever seen a woman veiled at church before? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably only seen this a few times, if at all. It seems a rarity in the United States these days unless you’re Jewish or attending traditional Latin Catholic masses.

My journey to veiling was a lengthy one and it was full of questions.

 If nobody does it anymore, it must not be important, right?

How come a ton of other countries still veil at Mass and we don’t?

How does veiling work?

Do the different colors mean something?

What if people stare? What if people think it’s weird?

Does the Church expect me to veil?

As I hap-hazardly searched for answers, my heart was half-in and half-out. Whenever I traveled anywhere for about three years I’d take my veil and wear it to any Mass I went to. After all, nobody in those places knew me. But, I’d come home and go back to my regular parish and keep the veil tucked in my purse.

My interior dialogue would get the best of me: “People here know you. You’ve been coming here for a year. You can’t just one day start wearing your veil in here! People will stare. Nobody else here does it. It doesn’t matter that much…does it?”

Yet, as I slowly learned more I was forced to ask myself “If you think veiling is important enough to do it at churches you travel to, what makes your home church different? Isn’t Jesus still in this church too?”

I couldn’t ignore the answer to that question: He was there too.  

I continued to learn and the more I learned, the more I realized veiling was a responsibility I wanted to take upon myself. And, not only that, but it was going to be good for me.

My decision to begin veiling full-time is one I am well pleased with. I hope I can use the rest of this post to shed some light on a few points about veiling: 1) What the Church says  2) My personal experience with veiling and 2) How-to tips for beginners.

1) What the Church says about veiling

As of 1983, the Church no longer required women to wear head coverings to Mass. Since then, this requirement is no longer found in Church Canon. What exactly does this mean for us?

Well, when something is a requirement in Church Canon then it essentially means that it can be enforced and that one can be punished for disobeying. So now women are not able to be punished for not fulfilling this requirement.

Yet, head coverings are certainly not discouraged. Those who understand the meaning behind veiling and who approach it with the right intention often find veiling to be a fulfilling experience that enhances their faith and participation in the Mass (and what lovely gal doesn’t desire that?)

We are no longer required to kneel to receive communion or to receive communion on the tongue. But I think we can all agree that those actions show a deeper reverence for God than our normal shuffle through communion line. The Church certainly doesn’t discourage those practices and if we are honest with ourselves then I think we’d all agree that those practices are good for us and for the Church as a whole.

So, no, we are not required to veil. But consider this: You are in a lunch room. There is a plate of celery sticks in front of you that you’re required to eat. Then, a cafeteria employee sees you and offers you a steak for free because he wants to enhance your lunch experience. He wants you to be as full as possible.

So it is with veiling. We are required to go to Mass. But the Church offers us the gift of being able to veil so that we can enhance our (and others’) faith and become as full as possible on good things of the Lord. I don’t know about you, but I really like steak.

Perhaps the most common defense of veiling comes from scripture itself. 1 Corinthians 11:4-10 says,

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head – it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.”

It was common even in the earliest days of the Church for women to cover their heads. It was seen then, and now, as an act of modesty. It is a sign that a woman understands her role as a woman in God’s plan.

Many mistakenly view veiling as an oppression to women, when in reality is a rather dignified practice. God made women so beautiful (in His image) that she must cover her physical glory so that God may be glorified instead. We veil as to give more attention and glory to God during the Mass. This is a noble and worthwhile offering.

I believe for these reasons, and for several others, that this is why many women have returned to the practice of veiling in recent years. Veiling remains, yesterday and today, an outward sign of reverence and modesty.

2) My personal experience with veiling

Veiling, though awkward and difficult initially for me, came with many rewards. At first it was just knowing that I was receiving a gift from the Church and that always makes Jesus happy. All in all, that could have been enough to make it worth veiling the rest of my life (which I will).

However, many other joys came from it.

First, I noticed a deepened sense of humility in my life. Perhaps something about having your head covered in the presence of God reminds you that you truly ARE in the presence of God. That alone makes you more humble.

Second, the type of veil I wear forces my face to stay on what is happening at Mass. It is difficult to look out of the corner of my eye or get distracted by others. I noticed I stay more focused during Mass when I have my head covered.

Third, I tend to fidget a lot, especially at Mass. I would tuck my hair behind my ear or brush it away from my face. Veiling keeps my hair secure in one place and I am less distracted with fixing it.

Fourth, I try to dress modestly. Occasionally a top or dress I have would become less modest if I was kneeling and/or bending over some. It’s nearly unavoidable with some tops that are otherwise modest, which is why women often stay conscious of their movements in such clothes. The type of veil I have covers that part of my body so that I don’t even have to worry about it during Mass. This is good for me and any male who might have me in their line of vision (especially the priest). So, veiling is also a service to our brothers in Christ.

Fifthly, wearing a veil makes you conscious about being presentable for church. You’ll never be tempted to stroll into Mass with athletic shorts on again. Something about a veil just screams “wear something nice that matches the nice article on your head”. When you respect God by how you dress, it directly contributes to respecting yourself and others.

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3)  How-to tips for beginners

I struggled with many practical questions when I first started. I didn’t know anyone else who veiled and I wasn’t sure of what to do with certain veils. Here are a few tips to get you started (I’m still learning too!)

*Veil color technically has no importance. However, many associate white veils with virginity or being unmarried/consecrated. Black veils are often associated with marriage or with being a widow. (example: in Japan black veils are usually reserved for those who are recently widowed). You can wear a veil of any color, although it is good to use colors that are not extremely eye-catching or have crazy patterns because one of our objectives is to become less distracting to those around us who are worshiping God.

*Lace veils that are used by the majority of Latin Mass goers typically don’t stay on your head without some help (hair clips, headband sewn in, etc). I started out with this type of veil and it was rather hard to keep it on my head. You can easily get this veil to stay how you want with the use of bobby pins if you’re good at that sort of thing. 

*My favorite type of veil is what is called a Snood Scarf. These are essentially circular scarves that you put around your neck and pull up some of the material to cover your head. They are easy to find in stores at the mall for as cheap as $5. That means no waiting for your chapel veil to arrive in the mail or worrying about hair clips. To see what I am talking about, search “infinity scarf” on Google images.

*Chapel veils can be ordered online pretty easily. Many Jewish women cover their heads and they have websites that sell head coverings as well. It is fine for a Catholic to use these head coverings as they are identical to head coverings worn by Catholics. They are fairly inexpensive and arrive in the mail within a week typically.

*You have many options when veiling. You can wear modest hats (such as a beret), scarves, infinity scarves, snoods, chapel veils, etc.

*If you’re nervous about beginning to veil, it can be helpful to sit in the back of the church at first so that no one will be behind you. You can just get used to being in the church with your veil on. It gets easier and easier the more you do it.

*Don’t veil until you have a basic understanding of why you’re doing it because others will approach you after Mass and ask you about it. You need to have a somewhat coherent response ready for them. So don’t delay veiling by delaying learning about it. The info is out there and explaining veiling isn’t too difficult. You don’t have to be an expert, but have a few lines prepared.

*Purchase some type of carrying bag for your veil. You don’t want your veil to get dirty, especially if it is white or cream colored. A bag that fits nicely in your purse is great because sometime you don’t know when you’ll want to stop by a church (especially when travelling).

*If you find veils that are a reasonable price, purchase more than one. Leave one in your car, one in your purse, or wherever else you might have access to before going to church (that way you’ll never be without it).

Veiling is a worthwhile endeavor if it is done for the right reasons. Spend some time praying about it. If you’re a woman, take it to prayer and see where God leads you. If you decide to veil, then happy veiling! :)

If you’re a man, encourage women to think about it. And make sure to affirm and compliment women who wear veils.

Peace.

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So today.

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Lately, I have been asking myself “what is love?”  I have asked myself this question many times before and I thought I had it figured it out.

Love is sacrifice. It’s putting another before yourself. That was my “simple” answer whenever others would ask me what I thought love was, something that happens quite a bit when you’re involved in Bible studies.

Yesterday, I had a powerful experience with Jesus and then I had this mini-revelation: love is a response to Jesus. True, real love is a response to Jesus.

I watched a priest officiate a wedding and it was like I could feel his “yes” to God radiating graces to everyone in the pews. It was so powerful! In love, God called to him to follow Him. The priest said “yes”, he is responding to Jesus. That’s love. And love begets grace and more love.

I watched two young, beautiful, Catholic people enter the sacrament of holy matrimony. Their love was bringing forth fruits from the second they became unified in the eyes of God.  They both responded to Jesus in a different way than the priest. They responded to Jesus through another person. Jesus shows Himself to each of them through the other person. They responded to Jesus and said “yes” to His offer of marriage with each other.

I stared at the face of the Blessed Mother in the church. My heart lept with a great devotion to her. Talk about someone who knows about responding to Jesus. This response, this “yes”, brings forth beauty and grace. It is love, in its fullness.

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Jesus loved in its perfect form. He said “yes” to God’s will. He responded to God and willingly laid down His very life for us. If we seriously pause to think about the magnitude of that we are hit with a whole wave of love. And that wave of love is us responding to Jesus. We love because He first loved us.

We love because He first loved us. Love is a response to Jesus.

I had a conversation with a friend last night about how we are nearly ignorant of how much Jesus loves us. Most of the time, we just don’t get it. We have no idea how loved we are.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was being told to go before Jesus in Adoration or in the sanctuary and say “Jesus, love me”.  This is something I do all the time and it has made a huge difference in my life.

He desires to love us. He does love us. The more we are able to recognize His love, the more we can respond to it, which in itself is love.

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I know it seems beneath me, but sometimes it’s not so easy.

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Not being able to post on facebook today was seriously a penance (first world probs, right?) Anywho, I was surprised by some of the hatin going on from protestant friends of mine. Y’all mad? Our Papa is a humble servant, don’t be hatin’.

He is your Papa too, whether you claim him or not. Annnnd, just a newsflash for the media— the Pope is always Catholic and so why in all the earth you thought there was a possibility of the next Pope supporting homosexuality, abortion, contraceptives, and the likes is beyond me. Do you know anything about Catholicism?


Pope Francis does not make up Church teaching, he defends what the Church has been teaching for thousands of years.

Also, please stop putting the I at the end of his name. He is not Francis I until there is a Frances II. He is Pope Francis. Period.

He is neither from the right or left. The Church is always at the center because the center is what is truth. Center, not as in moderate. The Holy Spirit chose Papa Paco (nickname for Francis). He was born for such  a time as this.

I love Jesus! I love His Church! I love the Roman Pontiff. he chose. The Pope is a servant to Christ’s servants. We serve God, and the Pope serves the people of God. Double win, Your Popeness. 


I had fun running around my room and dancing when sweet Papa Francis addressed us from the balcony and I liked that he asked us to pray for him (which I did).

WE HAVE A POPE!

(via myheartisyearningforyou)

Source: facebook.com
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Your job interview gets rescheduled because the interviewer is also Catholic and said she’s too excited to focus on talking.

WE HAVE A POPE!!!

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I used to tease one of my girl friends who spent a considerable amount of her free time hanging out with different guys by telling her “be careful, you might just get interested”.

Of course, she would swear up and down that nothing would happen— that there was no way she would ever have interest in any of these men. However, we know how us human beings can blindly believe we are immune to such possibilities.

So, naturally, she occasionally developed interest in some of these men. She couldn’t hep it. They were good guys whom she surrounded herself by and familiarity breeds liking (ever heard that before, hah).


Well, if you will allow me to make this leap, I daresay we could learn something from her. Now, what we can learn has nothing to do with friendships or dating (the disappointment, I know).

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What I mean, is, we could learn about surrounding ourselves in good things in which we at first believe we have no inclination towards. For example, I never was a huge “Jesus music” fan. Until I started hanging out with it, though I swore I’d never be interested. Now, it is what I mostly listen to. See my point?

Never thought I would enjoy reading the Bible as much as a “regular” book, until I spent time with it. What do you know? Became interested. We’re in a steady relationship now.

I never was one for listening to lectures, but just the other day I sat through an hours long lecture on the book of Leviticus. I was sad when it ended.

We often begin to like that which we have placed in our lives, those things which we dedicate time and attention to. If we sit around bemoaning about how we wish we enjoyed reading the Bible more, then we accomplish nothing.

If we surround ourselves with things we know we should desire or we wish to desire, the desire will eventually come. God will find a way to capture our hearts with these ways of knowing Him.


Pick one thing and give it a try! Might seem boring at first, might seem a lot like my friend said “impossible to be interested”, but it IS possible and can be totally rewarding/amazing/all good adjectives and adverbs here.

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National Catholic Register, March 10, 2013
 

In an interview with former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer (who served in rome under Bl. John Paul II and, after becoming a successful businessman, wrote the book The Pope and the CEO), Mr. Widmer had this to say:
 

Question:
What do you make of some pundits who speak of “major changes” that a new pope could bring about in terms of birth control, “same-sex marriage, “, abortion, etc.”

 
Answer:
 

I think that people who make such predictions or project such changes do no one a favor.  They are very misleading in two ways:
 
First, the papacy is not about the person, but the office, the ministry.  I think it’s not so much “who” the pope is than “what” the pope represents.  Telling people that “another” pope would change some of the fundamentals of the Catholic faith is akin to making the papacy into a personality cult — something very far away from what Catholics actually believe.
 

    The pope doesn’t make up the faith — he defends it.
Second, someone making these predictions — or, as some phrase it, “holding out hope” for such “changes” — just does not understand the Catholic faith.  Saying that the Church is going to change its view on abortion or birth control is akin to holding your breath for PETA to endorse seal clubbing.  The change is a fundamental opposition to the creed of the organization. Each pope is relied upon to protect and uphold these teachings.
 
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St. Mariana (Lily of Quito)

One of my favorite saints. She is the patron of many things, including: the Americas, bodily ills, loss of parents, those rejected by religious orders, and the patroness of Ecuador.

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One of my favorite songs of all time— so so so beautiful.

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(via joecatholic)