Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blessed Francis Faà di Bruno

Many famous scientists, leaders, and thinkers have been practicing Catholics, including Blessed Francis Faa di Bruno. He is known not only for his great devotion to his faith but also to the study of mathematics. He is a great example of what people are capable of when they put their trust in God.

Francis was born in Italy in 1825 as the last of twelve children to Marchese Luigi Faà di Bruno and the Lady Carolina Sappa de' Milanesi. When Francis was born, there was a lot of anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiments going around. It was a very turbulent time, which would have tested even the most fervent Catholic. However, Francis stayed true to his faith.

At first, Francis joined the Royal Army, rising through the ranks. However, he would resign to travel to Paris, where he pursued doctoral studies in mathematics and astronomy. Studying under the discoverers of Neptune, he would become a math professor at the University of Turin. Even though he was advancing his status in the scholarly realm, Francis also cared deeply about religion and asceticism. While he was pursuing his career aspects, Francis, who was friends with St. John Bosco, would establish refuges for the poor and elderly.

To further dedicate his life to religion, Francis decided to study theology, but the Archbishop would not approve of his ordination, since he was older than many of the other seminarians. It was not uncommon for younger men or boys to begin studies for the priesthood. Nevertheless, after appealing to the Pope, Francis was ordained at the age of 51.

After being ordained, Francis founded the Society of St. Zita, to provide support for maids and domestic servants, although it would eventually expand to included unmarried women. Later on in his life, he would establish another refuge, this time for prostitutes.

In mathematics, Francis's main contribution was Faà di Bruno's formula on derivatives of composite functions. He also published 40 articles in many different mathematics journals around the world.

It amazes me that one man can do so many great things. Francis definitely exemplified not only his Catholic faith, but the true essence of a Renaissance man, for he was gifted in many different areas. It just goes to show that not all great minds reject religion, but instead some of the greatest minds that have roamed this earth are the most profound examples of faith.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Salvator of Horta

Holiness is an amazing characteristic to have, but in some cases it can cause some unneeded public attention. Public attention is not usually a desire of very many saints, especially St. Salvador, who would actually suffer because of it.

Salvador Pladevall i Bien was born to parents who were servants, during the Golden Age of Spain, which was flourishing in arts, politics, wealth, and even religion. Orphaned at the age of 14, Salvador and his sister would move to Barcelona, where he would take a job as a shoemaker to support the both of them.

After his sister had married, Salvador felt free to enter the religious life. At first, he entered the local Benedictine monastery, tin order to explore monastic life, but would seek a more humble experience. Therefore, at 21 years old, he entered the Fransiscans as a lay brother, where he would be known for his humility and simple ways.

He worked as cook, a porter, and eventually the official beggar for the Franciscans at  a friar in Tortosa, Spain. While there, he became known for his charity and he would often heal people simply by making the sign of the cross. It was estimated that at one point 2000 people would come to Tortosa to see Salvador each week so that he could heal them. His superiors would become suspicious of him, continually transferring him to new friars. This would cause Salvador great gried throughout his life. Nevertheless, the sick kept following him wherever he went.

The public attention that Salvador received was relentless. It was said that people would tear off pieces of Salvador's habit to keep as relics. Salvador would eventually move to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, where he died in 1567. 

It is great that saints are able to influence so many people, but sometimes all of the attention can detract from God's will for them. God has a plan for all of us, some people might atract more attention, but we are all important in God's eyes, and we should all strive to live as God wills us. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trust in God

                Sorry, I’m infringing onto Mel’s day here. I wanted to write for Kathe’s day yesterday, but I ended up being busier than I thought with a doctor’s appointment and going home for our spring break. I promise I won’t write as much J

                Kathe has taken a class every year that ends with a trip to Africa. It’s a great experience getting to learn a lot about public health and culture as well as helping with sustainable projects for the people there. Although she has a fantastic teacher and travels with her class, I worry since it’s so far away and such a huge trip. Going to a different continent and not having email or a phone is hard. It’s scary to me to not be able to hear from her or know what’s going on and I worry a lot. Last week before she left, Kathe told me that whenever I’m feeling worried or sad that I should pray. I kind of brushed it off thinking that it wouldn’t help me feel any better. It didn’t change not knowing if she’s okay. She told me to do it and trust in God because it really would help. So I have been praying when I’m worried and it really has helped. It’s funny to me that I’ve never really thought that maybe I had a trust issue and needed to strengthen my faith in that way, but letting go and trusting Him more has helped me a lot. I prayed just walking to class and I’ve been praying when I’m lying in bed falling asleep. It really has been calming and comforting and I feel like I am less worried because I am being more trusting in Him to take care of things. I think it was a good lesson to learn and I wanted to share it with you.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1


Monday, March 18, 2013

“Don't you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can't be exactly who you are.” - Lady Gaga

                I’ve been having ‘big’ thoughts lately thanks to some reading and a couple of groups I meet with every week. I’ll start with a little fact about me. I am borderline obsessed with Lady Gaga. I love her music, her personality and guts, and her message. Even with her provocative outfits and word choices, she has a strong, clear message she speaks. In case you don’t know her story, a quick background: Stefani Germanotta was bullied during her school years. She said that she was different and always felt like a freak. She struggled for years, but finally made it as a pop star. She speaks out as an LGBT activist, campaigned to raise money for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, started a non-profit organization for youth empowerment, self-confidence, and anti-bullying.  She really talks and tries to connect to her fans and speaks the message of self love and fighting against rejection from others and yourself. (To find out more about Lady Gaga, you can learn a lot on her Wikipedia page or at
                Anyways, my obsession with Lady Gaga comes into play with relating her message to something we’ve been talking about in prayer groups. After St. Monica-St. George’s retreat last month, the Women’s Group has been reading Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. In a section of his book called Taken, Nouwen discusses how we are all the chosen children of God. He loves us unconditionally, with the good and the bad. This is a hard concept to understand, and even more so, fully accept. It is hard to think that if I do something wrong that really upsets me, that God still loves me just the same. Yes, He probably wants me to do better, but he never stops loving me. And if I do something great, I’m sure He is proud of me, but I can never do anything that will make Him love me anymore than He already does, or anymore than He loves anyone else. An excerpt from the section really stood out to me:

                 The world is “manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: “These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”

                It discusses the reality that the world is not a perfect place. Actually, it can be quite terrible at times. Bad things happen and everyone, including you and me, has dark days during their lives. But through all of this, God loves you just the same. He loves you even when you can’t see why and even when you reject His love. After reading this I knew I had to print it out and hang it on my wall. You should too! I know it will be encouraging on bad days, and the good days too. Nouwen goes on to discuss how self rejection is a way of not accepting God’s love. We allow other people and things to determine our worth and make us feel rejected or unaccepted. Nouwen says that God has chosen us, we have a meaningful purpose in this life, and He loves us. This is where Lady Gaga comes back to us J

                “When the whole world has their eyes on you, if you say something that doesn’t truly come from your spirit and your soul, or if you wear something that doesn’t come from your spirit and your soul, it’s  an injustice to your position. And so, I’m really myself every single day and I do it because I know my fans would want me to.”
                -Lady Gaga

                Lady Gaga has found that she is happy being herself and that you should never let anyone else make you feel less than you are. She wears whatever she thinks is artful or meaningful to her and doesn’t let anyone else make her feel bad about it. She stands for what she believes in and won’t back down. It is a great message, I think, to hold true to. Be yourself! Stand up for yourself and what you believe in! Love yourself! You are a chosen child of God! Why not live up to your full potential when you are loved by God and he wants you to be you?! So, I hope this long post (sorry) has made you think about and appreciate God’s love for you, inspired you to go out there and be exactly who you are meant to be in this world, and maybe even sparked a little interest in Lady GagaJ I’ll leave you with a final quote from Lady Gaga that she spoke to her audiences during her Monster Ball Tour:

                “Tonight I want you to forget all of your insecurities. I want you to reject anyone or anything that ever made you feel like you don’t belong or don’t fit in or made you feel like you’re not good enough or pretty enough or thin enough or can’t sing well enough or dance well enough or write a song well enough or like you’ll never win a Grammy or you’ll never sell out Madison Square Garden. You just remember that you’re a superstar and you were born this way!

                May tonight be your liberation from all those things.

… I would pray and dream that one day just one person would believe in me, so when you leave here tonight, know that at least one person believes in you.”
Know that God always believes in you. So love the awesome person that is you!
<3 Katie

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"There's nothing like having a basic need met"

It's funny what things stick with you.  Clare has said a few times: "There nothing like having a basic need met!"  Usually referring to when you're super thirsty and finally get to take a drink of water or when you really really really have to go to the bathroom and finally get to go.  It's just a wonderful time really.

So why has that stuck with me?  I guess because it made me laugh...and because it's just so stinkin true.  Yesterday I decided to partake in a fast along with other St. Monica St. George parishioners and by the time mass rolled around at 7pm I had gone seven hours without eating.  Obviously I was nowhere near starving but I was definitely hungry and couldn't wait to finally have some dinner after mass (ya know, meeting a basic need).  Well as I sat down after communion, a satisfied voice inside my head went, "Nothing like having a basic need met!"

Hello epiphany moment!  Sometimes my brain can be pretty smart......or maybe that's just God talking haha. But really, that voice is true.  There's nothing like receiving Christ in the Eucharist.  There's something about the fresh start that is just so necessary to the human soul and the Eucharist gives that to me.  I need that forgiveness and acceptance and then the strength that comes from Christ alone.  I take all that mess that's happening in my life and after receiving the Eucharist, it all seems so small.  And man do I love that feeling.

So yes, Clare, I agree.  There's nothing like having a basic need met...especially when that need is met in the Eucharist ;)

Until next time,

Friday, March 8, 2013

It is what it is

Do you ever get so caught up in your to do list that nothing actually is accomplished except more worry and anxiety?  I feel like that has been the story of my last two weeks.  Because my semester is divided into terms, I just started a new class.  While I love learning about the miracle of life aka maternity childbearing, I must say I am easily stressed with the idea of a new teacher, new clinical instructors, and different testing styles. And of course my attention has been solely focused on classes, occasionally interspersed with work.  Lately, I have been living my life according to due dates for assignments.  And frankly, I have been quite a slacker when it comes to prayer. 

While I still might be doing alright in school and completing everything, I still feel like my life is slowly falling apart.  It is not like I have experienced a traumatic event that makes me feel this way.  It is all the little things that I keep telling myself are not a big deal.  For example, as I am sure you have noticed, I have not been very successful in blogging.  My night prayers are becoming far and few in between.  Not exactly the best way to start off lent. 

I like to be told “It is okay.  I am sure it is no big deal” because I think it allows myself to be less accountable for my mistakes and unmet expectations.  But, sometimes I just need to be told how it is.  This week I have discovered the little black book my parish handed out at the beginning of lent.  (It has been sitting on my dresser since Ash Wednesday, yet another example of slacking).    On Tuesday’s reflection, it talks about how last Sunday’s gospel is not a typical message that we normally hear.  Yes, He is a forgiving God.  But, I cannot go through life making excuses for myself.   The passage goes on to say “God is patient….but not doting.  God is forgiving….but not wishy-washy.”   Much in the same way of the gospel this Sunday, sometimes we just need to be told how it is.

Yep, I think it is fair to say God has called me out on this one.  I am not very happy with myself for letting precious time slip by without trying to gain a deeper understanding of God.  But, I do not want to let myself prolong attending to my spiritual needs any longer than I already have.  How do I fix this? Well I am not sure I have the space for that.  But I must say that challenge for the day is a great place to start.  The goal is to start taking responsibility for the choices I make today.   I think taking responsibility allows the depth of the situation to sink in: good or bad. 

I feel like this passage was a harsh reality check; but, obviously necessary.  Sometimes to move forward, I have to backtrack.  For today, I will hold myself accountable for my spiritual needs. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Servant of God Sylvester of Assisi

There are four stages in becoming a saint. During each stage the person that is being considered is given a title. The titles follow the order: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, and, finally Saint. During the first stage, the bishop where the candidate died will open an investigation into the life of the individual, who is called a Servant of God. Today, instead of focusing on a saint, we look into the life of a man that is currently on the road to canonization, specifically in this first stage. Sylvester of Assisi was one of the first 12 followers of St. Francis of Assisi and he was the first priest of the Franciscan order.

Sylvester was the descendant of a noble family, and had sold Francis, who had previously renounced his family, some bricks. Francis was to use these to build local churches that had fallen into disarray. While Francis was with Bernard of Quintavalle, a local nobleman who had decided to follow Francis and give up all of his wealth and possessions, Sylvester complained that he had been paid too little for the bricks that he had sold Francis. Sylvester had fallen prey to greed, much like we all have. For example, has there ever been a time where you claimed more than you actually deserved?

Sylvester received his compensation, but felt guilty. Therefore, he change his mind, gave up all of his possessions, and decided to follow Francis. He ended up becoming one of the first priests in the young Franciscan order. He prayed very often and lived a life of poverty, even becoming a favorite companion of Francis, someone that Francis would come to for advice on all different matters.

It was said that there was a civil war raging in Arezzo, a city that Francis and Sylvester had traveled to, and Francis had instructed Sylvester to drive out the demons from the city. Sylvester proclaimed, "In the name of almighty God and by virtue of the command of his servant Francis, depart from here, all you evil spirit." Afterwards, the demons left and peace returned to the city.  

Sylvester was one of Francis's original companions and he is buried in the Basilica of St. Francis. The cause for his canonization has been brought up by the Friars minor. 

Do we sometimes put too much emphasis on material goods, power, or prestige. It is difficult, but we must realize that these things do not fulfill us, it is God that brings true happiness. This is the epiphany that Sylvester, and even Francis, had, and helped them to decid to devote their lives to prayer and evangelization. We can learn much from these holy men.

Pope John Paul II, 1983, Divinus Perfectionis Magister, Art I, Sec 1
"Servant of God Sylvester of Assisi". American

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Challenges for a Teacher

I'm a secondary education major and this semester I've had a challenging practicum placement.  I'm only in the school two days a week but I'm getting a taste of the frustrations that go along with being a teacher.  I mostly focus on the 12th grade calculus class.  They are all lower level, often lazy and unmotivated students.  Mix in senioritis and negative views of math and you've got yourself one hot mess!  Honestly, they are a hard class to control, especially because they just really don't care about the subject and they don't see me as an authority figure.  It's rough trying to get them to listen to what I say.  I repeat myself often because they don't listen the first and second time around and they get angry when I move on before they are ready.  It's frustrating and it makes me second guess myself as a teacher.  Can I really handle this job?  I become impatient and frustrated with my students for the lack of respect they show me.  If they will not respect and listen to me, then why should I care?

Thank heavens that God is not like that.  This teaching thing has given me a whole new appreciation for our amazing God.  How many times does he have to repeat himself for our sake?  How many times do we ignore what he says?  How many times do we not show him the respect he deserves?  And yet he responds with nothing short of infinite love and care.  He does not get impatient or think any less of us!  He is incredible to us even when we spit in his face.  I think about several of my students...I don't have quiet the same attitude towards them.  I love this new found appreciation for the amazing teacher that God is.  I pray that I can learn to be more like him to always respond with love to my students.

Until next time,