fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (Default)

A brief story from my absence:

This past Sunday, seven men and women were canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church. Among them was St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint. Tekakwitha (Kateri was her baptismal name - the Mohawk version of Catherine) was born in what is now Auriesville, NY, which is only about half an hour from Albany. So to celebrate, I took a group of students to the shrine at Tekakwitha's birthplace for a joyful pilgrimage. It was an incredible Mass: several thousand people were there, and the Mass was celebrated in a combination of English and Mohawk.

Like all saints, Kateri Tekakwitha's life was not without problematic elements. Check out her wikipedia entry here for more info. (Trigger warning for self harm at the link.) She lived in the midst and mix of colonization, the clash of cultures, and a period in Christianity that emphasized extreme penance.

Yet for all that, I don't think we can overestimate the importance of Tekakwitha's canonization. She is a Native face of God, and her life and her story is not limited to the 24 years she lived on earth; she has become a symbol. She is an evangelist, a proponent of the simple life, patron of ecology, patron of young people making their own way. She did not rely on the white Jesuit fathers to tell her how to live her faith; she lived it herself, and indeed often refused to listen to them when they tried to correct her. She has long been considered a patron and prayed to as a saint among Native American and First Nations Catholics; frankly, it's about time that Rome caught up.
fialleril: [Palo is everyone's favorite artist] (Palo)
Mostly thoughts on BBC's The Hollow Crown as it's aired so far (so Richard II and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2), but also a Hamlet fic rec.

spoilers for The Hollow Crown, though mostly minor ones )

On a non-spoilery note, here is a fic you should read immediately, if you have not already done so!

Rosemary for Remembrance by Gehayi. It's Hamlet! In space! With Ophelia as the protagonist and an asexual woman of color, solving mysteries and saving the day (in space)! And female!Claudius, and secret plots, and aliens, and people saving the day by being clever. It is one of my favorite pieces of fiction, period.
fialleril: [Spock disapproves of your poor life choices] (what is this even)
[Trigger Warning for: heteronormativity, heterosexism, asexual and aromantic erasure, slut shaming, gender essentialism, theological abuse.]

I should know better than to read anything on "singles" put out by a Catholic publication, let alone a publication like Our Sunday Visitor. And yet...sometimes I guess I just have to know what I'm up against.

I mean, this is only a tiny fragment of the horribleness:

Although it may be reassuring, in some ways, that today’s unmarried Catholics have lots of company in the single life, it’s also a problem. Never before have quite so many adults, Catholics or otherwise, delayed marriage quite so late in life. Some delay by choice. Others by chance. But marriage is delayed regardless. And the results are often less than rosy.


Even if a nice Catholic girl or boy is found, however, other problems often get in the way of marriage. Many nice Catholics girls and boys haven’t always been nice Catholic girls and boys. Some have made mistakes in the past that haunt them still.

Others bear the wounds of past breakups, divorce or misguided notions about career, family, personal responsibility, the meaning of happiness and the ends of marriage.

- Being single in the universal Church

Click the link if you want to appreciate how truly terrible it is, and commiserate in my pain.

... And people wonder why I'm not "out" in my church community.
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (Default)
So awesome that I had to write some poetry to express how I feel?

Yes. Also, pictures. )
fialleril: [hai thar bb] (Azula/Ty Lee)
Hey there internet! Long time no post!

Alas, work is my life. I don't even know where to begin with all the stuff I've been up to in the campus ministry department since my last post, but here's a quick run down: New Orleans was some good times, there were some service events and faith sharing things and personal crises of every stripe, sometimes I felt like I was on call 24/7, we are renovating the office, and also Lent is coming up fast!

So that made no sense. Let us talk about something more interesting. Specifically, Valentine's Day!

Now, you might be saying, "Fia, I wouldn't expect you to be into Valentine's Day? It's kind of not your idiom at all." But I would disagree! I submit to you that delicious chocolate is always my idiom, no matter the day of the year.

Seriously though, I am a big fan of the legend of St. Valentine. In fact, we are having a Theology on Tap tonight with the students who are of age, and I'm going to be talking about him and leading a discussion of how we can reclaim the counter-cultural reality that was at the heart of St. Valentine's work.

I have been thinking about making my return to LJ with a series of posts on saints for queering the church. While St. Valentine doesn't exactly fit that, he is definitely related, so I'll start with him.

There are several different St. Valentines, all of them martyrs, and not much is known about any of them historically. Legend, however, is a different matter, and when it comes to early saints, especially, legend is likely to be more important than history. It's the story that has lasting power.

My favorite legend of St. Valentine goes like this: Valentine was a priest under the reign of Emperor Claudius II (268-270 CE). Claudius was involved in several unpopular wars, and in a desperate bid to recruit more soldiers, had forbidden marriage for men eligible for conscription into the military. Some versions of the legend actually say that he suspended marriage in the city of Rome entirely.

Valentine went against this edict and spent his time marrying couples in secret. This is, of course, where we get the connection with romance and romantic love in the modern holiday, but I think we've forgotten a very important part of the story.

Valentine was caught marrying a couple against the edict and arrested. He was brought before the Emperor, who had him beaten and executed by beheading. He was executed as an enemy of the state (much like Jesus, in that sense), because marrying the people he was marrying was a political action. By performing marriages, he was actively denying soldiers to the military and making a very real protest against the war.

This is the element of the story I think we've lost. The legend of St. Valentine isn't just about love; it's about a revolution. It's about a political act of protest - the original "make love not war."

And I think this is why St. Valentine is a good saint for queering the church. I think the modern parallels are pretty obvious. Marriages that are illegal and thus contentious political acts? I suspect if Valentine were alive today, he'd be getting himself excommunicated for officiating at gay marriages. And then getting himself put on the FBI watch list for acts of military sabotage.

I'd love to see this element of Valentine's legend reclaimed. Valentine's Day: the day you buy your sweatheart some chocolate, write some cute cards, and take direct nonviolent action for greater justice in the world.
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (Ba'el)
Remember that nun in Phoenix who was excommunicated for authorizing an abortion to save the mother's life?

Apparently, even Roman Catholic canon law would say she shouldn't have been.

Shades of grey in a world of apparent absolutes | National Catholic Reporter

This could get interesting.
fialleril: [when the time comes to let it go, to let it go] (to live in this world)

Mary is kicking demonic ass. With a club.

This is my new favorite picture in the entire world.
fialleril: [when the time comes to let it go, to let it go] (to live in this world)
The Easter Vigil on Saturday night was (somewhat surprisingly) incredibly beautiful and moving.

The beauty I had expected. I've been doing RCIA at Loyola Chicago's chapel, which is right on the lake and an absolutely gorgeous location. We started with the Easter fire outside, on the balcony which is literally on the lakeshore. It was just early enough that it wasn't full dark, and the glow of the fire against the dark waves of the lake was really striking. It was a beautiful night, pretty warm, breezy, with a few stars actually visible. The Easter fire was blessed, and we all lit our candles and processed back inside the church.

I realized that this is one of the things that drew me to the Catholic Church in the first place. Catholicism is, at least in my experience, one of the few Christian denominations that has a real sense of the sacredness of the earth, a sense that isn't just spoken about in theology, but that is actually incorporated in liturgy and action. The Easter Vigil, in particular, is all about the profound sacredness of water, fire, bread, wine, the earth.

The church was covered in flowers, ferns, and branches. The first part of the mass was lit only by our candle light, which is perhaps my favorite part of any liturgy. This liturgy is intentionally about the rebirth of the earth as well as Christ.

I say that I was surprised by how moving the vigil was. That's largely because I've been practicing as a Catholic for five years now, so I didn't expect that finally making it official would feel like that big a deal. did. There was something incredibly powerful about standing in front of that crowd of people, making my profession and being sealed with the holy oil, and looking out and seeing all those people I knew, who had come to see me receive this. I was just...happy. People told me afterward that I couldn't stop grinning up there.

It was like Christmas, in a way. Maybe better. My sponsor, Mary Ellen, took me and my community out for dinner, and her family came too. She got me a conformation gift, too, and so did they, which took me by surprise. Apparently this is a big deal!

Tom, Jordan, and Sr. Patsy, my co-workers at ISP, all came to the vigil, and several of the volunteers from the women's team also came. I got quite a few gifts, and one woman sent me flowers. The sense of affirmation and community was really astounding and wonderful.

holy days

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 09:40 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
Blessings to everyone celebrating Passover and the Easter Triduum this week!

It's a pretty busy three days for me, as I'm completing my RCIA process and getting ready to enter the Catholic Church tomorrow. My sister [ profile] veriond arrives tomorrow, and my sponsor, the ever-awesome Mary Ellen (who is also our JVC support person) is taking us out for a celebratory dinner. The Easter Vigil happens at 8:00 and goes until...whenever the food runs out. ;) It promises to be an exciting night.

I feel a little strange about all of this, because I wasn't that excited about the Vigil, but everyone around me is so excited that it's catching. And I'm glad of that. It's given this Easter season a real feeling of change, of genuinely entering something new. And having all of these wonderful women and men, with their passion for justice and real equality in the church, gives me a constant living reminder of what drew me to this church in the first place.
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
In my continuing quest to be as heretical as possible, on Tuesday evening I attended Fr. Roy Bourgeois' talk at the Chicago stop on his Shatter the Stained Glass Ceiling tour. This was a pretty amazing gathering of folks speaking against the sin of sexism in the Catholic Church and in favor of women's full inclusion in the church and the priesthood.

Fr. Roy was told last year, after he attended the ordination of a woman priest, that he had 30 days to recant his position, or he would be excommunicated. He refused to recant, and instead sent the following letter to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

cut for length and awesomeness )

It seems the Inquisition is determined to remove every good and positive thing from the church. And yet...their attempts to do so only showcase the courage and faith of those who dissent.

I'm afraid I'm going to sound like a gushing teenager, but Tuesday night really was amazing, seeing all of these women who have followed their call in spite of the hierarchy's teaching and threats. And, frankly, this is just what I needed in my own current struggle. This is why I wanted to join the Catholic church.

For those interested here is a petition in support of Fr. Roy and women's ordination.
fialleril: [y'all don't know 'bout my flawless logic] (T'Pring)
Ugh, all I ever do anymore is memes, but whatever.

Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."

• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity.
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions!

questions under here )
fialleril: [tending as all music does, toward silence] (Spock)
So the Star Trek shirt I ordered from a cereal box way back in June finally arrived this week! They had to re-order it, 'cause they ran out of science blue. (Of course.) [ profile] veriond got a command gold one, so the forecast is likely that we'll take pics together over the break!

This, naturally, has caused me to think about what position I would hold on a Starfleet ship, and I have reached the logical conclusion that, in the world of the future, I would be the Catholic chaplain. Why is this logical, you ask? Well! For one thing, it only makes sense that Starfleet would have several chaplains of different religious traditions for a mission that lasts as long as five years. This is pretty standard military practice now, and I don't think that's going to disappear. Also, there will absolutely be women priests in the world of the future.

Now, why in the world the Catholic chaplain would be running around in a blue shirt, I'm sure I don't know, except that blue seems to be kind of the catch-all color. Red is either ops or security, and gold is command, but blue covers everything from science to medical to history and anthropology. So...theology wouldn't be too much of a stretch?

ANYWAY. Here is a meme from [ profile] yenneffer.

In 2009, fialleril resolves to...
Find a better toph.
Go to beowulf every Sunday.
Eat more jesus.
Cut down on my worldbuilding.
Give up cooking.
Volunteer to spend time with biblical studies.

Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Eat more Jesus. Pfft. I guess it's a good thing I'm becoming Catholic!

a meme, at last

Friday, November 20th, 2009 12:02 pm
fialleril: [you can hold on or let go] (a word we use to plug holes with)
This post is partly about the meme, but mostly an excuse to use this icon, which I have longed to create since I first saw the movie, and finally the internet gods have seen fit to bestow caps. So I'll just sit here and bask in my icon for a while.

But in any case, the meme! [ profile] starfoozle and [ profile] betareject both gave me questions ages ago, so it's about time I answer them!

Leave me a comment saying "Boom-cha" and I will respond by asking you five questions that satisfy my curiosity. Update your journal with the answers to the questions, including this in the post.

questions and answers under here )
fialleril: [Mama always said they were trouble] (dead boys bearing fruit)
I had a pretty amazing time at the AAR Annual Meeting. It was great to see everyone again and to catch up, and it was also really helpful to me to be able to talk about JVC with people who are outside of the program altogether. I also had the opportunity to attend several sessions.

One session in particular had a pretty huge impact on me, and I'm still wrestling with it. It was the Religion and Genocide session, and the papers were all focused around Melissa Raphael's book The Female Face of God in Auschwitz: A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust. Most of the papers discussed the book directly and offered some form of criticism. But, although these papers were very interesting, the one that struck me most profoundly was actually a paper that took Raphael's theme and examined it in a new context: namely, women's care-giving as a strategy of resistance, particularly among abused women. She spoke about the ways in which some abused women make a conscious choice to act as caregivers to their children, to other women, or even sometimes to their abusers, because they believe that this choice is also a refusal of violence and of the paradigm of violence which is imposed on them.

The focus is shifted from abused women as victims to an attention to women's agency and active resistance, even in situations where the women may not ever escape their abusers.

I know I've encountered this idea, or germs of it, before, but there was something about this presentation that was incredibly raw and vital. And it was also very helpful to me, in my work with the Ignatian Spirituality Project and with women who have been abused. I had been increasingly uncomfortable with what I perceived as the women I work with blaming themselves for what was done to them, or accepting their role as care-givers without resisting. Now, though, I think my privilege was probably showing there. And...I'm glad that this program I work with is about listening to stories and simply taking them in. It's a growing and eye-opening experience, and continually shocking me out of my unacknowledged prejudices and comfort zones.

The Annual Meeting was something of a shock in another way, too, though. It's...well, very different from the kind of voluntary simplicity I've been living in since August (even if I do have my doubts about that simplicity sometimes, but more on that another time). And yet the AAR is still very much engaged in important work towards social justice. I feel like I've been a little caught in a bubble these last few months, dealing with only one aspect of social justice, and it was important for me to see the wider picture again.

And now for some far more mundane thoughts on Montréal, plus pictures!

more beneath the cut )
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (wisdom & strength)
Back at the beginning of the JVC year, we did a form of Ignatian imaginative prayer on our opening retreat. This exercise involved listened to a passage of scripture and imagining ourselves in the scene, either as one of the characters present or as ourselves or a created character, or even as an inanimate object. The passage of scripture used was Matthew's account of the nativity, when the Magi visit the child Jesus and Mary treasures all these things in her heart.

As I let myself experience the story, I was presented with a very different take on Mary and her wisdom, and I wrote it up in a midrashic poem.

The Magi Come to Wisdom’s House )

the other family ghost

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 09:20 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
Today at work I was going through massive stacks of books, seeing which ones were published by AAR (which we therefore have to keep), and which can be given away. And I stumbled across a book about my great-great-grandfather, Henry Steel Olcott.

He's an odd case in our family history. A national hero in Sri Lanka (apparently he's even been called a Bodhisattva?) and the founder of a branch of Buddhist thought that's been instrumental in changing Sri Lankan society. (The Wikipedia article is fairly decent on this: check it out if you're interested.) And yet on this side of the pond, there's still a fair amount of passed-on bitterness, because he abandoned his wife and children to do all this.

Here, have a picture:

So, needless to say, I took the book. Should be interesting reading.

update things

Sunday, May 10th, 2009 06:44 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (team fail)
The party went pretty well last night, although I was worried there for awhile. It was 7:30 and nobody had showed! But then one guy showed up, and everybody else got here around 8:00, and it ended up being a pretty decent crowd and a very good time. Somehow we ended up debating the nature of reality and whether or not it's possible for people and societies to really change. 'Cause that's just how we theology students roll.

Graduation is tomorrow morning beginning at 8:00 a.m. Presumably this is to avoid the steaming Georgia heat, but it's still not going to be pleasant, because in order to actually get a parking space, I'll probably have to arrive at 6:30. Ugh.

I'll have to take some pics of my graduation gown. It's truly hideous. It has these weird sleeve things that look like they're designed to hide booze or something. (I'm tempted to try it out, because this ceremony is going to last until like 3:00 in the afternoon. It's going to be brutal.) And the whole thing wears like a burlap sack and makes me look like a balloon. Would it be bad form to wear a belt around a graduation robe?

In other news, it seems that asexual Obi-Wan is the most popular meta topic. So I'll have to organize my thoughts, and hopefully that will be up soon. We'll see if I get myself expelled from the fandom. ;)
fialleril: [By virtue of all I have done, may the pain of every living creature be completely cleared away.] (Aang)
Or, yesterday was a crazy and awesome day.

Let's start with the monastery visit. Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery is a Trappist monastery in the Cistercian Order. (If you know of Thomas Merton, he was a Trappist also.) The monks support themselves through a number of industries: they grow bonsai, they make stained glass (usually large commissions for churches or other religious houses), they make delicious fudge, and they have a book store and gift shop. They also run a retreat house. (There's going to be a writer's retreat in early June, and I may just have to sign up.)

I carpooled with another classmate, and we ended up arriving two hours early, because the profs had initially said to allow a lot of extra time to get there. I'd been to the monastery before and knew it wouldn't take that long, but I decided to humor them anyway, since I didn't have anything else going on. Long story short, the profs and most of the student didn't show up for another two hours, but we enjoyed those two hours immensely, so I have no complaints.

Anyway, some of you requested pics from the monastery, so the story continues in pictures below the cut!

read more )

After I left the monastery it was off to Candler Spring Banquet, which ended up being a really good time. I actually danced for about two hours straight, and had a blast. (I also discovered that I'm actually not horrible as a fast dancer. Slow dancing is definitely out, thought.)

And now I'm off to watch Slumdog Millionaire with some friends! Catch y'all later!
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (Fema Baab)
Mary in the Garden

Very early in the morning,
while the holy dark still covers the world,
the woman comes, bearing spices,
to the garden.
She comes to do the age-old work of women,
to tend to the mystery of life and death,
in the twilight space
between night and day,

She finds a stone rolled aside,
the herald of a mystery without a name,
and in that first moment of twilight uncertainty
there is a spark of something
that runs wilder and faster
than the men she hastens to find
and beats at the edges of belief
like a heart-bird against the cage of ribs.

And so when the men are gone she stays.
She stays, head bowed and weeping,
as the new morning sun rises
around and behind and within her,
touching her face with tremors of light
and tingling across her skin
until she looks
and sees
for the first time in this new light
the Garden.

The trees are dancing.
The leaves and the flowers are ablaze
with the light of the newborn sun,
fire dancing in waves
across the green surface of life.
A vine trails to the very lip of the tomb
and bursts forth in exuberant flower.
The woman thinks of seeds,
a tremulous, unknowing joy born in her heart.

And then, out of the very flame
that dances over the leaves of the cypress tree,
she hears a voice:
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
The voice is wild and strong and earth-filled,
and she does not turn to look,
for in turning she might not find.

But she says, “Tell me,”
and the voice from the fire speaks
and names her “Mary!”

And she turns and knows him instantly.
He is ablaze with fire like the garden around him,
the image of a seed
sprouted and grown to new and astonishing life,
and the woman,
looks at him and understands
that he is gardener and seed and Rabbouni.

Time stills,
recapitulated and overturned all in a moment,
and for the second, the third, the eternal time,
a woman looks upon the face of God
and recreates the world.
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
Just got back from the Easter Vigil, my absolute favorite night of the year. This is a night about nothing less than the recreation of the world: we begin outside with the primal fire, and each of us lights a candle from that primordial flame. We reaffirm that we are sparks of eternity created in the image of God and recreated anew in this very moment, rebirthed into life and reality and community. We follow the light into the darkness, lighting more candles as we go until the night is ablaze, and we affirm that this night is not and has never been about simply the resurrection of one man. If that were all, it would hold no ultimate meaning. No, this night is about the recapitulation of all time and the gathering of all people. It is about a promise.

On this night we affirm that Jesus, who was oppressed and unjustly condemned, nevertheless was not silenced. We affirm that injustice cannot be the final word, that in spite of all the horrors we have seen in the world, the mightiest word is love. And we affirm that love has the transformative power to remake the world once again, and that it has already done so and continues to do so.

Happy Easter to everyone who's celebrating!

October 2012

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