Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Passing of an Age

"...and so the fourth Age of Middle-Earth began."

It's probably because I'm filled with hope after a week-long Lord of the Rings marathon, but I refuse to feel less than hopeful about today.

Instead, I'm enjoying my work day. I won't be listening to the radio or watching television or checking CNN at all today because I'll probably just throw up. Granted, it's wrong to pre-judge someone, and I do pray that Obama lives up to his predecessors and does in fact "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." We can worry about a whole host of issues, but it's much more fruitful to be proactive: to pray, fast, and work against evil than just wring our hands in frustration.

I know the confetti and shiny lights and fanatical crowds are distracting, but just for a moment, let's try to remember that $150 million is being spent on the One's coronation, despite soaring unemployment, immense debt, slow growth, and a tanking stock market. When the Bush Administration spent $40 million four years ago, all we heard was howls of distress about irresponsible spending. But today? Not a peep. Interesting.

The always-awesome Fr. Z posted a beautiful prayer written by the Archbishop of Baltimore way back in 1791. It's a good reminder that our work begins *now.* Regardless of my disagreements with him, Obama is an intelligent, clever man who is capable of greatness. Let's pray that he allows God to use his gifts for the benefit of our country and not its detriment.

There is always hope. Not hype, but hope. True hope.

"Hold your ground! Hold your ground. Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may
come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Subtle Selfishness

Last week I heard joyful news: two more sets of friends are engaged! I’m thrilled for them, really, and can’t wait to celebrate with them in the next wedding season. So far there are “only” four weddings planned for next summer among my friends, as opposed to the eight last year and the five the summer before. Of course, all this talk of marriage usually puts me in an inward tizzy about my own vocation and current state of singleness. For the past year or so I’ve fiercely resisted set-ups and blind dates, protesting that I love being single, I enjoy being utterly independent, and I’m too selfish to be a good wife and mother right now. “Someday” when I tired of the singleness thing I’ll turn my Claddagh ring around and open my heart to potential suitors. I assert that, at t only twenty-three, I have years of fertility left and no reason to freak out about my biological clock just yet.

That theory got sort of a beating this morning. Thinking about selfishness and its incompatibility with Christian marriage, I heard a rote response forming in my head, “I’m selfish, and darn it, I like it! Too selfish to be married right now, that’s for sure.” I know that to be a good wife to someone someday I need to learn how to die to myself for the good of the other and be joyfully willing to lay aside my own interests and concerns for my husband’s. However, as a single person I don’t have to do that. Ever! Now that I’m finished college and don’t have roommates anymore, I can be as selfish as I want! I don’t have to worry about what sort of decorating color scheme I want in the bathroom, because no one will disagree with me. I don’t have to worry about playing my music too loudly, because no one is trying to study in the next room. I can turn the heat up as high as I’d like, because I’m the only person responsible for the electric bill. As I thought about the litany of benefits to this singleness, it hit me: by relishing my small acts of selfishness I’m not practicing selflessness. I’m getting very comfortable not having to worry about other people. If I don’t begin actively combating my selfishness, how on earth will I do it when I fall in love? I’ll be so out of practice that I’ll probably fail.

Here’s the catch, though. How do I learn self-denial right now? I don’t live extravagantly, so I’m not overindulging on luxuries like designer clothes or a new car or a fancy home entertainment system. How do I learn to give of myself? What are good exercises in self-denial that will help me learn to put myself second? How do I really take up my cross? Something I’ll be praying about as we start getting ready for Lent.