Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Women objectifying ourselves

I realized I wrote that I won't be blogging much this Lent, but this article ("Cashing in on Nude Lindsay Photos") is something I've got to comment on. Anyone who's been on the Internet long enough and not behind work-safe/child-safe firewalls would have heard that Lindsay Lohan, former child star in several family-friendly movies, recently posed as Marilyn Monroe, emulating her famous photo shoot just six weeks before Monroe was found dead of barbiturate overdose in 1962.

I confessed that I did see the New York magazine article and photos, but what is sad is Lohan's own response and her mom's response to this whole stunt. Both women said it was an 'honor' to pose as Monroe's character. Lindsay's reported response was: "Doing a Marilyn shoot? When is that ever going to come up? It’s really an honor."

Honor? Honor??? That was my response. Are we living in such a culture where a woman getting invited to pose nude (or nearly so) for millions of audience on the Internet is deemed an honor? Come on. Never mind that many commenters left on pages showing her pictures said that she looked old for her age, and all kinds of unkind remarks.

The article about cashing in was particularly telling. Posing Marilyn-esque was deemed such an honor that apparently Lohan got NO MONEY for baring herself. The article said that Bert Stern got a 'standard fee', and the magazine's website enjoyed millions of hits (translating to a CPM of a good $15) and potentially earned hundreds of thousand dollars of (undisclosed) advertising revenue.

We are indeed in a culture where women are fighting for the right to objectify ourselves and calling it an honor! Where showing more skin means more attention and more sexual power, radical feminists speak of a woman's rights to do whatever she likes with her body, including killing children in the womb and selling naked images for free. Such an honor indeed.

Never before is our late beloved Pope's Theology of the Body more applicable. That, and more prayer!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lenten update & the Eucharist

It has been only a little bit over two weeks since Lent started, but this year it felt like forever to me. There are many things happening at work, in my family and in my spiritual life. I wish sometimes I could blog it, but I realize now that most of them should be kept private, so I'm not planning to blog any major reflection, at least not until Lent is over.

As for me, my only wish is to draw closer to our Lord this Lent. As cliched as this may sound, it hasn't been easy. For a start, daily mass—more reverent & attentive daily mass—is in order. And there is no better example to follow than that of the saints when it comes to adoring our Lord in the Eucharist, especially during the Mass. This website is one of my favorites, and I shall try to feature several 'eucharistic' saints (a euphemism, I think, since how can one be a saint without being eucharistic???) during Lent to learn how to love the Eucharist more deeply. Coming soon...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

St Julian the Hospitaller

This year, I did not look for a patron saint until I came across Seminarian Matthew's update about it early this month. While it's not important, it's a kind of pious habit to rely on the intercession of those who 'made it'. So I promptly asked for one and guess who picked me... St Julian the Hospitaller, also known as St Julian the Hospitalarian or St Julian the Poor.

His origin is a little obscure, some legend says he was French, some says his hospital was in Rome, some says it was near the shrine at Santiago Compostela. The Golden Legend tells an embellished tale of heroism and charity of St Julian and his wife. It goes that a beast once foretold that he would kill his own parents, so St Julian exiled himself, until one fateful day when his parents met his wife and were taking rest in his very own bedroom. Out of jealousy, he killed both his parents, thinking they were his wife and her lover. Inconsolable with remorse, he & his wife traveled to Rome, asked for pardon from the Pope and dedicated the rest of their lives in continence to serve the poor and the sick. Now that the disclaimers are dispensed with, let's get on with the tribute.

Whether or not the legend is true, St Julian (and his wife) are famous for running an inn or a hospice, taking care of poor and sick pilgrims. The same pious legend says that one night an angel of the Lord visited St Julian as a leper pilgrim, asking him to ferry him across the river to where his inn was, and at the end of St Julian's selfless service, announced God's forgiveness for his past sin. There are many churches dedicated to St Julian in Paris, France, and in Macerata, Italy.

Legend or not, this Lent it is one story has particularly inspired me about what charity truly is.

Why me?
I once read an amusing story about the business of picking patron saints. Enbrethiliel told me that we should rather, pray that a saint would pick us up into his/her patronage. Going with the latter view, I realize I couldn't ask the saint "Why did you pick me?", but I need to ask "Why did you pick me?". Through the communion of Saints, we are grateful for any kind of intercession from any fideles: living militant, suffering, or triumphant. Still the question remains: what is our connection? Is it a reminder to cultivate and exercise Charity? Well, that is one task that will be with me til the end of time! Time will tell.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Graces from attending Mass

This being the first Friday of the month, I'd like to post a short note about going to Mass. Specifically, for those who are struggling to go to Mass more regularly. Three years ago, I read this devotion to the Sacred Heart in which the faithful are asked to attend 9 First Friday masses for 9 consecutive months. How I found it difficult to be faithful to such schedule.. for once you've missed a first Friday mass, the 'cycle' is broken and you have to start anew... but nothing is ever lost! Years later, I'm stil struggling, but now, to attend the Mass daily.

Just yesterday, I struggled to tear myself away from my work to make it in time for Mass. Many excuses played in my head (I'm sure some of you are familiar with them!) about why I don't have to go to Mass that day...
1. It's not an obligation
2. So what if you miss one, there's another one tomorrow...
3. Perhaps prayer is sufficient in place of going to Mass?
4. Your disposition isn't good enough for mass...
5. The bus has just left and the next one will get you to the Church late!

Then I remembered something I read just the day before about how the Mass went on in a church after a parishioner died of heart attack. While I think it's perfectly logical to carry on the Mass, the article seems to carry an indignant tone that it was not stopped to 'respect the dead'. That same blog post then copied 15 GOOD REASONS for attending Mass:

1. The Mass is Calvary continued.
2. Every Mass is worth as much as the sacrifice of our Lord's life, sufferings, and death.
3. Holy Mass is the world's most powerful atonement for your sins.
4. At the hour of death, the Masses you have heard will be your greatest consolation.
5. Every Mass will go with you to judgment and plead for pardon.
6. At Mass, you can diminish more or less temporal punishment due to your sins, according to your fervor.
7. Assisting devoutly at Holy Mass, you render to the sacred humanity of Our Lord the greatest homage.
8. He supplies for many of your negligence and omissions.
9. He forgives the venial sins which you have not confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
10. One Mass heard during life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.
11. You are preserved from dangers and misfortunes which otherwise might have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory.
12. Every Mass wins for you a higher degree of glory in Heaven.
13. You receive the priest's blessing which Our Lord ratifies in Heaven.
14. You kneel amidst a multitude of holy angels, who are present at the adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.
15. You are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.

So remember good people, every Mass counts! Every Holy Mass that we miss cannot be repeated again in terms of the graces we received. I'm posting this just in case it can help anyone of you attend ONE more Holy Mass in your life :)