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2018 in Review: Fontgambault Abbey, France

IMG_6399Last May Red & I were galivanting about France! I’ve been reminiscing of late, reading my journal and looking at photos. Although eventful, the whole trip was very peaceful.

After three days in Paris, and the three day Chartres Pilgrimage, Red & I joined Orbis Catholicus Travel for a 9-day tour, visiting oh-so-many catholic shrines and places!

Tuesday morning, the day after the pilgrimage ended, we woke up to a beautiful view of Chartres from our room window. Packing up onto the tour bus with all the other pilgrims who were joining the tour, we set off with anticipation and joy. I’m not sure there is anything else in the world that can fill ones heart with the type of joy one receives from a rigorous pilgrimage, and with that resonating in our hearts, we set off for three days at Fontgambault Abbey to rest our weary bodies and soak in the spiritual beauty that sits quietly and peacefully, inconspicuous within the Abbey grounds.

We stopped at Tours and Orleans along the way, seeing the Cathedrals and walking the streets.

Fontgambault was a beautiful experience. I would love to go back someday. The men stayed in the Abbey with the monks, while the women stayed in guest cottages on the grounds. The Youngling’s (ie. the single and younger generation of ladies on the tour) stayed in one cottage together.

The monks live a quiet, peaceful life, and visitors are encouraged to join in that same quiet and peace. Most of the monks keep a downward glance as they go about their lives, living the motto of St. Benedict: Ora et Labora – Pray and Work.  It is more or less an “only speak when spoken to” vibe between visitors and the monks, which allows the monks to continue their way of life without constant disruption by visitors (consequently allowing them to stay open to visitors!), and encourages visitors to enter this same spiritual quiet and peace for the duration of their stay. One early morning on our way back from mass, Tall Beauty and I were walking from the Abbey doors to the cottage path when our paths crossed with one of the monks. He smiled at us and said “Ah, headed back for coffee, are we?” We smiled back with an “Indeed, Father!” And he chuckled as he continued on his way. As small an interaction as it was, his love shone through him, and it sticks out in my memory so very well.IMG_6400

Our bus driver took us women into town every mid-morning to buy our food for the day. The gals in our cottage went in on food together, eating all our meals as a group, and going through a shocking amount of wine every night as we sat around the kitchen table in our pyjamas talking and laughing for hours on end.

Our pilgrimage tour chaplain, one of our beloved Canadian FSSP priests, gave the women a very good talk one afternoon on the lawn within the Abbey walls. I am very glad I jotted down notes in my journal as he spoke because his wisdom and holiness permeates his words (whether in the confessional, during a sermon, giving a talk, or just casual conversation) and I now can go back to those notes at anytime and review – much as I re-read various spiritual works over and over because there is always something more to be gained.

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Mornings after mass

My mornings at Fontgambault involved very early wake-ups, walking down the gravel path to the Abbey where 40+ monks all said a private mass at the same time, then walking back to the cottage surrounded by morning sunbeams glistening through the trees and morning songbirds delicately chirping their joy. I would make enough coffee for myself and the other two or three girls who had gone to mass, and we would enjoy a quiet chat over coffee as the other girls slowly got up one by one.

My mornings at Fontgambault involved very early wake-ups, walking down the gravel path to the Abbey where 40+ monks all said a private mass at the same time, then walking back to the cottage surrounded by morning sunbeams glistening through the trees and morning songbirds delicately chirping their joy. I would make enough coffee for myself and the other two or three girls who had gone to mass, and we would enjoy a quiet chat over coffee as the other girls slowly got up one by one.

On the tour with us was a beautiful married couple I am happy I received the pleasure of getting to know. He is one of the very few married Roman Catholic priests, as he was an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism. On the second day, this Father gave a talk about their journey through converting, becoming a Catholic Priest, and what their life is like now. His wife quickly became an adopted auntie to Red & I (and Brown Eyed Fun & Quirky Ohio Girl). They would sit towards the back of the bus, just in front of the 10 or so Younglings, and chat with us when we weren’t singing away and laughing. Their own children are the same generation as the Younglings, and they loved us as their own.

The Old Abbot also came out and sat with us women one afternoon and gave us a talk, kindly translated from French to English by the sweet and quiet Doctor S. The Old Abbot is retired from his 40+ year (if I remember correctly) place as Abbot, and now happily carries out his duty as candle stick polisher. His humility emanated from him. It was such a privilege to meet and hear such a man.

One requirement the monks have of anyone who comes to stay (it is free to stay, but traditionally a donation is left in gratitude) is a bit of manual labour. The boys helped the monks pull up old flooring in one of the guest cottages, and the girls were brought piles and piles of apples to peel and slice. With so many hands, the work was light, and seemed barely enough to consider even a fraction’s worth of gratitude for all we were receiving while there. Nevertheless, it is the only work the monks asked of us women. And sometimes it is enough to simply do only what is asked of you.

One afternoon several of us followed our fearless tour leader, the male half of Relationship Goals, across the river and up the mountain a ways to the caves which served as the original monks home, up until the Abbey itself was built.

Red, Quirky Ohio Girl, and I went for a walk one evening with our glasses of wine, through the sleepy streets of Fontgambault, passing meadows and woods and ponds, picking poppies along the way, and soaking in the beauty.

Our days at Fontgambault Abbey were perfect days of physical respite and spiritual nourishment. I will forever be grateful to the monks for all I gained while there.

 

 

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2018 in Review: the Chartres Pilgrimage

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At the beginning of last January, Red and I made the decision to do the Chartres Pilgrimage in France. Over the course of 4 months, two times the choice came upon us, and both times we turned it down, due to particular circumstances, despite desperately wanting to go for it. Finally, something threw itself into our path which allowed us both to make the much anticipated decision to go ahead with our travel plans! We booked flights, and with our dear friends (hence forth known as Relationship Goals) at Orbis Catholicus travel. We planned for 3 days in Paris with them and another acquaintance from home, followed by the 3 day Chartres Pilgrimage, and a 9 day tour through France with Orbis Catholicus (which we knew would include a bus load of other pilgrims).

The daily grind had been wearing on me for some time, perhaps a combination of being in the same job for as long as I had, the feeling of not using my abilities to their full potential, a huge desire for a change but being at a loss as to what that change should be.

So I packed my travel bag, and headed to France for three weeks, with a heart full of prayer requests and my best gal, Red.

Neither of us had been to Europe before, so our natural spirits of adventure were soaring sky high! I don’t detest long flights, I find I actually enjoy the strange non-time that exists while flying. I am always well equipped with my writing materials, rosary, books, music, memory foam neck pillow (which, by the way, is probably the single greatest $40 I have spent in my entire life), comfortable clothing, and of course there are in-flight movies (which I often don’t even use much). It was a four hour flight to Toronto, where we walked off one plane and immediately onto another, for an additional six hours to Paris. While searching for my seat on the Paris bound flight out of Toronto, I heard my name called out from somewhere, and looking around, I see Carmelite K smiling at me from the seat next to her new husband. We had known we were both doing the pilgrimage, only the smallness of Canada becomes very apparent when you live on completely opposite ends of the country, yet end up on the same flight to Paris from a part of the country that neither of you live in!

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Our view overlooking the courtyard

Upon landing in Paris, we taxied into the city with Relationship Goals, and were dropped off at the Airbnb I had booked in Oberkampf. It was a tiny room with a tiny washroom in an apartment building, overlooking the courtyard. We were so very exhausted, but it was only 10:30am or so, and we knew we couldn’t sleep yet. So we grabbed the camera, our packs, and headed out to find a bite to eat. Walking in the general direction of Pere Le Chaise Cemetery, we popped into a bakery for a snack and had our first French croissant. It was buttery heaven. We walked all around the cemetery (if you don’t know by now, I love cemeteries!), finding Oscar Wilde’s grave, and eventually sat down for a short rest on a park bench. Twenty minutes later, we both woke up. After that, we realized it’s probably better to just head back to the Airbnb then to be wandering about an unfamiliar city as exhausted as we were, passing out on random park benches! With a stumble along the way where I rolled my ankle (story of my life), we managed to get back to our room, I iced and elevated my swollen ankle, and we were both in bed, black-out curtains drawn, and completely passed out, by 6:00pm.

The next morning we met Relationship Goals and their niece, Sweets, at a nearby church. And there began our first day in Paris, with a ‘cafe au lait’ from a bakery beside the church. Those three days were full of walking throughout Paris. The man side of Relationship Goals is a travel expert and took us to many of the beautiful things to see there, stopping to eat lunch along the Sienne, or for a drink at a cafe. One of the highlights during those first three days was of course seeing Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Germain church, and Sainte-Chapelle.

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At Notre Dame Cathedral – my favourite!

On the fourth morning, the morning of the pilgrimage, after our alarm not going off, we made a mad dash to Notre Dame via running and a taxi, but wound up sitting away from our foreign counterparts because the cathedral was already so packed full by the time we arrived that we couldn’t get to where they were. We were in a wing, with a perfect view of the altar and the gothic stained glass windows. The acoustics were unlike anything I’d ever heard before; I revelled in the music all throughout mass.

dscn5071The pilgrimage itself was one of (if not the most) incredible experiences of my life. It was grueling, but sweet. I don’t think one can properly express what goes on interiorly during a pilgrimage. I think it has to be experienced to be properly understood. Our chapter chaplain was a stellar general the entire time, keeping up moral through leading the rosary, meditations, hymns, fun songs, hearing confessions throughout, and an over-all strength of priestly presence. In between all of this, there were moments of silent perseverance. But also much jolly camaraderie, leaning on each other and encouraging one another’s spirits, which encouraged our own in the process.

I won’t get into too much of the gory details, but suffice it to say that within our chapter there were cases of heat stroke, illness, severe swelling and blisters, and weeping fatigue. I parted with Red on the second day breakfast break due to her impending illness, and she was brought ahead on the bus to the lunch/Pentecost mass break. But when I arrived I was greeted by Sweets, who was waiting for me at the field entrance to take me to Red, who was currently with the paramedics after passing out and being carried up on a stretcher. Naturally panic stricken, I raced through the sea of hot pilgrims, reaching the shady spot where the paramedics were. All was fine, aside from Red looking awful as she lay in the ambulance, a doctor and medic on either side of her. After an hour or so, she was recovered enough to take away, and we hobbled out of the medic area and over to a high spot of field under the shade of the only trees in sight. There were eight from our chapter stricken with woes of invalids, and three of us sat with them, ensuring hydration, some food, and attempting to keep a calm and positive spirit amid a physically and emotionally exhausted lot (as we ourselves fought off the same).

Red and I went to Adoration that night in the farmers field the camp was set in. It was humbling to be part of the sea of young pilgrims kneeling outside in the dark. Needing some time away from the tent of emotional females, we sat outside the men’s tent for a while, chatting with them. A male Swedish pilgrim I’d seen earlier in the day came to join us. It is a well known fact that many Catholics meet and marry their spouses on the Chartres pilgrimage. This Swedish pilgrim was present for such intentions. Kudos to him, I thought. But alas, nothing came of it, poor fellow. The Swiss sang outside their tent again, and after standing close and enjoying it, we toddled off to our tent to get to bed. The English were pitched beside us, and in no other circumstances would it be socially acceptable to meet a young man behind one’s tents, and exchange pleasantries of introduction and information while foaming out of the mouth between brush strokes and spitting, except while on the Chartres Pilgrimage.

On the following day, mild heat stroke crept up, but this time on me. Red’s knee was swollen too large to walk, and we caught the bus to the lunch break. But after taking oodles of wrong turns, we wound up at the lunch break only after all 13,000 pilgrims had already come through. And so we bolted as quickly as we could to catch up with the tail end. Poor Red was limping, but we were determined to walk the majority of that day. Truth be told, we were both sick to death of the French and their bossy antics, and I was determined to catch up with any English speakers who didn’t yell at us. This, combined with a staunch determination to finish this pilgrimage, we picked up the pace, passing chapter after chapter after chapter. In the distance we saw a tiny cathedral silhouette against the flat and bright horizon. We kept going, and Red was a real sport as she allowed herself to be verbally and physically encouraged by me alongside her. The heat of the day was astonishing, but jaws set, we ended up passing the English chapter because our steady pace had hit and we didn’t want to slow down to walk with them. Every so often we would look up and see the distant cathedral had grown in size, indication we were shrinking the distance between us and our destination. Eventually we caught up with the Man side of Relationship Goals, and Sweets. Wiped, we slackened our pace and were passed a rejuvenating can of pineapples and it’s juice. The four of us walked together, reaching the cathedral, in all the spiritual glory that goes with reaching your pilgrimage destination.

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look carefully, and you can see the cathedral in the distance

We had a front curb seat on the street block outside the cathedral, and we sat with our chapter through mass in the peak heat of the day, simply basking in the cathedral bells ringing! Cardinal Sarah said mass, and I followed a good portion of his sermon, translating it in my brain from the French into English, until I was finally too drained to continue. Relationship Goals brought Red and I a bottle of ice water – he took such care of us through the whole trip. I will most likely forever remember that bottle of ice water as the best bottle of water in the history of my life.

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pre-mass blessings from Cardinal Sarah

After mass, we checked into our hotel and headed over to the restaurant for dinner, where Relationship Goals had reserved dinner spots for our entire tour group, since the following morning we were to leave for our 9 day tour. It was steak and beer all around, and our table of new pilgrimage-journeying young friends enjoyed many laughs and much camaraderie together.

Despite the travails of those three days, I would do the Chartres Pilgrimage again in a heart beat.

 

A Replaced Resolution

I’ve realized one of my new years resolutions, to read more books & write about them then I did in 2017, has somewhat failed miserably this year. How disappointing. But alas, reflecting, it hasn’t been out of laziness. On the contrary, my year has been so filled with good and beautiful things, taking up lots of energy, that my novel reading & writing about it has just slipped past without me even quite realizing it.

These good and beautiful things of 2018 have tied in, of course, with my blog silence over the past few months, as well as the long silences throughout the entire year!

Perhaps more on the happenings of 2018 later. For now, I’m pondering the things that have replaced my reading & writing resolution, and how interesting it is to note that often the best of things happen upon us when we’re not even looking for them.

Mothers & Sons

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My favourite depiction of mother & son relationship is Christ & His Mother in “The Passion of the Christ”

“I knew you’d come! O Marmar! I did want you so! For a moment they kissed and clung to one another, quite forgetting all the world; for no matter how lost and soiled and worn-out wandering sons may be, mothers can forgive and forget every thing as they fold them in their fostering arms. Happy the son whose faith in his mother remains unchanged, and who, through all his wanderings, has kept some filial token to repay her brave and tender love.”

~ Chapter 12, Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott

In this chapter, five year old Rob gets lost in the woods with Nan during a berry picking expedition, due to Nan’s mischievous prank. At first he does panic slightly, at the realization of being lost, and as night slowly closes in on them. But he calms right down when he remembers that his mother will come looking for him, for his confidence in her is unshakable – he knows she will find him. His confidence in his mother and calm demeanor, waiting patiently for her to find them, gives hope to Nan (who was responsible for little Rob’s care) that they will indeed be found before too long.

Little Rob’s confidence in his mother is exactly the confidence every son should have in his mother. There was no question in his mind whether or not Jo would find him, but rather a question of how long it would take, considering they had strayed from the path. But even the question of time didn’t bother Rob, because he knew his mother wouldn’t rest until she had found him, until she had him in her arms. What a virtue to possess – the complete confidence of your son in your love for him.

Jo stops her search partner, young Dan, from yelling to the others once they were on Rob’s trail: “No, let me find them; I let Rob go, and I want to give him back to his father all myself.” When Jo comes upon her little son, sound asleep in the darkness, with his head in the sleeping Nan’s lap, she “softly lifted away the apron, and saw the little ruddy face below. The berry-stained lips were half-opened as the breath came and went, the yellow hair lay damp on the hot forehead, and both the chubby hands held fast the little pail still full. 

The sight of the childish harvest, treasured through all the troubles of that night for her, seemed to touch Mrs. Jo to the heart, for suddenly she gathered up her boy, and began to cry over him, so tenderly, yet so heartily, that he woke up, and at first seemed bewildered. Then he remembered, and hugged her close, saying with a laugh of triumph, – I knew you’d come! O Marmar!…” 

 

 

 

A lesson from Bilbo

treeofgondor“But this is terrible!” cried Frodo. “Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”

“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”

                                                                                                        – ch 2, The Followship of the Ring

Never had I pondered Bilbo’s relatively healthy mental state before upon the beginning of The Fellowship. Considering he had been in possession of The Ring for decades, there was little evil effect upon his soul by the time he does give up the ring to Frodo. The Ring had wielded such power over Isildur in times gone by, Sméagol in more recent times, and others, who had not even come into contact with The Ring. So why hadn’t it proved to be such a powerful evil once again, manipulating and affecting the mind of a content little hobbit after it had finally slipped away from the grubby Gollum and back into the world for its chance to reach Sauron once again?

As the wise Gandalf tells us – it’s because of pity. Pity can be translated into empathy, empathy to mercy, mercy to love. The pity Bilbo had in his heart for the pathetic existence of the creature Gollum is a character defining trait. Gollum was a trickster, an evil spirited being with no more moral compass then a snake. He was prepared, and even fastening a plan during their exchange, to kill Bilbo right then and there. And yet, when Bilbo had the upper hand, he showed this vile creature mercy. The first life and character altering decision Bilbo made when in possession of the ring was one of pity, of mercy, of love for a fellow creature. It is exactly as Gandalf says: Bilbo begins his ownership of The Ring with pity, with mercy, with love. Because of this very first decision he makes with such power within his grasp, evil is held at bay, it doesn’t consume him the way it did Sméagol – who, we know, made the opposite decision, and killed his cousin Deagol for the ring, which ultimately leads to the killing of any humanity within him. Instead of becoming an unrecognizable creature, Bilbo remains the same, save for his prolonged age, and definite desire to keep the ring in his possession.

The last decision Bilbo made with the ring – to leave it to Frodo – is connected to his very first decision. How, after so many years, was he able to (reluctantly, sure) able to leave it, to walk away from it? His very first decision regarding the ring was made out of love. Undoubtedly the decisions we make in life affect our later decisions. Selfish decisions encourage more selfish decisions, selfless decisions encourage further selfless decisions, giving into temptation once makes it harder to avoid the next time, just as standing strong against temptation makes it easier to stay strong the next time. His very first decision made out of love, against such an evil (an evil so strong it fills a pleasant hobbit mind with murder within minutes of touching it), would have given such strength to Bilbo’s soul. Despite decades of possessing the ring, he was still able to draw from that strength, courage, love, to leave the ring when he knew it was time.

Like Bilbo, we can also propagate strength through the good decisions we make, or propagate evil through the bad decisions we make. With every strong & good decision made against our human weaknesses, we gain graces, making it easier to choose good the next time. Likewise, every time we fail to make the good decision, we are pulled further down, making it that much more difficult to make the good decision next time. A seed can easily be dug up, drowned out, eventually lost and forgotten among a sea of weeds. Or, with tender and consistent fostering, it can grow into an oak tree, producing more fruits itself.

Movie Review: Lady Bird

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There’s lots of hype around this small movie. It’s nominated for (several?) academy awards, which should have been an indication of it’s awfulness. But instead my interest was peaked, so I went to see it with Red.

Bad decision.

This movie is full of all things Hollywood praises and glorifies. Full of things anti-Catholic, anti-life, anti-true love.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a high-school senior at a Catholic girls school in Sacramento California, which she has been attending ever since a knifing incident at the local public school. “Lady Bird” is a self-given name. She has the idea that people should choose their own names, because it should reflect who you want to be, who you identify as. Instead of a name given by someone else who can’t identify you better then yourself. Her older brother is a goth – we’re talking 2002 here – whose girlfriend has moved into the family home. Her dad is a hard working, loving father, gentle and non-confrontational, who gets laid off during the movie. Her mom is a nurse, working hard to help support the family, but butts heads with her headstrong daughter on a constant basis. The movie goes through Lady Bird’s senior year, and into the first bit of her college experience.

Christine goes to a Catholic school. The perfect setting for leftists to insult, belittle, and stamp their feet against the Catholic Faith. In one scene, Ladybird and her best friend Julie are lying on the floor with their feet up against the wall, munching on a box of “communion bread” they took from the sacristy. When a fellow student happens upon them and scorns them for such behaviour, Julie replies, “they’re not consecrated”. This implies that the girls do in fact believe the consecrated hosts would be untouchable in the sacred sense, and yet they have no respect for what the current unconsecrated hosts are used for, what they will become. Not to mention it’s a vile sitting position for any young lady wearing a skirt to be in.

In another scene, Ladybird is annoyed with an old nun teacher, and after class, covers the back of the nuns car with a “just married to Jesus” sign and other paraphernalia. It was done with the intent of insult. (Though we later hear the nun admit she found it comical, even correcting Lady Bird by saying that it was technically incorrect, since she’s been married to Jesus for 60 years. This scene was a nice moment between the two characters. After the nuns kindness in another area, Christine owns her previous act, and apologizes for it. The nun’s reaction of chuckles and love was a good testament to the holiness and love of nuns in general.)

The priest who runs the theatre production at school leaves half way through the year. The kids are disappointed by this. We learn in a scene when the priest is at the hospital, talking with a nurse who happens to be Lady Bird’s mom, that he suffers from severe depression. The next scene is three of the high-school kids gossiping about him, when one girl tells Lady Bird and her boyfriend Danny that the priest was married long ago but they lost their son and he later became a priest. Something of that sort. The next priest who takes over the theatre production is a football coach, and, though his team coaching approach to stage was comical, he was put in the light of incapability. Both priestly characters in the film were depicted as weak and somewhat inferior, men to be laughed at, not men to be admired and respected. Very typical Hollywood approach to priest characters. And very nauseatingly stupid. The many priests I know are all admirable, strong men, despite their weaknesses.

In another scene, an auditorium of teenage students are listening to a woman speak about abortion. Lady Bird is rolling her eyes throughout. The speaker tells the story of a woman who chose not to abort, and after a few guesses from students, reveals that that mother was her own, and that she was the baby who was almost aborted. Gasps all around, but Lady Bird makes a comment under her breath, and when asked to speak up, says “just because something looks to be bad, doesn’t mean it is.” (Note: there is no denial in this statement that the baby is a human.) The speaker asks her to explain, and Lady Bird nastily replies that if her mother had aborted her, they wouldn’t all have to sit there and listen to her blab about how wrong abortion is. The woman is rendered speechless, clearly hurt. This scene was disgusting to me. It shows the truly despicable view of the value of human life which leftists, feminists, SJW’s, Hollywood, and all other groups who have denounced God and advocate for Satan himself have.

The mention of Lady Bird’s boyfriend Danny brings me to another point. Hollywood WOULD make the good, kind boy from a large Irish Catholic family a closet homosexual who “comes out” during the movie. He and Ladybird meet when they both audition for musical theatre. She is spellbound by his voice and charisma, he falls for her unique quirks. She makes a typical liberal’s remark on his rowdy younger brothers in the grocery store. Somehow he overlooks that, laughing it off, and falls for her anyways. For starters, good catholic boys do not fall for women who insult their beloved family. If he does fall for you after you insult his beloved large catholic family, he is not worth your time, because he lacks the strength and conviction to stand up for who and what he loves. Their relationship seems good, they are becoming closer friends, falling more for each other with every deeper conversation. They exchange “I love you” ‘s. Then Lady Bird walks into the boys bathroom after their first theatre show to skip the long line at the ladies room and opens the door of a stall to find Danny and another boy making out. She freezes and scurries out of the washroom. She avoids him after this, giving him the cold shoulder. He gently and timidly tries to get her attention by eye contact, which she avoids. Finally Danny walks into the café she works at one day. She walks out to the garbage, he meets her out there. He attempts a timid “Can we talk?” “You’re gay!” she shouts at him. Danny breaks down into tears, saying he knows, and he’s so sorry, and he is scared of what will happen, how he will tell his family, how they will respond, and that he needs a friend. Your heart breaks for this poor boy who is lost and confused and terrified of what he is going through. It’s exactly the reaction Hollywood is manipulating your emotions into throughout the whole relationship. We have every reason to like Danny. He even tells Lady Bird earlier on that he respects her too much to treat her in a “meat” type of fashion when she tells him it’s OK to touch her inappropriately. Yet another reason to like this Nice Catholic Boy.  And then out of nowhere, he is suddenly gay. (But then of course you are re-thinking his reaction to touching her, since perhaps he didn’t want to because he is gay and has no interest in touching females.) And yet you see that they truly do care for each other. Christine hugs him, holding him close with tender affection and support, and tells him it’ll be OK. So we have a great example of love here. For they DO love each other in a good friendship way, that much is clear. But somehow a disordered lust gets in the way, and we are supposed to feel sympathy, weeping for this poor boy whose family won’t understand his homosexual choices.

In the latter half of the year, Ladybird befriends a rather aloof, quiet, darker minded youth, Kyle, when she inserts herself into the “popular kids” group. Their rebellious, odd personalities click from the start. She states one day during a heated make-out session that she hasn’t had sex and isn’t ready yet. Kyle responds in kind, leading us to believe that he has never slept around before. Later she asks her mom when it’s normal to start having sex, to which her mom replies “in college, but remember we talked about being safe, so use precautions.” Lady Bird and Kyle are in his bedroom one day when she says she’s ready. There’s a very explicit scene which I hastily closed my eyes and plugged my ears to, the type of scene any Catholic striving for holiness would avoid. Afterwards, Lady Bird is gushing that they “de-flowered” each other. Kyle bluntly responds that he’s had sex before her, with… he counts… six others, he thinks. She goes into a very emotional headspace. After that she and Kyle don’t spend much time together. Shocking.

The relationship between Lady Bird and her mom, Marion, is an on-going issue. Her name is a sore point – Christine wants to be called Lady Bird, “as if her given name isn’t good enough”. They bicker about anything and everything, and the bickering turns to screaming matches. Inter-mingled with these are a few mother-daughter bonding scenes. Lady Bird wants to be loved and accepted for who she is/who she wants to be, by her mom. But Marion doesn’t want to settle for the person Lady Bird thinks she wants to be. She wants and expects better for her daughter. The mother struggles to connect with the daughter. We learn from Marion, in an explosive moment, that her  father was a physically abusive drunk. Suddenly the struggles make sense, because Marion is forever battling the baggage from her childhood, and Christine is very similar in personality to her, so naturally, they butt heads.

There is a short scene between Lady Bird and her brother’s girlfriend (both characters Christine doesn’t get along with) when they are smoking outside, and Lady Bird makes a comment about her mom. The goth girlfriend, who doesn’t say much throughout the entire move, says that Christine’s mom is great, if only Lady Bird could see how much her mom loves her. She is tough, but it’s only out of love. Coming from a girl who was kicked out of her mother’s home due to premarital sex, and has a lot of family baggage herself, I thought this was a rather good scene, because despite her issues, she is able to see and appreciate love when she sees it.

When Christine packs up and leaves for college across the country, Marion is angry that Christine has gone expressly against her wishes that she remain close to home and go to a less expensive college. Lady Bird is angry that her mom doesn’t support her decision, and seems to want less for her daughter than what Lady Bird wants for herself, leaving Lady Bird feeling selfish and upset. Marion makes several attempts to write her feelings for her daughter out in a letter to Lady Bird, but only winds up with a pile of crumpled, half written letters. When driving to the airport, she stubbornly refuses to get out of the car to see Christine off. As she drives around the block, we see the emotional path she’s going through, and she eventually pulls back, parks, and runs into the airport to say good-bye and tell her she loves her. But she is too late. She merely runs into the arms of her loving husband, who tells her that Christine knows, through the anger and the hurt, how her mom feels.

At college in the big city, Lady Bird feels a bit lost. She doesn’t have those she loves around, she doesn’t feel she fits, and she begins to identify herself as “Christine” once again, realizing that the name really does fit her identity as a person, growing up with the parents she has, her childhood, etc, instead of the chosen name Lady Bird. At the airport, her dad had given her the pile of crumpled half-written letters from her mom, so that Christine would perhaps realize how very much her mom really does love her. And she does realize this. The ending scene, Christine leaves a heartfelt message on her parents answering machine, saying it’s Christine calling, that she misses them, she loves them, the point coming across that she loves where she came from, and who they are, and who she is, and wants to keep growing into that person.

 

The general concept of this movie isn’t a bad one. Lady Bird is rebellious, headstrong, her own individual, and thinks “the grass is greener on the other side”. She is ashamed of where she comes from, her family’s financial struggles. She longs for the big city life, the bigger house, the nicer car, etc. She goes through growing pains, learns from her mistakes, and finally realizes that what she was given is good, and she loves and longs for it again. By the end of the movie, we are satisfied that Christine is finally through her rebellious teenage years, and finally appreciates what she’s been given in life.

But everything in between was the crap that leftists throw at us left, right and centre. The constant stream of anti-Christian proclamations coming from all around us, glorified in a movie, that has now gained so much traction within Hollywood, and therefore being watched by more and more people, brainwashing them to believe and advocate for these same anti-Christian views.

So no, don’t watch this film. It’s a waste of time. Your time would be more fruitfully spent praying for the makers of this film, and the rest of Hollywood that tries to desperately to corrupt young minds at any chance they get.

 

 

Burdens, Roads, and Longings

“Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City.” – Marmee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, chapter 1.

Such plain and simple terms Marmee puts life into. The March sisters’ burdens have been given to them. They know exactly what they need to do with the circumstances they find themselves in, as far as daily tasks and duties are concerned. Perhaps not all the minute details are obvious, but the general work needing to be done is plain as day. The road stretched out before them, one of monotonous war and sacrifice, is clear and straightforward.

We all know the daily duties we also must face. The monotonous tasks, the everyday grind before us. Even if the future is uncertain, we still have the duties right in front of us that need doing. So we just need to do them. Without complaining, without dragging our feet. Walk firmly and steadily over all the rocks and ruts, and we’ll get to our destination in good time.

“…The longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes…” We all long for goodness in our lives. We all long for happiness. We all long for dreams to come true. When we scamper across quick sand, wade through a murky pond, or get lost in a forest of tall trees, this longing in our souls for goodness and happiness is what pulls us out of the quicksand, gets us to the other side of the pond, directs us through that close, dark forest. It draws us back to a path of hope, life and love. Goodness and happiness are inherent desires in our human nature. So it is natural and right that we should strive for both. This desire, this longing for goodness and happiness is exactly what we need to stay on the path to heaven.