Friday, December 19, 2008


As of about 12:20 PM, my Fall 2008 Semester is over! I took my last final exam (Biochemistry) and all is well! I have sold back all but two of my books (interested parties should search for an Animal Behavior book and a History of American Popular Music book with CDs). I am currently in the process of packing up my stuff and heading home. Yay!

Since I know how much everyone misses me when I am home, I will make every attempt to give a little update every few days. I will be working every day until Christmas starting tomorrow, and will be taking a much-needed vacation to visit my dear family in Atlanta starting the 26th.

In case you are one of those dear family members to which I am referring, I'll see you soon!

To everyone else, who may still be dear friends and family members, I'll see you in blog world!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Let it be known to all blog buddies out there that a very important person has a birthday today! I am writing this post as a way of sharing my warmest wishes, since I did not send a gift or a card, or make a personal visit or phone call. (Some might call me a cheap you-know-what, but that's just fine.)

At any rate, Happy Birthday Grandpa! May your day be filled with every joy and blessing that you desire, and may you have many, many more to come!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

Here's some more Latin for you!

This past Monday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday where the Church recognizes that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without the stain of original sin. I have to say it is my favorite Mary holiday, but then I might be a little bit biased. The church I was raised in is called Immaculate Conception, and that holiday is of course always a big deal over there.

A lot of people, mostly non-Catholics, are confused about the term "immaculate conception." I can admit that as a child I was also confused, but I have seen the light! Many people still believe (incorrectly) that the Immaculate Conception is the belief that Jesus was born to a virgin. That belief is in fact called the "virgin birth," which is also a dogma of the Church. So, the phrase "it must have been an immaculate conception" that is thrown around regarding unexpected pregnancies is totally false.

The Church proclaimed the Immaculate Conception as dogma in 1854, though this was definitely not the first time people believed in this. (Consequently, the first Catholic church in Knoxville came about just a few years later. Guess what it was called???) Until that time, people could believe what they wanted regarding the IC, only in 1854 it was established as a universal truth within the Church. To paraphrase something I have read, at this time the Church decided that in order for Mary to become the Mother of God, she had to be free from sin from the very moment of her own conception. This is not merely something that the Church came up with, but something that had been passed down for centuries through Tradition. Not to mention the allusions to this very fact that are found in Scripture. (Sorry that I don't have specific Scriptures to quote, for all you scholars out there. But believe me, they do exist!)

I have always felt a special devotion to the Blessed Mother in my own life. Don't get me wrong; I know very well that nothing can replace the worship and honor given to God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. The Church clearly distinguishes honor given to God and honor given to Mary and the saints. To briefly go over this, there are three Latin terms for honor in the Church: latria, which is defined as worship (God only); dulia, which is honor for the saints; and hyperdulia, which is honor for Mary. As you can see, Mary is given the hyper- prefix, meaning she is given the greatest honor out of all the saints. God is still the only One that can be worshipped.

Back to my own life, since grade school I have felt a special connection to Mary. Perhaps this was due to the devotion a certain teacher of mine had for Mary. My fifth grade teacher was Sister Jolita (yes, a real religious sister), so of course her life was dedicated to God and living a life devoted to our Blessed Mother. To only further my own faith, my high school principal, Dr. Montgomery, had a very special devotion to Mary as well. Though she was not a member of the religious life, she often prayed for Mary's intercession in school events or world events, and that was always a comfort to me. Isn't it great to have a comforting motherly figure watching out for you? That is perhaps the greatest reason for a devotion to Mary. Now granted that God is both Father and Mother of us all, but putting a real live person as a mediator between us and God is always a good thing!

At any rate, that's really all I wanted to say about this subject. Oh wait, I didn't mention the meaning of the title! This line is taken from Luke 1:46 (yesss! Scripture citation!) from the Canticle of Mary commonly known as the Magnificat: "My soul proclaims the greatest of the Lord." Magnificat anima mea Dominum literally means "my soul magnifies the Lord." So there you have it! Your Latin and ecclesiastical lesson for the day!

Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, pray for us...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Will Give Thanks, for I Am Thankful

This is getting here a little late, but Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there! I had a great time at home with friends and family for my holiday, and I hope everyone was able to enjoy that time with someone, food or no food.

When I pray at night, I always list some things that I am thankful for, just as a way to make my prayers not all about me me me and what I want/need. Most of the time these things are somewhat trivial, like doing well on a test, or having a nice day weather-wise, or just making it through a day of classes. However, I always try to be thankful for something in the "bigger picture." That's why today I wanted to blog about some of those big things that I am truly thankful for, especially now during Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas.

I am thankful for the gift of life, and all it has to offer.

I am thankful for the gift of friends and family. They love me unconditionally and support me in whatever I do, even if they don't always agree with me. I show them love, and they show it right back to me, and that's just a great thing.

I am thankful for the gift of living in this great country. I could not imagine living anywhere else, and I am truly thankful for all the freedoms I enjoy here. I am especially thankful for everyone living and dead that have allowed me those freedoms.

I am thankful for the gift of a good education. I know that a college education will prepare me for the working world and ensure that I can be successful in life. I know that so many do not have this opportunity, and I am thankful that I was able to earn that education.

I am thankful for the gift of a comfortable place to live. Whether here at school or at home, I can be safe from the elements both in the summer heat and in the winter cold. I know that so many do not have that luxury, and I know how privileged I am in that regard.

Obviously there is an infinite number of things for which I am thankful, but that would take forever to list and explain them all. A statement I say every night in my prayers pretty much sums it all up though:

I thank you God for a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my belly, and love in my heart.

I pray that I will continue to be blessed with all these good things in my life. Given that I am also so very thankful to have all you blog buddies out there reading and commenting, I pray that you too will be blessed with every good thing you could ever need.