Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

World Youth Day: Madrid

Pilgrimage Events

Hello Dear Ppl!

I am glad that you're here again for another round of stories from World Youth Day. I had a few weeks to reflect on the impact WYD had on me. Even as I was there the experience was extremely profound, other-wordly, mystical and yet concrete. My faith, usually experienced in a climate not amiable to it became light rather than heavy because the Joy of the Holy Spirit was so palpable. There was a freedom to simply enjoy God as heartily as you wished in streets, metros, parks, malls, it didn't matter. The world was turned on it's head and it was the sanest insanity I have ever experienced. It was like living in the City of God for a week.

My group was recieved by two spanish teenagers in lime green t-shirts. Green t-shirts meant that they were volunteers. They took us to the parish where we would be staying along with many other groups from around the world. We were given our much anticipated WYD packs which had alot of informational books and goodies in them including a cross that we'd get blessed by The Pope the last day of our trip. Filled with hope for the week we were led around the building to be shown our sleeping quarters and the showers.

The Girls Room

The showers and even the bathing that ensued the following week deserves a full paragraph. After seeing where we'd put down our sleeping bags and so forth we followed a volunteer past a hall that led to the garage. Were our showers past the garage? We all looked quizzically at each other when we realized the showers were in the garage next to a huge SUV that was parked there. They had just been installed and they didn't have any curtains separating the stalls. We had been told that we'd have to wear our bathings suits anyways, but we had a good laugh and started joking around about it being just a car wash for people. That idea met a quick death when we were told there would be curtains by the evening. Wahhh, no carwash fun. But that wasn't really what made our showers so memorable. Something was broken and there was only ICE COLD water for the entire week. Unless you woke up at 5am for scalding water that would melt your skin off. My first shower was the first moment I really felt I was on a pilgrimage. In Cordoba we had been spoiled by our host families. Long showers, soft bed, privacy, etc. It was a nice vacation. But I went to WYD to get joyfully uncomfortable because I'm weird like that and want the full experience. The first few days of showering with water that must've come directly from Siberia were not the worst. I developed a good system in which I was able to splash some water on my legs in such a way that I wouldn't get goosebumps so I could shave then I'd get any kind of soap I needed on me so all I had to do was rinse really well but really fast. By day three or four I literally had to pray before I went in because I really didn't want to get in. I had to think of somebody that was going through a rough time and imagine them screaming for help or something and I'd quickly jump in and offer up the shower. I'm very creative with my prayer life ;) I think I've finally managed to channel my overactive imagination in a positive way.

Anyhoo... before I continue I should mention that at WYD you bring things from your country to trade with other ppl, mostly bracelets but anything goes. In Cordoba I had spotted some kids from Poland with Pope John Paul II bandanas and I made it my mission to aquire this item at some point. MUST HAVE, my brain said. Luckily then, there was a huge group of Polish people at the parish. I kept a fierce eye out. It would be mine! Then I snapped out of that zone and met some people. But not many since we were starving. We went out to eat, but some of us starting twitching with anxiety because we were going to miss some meeting, and by meeting I mean meeting of people.... cough, cough. In the end we got our apples* to go and were off and we didn't miss anything of real importance at all. Boys shower at night and girls in the morning, the end.

*A common desert item we'd get with our food vouchers. :D Apples!

The volunteers at the parish were nothing short of amazing. Even the parish priest came down at 2am when one of my Australian friends got sick. He treated us like we were literally his little children who he loved. We gave him a little statue of St. Paul when we left :)

(If your attention span is waning now would be a good time to get a cookie. )

Day 1- August 15, Tuesday!

I woke up the next morning with no memory as to when I went to bed. I showered! Then got my my little breakfast from the volunteers. There was a Y.H.O.P.E huddle and the following plan was laid out:

- Look at some churches!
- Go to a talk given by Christopher West on Theology of the Body
- Opening Mass with the Archbishop of Madrid

I had already been on the metro but even more than before each stop picked up more people in yellow t-shirts and backpacks and flags. There was spontaneous chanting of the Jesus or nationalistic sort and clapping. Some of the uninvolved ppl on the metro looked like they were trying to sleep but others had smiles on their faces.

We got off at our stop, went up the stairs into the fresh, hot air of midday Madrid. My breath stopped. People and flags were literally pouring through any street I looked down. A river of color and song decorated the already lovely Spanish scenery. And they wouldn't stop coming, more and more! Surely not everybody had decided to do the same thing? But it wasn't everybody, it was just some... and then I laughed a big laugh and sang along. This outpour of color and song was present all week, rain or shine.

Our little group made its way to the Almudena Cathedral. Incredible packed, but gorgeous.

This is the beautiful ceiling of the cathedral!

We bumped into other ppl from Boston there. Yay! including Sister Olga. The first time I met Sister Olga I literally sensed the holiness around her. No joke. I'd never felt that before. All she did was say hello. She's originally from Iraq where she tended to the homeless and imprisoned.

We continued to the Franciscan cathedral and it was beautiful but what I remember most is the south african group praying the rosary in one of the side chapels. Their devotion was beautiful. Quiet, bent bodies. Clear, knowing words.

I don't always want to pray, sometimes I'm genuinely annoyed inside when people suggest one more rosary because we have some free time. Then God and I have a good chat about those feelings. Watching them helped my internal dialogue with God and it softened my rebellious disposition concerning that. Praying the Rosary takes a good deal of concentration and full abandonment so you can say the prayers while meditating on moments in Christ's life and a lot of the times I don't want to put in that kind of effort. Again, during the pilgrimage when spontaneous rosaries happened A LOT I was tried and it felt like a pilgrimage; like Christ was working through some messy bits inside. It had more to do with my anger and annoyance at these occurrences when I just wasn't in the mood to do it than the fact that I did or did not want to do it. I believe a truly Holy person would trudge through and fight the annoyance for the possibility of having an encounter with God since you were asked to pray anyways. I dunno still I'm working through that one. If anything it was a continous reminder of my need for God and his transforming power.

After the sightseeing we broke off into a few different groups. I tried to go to Theology of the Body which was for english speakers but the sports center filled up and we didn't make it. We looked for some food, had some communication issues, but we took some deep breaths and survived. We finally met up with the greater group at another church for Taize Prayer*. Very necessary after the torrid afternoon. My favorite song from the prayer was this simple phrase:

Nada te turbe, nada te espante, quien a Dios tiene nada le falta.

Let nothing unsettle you, let nothing frighten you, whomever has God lacks nothing.

*Taize Prayer: Meditative prayer involving the repetition of songs. Slowly so that it sinks in.

The sun was still out and shining when the event concluded. The day still wasn't over and we went over to a square to see the opening mass on a huge screen that was set up.

I fell asleep quickly that night.

(You can get another cookie or maybe save the rest for tomorrow. I don't mind. )

Day 2- August 16, Wednesday!

I woke up the next morning completely enthused. It was the first day of Catechesis*

Catechesis means oral teaching.

Catechesis happened each morning, three days in a row and we'd be taught by a different Bishop or Archbishop each day. There were several places we could go for an english speaking Bishop, including our Parish so we decided to stay there.

Before the Bishop arrived a Nigerian Priest and choir were in charge of coordinating this event and they led us in song, prayer and witness talks. Afterwards we were joined by the Bishop of Dublin who looked a little like this:

He talked about the great desire he has to touch the youth of his country and his hope to rekindle the faith that has been so watered down in the past decades.

There was Mass and then we were off into Madrid for more adventure. We went to park where I found Winnie the Pooh (not as good as the Poohs you find at Disney World, alas), a Christian Aussie band, a Gaudi exposition and a Vocations Fair. Exhausted we plopped down on the grass sang some songs, were joined in song by some strangers and we met some cute kids who thought our american swag was the best.

My favorite part of the day though was going to a concert in memory of Blessed* Chiara Luce Badano who died when she was eighteen. Her now much older parents were there and they gave their testimony on the life of their daughter, who bravely suffered through cancer in total surrender to Jesus. While I was there my hard heart softened tremendously and I had great hope for the kind of great love I wanted to give during my own life.
Favorite song from the concert: 

Blessed means that Chiara was beatified or that she's on the 2nd of three steps to being declared a Saint by the Catholic Church.

Day 3- August 17, Thursday!

My New Zealander friend, Kathleen invited me to go look at a fashion museum, but that meant missing catechesis... I weighed my options... and I decided to go to the museum! It was breathtaking; the most beautiful collection of garments I have ever seen. They ranged from the 16th century to the present. Kathleen actually makes dresses so she was quickly sketching sleeves, ruffles and petticoats. I tried to sketch some things too but the light was dim, presumably to keep the items of clothing in good condition. Kathleen and I had a nice time getting to know each other and we were back by noon just in time for me to see that the Bishop of Brooklyn had been the visiting speaker.

The Pope was going to arrive that day so we decided to head into the city so we had time to do something before that. We went to an exhibit on Mother Theresa.

young Ratzinger!

Afterwards in the heat and after many attempts to find a place that would let us use their bathrooms we waited on the side of a street to wait for the Pope to come by. I sat right on the curb and the Popemobile whisked by! Alright, I cried just a little. I didn't really expect to but my religious emotionalism got to me. I didn't feel too awkward since the filipino girl next to me made weird sobbing sounds which I could only interpret as a good thing. If Walt Disney had shown up I would have died a happy woman.

We walked toward a screen to watch the Pope deliver his an opening address (BIG SCREENS were placed around the city during any big event because not everybody could fit in the square or area where said thing was taking place). I tried to translate things here and there for my american buddies but I wasn't that good at it and I think they weren't too unhappy when I stopped trying.

I vaguely remember going to dinner somewhere with a group but I think I was falling asleep.
Day 4- August 18, Friday!

A wonderful Bishop from Nigeria delivered catechesis in the morning and I was asked to read a petition (prayer asking for something) and I was so excited! I love reading at church. To my horror when I got to the pulpit and I realized that either the people in front of me were making their prayers up on the spot or were reading something they had prepared for themselves. Normally I wouldn't have minded at all but I usually need to be told I have to deliver something spontaneous. I went up there and delivered something sincere but illogical. A little red in the face I went back to my seat.

Today was to be my first successful visit to the sports stadium where all the english speaking events were going on. I didn't really know what we were going there to see but I followed happily since I had now acquired my JPII scarf from a very nice Polish girl named Luiza. I pondered on the fact that I could just wear a Pope scarf all day like it was totally normal and COOL. I had officially entered a pleasant version of the twilight zone.

The stadium was huge. Somebody said it fit 20,000 people and I couldn't believe it had been full for Theology of the Body. I sat down and saw that there was already a panel of people. They were talking about media, mainly film and art. My ears perked up. Art! That's me! Matthew Mardsen, a british actor talked about how important it is for us to strive for excellence in art. Art needs to inspire man deeply and there is no place for art to be mediocre. A "Christian" label does not make a work of art brilliant. I was writing all these things down when I noticed that one of the panelist was Father Robert Barron. WEEEEE! Brilliant! Here's a link to his website and the trailer for his latest venture!

Word on Fire:

I like him. He talked about a film that he thought spoke particular human truths. True Grit is apparently fraught with awesome storytelling. I'll probably write about that once I've seen it but one of his points was that there is a difference between a movie showing bad things and a movie advocating bad things. It is important to develop a mind and heart that discerns good from bad well. Being close to the Lord is key in doing so.

I rushed down the steps of the stadium after the panel finished so I could meet him. And I did! I told him I was an artist at a video game company and sometimes I watched his commentaries while I worked :).

I felt a little guilty about not wanting to stay for the next panel but I was getting a bit restless so I tried to go to a smaller talk in one of the side rooms of the arena but again it was overpopulated, then I tried praying in a small chapel that was set up with all these cool screens depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary* but I wasn't very successful. In the end I think all I needed was some fresh air. I went outside with Linda and got some snacks.

Mysteries of the Rosary: The rosary is divided by sections of one Our Father and ten Hail Marys, and while you pray them you're supposed to meditate on a mystery aka a moment in the life of Christ or Mary. For example The Wedding of Cana or The Cruxifiction.

I went back inside to watch one of the most important events for WYD: The Stations of the Cross on the big screens. Stations of the Cross is a devotion in which you "visit" different moments of Jesus' Passion all the way to the crucifixion. If you go into almost any Catholic church you will find depictions of these on the walls but for this occasion beautiful statues were brought from all over Spain and the Pope was there presiding over the prayer. Different groups of young adults who suffer persecution carried the WYD cross from one station to the other. This same cross was taken to Ground Zero in New York not long before, and it was originally a gift from JPII to the youth.

On my way back to the parish I bumped into badcatholic, a fellow blogger I have never met save through blogs! God is good.

It was a beautiful, beautiful day. I felt full.

This is the end of the Madrid events before the grand culmination of Mass with the Pope. That is the best story and it will be up soon. Thank you for reading.

Con Amor,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 4)

I seriously considered not writing this entry since I've been very internety the last week which I attribute from internet withdrawal once in Spain, but it can't be that since I didn't really miss it. It must be because while I am home I am just too horrifyingly interested in finding fun things that are just as fun as Spain. Or maybe it's because I have all these things I said I would do online.

One said thing is writing about WYD which is a bigger task than I though since there are some photos I'm still waiting for and because the trip was so freaking packed. But I will have that done at some point.

The second said thing was writing an article for . A bunch of young adult catholic bloggers where invited to contribute stuff. You can find my first entry Advice to Singletons here. Somebody got a little upset about it and I apologize I meant it to be mostly funny and to the point, but compassionate too. Maybe I should stick to art.

This really beautiful movie from Studio Ghibli is coming out soon take a look at the trailer!

Here is a quote from Chesterton for the week:

They knew much better than we do what was the matter with them and what sort of demons at once tempted and tormented them; and they wrote across that great space of history the text; "This sort goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

-Excerpt from St. Francis of Assisi on the Christians that had lived the culture of the Roman empire and were soon to begin living the Middle Ages. Emphasis by me.

I drew this:
It's January, the wise month that my character Lucia encounters on a winter night.

I just got a bible on my iPod. Best thing to do. I can no longer make the excuse, "but it doesn't fit in my cute purse!" But I do have to strain my eyes a bit. I think I will fall into the the kindle hole soon and just collect beautiful old editions and art books.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

World Youth Day: Cordoba

Days in the Diocese

Dear Friend,

You’ve begun the first chapter of this travel diary! Congratulations! If you haven’t read the intro do so now or be confused about what this entry is about.

I went to World Youth Day with my young adult group called Y. H.O.P.E. Thirteen of us managed to go.

The flight to Spain was uneventful except for the fact that I was dreadfully embarrassed of my knee-hi stockings that I wore to help circulation in my legs during all that sitting down time. I managed to whisk them off when we arrived in Cordoba and were met by our fashionable host families. At least they looked fashionable to me. I might have imagined them wearing couture because of my anxiety over my stupid, granny stockings that never saw the light of day again. But I’m happy to report that they worked marvelously.


We had no idea we were staying with host families for the first part of the our trip. YUSS! Linda (the only one who brought a rolling suitcase) and I stayed with the Zamora family. Both parents are professors and they have three children. The girls were especially lovely. They both love to draw and we talked about their dreams of becoming fashion designers.

We were slowly introduced to other groups who were going to spend some time in Cordoba before going to Madrid for World Youth Day. This time before WYD is called Days in the Diocese. In our case Cordoba was our host diocese*.

*Diocese: Area under the care of a Bishop

We were invited to countryside for some food, fellowship and swimming a couple of times. There was also sightseeing, and a procession (where I met some Australian and Polish peeps).

Pilar (11), Me, Kateri and Laura (17)

In the evenings we had Mass with the Bishop and then there was music and dancing outside of the church.

I met people from Spain, Southern France and Canada. Prayer and worship continued inside the church so if you got tired of too much dancing (not possible) you could go back in and pay our Lord a visit.

Seminarians from Iraq, who suffer persecution in their own country for their faith (kidnapping, death, etc) danced until dawn. One of them I was told had just gotten out of jail recently.

As our send-off Cordoba held a mini-World Youth Day with the Bishop. There was a theatre performance, testimonies, singing, adoration and sleeping on the grass.

The play on the life of Jesus was silent but the music and artistry left me a bit dumbfounded. I just didn't expect something like that. And then they used a song from Prince of Egypt for their end number and I squealed like a two year old. The Bishop of Cordoba danced with the little kids with "There Can Be Miracles" in the background and Marie (our fearless organizer) was about to bawl. All I could think was how it could possibly get any better. How could Madrid be better?

After the play there were testimonies, but the one that made everyone fall silent was the one given by a Bishop of Iraq who had suffered greatly but was so touched by the joy around him.

Then there was adoration. The monstrance* for the Eucharist looked like a spaceship made out of gold. It's a treasure from the 16th century and it was brought out especially for this occasion.

*Monstrance: Basically a display case for the Eucharist while adored. Most of the times it's in the shape of a radiating sun.

No matter how cool this was we were tired and so we slept on astroturf for a few hours then woke up for Mass. I was very sleepy, but I did write down in my journal a bit of the Bishop's sermon that struck me.

"Satan throws our sins in our face to discourage us but Christ's victory is also ours."

Bishopy ppl

At the end of Mass the heat was intense. Spain is hot and dry at this time, about 100 degrees and we had to get our behinds to the train station so we could get to Madrid. We put on our hiking bags and walked for about forty minutes. This quirky spanish lady decided to befriend us and insisted on walking us there. She gave us cookies and we let her take snapshots of us with american flag. Win-win! In Spain most people looooved americans others, mmm not so much.

At the train station Linda and I had a lot of coffee and tea and Brian fell asleep on his laptop. The rest is sort of a blur until we arrived at Madrid, where I was told I'd be able to shower and see the Pope.

Yay! You've finished this chapter! Hurrah! Stay tuned for showers in a garage, nun watch, meeting a fellow blogger, Metro parties and much much more!

With affection,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World Youth Day Diary: Introduction

It feels like I've been gone at least two months, but I'm reminded that in reality it was only two weeks unless I entered into some time-warp thing which is entirely possible. I realize that some of you reading this might be stumped by some Catholic lingo here and there but not to worry! I will translate as I did for many of my non-spanish speaking friends while in Spain.

Let's begin with the first obscure word: World Youth Day. World Youth Day began about 25 years ago when John Paul II called youth from all over the world to come together to meet with him and celebrate Jesus Christ. It's not really a "day" it more like a "week" with the festivities, prayer and other events culminating in a mass celebrated by the Pope.

This is my favorite video showing the World Youth Days throughout the years. I've tagged it a million times before but if you haven't seen it you should because it'll be a good basis to begin my personal experiences at my first WYD.

I have always deeply regretted not going to World Youth Day when Pope John Paul II was alive, he was my childhood Papa and his constant witness continues to be a source of strength in my faith life.

Pope Benedict XVI has been attacked mercilessly throughout his papacy, and although the Pope is not above criticism by any means, he is also JPII's successor; a tougher act to follow I have never seen. Quiet, unattractive Benedict does not gather the same sympathies the charismatic and handsome John Paul did. And yet these two were very good friends and Papa Beni rallied 1. 5 million youths this past week in Madrid. I was one of them. Best freaking time of my life.

I'll break up my trip into four parts:

I. Cordoba: Days in the Diocese
II. Madrid: Pilgrim Events
III. Vigil & Papal Mass
IV. Toledo: Swords!!

Must Sleep. Curse you Jetlag.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Happiest Pilgrim

I am the happiest little pilgrim on the planet. I’m sure I am. I’m sort of ecstatic. Tomorrow I am headed for Spain (if you didn’t know already, and if you haven’t that’s weird because I’ve told absolutely everyone that I’ve bumped into today---

“How was your day, Fabi?”
“So it was busy at work, huh?”
“Are you feeling alright?”

---That’s right kids, this kid is going to Spain, where 1. 5 million youths from around the world will be packed together like best friends who’ve never met to praise God in the streets and hear the Pope. It’s like winning the lottery or flying for free to the moon. I will be sleeping on the floor, sharing communal bathrooms, being generally gross and sweaty and I cannot wait.

I bought a hiking bag that’s bigger than me! Alright not quite, but almost!

But I still need something from you! I need your prayer intentions. It doesn't matter who you are I'm happy to pray for you and whatever might be going on. You can leave your name and what you want me to pray for, or just your name or you can message me privately and I won’t divulge your needs. I will be connected to the interwebs so don’t worry if you find this a little later than it goes up. I will check it to see if anyone has written.

Con Mucho Amor!

P.S. This pilgramige is called World Youth Day and it was started by Pope John Paul II (love love) and my daddy was at the “test” World Youth Day in Rome in 1984!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Maria Goretti, Martyr

"Yes, for the love of Jesus, I forgive him . . . and want him to be in paradise with me."
-Maria Goretti

The film version of her life (which I love) is available here! And I'm real picky about my movies. It comes in Italian or English Dub.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Be Silent or Be Lost

For a young woman the season of her mid-twenties is a time of adventure. Whether it’s marriage, travel, the first big job there is nothing so strange as leaving that familiar time of homework and a test taking to place that is so unstructured. This of course doesn’t mean the end of school, but it is a the time when the things you are expected to do: school then college are done and there are a myriad of acceptable (and non-acceptable things to do).

Occasionally, there is regret about the adventure taken. A young wife regrets not traveling or working before she married. A career-driven girl sighs at the big “0” on her answering machine. The young woman trying to get her masters regretfully declines another invitation to go home for the holidays. The free spirit wonders what life would be like if she’d settled down with her old beau.

As with everything it is never too late to begin listening. When you invite God’s insight and love into your life he begins to work with you and work with what you’ve got despite all the bumps in the road.

The young wife is inspired to take a part time job at the local bakery whipping up croissants she learned to make because her husband fell in love with him over his honeymoon with her in Paris.

Miss. My Job Is My Life starts to say ‘yes’ when Lucy, her co-worker asks her to go out with the girls for a drink, and soon comes to realize she’s learned to care for each one of them.

The life-long student lets go of her pride and calls her stepdad for some help on her paper on [some big topic I never wrote about] and ends up deciding to buy a ticket to go home the next weekend for some R&R.

I Go Where the Wind Takes Me, faces her fear of being the one left behind and decides to stay in Tokyo, Japan for at least a year to think about what she really wants at the end of the day… to really listen.

Every girl feels the fear of not living up to the picture of the loved, successful, smart and adventurous woman in their head. This woman has it all together, she beams. She is so unlike the girl that hits the snooze button three times and can’t remember if she watered the plants this week.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about life with God is the ability to listen to Him is built up with prayer and prayer can only happen in silence and that silence is unwelcome. Silence is unwelcome by many things. It is unwelcome by the Devil because he knows that in silence you will be forced to look at your life and that means you will run to God for help. Silence is unwelcome by our hip modern time that allows us to be plugged in 24/7 so that we don’t fall behind of all the hip stuff that our friends have probably already heard about.

And Silence in unwelcome by me, because it makes me uncomfortable to see the things I’m ashamed of and the things that bring me pain. The first step to become free of those things is acknowledging them and it is the hardest part. Once you have given it all to God it’s all much more pleasant.

A couple of days ago I resolved to go cleaning about my apartment in silence, which is very hard for me. I live alone and I like noise in the background. I go through many, many audiobooks, movies and music throughout the week. I realized that it was partially because I enjoyed it but also because it numbed parts of my heart that hurt and because there was an was uncomfortable uncertainty about how my life was going and where it was headed. Not unlike those four women I talked about earlier. Sure I prayed for few times a day but I never let God seep in through a long silence. Seeing how Jesus is the Lord of my life and I’d been telling him how much more I wished to love Him I figured I’d do the brave thing and create some quiet where I could listen and just be with Him so I figured housework time was a good place to start.

It was very uncomfortable for the first ten minutes. I wanted the noise back. I focused on the way I picked things up and their correct placement. That brought me pleasure, straightening things out. I liked the idea of having a clean home. I looked out the window and focused on the outline of the clouds and the rooftops that blurred together as the sun set behind them. ‘How lovely, Lord’ I thought. And then I felt peace, with a few words here and there as I cleaned I loved Him and I loved the task He had given me. I was His servant and He was my King.

When you listen things change, but when you rest more time in that silence you begin to have the courage to live because you feel loved.

Whether you are one or a combination of the wife, working girl, eternal student or freedom-seeker you will at times feel like there is something lacking in your life, like you aren’t whole because others have gifts and people in their lives that you don’t but if you take the time to listen to the deepest desires of your hearts you will find peace in what you have been given and courage to keep hoping for what you don’t. But even better you will get to know Him, who sees you with more love than you will ever be able to see yourself.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 3)

Comic Con was awesome, but you know what childhood dream was crushed underfoot? The ocean in San Diego is COLD. And it's apparently like that all the time. I weep.

I designed the t-shirt for the y.h.o.p.e WYD trip. Want one? Let me know.


People in airports are funny- FUN to draw!

I stumbled upon a prayer service when I was trying to go for adoration @ Holy Spirit church in San Diego. I got to pray the rosary in spanish with them! Thank you God!

One of my favorite prayers, The Litany of Humility available here


For Fun. By: Chris Sanders

OH YEAH. I won a first prize for the Disney Fairies Online Spring Outfit competition.
Here is my entry. (My prizes included a fairy mit, a fairy cookie cutter, and a fairy apron!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

This series will be about seven women that I am privileged to know!

Sofi, My Sister
Rain or shine she is the only person I can have on skype and go about my business for an hour without having to say a word.
Strong. Hilarious. Constant.


Ellie, The Giver
If I have to give away piece of chocolate I'll do it with a smile. Ellie will give you all the chocolate she has with joy.
Quirky. Compassionate. Playful.




Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dragging And Drawing

Why am I writing at this unholy hour of the night? Marc Barnes from Bad Catholic said he’d link people here and I panicked. I mean what if people actually took his advice and came over here and I didn’t live up to the recommendation? Most people who look at this site are my friends who love me no matter what silly thing I write or draw… Did I mention one of my main faults is caring what others think of me?

As I am thinking this I am reminded of all my faults and most burning temptations. In Marc’s last post “How To Be Good” he wrote about the fact that most of the time when he does something good he really wanted to do the bad thing and that not doing the bad thing wasn’t exactly joy-filled. Well, very often that’s me. I can take some compliments pretty easily like “You draw good” or “I like your dress” but the comment “You are so good” makes me cringe. Most parts of me are not good at all, and what is mostly good is still tainted a myriad of different things. I very rarely can say in full honesty that I did something good out of love of Jesus alone.

At times I have been able to say, “Make me a saint no matter what the cost!” This week I’ve just been saying things like “Let’s just get through today!” I’ve been dragging my feet. I’m in serious need of confession… not unlike most weeks. My spiritual discipline has been waning which infects all other aspects of my life. Word to the wise don't let your prayer time go or get smaller. While people celebrate the 4th of July I’ll be recovering much needed discipline.


Speaking of Discipline this piece I did last week that almost made me plop over my chair when I realized how many flowers I had to draw.

Please visit the About Me section to learn more about me.

Please visit to follow my artwork and process


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Unknown: The Pit of Possibilities

Suffering is something we don’t like to feel. We avoid it. We mask it. We curse God for it. Suffering is a mystery to us. Sometimes we are the source or our suffering, and often we are subjected to it by factors we do not control.

When I am the cause of my own misery, I often avoid the fact that in actuality I have control over the situation. My pride gets in the way and so does my insecurity. First I have to admit that it’s my fault, then I have to drag myself (painfully) out of the mud and continue into the Unknown where there might be joy or suffering, but I will no longer be the making of it. The Unknown is a scary place for most people. The familiar, even if it’s no good is comforting in a twisted way, at least you know what you are getting. Whether it be a job, relationship, habit or attitude that weighs your heart down more often than not you have more control over the situation than you think.

In high school, I was painfully shy. I felt like a didn’t fit in and even though I desperately wanted to try out for plays I just didn’t know how to go about it and I did not know how to ask for help. If I could talk to myself back then I would NOT say, “take control and just do it and talk to people, it’s easy!” But I would tell myself to start taking small steps toward the kind of person I wanted to be: open and confident.

There is the temptation to say, “Well, that’s just me and I guess I’ll just be miserable.” It is an easy way to shoot yourself in the foot. Most likely if you are painfully shy you will not become a quick-witted stand up comedian, but you may learn to be at ease and joyful in others’ company. I say this because in college and especially after college I said, “screw it I’m breaking down these walls even if I make an ass of myself," and I ended up in a lead role in a play and making really wonderful friends at events where I knew just about no one. It was liberating… imagine if I hadn’t tried. It’s a cliché statement to say shoot for the moon because even if you don’t make it you’ll land on a star, but it’s really true. Don’t let the fear of failure control you.

Funny, I played Alice in that play. So thematically appropriate.

But what if I fail? You might, but you also might not. The likelihood that you’ll succeed immediately rises the moment you decide to try.

I spent forever trying to drag myself out of a relationship because I would look over the Pit of the Unknown and say that my situation wasn’t that bad. It was familiar and maybe might work out… maybe. When I realized that if I stayed it would never work out I jumped head first into a black pit of a million possibilities. I gave myself a shot at lasting joy instead of no shot at all. It seems like a no brainer, but unless you love yourself a decision like that can be near impossible. I think the most singular people I know are the ones who throw themselves into the Unknown regularly for the sake of something awesome.

So do it. Dream big. Don’t settle.

When suffering comes along the way look up at a crucifix and join your suffering with His. You are part of His Body and your suffering will not be in vain. His resurrection is yours as well. I didn't mean to be all preachy at the end but I know of no other way to endure pain joyfully.

Peace my friends,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 2)


I'm obsessed with the 80's TV show version of Beauty and The Beast. Linda Hamilton is the beauty, which took a little getting used (if you've seen Terminator 2 you understand), and guess who's the Beast? Dun dun dun... Ron Perlman... who I always prefer as something other than human. It's sad but the Beast and Hellboy are hard to compete with.

I'm giving my first real talk ever at a retreat this weekend. I have to stand up and speak for like ten minutes. I was the child that called in sick when we had to give speeches at school. I'm excited anyways. I'm going to talk about what happens when we share our faith with others and how often our agendas are different than God's.


I entered a Disney Contest to win a trip to Disney World :D All I had to do was draw a fairy in a spring outfit. If I can't win this I'll probably never win anything.


I joined my local YMCA. Swimming it's been so long. I have missed you!


BadCatholic is writing about Liturgy because I asked him too! Double Hurray! Read his first entry here


My family is the best. Meet my mom, aunt and grandma.


Another jewel, who knew that behind those bespeckled glasses is such refreshing and concise teaching? I mean I heard about it, but now I know what all the fuss is about.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Good

Small, battered, humble-breasted.
Prideful, loyal and selfish.
By all accounts I am a twisted face,
Contorted by desire, smoothed by grace.

Loved, neglected, ever-burdened
Oh shadows that surround me!
By all accounts I am a twisted face,
Contorted by desire, smoothed by grace.

Ugly, desperate, hopeful,
Shivering as darkness pricks,
Who will take me in?
Misshapen, but good!
There is some good!
I am ashamed.

By all accounts I am a twisted face,
Contorted by desire, smoothed by grace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I recently turned twenty-four and seeing as I haven’t posted anything and haven’t had the time to form long coherent thoughts, I thought I’d jot down 24 short thoughts. They’re all random, ranging from advice, revelations, thanksgiving, etc. Hopefully, I arranged them in an order that is easy to follow.

1) God’s will is more beautiful and intricate than I can imagine.

There once was a little boy who was sitting at the foot of his mother as she embroidered something on her lap. He looked at the design from were he sat, and seeing only the back grimaced at the knots and haphazard stitches. When she was done she turned it around. Elegant flowers he had never seen before graced the cloth’s surface. Her method had seemed strange, even ugly at times and yet there it was… Beauty was created by her hands.

2) Worry should be followed immediately by prayer… especially if you have an over active imagination.

Matthew 6:27- 34

"Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

3) “God alone satisfies” (CCC 1718)

We all have this deep longing to be happy. Try giving God your whole heart. Not a piece you can spare and not just sometimes. See what happens.

4) God is an “and-and” sort of person. He wants us to love him and others and ourselves. He want us to better ourselves and take care of ourselves and amuse ourselves.

“There are only three good reasons why anyone should ever do anything: because it is moral, practical, or delightful… Of the three goods, moral goods clearly take precedence: it is not justifiable to sacrifice a moral duty for efficiency or pleasure” (Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity pg. 182-183)

5) Disney movies taught me to love wonder and innocence. They taught me that a good story can be told without gore and sensationalized sex. A few taught me to dress a little inappropriately… that’d be my only real complaint, the only downside to my Disney education. To this day I have a desire to walk around with a bare midriff like Jasmine, for no other reason than I like Jasmine.

6) You have no control over other people’s emotions or actions. Let those around you grow freely. If they can grow with you praise God. If not pray for strength and remember that prayer is a way to be present as your loved ones continue their path.

7) Adore God, love people and use things.

8) “It [Prudence] is not to be confused with timidity or fear” (CCC 1806)

I’m praying for courage to come along side my natural desire to want to be humble, so that I won’t be fearful but prudent.

9) I cannot possibly tell you how much you’re worth… actually I can. God loves you so much that he died for you. Don’t let any man or woman tell you that you deserve anything less than a loving relationship marked by the words, “ 'Till death do us part.” Do not give your body away for less.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” 1 Cor 6:19-20

(also kudos to the witness of Dr. Francis Schaeffer)

10) Babies are so much fun! I’m glad because I’ve been told they’re also a lot of work.

11) Start taking care of your body ASAP. In fact start right now. Go take a walk around the block. You only get one.

12) If you want to make friends start saying hi to some people. I’m as shy as they come and I can tell you I’d never take back any awkward handshakes. The kindred spirits you meet make up for that in gold.

13) The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis is a fantastic read. Whether you are familiar with the term “Spiritual Warfare” or not it is a vivid picture of the constant battles within our souls.

“Remember where you are: on a battlefield, not in an easy chair. If you are a Christian, you are a spiritual warrior” (Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity)

14) Envy is the only sin that never gives anyone any pleasure at all (Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity)

… but somehow I fall into that one pretty easy. I’m obviously not a very smart when I choose to sin.

15) Everything tastes better with butter.

16) True Perfection is reflecting the face of Christ.

17) Don’t ever think you can’t start over. Don’t ever think you’ve done too many bad things to be loved. You are loved. God has loved you since the day your life began and he loves you now. God does not love because you are free of sin but because he hopes to help you be free of sin.

18) Saints come in all shapes and sizes. The body of Christ is made up of many people and we all have a part to play. Each part is important and beautiful and unique. You are not meant to have every talent because you need to be reminded to look beside you and ask your brother or sister for help, so that you can realize that you are a part of a body, not one person fighting a battle. In our “I can take care of myself, thank you very much!" society we often forget that it is strength to ask for the help of others.

19) A little discomfort will keep you from getting too soft and lazy.

20) Societies have accepted slavery, infanticide and genocide as moral actions. Take a step back and have the courage to question your own society, especially what’s cool.

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." (G. K. Chesterton)

21) It’s a poor argument to say that Christianity is bad because someone failed to live up to Christian teaching. If you’re going to say Christianity is bad it should be because you think it’s teaching is bad not because it’s members are bad. (But by the way we are fully aware that we're bad... hence the need for someone to save us and forgive us... constantly)

(kudos to Marc Barnes @ BadCatholic )

22) You don’t believe in God? Try living as if he did and see what happens. What do you have too lost if it all means nothing in the end? You can begin by saying small prayers. Tell God your fears, hopes and worries, thank him for good things and acknowledge the beautiful things you see.

23) The greatest blessings I have received are my family and friends. They look at my drawings and follow my blogs and tell me when I’m being an idiot.

24) My mother got married when she was twenty-four and I have always thought of that age as the moment I would cross the threshold into adulthood… I hope to be a good grown-up...

... yeah...


Friday, March 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 1)


I just finished watching the first season of Downtown Abbey. If you like miniseries done in the tradition of BBC's Pride and Predjudice you'll enjoy this! It is not for younger audiences, it's a little more adult than the softer renditions of Jane Austin novels! :)

If you want a kid-friendly series watch Avatar: The Last Airbender NOW. I mean it. It rocked my world and it will rock yours.

The best article I've read about sexuality in the last few months can be found here. And yes, a seventeen year old wrote this. Puts my teenage thoughts to shame.

I devoured this book in a couple of days. Whether you're single, in a relationship, confused or on the straight and narrow path this book is a fantastic read for any young woman. I ordered some in bulk so if you want one just send me a message and I'll send it to you by snail mail or by visiting you at your house! (I mean if you live close by and I've seen your face at least once).


If you are going to Mass and you are any of these things: confused, bored, doubting the miracle occurring before your very eyes, read this:

I just finished Luci (a character I'm developing) in her winter outfit! :D


Visit Jennifer Fulwiler @

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jesus, if you want it so do I!

Thank you everyone for your ideas! I'm especially looking forward to drawing during adoration, I never thought to do it before (merci Allison!). I think my next entry will be a fun little exploration of the Church Calendar and all it's colors, perfumes and feasts... Pie chart time! For now I leave you with the testimony of the beautiful Chiara Luce Bandano who continually challenges me with her witness and the simple phrase, "For you, Jesus. If you wish it, so do I!"

Happy, happy, joy, joy!


Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hey Guys! I've been wanting to write but I'm having trouble zeroing in on something specific... so many possibilities! So I was thinking I'd ask all of you to give me some of your ideas, or things you would like to read about. It can be anything really, as long as you don't ask me to write about lawnmowers (it would be a short). You can also make an art-related requests of course.

Have a truly blessed day!


Monday, January 24, 2011

A Letter from your Neighborhood Fabi

I wrote this letter to a good guy friend of mine so that he wouldn't succumb to the depths of despair as he embarked on the challenge to get back into shape. So if you're thinking of giving up on your own resolution to be fit and healthy, DON'T! and read this bit of advice.

A Letter from your Neighborhood Fabi

Dear Mr. I need to lose weight,

I know in past years you have lost weight to the point of near satisfaction only to gain back the pounds that were so desperately shooed away. I myself have gone through periods of stringent diet and exercise programs. They seemed awful and so I thought they would make me look not only fabulous but also healthy. This only ended in a rollercoaster eating routine and anxious workouts to burn off the many + calories I had consumed.

My mindset was completely inadequate in my search for a body I could be proud of. This list is so you don’t make the same mistakes and so you too can eat food and not feel guilty!

a) If you think you are just going to eat salads for a whole week, forget that. You’ll be unhappy all the time and, eventually you’ll just want to reward yourself with a double fudge brownie sundae with lard on top. Not to mention the fact that the best diet is well-rounded.

· A period of detox is only recommended if it only lasts one to two days. It’s only meant to cleanse and reset your body for a lifelong new way of living!

b) A “diet”, often refers to a period of time in which you will be depriving yourself of the joy of food until your waistline is suitable. A “diet” will make you obsess about the food. A “diet” will make you miserable as you are trying to attain your end. What you are looking for is a change that will make you enjoy life twice as much because you will enjoy food and feel good about yourself!

c) Exercise is imperative to a svelte figure. The “gym” mentality is not. If you enjoy the gym, especially particular workouts that target specific areas, go ahead. This might sound stupid, but before the fitness craze in the 1980s, women in France just walked everywhere, and took stairs.Substitute the “gym” mentality to an “active” mentality. Don’t let your activity happen only at the gym. This actually does wonders. I haven’t gone to the gym in a while, and although my body could really use back up, simply living an active lifestyle maintains my weight while I’m trying to figure out routine workouts.

d) This may not pertain to you, but I’m putting it in anyways. Your healthy body might not look like the healthy body of Hugh Jackman or in my case like Adriana Lima’s. You have to just forget about the idea about having longer legs, flawless skin and no-cellulite (whoops, that’s about me again!!), I mean you just have to know that what you consider your problem areas might never be what you consider perfect, but you will be healthy, and that in itself will compensate for the lack of model quality.

e) Water. I cannot stress this enough. Have it around and drink it. If you can keep it to one cup of juice a day and then just water, you’ll be doing yourself good.

f) Quality over Quantity. Eat what you love, if it’s very rich just have a bit to satisfy you. Don’t get off your butt to get something that won’t make you happy!

· Indulge when it’s homemade and special. I’ve found it incredibly easy to stop eating before I’m full when it’s normal, something I have everyday food, then when something awesome does come by I can eat a little more than I should ;)

· Depriving yourself is a trap; you’ll only eat more of it in the end. Just eat less of it, and if it’s not the most awesome thing ever then don’t get it all.

Eat things that are good for you AND your absolutely Favorite Things. Nothing in between.

Note: this does not apply to parties in which your mum wants you to eat something you don’t love, or when someone bakes something just for you. You also want to be polite, but when you know you’ve made room to be polite you will be able to without getting FAT, FAT, FAT!!

In my case I love chocolate, but I only usually eat the very, very best. It makes the occasion rare and special! Whenever I eat a milkyway it’s never actually that great and me feels like I’m eating junk food instead of awesomeness.

· Recognize when all you want is something in your mouth. I usually do tea with just a bit of sweetener or coffee with a bit of milk and sugar. You’ll have to find your own thing that keeps your mouth satisfied for a long period of time.

Learn to Say
NO THANK YOU. People will hate you for being good, but after they’ve gone away they’ll forget about it and you’ll feel like you accomplished something! I know this is especially hard with mothers and dudes, just be extra nice about it (moms) or change the topic quickly (dudes).

Remember, this is to make you feel better about yourself and not to make you miserable. Also, even though you think you are utterly and completely FAT AND UGLY, that is again a terrible warped vision of yourself. You can be in need of some trimming and still be incredibly attractive, dashing and lovely (YOU).

Yours truly,

Miss. Fabi


Resources that I highly recommend:

French Women Don't Get Fat by: Mireille Guiliano

I don't cook the recipes from this book but her personal story saved me from my roller coaster eating and exercise habits. Plus, She's so cute and French.

YouTube by: YouTube ppl

Stuck at home? Learn your favorite dance. Someone somewhere is bound to have uploaded a tutorial.

Resources that I don't recommend:

Fitness Magazines (with a few article exceptions about nutrition and medical information): Looking at airbrushed women never helped anybody. Men get the wrong idea about the vast majority of the female population and women try to reach standards that even money can't buy.

Differences between Male and Female Bodies: Men (usually), build up muscle much more quickly than women. Mens' skin is usually thicker and also made up differently than women which is why women get cellulite and most men don't. Cellulite has very little to do with your weight, it has more to do with genetics. The word "Cellulite" was coined until 1923 and did not become a household word until 1972 (before that women just thought it was normal, because it is), and the beautifying industry milks a ridiculous amount of money from women hoping to improve it. Both men and women get stretchmarks, during puberty, pregnancy, or weight gain. They're like scars under your skin and they'll fade a bit. Totally normal, but permanent. Mens' and Womens' bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate them! You'll find that the less you look at airbrushy ppl you'll find real live people so much more beautiful than you ever found them! Don't worry too much about things that you think are weird. Our standards for beauty today are weird. Not that models and model-like humans aren't gorgeous, but most people have their own allure too.