Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Top 5 Gals.

There was a super-cool meme going around last week: Your Top 5 Catholic Devotions.Because of the summer virus, I never got around to it. But often in the wee hours, I play around with my own "Top 5" lists. This one has been revised numerous times and will continue to shift, but here's my best shot at

The Top 5 Women in My Formation (minus Super-Formators Mom and the Blessed Virgin--that's too easy!

(If you want to play, please leave your top 5 in the comments box, or post them on your own blog and link back here. You can use your awesome mother or the Sweet Mother of God; I just had to limit myself!)

1. Elisabeth Elliot. A Protestant missionary whose first husband, Jim Elliot, was martyred in the Amazon jungle in 1956, Elisabeth Elliot was probably the biggest influence on my young, pre-Catholic spiritual life. As an eleven-year-old, I devoured her Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendour, both of which cover the story of Jim and his companions, as well as A Chance to Die. The zeal for God and His Word made an enormous impression on me and encouraged a lasting love of the Christ who "calls us apart" and asks us to pay the price for His Crown. Passion and Purity, when I was about 13, confirmed in me a love of the Christian sexual ethic that I still believe saved me endless heartbreak in high school.

2. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). Where to begin? I think I encountered her in my senior year of high school, as I was deciding to major in philosophy. At the time, I was sure I would become a nun, and her story captivated me. Because of her, I wanted to study phenomenology, the meaning of which I couldn't (and still can't) really grasp. Again, she was a woman of total integrity. Like Elliot, she believed that a life worth living was a life totally given over--no half measures. At first, she was convinced this meant a total devotion to philosophy, which led her inexorably to a total devotion to Truth, which she suddenly found was a Person, was Love. Since I was now Catholic, I needed someone who went beyond Elliot and Stein provided this for me. She continues to challenge me each day, even though I did not follow her footsteps into the convent.

3. Sr. Anna Wray, OP. No link available here! Sr. Anna, who I mentioned in the last post, showed up during my first week at Catholic University. I had never had a friend before of my own age who loved Christ (and was a total dork about philosophy). She was flame. She began a weekly adoration hour of praise music, followed by a short sermon from the friars, silent prayer, and Confession. She was also my dearest friend. We discerned together, prayed together, fasted together, and I listened to her talk philosophy (I couldn't always follow her). She, soon joined by many other young women, taught me that we cannot do this alone. Total gift of self is not just something I can do all by myself. I need the example of those holier and more zealous than I. "Losing" her to the convent was a wrenching experience, but also one of the most beautiful gifts I ever could give to God (and it made room for Todd!).

4. Therese of Lisieux. Ah, Therese. It's been a long, long road. When I first read Story of a Soul in high school, I was a little befuddled and even turned off. She was so ... drippy. But she has a habit of hanging onto one. A friend and I later joked that, instead of being our "Little Flower," Therese was our "Little Weed." I started to pray for her help in early college and entrusted Todd's conversion to her. It was highly effective. The woman pulled no punches, even sending me numerous snowstorms (she loved snow) and roses on various and appropriate occasions. I began reading her autobiography yearly, and ever since have been completely hooked on her Little Way.

5. Laura Ingalls Wilder. I had to dig back into the early childhood influences, since Miriam is almost to this point in her little life. It was a close call with Little Women, but the Little House (so many "littles"!) books certainly influenced both my imagination and hopes for the future. I couldn't imagine a memory or play without some reference to life on a farm, in the woods, on the prairie, or in a family. Charles and Caroline's marriage was so beautiful to me, as was the children's love of learning and the hard work of daily life. Surely that had something to do with where I am today.

Runners-Up (because I can't stop!)
~ Clare of Assisi
~ Mother Angelica
~ Kari Beckman
~ Ann Hartle
~ gosh, there are so many more ...


Christina said...

Hi, I spent the night pondering who my "five" were and I picked from different categories in my life. 1.My mom - she is an incredible, selfless woman. She just spent the last 11 years of her life being a full time care giver for my dad and I wish I could be more like her in every aspect of my life.
2. St. Faustina - I love the story of her life and the Divine Mercy devotion is one of my favorite. I have seen it work at the deathbeds of two relatives now.
3. Jane Austen - my favorite author. I love all her books and reread them constantly.
4. Elizabeth Zimmerman - her writings have had a huge influence on my knitting life.
5. I must include my girls who constantly teach me so much (and if they ever read this would leave me no peace if I didn't include them :))

Annita, Mom2Seven said...

I agree, The Blessed Virgin and my own mother go without saying. So, my Grandma Rose, my Great-Grandma Nellie, Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Therese, and I am right there with you when it comes to Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are so many others... saints, authors, friends... the list is long! +JMJ+

Eileen said...

What a beautiful blog, Erika. Each of your choices is a testimony of how God answers a mother's prayer: that her daughter may find true guides throughout her life. Funny thing, though -- I haven't been able to come up with 5 women that guided me as much! Perhaps Louisa May Alcott and my Grandma Grace... and the Little Flower.... but my list of men would be long. Not sure what that means!!

Lana said...

What a cool post. I had no idea that you had a secret Protestant past. :)
I can't say that I loved Elizabeth Elliott as much as you, but I had a huge crush on one of her grandsons in highschool. I love her brother Thomas Howard's writings.

Maureen said...

Hi Erika -
I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for photos of Saint Therese. I can't believe your have Therese and Laura Ingalls Wilder in the same spot! Also two of my heroes! I blog (when the spirit moves me) about spirituality and marriage and Asperger's Syndrome. I have an entire post devoted to how Laura shaped my life. I have subscribed to your blog. I feel I have found a soul sister.

Mrs C said...

Great list Erika. Mine is a little different although it includes Edith Stein - I'd definitely include GEM Anscombe. I'd probably also list St Teresa of Avila and Mary Ann Glendon - although Glendon, of course, is still alive and her is work is more 'light' legal theory as opposed to legal philosophy proper. I like Alice von Hildebrand and I respect her but it's always hard for me to see her as an academic independent of her husband's work. I'd probably include St Catherine of Sienna too.

In terms of spiritual formation (as opposed to academic), it's really been the men more than the women for me. St Thomas Aquinas. St Francis de Sales. St Josemaria Escriva.

Anyone else find that?

Tami said...

I am not sure how I found your blog, but God has a way of bringing together kindred spirits. Elizabeth Elliot hands down is my number 1 "Top Gal". As a young mother without television(by choice) Elliot was my daily visitor through her radio program. Even my kiddos would halt their play and gather around close to listen to her wise voice. Mrs. Gren would become my spiritual mother.
I am a recent convert to Catholicism, so I must include Mother Angelica, although she didn't dispense an enormous amount of theology, her simple obedience to GOD opened up a Network which Christ used to bring me to His Church. I am just now turning to my Blessed Mother Mary for daily guidance and strength. I only know the basics regarding St. Faustina, but the chaplet of divine mercy is becoming an important devotion for me. Love Laura Ingalls also.