7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 168)

March 30, 2012 | 41 comments

— 1 —

I have a Malcolm update for you, and it’s awesome: This family has committed to adopt him! The money you have donated will help them in this process, so THANK YOU for your generosity. You can see a breakdown here of the overwhelming financial burden they still face, so please keep them in your prayers, and, if you feel moved, drop them a few buck through their PayPal button on their sidebar. Again: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

— 2 —

When I wrote about fasting from artificial light in the Register a while back, I got a ton of interesting responses. One of my favorites was from a dad who told me about this family tradition that they’ve been doing for 30 years:

We turn off the light when we leave for Holy Thursday Mass and don’t turn them on again until we return from the Saturday Easter Vigil at around midnight on Saturday.

We got the idea when our parish turned off the lights and had us exit in silence on Holy Thursday. And we entered at the Easter Vigil in darkness which continued until the Gloria. And, of course, Good Friday services were held during the daytime so lighting was not a main focus. So we got the idea to practically “live” this period when Jesus the “light of the world” was taken away from us.

I think we might try this this year. Anyone else going to give it a shot?

— 3 —

So, uhh, yeah. Holy Week next week. Wow. As I’ve mentioned, this hasn’t been the most powerful Lent I’ve ever experienced. I set the bar embarrassingly low in terms of the sacrifices I would make and the practices I would undertake…and still managed not to hit it. But! The good news is that it’s never too late to let God transform you. Besides, there’s still Holy Week! I’m hoping to set everything else aside and just focus on the Lord next Thursday and Friday. If you could say a prayer for that intention (i.e. that “focusing on the Lord” doesn’t turn into “focusing on the Lord…after I check email, and, hey, look at all this funny stuff on Twitter!”) I’d appreciate it.

— 4 —

Lately I’ve been oddly intrigued by a medieval devotion called The Fifteen Oes, a.k.a. the Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget. The story I heard (which I am not sure is correct) is that St. Bridget was praying about our Lord’s passion, and she was told in a vision that he received 5, 475 injuries to his body. The idea behind the 15 Oes is that if you pray them daily for a year, you’ll have honored every one of the wounds of Christ (15 x 365 = 5, 475).

Again, I don’t know if that story is accurate. However, I love the prayers, in that each time you go through them you meditate on 15 different aspects of Christ’s sufferings. I’ve read comments from around the internet from folks who said that they found it to be powerful to commit to praying the 15 Oes every day for a certain length of time, even if it wasn’t for a whole year. I think I may include this in my Holy Week devotions.

— 5 —

A while back I went through a long phase of reading nonfiction adventure stories (a la Over the Edge of the World and Skeletons in the Zahara), and that got me interesting in the subject of castaways. You would not believe all the crazy castaway stories that are out there! Here’s a fascinating article about wayward ships drifting from Japan to the U.S. back in the 19th Century, and here is a Wikipedia roundup of famous castaway stories. This one is one of my favorites:

In June 1722, [Philip] Ashton was captured by pirates while fishing near the coast of Nova Scotia…He managed to escape in March 1723 when the pirates landed at Roatán Island in the Bay Islands of Honduras, hiding in the jungle until the pirates decided to depart without him. He survived for 16 months, in spite of many insects, tropical heat and alligators. In the beginning he seems to have eaten only fruit, because he only had his hands to collect food; he could not kill any animal. He had no equipment at all until he met another castaway, an Englishman. A few days later the Englishman “went out but he never returned.” The Englishman left behind a knife, gunpowder, tobacco and more. Ashton could now kill tortoises and crayfish and make fires to have hot meals. Ashton was finally rescued by the Diamond, a ship from Salem, Massachusetts.

Whoa, whoa, WHOA. Wait. While he was a castaway in what was then remote jungles at the edge of the civilized world…he happened to run into another Englishman?! How crazy is that? How did the other Englishman get there? How did they begin that conversation when they first ran into each other? I’m going to need someone to please write a compelling historical nonfiction epic about this. Thanks.

— 6 —

Tomorrow (Saturday, March 31) I’m speaking in Houston at a women’s retreat for St. Cecilia parish. I’m going to be talking about how how fear prevents us from living our lives to the fullest — a subject with which I have plenty of personal experience. Can’t wait!

— 7 —

Simcha recently posted her favorite songs for Lent. I’m not educated enough to have multiple suggestions; after about two I’d start digging into power ballads from the 1980s. But I will say that no Lent is complete without listening to Dum Transisset Sabbatum, sung by the Tallis Scholars, at least once.


Apologies to Beth Anne, Jen, Priest’s Wife, Genny, Ann-Marie, Barbara, Katie, Kaylene, Ana, and Blair, who were the first 10 to link up but whose links got deleted due to a technical glitch. Sorry about that!


  1. jen

    None of the links seem to be showing up.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I see that. Weird. Looking into it now…

      • Jennifer Fulwiler

        Arrgh! I ended up having to delete the first list. But the good news is that it should be fixed for good now. Glad I stayed up late! 🙂

    • Lara


      Did you know there are also Twelve Year prayers of St. Bridget?


      I can’t know for sure those promises are from God, but I have three young cousins who aren’t being raised in the faith, so I’m willing to commit for the 12 years in the hopes it might help them get to heaven. We just started, my boyfriend and I, on the first day of Advent this year. (It just happened that way and it should help keep track.)


  2. Genny Heikka

    It has been a while since I’ve joined in, but I subscribe to your blog and always enjoy reading your posts! Have fun at your speaking engagement; what a great topic. I have definitely been held back by fear before, but in the last couple of years–due to a variety of reasons–my whole perspective has changed. Now, if my knees are knocking in fear, I get excited because I know God is going to show up in a big way and I can’t wait to see what He will do!

  3. Katie@NFP and Me

    I attempted St. Brigid’s prayers once with my husband. We made it about 3 months. Wish would could have done the whole year but it was still super powerful. We actually picked our wedding date based on her feast day! (Although if I remember correctly she’s the patroness of widows though ;-))

  4. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    Jennifer – I was thinking of you the other day, when I was thinking of how long my husband and I have been Catholic. I remembered that you were received into the church on the same day that we were. Then I realized – it will be five years this year! Wow!

    So, with Holy Week coming up, I’m going to wish you a happy fifth anniversary early. 🙂

  5. Ana @ Time Flies

    Let there be links!

    And I love the idea of keeping the lights off during Triduum. Thanks!

  6. Jessica Snell

    The no-artificial light idea sounds attractive. I’m not sure I’m up for doing it this year, but . . . but now I’m going to be thinking about it.

  7. Kara

    This has been the best lent ever for me. Truly amazing…

    1. I had my marriage convalidated, finally…
    2. I’ve helped advocate for orphans on Reece’s Rainbow and never cried so much in my life.
    3. My husband will be baptized at Easter!
    4. I finished the consecration!
    5. My husband’s job situation worked out!

    And I can’t even remember the rest. But it’s been amazing. God is so good. Thank you so much for helping spread the word about Malcolm. The Smiths are amazing people and I am so excited to be able to meet Malcolm when he comes home!

  8. Ciska @ This Journey of my Life

    I’m going to try to keep the lights out from Holy Thursday until the Easter vigil. Such a neat and visual idea!
    And I’m so glad Malcolm is going home!!!

  9. Leila

    Yay for your amazing advocacy for Malcolm! You were a huge part of getting him to the point where a family could commit!

    I like the lights out concept. Wow. May have to try that one.

  10. Mary @ St Henry II

    Hurray, a family for Malcom!!! God is GOOD!

  11. Louise

    Thank God that Malcom has a home!! Awesome news!
    I’m praying that you have a good Holy Week! I’ve felt a bit lax this Lent in terms of being prayerful and making sacrifices. I’m thinking of giving up meat entirely next Monday-Friday, going to Daily Mass as much as I can, going to confession, and possibly going to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (which I have *never* done, and I’m a cradle Catholic).

  12. Michael

    So with Holy Week coming up, I am curious what happens when Palm Sunday falls on April Fools Day. 😉

  13. Dwija {House Unseen}

    The news about Malcolm’s adoption is so awesome! And incredible! And wonderful! And yay!

  14. Katharine

    I’m thinking the other englishman in the castaway story was possibly an angel. Either way seems just as miraculous.

  15. GeekLady

    Fasting from artificial light is something I had never considered, but I think it will fit in well in our home. We have started burning a vigil lamp in our oratory, which we plan to put out on Good Friday and then bring home some of the new fire from the Easter Vigil to relight it.

    Oof, which just reminds me I have candle molds and candles and a candle holder to make this weekend. I want to do Matins and Lauds as Tenebrae during the Triduum.

  16. Cathleen

    I just had to shed some light on your castaway-meeting-up-with-a-Brit mystery. I live in Belize, and the Roatan islands are very close to the Belizean coast. The British came to this area starting in the mid-1600’s to log, so it is quite possible that someone might have run into a Brit wandering the jungle.
    So there you go!

  17. Ashley

    So, I have three unsolicited book recommendations for you. They’re all non-fiction too! 🙂

    First, is “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. It’s her account of surviving the Rwandan genocide by hiding in this tiny bathroom with a bunch of other women. It’s amazing because this happened within our lifetime, but also because her faith is amazing. She has other books, but I’d recommend starting with this one.

    The next two books are by Michael Pollan – “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” (I’d read them in that order too). “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” starts off slow, but it gets interesting as he traces the origins of three meals – fast food, organic, and wild. “In Defense of Food” is refreshing in its honesty and simplicity. After writing “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” he was left with the question, “what should I eat?” and this is what he came up with. While most food/nutrition books have an agenda to advance, he doesn’t and he gives a fair treatment to the information he uncovers.

    So, you didn’t ask about books, but I thought I’d share anyway. Have a great weekend.

  18. Sara in D.C.

    Hi Jen,

    If you like cast away stories read “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger. It is thoroughly researched and impeccably written. You would most definitely enjoy it.


  19. Victoria @ Mommy Marginalia

    I love the idea of doing the Fifteen Oes for Holy Week! Thank you so much for sharing!

  20. Sarahlcc

    Hey, yeah, I’ve heard of the 15 Oes, didn’t know they were called that. I have the Pieta Prayer book (if you don’t have it, Get It! It’s great!) and they have those prayers in it. I’m drawn toward the St. Briget prayers, but was more strongly drawn toward the chaplet of the wounds which is shortly after ST. Bridget’s prayers. It’s very simple and goes a lot faster!

  21. vitabenedicta

    I had a nonfiction adventure phase too. Some good ones: In the Heart of the Sea, Into Thin Air, Shadow Divers, Into the Wild. I’ve also heard positive things about West with the Night.

  22. Gwenny

    I LOVE the idea of fasting from artificial light. We didn’t do it through Lent, but maybe we can make it for Holy Thursday on… it would def. be interesting. Thanks for the idea!

  23. Jean Wise

    I always learn something new from your blog. thanks so much!

  24. Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace

    That is such an awesome story about Malcolm and the family who’s going to adopt him! Praise God for people who truly care about the wellbeing of children and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their needs are met. Fasting from artificial light sounds like a very interesting idea. I’d have to get my husband onboard for us to do that, but it does sound like another way to observe the world in darkness with the Son of God as our Light. May you and your fam have a blessed holy week!

  25. Vicky

    Hi Jen,

    I did the St. Bridget prayers for a year, after my conversion. I remember being quite anxious about getting through them but, by the grace of God, I finished – I surprised me! During that year, I felt really focused and uplifted, so I thought it was definitely worth the effort.

    Um, I’ve just realised that I’ve posted 2 links to my blog – oops! I thought the iPad wasn’t working properly so I switched to the laptop and, guess what? They both went through:-P Silly me. It looks like shameless self-promotion LOL

    Hope you have a great Palm Sunday:)

  26. KC

    Where and what time are you speaking at St. Cecelia’s today? The church is around the corner from me and i would love to come hear you.

  27. Rhonda

    Interesting about castaways – my great, great grandfather was a castaway. Grandfather was twelve years old, down at the docks in Copenhagen, admiring the ships. A man said, “Would you like to look onboard?” Oh, boy! Yes, he would! He followed the man onto the ship and never saw Denmark again.

    The first place he could escape was Galveston, TX.

    My great-great grandmother also had an interesting ship story. She emmigrated from Hamburg to Galveston, TX in 1900, during the famous 1900 Galveston Hurricane. She and a friend were on a ship in the middle of the hurricane, and “the waves were as high as mountains!” The crew had the lock the two of them in their cabin because they kept coming on deck to see the storm.

    And these two met and married and here we all are.

  28. Rhonda

    Interesting about castaways – my great, great grandfather was a castaway. Grandfather was twelve years old, down at the docks in Copenhagen, admiring the ships. A man said, “Would you like to look onboard?” Oh, boy! Yes, he would! He followed the man onto the ship and never saw Denmark again. (He was kidnapped.)

    The first place he could escape was Galveston, TX.

    My great-great grandmother also had an interesting ship story. She emmigrated from Hamburg to Galveston, TX in 1900, during the famous 1900 Galveston Hurricane. She and a friend were on a ship in the middle of the hurricane, and “the waves were as high as mountains!” The crew had the lock the two of them in their cabin because they kept coming on deck to see the storm.

    And these two met and married and here we all are.

  29. Sheryl

    Hi, I’m a former protestant coming into the church at Easter. I’m wondering about the wounds of Jesus lately, because I sometimes say the “prayer before a crucifix” when I first kneel in church. Why do Catholics honor the wounds of Jesus?

    • Joe Magarac

      “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1.

      We honor the wounds of Christ as a way of appreciating and honoring the perfect sacrifice that he made of himself for us.

  30. Liz

    Dum Transisset Sabbatum, great video.I’ve always learned new things reading your blog.

  31. Shanel

    The 7 quick takes Friday is awesome. Thanks for the great view.

  32. tinafreysd

    I really enjoy reading your great post, and this video inspired me so much… Very impressive creation…

  33. Jacqueline

    Just wanted to second the recommendation of “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s a non-fiction castaway/survival story of a whaling ship sunk by a whale. The event inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. It got me fascinated by maratime history, of all things, as well as being a fascinating look into survival psychology.

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