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Christina Gebel :
46 article(s)

Christina Gebel holds B.A.’s in psychology and theology from Saint Louis University as well as a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from Boston University. After college, she spent two years as a full-time volunteer at a faith-based organization in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, performing standup comedy, and serving as a doula and Lamaze childbirth educator. She currently resides in Boston, working in the field of public health and serving as co-chair of the executive committee for the Catholic Extension Young Professionals of Boston.
February 2nd, 2016
The long, and sometimes difficult, road from seeing their struggles to seeing our struggles
A man is silhouetted against the arctic smoke rising off Lake Michigan in Chicago. (CNS photo/Jim Young, Reuters)When I was 21, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to get my doctorate in theology and become a renowned theologian of sexual ethics. When I approached my mentor for letters of recommendation, she said something that stopped me in my tracks: “You should really consider taking a year off. Maybe you should do a year of service.” I cried for a week. I don’t like a change in plans. In theory, I could have stayed the course, but I respected and admired her too much not to consider what she had to say. The following fall, I started what would become two years of service at a Catholic service…
January 5th, 2016
Whenever I’m home for the holidays and have access to cable TV again, I binge-watch HGTV. My favorite shows focus on home renovations and redecorating. You can watch an outdated kitchen become a sparkling culinary oasis with the latest trimmings in under a half an hour. There’s something satisfying about seeing a positive change so quickly. These shows are part of our current obsession with quick transformations. Lose weight in just days. Learn a new language in only a few weeks. Find a boyfriend or girlfriend online during a one-month trial membership. It all seems so easy, but is it? New Year’s is a time that can suffer from our desire to become a new person, seemingly overnight. We might ask ourselves what’s…
December 14th, 2015
3 ways to be more engaged this Christmas
As I’ve gotten older, there have been fewer and fewer presents under the Christmas tree. What do you get the mom who has everything? There are no more toys to shop for, as my brother and I have grown up and grandkids are not yet in the picture. When I reflect on this, admittedly, I feel a bit of sadness. While I’m not a materialistic person, I sometimes long for the nostalgia of running down the stairs and marveling at the outcome of Santa’s nighttime visit. It’s an end of an era, so to speak, but it’s also a new beginning. Now in my early 30s, no different from my peers who are also sitting on mountains of school debt and mid-career salaries in expensive cities, I’ve had to rethink Christmas. Just like my concept…
November 11th, 2015
I’m very familiar with the idea of informed consent. I work in public health and my undergraduate major was psychology, two fields where research, and therefore informed consent, is a norm. Informed consent is the idea that anyone participating in research should be made aware of the possible risks, benefits, intended or unintended outcomes, and intent of a study. It usually precedes someone’s agreement to participate in any kind of research. I’ve gladly signed many informed consent forms, being fascinated with the world of research and, out of curiosity, volunteering myself as a guinea pig of sorts. I didn’t know until recently, however, that I have been unknowingly participating in an area of research…
September 4th, 2015
[Originally published July 30, 2013] Since my move to Boston from Chicago, people often ask me what’s different about living in the Northeast versus the Midwest. Are people unfriendly? Are they more liberal? Is the traffic worse? I politely answer all of their queries and usually dispel some stereotypes in the process. However, I have to admit, I have asked myself those same questions: What is different about where I live now versus the Midwest? What do or don’t I like about my new home? I’ve found an overwhelming number of things that I like, and few that I don’t. One of those things that I like I discovered, somewhat unexpectedly, on a weekend in early June. I was delighted to receive an invitation to the ordination…
June 23rd, 2015
“Can she take a picture with you?” I was a little taken aback and flattered. No, I am not a celebrity, but to one little girl, I was cool. The person speaking was my cousin’s wife, asking if her very shy daughter could have her picture taken with me at our extended family reunion. I looked over and saw the little girl, blushing and halfway hiding behind her mother. I remember those days. When I was about her age, I used to think older girls were the coolest thing on earth. One of the good things about having a significantly older brother is that he would bring his girlfriend home, and she would hang out with me, too, standing in for the sister I never had. I wanted to be just like her. In fact, we have a few pictures of us both…
April 30th, 2015
This painting of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero is located in the lower level of the Cathedral of San Salvador. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)In January, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was declared a martyr of the church, killed in odium fidei, Latin for “in hatred of the faith.” When I shared news of the announcement on Facebook, I simply wrote, “Finally,” as I, like others, had been waiting for this declaration for years. Many had waited longer than me, as Romero was killed while celebrating Mass in 1980 — five years before I was born. When I was in grade school, I would read a book at night about the lives of the saints. It read like a long story that men and women from all over the world had contributed…
February 19th, 2015
In India, there are men called sadhus, which translates as “good men” or “holy men.” They are commonly recognized by their chalky white faces, the result of smeared cremation ashes, as some sadhus attend their own “funeral” once they take on the path of a sadhu. These men are considered dead to the present world and spend their time burning off karma by engaging in spiritual practices like yoga and meditation. Some push their bodies to the extreme, standing on one leg or raising one arm for years — to overcome the limitations of the body as a way of breaking into new spiritual realms. The idea of pushing the body in order to attain spiritual wisdom is common in all cultures and religions; millions…
January 27th, 2015
Making the most of a day off courtesy of Mother Nature
When I was a teacher, I used to view snow days very differently. Each time school was called off, I’d feel like I was back in my twin-sized bed, under flannel sheets, in my Garfield nightgown, with my mom peeking through my bedroom door to deliver the good news before going to work. Few experiences could transport me back to childhood so quickly in my adult life as having a snow day, even if I was the one, now, in front of a room full of squirrelly students saying, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to listen to the news tomorrow morning,” secretly praying for school to be called off and just as excited. In my years after teaching, I started working another job and began commuting to work. Snow days quickly…
January 1st, 2015
Last year was the hardest year of my life. To be sure, I’ve led a pretty easy life, and even 2014 wasn’t near what other people I’ve known have gone through. But for me, it was the hardest, and I have never wanted to welcome a New Year as much as this one. Most of what made the year so difficult started in June when I lost my dad to a five-year struggle with Frontal Temporal Dementia, a rare type of dementia. Watching him progressively lose so much and suffer at the end was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. One month later, I lost another person I loved, and in August, my family got the news that there was nothing more doctors could do to treat my aunt’s cancer, an aunt I’m particularly close to. The two events…
December 10th, 2014
Waiting is often viewed as a negative state. The phrase “I had to wait forever” is a great example of the (sometimes dramatic) exasperation that comes with waiting. During the season of Advent, however, we are called to flip this negative idea of waiting on its head. Waiting is not a punishment; waiting is an act of preparation, readying ourselves for an event that is well worth the wait: the coming of Christ. In that sense, we engage in an “active waiting,” a learning experience, which can teach us deep spiritual lessons. Every day throughout the year, we experience mini-Advents. These moments are like warm-ups to the season of Advent. They help us to practice the mindset of Advent and the positive spin on…
August 7th, 2014
It started as an inspirational speech in my living room. My close friends were seated on our couch, the victimized listeners. Sam was in town from Peru, and we were discussing our plan to visit him in six months. We all agreed that if we were spending a paycheck and a half to fly down there, we might as well see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu. After making the case for the four-day hike to the ruins, as opposed to the train, I ended by exclaiming, “In the name of adventure!” punching my fist in the air for dramatic effect. Looking back, I am mildly surprised I was such a rabble rouser. I love adventure and traveling; don’t get me wrong. I love the outdoors but wouldn’t say I do the…
July 10th, 2014
A reflection on Peter denying Jesus and the modern-day dilemma of identifying as a Catholic
I’m Italian. When this fact comes up, and people respond, “Ohhhh, you’re Italian?” I’m never quite sure what will follow. But usually, it’s something like, “Your mom must be a great cook!” What can I say? It’s true. She makes hundreds of meatballs on her meatball-making day, and they are a-mazing. Generally, the reactions I get to being Italian are favorable, a far cry from what Italian immigrants faced in the past, during times wrought with ethnic discrimination. However, there are also parts of my identity that are important to me, but not always seen favorably by others. This has been my experience as a Catholic. I’ve had a complicated relationship with Catholicism, I’ll admit. I grew…
April 17th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
Well, I did it. In just a few days, I’ll be breaking my Lenten Facebook fast. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this being the end. In a way, I’m excited to get back to the things I’ve missed about Facebook. On the other hand, this time has been a really fruitful self-reflective experience for me, and I’ve learned a lot about my use of Facebook. I thought I’d end by summarizing all of these things in the all-too-viral Internet list. The Top Five Things I’ve Learned From My Lenten Facebook Fast Fasting from technology creates a hunger for “real life” experiences. There were many times when I missed something that Facebook had once given me, e.g., seeing babies grow up or posting a funny status. God…
April 14th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
As I noted in my last post, whenever I’m missing Facebook, God finds a way to surprise me with something even better. Lately, I’ve been really missing seeing pictures of my friends’ kids and babies on Facebook. I’m not the type of person who complains about all the pictures of babies and kids on her newsfeed. In fact, I look forward to it! Since I hardly see my college friends or friends who live in different cities, seeing pictures on Facebook helps me to feel connected to their new and growing families. Kids grow up in the blink of an eye, so I’ve found myself wondering about people’s babies while being off Facebook for Lent. It feels like by the time I get back on Facebook, they’ll be posting about their…
April 14th, 2014
Reflecting on the Boston Marathon Bombings one year later
Whenever I move to a city, something big seems to happen. When I moved to St. Louis in 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series. When I moved to Chicago, President Obama was elected in 2008 and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. And when I moved to Boston last year, the Red Sox won the World Series. Each of these events united the city I lived in, and I spent much time partying in the streets, as they say. However, in April 2013, I experienced something that united a city, yet was a tragedy. Not only a tragedy for Boston, but for the entire nation. The day of the Boston Marathon bombings began as a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and you couldn’t imagine better weather for a marathon. The entire city shut down, and…
April 12th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
One Facebook status that we can all agree is socially acceptable is the humorous status. Who could dislike a truly funny status? Since I’ve given up Facebook, I miss both posting and reading funny statuses. The number of “likes” is like a virtual applause that can be a boost to the day. In giving up Facebook, I’ve been challenging myself to seek out alternatives to what Facebook usually gives me. If I can no longer post funny statuses, or read them, where else can I go for humor? Last week, I challenged myself and for the first time, entered in our school’s Talent Show with a stand-up comedy routine. As I said, I had never done this before, and it was sort of a last-minute decision, in fact. In the fall, I had directed…
April 9th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
Spectators at the Boston Marathon in 2013, less than a mile from the finish line and within hours of the bombings. Today is just under a week away from the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on April 15, 2013. I currently live in Boston and was at the marathon last year, just like many other Bostonians. I know it sounds strange, but the way I found out about the bombings was through Facebook. A friend of mine posted an article, urgently, on my wall about the bombings, asking if I was okay. Luckily, I was safe and back at my dorm (thank God) and on Facebook, uploading photos of the marathon. I couldn’t believe it. I remember my moment of disbelief. What followed was hours of reaction to the…
April 7th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
Spring buds in Boston Being off Facebook has allowed me to have more time to do things I’ve always enjoyed. Well, who am I kidding, the weather warming up is helping, too. Since the end of the fall, I’ve been really missing walking. Now that the weather is warming up, I’m finally able to go outside on a refreshing, hour-long walk. Sure, I still have just as much schoolwork to do, but being off Facebook has given me back about one hour extra each day that I can now spend walking. This past weekend, I took a long walk down to the Public Gardens in Boston, from where I live in Kenmore Square, near Fenway Park. Along the way, I saw hopeful signs of spring, and I was reminded that the winter might actually finally be over. Unexpectedly,…
April 2nd, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
I’ve always admired people who read books on buses. I’m an avid window gazer, so I’m often lost in my thoughts, staring at the scenery going by. And, to be honest, I’ve never been much of a reader. When I see someone reading on a bus, I often think: I should be doing that. There’s something about their apparent habit that is committed to self-growth. Instead of doing nothing, they’re doing something. Something worthwhile. Earlier this week, I stopped by our IT department for a one-on-one software help session. After the session, the IT employee and I began to make small talk about Macs versus PCs and where we think the future of technology is going. He talked about how he remembers when having a laptop was…
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