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Christina Gebel :
38 article(s)

Christina Gebel has theology and psychology degrees from a Midwest Catholic 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, taking walks, photography, and serving as a doula. She currently resides on the East Coast and is pursuing a master’s degree of public health in maternal and child health.
September 24th, 2014
The long, and sometimes difficult, road from seeing their struggles to seeing our struggles

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 organization in Chicago. My chosen assignment was teaching English at an all-girls Catholic high school on Chicago’s…

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

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 events and trying to contact loved ones to tell them I was okay. The cell phone signals were jammed, and even my texts…

April 7th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

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, I ran into…

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…

March 31st, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

The past couple days, I’ve been more aware of what I’ve missed about Facebook. As I wrote earlier, two Boston firefighters passed away earlier this week while fighting a fire not far from my dorm. The past few days, I’ve wondered what the outpouring of support must look like on Facebook. Every time a tragedy happens, I’ve taken some comfort in seeing other people’s thoughts and feelings towards the events unfolding, even if it’s from a virtual distance.
However, being off of Facebook has challenged me to find new ways to seek out what I feel I’m missing out on. Last night, after listening to a very moving homily from our pastor, who has been spending time with the families of the firefighters, I remembered…

March 29th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Earlier this week, Boston began to mourn the tragedy of the death of two firefighters, who died on Wednesday, March 26 while fighting a fire and saving victims.
The death of a firefighter is something that is felt not only by those who knew him or her but also by the entire city or community. Upon hearing the news on Thursday morning that two firefighters had died in Wednesday’s fire, I felt awful. Firefighters are not people you have to know in order to mourn their passing. There is an unspoken understanding that anyone who would die for you, without even knowing you, is worthy of your grief, without even knowing them.
All day Thursday, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling. I remembered meeting members of the…

March 26th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I love the Jesuits. I’m quite outspoken about this love, in fact. I often refer to myself as a “Jesuette,” a Jesuit cheerleader.
I’ve always liked the idea of taking something on during Lent (in addition to giving something up), and this year, I decided to both give up Facebook and take on deepening my relationship with God. Given my deep love for the Jesuits, it comes as no surprise that when I decided to work on my relationship with God during Lent, I turned to a dear friend, who is a Jesuit. After hearing where I’m at with God and where I’d like to be, my friend lent me his copy of the Spiritual Exercises. To be honest, I was quite touched. For a Jesuit to lend his personal copy of the Spiritual Exercises —…

March 24th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Steve Jobs was a visionary. A decade ago, I probably wouldn’t have admitted that. I’ve always been a loyal PC-user, and I never really got into the whole Mac craze. A couple things have softened me. One, I am a photographer, and I do think photo editing on a Mac is superior to editing on a PC and two, Steve Job’s death. Not to be morbid, but his death softened me.
In the weeks following the death of Steve Jobs, I was really impressed by the outpouring of testimonials from all over the world. I was more tuned into the news footage than I expected to be, actually. There was one line, however, that always stuck with me. I don’t remember where I read it, heard it, or even who said it, but it was something to this effect: Steve…

March 21st, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

When I was in grade school, I thought the season of Lent was there to make everyone miserable. We would sing these morose songs at Mass, like “Ashes,” and I remember sitting at the dinner table and imitating the sullen, deep voice of our organist singing the “depressing” (as I deemed them) lyrics: “gifts not fully given”… “dreams not fully dreamt” … “spring has turned to winter” … “sunshine turned to rain”… and so on. I remember weeks upon weeks of going to the Stations of the Cross and chanting and repeating the prayers over and over again. Some kid would inevitably faint from all the kneeling and being continually engulfed in incense. No one liked going to Stations of the Cross.…

March 19th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I’ve been writing a lot about how Facebook can negatively affect my life. Giving something up, it’s easy to notice the negative effects that dissipate. This week, I’ve been thinking about the good things that Facebook brings to my life.
One format that has been going viral on Facebook is lists. There’s a list for everything: “10 Rules for a Great Marriage,” “7 Things We Won’t Miss from 2013,” “32 Reasons My Child is Crying Right Now.” Buzzfeeds are aplenty (“44 Facts About U.S Presidents That Will Blow Your Mind”). We like lists. I like lists.
Because I like lists, I decided to write a short list of the good things Facebook has brought to my life that I’m more aware of, now that I’ve given…

March 16th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I was sitting at a party this weekend, and the topic of my giving up Facebook came up. This launched a discussion about each person’s experience with Facebook and how it has affected his or her life.
One friend shared a lament her parents shared with her: no one ever calls anymore. She told a story about how during one of the recent holidays, her parents noted that no one called anymore to wish their family a happy holidays. “They used to think it was a big deal that no one came over or stopped by to wish them happy holidays, and now, it’s no longer a big deal that no one comes over. No one even calls,” she said.
How true.
With each mode of new communication, we’ve put more and more distance between ourselves and others.…

March 14th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I have this list. Everything on it gets its own gold star. This list lives in my email inbox, and every day, I add to it. Every day, I get emails with articles that are fascinating and intriguing. I open them in the morning, star them, think I really need to read that, and close my computer and catch the bus outside.
This list has become quite long. They’re articles I’ve found, as well as articles people have sent me. Most of the time, I get these articles in the morning. Before I gave up Facebook for Lent, my morning usually consisted of eating cereal (a must), checking email, and going on Facebook. Sometimes I’d be late to catching the bus because I’d spend too much time on Facebook or get roped into some sort of gun…

March 12th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

As I mentioned earlier, this is my second time giving up Facebook for Lent. The first time, it was to prove to myself that I could do it (at all), and this time, I’ve decided to ask deeper questions. One moment that helped me to realize that my work with giving up Facebook was not done happened a few weeks ago, when a met a friend for dinner before class.
We met in the campus food court, and we had a lovely conversation about everything that was going on in our lives, where we hoped to go in the future, and other various topics. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and upon realizing that we both have the same dinner hour, we hugged, parted ways, and promised to get together for dinner again soon.
That night, I got back to my room and went…

March 9th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Anyone who’s on Facebook long enough soon realizes a trend. Yes, “what’s trending” but also a trend in the content of a newsfeed, for instance. It’s almost all good. It’s funny, it’s exclamatory, it’s sentimental, or perhaps even just neutral. Whatever it may be, it’s rarely ever bad. If it is bad, it’s somewhat risky. Yes, there’s an element of vulnerability in telling someone (or everyone) your bad news, but there is added vulnerability, here. Those who share bad news on Facebook can either find support or sympathy or sometimes judgment: “he shares too much,” “she’s being a Debbie Downer,” or “that was too much information.” Sure, some people have these same judgments…

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