Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Awesome New Year's!!

I'm heading to Orlando, Florida for the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) National Conference.
You can check it out here.

It promises to be an amazing Catholic college experience. If a college is near where you live, they may have FOCUS missionaries. Check out what eles they are doing.

Happy New Year to you and your's!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Religious Is Your State?

Find out here.

Interesting study. The numbers are higher than I would guess.

Life as example

There is a drastic difference between the interior life and the outside world. In Auburn, the two don’t seem very distant, but when I come home, both realities seem so contradictory that it makes me question both. Of course I know what the ideal life should be like, which just makes what I see around me that much sadder.

Coming home makes me very aware of what is missing from people’s lives. It’s interesting to see when and how God enters into each person’s life (although He is there all along). For me, it didn’t take much, but I think that has a lot to do with my personality. For others though, I am seeing how difficult it can be to leap from the cold secular world into a full time interior one. There are a lot of questions, concerns, and circumstances that hold people back. Although a single person can’t solely be responsible for “converting” someone (really, only the person working with God is), I can be an influencing factor in their perception of the interior life.

One thing that I’ve been conscious of is how I can appear to others. How I present myself and represent the Catholic faith does matter and really does affect how people view me in the least, and religion at the most. After years of trying to convince myself that what people think of me doesn’t matter, it in fact does. Not so much relating to me, but to them.

Sometimes people think I act like I’m better than them. I understand why they say this. I have high standards for people and I do things (such as not cursing, going to Mass, wearing a veil) that may seem lofty. It’s hard to defend myself without making things worse. Words mean little, actions say everything.

This break I’ve been reacquainted with the attitude that church is where you find people that think they are better than everyone else. This is a hard misconception to correct, because sometimes, it’s true. I think the solution is minimize judging and start humbling.

The longer I look at everything the Church calls me to, the more I realize all the reasons why it does so. Being humble isn’t only for myself, which is really important, but it’s also for others, especially those unsure about a religious life and God. When we humble ourselves we are true to ourselves and to others. If we live honestly, people will see that and may be less turned off by those in love with God.

I think it’s the least I can do to bring a bit of the interior life out into the open and out into the lonely world. Even if God hasn’t brought them to the point of life changing conversion yet, at least I can show them a glimpse of what it would be like. With God’s help, that glimpse can be a positive one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random ramblings leading to (my attempt at) simplicity

Warning: these thoughts are very unorganized

I don’t think I’ve done a very good job this Advent. My goal of being anxiety-free has turned into depression. I haven’t kept up with meditations, or my reading or even going to daily Mass whenever I can. I did get to confession, but I need to go again. Still, I believe this Advent has been much closer to what an Advent is supposed to be.

In years past, Advent would consist of getting a chocolate calendar, then having to eat ten or so of the odd-shaped sweets because I had completely forgotten about it. We would always get to confession, but other than that and putting up lights and wrapping presents, Advent wasn’t anything special. Then Christmas would come and go.

Sometimes I worry that I won’t be able to sustain my spiritual life (see how I need help with the anxiety thing?). After this Advent, I’m not so worried about that anymore. If I ever hit a stale streak in my life, it is certainly because of my limited capacity and definitely not because that’s all there is. I’m also seeing how things don’t have to be complicated.

I like the child-like faith thing. It seems simple, easy. A child experiences things through innocent eyes. They may not understand everything perfectly, but they still see and experience the same thing. And perhaps because they aren’t thinking too deeply on things, they see what is truly happening, what is really important. If I could become like a child, maybe I’ll be able to be still and let others love me, and not question their motives.

Christmas is filled with a lot of meaning. Volumes of books can be written on the subject. The story alone is so profound that it would takes decades to contemplate the whole thing, and still would only scratch the surface of what it really is. But this isn’t the most important thing. Christmas is the start of a love story.

For now, I’m abandoning my plans and desires to understand God. This Christmas I pray to be emptied of everything so that I may be filled-up by Him. I want to start my love story.

May the birth of our Savior bring you peace and joy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Travels

I took Ross' bait. Here is a map of where I've been when I graduated high school (if you don't count the visit to check out Auburn). At the end of high school I also had been to Australia, New Zealand, Canada (Niagara Falls) and the Bahamas.

I have at least one memory from every state I've set as "visited", although a few were from when I was quite young. Fun fact: I have been in four states at one time (exactly at the four corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah).


Updated travels:


This past summer, I was able to visit my sister and her husband in Italy. I can't wait to go back!

As you can see, most of my travels occurred throughout my life. I've been able to go to all these places because my mom (and myself) loves to travel, and every school break we had, we went somewhere. This will only be my second Christmas at home.

From what I can tell, the world is a very beautiful place, and the people are more alike than one would assume. Also, every place I've been to has had a Catholic Church right around the corner : )

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Being hurt by those you love and revealing God

Tonight I feel empty and distant from everyone. I’ve lost a lot of friends. I have been hurt a lot by those I consider myself closest to. This semester has been a train-wreck. I'm glad its over and Christmas (a very joyous time) is almost here!

I’ve begun a new way of dealing with my feelings. No matter what I’m feeling (lately, neglected and unloved), I relate it to Jesus. This can be applied to almost every human emotion, especially when dealing with relationships.

This week we anticipate Jesus' coming! This is certainly a joyous thing (for us). But I can’t stop focusing on how much this reveals about God.

God, the All Powerful, made himself vulnerable to us. First in Mary, as she had to agree to accept Jesus. Then he makes himself vulnerable in becoming a baby, the most vulnerable thing there is! A little baby is completely helpless. He depends on someone else for everything. It’s amazing that God trusted his severely imperfect humans with this! This was his Son!

Coming down to earth was HUGE! The only motivator there could have been is love, because it involved so much pain. The Father knew what would happen to Jesus. Not just what would happen on the cross, but in his whole life. Jesus would be ridiculed, mocked, ignored, hated, and ultimately killed. These actions are amplified by the fact that Jesus is love. He loved every single person who did these things to him. He created them and he would die for them. Still, they rejected him. Still, we reject him. Jesus is the poster child for unrequited love!

Out of every person who has ever lived, Jesus had it the worst. I can’t fathom how he did it. What it must have taken for the Father to give his Son to us!

It is a glorious thing that he came to us, but it is so incredibly painful. There is no greater love than what God has given for us. We must be so miserable and helpless that the only way to save us was for him to do that! Otherwise, he would have found another way. God reveals himself through a vulnerable poor child, and all he asks for is our love. He has given us everything. After knowing how much love he poured onto us and the world, how can we not want to do that?

Jesus has saved me once again from being hopeless. If he came to us, knowing of all the pain that would ensue and still was willing to endure it, surely my own pain is nothing to dwell over. I am loved, so deeply loved.

(I think Anne is getting at the same idea.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Story of my life

It was a rare rainy February day in the Californian desert and I needed to be born. I was past due. But I wasn’t ready. Instead I was a brat and turned around, insisting on not coming out. That’s right, I became breech after I was supposed to be born. My poor mother. The nurses tried to turn me around. My mother remembers it being quite uncomfortable and that she was becoming irritated as I refused to get in the proper position. I liked where I was. It was warm, cozy, safe. I like to think I knew what they were trying to do: rip me from the place I came to know and love, and introduce me to blinding light, cold metal surfaces and a world I wouldn’t like very much. Why would I make it any easier for them to do that? I’ve always been suspicious of people.

Finally, after hours of pressuring me to turn around, I eased my mom’s suffering and gave in to their demands. I was born. And thus began everything I’ve ever known. I often wish I had stayed in my cocoon of comfort.

After 20 years of trying to make this living-in-the-world thing work, I am still not ready for the world. I will wait and do everything in my power to postpone the inevitable, but still, I will be introduced to the world. Whether I like it or not.

Why is it hard for me to accept things? Why is it hard for me to not question and suspect that the worse will happen? I think it all comes back to my lack of trust in God. Why is it so hard for me to keep going when, what looks like a cliff, is quickly approaching? I think “God, please save me". Then I sit back and wait (and in what I feel like, is complete reliance on God). Well, sometimes He comes, but sometimes He lets me fall right off that cliff. Is it because I screwed up somewhere, either in not trusting Him or just failing to do what He told me to do? Or could it be that this is what He planned for me all along? Am I supposed to say, “Ok, this must be your will” or instead say “Lord, I am a miserable wreck and deserve to fail because I sinned against you”?

I really don’t know. I have no idea where to go, or how to feel. I want to trust in God so much, but it’s hard when I can’t prepare for what He’s doing to me. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my own failings. Why does everything have to be so hard? Can I go back to my safe womb now? This isn’t fun anymore.

Struggle for Truth

The homosexual rights movement borrows a lot of tactics and arguments that have been used in past rights movements (such as the women’s and African-American). It can seem like a compelling argument, especially when one knows of history. There are many well meaning people that think that this whole debate is all about love: saying who can love who and in what ways. On the surface, it does seem wrong to say that a person can’t have the same rights as someone else just because the situation is a little bit different.

The gay rights side say that people are discriminating against them and the correct response is an overwhelming accommodation for them and acceptance (not just toleration) of their actions. They compare their struggle to that of minorities in the 1960’s.

However, the gay rights movement is almost completely different than any other major movement in American history. For one, the civil rights movement didn’t call for acceptance of what African-Americans did, but instead, of who they are. African-Americans were fighting for the right to live as God intended them to be, and not under the constraints of segregation laws and racial judgment. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he hoped his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

The gays right movement wants rights for actions, instead of being. No one is proposing it to be illegal for someone to be gay. It is instead keeping that it is illegal for such persons to do certain things (which is where the law comes in).

Say, for example, someone is a drug addict. No matter how they became one (genetics, mental illness, choice), they are a drug addict, and for the rest of their life they will be one. How should society react to this? Should we say, well since they are addicted to drugs, lets just let them have drugs, and we’ll make it so that it doesn’t harm society. Should we ignore them, not helping but instead ridiculing them, further insulting their dignity? Or, seeing that this isn’t the best condition for them, help them stop using drugs and support them in improving their lives? In regard to this example, all three have been proposed (and attempted), and I think we all know which is the best option.

I’m not saying that homosexuals are drug addicts, but the example has similarities. Some people argue that we can’t tell others how to live or what will make them happy. You can view this two different ways. The first being religious. As Christians, and as Catholics, we are called to love all people, and that includes proclaiming the Truth to them. If someone you love was a drug addict, you want to tell them how they are hurting themselves and help them to stop. The same holds true for all our relationships. If a friend curses and uses the Lord’s name in vain, it’s our duty to point out why they shouldn’t be doing that. Doing so is a way of loving them.

The second way of looking at this is from a legal standpoint. To say we can’t tell people what not to do just doesn’t make sense. Almost every law tells us something we can’t do. When driving, we can’t speed. We can’t murder people. We can’t not pay taxes. We can’t assault people we are angry with. There are a lot of laws telling us what we can’t do. If someone is really going to say that the government can’t tell them what they can’t do, then they probably should move to a deserted island.

The gay rights movement isn’t about love. It is about claiming rights that don’t exist. The movement is seeking to not only change laws so that gays can “marry” but to also force everyone to agree that it’s okay that they are doing sinful things.

However, like other movements, both sides can be to blame for the present situation. There has been and still is quite a bit of hatred of homosexual persons. This is wrong. While we cannot approve of their actions, we must still love the person. That is what Mayor Osby Davis spoke of when he stated his view of homosexual persons. This isn’t a hard concept. In fact, if you love anyone, you already know how to “love the person and hate the sin”. If your friend curses, you don’t insult and humiliate him, you continue to love him while praying for him to stop offending God.

Being gay, like being black, may be “who a person is”. However this certainly isn’t all there is to a person. I’d like to quote Glee. “I may be a strong black woman but I’m much more than that.” Also, “being” doesn’t necessarily require action. A drug addict will always be so, but that doesn’t mean they have to use drugs for the rest of their lives.

Overall, I think it’s sad what is happening. The only way to share the Truth is with an overwhelming amount of love. Otherwise no one will ever listen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Prayer

I pray you'll be our eyes,
and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise,
in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer,
when we lose our way
Lead us to the place,
guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe.

La luce che tu dai
I pray we'll find your light
Nel cuore resterà
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarci che
When stars go out each night
L'eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c'è
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Sognamo un mondo senza più violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace e di fraternità

La forza che ci dia
We ask that life be kind
È il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amor
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a sè
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child
Needs to find a place,
guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe
E la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salvera


Listen to a version of it here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How I feel...

Maybe chocolate will help...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The world wouldn't understand

Today was the last day of classes. All I have left to overcome is three finals then I can start focusing on other things. This past semester and more specifically, past weekend, I’ve become aware of how awkward and uncomfortable I really am. For the most part, at the beginnings of friendships I do alright, but then there comes a point when things change. It happens fairly soon, and from what I gather, it doesn’t happen to other people. In fact, with others, their “point” is one of instant understanding: something that takes their friendship deeper. This doesn’t happen to me. At my “point” I seem to hit a wall. I can have the best intentions, be really excited about getting to know someone, but no matter who it is or how I know them, there comes along that point.

Even if its not noticeable by others (which I think depends on the personality of the other person) I always feel it. It’s a sense of, well, what do we do now? It’s not that I’m not interested, maybe its that I just don’t know how things are supposed to naturally go, which would show that its hard for me to do anything “naturally”.

It gets a bit frustrating, especially since I always sense a certain something lacking with whoever it is I‘m getting to know, but having no clue what that could be. I feel I make people uncomfortable and feel misunderstood, which turns our potentially great friendship into one that never gets to an efforted one (where you plan to hang out instead of running into each other). Could it also be that I’m intimidating?

I find myself blaming it on never really having a “normal” development example to show me how things go. Instead I’m out in the world pretending to have social skills that I really haven’t got a clue about. No one even gets my jokes…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Unexpectantly Beautiful

I have grown so much this semester. Looking back, it’s amazing to me to see what has happened and how I’ve changed within it. This semester will always be defined, at least in part, as the semester my mom was deployed. What a journey that has been (and it‘s not even over)! Just in talking with her, it makes me so proud of her, my family, my country and everyone else over there. Not only that but also everyone here who supports them. If you’ve ever sent a card, cookie or chipped in money for phone cards or anything else, know that it has made a huge impact in their life. It is greatly appreciated.

This was also the semester after field training. Many things in my life (internal and external) have changed because of it. I feel I can more maturely discern the military path now that I’m more entrenched in it. I’ve learned this semester, what I’ve felt all along: the military is where I belong.

Sporadically I’m asked why I want to go into the military. I’ve always have had a lot of reasons for it. Until recently they were mainly selfish (good benefits, see the world, keep in shape, steady job) but now I’ve been exposed to a whole new list of why I know this is what I’m called to do. Mostly it’s been realized through my mom.

Out of all her children, I’m the most like her. We both are pretty independent, we have flexible but strong ideas, and we have to be doing something. Thinking of her over there is a really strange idea. I questioned if this was really part of the plan. But how stupid I was! God had this planned the entire time. I can go through all the different foreshowings up to where we are now, but that’s beside the point. Something has happened to her during her time in Iraq. She has seen God in a very real way. She has learned what submission really is, and also how that translates to her marriage. Although not perfectly, she has learned how to wait, how to love, how to accept. I want to grow the way she has.

The mediation from Pope Benedict XVI (in the book Benedictus) for December 6th goes really well with this theme (I‘ll just give you the whole thing):

The human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbors the suspicion that in the end, God takes something away from his life, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast him aside… The human being lives in the suspicion that God’s love creates a dependence and that he must rid himself of this dependency if he is to be fully himself. Man does not want to receive his existence and the fullness of his life from God. He himself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to God’s level, and to overcome death and darkness with his own efforts. He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own life autonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death. Love is not dependence but a gift that makes us live… We live in the right way if we live in accordance with the truth of our being, and that is, in accordance with God’s will. For God’s will is not a law for the human being imposed from the outside and that constrains him, but the intrinsic measure of his nature, a measure that is engraved within him and makes him the image of God, hence, a free creature.

God, through my mother and more generally, through my experience with the military, has taught me to trust Him. Instead of questioning, I should be more inclined to accept, especially if I’m in the midst of a hardship. Instead of despairing, I should praise God! Really, everything does work out! Life is a great adventure, one that has God’s hand on it the entire way!

I’ve learned that not only does God have an awesome plan, that is being played out right now for you, but it also involves putting you exactly where (physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) you need to be to experience Him and learn what you need to and grow in love for Him. Really, the military is prefect for that.

Just tonight my mom was telling me about a saying that gets thrown out a lot over there (I’m sure you’ve heard it): Let go and let God. This sentence becomes a way of life over there. You have a unique chance to really and completely trust God. I mean, what else are you going to do?

How often do we second-guess God? Do we really think and believe that what he has in store of us is THE best possible plan that could ever happen?

How much easier will this life be if we stop worrying about things we can’t change, and instead embrace each situation as the opportunity to grow closer to God. Indeed that is what every situation presents to us. How often to we pass it up? How often do we say, “not today God, I think I have it all figured out now, I’ll take it from here”?

This week, I’m striving to be like the kings, who saw the sign (the Star) and set off. Not really knowing where to go, or what may happen, they trusted. They didn’t need a long list of reasons (as I like to have) in order to be convinced. They had a childlike faith. A faith where they knew that no matter what happened, it not only would be okay, but that it would be the best thing that could happen!

God is great and so beautiful!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What the bucket?

I am frequently scandalized by the world. Trying to reconcile the great truths of Christianity and what I experience around me is exhausting.

For a few months now, I’ve been told to not collect box tops (which I have been doing for over a decade) because General Mills donates to Planned Parenthood. If this is true, I not only shouldn't collect box tops but also not buy their products. I did some research. It is extremely upsetting. Not only did I find evidence that GM does give money to Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, but I also found a list of many other companies that support PP. This list comes from the official PP website and it lists companies who will match your donation to them!!

What am I supposed to do?? Some of these names (cough *Bank of America* cough) really upset me. Other surprises are eBay, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Starbucks, the list goes on. Not only do I worry about what to do from now on, but also that I have, indirectly of course, but nonetheless, helped fund that disgusting organization. Seriously, how am I supposed to not care about this? Can’t I just live out a truly pro-life stance without somehow giving my money to killing and hurting people? I guess not when I interact with the world. I will not let this world control me. We need so many prayers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just what I need

It’s exciting that it’s advent. A new year has started, a time to let things go and to look to the future. This year I am trying to embrace what the season of advent is all about: preparation and waiting (two things I’ve never been too good at). Advent is a highly ignored season. It just seems to get in the way of everything else. We have started the family reunions, counted our blessings, and enjoyed the ending of the year: we want to celebrate. But the Church says “not yet”. I must admit, I want to sing Christmas songs (I LOVE them!!), decorate my room, and do everything else “Christmas”. But now is not the time for that. It is a time to be silent, to be still.

Everything else in my life, however, is screaming at me to go faster! I must to do that, go here, send that, finish this, see so and so. There’s only how many shopping days left? If we fall into this trap it is easy to see why we become worn out and sick of Christmas, even before Christmas Eve!

This year, I want to learn to be still. I want to learn how to wait. I made a goal for myself today: I want to be less anxious about life (especially after yesterday's gospel). There’s no better time for this than advent! Although controlling my Christmas cheer until after the 24th is already proving to be a challenge, I know that if I attempt to mirror my life on the life of the Church, things would probably go much smoother for me. I can’t wait (but hopefully that will change!)!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks and givings

My thanksgiving was most excellent. First, I woke up in Myrtle Beach. Then my brother and I went to Mass. The priest would randomly break out in song, which kept me on my toes!! Then I slept on the way back home. My other brother cooked the (14 pound) turkey and I volunteered to make everything else. It came out really well! We had a nice dinner, and watched the packers win!

Afterwards, everyone wanted monkey bread for a late dessert. What resulted was an overflowing creation dripping with brown sugar! It was quite entertaining to watch rise. We took bets on how many pieces we thought would fall off. Then we went with my sister and her husband to see their house that they just bought! It was a great day!


The most EPIC monkey bread ever!!

(Koko is in shock by the awesomeness)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In no particular order,

I am truly thankful for:

  • God showing himself in my life
  • The Eucharist (which means "thanksgiving")
  • Seeing babies and them smiling at me
  • Rain boots and umbrellas
  • Still attending Auburn
  • My dad’s knee surgery going very well
  • Being able to get my brother excited about reading a book
  • My dog still loving me
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • The stars
  • Having a sweet last name
  • Being able to talk to my mom whenever she’s not sleeping
  • Reconnecting with dear friends
  • Jokes, the inside and outside ones
  • Milkshakes
  • All the love I’ve experienced these past few years
  • My spiritual director, craft guru, and the one who keeps us all sane (well, most of the time) Aka, my roommates.
  • My family growing in faith
  • All my friends finding loves and marrying this past year
  • All my friends who chose life, and those cute little babies
  • Friends.
  • Having incredible opportunities to see the world, including my backyard
  • The Helen Keller kitty
  • Glances of understanding from strangers
  • Late night heart to hearts
  • Meat men, refrigerator repairmen, and cleaners
  • New surroundings and experiences
  • Cookies and candles
  • Chipmunks and groundhogs
  • The chance to show others love
  • Life, in all it’s messiness, pain, heartaches, joy, surprises, and beauty.
  • You. The one reading this right now. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mediocrity

It seems to me that the priorities of this world are out of order. Everyone is “going green” these days. Being environmentally conscience is good, but hardly the most important thing. Security is another high priority concern. This is certainly not a Christian principle. Even showing mercy to criminals or trying to uphold long-established ideals are looked down upon. We are preoccupied with others’ “rights”. No one wishes to offend others by what they say, even if (especially if) what they say is the truth. Society wants everyone to live well-cushioned and un-bothered by others: basically, to live as selfishly as possible.

We concern ourselves with how the world sees us. We focus on getting a perfect GPA, recognition, high positions in companies, or a buff body so others will swoon. We want other’s to think highly of us so that we can think highly of ourselves. We want to make ourselves god.

This desperate attempt to build ourselves up leads to a few things, one being mediocrity. What do I mean?
Well, the human being, infused with a soul created and given by God, is not meant to build itself up. That’s not even it’s purpose or call, no matter the means. Human beings only want one thing and that is God. God is synonymous with love. We spend our entire lives looking for it. We somehow think that by getting recognition, power, or respect from others that that will lead them to love us. Because if I’m not smart, attractive, or wealthy, then no one could ever truly love me.

What a sad lie this is, and how many ways it appears in our daily lives! Even at church I often see it. People want to appear more holy than they are, want others to know about the good they do, want others to come to them for advice, as if they have it all figured out, all in an attempt to make themselves feel loved (and liked). However, that never lasts for long. The only way to truly feel loved is to receive the love from the One who loves perfectly.

It’s interesting to me also how, even though we put on a façade of good deeds and a pleasant demeanor, we are so unwillingly to do anything to make it authentic. The quest of looking good in the public eye leads to mediocrity in our relationship with Christ, because we aren’t doing it for him anymore, but instead so other’s will take notice.

We love to make excuses for ourselves in order to protect our mediocre lifestyle. Recently, our priest challenged us (as it does in the bible) to be more charitable with our money. For whatever reason, this is an uncomfortable topic. I think he made a great point: what we do with our money reflects what is important to us. After the Mass, I heard people talking about how they “give what they have at the time”, something that was specifically addressed, and that they didn‘t think his homily applied to them. Do we really think that is good enough?

Now money is definitely not the most important thing, but if we aren’t willing to share it (even more than what is comfortable) then why? Is it that we are selfish and want to maintain our mediocrity? Are we concerned that people won’t notice us giving our money, when there is a much better chance of people seeing us volunteer?

Either you are all in or you’re not. You either completely desire to live a Christian lifestyle and therefore desire God’s will (although we all fall from time to time) or you hold back. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about desiring perfection (and taking the steps to achieve that), so that we may please God.

So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. -Rev. 3:16

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pageants are about inner beauty

1

Tonight I went to the Miss Glom pageant to support Jordan Lee Pierce. She is the only contestant ever to represent a non-greek organization. That organization is AFROTC. It was such a good time. For some reason pageants are really funny to me. I contribute it to my mom. When she came to our high school pageants to support my friends, she would sit in the audience with uncontrollable laughter. But you have to admit, pageants are pretty funny (I’m laughing right now just thinking about them).

2

She did really well. Unlike other girls who tried to be overly flashy and made obvious mistakes (like walking the wrong way, stumbling through the question), she was pretty awesome! She was the only contestant to have a roar of deep man cheers instead of the high pitched sorority girls yelling her name. It was pretty impressive. Even our cadre came out, and made jokes on all the girls. HILARIOUS!!

3

Jordan Lee didn’t win, which was a pretty big shock to me. She did, as expected, win Miss Congeniality. And, if it was a category, best dancer in a flight suit.

4

The most entertaining part of pageants is when the girls have to answer random questions on the spot. Sadly one girl totally froze in the middle of her answer about reading. She tried many times to start over, but nothing worked. It was so painful to watch.

5

On a better note, I heard the greatest answer of all time to a pageant question tonight. The question: Do you think cosmetic surgery is an unfair advantage in pageants? The answer (in a Southern-Belle slow voice): I believe cosmetic surgery is a personal choice. I have never had it. But I was hit by a truck. Thankfully, I didn’t need any necessary improvements, as I was only left with a few cuts and bruises. (At this point I was laughing so hard I didn’t hear the rest of the answer). I hope they put the video on youtube.

6

If you are ever having a bad day, go to a pageant. I don’t think anything could make you feel better about yourself quicker.

7

Yes I did just dedicate an entire post to pageants. I guess I should finish my paper now. (Btw, the title is a direct quote from tonight)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I love being Catholic (Part 3)

The Catholic Church has an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. It’s obvious to me. How else could there be so much truth and guidance found within it? The guidance of the Holy Spirit is especially clear within the Church as it rules on moral issues.

The US bishops get a lot of criticism for whatever they are doing (or lack of doing), but there is always something more to be done. I don’t think the Church has ever abandoned speaking the truth even if the entire world disagrees with it.

That is the beauty (or just part of it) of the Church. It proclaims truth in great matters and in seemingly smaller ones. Here are just two of the documents that the bishops have been working on. One is about end of life issues and weather it is morally acceptable to forgo hydration and nutrition if the person is unable to eat or drink orally. (The directive says that it is an obligation to do so, even if it would extend the person’s life indefinitely.) There will be a vote to approve this later this month.

The other I read is about specific issues relating to infertility. Most of what is said has been addressed before, but I found it interesting that they also discussed embryo adoption, in which a couple would “adopt” an abandoned embryo in an attempt to save his or her life. While embryo adoption may seem like a very loving thing to do (and could be the motive behind it), the bishops remind us that this is not the way God intended us to conceive children and that the tragedy of abandoned embryos only emphasizes this.

It is so important to know, objectively, what the morally right thing to do is, before emotions and circumstances get involved. Especially during the end of a family members life, the call to end life support (if left solely up to you) can be torturous. These statements have clear guidance on what is right, with the Church backing it up. What a blessing these are!

Not only is having the Church to look to on tough issues a sign of God working through it but also that history shows that the Church has it right. This article (definitely should read!) goes through the history of the Protestant view of contraception and how other beliefs held by Protestants (in particular that pastors can and should marry) caused the ultimate collapse of their strongly-held belief that contraption is evil and large families show God’s blessing. I not only love being Catholic but am proud to be one because it is so obvious one has to have the entire truth in order to uphold any of it.

(Picture is The Light of the World by W.H. Hunt)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Being a Christian is hard

When done properly, it may be the hardest thing. I’ve always thought it strange when people accuse Christians of being so because they are scared. That they are looking for an easy way out. Maybe at some churches this is so, but not in the Catholic Church. Our faith requires much from us, in fact, it requires everything. The goal is to no longer care for ourselves, only desiring God and His will. This makes sense with heaven in mind, because that will be the only thing to focus on.

The task can seem daunting, but maybe it is much simpler than we realize. Yesterday I was reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis. It definitely isn’t something you read to make yourself feel better, but I think books like this lead to more improvement than ones that have you focus on how much progress you’re making. He wanted to make it clear that someone shouldn’t look to anything in this life for enjoyment. That the only place to find true joy and fulfillment is God, and everything that doesn’t lead you to Him is a distraction.

“You cannot have two heavens: it is impossible to enjoy yourself here and afterward to reign with Christ.”

Does that mean I can’t enjoy anything in this life? I don’t think that’s what this is getting at. If I live now as if this was my heaven, and going after only what brings me pleasure and fitting God into my own little box, then I shouldn’t expect to enjoy the real heaven once I die. You must make a choice. Make this life everything you want it to be (and hopefully it’ll work out for you…) or leave this world behind, have faith in God and only turn to Him for every need. This way you may experience the real heaven, the one that brings true happiness and joy.

I have a long way to go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Am a Rock

I definitely recommend reading this blog post. It’s from the blog of Father Daren J. Zehnle.

Something to think about:
If we consider the life of Christ Jesus we see two principle ways in which he made himself vulnerable to love: the Incarnation and the Crucifixion.

If Jesus makes himself vulnerable, I guess I should too.

Here's a video that went along with the post:

video

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sacrifice

Going along with my recent post, I think it’s important to think about what exactly we are willing to die for. It’s easy to tell where your true priorities lie when you honestly ask yourself that.

I’ve taken an oath saying I will give my life for my country if necessary. That is something that is not to be taken lightly. This can vary greatly than giving your life for God, as America isn’t perfect and in many ways, very un-godly. As I’ve said in the last post, I look upon this promise not so much as giving my life so that people can do whatever they want, but instead that they would find the truth. If I should die in the military, I prefer to see it as dying for God, so that he may save more souls.

We also must ask ourselves who individually we are willing to die for. In Father Larry Richard’s talk about loving more, he said that when we tell someone we love them, we are saying that we are willing to die for them. Again, it is not to be taken lightly. Jesus says “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Look at how he was willing to die for us. If God willed it, could I do the same?

And lastly, am I willing to die for God? This should be the easiest but, in practice, may be the hardest. Am I willing to die as the seven brothers and their mother did in 2 Maccabees 7?

I understand why some saints prayed to be martyred. It was the most important thing to them and they wanted to prove that. In a way, I wish to be martyred. But I think all Christians are martyred in some way, weather that would be suffering your whole life (in many possible ways), dying to self (witch is talked about all the time) or actual martyrdom. It’s all giving your life to God, which is what he asks us to do. So, are you willing to die for God?

Happy Veterans Day

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you... Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


I’ve been seeing this quote a lot recently among my friends. While we should remember and live our lives as though we are grateful for what they did and are doing for us, we shouldn’t turn them into something they aren’t. Every time I see this I think, Jesus not only died for our soul, but also that we may have freedom. Only the freedom Jesus offers and the freedom soldiers fight for are different. One is true freedom: free from sin, free to live fully in the life he intended us to have, free to be who we truly are. My mom, and millions others can’t offer that. They fight for the American people so that they may continue to enjoy the rights promised in the Constitution. In doing so, they may find true freedom in Jesus, however many choose not to. The American solider fights anyway. He may not agree with your stance on abortion, or the war, or that God doesn’t exist, however he will still offer his life so that you can continue to believe those things.

This is Article I of the Code of Conduct, which every member of the armed services knows by heart (there are six in all):

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Freedom is only found in Christ, however the solider is willing to give his life so you may discover that for yourself. Thank you for all that you give for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family

The idea of growing up used to scare me a lot. I had this image where no longer could you have fun (except for boring dinner parties and drinking) and, in a way, you would be this totally different person, one that was more serious and less spontaneous. Although I’m realizing that really isn’t true, I’m learning that growing up brings about many other changes that I don’t think I’m ready for.

This year is really the first year I feel detached from my family. Not only am I growing up, but so is everyone else too. My sister graduated college and is married. My brother is in his second year of college and has a life of his own that I really know nothing about. My youngest brother is finishing high school and soon will be leaving home as well. Even my mom, although not in her control, isn’t at home. It’s not just me that leaving them behind, but they are leaving me behind too. I haven’t been home for longer than 2 days since last Christmas, and I admit, that is my choice, but I’m starting to sense that I really am on my own now. I am growing up.

Being far from them is hard when I’m reminded (which happens almost everyday) that people don’t know me very well. My family, they know me. And they get me. No one else in the world can interact with me the way they do. And it might just be that I have had my whole life to reach this point, and its unrealistic to expect that from others. But daily I’m reminded how different we are from most everyone else. I won’t go into listing things, but normally it’s the very small things or the way of thinking about things that makes me really miss how it used to be. I find myself being jealous of those who can go home, and hang out with their entire family, practically anytime they want. I find myself wishing I could do that too.

I’m no longer afraid to grow up, but I am worried I’m losing my family. It will probably never be like it once was. If I was fully aware of what I had at the time, maybe I wouldn’t have been so quick to move on.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My prayer in questions

What would happen, Lord, if I gave my soul to you?

What would happen, Lord, if I handed you my entire life, with no contract attached?

What would happen to my thoughts if I allowed You to enter them? Would I become possessed by You?

What would happen, Lord, if I loved as You do?

What would happen, Lord, if I truly, deeply and totally believed everything I said and only said what I believed?

What would happen if I did all this and no fear was in me? Instead, only you assure me, guide me, comfort me, and fill me with all that I am meant to be.

What would happen, Lord, if you save me?

Lord, I beg you to take my entire being and do with it as you will.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Getting into heaven

It seems a lot of people are preoccupied with getting into heaven. I guess it’s important. It would be nice to be eternally happy and with God forever. However, I question this desire. Some people are so preoccupied with it that they forget about God. If one is only interested in what they should do (accept Jesus or go to Mass or give to charity) and/or believe (he is my savior, abortion is wrong, etc…) so that they can get into heaven, then they are really missing the point. It’s a very selfish way of being “right with God”.

I think every Christian group can/has easily fallen into this trap. With the protestants, it’s a mindset that to get saved just say this quick pray really hard and believe it “in your heart” then you are good for life! You are getting into heaven, no need to worry anymore! Where does that leave God? Has your life really been changed?

Catholics aren’t much better sometimes. We don’t think it’s a one time prayer that gets you out of jail forever, instead we have all these rules, such as going to Mass every Sunday, and going to confession and communion at least once a year. You should believe all doctrines of the Church and serve your community. It seems that if you follow these things, this too, guarantees heaven. Still, it would be quite easy to follow all these and still only do them because you just want to go to heaven.

Maybe people forget why they do and believe these things. It’s all because you love God (or at least it’s supposed to be). Loving God is forgetting about yourself, only relying on him, and certainly not doing things so you can wiggle your way into heaven (I think God would know what you are trying to do anyway). The Church lays out these requirements so you can better love him. You serve him because you love him (and he asks you to). And certainly if you love God, your entire (every single aspect of it) life will be transformed and (most likely) you won’t be selfish.

Yes, one should hope for heaven. It sounds awesome!! But really, that should hardly be what we focus on. We should know that if we truly love God, then of course we are going to heaven, and therefore wouldn’t be at all concerned about the particulars of how to get there.

Definitely something to strive for.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This world is a battleground

This past week has been extremely upsetting. It started out by me realizing just how people are probably going to hell, only to be confirmed almost every day this week. People just don’t care about God or anything related to religion. They think that by denying the existence of God, heaven, hell, sin and everything else, that it actually makes it not exist. If they don’t believe in it, they no longer have to worry about it.

And today, in my world lit class, we finally talked about something that didn’t have to do with sex. Instead, we ventured into an even less-understood realm: Catholicism. The beginning of the discussion was fair enough, as usual, then it quickly became centered on false ideas (just like every class). We (or should I say, the professor) ended up concluding that the saints are gods that Catholics worship, and how Cortes’ letter to Charles proves this. I haven’t been that mad in a class in a long time.

So he doesn’t understand saints. I think a lot of people don’t. Saints are not gods and Catholics do not worship them like they are. Saints were real living people on earth. They never claimed to be god, and in fact, there entire lives shows that the only thing that matters is God and doing His will. Since saints were human, they had interests, professions, walks of life, just like everyone living today does. That is why some are associated with particular things. Not that they somehow rule over an area of life (say animals, or agriculture), but that they struggled, and/or prevailed in these areas, and hence are more connected to them. It is not thought that a saint alone can grant you anything. God is the only one that can work miracles and answer prayers. Asking saints to pray for a cause only emphasizes this fact. Also, since saints really lived and pleased God, they are an example to us of how we should live our lives as well.

Saints and deities have nothing in common. To think so shows a total lack of understanding as to who the saints are.

Oh, and happy All Soul's day! Pray for all the saints in purgatory!

Some thoughts

1

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now (John 3). I loved the second reading today. For all my struggles understanding the world and wanting it to understand me, it all matters little to the fact I’m a child of God. I belong to Him. To me this says don’t worry about anything. It’s alright if they don’t know you, they don’t even know me. Don’t be anxious for tomorrow, you will become something you can’t even imagine today. And all you have to do is hope and you will become as pure as Jesus.


2

I’ve been in a real funk lately. I’ve been trying to figure out why, but I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. The awful weather being a huge contributing factor mixed with a general lack of motivation for life. It also doesn’t help when everybody else’s lives seem to be going peachy. I wrote a little while back that I was feeling non-social, well I believe I’m now full blown anti-social. I don’t desire to talk with anyone anymore, let alone hang out. Something is off. Maybe I’ve been focusing on the wrong things and just need to go out and have fun.


3


So, I’ve been trying really hard to stop judging people lately. I listened to a talk from Father Larry Richards called How to Grow in Love of Others. Most of the talk was spent explaining why it is so important to love others, which I’ve heard many times before. For his advice on how to love people more, he recommends saying (in your head) I love you to them. Everyone you see, I love you. The people you actually love, I love you, and the people that really get on your last nerve, I love you. I must say, its given me a whole new perspective when everyone I come across during the day I say I love them. Me recognizing that I should love them and saying that I do has impacted my actions towards them (although I have a long way to go). For instance, this week I talked to a guy that said he stopped believing in God last year. Instead of judging him and launching into this spiel about God, I told him I loved him in my head and talked with him more. I think we became friends and hopefully we will have more conversations in the future. Jesus calls us to love everyone, which is a demanding request, but I think this has helped me get a bit closer to that.

4

I made some organic muffins today. I think muffins and organic should not go together. It was a huge letdown. Also, I don’t recommend any sort of organic deodorants. It will mess up your pits for a week!


5

It seems that other churches don’t display a crucifix. Is this mainly a Catholic thing? The crucifix is such a powerful image. Last weekend Sister Amelia (who is a fairly recent convert) said that when she walked (before her conversion) into a house that had a crucifix on the wall, she expected certain things from them. It was a powerful statement to hang that up. I agree with her. Our faith isn’t easy. We must die, and beforehand suffer greatly. Jesus cannot be described without thinking of the cross. By cutting out the idea of the cross, a Christian loses most of what Christianity is about. The crucifix remind us of the pain we cause Jesus by sinning and just what he did for the world. May we never forget what that cross means.


6

I want to do this. For real.
The other night, I was walking to my apartment after my night class. As I was waiting to cross a road, a car stopped at the light. All four doors opened and 3 guys and a girl got out to run around the car screaming, "Chinese fire drill!" I got excited and joined in running around the car. After a minute or so, one of the guys yelled, "Everybody in!" Somehow, I ended up behind the wheel. The light turned green, so I turned and drove down the road to my apartment building. I stopped, turned off the car, thanked them for the ride, got out and started running up to my building. While I was running, I heard one of the guys ask, "Who the hell was that?" This was easily the proudest I've been of myself in 4 years at college. MLIA


7

I leave you tonight with a beautiful poem that Ann wrote over at Imprisoned in my Bones.

Oh life, I cling to you!
Though your days grow long
and the shadows linger
I hate to say good-bye.

I want to hold your hand and
feel the wrinkles in your skin.
I want to gaze into your
clouded eyes
and recall the spark
that once existed there.

My heart aches
for the feeling of love
that once flourished
inside of me
because of you.
My body aches
for the feeling of
your once strong arms
that held me so tenderly.

I am left
empty
lonely
without you.

May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Heavens


I love the night. There is just something about it, that sets my mind free. Tonight was a perfect night.
Orion is so cool! He is super easy to find, and has one of the brightest stars as part of the constellation, and then, right in the middle of the belt is this. It is Orion Nebula and it's right in front of us, but hard to see because it's so far away. But it's there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Take this and eat it

Preparing to receive communion is like preparing to lift off the ground and fly around, unaided. I can think about it, ask for forgiveness, try to get in the right frame of mind and soul beforehand, but no matter what I think, what I say, even what I believe at that moment, nothing properly prepares me for the those few minutes when he dwells within me. How can it be that God, master of all existence, creator of the stars, the mountains and my senses, the savior of my soul, enters into me with such peace, as if nothing happened at all? I wonder how it is that we don’t explode, right then and there, because God, GOD! has just entered a lowly human body. God enters his own creation, and we just return to our pew and try to understand what has really just happened. God, the perfect and all-knowing, just gave himself to me, so that I may live.

I think there are more than just one miracle at every Mass. First of all, God lets a human sinful man call on him to make himself fully present to us. The priest acts as Christ! Only Jesus himself would allow this, for on the surface it seems blasphemous. Next, we are to eat him! Just the idea of consuming him isn’t a miracle, but that fact we survive it is. And above everything else, how it is, that people can do this, and may not believe, may not be in the right state (as far as mortal sins are concerned), and still walk away unharmed physically (their soul is another question)? I absolutely love going to communion, but it is terrifying.

Another thing that always happens to me is, sitting there just before we get up to get in line, I think, “maybe he isn’t there”. It’s always a slight, passing thought. The devil, perhaps, lurking around. But then I go and say “AMEN!” and right then, I know I was wrong. Right after communion is when I feel at complete peace, full and have not a need in the world. The Eucharist has been my comfort so many times, and I may write about my history with it. But Jesus is there, and somehow enters my sad self and brings no harm, but instead everything I’ve ever needed.

Pray for all the priests that bring Jesus to our dying souls!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Behind the veil of humanity

“There is no greater veil than the human face.”- Fr. Chris Martin

Sometimes I feel like the world is just so fake. Quick hi’s on campus, facebook comments, even dumb small talk, it all has elements of being really fake with people. Most of life is set up to where we must have these incredibly fake encounters with people, just so that the day goes on smoothly. Maybe its necessary, but I find it rude (even though its mostly subconscious) and a waste of time. If I feel the need to put on a show for you, how good of friends are we? How well do we really know each other?

I receive glimmers of realness from few people, and that’s who I call friends. But even then, sometimes, it is fake. It’s not my main thought in my head but I think sometimes: I don’t want to hurt their feelings, I don’t want to seem upset, I don’t really want to show them who I truly am, because, most of the time, I don‘t have the time or energy that that requires. And it works the same for them interacting with me. The few moments of authenticity (if they should even occur) mean so much to me, because so many of my encounters are very staged. The main motives behind the encounters are not, but the actions, the lines, are so contrived. Maybe this is why I don’t care to have many more “friends”. I don’t feel very close to the ones I have. I don’t want to put myself in more situations where I feel like the only appropriate thing to do is to just be fake. Granted, my brand of “fake”, as I’ve been told, is quite different than other people, so I guess I trick them into thinking that is really who I am. I’m fake and trick people. Highly desirable qualities in anyone, really.

And what's worse, is this idea that people have of me, is one they say they really like. “She’s so funny. She’s crazy. She’s so fun to be around” (all these statements also need to be checked for fakeness). It bothers me, because what they just witnessed is hardly anything of who I really am. And I like it when people have good impressions of me, and say nice things or whatever. But in truth, that’s not really me, just the person I decided to show you today. Am I scared to reveal my true self, knowing that others hardly ever reveal theirs? Is it more of not wanting anyone to see me, truly me, and instead hiding it away so that only I can enjoy it?

I admit, I do it freely. But maybe it’s because I don’t know any other way, all the while my face veils it all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sharing, Heaven, Love

1

We are not meant to hide ourselves from others. In keeping to ourselves (especially the love God shows us) we remain isolated from man and divide the church. In being with one another, listening to joys and struggles, and most importantly, sharing the miracles, we set down our aloneness. We give hope, even if its not defined or immediate. We must not and cannot keep God’s love to ourselves, it is meant to be proclaimed. And only through God can we feel close to another person.

2

When we get to heaven, what will be revealed to us? I wonder about this all the time. Especially when I read about a mystery (like a crime) or when we didn’t know about so-and-so’s life. I like to think that in heaven, anything you want to know will be known. So everything I failed to learn (or couldn’t learn) on earth, I’ll know in heaven. It makes me feel less frustrated. But if this is true, then it’ll be true for the others in heaven too. So they may know of my whole life, for example, and maybe if I’ve prayed for them or whatever. But I also wonder that when I do (if I do) get to heaven, if I won’t care about knowing the great, and small, mysteries of the world, because they won't matter anymore. On one hand, if this is the case, I’m sure I’ll be fine with it, because God will me perfect joy (so I won’t think about such things). But I also think I may be disappointed (because all these years I thought getting to heaven would instantly let me know everything I’ve ever wanted to know). So that line of thinking leads me to believe I will know all the mysteries I wonder about now. But I think this is kind of circular logic. Anyway, I hope we do know of all things in heaven, cause that would be awesome!!

3

So stumbling across a site that gives advice to “keep relationships strong” (which, by the way, are really entertaining to read), I read this question and the subsequent answers from “experts”:

11. Love Conquers All?

Barbara De Angelis, personal-development expert:
Unfortunately, this is not true. Love is a big part of a lasting relationship, but shared values and commitment are still required.

Pepper Schwartz, sociologist: Sadly, it’s a myth. Love won’t conquer poverty, addiction, or abuse.


My first thought: Well, they have never read that part of the Bible. Although, I’m almost positive they have. Do many people really think that love can’t conquer all? Maybe it’s a matter of having the wrong idea of love, that love has to be butterflies and sunshine and isn’t hard if it’s real love. However, love is quite the opposite. Love gets dirty, rides through storms, is the only thing left when everything else crumbles and blows away, and is only strengthened by hardships. That is why God allows us to suffer so much: so that our love for Him may increase! Love is the only thing that can overcome poverty, addiction and abuse, otherwise you aren’t talking about real love, just some made up idea about making you feel good. No love I’ve encountered in life has been easy, and that is why, in part, love conquers all. So what kind of love are they talking about?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Importance of a Door

My world lit professor, as most days, was confused today. He was trying to figure out whether opening a door for a lady was nice or rude. (I’m not sure why we talk about these things in that class…) He acknowledged that most women don’t need the door held for them, they are quite able to open and pass through it themselves, but that some women like for men to hold the door for them. He never really came to a conclusion, but thought it was some kind of fake politeness to hold a door open for someone else.

Well, gentlemen of the world, here is what I say: Hold the door open. As often as you can, especially for women. It’s true, we are quite able to open a door, but that’s not the point. The point is to show you recognize us as women and that you want to help us out in any way you can (“Oh, look, there’s a closed door, and it looks like she’s going to be going through it soon.”) and make our day that much easier and better. The simple act of holding open a door says a lot more than “I don’t think you can open this door by yourself.” It says that women deserve good treatment and that men are in a position that is able to provide that. It says that I will do something nice for you, even though I may not even know who you are, and sacrifice a little of my time for you. Overall, it says that women are special and that merits special actions.

I know that being in the South this door-holding thing can be more of a habit than anything else, but that still doesn’t take much away from what it means. If a guy holds a door open out of habit, then a genuine smile and thank you may make him realize what it is he is doing and why. If he is just doing it from “fake politeness”, well that is his problem, and nothing the woman should be concerned about.

We, as women, need to respond to their kindness. It is so important for women to appreciate what men do for us. Men are confused (as my professor is) as to what to do. Saying “thank you” and not “I can open the door myself”, gives approval and they are more likely to do it again. They also may be more likely to do other nice things for women because he’ll think, maybe women actually like it when people do nice things for them (which is true).

I have a friend who is constantly opening doors, and doing other “chivalrous” things. It used to bug me, a lot. I remember one night as he was dropping me and my friend off, he insisted on walking us to our dorm, which was a good 100 yards away. I said, “thanks for the offer, but we got it. It’s well-lit and there are police around. We will be fine.” He didn’t take no for an answer and the entire walk there, we were complaining about how he really didn’t need to do this. I realized later that this (along with everything else he does) is his way of showing us love, and that we were blocking that love by telling him we didn’t want it. Women need to be just as mindful of their actions as men.

It doesn’t take much. Men being aware of the needs (yes, needs. I think a women needs to be shown kindness from men) of the women he’s around, and acting on it. Women responding with gratitude for anything a man does for us. It’s the simple things that can change a society and I think this is a good place to start.

Thank you for holding the door open for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creative God

A lot of things happen in my day that show me God cares, but it’s always nice to hear others have similar experiences. Tonight my roommate’s boyfriend came over and showed me the calendar he bought today. It’s the official calendar of Auburn University for 2010. It’s a really nice calendar with pictures of the stadium and classic Auburn sights. When we reached December, the picture was of a man standing in the stadium watching a game. There was a beautiful sunset in front of him and although you couldn’t see most of his face, you could tell he was smiling. That picture was of him. He told me how he didn’t even know he was in the calendar, and he was just flipping through it when he noticed the man’s jersey. He has been going through a lot of things, and is about to make many big decisions in his life. He told me how he has been praying to God to show him the way, and he thinks the picture represents his future. Looking forward, smiling, enjoying the sunset God painted. It completely made his day. It was his answered prayer. Isn’t God amazing?

Why I love being Catholic (Part 2)

In the Catholic Church, there is always something more, something deeper to find. There is so much history, so many contributing people with life stories, writings, and ways of living for Christ. There are books on every topic that fill libraries, thousands of ancient and extraordinary churches that are scattered all over the world. Everywhere on earth, you will find Catholics.

And while all these things enrich our faith and represent meaning, both spiritual and physical, everything leads back to the Trinity. It all leads back to God. A Catholic doesn’t need to worship inside St. Peter’s Basilica, or read the Catechism, or even own a rosary, to be led to God. But at the same time, the Church offers many paths that lead to Him, so we may never lose our way. All these things have the same purpose: to show the glory of God. All the senses are represented. The mind can find answers and infinite mysteries. The eyes have magnificent churches, scared paintings and statues, icons and numerous symbols to praise God and also attempt to convey His greatness. The tongue has Jesus Christ Himself as he gives Himself in what seems to be bread and wine. Yes indeed, we know even the taste of Jesus! The ears have the Word, Scared Scripture, and entrancing music of heavenly levels. We also have a holy language, Latin, that allows us to approach God in a way different than how we approach everything else in our life. The nose has holy incense that delivers our minds out of the church and into heaven itself, and when the scent of roses fills the air, there is the Holy Spirit. Our hands have each other, the water, the ashes, the cloth, the beads, all connecting our physical selves to the spiritual.

We have doctrines, rules of faith, and an undeniable tradition. With every new chapter of life, the Church offers new ways to pray, new ways to dedicate oneself to God, and forms of spiritually to connect back to God. Beyond the sacraments, we have Mary, the great Mother of God, who will never let us wander far from her Son. She is the ultimate one who will reveal Jesus, who then will reveal the Father.

I know this is the one true church because it speaks to all of us. God wants us all, and will give us the tools to be able to reach us all. In the Catholic Church, you can find what you seek, discover what you like, and do what brings you peace and joy. And that may be a daily rosary, the Latin Mass, Eucharistic adoration, fasting, missions, novenas, Stations of the Cross, infusing your culture’s customs into the Church, or so many other things. God gave us all these things, in addition to the rest of creation, so we may rediscover Him over and over again, and never tire of Him. The church God gave us will never leave a believer to figure it out for themselves. Instead, it will show them all the resources they need, and thus allowing God to work through them, as He also gave them to us. We humans love to see how it all comes together, and in the Catholic Church, just as God Himself, it does, and isn’t that beautiful?

Peace and Love!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The great mystery: God loves me

The ugly truth reveals itself once again: God isn’t enough for me. I know and believe in his love, and everything he’s promised, but I still go out looking for more. Why isn’t it enough? Instead of looking to God to fill me, I seek out others. And they let me down, miserably, almost every time.

And it’s not as simple as saying, “turn to God”. I do, and then he does what he always does: sends a flat-out miracle to me right in the middle of my day. It makes me feel so unworthy and awful for being this needy, unloving sinner that simply can’t be totally satisfied with God. What is wrong with me?

I wish for once God gave me what I deserve instead of showing me so much grace and love that my poor decayed heart can’t take. He has proven over and over that he alone is enough, but I still hold on. And I’m holding on to what? To “friendships” (when I can’t even really love others the way they love me)? To my dreams (when I see how God has much better plans for me)? To wanting approval from others (when I know they don’t even know who I really am)? Why do I think these things will be better than God? That they will be better than my Jesus, who listens to my every pleading and act of desperation, and responds by doing things that scream “I WANT YOU” to me?

I am not a good person. I take God for granted, and waste his love by prancing off hoping to find something that I think God can’t give me. I wish he would just take them away for me (but I really don’t mean that).

Jesus deserves better.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where do you come from?

This country is obsessed with race. I think it’s been on the media’s radar for a long time, but has been revived since the election. Why is interviewing people on their race interesting? CNN is showing a special called “Latinos in America”, where “minorities will soon be the majority”. Am I supposed to be concerned about this?

This just proves that we have a huge problem with race and we are very preoccupied with it. Ok, so you’re white, or black, or Puerto Rican. Good for you. Be proud of your heritage, keep your traditions and customs, but don’t look down on others for not sharing that with you. Besides, if everyone was the same race, would it mean as much to you?

Other countries don’t run extensive stories on racial statistics. I wonder if they look at Americans with confusion as to why we constantly talk about race. Just like other factors of life, race sometimes says if you are more likely to be poor, go to jail, have certain health problems. But talking about it like that’s the sole reason for these things is ignorant. Blacks and Hispanics make up 60% of the prison population. Now that is what we should be talking about. The mere fact that the Hispanic population is increasing (and taking over (?)) is not.

Maybe it does interest some people. I would like to know that people are overcoming racial stereotypes, but stories like these help (in a way) to continue them, by pointing them out, talking and analyzing them, and then looking to debunk it. It seems easy to lose that last step. Maybe it’s just me, but I hope one day our country would be concerned with others things besides who is the majority.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jesus, help me!

This is the prayer we said at RCIA tonight. I really like it.

In every need let me come to You with humble trust, saying:
Jesus, help me!
In all my doubts, perplexities, and temptations:
Jesus, help me!
In hours of loneliness, weariness and trials:
Jesus, help me!
In the failure of my plans and hopes, in disappointments, troubles and sorrows:
Jesus, help me!
When others fail me, and Your Grace alone can assist me:
Jesus, help me!
When I throw myself on Your tender Love as Savior:
Jesus, help me!
When my heart is cast down by failure, at seeing no good come from my efforts:
Jesus, help me!
When I feel impatient, and my cross irritates me:
Jesus, help me!
When I am ill, and my head and hands cannot work and I am lonely:
Jesus, help me!
Always, always, in spite of weakness, falls and shortcomings of every kind:
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me and never forsake me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Change

I think it’s interesting how people change. I took the Myers-Briggs test about two years ago and got ESTP. Now I am INFJ. That is exactly opposite of what I was. My dance teacher from high school promised us we would change in college. I guess she was right.

Fall is the most interesting time of year. It’s a gloomier time, with less sun and more rain, but it’s also energizing. I really like nighttime, and fall is the season of night. With the leaves falling and it getting colder, it makes me think of my childhood. Raking leaves, going on long bike rides through the woods, starting the fireplace. I really like fall. It’s always been a lot of fun for me.

One thing that has changed is my living arrangements. Most notably I’m not living at home anymore, and for the past two years, I lived with one other person and it was very easy to avoid them (strangely enough).

It’s been interesting living with really close friends this year. I can’t hide anything from the three of them, and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing. When I was younger I had some pretty rough days, but instead of sharing my struggles with anyone else, I would lock myself in my room, stare at a mirror and talk to myself for hours until I had figured everything out. Some nights were impossible, but I made it through.

Now that I can’t simply run into my room and pretend to be sleeping, my whole approach to dealing with things has been forced to change. Even if I try to keep it to myself that never lasts long. Within the hour all my roommates hear the whole thing and attempt to help. Sometimes it does help, sometimes it only makes me feel even more overwhelmed. I like letting others into my life, but it had consequences.

For one, I’m not used to people analyzing me. They aren’t mean but I’d sometimes rather not have to completely explain and defend myself. I also think I scare them sometimes. But if they saw how I was when I was younger I don’t think they would be so concerned for me now. I am a lot better now.

Having them witness and know of every little bump in my life makes it seem like I’m having more bad days, more struggles than before. But I don’t think this is the case. It’s just that before the only person who knew was me, and if I forgot about it, or didn’t see it as a big deal anymore, then there was no one else around to remind me.

I like living with them. We have a lot of fun, and they can handle my breakdowns. And maybe it’s just because it’s fall, but living with them makes me feel like I’m living with my family.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Small (pseudo)talk

I am becoming a very non-social person. It’s not the same thing as anti-social, in where I avoid all social interactions, but where I hesitantly meet new people and socialize with those I don’t know too well. It has always been hard for me to talk to other people. I normally comment on something obvious and make a big show if it, so I can get a reaction and then maybe have something to talk about from there. I rarely have normal conversations, because I really don’t know what to say. It’s kind of sad.

Recently I’ve felt very non-social as I’ve had to hang out with people I’ve known for a few years now, but just never quite got to know (some of whom I’ve never actually talked too). It’s really weird and slightly painful for me to be sitting there, in silence, trying to think of something to say to someone that I’ve “known” for a while, and that we have a lot in common (on the surface as well as under it, down there somewhere, I‘m sure…). And after about 10 seconds or so of awkward, I have nothing to say to you, silence, all chance of a conversation have been pulverized and incinerated in my over-packed mind that can’t force myself to speak. I feel like a failure.

On the upside, they in turn, never say anything to me, and possibly have a similar self-torturing experience. I blame it on myself, but really, it’s their fault too.

I’ve become worse and worse at small talk, to the point of where now I can’t even bring myself to point out something obvious for the sake of keeping myself from sounding lame. But isn’t silence even lamer? I’m not sure. I guess I’ve never fully learned how to start getting to know someone when it isn’t obvious what to talk about.

Even if I haven’t semi-avoided you for years, it’s hard for me to keep up a conversation past the “How are you” and “What classes are you taking?” I run out of things to say or ask and then I feel trapped which only makes me want to literally run away. I know this sounds pathetic and probably troubling, but I really don’t like small talk. Small talk hardly helps you get to know someone anyway. Idle time around people drives me crazy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Veiled

In June, I decided I would start wearing a veil. This decision came after a lot of thought and random exposures to it. Wearing it to Mass for the first time was a bit nerve-wrecking. I kept thinking, “do I look really weird right now? I wonder if people are saying to themselves, ‘who does she think she is, I just saw her yesterday without that on. Why is she wearing one now?’”. The first few times I wore it, I was very aware of my veil for almost the entire Mass.

But I stayed with it, and it has become a lot more normal for me. So much so that one day, when I didn’t have it (although I carry it around with me everywhere now) it was distracting to me to not have it on.

I’m still a bit cautious of it though, because I do worry what people are thinking when they see me with it on (I think of my sister’s reaction when she saw that I carried it around in my purse). Maybe family is always a bit harsher.

I have a few reasons so far for why I will continue to wear a veil. The first being that St. Paul tells women to cover their hair (1Cor 11:5). I won’t go much into that because you can see for yourself what it says. Secondly is Mary. It is true that all women want to be like Mary. She is the definition of a woman and she is God’s favored one. A depiction of Mary would be incomplete if it didn’t include a veil. She wore it out of obedience and love for God (and also because it was a custom to do so). Likewise, wearing a veil is a constant reminder that I should be obedient to God. And not only am I obedient but am submissive. This word scares a lot of people, but I think it is a beautiful word. It reminds me of my place. I am a woman, under my (future) husband and under God. It is very humbling.

The veil also provides me a way to express myself that men cannot and few women choose to do so. To me, the veil shows that women are very important, and they are not on display as to be a pleasure for just anyone to see. We are so beautiful and should be covered in order to protect this beauty and mystery that God has placed in us. This is a section from a informational sheet that came with my veil:
Now one reason for the use of veils is wrapped up in the mystery of a woman’s femininity which can bear children. At the moment of conception, when God creates a soul and it joins its body in the womb of its mother, God’s creative hands work within her, and since whatever God touches becomes scared, we veil it. And since a woman’s hair is her glory (1 Cor. 11:15), we veil what is her dignity.

After the initial feelings of potential public criticism, I have gained so much from wearing the veil. Putting it on before entering the presence of Jesus helps prepare me for the encounter. It also helps me focus more on him (sometimes quite literally by blocking my peripheral vision). I’ve also gotten a lot of good comments on it or people asking where I got it or something like that. One of my friends has even started wearing hers again because now she won’t be the only one.

By saying all of this I mean in no way to judge those who don’t wear one. I don’t think of them differently and I’m certainly not trying to get everyone to wear one. The veil is something that shouldn’t distract others but instead help them focus more on Mass. I would just like my fellow women to know how awesome it feels to receive Christ into a veiled sanctuary.

Peace and love!

Over in Iraq...

The deployment has seemed to level out. Things are becoming normal, and my mom has found a routine. A long, boring, same every single day routine, but a routine. One way the people keep from going crazy in the midst of a 12-14 hour workday, is candy, shopping and throwing. People, as a way to get a break, go visit others and grab some candy along the way. I figure, the better candy you have, the more friends too. Candy is the one food item that isn’t readily available there (my mom eats VERY well), so I make sure to send her lots of candy. She also tells me that there are these tables set up where people put unwanted items, from care packages or something like that, for anyone to take. People walk around and go “shopping”. My mom says you can find anything you can think of on those tables. And the last tactic of enduring boredom is just throw things across the cubicles. Beenie babies, nerf balls, rubber bands, all sorts of things go flying. I’m also stocking my mom up in that category as well!

My mom’s deployment has brought a lot of unforeseen opportunities. For example, in the little bit of free time she has, she devotes a lot of it to going to a bible study. It is lead by another solider there, one, I’m guessing, who is really into the subject. The theme of the bible study is salvation history. I think it’s great that every time we talk, she tells me about where they are in the study and how interesting it is. Last I heard, they finished Exodus. I guess her biggest struggle is being able to read the chapters before they meet (as she normally falls asleep right away at night, HAHA!)

She also told me about a special Mass that she was able to attend. The bishop of Basra came in for a visit and celebrated the Mass in the Chaldean Rite spoken in Aramaic. My mom, knowing that I’m interested in the Latin Mass, couldn’t stop talking about it and she had a lot of questions. But I, of course, hardly know anything. I’ve never even heard of this before. But either way, it was interesting hearing her explain the order of Mass (which, she said it seemed, is only slightly different than the Roman Rite). The Church always has something new to learn!

Sadly, they don’t have enough priests to have one at every base so they have a Mass (instead of a prayer service) every 3-4 weeks or so. She also keeps busy with yoga (which makes me laugh at the thought of) and concerts they have almost every week (if the weather is good enough for the band to come in). She even got to make an appearance on tv September 11th, when the Minnesota Vikings played (she is a part of the Minnesota National guard unit), even though she had to wake up at 2am her time. I hope to watch the video of that soon.

It makes me happy to know that she is doing well and is growing in her faith (in Iraq of all places).

Peace and love!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reality

I’m realizing lately that I should stop being so dramatic. Yes, I have problems and troubles in my life, but they are no where near the struggles of others. I have been so blessed in my life it’s hard to remember that others are praying for their very lives. Just hearing my friends talk about their childhoods or reading about an acquaintance’s very hard time in their life right now, not only makes me thankful for what I have been given, but also embarrassed for the fact I thought I had it rough.

I never know how to respond. Do I try to give advice after I listen to what they have to say? What advice could I give? I can only relate through general feelings of loss, frustration, despair. For the most part, I’ve never had to confront what they are confronting. I think most times, advice isn't needed.

Father Michael, a priest from Uganda who has visited Auburn and who I’ve talked about before, sent an email to the parish recently. As some are aware, the situation in Uganda, especially recently, is tragic. Father Michael told us how he was caught in the middle of a raid and witnessed army men shooting anyone at the wrong place at the wrong time. Please pray for his safety. Please pray for the people there. Please pray that he and the others in the church stay strong and a beacon of hope for everyone in the country.

The line he closed his email with:
The little we can do for Him must be done.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Warning: Opening your mind may cause death

What does it mean to be open-minded? I hear it all the time. “You disagree with me because you aren’t being open-minded”.

So being open-minded means never disagreeing with anyone? I thought that was called a pushover. And anyway, you can’t agree with everyone, because you would be contradicting yourself somewhere.

No, being open-minded is not agreeing with someone who accuses you of being close-minded.

I think being open-minded is just that, opening your mind. However, we aren’t opening our mind for the sake of opening it. We are opening it to find the truth. That is what we seek, everyday, in every part of our life. Education teaches us truth, or processes to find it and analyze it. Newspapers are supposed to spread truth to the people. Detectives figure out the truth by looking at clues and examining evidence. We react negatively when someone lies to us, or we find out that something we thought was true really isn’t (aka scandals).We are on a constant search for truth. I feel, at least in part, we all are open-minded. Being open-minded is the only way to find truth.

But when someone accuses someone of being close-minded, what is that person really saying? They are saying that the person is not listening or understanding what that person regards as truth. Disagreeing with someone does not make that person close-minded.

As an open-minded person, one should be willing to listen and try to understand where the person or view is coming from. This does not mean you have to end up agreeing with it. And anyway, if you are comfortable enough with your beliefs and really understand why you believe somethings, hearing opposing views shouldn’t worry you. They should, in fact, strengthen why you believe what you do.

I'm tired of hearing people (in very high political positions) talk about how people need to be open minded because he wants people to agree with him. I think those who want others to be open-minded should practice doing just that themselves.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Ashley

I’m writing this post in honor of my roommate, Ashley Lynn Kovaleski. Upon discovering I have a blog, she immediately asked if I write about her. So I will.

Fact number one:
The first time Ashley farted in front of someone, her mother literally applauded her.

Fact number two:
Ashley likes songs, karaoke style. Tonight, her choice was the great 80’s classic, “Let’s get Physical”. It was a great rendition.

Fact number three:
Ashley knows what malapropism is. She learned it at her high school.

Fact number four:
Ashley gets hungry often in the middle of the night. But that doesn't mean she's actually awake.

Fact number five:
Ashley has a phobia of whips. Don’t ask.

Fact number six:
My life is great!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I miss you

I find myself missing a lot of people, and recently, those I am very close to. You get used to someone being in your life, and when that gets disrupted, for whatever reason, something isn’t right. You miss them. I think missing someone means they were special to you, and without them, you just can’t be the same.

Is it the knowledge that you can’t be with them? Or is it a sudden feeling of separation that makes me uncomfortable, which turns into “missing”?

Our culture says that it’s completely normal and even expected to miss those close to us. The knowledge that someone misses us also creates emotions that few other circumstances can do. By saying you miss someone, it implies that something is wrong and only that person’s presence can fix it. I admit my favorite letters to read at field training were the ones that went into great detail about just how much I was missed.

What is the point of missing someone anyway? It hardly does anything to change the situation. It kind of makes both persons involved feel wanted but at the same time helpless. It’s kind of messed up…

But I wonder, is missing someone a sign you don’t trust God? Or maybe I’m looking into it too much. Maybe we are supposed to miss people because it shows us how good God was to give us those people.

There are different levels in missing someone too. Physical separation is the most obvious, but I also find myself missing moments I’ve had with people. Such as having a great conversation and feeling really close to them. If we become to busy (or some other reason) and don’t have those same encounters anymore, I miss it. Then, there is the greatest level of “missing”: when someone you love has died. This is easily the hardest for me.

The death of my grandpa has had a great impact on me. When my grandma was in her final days, my grandpa never left her side. He would stay up with her all night, holding her hand, talking to her. Because of her stokes, she couldn’t speak anymore, so he spoke for her, recounting memories and telling her life story. They were married for 59 years and they saw the world together. He only cried when she was still alive. Once she was gone, he packed up her things, wanting to give most of them to me and my sister, and set up funeral arrangements. I’m sure he missed her, but he seemed to be ok with it.

When she died it wasn’t as hard as it is now. I didn’t have a real reason to be sad. She lived a great life, and most of all she had a husband that loved her to the very end. After she died, he was so strong. I couldn’t be sad if he didn’t seem to be. But when he fell sick and slowly reached the point where he couldn‘t recover, there wasn’t anyone by his side. Sure, my uncle and aunt would come and visit him a few times a week, but he didn’t have someone the way she did. I think about that a lot.

It is still hard to think of him as gone. I shouldn’t be so sad, I shouldn’t miss him so much. He is probably in heaven and is perfectly happy right now. So why do I miss him so much? Why do I miss anyone?