Friday, June 19, 2009

I wanted to take some time before I left to share with you a recent realization I’ve had. I believe it was inspired by these interviews and also maybe because the last few days I’ve been researching LDS and also reading a little bit of The God Delusion (I know, it was a great decision on how to spend my time). But either way, I know more deeply now than ever before that I am doing what I should. Field training represents to me a promise made manifest. It has been such a long journey just reaching this point that to stop and reflect on it would take all day. Am I nervous? Not anymore. And that may be just because it seems like it’s taken forever to get here since summer started, but I’m not scared anymore either. If anything, I’m impatient. I want to get there and start this. Put everything to the test, see what God will do for me, and witness profound things. I guess I’m just a sentimental person, I really hope this will change my life and how I relate to God.

I remembered Father Michael’s song today. It’s the one he sings in almost every homily. It goes, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.” If I ever stopped seeking Jesus, my life would fall apart. Not just in the sense that I would do different activities or hang out with different people or think about different things. I mean that my life would instantly become so confused, chaotic and desperate that I wouldn’t be able to live. This actually gives me great comfort. I can never go back. Nor would I want to. Before coming to college I never would have dreamed this is where I’ll be, physically, mentally or spiritually. God has dragged me here and I’m so thankful for it. He not only keeps His promises, He goes beyond them. I am utterly in love with God.

Ok, so that’s about all for now. Please pray for me and my mom. If you would like to write, my address is

Cadet Yusckat, Ruth B
Maxwell 3
501 Lemay Place N.
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112

Please don’t send anything after July 13th. I’ll be back July 18th, and I’ll be sure to tell you how it went!!

May the Lord be with you in every moment!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What if?

The circumstances of one's upbringing almost completely shapes how they are the rest of their life. Think about it: did how you were raised affect some, if not all, of your personality traits, likes, dislikes, pretty much "who you are"? Now, nothing more can be said without looking at individual case by case analysis, because for one conclusion, there can always be found an opposing one.

This is very interesting to me because when I meet someone drastically different than me I often wonder, could I have been like them if put in their situations and family? It's also interesting because that question can't really ever be answered. Could changing one thing in my life, say having two sisters, instead of one, or not having a sister at all, completely change my personality, views and outlook on life? If not completely, maybe in a small way? Hmmm, maybe. I seem to have a lot of friends that grew up in Auburn. Being a small town and them all sharing that experience (if nothing else), lends me to sort of compare them to each other. They all are pretty different (of course) but I've noticed when "they" (lol) get together their conversations seem radically different than if they were talking with anyone else, but I digress. I've noticed: they all really like to read and are very literature-literate. This really becomes apparent when "they" come together. I'm not saying that no one else outside Auburn has this in common, but for the most part, Auburnites do.

I think I should pause here and address the fact that I'm putting forth a sterotypeish statement. It’s just something I’ve noticed, which may be wrong, and stupid, but either way, I find it intriguing. If I had grown up in Auburn, would I also have read all the classics (and remembered what they were about?)? Would I send out a scholarly vibe and know tons of professors? Ok, so maybe that last one isn't really a personality trait, but it might change a lot of things (such as how I view school, or a particular subject, or my opportunities once in school).

If I grew up in Auburn would I be as religious as I am? Growing up, it never occurred to me some people worry about what the parish thought of their family or “how much everyone knows” about this or that drama. If I did, would that impact my church life? If I grew up in Auburn and got to experience so many faithful people and have tons of opportunities to grow in my faith, would it lead me closer, or drive me away? I don’t know. I guess it’s a safe bet to thank God for the path He lead me on, knowing now this is where I am.

Getting to know people who grew up in Auburn is interesting too. Just the other day, I was talking to a girl who moved to Auburn when she was pretty young. She is one of the Auburnites that I think are really smart and cooler than me. She was talking about how she never has really traveled. Hearing this always makes me sad, because traveling has always been a big part of my life and relationships. It also triggered a memory of a recent similar conversation. Someone was talking about how they needed to travel more because they’ve only really seen the south. But anyway, I’ve always thought that she was in this secret “I know about books” club, but now I’ve realized we are just in different clubs, so to speak. Would she be different (and maybe not have read as much, lol) if she traveled as much as I have? Would I see the world a little less beautiful if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but instead read about it?

I’m not staying one is better than the other. In fact I think most people want what they didn’t have. Only children wish they could have had siblings. Oldest children wish they could be the youngest. “If my mother only let me take ice skating lessons.” “I could never do anything fun because my parents didn’t trust me.”

I suppose what it comes down to is, will you raise your children the way your parents raised you? (Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about your upbringing.) But really, what you do with them, how you react to them, and where they are raised, really influences a person. And even then, it could go either way. It kinda scares me when I think about it.

But right now I will just continue to ponder the alternate possibilities of life and be grateful for what I have. People are really cool.

Peace and love!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maybe we can’t handle the truth

Or maybe we can…

I read how Pope Benedict says that the truth is hard.

It will always be hard for man to speak the truth and to abide by the truth. That is why he takes refuge in the lie that will make life easier for him. Truth and witness, witness and martyrdom, are very closely associated in this world. Truth, if it is consistently maintained, is always perilous. But only in the measure in which man risks the passion of truth does he become a man.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Why is truth perilous? Why does it seem to be so hard to accept? It seems to me that truth should be easy to recognize and know and therefore live by (the last part being the hardest). But this is not so. I wasn't really able to find much on why it is hard, so I came up with my own conclusion (which may not be the truth, haha).

In the beginning (in the Garden of Eden) man seemed to know and therefore live in the truth. He didn't sin and everything was how God intended it to be. But then the sneaky devil came along, and told the first lie (You surely will not die). This led to the first sin and from this the devil has been able to twist almost everything good into his lie. I think it’s safe to say that the things in our world have been twisted so much it’s hard to tell even what is truth anymore. Lies have been spread and embedded into so much that we don‘t know what to believe.

What do we do?

First we must acknowledge there can only be one truth. There can only be one right interpretation to reality. Whether it has been revealed to us or not is a different matter; there can only be one truth. How can I say this?

Truth doesn't contradict itself. I feel most will agree to this. Two statements that mean opposite (or contradicting things) can’t both exist if they are both true. One (or both) must be wrong. When truth is found, we call it fact. When facts contradict, something has to be wrong, or one of the “facts” isn't actually the truth. The statement, what is true for you isn't true for me, doesn't make sense! What is really true, is true for all creation, because it is truth and cannot change.

The same is for all truth. Yes, there are many ways of looking at the world. Someone who is blind interprets the world differently than someone who can see just fine. Neither interpretation is “wrong”, the world is still the same world. Therefore, both the experiences of the blind person and the one with sight fit together and do not contradict. Both, in a sense, can be considered truth. But more importantly, biblical truth is more than just our experiences and interpretations. God Himself is the truth.

God is a God of truth. Jesus is the truth and speaks the truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and the word of God is truth (taken from Psalm 31:5, John 14:6, 17 and John 17:17). So knowing what the truth is is very important.

Truth has manifested itself in and through the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church has done a very good job at maintaining the truth (instead of conforming with the times and world) Which is better: saying I believe this but not that OR I know this to be true and that be a lie because the Church proclaims it to be true. Although this is bringing up the authority of the Church I think most would like something else backing up their position. Almost all Christians look to the Bible (and as Catholics, we also have tradition and the Magisterium that proclaim the truth). This is great news! Finally we can have help in figuring out what is truth and what is a lie. But as predicted, truth is still rejected. Could it be that we (as in the general population) are still confused as to what the truth is, or that we know the truth and choose to reject it anyway. I think it may be a lot of both.

Just within the Catholic Church alone there are many misunderstandings of practically everything that is taught. It is a constant effort to teach people the ins and outs of what we believe. I am completely aware of the fact that I still don’t know all the reasons behind what I believe. But the beautiful thing with the Church is, that I don’t have to know why to believe it. It certainly helps, makes sense and makes me a better Catholic (in some sense), but the only important thing is that I know what is truth and accept it. Whether I know why isn't as important. This strikes down both the “not knowing of truth” and “not accepting truth”.

“Forming consciences” is a phrase I hear a lot within the Church. Seminarians and postulants and novices go through “formation”, and one of the goals of the Church is to form consciences. But what are we trying to form our consciences to? The only thing that one should want to form themselves to is the truth. Breaking free of lies and living a true and holy life is very attractive, and it’s something this world cannot offer.

Yes it will be hard, perilous, and will offend many. But the truth is worth it. The truth is what we were meant for and it will set us free.

A good passage to read is John 14:16-27.

(When I quote something by Pope Benedict or talk about “what he said” it’s from the book, “Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI”, edited by Rev. Peter John Cameron)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update on LTC Yusckat

Its finally hit. My mom is deployed. Such a silly statement. I've known this for a while now, but I've actually come to know it now. It started when I missed her call yesterday. I was so upset because I haven't spoken to her in almost 2 weeks now, we've only been emailing. If I miss her call, I've missed it. There is no way to call back because she has to go through many lines, and it doesn't trace back all the way. It weird because it's not like things have really changed for me. I'm still all by myself in Auburn. I don't see her everyday, just like before, and I don't talk to her everyday, which is pretty close to before. I think this is why it's taken so long for it to be real. Up until now, I would still picture her at home, making dinner, playing solitaire, going to work. Just like I've always done. Only now I know that's not where she really is. She could be here:
or someplace else equally small. It's not that I feel worse because she hates it or is living in awful conditions. The above picture is her only living space (the only thing not shown is the small closet behind her that she shares with her roommate). She seems do be doing pretty well. She gets up at 4am and makes her phone calls, then goes walking/jogging, breakfast, then work is from 7:30 to 8:30 at night. She kinda gets Sundays off (she has to be at work at 6pm) and she says the laundry service and food are really good. She will also primarily be working in an office, which is great news. But in how she talks to me, I know that it is hard on her. She tries so hard to cover it up (and she is really good at it too). For the most part, I've never seen my mom struggling with something. I think the hardest thing is not being able to do hardly anything to help her.

I realized recently that when I can talk about something, especially in public settings, I've come to accept it, at least subliminally (in some way). This past week I've been openly talking about my mom and every time I do it scares me. I know practically no one knows that my mom is deployed right now (because I haven't told them), but I bring up the subject like they do. The looks on their faces is odd to me. It may be because they just weren't aware and they don't want to look like they missed something, but the look suggests something else, kinda like, "I have no idea what to say". It's hard to see those looks.

I've been surrounded with everything military my whole life. I was born on an Army base in California to 2 parents both in the Army, and I've lived next to Fort Bragg, NC (the largest base in the world by population) for 15 years. My family tree is full of war vets and my grandpa was a POW in WWII. I've grown up with military kids who had active and deployed parents, I worked 2 summers as a lifeguard at pools for the on-base families, and I've experienced war-time deaths, one being the father of an old friend and the second a classmate. Even still, I entered AFROTC and heard all kinds of semi-terrifying stories from the officers who have been deployed. All of this and it still only slightly prepares you for the reality of your own mother being in a war-zone.

Maybe it's the fact that I know too much. I hear stories from friends that have been deployed, sometimes multiple times, about how they were shot at or how they almost froze one night. My mom also told me about some of her training. If she is traveling in an armored humvee, and it rolls into a drainage ditch (which she explained to me is very easy to do), rescuers have about 2 minutes to pull them out before they all drown (this is how Steven Elrod, a fellow high school student, died). Maybe it's because I know too little. I can't really imagine exactly how it is, and therefore how safe it is. But either way, I can't think about it. Every time I do I become overwhelmed with sadness about what could happen. I haven't had much time to think about it lately because I've been so busy, but whenever I'm alone, it's one of the first things I think of.

A daily meditation book (with Pope Benedict’s writings) has given me some comfort.
God brings Abraham out from among his family and sets him on a certain path. When it comes down to it, everyone has to undergo his own exodus. He… has to come out of his own reserved self. ... only then will he reach the Promised Land, so to speak - the sphere of freedom, in which he plays his part in creation.
I guess this is like my mom’s exodus. I really can’t do anything to intervene (even if I wanted to). I guess we’ll see what happens next.

Please pray for those I know who are entering the military or who are deployed right now:
Mary Yusckat (my mom) - Iraq
David Laes (my cousin) - Iraq
Grant Mattocks - Iraq
Shawn Nguyen - Afghanistan
"Nick" - Afghanistan
David Kavin - Afghanistan
Khristopher Alexander - Afghanistan (within the next week)
Curtis Elliot Jr. - AF Basic Training (within the week)
Samuel Culotta - finishing Army Basic Training
numerous friends at field training

Sunday, June 7, 2009

God loves His stupid humans

Today's readings made me realize that we as humans are a confused bunch. We like to tell ourselves and others that we can solve any problem, we just need to think hard enough about it or be more creative. When something great is invented, especially medically, or a great act of heroism is committed, we like to pat ourselves on the back and throw parties so everyone knows how smart, brave and hardworking we are. Still yet, we like to have lists of “great men” and accomplishments that we can go to for inspiration, role models to look up to, whatever will make us feel empowered and great. All of this, and no mention of who is really behind it all. No wonder we are confused when something doesn't go quite like we planned, or when something (normally awful and devastating) happens that shocks us and suddenly we think, I am human and life is frail.

The only way to break out of this confusion is to look to the Author of logic and reason. Let us remember Isaiah 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I'm glad I'm not God because I think it would be way to easy to get so frustrated with us. We think we have all the answers, know all the best ways of doing things. But alas, we do not! We can't even wrap our heads around God being three persons in one! From Father Michael: “God teaches us that 1+1+1=1, but all our mathematics classes have taught us that it equals 3.”

Father Michael explained the Trinity really well today. He compared the Trinity to the sun. The Father is like the sun, the light like Jesus and the warmth like the Holy Spirit. Each the sun, light and warmth are separate things that can be observed individually and the effects they cause can be seen. You can't have the sun without the light and warmth, and similarly, if you have light it wouldn't make sense not to have the others (warmth and the sun) too. Both the light and warmth come from the sun, and at the same time, the sun is light and warmth.

So trying to understand life, in the little things and the big, life-changing (and human-history changing) things is hopeless and doomed to fail without first understanding that God is running the show. Look to Jesus first, then the saints for inspiration. Let us not be led to believe the things we accomplish we've done on our own, and let us certainly not praise others for their accomplishments without first praising God for allowing it to be accomplished through them.

Now on to my second thought: Being misunderstood isn't our fault. The Trinity may be the most misunderstood idea of our faith, but that doesn't change or diminish it's value. God has made us just the way He wants us. So what if some (or most) people don't understand why we do certain things or flat out misunderstand who we are? Does that change who we actually are? No. We may be called to help others understand but I doubt this.Who God has made us will allow us to be what He wants and do what He needs. We need only to say “Yes” to God when he calls, and the more you say yes, the more He will call. It isn't for people to tell us what we are capable of. Only God himself, who has given us our purpose and knows our future can determine our potential. Do your best and God will do the rest.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mr. Sandman

I have a long and involved history with sleep. I love it, but I'm not always good to it, and I think it retaliates sometimes. I used to sleep walk, talk in my sleep (which I may still do), and I even had night terrors when I was little. I've also never really had a sleep schedule, which may be why naps call my name almost every day. But when I do sleep (which I can do practically anywhere and at any time), I am gone. Hardly anything can wake me before I'm ready. I even slept through a fire alarm once. Yes I do love sleep, but sometimes I'd rather not deal with it.

What do I mean? Well, I hardly ever dream. I kinda like it that way, because in my experience, dreams 4 times out of 5 are not pleasant. Once I have one bad dream (in the middle of a long stretch of no dreams)I seem to keep having horrible dreams almost every night for a few weeks. Just last night I had an awful dream and it seemed to last forever! I'll spare you the details but it had to do with an Easter egg hunt and sewing things onto my body. I'm beginning to think pain might set off my nightmares (I got two shots yesterday, and I can barely move my arms), which makes me even more uneasy because I'll be in a lot of pain soon.

Side note: Today's Mass was pretty amazing. Here is the entrance antiphon:
This holy man fought to the death for the law of his God, never cowed by the threats of the wicked; his house was built on solid rock.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why I love being Catholic (Part 1)

First of all, there is so much wisdom and truth found in the teachings of the Church, and I'm sure I'll talk about these more later but today I'll talk about the teachings on the body, marriage and sexuality. Those are huge topics and I won't be able to fit them all on one post, but I'll talk about what I like most about them.

Theology of the Body is amazing! For anyone who hasn't read on the subject, or worse, even heard about it must immediately remedy this. I started reading about theology of the body last fall and it has completely changed my life. Once I learned how God intended us to live and interact with one another, I can easily see when this "original setup" is being broken and can therefore deal with it for what it is: sin.

This summer the ladies of St. Michael's have started a small group where we are focusing on theology of the body. Last night we read about original solitude, original unity and original nakedness of man. These describe humanity's experiences before sin entered the world, and thus, is how God intended humanity to be. I also think these sum up very nicely all that we as sinful people search for all our lives.

Original Solitude:
The man is both alone as in being without woman (another like himself), but is also alone because he is his own person. Unlike the animals, Adam is a creature made in God's image, and is unlike the animals for that reason. Genesis states, "It is not good that the man should be alone", and so comes in original unity.

Original Unity:
God creates Eve from Adam so they are "bone of the same bone and flesh of the same flesh" and they become "one flesh". Original Unity overcomes the first part of solitude (man without woman) and affirms the second (that he is his own person). And since I can't say it any better, I'll throw in this quote:
By joining in "one flesh" according to God's original plan, man and woman rediscover their "original virginal value." The virginity of "the beginning" cannot simply be equated with an absence of sexual union, but is more properly understood as the original integrity of body and soul. The grace of the sacrament of marriage allows husbands and wives progressively to rediscover the original integrity of the "one flesh" union. (Christopher West)
This original unity is a "communion of persons" and thus "becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion" (Pope John Paul II).

How awesome is that?! It is God's plan for us to be own person while completely giving ourselves to another. Through this the man will only rediscover the woman as a person more deeply and the woman can do the same for the man. Amazing.

Original Nakedness:
Adam and Eve were "naked without shame". This is huge. It reveals the understanding that the body is the revelation of the person. John Paul says they "see and know each other... with all the peace of the interior gaze". They saw in their very bodies God's plan of love. To be naked without shame is to love without fear, and only holiness enables them to do this.

Although there is so much more, I feel I've explained it poorly and confused you, so I'll take a break for now. But please read the books for yourself, then you'll see what I'm talking about. Both are by Christopher West: Theology of the Body for Beginners OR Theology of the Body Explained.

I love being Catholic because these are available to me. Not only is it cool to learn about but it connects with everything else and makes it all make sense. God created our bodies and gave us our sexuality. We should know why he did such things and the proper way to use them. This is also what will show us our reason for being and purpose in life. More of this to come!

Peace and love!