Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Discernment doesn't have to be painful

Yesterday was a big day for the sophomores in ROTC. EA’s (enrollment allocations, for field training) came out. By getting an EA, the Air Force is essentially saving you a spot as an officer in the year you graduate. By getting an EA, you basically get hired. Normally, it’s a pretty good chance someone will get an EA (so long as they have ok grades and can pass the physical fitness test) But this year, about 25% of sophomores have been cut nationally (meaning they won’t receive an EA and will no longer be in ROTC). Our detachment at Auburn always does better than the national statistics, but that still translated into a 17% cut, or 5 cadets that were told yesterday that they are no longer a cadet. One of these people was my mentee, who is also the person I asked for advice about discernment not too long ago.

It hard to be rejected, especially when you really put yourself out there, and it’s something you really want and have worked hard for. However, sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. I was reminded how I should work everyday to focus on true and lasting goals, ones that God also wants me chasing after, which ultimately is only one goal, with two main branches. The goal is to love God. The branches are to pray and serve others. As long as you don’t stray far from the true goal, rejection may not be so devastating.

It’s hard to discern sometimes. I think people like to gravitate towards having a successful sounding story. Saying I was in the military and had a long and decorated career would be ideal, along with the perfect family, in a beautiful house, and blah, blah, blah. The ideas we have for our life however hardly ever work out. At the time we can be crushed, especially when it wasn’t completely selfish (like serving your country, or starting a religious group). But one thing is sure, when a door is closed on you, most likely, God didn’t want you to go through it.

In order to keep the trauma down, it’s good to keep in mind “the goal”. There are many ways to love God, and God will eventually lead you to the only way that you were meant to do it. And while waiting for the path to be made clear may be hard and confusing, praying and serving others will still lead you to love God. And most likely, you will end up with an unbelievable story at the end of your life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

O how I love You, my God!

Today was the last official RCIA class. Next week is the rehearsal for the big day. I can’t believe it’s almost here. I don’t think this blog post could capture how much excitement and joy thinking about the Easter Vigil brings me. I am so blessed.

Not only have I been able to witness the process of RCIA, met some great people and heard some remarkable stories, but I will also be a more concrete part of it. My godchild, Brittany, will be baptized, enter into the Catholic Church and sealed with the Holy Spirit. Not only will I be present for this, but also take part in it. I will be touching her when the Holy Spirit enters her. Today we talked about this, and she mentioned how she thought she might cry. I told her that when I was confirmed, I cried. It is so overwhelming to contemplate what will actually go on that day, how could you not cry?

Today I thank God for using me. Never would I have dreamed this would happen. When I met Brittany over a year ago, I never thought we would be here now. About a year ago, Brittany, me, and a few of our friends were out for ice cream, and something happened. Since that night I’ve prayed for her. Never would I think this is where we would be led to. I am so thankful for the chance to guide her, to be a part of her life, and I pray that we can continue in our journeys together.

Next Saturday is the big day. Her entire family (fallen away Catholics, devout Catholics, anti-Catholic Baptists) will visit and witness the same things I will. May we also pray for them. In these final days of Lent, may we reach up to Jesus, take His hand and go with Him wherever He goes. Its no use in asking Him where, just go!

Monday, March 22, 2010

One Thousand Gifts

holy experience
33. Butterflies
34. Underappreciated art
35. Petticoat Palms
36. the Holy Spirit
37. Showers
38. Beautiful churches
39. Playgrounds
40. Trampolines
41. the ability to do flips
42. Ocean Waves

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Thousand Gifts

holy experience

26. History

27. Family traditions

28. Moving to a new phase in life

29. God's love, in the form of food, sunshine, laughter, and plans going well

30. Rain

31. Acceptance

32. Sunscreen

A visit to Mobile

I went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile. It was so beautiful. There was something about today, or Mass, or the church itself. Today I could almost see the Holy Spirit hovering in that church. Although I had been there before, I seemed to overlook the rich colors, and breathtaking stained glass, the towering and magnificent organ, and the awesome stations. There was something different, and although it wasn’t a Latin Mass, there was a real, noticeable, moving difference.

The schola choir, out of sight, but so present, in song and emotion and prayer, sang a pre-entrance song. Then, the incense led the way, preparing the path for the Word of God and the holy priest, who was clothed with rose (not pink!). The songs were perfect for today, and were sung even more so.

I love when they incense the alter, the pulpit, the congregation. The smoke rising and filling the space banishes all evil from even attempting to enter. This is a holy place. And there is just something about being incensed that just makes you be still and realize God is with us.

And the readings today! And the homily? It gushed with Truth. Have you ever listened to something and knew, without much analysis (although it could withstand, and be strengthened by it), deep within and honestly that this is Truth? That is what the homily was today. Pure truth. I love priests for many reasons, but one, no doubt, is for their homilies. He told the story of the human heart, and how it loves drama. How it finds it so hard to simply accept God’s love, but how that is what we need to do most. He spoke of the struggle to reach hope, truth, and love, and that it is a long and painful journey. He also put into words how that journey is so worth everything that it requires.

Afterwards we went into the crypt.

I love our Church.

On another note, I wanted to point out the "risen Jesus" that seems to hover in mid air above the alter. It is reminiscent of another church I had visited the last time I was in Mobile. Only this other statue was a crucifix. My friend, as we approached the church, warned me of the "superman Jesus", and it was disturbing. But this representation of Jesus made sense. If you look at the picture closer, there is a more traditional crucifix above the tabernacle. But as the eye moves upward, towards heaven, Jesus is resurrected, and has a glorified body. He also is no longer on the cross. Here it makes sense for him to be more like superman. Maybe the other churches in Mobile can take a few tips from the Cathedral.

Where heavenly music is made

The Wedding at Cana

The Annunciation

The conopeum

St. Patrick (very appropriate)

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Entrance to the crypt

The crypt

Past Bishops

I'm being silly

My mom at the cool staircase leading out/in

Friday, March 12, 2010

Three steps forward, one back

Recently, I’ve witnessed the cultures clashing in a more obvious way. People are talking more openly about these things, and that can only be a good thing. Many of my friends from high school are either mothers or are currently pregnant. One could look at it a few ways. One is that they are too young (and not married) to be having sex, and therefore having babies. Another is that it’s a huge success that young women are choosing to carry their baby and keep them. I like to focus more on the latter because the pregnancies are real, and going back is no longer an option for them.

A lot of women (my age or younger) that I know are having babies. What does this mean? In addition to what I’ve already stated above, it seems that, in the least, these individuals are recognizing the value of life. Having sex is one thing, getting pregnant and choosing to keep your baby is another. I view this as a huge up-swing in the pro-life movement. With the help of facebook, not only are these women sharing what a joy having a baby is (by posting pictures and statuses about them), but all their facebook friends are seeing that too. One can also gather from facebook how a women feels and thinks about her pregnancy and baby. Quoting from a profile, a friend from high school states, “I was a nineteen year old mama. Meaning, yes, I will be thirty-seven when my little [baby] graduates high school. You can't judge me. My baby has changed my life. He was unexpected, but he will never be a mistake.”

I believe only good can come from these and similar situations. People can no longer be told about the hardships of having a kid, and how it is awful and that it will ruin their life. Being told these lies no longer work, because they can see the truth. Another good can also come from these seemingly bad situations. If a girl gets pregnant, she is no longer alone. She has friends, has heard of people, probably knows others that have been exactly where she is. She will probably be less afraid to choose life, knowing that she can be supported (at least by advice and friends) better. Yes, I truly have hope for my generation and the pro-life movement.

Although great steps have been made, sadly I also see the evil mindset is still firmly in place. That same friend that I quoted is adamantly pro-choice, and many other friends see all the new babies as a mistake. But even this is interesting because the ones who have negative attitudes towards raising a child young recognize that is because they are selfish, or that kids that young don’t need to be having sex. Even here, I only see the situation improving.

But does the rest of society, and (debatably) more importantly legislature, match up with this new trend? Yes and no. I read this article, in which a bill headed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL were defeated by the Virginia House and Senate and their lame tactics exposed. In fact, the pro-abortion plan backfired on them. But I also learned from Father Zehnle that the Illinois FOCA has passed out of committee and will move on to the next step.

Which is better, to win the laws, or win the hearts? Ultimately the choice is up to the woman, so changing hearts is critical. However, the laws need to be changed to reflect those changes as well as help influence others to side with life. Let’s keep praying!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Days of Graditude-->One Thousand Gifts

holy experience

Let's try this again:

19. Sunny days

20. calculators, and knowledge of how to use them

21. a great night sleep

22. clean socks

23. a mother with a sense of humor

24. moments of reminiscing through embarrassing stories

25. Great roommates

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Discerning the Will

Foreword: This post relates mostly to ROTC and knowing if joining the military is God’s will. I have a friend (who isn’t Catholic but is a faith-filled Christian) who is struggling with staying in the program. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Me and discerning have always had a funny relationship. Most of the time, I don’t even have to formally discern. I start praying (or even just go about a regular day), and God interrupts by telling me exactly what He wants me to do. Honestly, I wish I could say that I then go and immediately do it and all is well, but, unfortunately, I can’t.

Instead I think “Really? Are you sure? You must mean someone else, because I can't do that.” But then God roars back at me, “You can because I say you can.” Well, what else can I say after that? I shut up and go off, and lo and behold, He gets me through.

I blame myself for this predicament (although it’s a very nice, in a heavenly way, kind of predicament). I know I have problems trusting God, so almost every day I pray that God will do whatever He wants with me. I ask Him to ignore my whining, and literally drag me, if need be, towards Him and to fully trusting Him. I know this isn’t the attitude we are supposed to have, but I have to start somewhere. And since doing this, God has taken full advantage of my offer.

I have no clue as to what I’m doing. God tells me everything. Looking at what has happened in my life thus far, I’m astounded. Looking forward to where all of this is leading me, I am in frightened awe. For all my fighting, and bad attitude and attempts at sabotage, I’m still here, on the same path He put me on. I’ve never seriously questioned God’s will, at least for this aspect of my life. God is making me trust Him. And I thank Him everyday for that.

So what do you do to help someone who doesn’t know where God wants them? Trying to give advice is almost impossible. For me, it doesn’t take much to be hit in the face with God’s plan. But I can’t say that to someone who isn’t experiencing the same thing.


What a journey of patience and trust! Maybe that is why God has to be so “in my face” all the time. I lack both.

So, any suggestions on giving advice about discerning? My friend has good intentions, which I think is a great start. I know prayer is huge, but on time sensitive decisions, is there anything else that can move the discernment process along? Any tips (or comments on how bad a person I am) is appreciated. Thank you for reading!