Monday, February 19, 2018

Becoming Benedictine

I've had Sara Bareilles' "I Choose You" stuck in my head for the past couple of days. As I drowsily wake up from whatever dream (or nightmare) I'm having, the chorus keeps repeating in my mind...

"Tell the world that we finally got it all right,
I choose you.
I will become yours and you will become mine,
I choose you..."

What does this song have to do with the blog title? Well, perhaps the fact that after years of going back and forth on third orders (it was a tie between lay Carmelites and third order Dominicans with the Dominicans edging them out in recent years), I've finally settled on a lay order that (seemingly) came out of nowhere.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've finally decided on becoming a Benedictine oblate.

"Wait, Benedictine?" you may be asking me. "Since when were they on the radar?" It's kind of a long story but I'll try to condense it for y'all.

When I first got the idea to look into third orders -- when I was sure I wasn't called to become a religious sister -- I looked at ALL the third/lay orders. I will admit that I dismissed the Benedictine oblates because they didn't seem to be a right fit for me. Even my spiritual director at that time thought I was a good fit for the Dominicans because of my academically-inclined mind and nature. My favorite saint (well, blessed), Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, was a lay Dominican. I loved St. Catherine of Siena. I had a fire to teach others about the faith and defend it, especially when I was an undergrad at my CINO (Catholic in name only) college. With one of my dearest friends discerning his vocation with the Discalced Carmelite Friars and so many of my friends leaning Carmelite -- as well as finding a kindred spirit in St. Therese of Lisieux -- I also considered the Carmelites as frontrunners. I think I kept going back and forth between these two orders because, as much as I loved the people associated with them and the orders themselves, neither felt like the right fit for me.

How did the Benedictines win me over? I believe it started with reading The Benedict Option by Rob Dreher last Lent. Yes, I know... I know. A controversial book, but I got my first real taste of Benedictine spiritually from it. After reading it, I was intrigued to learn more about the order so I read The Rule of Saint Benedict. All this happened last Lent. Little did I know that everything (and I mean everything) that began last Lent had planted the seeds for what I was going to go through for the rest of the year. I had no idea that it meant me also choosing to become a Benedictine oblate before this year's Lenten season began.

When I knew I was finished with school, my former spiritual director's words kept coming back to my mind, "Wait until you finish school to discern. Wait until you finish school to discern..." Then I met a lovely lady who talked about discerning with the Monks of Norcia and it all clicked for me... including the thought of discerning with them as well. There has always been something about them that has a struck a chord with me (those who have been reading this blog long enough may remember I even donated my entire royalty check (and then some) of the last novel sale of 2016 to their earthquake relief fund).

I'm lucky that they accept overseas oblates. It will mean a lot of hard work in the future because it will mean that I'll have to make a trip out to Italy once a year but I'm willing to do all the work to make it happen. (btw, if you do want to make a trip to visit them -- even if you aren't a discerning oblate -- there's one coming up this year). I've also looked into the local Benedictines (at St. Andrew's Abbey) but there's something in my heart that really wants my discernment to be with the Monks of Norcia. I've already contacted them and now I have to wait to see what happens.

If you're wondering if there was one specific thing that sold me on the Benedictines, the answer is "no." I took a lot of things into consideration: their spirituality, what was required of its oblates, the orthodoxy of the particular abbey, my strengths, my weaknesses, my temperament, what gifts God has given me, what I felt He has planted in my heart (which I have yet to share with the world), where I felt He was leading me to, etc. Most importantly, I didn't do it on a whim... which I tend to do when I get excited about things. I took the time to think about it, research it, pray about it, and make sure it felt like the path God was leading me down on.

And so my journey begins. I don't know where it'll end but I've felt both very excited and at peace about this decision for a while now. I can't wait to see what God store in store for me. :)

That's it for now. I'm still feeling weak and terrible (I've actually written this blog post in parts over the past 2-3 days.

I hope you all have a lovely week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lent 2018: Giving Up Everything, Giving Up Nothing

First off, congrats to the winners of the Magnificat Lenten companion apps: Lianna, Theresa, and Katie! There were some people who popped up as winners but they had cheated (they didn't do things they claimed to do), so they were automatically disqualified. Hey, Rafflecopter knows all!

I've been thinking about what I wanted to do for Lent for weeks. I went back and forth on the usual options -- giving up social media, extra expenses, adding acts of charity, giving up more screen time, etc -- because nothing was really sticking this year. Aside from my live tweeting during the figure skating competitions at the Winter Olympics, I don't really tweet much. I'm not as addicted to social media as I once was. We (Mom and I) are on a strict budget so not spending money we don't have wasn't hard. I don't really watch TV (again, except for the Olympics right now) and I tend to read more than I watch TV so, again, not hard for me.

I've been going through lately (so much that it's going to take a couple of blog posts to sort through in the near future -- some good, some not so good, some amazing and overdue) that I decided to give up everything... and give up nothing.

That doesn't make sense, does it? How can I give up everything while giving up nothing? Do I ever make sense? lol. Yes, I'm going to explain myself and my train of thought.

I'm not giving up anything as an individual. My mother and I decided to collectively give up miscellaneous spending for the sake of our financial health but, again, that's not a big problem because of our strict, tight budget. It will mean that meal planning will be involved (which isn't always easy for us since we both have stomach issues -- I inherited it from her -- which cause us to grab the first, easiest thing we can eat when we feel faint) which will save us money when it comes to grocery shopping, which is an essential. Beyond that, I'm not giving up anything in the usual sense.

I'm giving up everything in the sense that I'm giving up everything I once thought I knew. In my quest to completely abandon myself to God's will and His Divine Providence, I'm giving up more of myself. I'm giving up my fears. I'm giving up my doubts. I'm giving up my tangible certainties. I'm giving up the pride that comes with the knowledge I've accumulated in all my years of academic education and my medical experiences. I'm giving up on toxicity in my life. I'm giving up the negative. I'm basically giving up everything, interiorly and exteriorly, that will not matter at the end of my life.

I'm not giving up on my faith... my optimism... my hope... my love for God. I'm not giving up on treating my body with respect by taking care of it and nourishing it to the best of my abilities. I'm not giving up on my family and friends. I'm not giving up on my drive to do as much as I can for to make God known and loved. I'm not giving up on the things that will get me closer to God and to my ultimate destination of Heaven.

I'm giving up everything... that is harmful to my body and soul.

I'm giving up nothing... that will help me praise the Lord for eternity once my time here on earth is complete.

Does it make sense now? ;)

Anyway, I have a lot to share over this next couple of weeks so stay tuned to this blog. I would've blogged more over the last week but, you know, the chronic fatigue hits hard and now the chronic pain in my right shoulder makes writing difficult on other days. I will try to work through the pain and the fatigue (as I am right now) to write more often. :D

What are you all giving up (or adding) for Lent?

I hope you all have a good beginning of the season and that, if you're giving on social media for Lent and we're in contact through it, you let me know how we can stay in touch during this time. Let's all pray for each other!

That's it for now!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Magnificat Lenten Companion 2018 Giveaway!

Hello, everyone! I'm sorry for the delay in posting this giveaway but I've had a rough couple of days. I didn't even get to sorting through my emails until this morning -- three days worth of emails. Yikes! I've had a terrible right shoulder pain that has come and gone since early last month but it's been ever-present for the past 2 days. While my platelets have gotten better in less than 3 months (I'll share the latest in my illness adventure due), they're still below normal and I can't risk lowering them more by taking painkillers so I've been enduring the pain. It's spread up to my neck and all the way down to the tips of my fingers. Since I'm right-handed, I can't do much. Factor in fatigue and, well, you get it. I'm having a slightly better day today (still in pain, still fatigued, but less) so here I am, ready to give away a Magnificat Lenten Companion.

Can you believe Lent begins in a couple of days? I actually began thinking about what I wanted to do for Lent a couple of weeks ago before Christmastide ended actually. What can I say? I like to plan. I have yet to solidify my plans, including fasting because I cannot fast or abstain from meat with my restricted diet and food intolerances. I know I won't be giving up social media for Lent but perhaps I can do it on Fridays as a way to abstaining from something. If I can figure out how to get protein in a way that won't harm my health, I will do it. (side note: I have a dairy and egg allergy and, we suspect, also a fish allergy since it makes my mouth and throat itch on occasion so those options are out of the questions).

Anyway, the point of this post is to give away yet another Magnificat Lenten companion. This is only for the app, not the physical Lenten companion. For the last couple of years, Magnificat has been kind enough to send me two iOS app codes to give away for Lent and Advent. In previous years it's only been for iOS app but they've added two Android codes. That's FOUR Lenten companion apps to give away this year! Thanks, Magnificat! I've used this app previously and it's been really helpful to me, especially when I was really busy and couldn't find the time to devote more than a couple of minutes to prayer.

It's easy to enter. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions and you're set. I believe you can also tweet about the Lenten giveaway every day until the last day of the giveaway for extra entries. ;)

One important note: please let me know which app you're entering for -- iOS or Android -- so I know who will be drawn for which app. You can do this by leaving me a comment on any social media platform where you can reach me (Twitter, the blog's FB page, as a comment on this blog, etc).

The winners will be randomly chosen at midnight Eastern Time on February 13th. I will personally email the winners before I blog again.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I hope you all have a lovely rest of the week! :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hope Amidst the Pain

I've had a roller coaster week and a half. I had several really good chronic fatigue-free days... followed by three exhausting chronic fatigue-filled days. I'm currently on day 3 of the return of the dreaded CF and the first day I've felt physical aches from it in about a week and a half. I have a theory of why the fatigue returned and I'm going to see if I can change a couple of things to alleviate the symptoms.

When my chronic fatigue returned, I honestly felt really sad. I had nearly a week of feeling like my old, pre-chronic fatigue self... of feeling like I had put the fatigue behind me... of making plans of what I could do now that my energy had returned. I was grateful. I had hope. I felt it dashed away when I woke up with a terrible exhaustion.

I shared these words with friends on a (private) social media account the first day I woke up with an energy I hadn't felt for several months: "I felt like myself today -- the pre-chronic fatigue me. I only got 5 hours of sleep but I didn't feel fatigued. My body didn't ache. I got to drive around a bit to run quick errands and even helped clean the house. I'm so grateful for today that I'm on the verge of joyful tears. Even if tomorrow I have a fatigue relapse, I've had a couple of good days and I'm so grateful to God for them..."

I reminded myself of these words when I noticed that my bodily aches had returned. I missed Candlemas Mass and getting my candles (which I went out to buy late Thursday afternoon) because the fatigue had overwhelmed me completely yesterday. I could barely get out of bed and even prayed my morning prayers after noon because I just couldn't wake up any earlier. It was the first time in years I've missed it. Thinking about a possible relapse brought me down yesterday and again today... but God reminded me that there's hope in this pain.

Just like I had a couple of good days (which came on suddenly), there is hope that it will happen again. My body aches disappeared for a couple of days. I had energy. I felt like my normal, bubbly (no, really, people actually use that word when I'm not drained, lol) self. Who says it won't happen again... and for longer? Who says that God didn't just give me a taste of what I can look forward to just when I was feeling as my lowest and (I'll be honest) most useless?

I'm optimistic that everything I'm going through will only make me a stronger person. I've already learned to let go of my independent mentality and accept help. This has been hard for me because my parents brought me up to never accept help; to do everything myself. This has been a wonderful lesson in humility and has made some of my friendships stronger as my friends try to make sure I stay afloat during some of my worst physically and mentally draining days.

It's so easy for us to dwell on the crud that we're going through, to think that God isn't there with us when we're suffering. This is, of course, a lie. He's always there, even when we feel abandoned. It's something that my chronic fatigue makes harder on my usually optimistic self. The fatigue doesn't just drain me physically but emotionally and mentally as well. While I can usually see the beauty and the goodness in the pain and suffering, it's harder when the brain fog clouds my mind. Thankfully, I've seen that glimmer of hope and I will carry that with me as I prepare for Lent.

Anyway, I just wanted to share these thoughts. Perhaps I'll bookmark it to remind myself on some of the harder days that may come up again. It wouldn't hurt. :)

I hope y'all are having a lovely start to the weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why are Orthodox Catholic Radio Shows Disappearing?

Those of you who listen to Catholic radio -- particularly Relevant Radio (which merged with the now-defunct Immaculate Heart Radio) -- may know that a lot of great orthodox Catholic shows have been axed lately. Catholic Answers? Gone. Mother Miriam? Gone. The Terry and Jesse Show? Gone. I think they've pulled the plug on at least half a dozen great shows with no real explanation... at least not one that I've read/heard of. If they pull the plug on The Patrick Madrid Show, people will revolt, y'all.

I was happy to see that The Terry and Jesse Show started up again, through their app and podcast feed on iTunes. Their show doesn't sugarcoat things -- it brings Catholicism to you as it is. I appreciate that. I don't want anyone to sanitize the Faith so that I won't get offended. I'd rather hear someone talk about what the Church actually teaches than being coddled.

When I found out that Terry and Jesse were (and are!) planning on launching their own internet radio station that will bring back their own show as well as Catholic Answers, Mother Miriam, and new (to radio) Catholic voices, I reached out to Jesse and asked how I could help. He sent me this to share with everyone:

"Another Top-Rated Catholic Show Dropped by Relevant Radio - Yet They Will Not Be Silenced

LOS ANGELES CA - On January 4th, 2018 The Terry and Jesse Show received news that Relevant Radio will no longer be broadcasting their show; however, they want their listeners to know they will not be silenced and will continue broadcasting their live show on other networks and by other means.

The Terry and Jesse show, two on fire Catholic men, provided a high energy Catholicism one hour long live Call-in show Monday Through Friday, totally free of charge, for over 5 years on Immaculate Heart Radio.

Relevant Radio merged with the Immaculate Heart Radio (IHR) in 2017 and within months of the merger, they made the decision to drop some of Immaculate Heart Radio’s top shows, including Catholic Answers Life, Mother Miriam and now the Terry and Jesse Show.

For 11 years, Terry Barber,  founder of Saint Joseph Communications, Lighthouse Catholic Media and the Catholic Resource Center has been providing free programming for Immaculate Heart Radio. Barber was also very instrumental in helping IHR, now Relevant Radio, acquire their largest radio market in the country; the Los Angeles market which has a potential reach of 16 million listeners.

'We are obviously disappointed. We know that many of our listeners are also disappointed by the many emails and calls we are receiving.' Barber said. 'We are very grateful for all the support we have received and it also encourages us in our resolve to continue what we are doing, but only using other means of sharing our show with the world.'

On January 15th, 2018, The Terry and Jesse show will continue to broadcast live through their APP, available for Android and Apple devices, as well as on their website, podcasts and use other internet means.

'I have heard that people are already calling their local Catholic radio stations and asking them if they can carry our show. At least 10 independent radio stations have already contacted us wanting to broadcast our show.' Barber said. 'Our hope is that many other stations will do the same so we can continue to reach as many souls as possible for Christ.'

Despite this very difficult transition, both Terry and Jesse remain hopeful.  Barber says 'We have to remain hopeful. In this time we are surrendering to God’s permissive will. Thank You, Jesus! The heaviest pain in my heart right now comes at the thought of all those listeners who will be impacted. Just today, in the pile of support emails, I got an email from a mother who said her 13-year-old boy ‘loved your show’ and it gave him the courage to live his Catholic faith, despite that fact his friends are not. Two Catholic men as role models have been taken out of this little boy’s life. When so many teens are leaving the faith, this teen chooses to give his life to Christ, because of our show, and now it’s taken away from him. I can not tell you how much this breaks my heart. This is why we will not stop, even though we will face many challenges receive the support we need to keep our show going, we will not stop. One soul is worth it all. That’s what Jesus taught us,'

If you would like to keep listening to Terry and Jesse show you can use the following links.

WEBSITE: http://www.TerryAndJesse.com

APP: Download The Terry and Jesse at: http://www.TerryAndJesse.com/app
The Terry and Jesse show just launched their Live internet radio show on, January 15, 2018, at 11 am PST. If you are unable to listen to the show at that hour you could download the Terry and Jesse Show App so you may listen to the daily show at your convenience.

Here are the specifics:

The Show is now broadcasted in 3 places live:

1. Website: www.TerryAndJesse.com
2. Our App both Android and Apple. Download links on the website.
3. Terry and Jesse YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/.channel/.UC1B0LNO3Tk0kofJ4wCbVNvw

Thank you for the financial support and your prayerful support.

Let’s Keep Terry and Jesse on the airwaves!!!!

Thank you all for your support! God Love You!"

I'm just going to put this out there because I believe it's something we all need. I honestly felt the pull to reach out and get involved however I could... and y'all know I normally won't do that. I can't financially contribute to the launch of their radio station (some of you know the financial hardships my mother and I are under), but I can do this for them.

What isn't included in the press release is that their radio station is going to be on all 24 hours. Since Terry has a treasure trove of talks by Ven. Fulton Sheen, they play on airing them as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing and hearing what they have in store for us.

They're in no way, shape, or form paying me. I'm not getting free blog advertisement. I will in no way benefit from this, except maybe helping them in some small way. This is just something that I felt called to do for them so I'm posting this now.

You know what I don't like and that I've noticed? That we're seeing a lot of "dumbing down" of the Faith online. There are still news agencies that report things as they are, without bias, and/or are giving us good food for thoughts but it's declining. News agencies whose articles I was subscribed to are recycling their articles from years ago... or they haven't been reporting things as they once did. Others are sharing some secular articles that are more basic, common sense things that have nothing to do with the Faith. I'm sorry but that's not what I signed up for. Now that I'm seeing it filtering into Catholic radio, I have to ask, "Why?" Why are we seeing less of the Church's actual teachings being shared? Why do we fear offending people who need to hear the Truth?

I know I may alienate some readers by posting this and saying what I did but it's what I think and feel. The (potential) Dominican in me won't stand for what I've noticed lately and this is one of the few things I know I can do while I recuperate from my chronic fatigue.

Anyway, I just wanted to write and share this with y'all. I've been feeling a bit better lately so I hope to post more often in the upcoming days/weeks.

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D