Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Still Relevant Nearly 100 Years Later

Because I have not finished the Pier Giorgio Frassati: Letters to His Friends and Family book yet, I was going to review the Sanctity Within Reach: Pier Giorgio Frassati DVD/EWTN special today. However, I've already marked a number of quotes from Bl. PGF's letters to family and friends that I decided to share some from the first 150 pages I've read.

The reason why I wanted to share them before the book review (which I hope to have by Friday) was because the quotes read as if he'd written them this past week. With everything that's happened -- from the SCOTUS ruling to the terrorist attacks -- I found his words to not only be extremely relevant and prophetic but also very reassuring.

Anyway, without further ado, a couple of quotes that I underlined to share. They are written in chronological order and the two that are in bold font are the ones that really stuck out for me.

"But I hope that God may reopen the hard hearts of men who sow hatred..." - Letter to friend Maria Fischer, December 20, 1921 (page 71)

"We, who by the grace of God are Catholics, should not waste the most wonderful years of our life, as unfortunately do so many unhappy young people, who are preoccupied with enjoying the good life, which does not result in good, but which brings the fruit of immorality into our modern society..." - Letter to the members of the "Milites Mariae" Club, October 30, 1922 (page 98)

"Unfortunately when it is a question of climbing after worldly honors men trample upon their own consciences." - Letter to friend Antonio Villani, November 19, 1922 (page 101)

"... as far as I am concerned it's better to be alone, but with a clear conscience, than be together with all the others but with a huge stain on one's conscience." - Letter to friend Antonio Severi, December 4, 1922 (page 104)

"Modern society is drowning in the sorrows of human passions and it is distancing itself from every ideal of love and peace. Catholics, we and you, must bring the breath of goodness that can only spring from faith in Christ." - Letter to the Catholic men and women students of Bonn, January 12, 1923 (page 114)

"Because true happiness, young people, does not consist in the pleasures of the world and in earthly things, but in peace of conscience which we can have only if we are pure in heart and in mind." - Letter to members of "Catholic Youth" of Pollone, July 29, 1923 (page 129)

"The times which we are going through are difficult, because persecution against the Church rages as cruelly as ever. But you fearless and good young people, do not be afraid because of this small problem. Bear in mind the fact that the Church is a divine institution that cannot end and will endure until the end of the world, and 'the gates of hell will not prevail against her.'" - Letter to members of "Catholic Youth" of Pollone, July 29, 1923 (page 130)

Though these quotes may not seem like much, reading the entire letters from which the quotes come from make them more alive and even more relevant. That last quote, I think, is the one that we need to always remember. Yes, our faith is under constant attack (and has been for centuries... some times more intensely than others), but we must remember that the Church has survived through so much and it will continue to do so. Don't lose hope, everyone.

Anyway, the Japan vs England match just ended (Japan faces the U.S. in the Women's World Cup final; rematch time!) so I want to get off of the laptop and enjoy the rest of the book. I'll more than likely share more quotes from the book on the proper book review this weekend.

I will most likely do a review of the DVD I mentioned at the beginning of this post sometime tomorrow and do a couple of book reviews on Friday. I have no clue what I'll do for Bl. PGF's actual feast day. You'll just have to wait and see. ;)

As always, thanks and reading and God bless. :D

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bl. Pier Giorgio's Last Days Reminded Me Of My Dad

Do not use without permission.
Originally posted July 5, 2013

"I'm usually a fast reader. My Brother Pier Giorgio: His Last Days was supposed to be an easy read at only 120 pages. I should've finished it in less than 24 hours. How long did it take me? Four days. Why? Because I had to stop more often than anticipated. And why did I stop so often? Because it reminded me way too much of what I went through with my own father. The PTSD kicked in at times, leaving me feeling faint and anxious at times. I don't regret reading it and would gladly endure the PTSD symptoms if it was longer because I truly liked it.

First the quick book review: as I said before, I liked the book. I didn't enjoy reading about Bl. Pier Giorgio's suffering. I didn't enjoy reading about his family's sorrow. What I enjoyed was the intense love for God and our Blessed Mother that Bl. Pier Giorgio had until the end. I won't spoil anything for those of you who want to read it but I will say that I was deeply touched by Bl. Pier Giorgio's devotion and yearning for heaven, even into his last moments on earth. The book is written by his sister, Luciana, and it covers the last couple of days of his short life. She writes with such feeling and detail that I felt as if I personally experienced it with them. If you have yet to read it, I recommend that you do.

Now for the rest: the parallels between Bl. Pier Giorgio's and my father's last days... they hit close to home. If you haven't been a reader of this blog for long (or weren't a reader while I chronicled my father's last months), I'll provide links so you can catch up. Warning: I've been told tissues are necessary in some places.

I became an admirer of Bl. Pier Giorgio's before my father's last cancer diagnosis. When we heard that dad's cancer was terminal, I asked for Bl. Pier Giorgio's intercession. "Please let this be the miracle that you need to be canonized," I pleaded. "Please, help him stop suffering! Please!" I selfishly wanted my father to live. 4 years ago yesterday, I had a Mass dedicated to Bl. Pier Giorgio on his feast day. As you may read, I stayed behind and prayed for his intercession (along with intercessions of other saints for other prayer request I'd received). I went to visit my father after Mass. It was one of the last times he would be able to hold down his food and coffee... just like Bl. Pier Giorgio did. On Bl. PG's feast day, my father savored his favorite drink (coffee) just like Bl. PG did towards the end of his life (as per the book).

A few days later, and two days before his death, I wrote this post about how I was handling the news that my father had a week or so to live. Watching my father looking more and more thin every day (the cancer had spread to his liver and stomach at the end) was hard for me. Luciana, Bl. Pier Giorgio's sister, wrote a similar account with the same feelings I experienced about seeing Bl. PG deteriorate. It was hard but I prayed for a miracle, just like she, their family, and friends did for Bl. PG.

My father died, like Bl. Pier Giorgio, on a Saturday... exactly one week after Bl. PG's feast day. I didn't get the miracle I wanted but I did get the strength I needed to get through the funeral preparations and the funeral itself. A year later Bl. Pier Giorgio would intercede for me in a big way (which I will talk about in a bit). The book reminded me that life is short and precious, how we never know how or when we will go, and how we should try to live a life of the Beatitudes (like Bl. Pier Giorgio did). While my relationship with my father was similar to Bl. PG's with his father, I was reminded that my father died being proud of me as I know Bl. PG's father must have been of him when the word of his good deeds came to light.

Though my intercession plea to Bl. Pier Giorgio didn't happen (as it was not God's will for my father), he did come through for me a few months later when I applied to transfer to that horrid CINO college (seriously, I didn't know how bad it was before I attended). I received the news that I wouldn't need an enormous loan to pay for school. The year that my father died, I was supposed to enter the school with a $20,000+ (per year) loan. I withdrew and reapplied for the next year and received grants and scholarships. I ended up graduating with a small loan of $2,000 (total) for the two years I was there. Through his intercession I was able to graduate (from a $40,000 per school year college) with a savings of over $40,000 (I'm counting some interest there). Thank you for your intercession, Bl. Pier Giorgio!

Anyway, the whole point of this post is that I am incredibly grateful to Bl. Pier Giorgio for everything he's done for me. He (along with St. Therese) was my "heavenly buddy" during my imprisonment (haha!) at the CINO college, as he was before and continues to be to this day. While the book about his last days reminded me (in detail) about my father's last days, it also reminded me (through Luciana's words) that life goes on but that doesn't mean we forget those who have had a great impact on our lives. There is always time to fix any bad habits and strive for a more saintly life.

Okay, I am about two seconds from going into ugly crying face mode so I'm going to stop here. :) Oh! One last thing before I go: I will work hard to get that second miracle Bl. Pier Giorgio needs to become a saint... even if it means spreading the word of his life and his good deeds to people who have never heard of him. He will be declared a saint one day and I hope that it happens in my lifetime. :)"

And that's it for today.

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Week

I took this pic. Please do not use without permission.
If you don't already know that I'm a massive Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati fangirl, you're definitely new around here. lol. I have written about him a number of times over the past 6 or so years. He, along with St. Therese, was my go-to saint for the majority of my 20s and I know they will both remain with me into my 30s.

So, what does a fangirl do on the 90th anniversary of (one of) her favorite saint's (or, blessed in this case) death / unofficial feast day? Celebrate! No, it's not morbid. I'm not celebrating the fact that he died; I'm celebrating the fact that he existed and that, through him, God was able to give us a wonderful example of how it is possible to live a good, saintly life at a young age.

How am I going to celebrate? Read all the books!... or read the books I haven't read or finished, re-read the ones I have read, watch some of the DVDs I have on him, and then share reviews of them for y'all in case some of y'all aren't too familiar with him and/or want to know more about him.

Today is just an introduction post (the book and DVD reviews begin tomorrow) so here is a repost of one of the first blog posts I wrote about him when I was only 23 years old. Man, I just made myself feel old... lol.

Originally posted: November 25, 2008

"For the past week, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's name has constantly been on my mind. I don't remember how his name came up (I'd only heard it once before when they announced the patron saints for this year's World Youth Day) but I've had this inexplicable (pretty intense) desire to learn as much as I can about him and his life's work. It's similar to how I felt about St. Teresa of Avila almost a year ago.. Anyway, I have been researching... and I've come to find that the things he did during his short life are things that I did as a child, or that I've wanted to do. The main thing is giving to those less fortunate. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I have made a decision which will no doubt leave tension in the household.

Ever since I was a little girl, it has always pained (yes, pained) me to see homeless people. On one of our trips to Mexico, when I was about 11 years old, there was a woman asking for money. She looked at us eating and I felt so bad that I gave her my peanuts. Granted, it wasn't much but it was all I had. She was grateful for it... but, boy, did I get made fun of by my family (one person in particular). That's something I've had to deal with: either get made fun of for what I do or get a lecture, followed by the silent treatment, for trying to help. I spoke to my mom about this on Saturday night and I told her I was determined to donate... I know I'm probably going to get scolded at and there will be unpleasantness for a few days but I have to do this.

... So, instead of spoiling myself for the holidays (I do NOT need to spend more money on iTunes or amazon.com; nor do I need an iPod -- which I've never owned), I'm going to donate money and food. I will donate clothing, if I get the time to go through my stuff before the Christmas deadlines. I've always been afraid of the "consequences" that would come from doing this, mainly because it would be going against one of my parent's wishes and thus I'd be disobeying a parent, but I cannot consciously continue to be scared of what they will say/do. Now that I'm an adult (whoa, scary thought!), and have more resources, I'm going to follow Blessed Pier Giorgio's example and help those who are in need. Maybe that's why he's been on my mind so much lately. Honestly, I did not know much about him up until a week ago.

I'm very grateful that I have been able to learn a little bit about him. I haven't even scratched the surface yet. He's already inspired me to do more for others, as well as get the courage to do it. I mean, he did so much for so many people in his short 24 years on this earth, and shared the wealth he was born into... it's amazing. He's definitely someone to look up to. And to think he was only a little over a year older than I am now when he passed away, it's very sad. Sad, but he's up in Heaven and that makes me smile. :D..."

To this day, what a 23 year-old me wrote still remains true. The current 30 year-old me is pretty happy with my younger self. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati has inspired me to be less selfish and to do more for others. Sadly, the person I spoke of in that blog post is no longer with us but let's just say that I kept my promise and I donated despite the consequences, which I don't remember there being any because I think I was sneaky about it. *shrugs*

Anyway, keep your peepers open for the reviews and possibly more reposts (or snippets of blog posts). Who knows, I may revive the habit I used to have of sharing the Bl. PGF saint dreams I used to have... and still have on occasion. Saint dreams, that is; Bl. PGF hasn't made a dream appearance in a couple of months. ;)

I hope y'all had a great weekend!

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Progress Report

Just a quick "week one progress report" on the new game plan I talked about a week ago.

- I've cut back my time on Twitter exponentially. I think I average less than half an hour on non-match days. Like I said, I wasn't going to completely disappear from social media but people are definitely noticing that it's taking me longer to reply to messages. Deleting the bookmark from my browser and sending the apps to cyber Siberia have done me a world of good.

- My stress levels are down. I've avoided Twitter on some of the more emotionally charged days which means I've avoided stress. I still get a bit of what is happening on social media from two long-time friends (who I've known since my pre-reversion days) but they're not gloating or being overly obnoxious about it so we've been able to remain friends. lol.

- I do get bored more easily because I was so used to having my time wasted on social media where you can spend hours and have it seem like only minutes. However, I'm also getting better at filling my time with good, productive things, which leads me to...

- My productivity is up. The house has never been cleaner. My goals are slowly starting to move forward now that I don't have other junk taking up space in my mind. I've been able to cross off a number of things on my to-do list, some of which had been on the Wunderlist app for almost a year.

- I have yet to read Laudato Si' because I'm trying to tackle a number of things I've had on my to-do list for months (or years!). However, I'm disappointed in seeing some people who disagree saying that they're going to waste even more resources to show their disagreement. Let's just not. Please.

- The number of venial sins committed due to social media are down from last week when I had a trial run. This is good. Very, very good and my biggest goal. The way this is going, it's going to get easier for me to stay off of Twitter for prolonged periods after grad school begins in 3 months and 2 days... not that I'm counting. ;)

And, that's it. It's Sunday and I want to spend the majority of my day offline. I'm going to finish some research (all about lay orders) before logging off for the day.

I hope y'all are having a good Sunday and that y'all had a great weekend. I'm planning on blogging again tomorrow but don't quote me. We shall see. :D

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My New Spanish-Language Blog

I don't remember if the idea of writing a Spanish-language blog really stuck while praying the Rosary last night or if it stuck this morning after morning prayers but, after years (yes, years) of entertaining the idea of writing for fellow Spanish speakers, I've decided to go ahead and actually do it.

As I said, it's something I've wanted to do for years. Though I have Spanish-speaking friends on social media, most of what we link and talk about is in the English language. Not that that's bad; it isn't. I've just noticed that most of us Hispanic/Latino Catholics, especially Millennials, don't really have much out there. Sure, we have EWTN en Español and Catholic TV has Spanish-language Masses and programming. Websites like Catholic News Agency and Zenit have Spanish-language sites. Those are all wonderful... but I haven't really seen much in terms of blogs or anything of the link. It all seems very... formal. So I'm going to take the scary path of writing from a personal perspective.

I'll be honest, I feel much more comfortable writing and speaking in English than I do in Spanish. Though I was raised bilingual, I'm more used to English due to school and friends. I identify more with the American culture than I do the Mexican or Spanish cultures (my heritage) because I was born, raised, and am still stuck in Los Angeles. But that doesn't mean that I've neglected my Hispanic roots... especially that part that is intertwined with the Catholic faith.

The new blog will be called La Trayectoria de Una Escritora Católica. Roughly translated, it's called the path/trek of a Catholic writer. A toyed with the idea of calling it The Return to the Faith (El Regreso a la Fe) but I ultimately wanted it to be similar in name to this blog. The url has been acquired and I now have to figure out layout design and whatnot.

While the new blog will be similar to this one, the posts won't always be translations of the posts I write here... and vice versa. I've already come up with a couple of topics for that blog that I won't post on here. There are just a couple of things that don't translate well. My aim to reach Spanish-speaking Catholics of all ages, but especially Millennials because I believe that our age group is the one that is most apathetic to the faith these days.

If you're wondering about the language, I'm going to writing in "Mexican" Spanish... as in, I'm going to be using words most commonly used in Mexico since that's where my father was from and where my mom spent most of her formative years. It's the language I grew up using and still use to this day.

I think that covers most of the details. Oh! The first blog posts will go live on July 4th, 2015. I didn't choose that date because it's a holiday here in the States, but because it's the unofficial (or at least I think it's unofficial) feast day of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati whom will be the patron of the blog. I will explain why he's the patron of that blog on the first blog post. ;)

Okay, I think that covers it. I will link everyone who is interested in the new blog when it goes live. :D

Anyway, I think that's it for now. I need to go figure some things out (like layout, FB page... etc) so I should do that now that I actually have the free time to do so. :D

I hope y'all are doing great and are keeping cool if you're in one of the hottest parts of the country.

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