Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Didn't Choose St. Cecilia, She Chose Me

That's my statue of St. Cecilia sitting on top of our record player.

I like to think that I didn't choose St. Cecilia as my confirmation saint; that she chose me. While this may sound a little weird, I'd like to tell you why I think this... and, if you're new-ish to the blog, you may not know the full story. I did a "fun facts" edition last year but I'm really getting in depth this year.

See, I was confirmed on St. Cecilia's feast day (yes, it's my confirmation anniversary today as well; November 22, 1998)... at a parish named after St. Cecilia... when music was my favorite thing in the world. I wasn't confirmed properly either, so I didn't even choose a confirmation saint. Getting confused? Let me start from the beginning...

When I was 13 years old, my parents decided that I needed to go through the confirmation process. Because, at the time (don't know how it is now), I had to be 15 or older to start the process I wasn't old enough to get confirmed in the States. My parents (well, my dad) didn't want me to go through the process for two years like I did for my first communion so it was decided that I would go down to Tijuana to be confirmed. I fought them as best as I could as at that age. I wanted to wait until I was 15-16 to get confirmed with my friends; I wanted two those years of confirmation preparation. I had no say in it. I was driven back to Tijuana one weekend to get confirmed. I wasn't prepared. I didn't go to confession before getting confirmed. I was completely unprepared for it... but it happened anyway. If you're wondering how they were able to pull that off -- my mother's godmother had a brother who was a priest at a parish named after St. Cecilia in Tijuana. In Mexico they don't (or didn't, at the time) pick confirmation saints so I missed out on that as well. So I was confirmed (and I was unhappy about it at the time because they didn't let me do it the "right" way)... and I fell away from the Church shortly after that.

When I returned to the Church shortly after my 21st birthday, I became really sad about all the missed opportunities I had. I was poorly catechized (part of my first communion preparation was interrupted because the 1994 Northridge Earthquake struck and our classrooms, on the second floor, were damaged beyond repair) and I hadn't been confirmed properly. There's nothing I can do about it (I can't re-do it) but I decided to learn the basics: when I was confirmed, where, etc. My mother found the certificate and that's when I learned the details: confirmed at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Tijuana, Mexico on November 22rd, 1998. I looked up which saint had a feast day on the day... and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was St. Cecilia's feast day. I didn't know much about her so I looked her up: patroness of musicians. At the time, I was heavily involved in school chorus and talent shows (a bit hard to picture from this introvert, eh?) so it seemed perfect that St. Cecilia was connected to my confirmation during that period of my life... and to this day.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I've always loved dancing. If there was music playing, I'd be dancing even before I could stand. I did Mexican folkorico dancing in elementary school. I did the whole cheerleading/drill team thing up until high school. I learned most styles of dancing. To this day, I love dancing. When I was a little girl (under 5), I used to strum my mom's guitar and then run away laughing because I thought I would get in trouble for it. In fact, that's one of my oldest memories. I got a little accordion when I was about 5 years-old... and a harmonica soon followed. I learned piano basics when I was in elementary school. I started playing the guitar in my late teens. I'd been singing in school choirs from elementary school through junior high. I left regular public school in high school due to social anxiety or else I'm sure I would've continued through it. I haven't sung in public since I was about 14-15 years old (mostly because I ended up hating the spotlight; I like to be behind the scenes) but I still sing at home, in the car, and, of course, at Mass. I have music playing nearly 24/7. I've half-jokingly said that music was my first love because of how connected I am to it. Every song has a memory for me. There's a playlist to every major event in my life. Every important person in my life has a song (and memory) attached to them. It's only fitting that my patroness has been St. Cecilia.

When I started blogging, I used to only use "Emmy" (which, as most of you know, is not my actual name but a nickname; it was the name my mother wanted to give me before she was vetoed by my dad) as my pen name. When I learned about my St. Cecilia connection, I adopted the "Cecilia" to my pen name... and that's how "Emmy Cecilia" came to be. Even for my novels, my pen name is my given first name (Melissa) and Cecilia. Even know that people know my actual name from articles I've written under my actual name (which you can find links to on the right side, under the list of past blog posts), I'm going to continue using Emmy Cecilia (or, at the very least, Melissa Cecilia away from social media.)

So that is my story about how St. Cecilia chose me, not the other way around. Sorry it was really long and all of that but I really wanted to write it out, especially today. :D

Alright, I need to go head to confession soon so I should stop writing. :)

I hope y'all are having a wonderful weekend thus far. :D

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Nine

DAY NINE
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Thursday, November 20, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Eight

DAY EIGHT
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Seven

DAY SEVEN
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How I Said "Yes" to God This Week

I will admit, I did not know about this #GraceOfYesDay until the pre-dawn hours this morning. I've been so disconnected from Catholic social media (thanks for that, COMD program... more on that in a bit) that I had missed the memo. However, I'll tell you how I said "yes" to God this week. First, the background story.

As some of you (especially those following me on Twitter) know, it was decided that taking a permanent leave of absence from USU's Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education program was the best option for me. "Superwoman," as some of my friends jokingly call me, hit her "do not pass go; do not collect $200" limit last week. And the decision to leave wasn't done on impulse; it involved a lot of prayer over several weeks.

I had two exams last week, one for Statistics and another for Audiology. At this time, I have not received my Statistics exam score but I was pulling a B or B+ in the class so I'm not worried there. As for audiology, I failed. I spent days (all day on some days) studying. I was so focused on memorizing things and on watching lectures that my mom had to help make me lunch and/or dinner so that I would eat; I literally didn't have the time to make myself something to eat because of the amount of material covered on the exam. I took about 30 pages of handwritten notes. I made flash cards. I woke up early on exam day to go over the notes one last time. I went in confident that I was going to ace the exam... and came out of it earning a 58/98. It was the exam that I studied the hardest for and it was the lowest exam grade I had received on an audiology exam. With that failed exam, there wasn't a way I was going to pass the course with anything better than a C+; a course that was a prerequisite for other courses next semester. Later that day, I received news that a professor's TA (the same class in which the professor falsely accused me of plagiarizing a bibliography) had given me a 9/15 on an assignment I worked hard on; one that I turned in early. She claimed I hadn't submitted all the documentation necessary to complete the assignment when, in fact, I had. The grades stand in that professor's class (even when it's their mistake) so that would've given me a C+ in the class. It doesn't sound like failing except that USU has a "B- or better" policy in grades so I would have had to repeat the course. All of that would've put me back a couple of semesters which meant more loans and more stress on my health that I simply could not afford.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the stress of the courses has greatly affected my health. I haven't weighed myself in a week or so but I was underweight the last time I checked. The stress headaches I was getting when studying for exams were horrific. I wasn't sleeping or eating well. After working my tush off and trying to push myself beyond my limit, I couldn't overcome some of the obstacles thrown my way. The professor's accusatory episode aside, there were a number of other things thrown my way that I now look at as signs that this wasn't meant to be for me. Does this mean I regret taking this path? Not one minute.

I'm incredibly grateful for having had the experience. Thanks to my time in this program, I've been able to show myself that I am capable of so much than I had previously thought possible. While I had once thought that I wasn't capable of teaching in a classroom setting due to my anxiety, the observation/"hands on" hours working with children who are in need of speech therapy showed me that I could. The unfortunate episode with the professors also made me want to teach because it reminded me of how important teachers and professors are at all academic levels. Not only that, the program really made me learn to trust God. I placed everything in His hands in the past couple of weeks. "If you want me to continue down this path, please help me pass these exams. If I don't pass them, I'll know that you want me to go for my Theology M.A." Novenas, prayers from my mom and friends, lots of studying hours, and looking into Plan C (no, I didn't want to leave the program completely) and I still wasn't passing. That's when I knew that I had to say "yes" to God and trusting Him with my career path.

If you've been reading this blog throughout my SLP journey, you know that I initially took this path for financial stability. Yes, I would be helping people (which is what I've wanted to do since I was a child) but ultimately I just wanted to be able to help take care of household expenses. Freelance writing wasn't helping and there weren't (and still aren't) many jobs I could do with a Religious Studies B.A. I've wanted to work for/with/in the Church since my reversion. The passion and fire to help others discover the Truth has always been there... but the job market made me scared. It wasn't until I decided to leave everything in God's hands a few weeks ago that I realized that I wasn't trusting Him to help me find a job upon completion of the M.A. Fail, Emmy... massive fail.

I'm leaving my career path (just like I'm leaving my vocation) in God's hands. I will do His will if He helps me figure out what He wants me to do. I've felt at peace about leaving the SLP path and taking a leave of absence from USU since I received my exam score on Friday. Seriously, I felt amazingly at peace when I saw the test score and knew I wouldn't be continuing. I'm disappointed that something I worked hard towards won't result in anything but a good learning experience for me... but I'm relieved at the same time. I'll be de-stressing over the next couple of weeks (though still working on editing the novel sequel). I'm also incredibly excited about what He has in store for me. I've already sent in my applications to two (for now) wonderfully orthodox Catholic colleges/universities and I hope that I get accepted by one of them. If you can please say a prayer that I get accepted wherever God wants me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

For the tl;dr crowd: I have said "yes" to (what I feel is) God directing my path towards a Theology M.A. and, eventually, to sharing the Truth to the next generation(s) to the best of my abilities. The road is unknown and the job market for those with a Theology M.A. is scary at times but I'm choosing to follow His will (or at least what I think is His will for me) and not doing what will bring me selfish comfort.

And that's it for now. The St. Cecilia novena will continue to be posted until the 21st. I won't get a chance to post the links tomorrow but they're all scheduled to be posted at 8 a.m. PST regardless of whether I tweet/link it in the FB page or not. :D

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