Monday, September 28, 2009

A Dream, a Real Life Surprise, and Our Faith.

Today has been somewhere between a dream and reality. Of course it's reality but, boy... it seems like a dream. It all started with the dream I had on the 23rd of this month...

As I twittered a couple of days ago, the dream about my dad that was the most beautiful dream I've ever had about him. To sum up the dream as best as I can, without going into too much detail, I dreamt that dad had visited me and told me that he had gone up to heaven, from purgatory, "3 weeks ago" because of how much we all prayed for his soul. He was wearing this white suit and I think I even said something along the lines of "Oh snap, daddy" (which I used to say in real life when he was looking sharp or did something impressive). Then he told me a couple of other things, about how a couple of things were "already written", and that I shouldn't worry about anything. I told him that he had died too soon and that I still needed him (which is how I feel in real life), and he just nodded like he knew. I once again saw a burgundy book that I had seen in a previous dream about him. This book supposedly has a list of things my father will have to help me out with from heaven, sort of a "to-do" list to keep me safe. I didn't ask him anything about it, though. I asked him to please remove the anger my mom still felt toward him in real life and he said something that I understand from real life about why my mother was angry. He wasn't sad or angry though. Throughout the dream, he was very calm, relaxed, and happy. Then I said something along the lines of "So... do you know where I'm going to end up for university?" and he said "Uh-uh, I'm not telling you where you're going!" Then he told me the words that have stayed with me in my waking life...

He said that I would see him more often than my mother would, because I was more attuned to him... and that he would be with me wherever I went. I suddenly saw myself in a white dress with a bouquet of white calla lilies, walking down the aisle of my childhood parish and my father, dressed in a white suit, walking me down the aisle... only he wasn't really there. Then I heard him say "I'm going to walk you down the aisle on your wedding day, even though I physically won't be there." Then I saw myself in the delivery room, having my firstborn (a baby boy) and he said "I'm going to be there every step of the way. Whenever you need me, for every thing that you'll go through. I will always be with you." I woke up shortly after that.

This dream had been on my mind since I had it and it's made me want to go see dad more than usual. I've been wanting to visit dad for a while now but we couldn't for one reason or another. Finally, today we went and we received the biggest surprise that we would've never expected in a million years. As we got to where he was buried, I noticed two things: There were 3 graves instead of 2 and two of those graves had markers/plaques/stones (whatever you want to call them). As we got closer, mom bent down and started cleaning the grave marker that had dirt covering (obviously just placed before the buried someone besides it). She didn't know why but she just started cleaning it. As it got clearer I yelled "Mom, that's daddy's name!" I started getting choked up as she continued to clean it and we saw that, sure enough, it WAS my father's name with his birth year and this year. We both started bawling our eyes out as mom got the marker as clean as she could. I clutched my St. Jude medallion (which I wear on a chain) and my father's cap (which I was wearing) and I thanked God for what we were seeing.

I should mention that we didn't expect my father's grave to have a stone/marker on it because we still owed them about $5,000+ for it. (Burial at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery isn't cheap -- we're talking about $11,000+ for a basic one.) We thought it would take us a couple of years to pay it off (little by little) so of course we were shocked to find the marker there. The fact that the marker was there means that someone anonymously paid the $5,000 that were still due. We know it isn't anyone in the family because everyone we called was as shocked as we were... and, really, no one could afford it. Whoever it was, may God bless you for your generosity. There couldn't be a better gift than having my father's marker placed on his grave. In fact, I was planning on using the money from one of the cars we're trying to sell to pay for the marker. Now, well, I can use it to help mom pay rent and everything else.

As if that wasn't surprising enough, we also had a curious little experience with a white dove and two monarch butterflies. See, I was wearing one of my father's caps (which I have been wearing since he died) to shield the sun from my face. I don't like getting burnt, especially since I get freckles easily, so I like to wear it. Well, as I was going to ask mom what time it was (to leave on time to catch the next bus), two little monarch butterflies landed on the tip of the cap, right next to my right eye, and I asked mom to take them off because I didn't know what they were. When I took of the cap, I noticed a white dove flew down next to the wall that was nearby. Mom immediately said "That's the Holy Spirit... or your dad." She started talking to it and she said "If you're Martin (my father's name), come see your daughter." The dove walking towards us and stood by us for the rest of the time we were there. Mom said "See, it's your dad sending us a sign that he's here with us." I lost it and a new wave of tears overflowed from my eyes. She said that doves usually try to fly away, but this one didn't. In fact, when I knelt down to clean dad's marker a bit more, the dove got much closer. When we left, the dove walked to where we stood, right in front of the flowers we placed by daddy's grave, and just looked at the flowers before disappearing. I took two pictures, one of when it got near us, and the other of when we were about to leave and it got so close, I felt it was going to climb on me. Here they are:

From Daddy's Grave
From Daddy's Grave

Go ahead and click on them to make them bigger. I can't post the picture of my father's grave marker here because a) I prefer to keep my last name anonymous and b) we're not allowed to take pictures at the cemetery anyway (hence why the dove pictures were taken by my camera phone) so, sorry. But still, man, oh man, I can't even begin to describe how I feel.

All of this has just made our faith even greater than it already was. My mom actually forgave my father for everything he did to her (I won't get into that) the second we saw the grave marker and the white dove. It was almost like the request I had asked my father in my dream (the one I wrote about earlier in the blog), about helping mom forgive him, had come true. I think this is just what mom needed to help her with her faith which had begun to slowly fade once again. God is great and what we experienced today is just further proof of His grace!

Alright, well, I think that's about it for now. I have a lot to do tonight and it's getting later and later in the day. Ack! I hope everyone had a great weekend... OH WAIT! It's Monday... which means I need to post music. Hmm... how about one of my favorite versions of "Amazing Grace"? It's by this great musician named Jadon Lavik.

Okay, now I'm getting off and enjoying the rest of this amazing day. :) Thank you for reading and, as always, God Bless. :D

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Transfer Application Tango and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.

It's the time of the year when high school seniors and transfer students are doing the transfer application tango. Of course it's not called that but I like to call it that. Don't ask me why, I just do. lol. Anyway, as some of you (who have read this blog for over a year) know, I went through this process last year. Unfortunately, plans change (when do they not?) and I must go through this again. The good news is that I'm a lot more prepared than I was last year. I'm basically done with all my core requirements and have even got all but one or two of the lower division requirements completed. One of those requirements that I need I'm currently taking (Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- or, as I call it, Phil. of Monotheistic Religions) so I'll be free to take my Creative Writing lower division requirement (last one I need) next semester. "But wait, aren't you just majoring in Religious Studies?" you may ask. Well, no. I'm technically double majoring in Religious Studies AND Creative Writing. If I end up at one of school I'm applying to in L.A. I'll be able to do both without much trouble. If I end up at my dream school (yes, I decided to apply despite protests and guilt trips from my mother)), I'll have to either focus on one of those OR opt to merge them together and major in Religion, Literature, and the Arts. Yes, that's the official title of it. I have a lot of options, which I'm really excited about.

I'm also excited that I dropped my Biological Psychology course. Had I mentioned that before? I don't remember. Anyway, I had to drop it. I had begun getting chest pains (and scary ones at that) because the class really stressed me out. The professor was kind of nutty so I decided to take it next semester with another professor. It all works out because I needed two more courses to be considered a full time student next semester and now I have one less to worry about. Of course I ask for saints intercessions when it gets tough but this was one class I just couldn't handle because of the professor's unrealistic expectations.

I ask St. Joseph of Cupertino whenever I am nervous about an exam (which has been twice so far) and I've done very well. St. Thomas Aquinas also gets props because I ask him to intercede for me when I'm at a loss for words in my Philosophy course. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is going to be my transfer application patron saint. Why did I choose him? Because a) the way he lived his life inspires me to become a better person, b) he was my age when he went up to heaven, and c) he never got to finish his degree. In fact, he was just about to finish his degree to become a mining engineer when he contracted poliomyelitis and passed away. Since it's taken me this long to finish my own degree (due to illness and taking care of my father for all those years), I thought it was appropriate to ask for his intercession during this process. I'm not going to ask that, through his intercession, I get into my dream school. That would entirely too selfish of me. I'm going to pray that I get into the school that I will learn the most from; where I will be able to help others better. Of course, I want to go to my dream university but if it's not where the Lord wants me, then I won't go there. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm leaving it all up to God. May I go and do according to His will, not mine.

You know what? Since I wrote that blog about enjoying being single and giving my heart to God for safe keeping, things have gotten much better. Everything is falling into place. I am less worried about a lot of things. I've been able to enjoy my friendships (with both my girlfriends and guy friends) a lot better. I can see some of my friendships coming to an end, and I'm sad about that, but I can also see why it would be for the best. Leaving it all up to God, yet trying to live my life as best as I can and never giving up on my dreams, is something I should've done a long time ago. *content sigh*

Alright, that's it for now. I'm going to go take a test for my Interpersonal Communication class... two weeks early. Yes, it's not due for another 2 weeks but if I can get it done today I can read the two chapters on Judaism assigned for my Philosophy course. It's all review for me since I've taken similar courses but I still love any excuse I can get to read the Old Testament and then see how various textbooks (authors, really) interpret it. :D And now I'm stalling. lol.

I hope everyone had a great week and weekend. Fingers crossed that I can make it Mass later today (if I feel well enough to walk two miles two and from the nearest parish). As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D

P.S. The book reviews on the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati books are coming soon. Seriously. Just let me get through the next couple of days (up to Wednesday, max) of class lectures so I can focus solely on the reviews.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Infant Jesus of Prague, The 9 Hour Novena and I.

I'm sitting here, at the desktop computer, hoping that I can make it through the day much better than I did yesterday and on Thursday. I've been so sick, I've spent the last couple of days. On Thursday I was worried I would end up in the emergency room because I felt like I was going to faint for a couple of hours. I even got to a point where I couldn't walk. I have no idea why or what caused it but I will try to see a doctor soon just to make sure all is well. Anyway, while going through all of that, and being home alone, I got really stressed because I honestly thought my mom would come home to find me passed away. I decided to do something I only reserve for these types of situations: I did the 9 hour novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague.

If you have done it, you know how great it is. It has never, not once, failed me in what I ask. If you haven't and if you're ever in a situation where you need a prayer answered quickly, you should try it. Here's the prayer in case you don't have it:

This prayer is recited at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours in one day.

O Jesus, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you." Through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Jesus, You have said, "All that you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant you." Through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your Name that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Jesus, you have said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My word shall not pass." Through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.
(Make your request)

I think I might need to say it again today because I feel so horrible. I was in so much pain yesterday... if I wasn't sleeping, I was crying over the pain. Today, little pain but I feel so weak and fatigued, it's not even funny. I feel like I have a fever though I don't. It's horrible. I'll wait until Monday to go to the student health center at my school because they see me sooner, and often do a better job, than at my regular doctor's. I have to make an appt. 2-3 MONTHS in advance to see my regular doctor. If I want to be seen sooner, they'll send me to the E.R. which can take anywhere between 8-17 hours for something that might not even be serious. I HOPE it's not serious and that I don't end up in the E.R. I don't want to worry me poor, overworked mom. It was painful to see her so tired, and half asleep, and worried about me last night. I feel worse about worrying her than I do about being sick. As I do sometimes, I will ask the Infant Jesus of Prague to give me strength to endure this thing, whatever it is, until I can be seen by a doctor... if not help me figure out what's wrong so I can try to get better.

I should go lay down a little while, not feeling all too great :(, so I'll leave y'all with a link to Pope Benedict XVI's address (during his trip to the Czech Republic), on the Infant Jesus of Prague and the beauty of Childhood (via Rorate Caeli).

I'll come back with a blog as soon as I feel better. Fingers crossed I feel well enough to go to confessions today and Mass tomorrow. I hate missing both. :( Maybe I should have more childlike confidence that everything will be better because, if it's the Lord's will, I WILL get better. You know, like when you scraped your knee as a little kid and you were certain that it would get better as soon as your mom kissed it? Like that. :) I'll keep y'all updated via twitter if anything big comes up.

Until then, thanks for the prayers and for reading. God Bless!

Friday, September 18, 2009

St. Joseph of Cupertino is Awesome (Prayer Included)!

I didn't even plan to write my first blog back from my hiatus (I am free from homeworkland!) on St. Joseph of Cupertino's feast day but it all happened that way. I think it's entirely appropriate because thanks to him, and Joe of Verbum Veritatis, I was able to test out of that dreadful math course I was taking. For those of you who are from outside the U.S. and Canada and are wondering why the heck I'm taking a math course when I'm specifically studying Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Literature... well, to put it simply, it's part of our lower division requirements. We're all supposed to get a general education which involves subjects like math, science, speech, etc. Math and science, which are my least favorite subjects, are the last things on my list to be able to transfer elsewhere and to move onto upper division courses in which I will focus on my major. I don't mind science too much, and the Biological Psychology course isn't that bad - though I could do without their trying to get me to support stem cell research (not gonna happen, buddy!) - but math... *shudders*. Since it has been years since I last took a math course, I was stuck in an algebra class. The first two weeks of school I sat there and yawned the entire 2.5 hours I was stuck there. I kept telling myself "Hey, I know this stuff... why do I have to suffer through this again?" Luckily, thanks to the intercession of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph of Cupertino, the head of the assessment center allowed me to take the exam to see if I could test out of math. This was very difficult, and had actually attempted to do the same thing last year but they wouldn't let me, so the fact that I was given the opportunity was a miracle. They very rarely bend the rules like this for anyone.

As soon as I found out I has a chance to take the test, I took action. I was already on the first day of my twitter-facebook hiatus so I knew I would have time to study. I had forgotten a lot of the things I learned in high school so I called Joe and asked him to tutor me. (It helps when you have fellow Catholic friends who are majoring in Math. lol.) We set up a time and place (btw, Joe is awesome for driving an hour out to where I live!) and he helped me remember things I had forgotten. After nearly 3 hours of going over algebra equations (oy!) I was confident that I would do well on the test the next day. The next day comes and I completely blanked on everything again. Even up to an hour before I went in to take the test, I could not remember anything. I asked St. Joseph of Cupertino, who is the patron saint of exam takers, to please help me out. All I wanted was to test out of that dreadful algebra class and move onto Statistics next semester. My mom actually asked St. Joseph of Cupertino the same thing while I was taking the test, and you know a mother's prayer/blessing is worth a lot. :D As the test went on, I started remembering everything I'd gone over with Joe the day before... and memories of HS teachers writing things on the board a decade earlier. An hour and a half after starting the test, I got the final result: I not only passed, I was only 2-3 questions away from testing straight out of it. Having to take a semester of math (a class I didn't take in high school) is way better than the entire school year plus the Winter break of math. I was so happy, I yelled "Thank you, God!" in the assessment center, making the student workers laugh. I specifically asked St. Joseph of Cupertino to at least get me into the class I needed to be done with the math requirement next semester... and I did. See? He will totally help you out if you ask him to help you on your exam. Of course, don't expect him to help you ask for his intercession only because you are too lazy to study. Prayer and studying is the magic combo. :)

And, in case you need the prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino for your exams, here it is (and be sure to tell others of this prayer when he intercedes for you):

O St. Joseph of Cupertino who by your prayer obtained from God to be asked at your examination, the only preposition you knew. Grant that I may like you succeed in the (here mention the name of Examination eg. History paper I ) examination.
In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.
O St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for me
O Holy Ghost enlighten me
Our Lady of Good Studies pray for me
Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of divine wisdom, enlighten me.

Now I am free to not study math again until October when I'll be taking an 8 week course to help me strengthen my math a little more so I can kick tush in Stats next semester. Yay! Now all I will have to do is worry about Biological Psychology, Philosophy of Monotheistic Religions, and Interpersonal Communication. Bio Psych is the only one that makes me procrastinate but it's not that bad. :) To be quite honest, I'm more worried about how often my fellow classmates use the Lord's name in vain and how horrible the wardrobe choices other female classmates make than I am about my classes. I will write more about that hopefully tomorrow. *sigh* 15 Units (did I mention that I'm also taking a career planning course over the weekend for fun?)... this is my record and I hope to make it out alive at the end of the semester. lol. :D

I think I'm going to go look into the application process for Oxford right after this. Yes, THAT Oxford University, in England. It's a long shot (I have a better chance of striking it rich) but it won't hurt to apply. A former English/British Literature professor encouraged me to apply so I am going to. Wish me luck! :) Alright, that's all for now. I am going to go look at the international students requirements before my big brother (the one closest to me in age) comes over to check up on me. I wonder what the odds are of him not teasing me this time. Probably slim to none. lol.

I hope everyone had a great week! As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost Back -- Update

I'm just checking in so no one worries. All is fine -- just swamped with homework. Isn't this typical the first couple of weeks? I will officially be back tomorrow (on twitter and Facebook as well) with a new blog post. I'm sorry it's taken me 2 weeks to write anything new but school's been crazy and I'm still trying to get used to my new schedule. I plan on being done with most, if not, all of my tests and homework tonight so I can focus on writing new blogs tomorrow and for the next couple of days. :D There is A LOT I want to write about thanks to all the news we've been getting via the Vatican.

Oh, and -- exciting news -- I was able to test out the math class I was taking so no more worries about that! Whoo! I'll write more about that -- and about St. Joseph of Cupertino is awesome! -- tomorrow. :D

Now, back to the world of Biological Psychology. :D Hope you're all doing well.

God bless,

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Vocation Discernment Hasn't Been Easy

I think my prayers, along with the prayers of those who wanted to help me figure out what I was going through earlier in the week (the vocation thoughts) were answered. I also want to thank Kerri, Joe of Verbum Veritatis, and Claire of Musings of a Twentysomething for letting me talk about what was going on in my head. It was a big help. (P.S. Joe is also going through his discernment process, though for the priesthood (whoo!) so please pray for him as well.) As some of my friends noticed, I was not myself during this time.

As I said in the past couple of posts, the whole thing had really done a number in my head and had begun to disrupt my prayer life. I was upset about the whole thing, though I'd always been very accepting of what God wanted my vocation to be. I've knelt in from of the Tabernacle several times and told God that I'd do whatever he wanted me to do... and meant it. Every time I've done it, I've been sure that my vocation had been that of a wife and mother. I felt it in my heart that it was what I was meant to be. The thought that it was really the single life and that I'd been deceiving myself was what really upset me. Luckily though, I'm no longer upset over it... and not only because I'm once again sure that I'm meant to be married.

So how did the single vocation thought go away? It actually happened while writing my last blog. I wrote "It literally just dawned on me that all these thoughts and doubts could've just been put into my head because the enemy wants me to abandon my prayer life and wants me to be angry at something I love so dearly." Once I wrote that and really thought about it, I felt a huge wave of relief... like I'd just stumbled unto the answer I'd been looking for. That's not to say that it was a relief because I'd get my selfish wish of picking what vocation I most wanted, but because it explained why I'd gotten all this anger out of nowhere and at Church, after confessions, of all places... and why there was something that wanted me to get mad at God (which, luckily, I didn't.) Not only that, I became REALLY happy. It was like "HA! God, you've helped me figure it out! Thank you for giving me the strength to not do something stupid like blame You for this." This was actually what I talked to my friends about. I'd been so confused; I wasn't acting or sounding like myself and it was all just so frustrating. It was honestly unlike anything I'd ever felt before. The outcome of this is peace in my heart and an even stronger passion for prayer and for devoting myself to God.

A twitter friend brought up something about what I'd written about my vocation discernment. I'll repeat some of the same things I said to her here. My vocation discernment isn't something I've done on a whim. It's not "go with your gut instinct" or "do what you want most." I've spent years doing it; praying about what my discernment might be and doing what I believe God wants me to do. I've talked to Fr. Leo and Fr. Stan about this. Actually Fr. Leo, and later on Fr. Stan, helped me realized that I wasn't meant out for the religious vocation, though I actually really wanted to be a sister/nun. When I was a little girl, as young as 5-6 years old, I would say that I wanted to be a nun when I grew up. It all appealed to me. I had even gotten into an argument with my mother about a year and a half ago regard it. I'd told her that if it was what God wanted, I would do it; that I was sorry that she disliked the vocation for me but that I'd do what I was meant to do.

My vocation discernment journey hasn't been easy. I've been thrown a lot of obstacles on the way. The realization that I was meant to be a wife and mommy someday came to me very slowly. If you'd asked me a few years ago, even as recent as 4-5 years ago, I would've told you that I didn't want kids. I've always loved kids but I didn't want any of my own. (side note: This was all prior to me returning to the Church.) I didn't want kids and I'd tell my friends that they'd be crazy if they thought I would want more than 1 if someday I did. I had other plans for my life: I wanted to be a wedding planner, eventually marry, and that was it. There were no plans to have children. Once I returned to the Church and started learning about Catholicism all over again, and really exploring my religion in a way I hadn't before I'd "left", it all changed for me. At the time, I still didn't think I would be a mom and the religious life was something I wanted. I fell in love with the faith and with my newfound prayer life. Nothing appealed more to me than to completely devote myself to God. I talked to Fr. Leo first and he suggested I wait to make up my mind; to pray about it. So I did... and slowly I began to realize what my vocation truly was while I began to get very excited about the prospect of being a mother someday. I prayed about it, many times in front of the Tabernacle and/or in Church, and I just knew that this was what God wanted me to do. I accepted it and I had been on this path ever since. And for the record, I'm not saying it'll be like this for everyone. The process is completely different for everyone. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, some people know their vocations at an earlier age than others. For some it's easier than others. The important thing is to never be upset with God and to never cease praying.

As I wrote a couple of entries ago, I recently decided to slightly modify what I would do with my life while I waited to get married and start a family and I couldn't be happier with this decision. It's already changed who I am, for the better, and I think my friends could see it by just looking at me. I have this huge smile that I can't wipe off my face. I do silly dances more often than not. I thank God for everything, including the whole single vocation curve ball I endured for a couple of days. I now have slightly more "selfish" plans for myself. My more longterm goals are to finish my degree. More immediate plans include starting a little "garden" I can keep within the confines of my apartment and doing things, like taking dance classes, for myself. I also want to learn how to make more dishes since my mother has declared that she hates cooking and baking. Luckily, I love cooking so I won't mind. Who knows, I might even attempt to become a chef some day; the sky's the limit when it comes to my dreams and plans. :D Of course, I will try to do everything with God in mind. Cooking and baking classes? I could put those skills to use by making food for the homeless. The dance class? I could help out an elementary school's after school program to keep kids off the streets by volunteering to teach dance. My garden? I could grow flowers and give them to patients at hospitals who don't get visitors. That's what makes me so happy about all of this; I'm doing things I love AND finding ways to help others. Thank you, Lord, for helping me with this. I give Him all credit for this happiness I feel. :D

Alright, well, I think that's about it for now. I've written too much again... as usual. Sorry. lol. I'm going to go tango dance for a little while (VERY little since I'm now running late.) Is it possible to tango in a classy way that's not provocative? That's what I'm about to find out. :D

I hope everyone had a great week. Once again, thank you so much for your prayers for me. God certainly listened. And, please, never hesitate to ask me to pray for you. I'd be more than happy to do it. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.