Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just One More Day...

Just one more day of updates... for a while, at least. Tomorrow I am back on track with my assignments. I really needed those three days I lost this week. As a result, I kicked tush on all my exams except History. I got a 5/10 (50%) because I always leave this class last since everything else is due earlier. I am revising my game plan this week, trying to finish my Creative Writing homework on Mondays since it's my easiest class. I am not going to let this one bad grade ruin things for me; I'm just going to take it as a lesson.

Normal Catholic related posts will resume tomorrow (did I already say that?) I have a lot to post; articles upon articles. I also had a VERY interesting week with sedevacantists that I would love to share. I will not trash talk anyone, I will just say exactly what I went through this week. Here's a teaser: I am apparently a heretic for acknowledging that Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope. If you're on my Facebook friends list, you already saw this but not my thoughts on it.

Alright, I have to get up in like 6 hours so I should try to catch some zzzz's. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

XT3 Lent Calendar

Still no normal entry from me because, though I am feeling slightly better than yesterday, I have homework to catch up on... again. Oy. lol. This time it was the side effects that have kept me in bed the last couple of days... and only a portion of the time was due to my own procrastination. lol.

Anyway, I just wanted to let y'all know about the XT3 Lent calendar that has been helping me (and, I'm sure, many others) stay a bit more focused this Lent. I have been more active on the site since many of my friends have given up twitter and/or Facebook but not XT3. Gotta love those Catholic social sites which only help enrich your faith while staying connected with friends. :D By the way, feel free to add me... if you can find me. ;)

And that's tonight's post. Seriously. I have Art Appreciation, World History, and Humanities to tackle (though not all at once) before tomorrow night. Thank goodness I am fairly certain at least half of it will be done by the time I go to bed tonight. :D

Hope y'all are having a great weekend. :D

Until next time, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Posting Break

Until I feel better, I will be taking a break from posting. The tetanus vaccine side effects have kicked in (23 hours after I got it) and all I want to do is sleep so I don't feel the pain. It feels like I have the flu but I'd been warned it was a possible side effect to the shot. I just hope it doesn't get worse or last too long -- especially since I have quizzes and assignments due tomorrow.

Anyway, I'll check in when I can. hope everyone has a great weekend.

- Enmy Cecilia

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ouch! Update.

No big entry tonight since the soreness from the tetanus shot has begun. Yes, I got my tetanus shot today... which I was not expecting. I went in for the check up (which went great; thyroid lymph node hasn't grown AND I am back to my normal weight) and came out with the shot. Boo. lol. Well, I had to get it sooner or later because it was required at all schools I'm applying to transfer next semester. I have heard horror stories about the tetanus shots (everything from severe allergic reactions to feeling like you have a bad flu) which is making me nervous. Thanks a lot, guys! Way to scare the girl with the anxiety disorder. lol. I am trying to staying calm, though, 'cause I apparently have never had a reaction with this shot before... and I know that if I do get a reaction, it won't last too long. Yeah... *whimpers*

No horror story comments, please. I'm already nervous as it is. See? Not easy living with anxiety... even if you're pretty rational. :)

Alright, I hope to update y'all tomorrow. :D

Thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Illness, Suffering, and St. Gemma Galgani

Wasn't St. Gemma Galgani absolutely gorgeous? If you didn't know that this is an authentic picture of her, you do now. ;)

I will be the first to admit that I don't actually know much about St. Gemma Galgani though I've had a very strong urge to learn more about her since the first time I knew her name. I still don't know as much as I'd like but I am going to make her my first saint during Lent. What I mean about that is that I will learn as much as I can about her until St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography makes it into my hands (she was my planned first saint during Lent.) I think it's entirely appropriate that I focus on learning as much as I can from St. Gemma because of what I've been going through lately.

It seems like my health is going downhill again, and I pray that it's just the anxiety symptoms playing tricks on my mind. I've always hated going to the doctor's but ever since I started spending a lot of my time in and out of emergencies rooms (starting around summer 2006), I've loathed it even more. I always seem to dread it even more when I'm actually feeling sick... mostly because I'm scared to find out what's wrong with me. Tomorrow's doctor appointment will be one of those days where I wish it was just a routine check-up... and I'm honestly nervous.

Ever since my father was diagnosed with cancer the first time (summer 2002), I've been VERY nervous when I go in for my appointments or test results. Before, not so much. I was a healthy child and wasn't at the doctor's often, but as I got older and the anxiety appeared, it's gotten worse. I've had three big scares in the past 2-3 years in which I needed a thyroid biopsy (for enlarged lymph node), an echo cardiogram (to check my heart), and an ultra sound to make sure that a bump found was not a tumor. Luckily, all have turned out well -- the lymph node was benign and thyroid levels were normal, my heart is healthy and has a great structure, and news of a no big deal cyst that washed away fears of early breast cancer. Last month when I went to the emergency room for an allergic reaction, the doctor said she felt like my lymph node had enlarged and that I should ask my regular physician to have a look at it. I'd been given the "okay" not to get it checked out until next (this) year but they might have to check again because a lot of things have been "off" with me since the end of December.

I hope the lymph node hasn't enlarged or gotten worse, though thyroid problems could explain some of my symptoms. I hope that all the symptoms I've been experiencing lately (everything from really bad nausea and bad hot flashes to rapid heartbeats and the feeling like I can't breathe, etc.) are all anxiety related. A good friend of mine said that it may be that all the stress and anxiety that came with my dad's death might've finally caught up with me, physically, because I had little to no symptoms most of last year. I hope she is right.

My anxiety HAS been worse lately, too. Like I said, I feel like I can't breathe... and it gets really scary sometimes. I had a particularly bad experience yesterday while I was going all over L.A. trying to get my final grade transcripts sent from various campuses/schools. I was just sitting on the bus and then I couldn't breathe. I felt a sort of crushing pressure in my chest... I couldn't catch my breath... I just wanted to bolt out of the bus and cry. That's how bad anxiety is, and it wasn't my worst attack. Panic attacks hard to explain because they always feel worse than how they can be described. All I kept thinking is "God, I am putting myself in your hands at this moment. I won't lament whatever happens to me... just take care of my mom."

I think that that's why I'm most scared that something is wrong with me -- because of mom. I don't want her to have to suffer along with me, and I know seeing the anxiety attack me lately has starting taking a toll on her. As much as I say that it's all up to God and that His will won't be fought (at least I won't fight it), the possibility of something being wrong with me still wigs me out. If I am sick (and it isn't anxiety related), will I have the strength to endure it? If it's just anxiety, I will sigh a huge sigh of relief because I've been stressed for the past two months (when these symptoms appeared).

As I think about everything I just wrote, I have two major thoughts that kind to mind. First, I keep thinking about the time I was called a victim soul. Though (when I say I'm sick I usually mean that it's anxiety/panic related) everyone seems to think I'm always sick (physically), I don't think I am. I do know that I deal with a lot of things that aren't too common, but I still can't see myself as a victim soul. I have accepted that I will suffer from anxiety for as long as I have to, but I don't look at it was a curse. As I've always said, I was look at these experiences as blessings from God because it's when I feel nearest to Him. A quote from St. Gemma that I found on this site has stuck out for me... especially when I think about my appointment tomorrow and the possible news I could get.

“I am happy in every way that Jesus wills, and if Jesus wants the sacrifice of my life, I give it to Him at once. If He wants anything else, I am ready. One thing alone is enough for me; to be his victim, in order to atone for my innumerable sins, and if possible, for those of the whole world.” - St. Gemma Galgani

I will keep St. Gemma and her words in my mind as I wait for the doctor to see me because I agree with her. I say the same thing, only I think I may be more selfish because I ask God to help me whenever I'm really sick and I feel like I can no longer endure it.

The second thought is one that my friend (and former Ethics course classmate) Elizabeth said when she visited me last week when I was having a really bad sick day (anxiety, pain, and other symptoms). She said that whoever God sends me (for our vocation of marriage) is going to have to be a strong man because of what I go through. She's right. I am not saying that I will always be sick (I haven't always been), but I do get what she meant. I haven't had an easy life (but, really, who has?) and I'm going to need someone who is strong and secure to deal with someone like me. There is a reason I say this, but it will have to wait until tomorrow's entry. :)

I think I've written quite a bit tonight so I am going to stop. I still have a list of all the symptoms I've experienced so I can help my doctor narrow down the possible causes. I am lucky I have a good doctor who will tell me to things thoroughly, especially when she knows it'll ease my anxiety. I will remain optimistic (hoping and praying everything is either anxiety related or not too bad), but I am ready for whatever God has in store for me. :D Whatever the outcome, I will make sure to pick up something on St. Gemma Galgani when I go to either St. Peter's Pier or Pauline Books and Media later this week (if they have anything on her).

For those of you who are checking this blog daily (even though I have not been announcing the new entries up on twitter), thank you! And thank you for your prayers for mom. Hopefully we can all help alleviate some of her depression. :)

'Til next time, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prayer Request

Hey everyone. Sorry no entry tonight. I just wanted to post a quick prayer request. With my parents wedding anniversary coming up (it would've been their 27th wedding anniversary), as well as my father's would be 67th birthday, my mom's becoming more depressed and withdrawn from everything and everyone. She didn't even go to work today because of her depression, and that itself is a bad sign because she very rarely misses (even when she's sick). If y'all can please pray for her, I would greatly appreciate it. I feel helpless watching her go through this and I know it's only going to get worse.

Anyway, that's it for today. I'm drained - physically and emotionally - and sleep is looking really good right now. I will try to post something more substantial tomorrow.

Thanks in advance for your prayers!

God bless!
- Emmy

Posted through iPod touch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Music Monday: World Youth Day Theme Song

I finished two quizzes, an assignment, and now I'm getting my financial aid stuff all worked out. Mondays are hectic for me. Tomorrow I will be at 3 different campuses in less than 5 hours (seriously), so I am getting everything ready for that. As I said yesterday, no real entry until tomorrow when I can finally breathe... you know, after I drive around L.A., trying to get my transcripts sent to the school I am hoping will accept me for next Fall. Which school that is -- no comment until I know that I am for sure attending it. Anyway, I haven't forgotten today's entry (though it's very late -- 11:33 p.m. PST). I decided to re-vive Music Mondays and thoughts today would be the perfect day.

I chose the theme song, "Receive the Power" by Guy Sebastian and Paulini, from 2008's World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia because it brings wonderful memories to me. Though I personally couldn't attend (due to my anxiety which was still really bad at the time), I watched all the coverage EWTN offered... which was a lot. This song always brought tears to me eyes (and it still does) because of the message it brings to us.

By the way, did you know that you can find the songs to the most recent World Youth Days on XT3? If not, now you do. ;) You can find them here.

Alright, without further ado: the music video for "Receive the Power."

Isn't it a beautiful song? :D I can't wait to hear what the song will be for the next World Youth Day in Madrid (just a year away!) By the way, don't think that because I posted the song, I am telling you guys that the new WYD theme song is about to be released. I don't have that kind of intel. If it comes out soon, it'll be a coincidence. Got it? lol. :D

Alright, I need to get back to filling up these forms before midnight comes around... because that's when a lot of the school websites do their maintenance. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Real Post Tonight; Saints Quiz

Yes, I am posting about there being no real entry tonight. lol. Sorry. I just finished my History homework and quiz... with 5 minutes to spare. I have a feeling I will be in a similar situation tomorrow as I have just barely caught up with my homework... and tomorrow is the final round of tests and whatnot before the new cycle starts Tuesday. I expect it to be less chaotic from Tuesday on.

Anyway, here's a fun little quiz I found that I think many of you will enjoy. Have fun. :)

Saints Quiz: Which One Are You?

My answer:
"Your saint is Maximilian Kolbe.

Maximilian Kolbe
Feast day: August 14
Canonized in 1982
Maximilian Kolbe is the patron saint of drug addicts.

As a young Franciscan, Maximilian Kolbe conceived of himself as a “knight” of Mary. He saw his mission as fighting at her side to reverse the dark tides that were engulfing the world. Maximilian was a communications genius, founding a widely circulated magazine and his City of the Immaculate, a state-of-the-art media complex with a printing press, a radio station, a college and an airfield. Kolbe suffered from chronic tuberculosis, which slowed him down, but never stopped him.

Kolbe was an outspoken critic of the Nazis. So in 1939, they turned the City of the Immaculate into a concentration camp and arrested him. His spirit never flagged during the months before his death at Auschwitz, and he gave other prisoners hope.

God’s justice will prevail, and all will plainly see it, so there is no reason to despair.
—Maximilian Kolbe

Other saints whose stories may interest you: Jacob Gapp, Margaret Clitherow, Teresa of Calcutta

This quiz has been taken 7797 times. Your personality type matches 8.77% of the people who have taken this quiz."

I like it! :D Which saint did you get? Let me know. :D Alright, off to bed I go!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila and My Creative Writing Assignment

Because I don't have much to write today, mainly because I'm on a time crunch due to a professor pushing up the due date from next Monday to tonight, I am sharing a homework assignment. Luckily, it is something Catholic related because, as I said, my goal this Lent was to focus on Catholic literature.

For my Creative Writing class, we had to take a poem, song, short story, play, etc. and change its genre; the theme for this week was genres. I took the opportunity to infuse my faith with my assignment. Yes, I am shameless but I don't care. lol. Anyway, I am sharing what I wrote, and it's word for word what I submitted.

I took an excerpt from the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (Catholic nun and writer), which can be considered as a non-fictional autobiography. I turned it into a fictionalized drama.


“I went to great extremes in my vain anxiety about this, though I took not the slightest trouble about what I must do to live a truly honourable life. All that I was seriously concerned about was that I should not be lost altogether. My father and sister were very sorry about this friendship of mine and often reproved me for it. But, as they could not prevent my friend from coming over to the house, their efforts were of no avail, for when it came to doing anything wrong I was very clever. I am sometimes astonished at the harm which can be caused by bad company; if I had not experienced it I could not believe it. This is especially so when one is young, for it is then that the evil done is greatest. I wish parents would be warned by me and consider this very carefully. The result of my intercourse with this woman was to change me so much that I lost nearly all my soul‘s natural inclination to virtue, and was greatly influenced by her, and by another person who indulged in the same pastimes.” (The Life of Teresa of Jesus by Teresa of Avila)

My Version:

“I went to great extremes in my vain anxiety about this, though I took not the slightest trouble about what I must do to live a truly honorable life,” she explained to me as she took the seat next to mine.

There was a sadness in her eyes that had not faded over the years. I did not say anything, for fear of being disrespectful. I mean, how many times do you get to talk to a real life saint? Instead I kept listening.

“All that I was seriously concerned about was that I should not be lost altogether.“ She looked intently at me to see if I was still listening to her. I nodded, encouraging her to go on.

“My father and sister were very sorry about this friendship of mine and often reproved me for it. But, as they could not prevent my friend from coming over to the house, their efforts were of no avail, for when it came to doing anything wrong I was very clever.”

As she took a break to drink from the glass of water I had placed in front of her, my mind wandered off to a distant memory. Did she know that I had had a similar experience? Was this a lesson God was teach me through St. Teresa?

“I am sometimes astonished at the harm which can be caused by bad company; if I had not experienced it I could not believe it,” she continued as I snapped out of my own thoughts.

“This is especially so when one is young, for it is then that the evil done is greatest. I wish parents would be warned by me and consider this very carefully. The result of my intercourse with this woman was to change me so much that I lost nearly all my soul‘s natural inclination to virtue, and was greatly influenced by her, and by another person who indulged in the same pastimes.”

“Is that what’s happening to me?” I asked more afraid of the answer than anything else at that moment. “The friendship I have are keeping me from being good?”

She did not answer me. The classical music station that was set to turn on when my alarm went off did just that.

My eyes flew open, taking in the bright sunlight that was flooding into my room. It had just been a dream, though it was more real and relative than anything I could ever imagine myself.

And there you have it. The professor said she wasn't going to criticize what we wrote so... yeah. If she does, I don't care. I will not back down from my beliefs... or my want of sharing those beliefs. Hey, when I say I'm sticking to something (like no Twitter - ugh, so hard!) then I do it. :D

Anyway, I am off to take a break (I've been sitting at the kitchen table for hours now) before I have to focus on my other classes.

Oh, by the way, I finished in time to go see Fr. Stan Fortuna perform at Catholic Underground but, unfortunately, my Humanities professor thought it would be fun to make us miss our Saturday night plans by making us attend an online class discussion. I will have to talk to him about that, and about how it's unfair that I could lose points on Saturday evenings/nights because he decides to hold "class discussions" on these days. I am NOT missing Sr. Tracey Dugas (and the rest of the Daughters of St. Paul)'s Discernment 101 session (second session) next Saturday because of this. I have Masses and important things to do than to sit home and discuss what I've already done and understood that week. /semi-rant. lol.

Okay, now I'm off to take a tea and cookies break before my online meeting in half an hour. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

P.S./Edit: nevermind, the discussions on Saturdays are optional for extra credit. Great... I find this out too late. Oh well. :(

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homework; Fr. Stan Fortuna at Catholic Underground

No long post tonight since I am in a homework nightmare. Try as I might, I cannot focus on my readings thus I can't finish this darn homework or take the quizzes. This also means that I am very unlikely to go see Fr. Stan Fortuna at Catholic Underground L.A. tomorrow night. Since almost everything is due tomorrow night, it's going to take a miracle for me to finish on time. *sigh*

Anyway, just stopped by to let y'all know about Fr. Stan's gig at Catholic Underground tomorrow night. Starts at 8 p.m., if I'm not mistaken. Hope those of you who get to go have a great time. :D

Back to the beating my poor brain is getting. *groan* By the way, any tips y'all can give me are greatly appreciated. I have tried listening to music but it hasn't helped. Being completely silent will only drive me bonkers. I can't go out in the rain (and with my pain it's impossible) so any outdoor related tips are out. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beginning Lent Sick; Just Call Me Catherine Morland.

Photo: Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland in ITV's version of Northanger Abbey (which I will talk about.)

I hope everyone has had a good start to Lent. As I wrote yesterday, I spent most of the day yesterday sleeping. I just couldn't stay awake. I was only up for about 6 hours yesterday night/early this morning before I slept another 8 hours. I also took another hour and a half nap today. I've never ever been this fatigued before. I've also been experiencing other things (like random chest pains) that I've never had before. It's kind of scary but I usually tell myself it's probably anxiety related since it's been getting worse lately. I don't know what's going on with me, but I am very happy that I have a doctor's appointment next week. I am worried about one thing -- that the benign lymph node I have has grown or gotten worse and that it's messing up my thyroid.

When I was in the emergency room last month, the doctor said she felt it was a bit big and that I should get it checked out. I wasn't supposed to get it checked again until May-June but I am going to ask my doctor to check just to make sure it's nothing. For all I know, not knowing whether it's my thyroid or if it's still part of the mourning process which I am still going through.

Believe it or not, I am still coping with my father's death. I'm just starting to come out of this really horrible depression that hit me for a couple of weeks. I no longer wanted to do anything, I lost interest in a lot of things I loved, and I would cry way too easily. I've always been pretty sensitive but the amount of crying I was doing was getting ridiculous. My mom went through the same, but a few weeks before I did. 7 months after dad's death, we're still dealing with it and I know we will continue to deal with it for a while longer. That's what I'm hoping is the cause for my anxiety because I don't have any other explanation at the moment. Of course my anxiety could be a number of things that might subconsciously scare me. Recently I've been feeling like I'm finally growing up (in a way)... and that might be freaking me out, even though I don't think it is.

I will be the first to acknowledge that I have grown up very protected from the world (a bit sheltered, if you will). If there were any problems within the family, I didn't find out about them until it was way over. If there were any financial problems, I never knew about them. My parents never cursed in front of me, nor did they argue in front of me. I didn't really know about problems in the outside world until I went out and experienced them (or heard about them) myself. Perhaps that's why friends say I am an "eternal optimist", because I still believe that everything will eventually work out for the best.

Recently someone close to me commented about how "innocent" I still was, despite being nearly 25 years old. I didn't notice how that seems to be the general consensus amongst those closest to me until I became very aware of why they thought this. See, I've been going to the movies a lot lately (which I love doing when I have the time and resources). During some sex scenes (or scenes where the couple is getting intimate but they don't actually show anything), I turn away from the screen and occupy myself with my cell phone or something until it's over. I've had this habit since I was a child and it's continued as an adult. My guy friends have a field day when I do this. I get teased mercilessly, which is why I think they secret enjoy going to the movies with me. lol. In fact, if there's kissing in a scene, they will put their hands over my eyes... which I will slap away if it's not a big deal. The best explanation I can offer to this is that, despite the fact that I know it's acting, I feel intrusive on a couple's intimate moment... and if that intimate moment is graphic, adulterous, and/or lustful I just refuse to watch it because it offends me. Apparently, by doing this, I am showing how innocent I am. I mean, there are other obvious reasons why they call me what they do (a little petunia) but I don't know. I didn't think this was a bad thing.

I mean, I can see how a little innocence at my age can be a bad thing. If any of you have read Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey and/or know about the heroine in the book, Catherine Morland, than you pretty much know what my problem is. (And, side note, this is the reason why I've been so into this novel lately... Henry Tilney being the other reason. ;D) Unfortunately, as I've said in previous posts, that innocence (or naiveté) has made me a very easy target for people. I've become more aware of it lately. As I've written before, I get why people say I'm too nice. I don't speak up sometimes because I hate drama... or I go along with something to avoid conflict. I've been trying to be more assertive lately... and it's hard. It's a lot harder than I thought it was. I'm always very worried that I will hurt someone's feelings if I say I don't want to do something, unless I know it's something stupid and something that would not be worth repeating to a priest in the confessional. Fr. Brian has told me to be more assertive and it's actually going to be my penance during Lent. (See how I tied that in? ;D) I am going to speak up more and not worry about the other person's reaction as much, especially if I feel good about speaking up. It's quite possibly the hardest thing I'm going to have to do because it goes against my people-pleaser nature and my "I probably deserved that" mentality.

In short, just call me Catherine Morland. I am about to reach the end of my real life version of the novel (sans my own Henry Tilney, le sigh; I will have to be patient with that one), which means I have to continue to grow. My new saying is coming from a Ben Kweller song called "Walk on Me" -- "If I was in your shoes, I wouldn't walk all over you, so please don't walk all over me." I might just have to quote that to people from now on because it's still saying it in a nice way but you get the message across more bluntly. This is going to be one interesting Lent.

Alright, I have to go work on my homework for the week since I've lost a couple of days -- I'm a little behind the second week into the semester. *palmface* I have many quizzes and discussion threads... and assignments... and essays... to work on. I will continue to try to post at least one little thing every day during Lent (like I did yesterday).

Oh, btw, a friend is letting me borrow a first edition copy of St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography so that will be my first book during Lent. Yay! :D

Okay, enough stalling now. I am going to dive into the wonderful worlds of Art Appreciation, Creative Writing, Humanities and History (which will both focus on the beginning of civilizations). :D

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Posting Blip

Of course I would spend Lent sick in bed. *sigh* I slept 17 hours (though not the complete 17 hours) today. I have never been been this fatigued before. At least there has not been any pain. I also fasted (in a way) because of the sleep. Hey, maybe this is God's way of making me fast without the hypoglycemia. It's what I wanted to do but was upset I couldn't. Anyway, I will try posting something longer tomorrow... God willing.

I hope everyone had a great Ash Wednesday!

See y'all soon. :D
- Emmy Cecilia

P.S. No picture or fancy signature because I'm writing and posting this from my iPod touch. :D

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Fat Tuesday; Lent Plans.

Doesn't my first attempt at vegan pancakes look pretty successful, especially since I winged it when it came to the recipe? Since I am allergic to dairy and eggs, I have to improvise many dishes that contain these ingredients. I used almond milk as a substitute for regular milk (you can also use soy or rice milk; I am not a fan of either) and applesauce to replace the eggs. The pancakes came out really good and fluffy so I was a happy camper. Since I forgot to get some maple syrup, I used honey... which was still so good. :) If anyone wants to try them, let me know. Though I winged it, I still have exact details on how many cups of this and tablespoons of that to use. :)

Well... Happy Fat Tuesday everyone! I know some of my friends from England and Ireland call it Shrove Tuesday, which I occasionally call it too just because it sounds nicer than Fat Tuesday, lol. I have made pancakes for the family today. I have been blessed with the gift of being able to make dishes from scratch and have them coming out quite edible. lol. I know the secular world is treating today as a gluttonous "holiday" in which they can eat and drink whatever they want because they want, but they don't know what the actual day is all about. If you're not sure where Mardi Gras' roots come from, you can read about it here.

I am not stuffing myself today because a) my impressive eating habits are out of whack at the moment and b) I don't fast during Lent. Now, before you begin to lecture me about how fasting is part of the season, let me explain why I don't, or can't, fast. There are two main reasons why I never go more than a couple of hours without eating... 1) hunger actually worsens the anxiety symptoms and 2) I have inherited my mother's hypoglycemia type illness. If I don't eat at least a small meal every four hours, well... let's just say it's not pretty. You don't want to see a shaking, cold sweating, lightheaded, really weak, nearly fainted me. I've freaked people out before when I've attempted to fast; I get really sick. I will be limiting the amounts of red meat I eat, though, and eating more chicken and tuna. I need some sort of poultry or fish (at the minimum). I can't go with only vegetables, breads, and liquids. I've tried it before. I don't like not fasting along with everyone but the Church excuses me because of my underlying medical restrictions.

"Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline."

If you want to learn more about fasting during Lent, visit this page on EWTN.

Almost everyone I know is giving up something for Lent. Last year I limited my Facebook time. The year before that I gave up football (soccer) matches because they took a lot of my free time. No, really, they did. This year I am giving up my biggest "free time" consumer... Twitter. I'm a social person (online at least; I can't say the same for in person conversations, lol) so it'll be really hard to give up. With all the free time I will have from not tweeting, I will be reading more Catholic literature. Because I will go cuckoo bananas without social interaction (and because many of the friends I used to go out with have moved away from Southern California), I will be keeping touch with everyone via Gmail (and thus Google Buzz) and Facebook.

Oh, and, I'm also giving up non-Catholic literature as well. (side note: books I need to read for my classes are the exception to that.) I am putting Jane Austen on hold and brushing up on theology and saints' biographies. I will also be writing less of my novel (which is fine 'cause I'm practically done anyway) and spending more time blogging. Have you noticed that since I've put the extra effort to finish the novel, I've neglected this blog a bit? Sorry about that. I have a goal for the Lenten season, and it's to write one blog per day. See, I've noticed that the more I blog, the more I keep my focus on my faith. Whenever I have to write about something related to our Catholic faith, I like to research what I don't know (or know little about) so that I can make a good post. And in doing this, I also focus less on myself and my wants. I want to focus on the Lord and on everything Christ did for our salvation during this season. I am also going to think long and hard about the venial sins I commit (bad habits that won't die without a fight) and see what I can do to prevent them from happening.

In a nutshell, I am determined to do things properly this year... as if my mom who's still reverting back to the Church. She's also missing the Latin Masses (which she grew up going to) but I will save that story for a future post. :D

I should get going. I have to add people to Facebook and remind everyone that it will be easiest to get a hold of me through it and through email (which is catholicnerdwriter [at] gmail [dot] com). I also have to figure out what I'm doing tomorrow. I am definitely watching the Mass on EWTN (10:30 a.m EST, 7:30 a.m. PST) because I love watching Pope Benedict XVI giving Masses. :D

I hope everyone isn't too stuffed by now. ;)

As always, thanks for ready and God Bless!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quick Update

I am alive. I am well (in the sense that I am still relatively sane and not physically sick) but life and school have caught up with me. Expect a longer post soon; once I get a couple things in order (which I hope will get done tomorrow morning) so I can focus on writing for this blog. I'm giving up Twitter for Lent so I am giving y'all a heads up in case you check my blog more often than Twitter. I have a lot to write... so much I think I will blog once a day during Lent. The reason for that goal will be explained hopefully tomorrow. :D

Alright, back to finishing my plan of attack on this semester's coursework (four crazy but fun courses) before bed. :)

See y'all soon. :D

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dr. Paul Camarata Interview

Photo of Dr. Paul Camarata taken from his twitter. Happy February everyone! Can you believe it's already the second month of the year? Crazy. Anyway, as a treat, I finally have the interview with Dr. Paul Camarata, who does the SaintCast podcast. For a brief bio/commentary, please read my previous blog post here. Sorry it's taken some time. Busy schedules on both our ends happened but, hey, good things come to those who wait. lol.


First of all, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I was excited to be able to pick you as the speaker because, as someone who loves learn about saints, I've found your podcast (The Saint Cast) very helpful. My first question is, what inspired you to start the podcast?

When Pope John Paul II died in April of 2005, something 'touched' my soul. I don't know if it was the soul of JP II, the Holy Spirit, or what, but I experienced a 'mini-conversion,' so to speak. My wife and I had our marriage blessed by him in 1986, when we got to sit with the newlyweds in St. Peter's Square during a general papal audience on our honeymoon. I had the blessing of being able to see him several times on trips to Italy with my wife and eldest daughter, so I had a special place in my heart for this courageous man.

I was a cradle Catholic, always very faithful. But in the days after his death, I instantly deepened my prayer life, and began devouring anything I could get my hands, eyes, and ears on from a Catholic media perspective. I found podcasts and stumbled upon several great Catholic podcasts. I began reading more and more lives of the saints. I suddenly realized why the Church hold these people out for us to admire, learn about, and emulate. In a previous career, I was a broadcaster, and I thought this would be a great way to merge the two interests. That's how the SaintCast was born.

You are very knowledgeable on all things saints, way more than me and I'm a saints geek (often called a walking encyclopedia on saints). Was there a particular saint or experience that made you want to learn as much as you could about the saints? Any special devotions to a particular saint or saints?

Well, I've always been interested in the saints. I was raised a cradle Catholic, and lived in a small town in western Kansas where our parish community was staffed by the Capuchin Franciscans. They were an integral part of our parish family life, and my folks were good friends with many of the Capuchin community. So I knew a lot about the life of St. Francis as a youngster, and attending high school with the Capuchins, and being a part of their formation program in high school, I learned more about him and the Franciscan ideal. My high school was called Thomas More Prep, and so I learned a great deal about the great St. Thomas More. I have been to the places where both of these men spent most of their lives - Chelsea and London, England, and Assisi. I have always had a special devotion to these two holy men, and Padre Pio, as well. I've read a number of biographical works about Padre Pio, and have held him up as a model of outstanding Christian prayer life. The more we learn about the saints, the more the yearning to try and become one.

I spent time in Italy in college, speak Italian, and have been back a number of times. There are many saints and saintly places in Italy, and I've tried to take my kids, one at a time, on a tour of some of the saintly places in that great country, when they each complete 8th grade.

You are a great example of a faith Catholic, with a hectic schedule, who still manages to put his faith and family first. That seems to be a rarity in today's society. What's your secret? Any special devotions (such as the Rosary) that you do while "on the go"?

No secret really. I wish I had more time in the day to devote to prayer and family. I don't seem to need as much sleep as many people, so I often do some of this while others are sleeping. I don't pray enough, but I'm trying. I try and pray the Liturgy of the Hours when I can - at least Morning/Evening/ and Night prayer, many times using the PrayStation Portable podcast from SQPN while driving to and from work. I love to read especially the 2nd reading from the Office of the Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. It's usually a reading from a Pope or one of the Saints or Church Fathers, and often has great advice and topics on which to meditate. I think it's kind of a hidden gem, and easily overlooked as it's probably one of the least of the hours prayed by the laity. I've got a bunch of prayers bookmarked on my iPhone- wow, some great Apps there. Maybe I can address that below.

Anyway, I never can seem to get enough prayer in. I'm lucky to get 30-45 minutes a day. I try to steal away during the day to the hospital chapel between surgical cases. It's really tough in today's world to find that much silence in a day - but I think it's really essential. I mean Padre Pio sometimes said over 30 complete Rosaries a day. It's no wonder he had visions and knew the will of God for him!

You often mention your family in your podcast. We often hear about Catholic moms and how they bring up their children. As a Catholic dad, how important has it been to you to helped your children grow in their faith?

It's a bit tough, because I don't get near as much 'face time' with the kids as my wife. I am blessed with a truly saintly wife. She gives so selflessly of herself expecting absolutely nothing in return, and getting essentially no thanks or appreciation. My children's growth in their faith is almost entirely due to her influence. That being said, I try to help them in their faith journey when I can. We talk often, essentially daily, about the saint of the day, and how they practiced their faith and lived lives of Christian virtue. I've been blessed to be able to send them to Catholic schools for their entire education. My father died when I was 14, and at the time I was the oldest of 6 children. I think it left a huge hole in the lives of my siblings, especially the girls in the family. I've tried, therefore, to be as big a part of their lives as I can, being involved in Catholic scouting, coaching basketball and baseball teams, and staying involved in their school work and activities. I firmly believe that both girls and boys need the constant presence of mothers and fathers for their spiritual and emotional growth.

Lastly, is there any advice you'd like to give to the blog readers (some of who are as young as 15 years old; most of whom are in their early 20s to early 30s) on how to keep the faith alive despite having a busy life?

One word... Prayer. I find that when my life gets too busy, when I neglect my prayer life, it's too easy to succumb to temptations, and to stray from the Christian ideal. Taking time out to talk to God, to listen to God and his plan for your life, and to always ask that your life is in tune with His will for you. Pick out a short reading or prayer then take some time to meditate on it. Find a time and a place for prayer... in total silence. It's increasingly harder and harder these days to find it... get up early, stay up late, or steal away during the lunch hour. But dedicate a fixed amount of time every day and it will do wonders to keep your faith alive!

One last thing. believe it or not, my iPhone really helps me in my daily prayer life and devotions. For those with iPhones and iPod touches (and I'm sure there are comparable Apps for other mobile devices)... there are some really cool Apps out there. My favorites...

iPieta, an App with not only the entire Bible in English, Latin, and English-Latin side by side, but also the entire Old and New Catholic Liturgical Calendar, literally hundreds of prayer in English and Latin, including the Mass, All of the Church Council documents and Papal encyclicals, books by many saints including the complete works of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. John Vianney, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, and many others, The complete Summa Theologica (English and Latin), and the lives of many saints - all in one App!

iBreviary - the entire Liturgy of the Hours, in English, Spanish, French, Latin, Italian

iConfess - a great Examination of Conscience before Confession

Mass Times - takes your current location or zip and finds the nearest Catholic Church, Mass times, directions, daily readings, etc.

Popes - every pope's biography, picture, etc.

iCatechism - the entire Catechism

St. Josemaria - a great devotional

Patron Saints - a great saint biography App with cool things like lighting a virtual candle and seeing who else in the world has lit a candle recently for that saint.


I would like to thank Dr. Paul for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. I am definitely taking a lot out of his answers (especially the suggestion about taking time out to pray in complete silence) and I hope that my fellow readers do as well. :)

Please check out The SaintCast podcast either at the website or on iTunes (through which I am subscribed). I guarantee that you will learn little tidbits on saints that you didn't know. For example, do you know who the patron saint of the daily grind is? No? Well, Dr. Paul does and he has recently talked about him.

I hope to blog more often (especially since classes are starting up for me next week and thus will be at home more often than not), but don't hold me to that. As Jose in the movie Bella says "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

As always, thanks for ready and God Bless!