Monday, September 20, 2010

To Mantilla or Not to Mantilla...?

Please excuse the blurriness; my mother took the picture (April 2009) and she simply cannot take one in focus... which is why I love her. lol. This is the mantilla my father brought me from Mexico a week or two before his diagnosis. I've made a vow to not wear this specific one again until my wedding day so I can have a piece of my father with me on that special day. The mantillas I now wear to Mass are a bit smaller but I still love 'em. :D

I have a little dilemma. See, tomorrow my school will be having the Mass of the Holy Spirit (also known as the Red Mass). I've never been to one before but since it's still a Mass, I want to wear my mantilla. There is one little problem: I've already started rubbing people the wrong way with my 'traditional' ways. If I had a quarter for every time I got a dirty look, a cold shoulder (I've had classmates literally turn their backs to me as I was speaking to them), etc. I'd be a rich lady. lol. I also got some interesting looks when I went into the chapel to pray the Rosary last Thursday... but I don't care. As long as I'm good with God, that's all that matters. Anyway, right now I'm trying to decide whether or not to wear one. I will wear red, as per request, but I'm still undecided about the mantilla. On one hand, I would feel more at peace with myself because I LOVE wearing a chapel veil to Mass. Personally, I feel completely disrespectful if I'm not wearing one. On the other hand, I hate when attention's on me, and especially with it's negative attention (who doesn't), and the mantilla might do that. As far as I know, it's never been done before. I often joke that I'm already on the "hit list" for some people at school because of my conservativeness but I think there's quite a bit of truth behind the joke. I'm an easy target for those who don't understand our beautiful religion... or who choose to completely trash it because they don't agree with me. The stories I could tell...

Anyhoo, I have another 15 hours to decide (Mass starts before noon) so if y'all want to give your two cents, please do so. At the moment I'm leaning towards actually wearing it. Holly's already said that I should wear it and take a picture. What do y'all think?

I've got an early morning tomorrow despite both of my morning classes being cancelled. There no rest for the wicked (though I hope I'm not that bad; I'm trying to live a more saintly life). I hope y'all had a great start of week!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nearly Fainting During Confession

At the request of Dan (ha! didn't think I'd mention it, did you?), I'm writing about the the most bizarre/tense/scary confession experience I've had in 16-17 years (basically since I first confessed at 8, nearly 9, years old). I'm still feeling a little weird but I'm rational and I've processed it enough to write about it.

I should start by saying that this is the first time I've made the 2 mile walk to and from my home parish by myself. My mother, who is my confession buddy, has been feeling sick since we both got food poisoning last night so I decided to go by myself. I just feel a strong urge to receive the Eucharist tomorrow (probably because I've been deeply moved by the Papal visit to the UK) and I admittedly lost my temper earlier this week when I was left behind at school so I was in need of a good confession. Since I felt better from the food poisoning and felt fine (fit as a fiddle) I decided to make the walk by myself. The walk itself wasn't too bad. I walked a little faster than usual since I do not live in the safest neighborhood but I got my parish feeling okay. I was breathing like I normally do when I exercise and, with the nearly 90 degree weather, I wasn't feeling like a fresh daisy but I was fine. I was able to take my time to do an examination of my conscience before confession since I was the only person in line for the English speakers. Basically, I was fine. I got inside the confessional, greeted the priest, and began my confession. Of course I cannot tell you what I confessed because it was between myself, Fr. Peter, and God but I will say that I was still feeling fine at that point. Once Fr. Peter started talking, everything took an interesting turn.

Now, I've had interesting experiences waiting in line to confess or kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament while praying. Today was the first time I felt that bad during confession. When Fr. Peter began talking to be, after I had confessed, everything was fine. I asked the Lord to please help me understand Fr. Peter since he was a slight accent and I occasionally don't understand a couple of things. All was fine for a minute or two. Suddenly, a slight feeling of faintness come up. It wasn't too bad so I kept trying to focus on what Fr. Peter was saying. As soon as he started asking a question, I felt like I was going to pass out there and then. I answered Fr. Peter's question as well as I could and fell back to sort of sit on my feet while still kneeling. It went away, I felt a little better, and I propped myself back up on the padded kneeler. I only lasted a couple of seconds until I felt worse again. I once again fell back on my feet, shifting my weight off of my knees. Fr. Peter continued speaking about Christ and decisions I had to make when I felt like that was it -- I was going to black out and pass out in the confessional. I felt all this pressure in my head, I started seeing black, I could no longer hear what Fr. Peter was saying... it started scaring me. My heart pounded and I struggled to keep focus as my thoughts raced a mile a minute. I tried my hardest to keep paying as much attention as possible but everything started to become a big blur. Once again, I sat on my feet until the moment passed. Fr. Peter asked me an important question about what would happen when I was in front of Jesus Christ on Judgment Day, and as soon I answered it, with resolution because I do love God more than anything, I felt like I was going to pass out again. I mentally offered up what was happening to me for the souls in purgatory. I propped up myself one final time and tried to focus on what Fr. Peter said. I was about to faint again when Fr. Peter gave me my penance (which I barely registered, I was feeling so bad) and absolved me from my sins. I thanked him, wished him a good weekend and left.

The entire time I was in the confessional I had inner struggles. I had this moment where I felt like a voice inside of me was going "get out! get out! just leave!" but I refused to. I had a lot of questions racing through my mind. Should I walk from behind the curtain and sit in front of him for the remainder of my time in there or should I just tough it out? Should I mention I felt faint or should I just suffer in silence? Should I asked a fellow parishioner to please let me use their phone, as I had forgotten my cell phone back at home, to let my mom know that I wasn't feeling well? In the end I decided to keep quiet, trust that I was in God's hands, and follow through with my penance. I paid as much attention to Fr. Peter as I could in that situation and did what was asked of me. As soon as I sat down in the pew in the back of the Church I felt a bit better. Before I left, and made the walk back home, I briefly knelt in front of the tabernacle and asked God to please help me make it back home without any more problems and said a quick prayer. I got home okay even though I was a little scared about taking the shady shortcuts where there aren't a lot of people. I just felt like my stomach had a lot of acid in it and now (2 hours after everything happened) I just have this crummy headache. Otherwise, I'm solid.

I've felt a little dizzy or faint while kneeling in Mass before but those were usually anxiety symptoms or because I'd fasted (I've learned I cannot fast). I didn't have anxiety, I'd eaten and had been hydrating myself (even while walking) so I don't see an obvious medical explanation for what happened. I haven't felt dizzy while kneeling in over a year, too. The last time I remember feeling remotely ill while kneeling was when my dad was still alive and had taken me to Mass. As soon as I told my mom what had happened she said "It was the horned one. He does not want to have you there." (side note: I have been having bad experiences since I started the 54 day Rosary novena (day 8 today) but it's lessening as the days go by. I refuse to stop the novena.) Whether she is right or not, God only knows. I will say that I saw it as a learning experience and a way of showing that I really do trust God and that I've honestly put my life in His hands. It's so easy to say that you will do His will but it's much easier to ask Him to take away the obstacles you can't handle.

Intense, bizarre, and a little scary... but I do not regret going to confession. As I told Fr. Peter before I began my confession, I have a desire to confess my sins so that I may receive the Eucharist tomorrow. Not only that, you never know when you're going to be called to Heaven and I want to spend the rest of eternity with God so frequent confession is a must.

So, there you have it, Dan. lol. Seriously though, I'm interested in finding out if anyone else has had a similar experience or if I'm the only one that has weird experiences like this.

Alright, well, I want to get some sleep so I can watch the Beatification of Cardinal Cardinal John Henry Newman which is airing live at 1:30 a.m. PST. :)

I hope y'all are having and/or will have a great weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Things Challenge

I keep getting little presents from God (or at least I think they're from God), it's making me happy. :) I only have a couple more minutes before my Western Literary Heritage class starts (the one for which I had to read 200+ pages of The Iliad -- not the Odyssey) so I will keep this brief.

I want you to remember that it's the little things you do or that you encounter that can make a difference. After getting home from my rotten day, I was able to play with the 8-month old baby girl downstairs and that instantly boosted my spirits. Just holding her and making her giggle was enough for me. After feeling like the Lone Ranger in this school, a young woman whom I didn't know told me (after learning I had anxiety and panic disorder) that I ever needed someone to have lunch with, to let her know. A simple smile from a random stranger when you're having a rotten day does wonders. We all have the power to make a difference in someone's life with the smallest things imaginable. The problem is that we all forget to do that. When we're having a rotten day or are so caught up in our own troubles, we seem to forget about everyone but ourselves. Having said that, I'd like to issue a little challenge to everyone who reads this blog (including to myself).

Today, try to do something for someone and then keep that deed to yourself. It doesn't have to be some big thing. Like I said, a smile to a stranger is sometimes all that is needed. I've known people who have suffered depression that were grateful for a simple greeting or a smile from someone as they were walking by. If you're not going out or interacting with people today, why not pray for someone? There are many souls in purgatory that we can pray for, why not pray a decade of the Rosary for them? Why not pray a "Hail Mary" for your mothers? Trust me, even these things are big blessings. Having a crummy day? Why not offer up whatever it is that's making the day stink? Little things help, even if you never really see it for yourself.

The second part of the challenge is to keep it to yourself. We live in a world where most people don't feel right doing something unless they get some sort of praise out of it. If you do a good deed for someone, keep it to yourself. There is no need for ego boosting. Just do something good for someone because it's the Christian thing to do. The only good thing I've taken out of my classes so far (Ha!) is that we should reflect God to others. Why not do this by taking the challenge I've given y'all? Think about it. ;)

Alright, well, I have 20 minutes to walk out of where I'm sitting and head to a different floor for my Literature class. Thank God they've cancelled my morning classes next Tuesday so I can catch up on the reading. Thank God, literally, for this little thing that will make all the difference for me (and my sanity, lol). :D

I hope y'all have a great day!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Monday: Lee Brice's "Love Like Crazy"

Since my math class got cancelled (and the test got postponed a week, squee!!!), I have about an hour and a half to kill before I get picked up... which means time to update the blog. I won't go into how horrible my day was up until about 3 hours ago (or the disses towards the Pope and priests I heard this morning in class, oy) because it would turn into this massive rant... and I already vented via twitter and Facebook. lol. Anyway, I want to keep Music Monday going and I found this video just in time. :)

Most of the songs we hear on the radio now are either very pessimistic or a fantasy about what love is supposed to be. That's what I found refreshing about this song: it's real. It talks about real love and the lyrics are, well, you'll have to listen to it. I found it very inspirational, especially since everyone around me is so jaded when it comes to love. What I loved most is that the relationship that is supposedly (and I say this because I don't know if Lee wrote it from experience) the inspiration for this song mentions praying and alludes to having God in your relationship. How many songs do that? I fell in love with this song from the first time I heard it and I couldn't wait until I had a Monday free to post it. :D

And now, without further ado, here is "Love Like Crazy" by Lee Brice.

*EDIT: 9/14 - I just found out through a reader that Lee didn't write the song (Doug Johnson and Tim James did) so I wanted to add that. And, also, thanks to Lee who actually linked this blog post on his FB page. :D)*

I probably won't blog again until I am caught up with all my readings (I have one day to read the first 200 pages of The Odyssey... and, no, that is not a typo). I have about three back posts that I want to get up so check by the end of the day for those since I will try to post as many as I can in the next hour. :D

Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed the song.

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

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stand Up to Cancer

I am watching the Stand Up to Cancer fundraiser and I am quite honestly crying through the entire thing. Cancer is something that has affected all of us in one way or another. My paternal grandfather died of throat cancer. One of my paternal uncles died of lung cancer (he smoked a lot). My own father died of colon cancer last year. One of my best friends, Eileen, fought ovarian cancer at a very young age and is currently in remission. Both my mother and I have had cancer scares (my mother had a breast cancer scare three years ago and I had both a breast cancer and thyroid scare that thankfully turned out to be nothing serious). Cancer is everywhere. What I am thankful about is that people are openly talking about it and encouraging people to get themselves checked out. Please, PLEASE get something checked out if you believe there's something off. If it is something, it's better to get it detected early because you have a better chance of beating it. If it's nothing, as was the case for both mom and I a few years ago, then at least you have that peace of mind. I wear a dark blue "Cancer Sucks" bracelet in honor of my father to remind me to take care of myself and everyone around me.

I saw this PSA featuring a slew of young celebrities standing up to cancer and thought I'd share it. The statistics are scary but I firmly believe that we can both prevent cancer from becoming serious and also make great progress in science to prevent and/or treat it better.

So, please, pray for those who have cancer or who are in remission. Donate your time at a hospital or to someone who is in chemotherapy and needs help. Give love and support if you have someone in your life that has been affected with cancer. Even the smallest things make the biggest difference.

Anyway, I'm going to go and watch the rest of this fundraiser. I hope y'all have a great weekend. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Today is the birthday of Our Mother, Mary. Everything I said in the podcast for the TotusTuus website two years ago still remains true, when I feel like the world is crumbling in around me I can always find refuge in her loving arms. When I feel like I am alone, I always remember that I have her and Jesus (and, of course, God!) and that their love will get me through whatever it is that I am struggling through. Through the Rosary (which I try to pray at least once a day) and through the scapulars I wear (both brown and green), I feel like I am always connected to her (and, subsequently) God). It's an amazing feeling that is both indescribable and priceless. :D

I am missing school today since I have a really bad backache and am in a lot of pain but I know that they're celebrating this day at my school since it is named after her (and now you know where I go to school, lol). We were told to wear blue but since I won't be there, I'll do what I can from home. :D

Anyway, I just wanted to wish Mama Mary a happy birthday and urge you to pray the Rosary as often as you can. As that infamous shirt with the Rosary beads says "Have you called your Mother today?" ;)

I hope y'all have a wonderful day. As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eyebrow Raise. Palm to Face. Shaking Head. Repeat.

Eyebrow Raise. Palm to Face. Shaking Head. Repeat. This has been my reaction to about 45% of what has been taught at my college the past two weeks. I occasionally share the "gems" (usually straight quotes from my professors) that I have to offer up on twitter or (more detailed) on Facebook. As I said, I have no issues with my professors on a personal level but I am just not comfortable with what's being taught. Sound familiar? While I am going to try to no longer write about everything that I disagree with, I will say that I have at least learned how to deal with these things and allow myself to laugh a little more.

First, I will say that I've found a level of comfort as far as "correcting" my professors goes. This past week I raised my hand and put my two cents in more than most of my classmates. While I usually shy away from doing this (and I can still feel my face flushing when I do this), there are some things I just have to question, challenge, and/or have them clarify for me so that those who are Catholic don't get the wrong idea. When I know that it will be a pointless argument/discussion because they won't let go of the specific topic, I just let it go. There have been discussions on everything from predestination and why we have no free will (eyebrow raise, palm to face, shaking head, repeat) to why the Catholic Church is behind the times and why it's essentially "bad" (implying it in thinly veiled passive aggressive comments). By the way, God can be a man or a woman and if you want to call Him a "her" that's perfectly acceptable. *Eyebrow raise, palm to face, shaking head, repeat.* I've learned what to comment on and what I won't be able to get away with. Some of my more gutsier classmates (those are actually agnostic or atheists, yes, they exist at this college) will go into arguments with my professors whenever the class gets too religious for them. Um, hello... you're in a Religious Studies class. Luckily God has put a fellow classmate in my path who is on my side when it comes to theological matters. I'm also finding little things that are making me a little happier.

While I still spend my breaks by myself, attempting to catch up on reading or homework, I now have an ally in one of my classes. Whenever the professor says something so completely wrong (i.e. the Bible is inaccurate and propaganda), we just look at each other and express our grief over the statements. This new friend also has a friend who just entered the seminary so we've been able to bond over that as well. I wish I had her in more classes because then we could have that support system. Either way, God is putting the right people in my path so that my next 14-15 months (yes, I counted) at that school will be a little more bearable. I went to Morning Lauds at the chapel on Thursday and was able to pray with about half a dozen students and three faculty members. Though I felt slightly out of place and awkward afterwards (long story), they still welcomed me into their core little group while we prayed. I plan on doing this whenever I get to campus on time. As for what is making me happier during class: just the fact that I can "correct" my professors from time to time is enough. I also get to do a presentation on St. Monica (the only saint left to do the presentation on since I was absent last week when they assigned saints; I'm not complaining :D) for my classmates which makes me happy. I got into a discussion about saints (and why I was bummed I couldn't get St. Cecilia; someone claimed her fast) with one of my professors so that made me feel a little better about being in her class. Little by little, I am feeling a little less regret about not going elsewhere. Though I don't think I will ever be 100% comfortable at the school if only because of what is being taught, I am able to stay true to my beliefs which makes things easier. By the way, I am totally getting this shirt, along with this one, this one and this one, and wearing them to school. :D The classmates can keep giving me dirty looks but I'm wearing them and that's that. ;)

I don't think this will be my last post regarding my experience at school but it may be the last one for a little while. I don't want to keep boring people with the same kinds of rants (and, trust me, I feel bad for being so repetitive). There are other things I want to write about because things are changing and with those changes new challenges, new mistakes (I'm only human), and new discoveries are being made. God truly is wonderful and I am taking every experience as a learning one... one that will only get me closer to Him which is all I want. :D

Alright, I am going to try to get all my homework done tonight so I can enjoy tomorrow as my last vacation day (at least my last long break until mid-October). :D

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