Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Join the New Frassati Prayer Community!

Photo © Melissa (Emmy) Cecilia
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I haven't found a good, solid community that I felt a part of. I've tried pushing myself outside of my comfort levels, allowing my extroverted side (which exists... way, way, way deep down, lol) to come out while I tried new things. I joined a young adult group, we switched parishes, and I started accepting more invitations to go out with friends. It's something I hadn't done since a little before I reverted to the faith. I don't feel a part of the young adult group (which I joined 9 months ago) because I don't get notified of all the meetings they have and I have zero contact with the members outside of the meetings I do attend. We can't always get to Latin Mass with the FSSP priests (who we're big fans of) because my mother works most Sundays. Basically, things haven't worked out in our favor.

As I also mentioned in another post, feeling rejected and like I was a terrible Catholic was the devil's way of kicking me while I was already down and it took me months to realize it. Once I figured that out, I tried to remember that discovery whenever I felt the same way. It's still occasionally hard but it does help. I still have trouble getting to Mass often though I've gotten so much better about that in recent weeks. Some days I'm physically unable to go (palpitations, too lightheaded to drive safely, physical pain, etc.) and I try to do spiritual communion when it happens.

I'm taking baby steps to get my relationship with God back on track. In fact, that's what I've been doing these past couple of weeks. I don't blog often these days (sorry!) because I've been so busy working on my third novel. I can spend most of my waking hours writing, rewriting, and editing because my deadline is next month. Still, despite the fact that I haven't shared much, I still pray and I still try to keep God in my mind throughout the day. I try to see the blessings He's given me... and it was during one of these moments that I realized that I was wrong about one thing: I do have a good, solid community... it's just unconventional, in a way.

When we think of a community, we think of the people around us: neighbors, parishioners we see at every Mass, people we interact with (face-to-face) most often. What I didn't realize is that my community has been mostly virtual due to distance. I'm one of the few of my core friends from my teens-mid 20s that are still in L.A.... and the only one who has stayed put and not moved closer (or outside) the city limits. Some friends I've met online and I do occasionally see. Others, I haven't seen in ages because we live in different states (and, occasionally, countries). Others I've only known online but have become part of my "crew." All of these people have inspired, challenged, and have prayed for me over the years; they've been for me through so much despite the distance.

When I realized this, I immediately felt guilty. I didn't mean to not include them as part of my community. I always assumed community was about the people who physically see... but I realized it was all wrong. It's not about who you often see but whom you are in contact with; with whom you choose to surround yourself with, even if there is a distance. Duh, Emmy... you DO have a community.

My community is amazing. My "core" community is compromised of married friends and their families, my godson and his family, a single mother with whom I went to school with during my undergrad years, a couple of single ladies, seminarians, a religious brother, priests across the U.S. and Canada, local FSSP priests, friends who live all over the U.S. as well as in Europe. Then I have my extended community. I don't call or text with them but I do interact with them through social media. We are a community, whether we want to be or not. Why do you think I was so miffed and wrote the last blog post? I didn't want to see my community destroy itself due to things that ultimately don't matter.

So many things changed when I had this realization. I became more intentional about keeping in contact with them (though, mea culpa, I've been slacking a bit because I get too into writing some days) in whichever ways worked best. I haven't been active on Twitter for a little while (I'm sure no one has noticed) but I do pray for everyone. Not only do I do this, I've made the decision to return to the young adult group despite how I feel I'm treated by the other members because I realized that what I love most about the group is what I learn from our spiritual adviser. I'm not going for them -- I have my own community who loves and nurtures me -- but for the sake of my relationship with God. Our adviser (an FSSP priest) is a great, holy man who has helped nourish my spiritual life in little ways every time I've attended a meeting and that's all I could ask for.

A quote of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's keeps popping up in my mind: "I would like for us to pledge a pact which knows no earthly boundaries nor limits of time: union in prayer." That's what I propose we -- this online community we're a part of -- do: keep each other in prayer. There may be distances (some great; greetings to my regular readers across the globe and especially in India!) but prayer can be something that unites us in such a positive way. How many of us feel alone, rejected, unwanted during difficult moments? Who wouldn't want to think that during moments of trials there were people out there praying for us?

When I was an undergrad, 5-6 years ago, I had a great desire to create a Frassati group at my alma mater. Of course, that didn't end up working out because they seem to be allergic to orthodoxy (hey, I call it like I see it). A few years ago, I once again tried to get one started at my (then) home parish but was met with too many obstacles and oppositions that I couldn't get through. I can't seem to find a way to get a physical community going so I had the idea of creating an online community.

Today I finally went ahead and created the Frassati Prayer Community on Facebook. The object of the group is simple: to unite ourselves in prayer and encourage spiritual growth. Because it will be an online community, things will be a bit different than physical groups. Of course, prayer will be the main focus and I do intend to have frequent novenas posted if I see an influx of prayer requests regarding a specific topic (i.e. vocations, health, work, etc) or if a particular feast day is coming up. We can't take field trips or get together to do things but you are always welcome to share links to things such as soup kitchens, fundraisers for church or religious communities, and events that would help nourish the spiritual life of others. I know many people can't regularly attend meetings or be part of a prayer community at their parishes due to illnesses, familial responsibilities, or time constraints so I think this could be a good alternative to those. Unlike the rest of the Frassati groups, there is no age restriction for this online community.

You are all welcome to join and spread the word to anyone who you think may be interested. I have no qualms about banning Negative Nellies and trolls. There is enough negativity in social media and I want this to be a little corner of the internet where fellowship and goodwill are found. Y'all know how much it's needed when we are at our lowest moments.

The group is visually plain as I'm writing this because I literally created it while writing this post but I will be updating it with photos and more information throughout the day since I have the time (thanks, writer's block!).

It took me 5-6 years but I finally got a group under your patronage going, Bl. Pier Giorgio! lol.

And that's it for now. I need to go eat lunch (it's 2 p.m. and I'm starting to get lightheaded from the lack of food) and then get the group picture and banner figured out.

I hope you are all having a lovely week thus far!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dear (Fellow) Catholic Writers...


Dear (fellow) Catholic writers,

I don't want to compete with you. At all. I know that some people are in this seemingly endless competition to see who can amass more social media followers... whose articles get the most traffic... whose articles get the most comments... retweets... likes, etc. I'm not one of them. I prefer to be an insignificant nobody in the Catholic world (and in the world in general).

If you feel the need to rub it in my face that I've been blogging for 10 years and don't have a column in a popular/well-known Catholic publication have a book deal/contract with a publisher, I have news for you: I'm sincerely happy for you and I honestly don't care that these things haven't happened to me. Do you want to know why? Because I don't feel that it's what God wants for me (at least, not right now) and it is not suitable for me in many ways.

Having a column would open me up to criticism (both from outsiders and from myself) and I'm far too sensitive for criticisms. Why do you think I take extended breaks from Twitter and why I'm very careful about who I add on other social media platforms? I'm very susceptible to being affected by negativity. Too much time on Twitter makes me uncharitable and snippy; that's not who I want to be nor who I believe I am, deep down.

Furthermore, despite having reverted over a decade ago, I've yet to learn enough about Catholicism to feel confident enough to speak out about it. That's how I've seen that perhaps the lay Dominican life is not for me; I love learning but I don't feel prepared to speak to others about all topics within Catholicism. I speak of what little I know; of what I've experienced. I'm happy that in this little corner of the internet, I can express myself and that I don't feel the pressure to churn out some amazing content on a regular basis. It would be too stressful for me and I've only just gotten my anxiety down to a practically non-existent level.

In recent weeks, God has opened my eyes and shown me that I don't want the popularity that comes with having writing success. I write because I love it. I write because it's my way of expressing myself. I write because I feel like it's the one small talent God has given me... one that, I hope, will one day help me stimulate my future children's imaginations since I hope to create magical worlds just for them.

I know that I may someday choose not to blog anymore. I don't think I will ever give up writing completely but I know that my heart is with building my future family. I've discerned my vocation to the point of knowing that what I want most in this world is to get married and have children. I know that I want to devote myself to that vocation as much as I can -- being a stay-at-home mother, if God wills it, would be a dream -- and that I'm very likely to give up writing often while my children are small.

I will continue to self-publish my novels because my object is not to make a ton of money but to (hopefully) help others in little ways -- to escape a problem by being immersed in a world I've created, even if it's for a little while... to learn from the mistakes and lessons learned by the characters in my novels... to be inspired to grow closer to God. That's why I periodically choose to give my novels away and/or donate the proceedings of my sales to various causes (i.e. earthquake relief funds).

For those of you who are successful in the Catholic writing world and have managed to stay humble: you leave me in awe and I will continue to pray that God gives you the knowledge, courage, and humility to continue spreading His word with the gift He's given you. I know that I couldn't do it because I still have too much pride that God needs to whittle away from my very being. If He chooses to one day give what I write any attention from publishers or editors of publications, it will be done because He knows that I will be able to handle it (which I currently cannot). At the moment, I don't see it happening and I'm perfectly content with what I have right now.

Being invisible amongst other bloggers and writers is wonderfully humbling and is shaping me into the person that I hope God wants me to be. I've come to see that I wish to remain as I am now: being surrounded with great people who support me, who choose to be part of my journey (seeking nothing but friendship in return) and who challenge me to seek God and become the best version of myself.

Dear Catholic writers, I pray that you continue to do wonderful things for His kingdom and that your words lead others closer to God. I pray that the popularity, fame, envy, greed, and other temptations that the devil may try to tempt you with will not affect you. If they do, I pray that God will open your eyes and that you are immediately able to fix it. In our fallen human nature, it's very easy to fall into traps that hurt our souls without us being aware of them until much later. I've been able to see this for myself. God has been merciful and shown me what I need to work on; I pray He does the same for you.

Please remember that whatever success we have on this earth does not dictate where we will end up once our time in this world is over. Please remember to build each other up instead of tearing each other down or trying to outdo each other. It's become very evident (at least to me) that the evil one has been hard at work to divide us all... and it's become especially easily through social media. Please be on your guard and pray for each other (and the trolls that may want to engage in a pointless battle with you; don't feel the trolls). Don't be afraid to share what others have written if you think it will be beneficial to others; even if it means your blog/article for the day gets ignored. Do things for the greater good.

Anyway, I didn't write this to shame anyone; I just wanted to express my own opinions and let you all know that I am praying for you. I choose not to compete with you, but to fight alongside you; to help others get to Heaven.

This is not a "farewell, blog/writing world" post, but a letter to all the wonderfully talented writers in hopes that it will remind them of what's truly important.

May God bless you all,

Monday, July 10, 2017

Third Novel and Vocation Thoughts

Hello, everyone! I've been working hard on the third novel which is why I haven't been blogging much lately. That and I didn't like the idea of the novena posts being interrupted by random posts. I know some of you are wondering if the third novel is a continuation of the Will and Lina novels and the answer is no. It's a completely different story with new characters. Some things (i.e. locations) may be similar but this novel is different, darker even. I'm really enjoying writing it (despite the writer's blocks I've encountered) and I have an August 25 deadline so, you know, I gotta work hard. The ending is currently eluding me, which has never happened to me before -- I usually have the middle and ending written out first, but I'll sure it'll all work itself out when I least expect it.

Yesterday, I was reflecting on how I've gone through a major change in my life during the time that I've written each novel. The first novel was written during two major changes in my life: prior and following the death of my father and my time before and following my graduation from my CINO (Catholic in name only) alma mater. The second novel was written at a time where I was at an academic and career crossroads... and I had also realized (too late) that I'd fallen in love for the first time in my life. (side note: it didn't end up like it did in the novel, obviously). This third novel is being written during another big change which involved my vocations (career and life).

I'm trying to keep details off the blog (for now) since what I went through in the past 6-7 months served as the inspiration for the plot although, as usual, it's not exactly autobiographical. As weird as it may sound, I feel like perhaps I need to write this for other young women (or men) who may be the in the same boat. I don't think it's a coincidence that St. Francis de Sales has been popping up everywhere in the past 4 months and that a lot of my ideas for the plot/chapters come up while I pray the Rosary. I keep wondering if God wants me to write this because there seems to be a need to talk about the topic the novel focuses on. I haven't seen a single Catholic blogger (or, really, any blogger) ever touch on this particular topic but I've definitely seen the need to address it. How's that for vague (for now)? lol. I decided to write it as a novel instead of a non-fiction book because it's where I feel most comfortable. People who don't know what's truly happening in my life (only a handful of people know) won't know what was taken straight from my experiences and which was inspired by the events and fictionalized. Either way, I actually feel called to write this.

It's weird but I never felt "called" to write the other two novels. I never even considered that it was my "calling" to be a writer. I always wrote (my childhood best friend used to give me notebooks and pens for my birthday every year until I turned 18); it's always been a natural extension of how I express myself and my ideas. I wrote the novels for fun and then they got published. True, I wrote them with the intention of having non-smutty young adult/new adult novels for young women but that was it. With this third novel, I have my target audience in mind when I write... and I also have the Holy Spirit on my mind. I keep reminding myself that I set out to write this novel to (hopefully) do good in an area that isn't addressed quite enough but desperately needs to be. Sometimes I even wonder if I went through what I experienced the first half of this year just so I could write this novel. since any writer will tell you that it's best to write what you know. Who knows, God works in mysterious ways and this may be one of His ways to get through to others. As I said to God at the beginning of this novel, I just want to His will and if writing this helps one person in some small way, I'll do it.

I do want to eventually write about my vocations since I feel like God has never made my path as clear as He has in the past two months but, for now, I'm going to use that as inspiration for the novel. I also feel that, until the novel is published (late August-early September), I shouldn't talk about either topic. I will say that the big V (life; religious life/marriage) vocation helped me figure out the small v (career) vocation. It might now happen the same way for the protagonist in the novel but it did inspire part of the plot so... gotta keep it zipped.

That's all I can say about the third novel... for now. As I said, I feel like God (through the intercessions of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Joseph, and the Holy Spirit) has taken pity on me and has shown me what He wishes me to do in the near future as well as what He would like for me to do long term (vocations). I can't recall every being this at peace about my vocations or what He wants me to do. Ever. Everything in my life has finally begun falling into place. Oh, how I want to talk about these things right now but I know that I should use that gratitude (towards God and my intercessors) and inspiration to write something worth sharing. Maybe I'll finish the novel sooner and I'll have it published before the August 25th deadline -- I certainly have the motivation to do so. lol. Patience, Emmy... patience. lol.

That's it for now. I will say that this blog post is setting up for something I want to post soon because it's another thing that also needs addressing. I may not write tomorrow since it's the 8th anniversary of my father's death and I don't know how I will feel (some years I'm weepy, others I'm in a depressive funk) but I'll definitely post again before the weekend. I want to get back to a healthy blogging/novel writing balance. :)

I hope you all have a lovely week and had a great weekend. :D

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Nine

Day Nine
Jesus says: “Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “We who by the grace of God are Catholics must steel ourselves for the battle we shall certainly have to fight to fulfill our program and to give our country, in the not too distant future, happier days and a morally healthy society. But to achieve this we need constant prayer
to obtain from God that grace without which all our powers are useless.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, show me how to bear all wrongs patiently. Help me to accept the sufferings which others inflict on me because of my desire to be faithful to Jesus.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who protects the innocent, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Eight

Day Eight
Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me silence in the face of personal humiliation and unjust criticism. But guide me to be courageous like you in standing on the side of God’s truth. Help me to be faithful to Him in all things, so that His Will may be done in and through my life. Show me how to
persevere in the struggle for those things which are holy and honorable.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is the source of grace and truth, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Seven

Day Seven
Jesus says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “I offer you my best wishes – or, rather, only one wish, but the only wish that a true friend can express for a dear friend: may the peace of the Lord be with you always! For, if you possess peace every day, you will be truly rich.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, despite your daily struggles, you found peace by fostering your own well being in work, study, and play; in prayer alone and with others; in silence and in song, in laughter and in serious conversation with friends. Guide me to that inner peace which will enable me to share peace with others.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is our peace, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Six

Day Six
Jesus says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “I beg you to pray for me a little, so that God may give me an iron will that does not bend and does not fail in His projects.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, lead me in the path of purity, for only those who are clean of heart can behold God’s face. Help me to be faithful to the covenant I have made with God in Baptism, that I may always be loyal to His commands and thus offer Him sincere worship. Show me by your life how to be single-hearted and completely, unswervingly, dedicated to proclaiming the kingdom of God here on earth.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is pure love and holiness, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Five

Day Five
Jesus says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “St. Paul says that “the charity of Christ urges us.” Without this flame, which should burn out our personality little by little and blaze only for other people’s griefs, we would not be Christian, let alone Catholic.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me by your example of mercy to open my heart more widely to those in need, especially the poor and the sick. Guide me in extending that mercy both to friends and strangers, to those who love me and those who do not. Help me to reflect God’s own mercy, especially in words and deeds of forgiveness.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is gracious and merciful and just, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Four

Day Four
Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “What wealth it is to be in good health, as we are! But we have the duty of putting our health at the service of those who do not have it. To act otherwise would be to betray that gift of God.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, help me to seek God’s righteousness, His plan for my life and for the salvation of the world. Show me the way to self-surrender, so that I may desire nothing more than to be of service to the Lord and His Kingdom. Lead me to the table of love, where I will be satisfied.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is righteous and just, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Three

Day Three
Jesus says: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “With violence you sow hatred, and you harvest its bad fruits. With charity, you sow peace among men – not the peace that the world gives, but the true peace that only faith in Jesus Christ can give us in common brotherhood.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, guide me in claiming my rightful inheritance as a child of God and heir of His kingdom. Show me, by your own example, how to be slow to anger, and gentle in my dealings with others. Help me to show forth the peace of Christ by speaking words of peace, and by living a life of peace.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is meek and humble of heart, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day Two

Day Two
Jesus says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “Our life, in order to be Christian, has to be a continual renunciation, a continual sacrifice. But this is not difficult, if one thinks what these few years passed in suffering are, compared with eternal happiness where joy will have no measure or end, and where we shall
have unimaginable peace.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me that I must be able to mourn if I will be able to rejoice. Show me how to face my sorrow, and not avoid it or pretend that it does not exist. Help me to enter into any present sorrow, so that my soul can empty itself and be filled with God’s peace.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is our Consoler, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Novena, Day One

Day One
Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “The faith given to me in Baptism surely suggests to me that of yourself you will do nothing; but if you have God as the center of all your actions, then you will reach the goal.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me true poverty of spirit. Help me understand that God cares for me; and that He asks me, in return, to care for others, especially those in need. Guide me to make choices in my life which will show a preference for service of God and neighbor, rather than accumulating financial wealth and social advantage for myself. Give me a special love for the poor and the sick.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is the Lover of the poor, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Litany of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (for private devotion)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.
Loving son and brother, pray for us.
Support of family life, pray for us.
Friend of the friendless, pray for us.
Most Christian of companions, pray for us.
Leader of youth, pray for us.
Helper of those in need, pray for us.
Teacher of charity, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Comfort of the sick, pray for us.
Athlete for God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us.
Defender of truth and virtue, pray for us.
Opponent of every injustice, pray for us.
Patriotic citizen of the nation, pray for us.
Loyal son of the Church, pray for us.
Devoted child of the Madonna, pray for us.
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Fervent student of the Scriptures, pray for us.
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic, pray for us.
Apostle of prayer and fasting, pray for us.
Guide to a deep love for Jesus, pray for us.
Diligent in work and study, pray for us.
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances, pray for us.
Strong in safeguarding chastity, pray for us.
Silent in pain and suffering, pray for us.
Faithful to the promises of Baptism, pray for us.
Model of humility, pray for us.
Example of detachment, pray for us.
Mirror of obedience, pray for us.
Man of the Beatitudes, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer
Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in
society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Odds and Ends: Fatigue and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

Wow, I was not expecting the feedback I received from the last blog post. Holy smokes (minus "Habemus Papam"), y'all! Not only did I get way more comments than I'm used to on the actual post, but the number of tweets and retweets and private messages surprised me. It looks like it's a widespread problem for many people... and that's incredibly sad to realize. I know people either love or hate The Benedict Option (which I read several weeks ago) but it makes you think about how much different things would be if we all lived in a community that was supportive and spiritually nurturing. Perhaps maybe then so many people -- especially young adults -- wouldn't fall away? *shrugs*

I've apparently (and unintentionally) boarded the struggle bus once again in the past couple of days, making prayer hard for me. I also didn't go to Mass last weekend (the first weekend that I've missed since last month) but not because I didn't want to. I passed out on Saturday from a tremendous fatigue that I've yet to shake off. Then, on Sunday, I had the extreme fatigue (which made me sleep through the alarms in the morning) followed by terrible palpitations and anxiety attacks. No explanation for them; I couldn't figure out a trigger for the anxiety or the fatigue. I'm hoping to go to confession and Mass tonight since Mom works most Sundays and gets home physically done for (she's on her feet all 8 hours). Fingers crossed that the weather (unbearable heat makes me physically sick and not even the car's a/c helps sometimes) and everything else cooperates with me.

The good thing is the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati novena begins tomorrow. I know I've spoken quite a bit about him in the last couple of posts (and throughout the years, for those who've been following the blog for a while now) and I will continue to do so because he seems to be the one who is consistently interceding for me when I find myself in a spiritual rut/dryness. It's returned in the past two days (the spiritual dryness) but I hope to remedy that with a trip to the confessional and Mass today God willing). I will be scheduling the daily novena prayers for 8 a.m. PST. Each day has different prayers so keep an eye out for them. I've also found that posting the novena prayers on this blog helps those who are normally prone to forget about doing a novena every day. If I post something else between June 25 and July 9th, I will try to do it in the evenings so that the posts are spread out.

Also, a letter to Pope Francis has been written in order to appeal that he canonizes Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati next year at the "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment" synod. You can watch a video made by Bl. PGF's niece (daughter of his only sister), learn more about the letter or even sign the petition at this website. You don't have to be a "youth" to sign the letter; there's no age restriction. If you've previously done a novena to ask for his intercession and he has answered it, you can also add it to the petition. I'm definitely filling it out. The first time he interceded for me, I was able to graduate with a $2k loan instead of a $80k loan at my alma mater; a massive difference between those two numbers. The last couple of times I've blogged about it (in recent weeks) so you all know the big way he's coming through for me in the past month or so.

And that's it for this "odds and ends" post. I'm going to try to go to confession and Mass and pray that the fatigue (and the lightheadedness that accompanies it) will not make things harder for me, especially in this heat. I really shouldn't be driving right now but I know we won't make it to Mass tomorrow so... we're going to try. Prayers appreciated.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why Can't I Find My Place in the Church?

I briefly mention this topic in the last post because it's been a major stumbling block on my quest to attend Mass more often to keep myself from becoming apathetic towards the Church. Again, I'm going to add the disclaimer that I may mention people (not by name, of course) but I'm not blaming them.

Since last year, I've been trying to attend more Latin Masses because it's where I feel more connected to God and more at peace. I'm fairly positive that if I counted, I'll see that I've been to more Extraordinary Form Masses than Ordinary Form Masses in the past year. I've been veiling (or, at the very least, keeping my head covered with berets and hats) for years. In fact, the last gift my father gave me (not counting the ultimate gift of his return to the Church the day before my 24th birthday) was a veil from Mexico... 8 years ago. I obviously started veiling before that so, you know, I'm not new at this. lol.

I love the reverence of the Latin Mass. I love that we all seem to be more focused on the Holy Sacrifice than in Ordinary Form Masses. I know some people's spiritual lives thrive more with the inclusion of the entire community during OF Masses (i.e. holding hands during the Lord's Prayer and the sign of peace) but it's not for me. I wasn't a fan even when I was a little girl. You can even ask my mom and she'll confirm it for you. I don't like how it seems to disrupt the focus (and purpose) of the Mass and it makes it easier for people to get distracted for the rest of the Mass. I've always loved focusing on what the priest was doing; on how he was celebrating Mass and feeling that I was a part of something greater than myself. This also started way before I even did my First Communion when I was 8. I love the significance of veiling and, on a more practical level, I love that the veil literally blocks all distractions within my peripheral vision and it helps me keep my eyes on the altar.

Latin Mass is the answer to my prayers... except that I still get lost during the Mass. lol. I have yet to buy myself a missal because they're expensive and I have a lot of expenses every week. L.A. is an expensive city to live in and we mostly live paycheck to paycheck so I have to save up for things that are not immediate necessities. I'm guessing that my being fluent in Spanish makes it a little easier to follow along but I still get hopelessly lost at times. Don't get me started on how I botch up Latin because my brain automatically switches to the Spanish pronunciation of letters and words. lol. I'm still getting used to it and I think I simply need to attend more Masses (and have a really, really patient person explain things to me) before I'm completely comfortable going to them.

Now, I'm not saying Ordinary Form Masses are terrible. It's what I grew up attending. I was baptized, made my First Communion, and was confirmed (in that order) in OF Masses. It's familiar and I can follow along because it's in a language I understand (for both English and Spanish Masses). I know many wonderful, holy priests who don't do Extraordinary Form Masses and their homilies are top notch. Still, overall, most OF Masses are not my cup of tea. I've been to some solemn OF Masses but there are always elements of this form that I'm not thrilled with. As I've mentioned, I'm not a fan of the hand-holding or the sign of peace. The music is... well, also not my cup of tea. I'm really sorry, music ministers, but once the guitar, bass, and/or drums get introduced, my focus and concentration are gone because it makes me feel like I'm at a concert or show rather than a Mass. Again, this is just what it seems to me. I know it helps other people but it distracts me more than it helps me personally. Don't even get me started on when they start projecting things on the sides of the altar or the clapping people do during Mass. To quote my beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, "Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment."

During my struggle with spiritual dryness/spiritual attacks, I noticed that I felt like I couldn't (and still can't) find "my place" with the Church... including with Masses. As you could probably deduce from this post, I prefer Latin Masses. However, not being able to follow doesn't help and sometimes I get really self-conscious asking someone for help because, well, I've had a bad experience with people who attend Latin Masses. I've gotten the "ugh, what a stupid question" vibe when questions do get asked and, let's be real, no one wants to feel like a total dunce. I've also gotten the "ugh, you're doing it wrong" vibe when I try to figure things out. Not everyone is like this, of course. I've met some really lovely people within the local Latin Mass community but I've yet to really get to know them well so I don't feel part of it. I obviously feel a greater sense of community at OF Masses. Not counting the judgmental looks when I've received when veiling, people tend to be more welcoming and, in my experience, are easier to get to know. That's one of the things I miss most of our former parish; knowing the people and being able to talk to them before and after Mass. I don't go to Mass to socialize, obviously, but it would be nice to know some of the people and know that you're surrounded by like-minded folks.

I love veiling and the Latin Mass - *gasp* too traditional! I prefer wearing skirts and dresses but I still like the comfort and, as someone who is active and grew up playing sports, like the coverage pants and shorts provide - *gasp* what an immodesty! Some people assume that I'm single because, like many of my Millennial peers, I like my independence and am too career oriented - *gasp* too modern! When they find out I'd prefer to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool my future kids - *gasp* too traditional and anti-feminist to boot! I'm still single not because I want to be but because it seems to be God's will for me at the moment. It's not get started on my taste in music and films because it gets worse; I'm either too traditional/too much of a prude or too modern/liberal for that, too!

My point in all of this is that, despite the advantages and disadvantages of both, I feel like I haven't found my place in the Church. When you add the fact that I'm a single 32-year-old young woman with zero prospects (despite feeling calling to marriage) and that there seems to be no solid support system for us over-25 singles within either community, I feel like I'm on the outskirts of the Church. Why isn't there something for us singles who are in this stage of life because it's clearly not our time yet and not because we've actively chosen it? It would help us to have some sort of support.

I can't win, even though I really don't want to "win" anything. My goal is to get to heaven and help those God have placed in my life do the same thing. As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm very much a people person and feeling like I can't find a community to which I belong makes me feel dejected and, in turn, it makes it harder for me to nourish my spiritual life. Yes, I'm still very much an introvert but I'm also a social being (hence my saying that I'm a social introvert; it's an actual thing if you want to Google it if you don't believe me). I guess I just need to find that happy medium -- preferably a community that likes attending Latin Masses but won't judge me for occasionally wearing pants and shorts, liking the things I do, and that would be to pray for me (and other over-25 singles) as I wait for the next phase of my life to begin. Does such a community exist?

This post was just scratching the surface. There are so many layers that I didn't get into because we would be here all day. Again, I'm not blaming people for my feeling like I'm on the fringes of the Church and like I can't find a solid community in which I can feel like I belong. It's just my own thing that I have to work through this summer. It hasn't helped that I've spent the last 5 years (or longer if you count the years in which my anxiety was so bad that I couldn't leave the house) sick and that it's made it harder for me to try to socialize or get to Masses that don't make me cringe. We also don't live in a great neighborhood so I try to be home before it gets too dark and most of the socializing events happen late, especially after the 7 p.m. Latin Mass on Sundays. If there was a Latin Mass that both Mom and I could attend on Sundays that wasn't so late, it would be easier and perhaps I could find more likeminded people. Before you locals suggest it, no, we can't make it to the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Felipe or the noon Mass at St. Therese because Mom works on Sundays until after both Masses are over and all other Masses are too far for me to drive (I don't ever drive on the freeways).

If you're feeling particularly charitable today, please feel free to donate to the FSSP LA building fund so that they can get their parish quicker and more Latin Masses can be offered throughout the day. People like me, with limited transportation and other options, that love Latin Masses would appreciate it. The priests are fantastic and I have a feeling they'll help establish a great community that is very much needed in L.A.

Alright, that's it for now. It's already 97 degrees at 25 minutes to 1 p.m. and my hands and feet are already suffering from being in hottest part of our apartment (my home office is west-facing with no shade from anything). I hope those of you who will be in cities/towns over 85 degrees stay cool!

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

 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Why I (Nearly) Left the Church Recently

My Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Rosary bracelet.
This is something I'd been holding back on for weeks (that, probably, no one other than 2 people know about) but I think is now the right time to share: there was a point, last month, where I came very close to becoming completely apathetic towards the Church... or, at least, I felt like I was going to leave it. In fact, I was scared that I wouldn't be strong enough to resist the idea of leaving. Before I go into details, I'm going to say I am not blaming any people I will mention in this post. Yes, I'm hurt and it didn't help the situation but I do not blame them for nearly causing the apathy.

This past Lent was rough for me. I got sick (a bad cold after being subjected to freezing -- for L.A. standards -- temperatures in light layers). I accidentally had dairy when I went to Mexico and I spent the next month being physically debilitated because of it. I dealt with the last of the problems I had due to the anemia and everything else. I was racially profiled for the first time in my life. My spiritual life took a big hit, too. I was expecting it as both Advent and Lent are prime times for the enemy to mess with us. However, I wasn't expecting it to hit as intensely as it did.

I was hit with doubt and indecision about almost everything. I felt as if I no longer had any clarity about what God's will was for me and my life. In fact, I had zero plans for my life. I had tanked one of my courses in my SLP program which led to the decision to leave the program and look for a way to pay back my student loans.  I went 4 months without receiving the Eucharist. I tried to go to Mass but obstacles hit me left and right. The anemia and the accidental dairy ingested caused a terrible lightheadedness and physical fatigue that made it impossible for me to safely drive to Mass. Taxi cabs failed to pick me up and take me to Mass without explanation. Last month I experienced three consecutive weekends of what seemed to be physical manifestations of intense spiritual attacks that both holy water blessed this past Epiphany and the medal of St. Benedict helped shorten the effects of, immediately. I won't elaborate more on it beyond that. I will say that it was during those intense three weeks that the apathy threatened to take hold.

During that time, what my former spiritual director said to me (twice!) kept replaying in my mind: that there was no point in me being a Catholic because I stunk at being one. Well, that's what I interpreted. His actual words during our last spiritual direction meeting (in which he kicked me out of his office) were "what's the point?" (in my being Catholic). Direct quote; I wouldn't dare attribute false words to anyone, much less a priest. What was the point of me being a Catholic if I didn't attend Mass regularly? What was the point of me being Catholic if I struggled to concentrate during my time in prayer? What was the point in my being Catholic? These words swirled around in my mind when I tried praying, especially when it was the Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I would want to quit praying, wanting to give up, but I powered through the rest of the prayers (with a little help from holy water).

As I've mentioned in the past, I joined a young adult group late last year but I haven't been to many meetings/get-togethers this year. Mostly, it's been because I've been physically unable to. There were also meetings I wasn't told about (that I had no idea were even going on) so I didn't go because I had no idea. They've been nice people... but I've also not felt welcomed. I feel absolutely horrible for saying that (and I promise I'll get to the point of sharing this soon) but it's true. As much as I like the group of people, I feel like I'm excluded from what they do. It's understandable; they've been more active in parish activities (the majority being part of the choir) and they see each other more but it still stinks to feel left out. The kicker was when I contacted one of the members and suggested that we try to help set-up a more frequent carpooling system to outings in which they charged for parking... and a suggestion she, herself, had pitched to the group for that specific outing. She told me to work it out myself because she was too busy to help me for a different Mass event I wasn't even talking about. I felt the heat rush to my face and my ears when I read her response. It had been her idea; I only suggested perhaps setting up something so that the carpooling could begin before the outing (it was going to start at Mass and then end up at a different location) since some of us (I'm not the only one) have transportation issues sometimes. I've seen people (in the group and from the parish in general) ask for rides, so it was a suggestion to help them out. I had a way to get to get to Mass and the outing; it wasn't even for me. Needless to say, between that response, another group member publicly embarrassing me for something I'd say in all seriousness at the last big (read: crowded) meeting I attended and feeling like I wasn't welcomed... I decided to no longer attend group meetings.

All of these things -- what my former spiritual director had said and my experience with the members of the young adult group -- and my inability to go to Mass all contributed to me feeling and thinking that perhaps my former spiritual director was right and that me praying, doing my best (and failing spectacularly when I began doubting myself, especially when it came to my ability to go to Mass regularly), and not finding my place in the Church meant I should throw in the towel. I had these strong thoughts and feelings for almost the entirety of May. Add me feeling as if I didn't know what I was going to do with my life and everything else I mentioned... I was in a bad place.

On a whim (I don't remember if it was inspired by a dream I had that featured him or if he just kept popping up in my mind), I decided to start a Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati novena on May 1st. I mentioned it to Mom and she also, quite suddenly and without giving it much thought, said she would pray it along with me. I got the novena prayers in Spanish from the Frassati Argentina group for Mom and we prayed for the same things: clarity about my career/vocation (small v) and my health. The spiritual attacks (or what I think were attacks) got worse when I did the novena... but I didn't stop. Though the thoughts persisted that I should leave, remembering Bl. PGF's life story kept me from pulling away. I use to remember his ardent love for the Church. I also remembered how both St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) had moments in which they felt God had abandoned them as well so I kept going. I think I only missed praying the Rosary once and that's because I fell asleep because I felt unwell. Other than that, I don't think I missed either morning or nighttime prayers. Bl. PGF remained in my thoughts (and my heart) as my birthday approached. Whenever I felt like giving up, I would remember him and I tried to fight through the apathy and disappointment.

As silly as it sounds, the moment that I feel was the turning point was when I received my lab results at my second hematologist appointment. To know that my prayers had been answered reduced me to a puddle of tears and gratitude at the hospital (where my hematology appointments occur). I had been slowly gaining weight in the past year but I didn't break past the 124-125 mark (I'm usually between 125 and 128 lbs) and it would occasionally dip back down... until I did the novena. My weight, as I mentioned before, has remained steady and is back to where it was prior to my health issues starting 5 years ago. It took years to get down to the source of my health problems (sans those that are causing low platelets). It was the moment where I went "I suffered through so much... but I can see that God didn't abandon me. He heard my prayers despite my not going to Mass and my failure... and Bl. PGF came through for me in a big way." A day or two after receiving the wonderful news that I was healthier than I had been in years, the rest of my prayers (that were part of my novena to Bl. PGF) were answered.

The weekend before my birthday I returned to confession and Mass for the first time in 2 months. I have not failed to go to either confession or Mass since. On my birthday I got word on something (career related) that I'd been praying about, literally within 5 minutes of my waking up. (side note: totally counting that as a birthday gift from God, lol). I now have a clear(er) path that I will be taking starting this autumn when the next phase begins. I also got inspiration for my third novel, which was scrapped and started over again for the third time but which has stuck. (second side note: I'm glad I started over; this new idea is so much better than the first two I had.)

I feel like myself again. I feel that great love I have towards the Church though I've still struggled with certain things like overindulgence and temptations in recent weeks. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my new confessor suggested focusing on my spiritual life this summer which I've been doing. I want to get into my problem with my experience with Ordinary Form Masses vs Latin Masses (and the communities for both) but I'll save that for the next post. Let's just say that I had a big eye-opener regarding this and it's what I'll be working through this summer. For now, I'm just trying to keep my confession and Mass attendance more regular, I want to figure out what I could do to help my concentration problem during prayer time, and I want to kick the bad habits I developed/that returned while I went months without attending Mass. Baby steps... but happy that I didn't leave the Church and grateful for the intercession Bl. PGF helped with.

I bought myself a Rosary bracelet with a medal of Bl. PGF to wear and use (to pray until I get myself the complete Rosary) for my birthday as a reminder of why I'm a big Frassati fangirl. That's what this post's picture is of; the Rosary bracelet. It's already helped me focus when praying the Rosary despite being like twice my width of my wrist, lol.

And before any of you say anything: yes, I know that feelings can trip us up and that we shouldn't pay attention. I also know that even in our darkest moments, God is always there for us. I kept reminding myself of that when I was struggling... but it didn't always help. Sometimes your mind can play tricks on you, just like your heart can. The devil knows how to best kick us when we're already down. Don't you think he knows that the easiest way to get me down is to make me feel unloved and rejected? Hi, I'm an INFP and phlegmatic-sanguine over here; I'm a people person despite being an introvert. I say I'm a social introvert for that very reason -- I like people. Making me feel like I'm rejected by people I admired -- my spiritual director and members of the group which I so wanted to be a part of? He knew how to get to me... but God is greater than him and God knows that my stubbornness (when used for good), my optimism (which did waver for a while), and tenacity are some of my best strengths. He knew that Bl. PGF was the best way to pull me out of that abyss of spiritual dryness and doubt.

I'm sure there were countless prayers that I don't know about, which helped me get through all of this. To those who prayed for me during this time, I want to say a massive "Thank you!" To those who I personally know are struggling through the same thing or something similar, please know I add you into my prayers specifically by (full) name because I understand how difficult going through this is. If you're going through doubts about the Church or anything of the sort, please don't be afraid to talk to someone... or even ask others for prayers. I volunteer to pray and fast for you; just let me know privately. I don't want anyone to go through this... or worse.

Anyway, this -- sharing what happened to me -- had been on my heart since last night and I'm grateful to be able to share it with you. I'm not fully out of the danger area (are any of us?) but I'm in a much, much better place than I was last month. Bl. PGF's feast day is coming up early next month so I'll be reposting the novena prayers (they differ daily) every day on this blog later this month leading up to his feast day (July 4th). I didn't think it was possible but I've become a bigger fan of his (and my mother is a (new) massive fan now that she saw the big changes since we did the novena) and I'm full of gratitude for his intercession. As he would say, "verso l'alto!" ("towards the heights!")

It's getting hot in my home office (it's already in the low 90s and it's only 12:25 p.m.) so I'm going to end this blog post and go migrate to another part of the apartment before I have to go pick up Mom from work.

I hope you're all having a lovely week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When Taking Care of Yourself Becomes Overindulgence

Last night and this morning I was thinking about my third novel and I had the inspiration to share (on the blog) something I'm currently in the process of working through: learning how to take care myself in moderation.

For years, I battled anemia, fatigue, and being underweight. In fact, I recently hit my normal weight range which I haven't been within since I graduated as an undergrad, 5 years ago. Anemia is physically (and even mentally) debilitating. I was tired all of the time and had trouble concentrating or even doing the simplest things (like remembering that I had water boiling on the stove; thank goodness for a whistling kettle). I would fall asleep sitting down, in the middle of the day. I would want to take a nap within 2-3 hours of waking up... after 8-10 hours of sleep. I would often be found in bed, laying there most of the day because my body felt very heavy and it was exhausting simply sitting up. It wasn't laziness; my doctors all confirmed it was due to the anemia. I didn't have the physical (and mental) strength to function like a normal human being.

I tried to push myself and do things despite my physical weakness but that ended up backfiring and I spent more time in bed, trying to regain strength. When that happened, I knew I had to admit "defeat" and allow myself to do what my body wanted. If I felt tired, I would take a nap. If I felt I couldn't walk any longer, I'd sit until I felt well enough to continue. If I was hungry, I would eat. If I was thirsty... well, you get the idea. Whatever my physical needs were, I took them as cues from my body that that was what it needed. It was that (and taking the multivitamin that apparently boosted my iron and folate levels quite quickly) that helped me get healthy once again. Hooray for learning self-care!

I learned that it's important to take care of yourself -- something I was sadly lacking since I tended to put others' needed ahead of my own and this is something I've done since I was a child. I didn't think of what I needed or even wanted. I did what others needed. It's not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing. I've been taken advantage of by those who saw that I was easily exploitable. It's something that I've had to learn to better manage; to learn to say "no" and not feel guilty about doing. Seeing that I was making myself sicker by not taking care of myself was a massive wake-up call and one that I'm grateful for since I know it'll be useful once I have a family of my own (someday, I pray). Now I have to learn the other side of taking care of yourself: doing things in moderation.

Before I get into that, a bit of background info for you new readers. I feel like I'm getting those selfish years I didn't get when I was younger. As those of you who've been long-time readers may recall from previous posts, I didn't have your typical adolescence or young adulthood. I helped take care of my parents when most of my peers were going out with friends. I didn't go parties. I didn't go out on dates (and I've yet to be taken out on a proper date. Seriously). I didn't even go to slumber parties. Sure, I regularly went to concerts between the ages of 18 and 20, but I always came home right after the shows. When I hung out with friends (in those years in which my father's cancer was in remission), I would come home early. Simply put, I was a responsible kid. I avoided drugs, alcohol, sleeping around, and every other vice you could possibly think of for someone who grew up in  L.A. My then "friends" used to tease me for being an "old lady" or a "prisoner" of my own home but that's just how I've always been. When I was in school, I focused on that and didn't go out. When my father's cancer returned (and eventually became terminal), I was even more homebound than normal After my father died, I focused on school until I graduated. Almost as soon as I graduated, I got sick and it's taken 5 years to get to the bottom of all the problems I ended up having.

Now, taking care of yourself isn't bad. I'm back to my pre-graduation normal weight. My health is the best it's been in several years. My anxiety is virtually non-existent these days. I have a (more or less) clear path on which I'll be traveling down on over the next year or so, if it continues to be God's will. I've placed myself in God's hands and it's been a wonderful thing. But... I'm getting slightly off-track now.  While doing what you need to do stay health is great, it can backfire which is what I'm dealing with right now.

As you could probably guess from the title, I'm currently trying to learn to do things in moderation because what worked for me while I was sick isn't what I need anymore. I can't oversleep anymore (and my body has actually ached on days when I sleep more than 8 hours). I can't eat more than I need to. And before you ask, I used to lack on appetite and had to force myself to eat some days... which is how I got into the habit of eating even when I didn't feel hungry. That and, for a long time, I couldn't take iron pills and I had to eat a lot of food just to get enough iron in my diet for the day to not make the anemia worse. I've gotten into the habit of doing much more for myself than most other people do and it's one that I know I will struggle to break out of.

I have the hardest time breaking habits, both good and bad. I have to re-train my body to be fine with 7-8 hours of sleep when I can get them (which, thankfully, is most days). I also have to get back into the habit of getting to sleep early and getting up early instead of going to bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 10-11 a.m. This will not be the easiest, especially since Mom's been on vacation since my birthday so I've gotten used to not getting up at 3-4 a.m. to help her get to work on time. I need to remind myself to listen to my stomach and to my body and stop whenever I feel myself getting full. I have to remind myself that the objective is to keep hunger away and not to make myself feel absolutely stuffed. Yes, I also know I won't ever have this luxury again... especially not once I get married and have a family of my own. That's why I say that I feel like I'm getting the selfish years I didn't have when I was younger; I only have myself (and my mom, to an extent) to worry about.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I have two more months off before I begin the next step in (what I believe to be) God's plans for me. I already have plans to work on my spiritual life (doing a big re-do/makeover of sorts) and I had my third novel to work on so it's not like I'll be sitting around the house, twiddling my thumbs. As soon as Mom heads back to work (this weekend), I get to reestablish my "housewife" routine of taking care of the house, running errands, and balancing the household budget by myself... on top of the plans I have for my novel and other things regarding my faith that will get me out of the house during the summer.

I will also try to go to confession more often because I know gluttony and an overconsumption of things are considered sins... and I'm tired of telling the priest I over-eat at least once during the week. *blush* If you haven't made the connection yet, the longer I went without going to Mass and confession, the easier it was for me to be selfish and greedy and allow myself to overindulge in sleep, food, and general laziness. I'm ashamed of myself for falling into this trap but it happened and now I'm holding myself accountable for all the dumb decisions I've made.

Please pray for me as I try to cultivate more temperance in my life. There are things I didn't mention in this post that will make things a little harder than usual for me when it comes to learning how to balance things, especially in the "ninja area" of my life that y'all know I don't like talking about on this blog. (*whispers* that means my "personal" life for those of you new to the blog. I'm notoriously private about my love life, y'all.)

Anyway, I think that's all for now. It's getting hot in my home office (we're nearing the triple digits this and next week in L.A.) and it's (unfortunately for me) the hottest room in the house so I want to escape this mini-oven before it gets hotter.

I hope you all are having a lovely week thus far!

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