Somewhere during that week I read and finished Three Irish Saints: A Guide to Finding Your Spiritual Style by Dr. Kevin Vost. (side note: I will always only link Goodreads for books; I won't try to sell you anything.) This won't be a typical book review because, honestly, I don't like reviewing books. I don't even do it on Goodreads unless I feel like I need to warn friends or I love it so much it needs to be recommended beyond the 5-star rating I give it. I will, however, share what I got out of it in case you're wondering what the end results may be.
Despite being a Hibernophile (definition: someone fond of Irish culture, history, language, and all things related to Ireland), I didn't know too much about any of the 3 saints that were featured in the book. I was aware of St. Kevin of Glendalough only because one of my oldest friends (who isn't even Catholic) went to visit Glendalough when she was still a student at St. Andrew's University and took a trip to the pilgrimage site. If it weren't for her pictures (which I think are still on Facebook... I should check; it's been nearly a decade), I wouldn't have heard much about him. I knew the very superficial basics on St. Patrick and St. Brigid of Kildare but, really, not enough. This book changed all of that.
Despite the fact that St. Brigid was my patron saint for the year about 2 years ago, I still was in the dark about her history. It wasn't until I read this book that she was a kindred spirit. As I read her life's story, I realized how much I had in common with her when I was a child... and it made me realize that I wanted to make some major changes in my life.
In a nutshell, she was very giving... to the point where even the Sisters in the order she founded would hide things from her so she wouldn't give them away and leave them all destitute. St. Brigid didn't care about that; she wanted to give the little she could in order to help others. Her heart ached when she saw someone in need and did what she could to make sure they go it. She even felt pity for a dog and gave choice bacon to him despite it being destined for the royal household she worked for. A couple of times I was reminded of how I used to do something similar when I was a child. No, I didn't give bacon to a dog in or out of a royal household.
When I was a little girl, I remember how much my heart broke whenever we went to Mexico and I used to see little kids begging for money or trying to sell little things just to make enough money to help their families. One day, when I was about 8 or so, I saw two kids a few years younger than me, sitting on the sidewalk, dirty and underclothed. My dad had just purchased a bag of peanuts for me and when I saw them, I didn't hesitate to give it to them. The reason why this particular incident stands out for me was because I was promptly ridiculed by a close family member for it. They laughed quite derisively in my face, making me feel ashamed and embarrassed about what I had done.
Imagine that you're an extremely sensitive child and that someone you love mocks you and then gets mad for something you wanted to do to help others. It's going to leave an impression (a negative one) on you. That happened almost 24 years ago and I still remember it... including the hurt feelings. From that time until my early 20s, this family member would get angry at me whenever I tried to help others in need, whether it be monetarily or otherwise. I would have to do things either behind their back or just simply walk by and have my heart break in the process, just to maintain the peace with this family member.
This family member is no longer physically in my life anymore so when I can help out, I do so without second thought. My mother has always encouraged it (she was another person who would be on the receiving end of this family member's anger when it came to being charitable) so I don't have to worry about doing anything when she's with me. Whether I help others often or not is between God and me... but I realized that I'm not doing as much as I would like to.
I'm ashamed to admit that I've grown more selfish in recent years, especially since Mom and I hit economic hardships since my father's passing and my health issues that have prevented me from working away from home. I'm a lot more careful with money because we've known what it has been like to go without food for a couple of days. It's a fear that's set in, especially after all the malnutrition has caused me the health issues I'm still trying to recover from. All the health issues I'm enduring now? All came from the lack of proper nutrition and poor diet I had as recent as 3 years ago. And cue my friends getting mad at me for not letting them know I was eating for days in 5... 4... 3...
Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati has been on my mind and in my heart a lot in recent weeks. I mean, we all know he's my saint crush and all but he's been my constant heavenly buddy lately. I was even inspired to do a novena at the beginning of this month, which my mom joined me in. When I started looking back at his life, especially now that I'm looking into becoming a lay Dominican, one of the biggest things that has stuck out was how he used his wealth to help others. When he was a child, he even gave the shoes off of his feet to give to a little boy who didn't have any... and did it in a way that no one saw because he didn't want to get in trouble. There's another kindred spirit!
I had been thinking about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (which Bl. Pier Giorgio was a part of) ever since I saw them listed on a local parish's website. The parish is linked to the Dominicans and is where the lay Dominicans meet up once a month which makes sense. I've felt a bit overwhelmed with too many options for my future (only one of which appeals to me but brings no income to pay back my student loans).
Through Bl. Pier Giorgio and now St. Brigid, perhaps the Holy Spirit is trying to nudge me to make the commitment to help out with the SVdP while I find a job and while I continue to recover my health. It won't bring in any money but it would be a better use of my time than trying to figure out what to do in between writer's blocks. Helping those in need is something that's been close to my heart since childhood and I do have an awful lot of time on my hands these days. The ideas are coming into my mind, y'all...
Anyway, that's what I got out of the book and what St. Brigid has inspired me to do. The book has been on my reading list for years but I didn't get it from the library (it was on hold for a while) until recently. I sure am glad I was able to read it and now it's going to go on my list to purchase later on. I'm currently reading Saints Who Battled Satan: Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy by Dr. Paul Thigpen which is interesting thus far. Let's hope that brings good things as well.
I think that's it for now. Since I once again have a working laptop and I'm currently on the mend from what hit this weekend, I hope to blog for often. :D
I hope you've all been having a lovely start of the week!
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D