Saturday, December 26, 2009

Annual Poll: Blog's Patron Saint for 2010

It's that time of the year when you guys get to help me choose who will be next year's patron saint for this blog. Last year Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati won and I believe he helped me write better blogs than I wrote in 2008. I would've put this poll up sooner but I've been a busy little bee lately. Each patron saint on the list was listed for a specific reason -- all vocation related.

I will try to post about 8 new blogs by tomorrow afternoon (which I have started but not published in the last couple of weeks). I have quite a number of things I would love to share with y'all. :)

Anyway, please vote in the poll on your left. You can choose more than one saint if you are torn between a few. Poll ends at midnight on New Years Eve (12:00 a.m., 12/31/09) so this blog can start the year off with a new patron saint. :)

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas; 2 Year Anniversary

I just wanted to stop by and wish everyone a Merry Christmas! What a wonderful, joyous holiday... to think that Our Lord was born and gave a new light and hope to the world. :D I hope y'all remember what the day is truly about, and less about the materialistic aspects the overly secular society wants to you focus on.

Also, hey, it's this blog's two year anniversary. Two years ago, today, I decided (spur of the moment decision) to start a blog and chronicle my life coming back to the Church. Though I believe I have grown up quite a bit (and this is based on looking at the first couple of entries I wrote), I don't think my journey is. I hope I get to write more in the second year. :)

Again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! God bless you all! :D

- Emmy Cecilia

Friday, December 18, 2009

Insight When You're Not Looking for It

I can honestly say that I now get the whole "too nice" and "too hard on self" comments I've gotten over the years. This insight has come during the most stressful time... studying for my worse subject's final.

I should clear up a couple of things. First of all... I don't actually hate math. I quite enjoy it, and I've been mostly teaching myself math for as long as I can remember. I do have the occasional tutor (shout out to Joe of Verbum Veritatis who's driven an hour out to where I live just to tutor me on whatever I don't get), but I mostly do things on my own. I did this during high school when I did independent study and I passed my math classes with flying colors. I don't know if I returned to school too soon after my father's death, if it's my ongoing anxiety/panic disorder, or if the many years between classes left me nervous... but something caused me to completely blank out during the on-ground exams. (side note: I am taking an 8 week Intermediate Algebra course that is considered a hybrid course -- I take exams in person and turn in homework online.) While I am doing very well on the online work (both homework and tests), I cannot figure out why I blank out during the exams. I've never had test anxiety (for any subject, including math) before so it's a little unnerving. It's really frustrating when you know the material, and well, yet when it comes time to actually doing the exam... nada. I've come out of several exams either excited because I knew the material and thought I did very well (only to have that confidence crushed like a bug) or I come out sobbing because I get so frustrated over the outcome of the exams. I mean, I go over the practice exams about 10 minutes before the actual exam and I KNOW the material. I don't understand why this is all happening... but it's been giving me some insight I wasn't expecting.

This whole semester has been a huge blow to my confidence as a student. While I did very well on half of my courses, two I didn't do well on... the ones where I had to actually attend campus for the lectures. Philosophy, well, though I'm sure I passed that one (based on past exams and papers written), I didn't do as well as I hoped because of my on-going "fight" with the professor. If he decides to give me something like a B or C, I'll gladly take it because at least then I know that I didn't have to compromise my beliefs just to get a high grade. I did as well as I could (as much as I could) knowing that the professor would mark down my papers because of our clashing beliefs. That one isn't such a huge blow as math... and only because math is the one in which I am not getting a grade based on the professor's beliefs, though I'm sure the professor doesn't like me either.

I do admit that I had NO real help from my math professor. Whenever I tried to talk to him about my problem, he was very dismissive of it. When I told him that the computer had changed my answers on a test, "not my problem. Even if you show the work, I can't give you points." At the end (as in a couple of days ago) when I went to a counselor who basically chewed him out after I present him proof, he wanted to help. Yeah, a little late there, buddy. Now I'm in the dilemma that I never thought I'd find myself in... if I don't pass the final, I don't pass the class. If by some miracle I don't blank out and i do pass the final... depending on what the percentage is determines whether or not I pass the class.

While working on the last couple of homework problems, something hit me... maybe I'm not meant to pass the class. Maybe this is all supposed to be some humbling experience for me since I've always been extremely confident about my success as a student. As I wrote a couple of entries ago (which I have yet to publish) maybe my failing this class (thus limiting my choices of where to transfer) is all part of God's plan for me. He knows I've overworked myself to the point where I've spent 12 hours a day just doing math... but maybe, if I don't pass this class, it's all going to be for some reason.

As I said in the beginning, while I am not looking for any insight regarding anything, I've been getting it. Yesterday, I got to put my saying "no" to the test. As my friends know, I don't like saying "no" to people when ask me for favors. When I do say I can't do something, a few people know that they can get me to do it with guilt trips. If I upset someone, or see them unhappy over something, I give in... even if I know it's selfish of them to do it. I just don't like disappointing anyone. Yesterday, I had to put my foot down on something (a Christmas party I was guilted into agreeing to; "you'll hurt my feelings if you don't go") because I wanted to study. Of course, the guilt trips started but I held firm to my decision. It occurred to me that this happened quite often -- that I've let my wanting to help others and/or make others happy while neglecting my own wants/needs. Taking care of my own needs (in this case, trying to come out of Intermediate Algebra alive and relatively sane) has pointed things like this (giving into others' requests) to me. I love helping other, and or even simply making them happy, but I have noticed that people really take advantage of that.

I've also become well aware of what at least 4 priests have told me... I'm too hard on myself. Failing my on-ground exams, I automatically cry because I am angry at myself for blanking out and/or not remembering certain equations. Lately, I've also been really hard on myself regarding my dad. For some reason, I've started being really angry at myself because I feel like I didn't do enough for my dad... as if there was something I could to save him. Many hours have been spent crying lately due to this. I get it Fr. Leo (R.I.P.), Fr. Alexander, Fr. James, and new priest whose name I didn't catch -- I am certainly too hard on myself, even when I know things are beyond my control. This is something that will go on my New Years Resolutions list.

See what God shows you when you are least expecting it? I'm grateful for this insight, especially right now, because things were (pardon my language) sucking for me. I've spent weeks in a very depressive mood that not even my best friends have been able to get me out of. Am I still mourning over dad's death (which I am clearly not over; I still cry whenever I talk about how he passed away) or did the second half of the year just finally catch up with me with the rest of the stress I've been under lately? I guess only time will tell. All I know is that all this insight has actually made me loosen up a bit about school... and it's helping me grow as a person, which is great.

Wow, I did not anticipate to write this long so I will stop shortly. If you've read this far, congrats... you might be the only one. lol. I hope to have more (possibly shorter) blogs soon. I have 4 I've written in the past two weeks (really good ones, too... ones that people might not expect from me) but they'll have to wait until finals are over on Sunday.

I guess that's it for now. I've got a slightly raised temperature that I want to take care of before I continue my battle with math homework. 693 problems (not counting extras I've done, the practice exams, and the actual exams) in 8 weeks... WHO does that? Oh right, my professor. lol.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Quick Update

I am alive and well. I am struggling in math (though that whole deal is out of my hands; it's all the professor being unreasonable... I have proof/backing from college counselor who has seen it for himself) so that is the reason why I haven't updated. My Philosophy final was yesterday and I have two more to go -- math tomorrow. I am going to pray because if I don't do well on the math final, it'll be nearly impossible for me to pass the class. I will be back to my regular posting self after Sunday. I actually have about 4-5 posts all ready to be completed (to be posted) soon so look out for those in the next couple of days.

That's it for now. I have a lot of math homework, practice exams, etc. to go through before tomorrow.

I hope everyone is doing well. :)

Thanks for checking up daily (I see that some of you do, and I sincerely thank you for it). God Bless!

- Emmy Cecilia

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent: Celebrations, Changes, and Epiphanies.

This is our first Advent wreath. My parents never used one, nor did they really celebrate Advent, so this is the start of a new tradition in our little family. I thought that, considering everything we've been through and how easily we can forget about what Advent is all about, the wreath on our kitchen table would be perfect.

I've had wanting to do this since I returned to the Church but I hadn't been able to until this year. I think it'll add something special to our days and, hopefully, will help get mom and I to start saying grace before meals (another time we're not used to; so sad).

I've been having a lot of changes happening in the family, some good and some not too good, which have led to epiphanies... which I hope to write about soon. All I will say is that this Advent season is the perfect time for this to happen, and I consider it a blessing from God. :) Does anyone else have these kinds of experiences around this time of year, or am I the only one?

Anyway, sorry for the short entry... busy with math homework (of course). I hope everyone has a great Advent season. :D

For more about Advent please visit here.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!
- Emmy Cecilia

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quick Personal Update

Again, sorry for the gaps between posts. I had my Philosophy exam on Wednesday... well, I actually missed it because I had HORRIBLE panic attacks through the entire night (Tuesday into Wednesday) and the anxiety didn't subside until Thursday morning. Because of this, I was also forced to cancel my adventure in my beloved England. *sighs* I supposed everything happened for a reason (and I have seen what that reason was) so it's okay.

I've been taking a break from studying over the holidays because I was getting those stress knots on my shoulders and back. Instead, I've been fixing my schedule for the Spring semester. 14 units (total of 5 courses). Since I am in the final stages on my transfer applications, I had to make sure I got all the courses I need to transfer before summer. Different schools in different countries required different courses. I hope all my hard work will pay off in the end. I'm still relying of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's intercession when it comes to my transferring because I will really need it.

Advent is starting tomorrow, so I've also been preparing for that. I have the wreath and candles all ready. I'm going to try to translate some things for my mom who will be celebrating Advent for the first time. Yes, she's also a cradle Catholic but they did things differently in Mexico where she lived for the first couple of years of her life. It'll be VERY exciting to see how she reacts to things. :D Also, she's successfully started novenas. I'm so proud of her. :D

I hope to write an Advent post tomorrow. I don't think I wrote one last year so... it's about time I did. :D After tomorrow, and possibly Monday, don't expect another post from me until I am done studying for my math exam (we have this weekend off!). I am going to dedicate the next 3 weeks to passing my courses, especially math. The posting will become more regular after finals are over (after Dec. 16) and after I am done with my novel (which is going very well btw... 5,000 words in a couple of hours on Thursday).

That's it for now. I'm going to finish reading a novel for fun before I get prepare for tomorrow. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music Monday: Fireproof Edition

Though I have yet to write a proper review on the movie, it is no secret that I love Fireproof. If you haven't already seen it... what are you waiting for? If you loved Flywheel and/or Facing the Giants (which I just watched for the first time a couple of weeks ago), you'll love this film as well. I eventually want to dedicate a blog post to films made by Sherwood Pictures, but it'll have to wait until I am done with my courses for the semester.

Since it's Music Monday, I thought I'd post some videos of songs from the Fireproof soundtrack. While the entire thing is great, these are my top two. I hope y'all enjoy the songs and go watch the film (again, or for the first time.)

The first song is my personal favorite. It's called "Love is Not a Fight" by Warren Barfield. Pay close attention to the lyrics (which will be show in the video) and really think about them.

If you want to see the official music video to this song, you can find it here. I can't post it because they've disabled embedding. I would recommend you watching it. :)

The second song is called "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller. If you've seen the movie then you know this song comes on during a particularly awesome part. :)

And, just for fun, the Fireproof trailer. :)

Alright, I'm going back to studying for my Philosophy exam (though it's the Christianity portion so I won't be stressing too badly.) I hope y'all had a great start of week. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St. Cecilia's Feast Day; Giveaway.

In honor of my confirmation saint, St. Cecilia (now you know where my middle name comes from :D), I am doing a quick blog before I go study for my Philosophy exam. I will try not to repeat what I wrote last year.

A little background info on St. Cecilia courtesy of the "Saint of the Day" application on Facebook.

This patroness of music lived in early times. What we know about her goes back to the fourth century. Cecilia was a Roman noblewoman who had given her heart to Christ. Beneath the rich clothes worn by women of her class, Cecilia wore a rough shirt that caused her suffering. She wanted to be able to offer this sacrifice to Jesus, whose bride she intended to be. But Cecilia's father gave her in marriage to a young pagan noble. It is said that during the wedding celebration, the lovely bride sat apart. She was singing to God in her heart and praying for his help. When she and Valerian, her husband, were alone, she gathered up courage and said to him: "I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you let me keep my promise to be Christ's bride only, my angel will love you as he loves me."

Valerian was surprised and said kindly, "Show me this angel. If he comes from God, I will do as you wish."

Cecilia said, "If you believe in the one true God and receive the waters of Baptism, then you will see my angel." Valerian went to Bishop Urban and was received with joy. After he had professed his belief in the Christian religion, he was baptized and returned to St. Cecilia. There by the saint's side, the young man saw the splendid angel.

Valerian's brother, Tiburtius, learned of the Christian faith from Cecilia. She spoke so beautifully of Jesus that before long, he too was baptized. Together the two brothers performed many works of charity. When they were arrested for being Christians, they went bravely to death rather than give up their new faith in Jesus. St. Cecilia lovingly buried their bodies, before she too was arrested. She converted the very officers who tried to make her sacrifice to false gods. When she was put into a fire, it did not harm her. At last, a man was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, but Cecilia did not die right away. She lay on the floor of her own home unable to move. Yet by holding out three fingers of one hand, and one of the other, she still professed her belief in the Blessed Trinity.

On this feast of the patroness of music, let us consider the words of St. Augustine: "Words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart..And if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, people discard the restricting syllables. They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation.'"

I've always said that she choose me, not the other way around... and I couldn't be happier about that. Reading her story, about how on her wedding day she heard music in heart, because she'd be given it to God, sort of reminds me of the lovely (yet kinda weird) experience I had at Mass nearly 2 years ago. I often pray that God sends me a good man, like He did to St. Cecilia.

Oh, btw, that experiment I mentioned a couple of entries ago about using music to help me study? Totally helped... and I owe that idea to St. Cecilia. :) I'm pretty sure I passed the latest math exam, and he'll allow me to retake the last exam because he noticed that most (if not all) of us weren't passing the exams. I'll be alright. I owe part of that to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, but I'll leave that for another entry. :)

Oh, btw, I'm giving away two The Priests CDs in honor of St. Cecilia's feast day. Yeah, I left that until the end. lol. Just send me an email, twitter DM, or leave me a comment with your name and e-mail address and let me know that you'd like to enter the random drawing. I'll choose the winner on Monday (for Music Monday). (side note: The winners of the St. Dymphna chaplet and prayer card, the items are on their way. Sorry I couldn't get them sent sooner.)

I will try to write as often as I can but I don't know if I will for the rest of the week. I have two more exams to do before Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday through Sunday I will be spending time exploring my beloved England (particularly London and Bath -- squee! lol) as I do a little bit more research for the novel (the last piece of the novel writing puzzle). I will be back (without too much stress... I hope ;)) on Monday. :)

I hope everyone had a great, blessed weekend. :) As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

R.I.P Fr. Leo Leblanc, O.M.I.

This afternoon I got the shocking news that Fr. Leo, whom I've mentioned countless times on this blog, had passed away yesterday. He fell off something in the parish and hit his head... and then he was gone. Mom didn't know how to break the news to me because he was my favorite priest and she knew I'd take it hard. He was also my spiritual adviser and I was actually due for a visit. I've been fighting the urge to cry since I received this sad news.

Fr. Leo was a great man. He was also joking around or in a great mood. Never did I see him in a foul mood. He gave me some of the best advice I'd ever received. Thanks to him, I figured out that I wasn't meant to have a religious vocation. When he found out I had anxiety (when it was much worse), he told me not to worry if I had to leave for a couple of minutes while it calmed down. Almost every time he saw me, he told me he was still praying for me. I can't even begin to imagine how many prayers he said for me. Also, thanks to him, we were able to bury my father both quicker and without having to pay for much of it (since we didn't have the money) this past summer. I'm getting choked up just thinking about the countless ways he helped not only me but everyone that asked for his help.

Today, I'd been happy and excited about what was in store this evening. In about an hour, I'm leaving to receive an academic award at my college. We were going to celebrate afterwards but I'm no longer in the mood. What I'm in the mood for is praying for his soul... and finding comfort in reading more on Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's life, just like I did right when my father passed away. (Honestly, reading this biography helped me put things intro perspective.) It's a bit ironic that I received something in the mail from Frassati USA this afternoon. Perhaps a sign from above?

Tomorrow evening will be the vigil, which I will be attending. He won't be buried because he's donated his body to UCLA Medical. He was always giving towards others, right up to his death. I'd like to ask y'all to please pray for Fr. Leo's soul. He was a good man and he deserves all the prayers he can get.

I don't know exactly how to end this blog. I'm still in shock here.

Thanks in advance for the prayers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am a Childless Mother.

Yes, you read the title correctly: I am a childless mother. How is it possible? Well, insight from both a priest I met (for the first time) over the weekend AND from someone who knows me very well have helped me figure it out. Now, I have to decide whether it's a good thing or not, and where I have to draw the line.

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I love to take care of my family. I took care of my father for years up until he passed away this summer. I've continued taking care of my mother who is still in denial of my father's passing... and refuses to get help for her denial. Recently, I've had several people tell me that the "spark" is gone from my eyes... that there is only sadness, even when I try to be optimistic. Both the priest (who's name I don't remember; he's new to the nearby parish) and the person who knows me well pointed out something to me: I am a parent to my own parents. Not only that, but I've neglected to take care of myself. As the priest told me, after we got down to everything, I have been the parent in my family since I was a child. I've taken care of them whenever they've been ill or unable to take care of themselves or myself. In fact, I learned how to cook/feed myself (at age 4-5) and wash the dishes by hand (at age 6-7) because they were unable to help me with those specific things when they needed to be done. That's all I've ever known... doing things for them that they couldn't. Though I haven't been able to financially take care of them (though I have helped with that as well), I've taken care of them every other way... including emotionally. I am not complaining that I've lived my life this way; nothing makes me happier than being able to help others. The fact that I've been able to do everything I could for my parents makes me ecstatic.

I don't mind giving up things for others' benefit. It's in my very nature take care of others - ask my friends, they'll say I'm very "mothering" - otherwise I won't be happy. While that is true, I do admit that I've been given up a lot that I do, sometimes, wish I could've done. I wish that I could've gone straight to college after high school. If I had done that, I would've gotten my B.A. years ago. I wish I could've gone to university in England, as was the original plan a couple of years ago. Those are my two biggest "regrets" though I honestly don't regret giving them up. By my staying at home for as long as I have, I've been able to help out my parents with things they couldn't have done otherwise.

I'm not saying that I'm unselfish. Oh, no. Like everyone else, I do have my selfish moments when I don't want to do something so I don't... or moments where I just want what I want and I don't want anyone saying anything about my decision to do it. No one's that perfectly unselfish, especially not me.

Recently, I've been given the opportunity to study, and possibly work, in a different country (though I will keep details under wraps for now). I don't really have anything holding me back... except my mother. My mother is such a wonderful, giving person that many people take advantage of her. I have to put my foot down and/or deal with it because she's too nice and can't bring herself to do it. I know she's able to take of herself, but I still feel a sort of responsibility for her that it makes me really think about whether I will be leaving Los Angeles (and the U.S.) or not. It's my selfish wants (and, ultimately, it would good for me, not only career wise but it will make me even more autonomous) vs my not too selfish wants of taking care of my mother (who often puts me on a guilt trip when I mention leaving). As I said, I really don't mind giving up leaving this heck hole that is known as Los Angeles to take care of mother... but is it time to leave the nest and not worry about how she'll do by herself?

The priest advised me to go. He said that I should take care of myself and do something for myself for once. Mom agreed... but not before giving me another guilt trip about leaving her by herself... with no family around... living by herself... she "can't live" by herself. *sighs* Do I do something for myself and go to this new country and university or do I continue being a "mother" to my mother? Where am I going to draw the line to end this cycle? This is going to give me a headache until I make my decision... and it's not going to be pretty because I'm the most indecisive person you'll meet. *sighs* lol.

Sorry for semi-venting here. I normally don't do this but I needed it out of my system. Maybe some of y'all have some advice that would be helpful in my decision. Anything from the Bible that I've overlooked that will help me with this? Seriously, I'll take good advice right about now. :)

Alright, this nerd needs to stop blogging and go back to the wonderful world of math. And, yes, that was written with sarcasm on my mind. lol.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons... (Sour Sunday).

The St. Cecilia statue mom bought for me after "Sour Sunday." More on the reason behind the gift coming up...

Sorry about the extended break again. I did not anticipate the amount of work and things that bombarded me over the weekend. As I said in the last post, I was (correction: still am!) struggling with math. I bombed the math test... again... on Sunday. I studied for hours just to bomb it? Oh goodness no. Joe can verify that I do know my stuff (he tutored me for 3 hours on Friday... and he heard "Please shoot me now" at least half a dozen times, lol) I just completely blank out when I take the test... and that is BAD news because, it being an accelerated math course, I cannot afford to "screw up" as one of my classmates so eloquently put it. Here's the kicker to this whole "not passing" issue: NO ONE in the class is getting over a 50/100 on the exams. I'm serious. Everyone I spoke to said they received a 50 or lower. Personally, I received a 40/100 (yes, I'm putting it out there for all to know. I'm not ashamed to admit I fail at something). The problem with this class is the professor. I hate to point fingers but we've all agreed that it's not really our fault because we try the best we can with what we're given. The math problems presented to us are not clear (both Joe and my friend Dave, who has attempted to help me with math, both agreed on that) and the prof. spends 5 minutes on a single problem (per chapter) and then moves onto the next chapter. I had someone, who wasn't in the class, attend the class with me on Sunday and, surprise surprise, she didn't understand it either because nothing is properly explained to us. So what am I going to do? I have devised a plan that will take into effect tonight (after I do all those 101 errands)... I will use music to help me study. Music is ever present in my life. Even when I'm not actively listening to it, I have at least something "playing" in my head. This is why I often say that St. Cecilia (patron saint of music, musicians) chose me as my confirmation saint, I didn't choose her. I'm glad too. :) The inspiration to use music came at the end of what is now known as "Sour Sunday."

After I fantastically bombed my second math exam in a row, I came out feeling horrible... but I wanted to put it aside and focus on the fact that I would be able to finally attend Mass on a Sunday. I would be cutting it close but I was going to go, and that's all I wanted. We got there 10 minutes late (because my transportation situation isn't always the best when it comes to time management). "Fine, no big deal... at least I'm here." I had to stand in the back since we got there late. I said "Okay. I don't mind. I'll offer up the fatigue (since I was carrying a backpack that weighed at least 15 pounds) and whatever I feel." The Mass went by quickly. I enjoyed the homily Fr. Leo gave about how we should not be afraid of death and how we should try to live our lives as best as we could so we could be reunited with the Lord in Heaven. Then came time to receive the Eucharist. Someone announced that they were advising everyone to receive the Eucharist by hand so that there would be minimal contact (Swine Flu paranoia strikes away). Of course, no wine was given due to the same fear. From my understanding, receiving communion by hand was optional... and an option I didn't care for. I've NEVER received the Eucharist in my hand and I wasn't about to start... or so I thought. When it came time for me to receive the Eucharist, I stood there with my hands together, clearly waiting for the Eucharistic minister to give it to me on the tongue. The guy just stood there and said "We're giving it by hand." I was starting to say how that was optional but he got angry and practically threw it at my hands. I was LUCKY I caught it because it would've fallen on the ground. WHO DOES THAT?!

I was so angry, I took the Eucharist, put it in my mouth, did the sign of the cross and walked to the back of the parish... shaking my head, showing my disgust, with tears welling up in my eyes. I couldn't take it anymore... I walked outside and I openly cried those big crocodile tears I am famous for. I waited for Mass to be over and for my mom to come out. She asked me what was wrong. I told her and she shrugged it off. Then we walked by Fr. Leo and he asked what was wrong. I told him... and I added "It doesn't feel right. It's NOT right." He countered with "Well, Jesus gave his disciples bread that they each broke off with their hands. If Jesus was here, do you think he'd give you the Eucharist by hand? Think about it. He probably would." I was stunned... I couldn't say what I was thinking out of the respect I have for the Church and for those with a religious vocation. Before I left he said "You can't teach this old dog new tricks... but you can teach young dogs (me) new ones." He laughed, told me to get used to receiving the Eucharist by hand, and said he'd pray for me (probably to "get over" what I felt). As we were leaving, I vowed to my mom that I wouldn't set foot in that parish again.

It might be a little dramatic for me to say that I am never going back there again... but I can't, in good conscience, do it. The liturgical abuse is horrid (they practically skip over the Penitential Rites for starters) and I'm so disillusioned with this particular parish. I know I've grown up there, and that thanks to Fr. Leo, we were able to bury my father quickly and a lot cheaper than we were initially told, but I just can't sit there and pretend I'm okay with how things are conducted there. I can't. Mom loves the parish but I just can't make myself overlook how Masses are given there. I will look for another parish elsewhere because it's getting ridiculous.

Before we left, to come home, we stopped by the little shop on the side of the parish. I saw this statue of St. Cecilia and pointed it out to mom. I told her that I thought it was pretty and that she was the reason Cecilia is being (legally) added as my middle name. Mom ended up buying it for me, after seeing the horrible day I was having, so that I would have something that would remind me of her whenever I was having a similar type of day. On our way home, I told my mom St. Cecilia's story and she said "Wow. That's a great story. Very inspiring." When I thought about it, the idea of using music to help me cope with things like my math issues. I have used it (music) when I needed it, i.e. when I've had to control my anxiety or when I am stuck on a particular chapter in the novel I'm writing. I've placed the statue on my desk, right next to me, so I can glance over and remind myself that I've used music to help me overcome things before... and it will, hopefully, help me with my math issues. It will also remind me that, just like I cannot stand liturgical abuses... especially when they badly butcher the music, I must do what I feel is true and not give into pressures of what is expected of me (i.e. going to parishes that don't honor the Mass properly). Life handed me lemons on Sunday, but I refuse to give up without a fight.

Alright, that's all for now. I have to go run a million errands (yes, that is a great exaggeration ;)) before I dedicate the evening to math. Ick. lol.

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update since my math tutor (and fellow Catholic blogger) Joe is due at Chez Emmy any minute...

Sorry I haven't updated for nearly 2 weeks. I've been busy (REALLY BUSY) with school since my 8 week (a.k.a. crazy advanced) math course just began. Math is definitely my Achilles heel so I have to study it more than I usually do any other subject. Don't ask me why I decided to torture myself with a short, quick paced course instead of a normal 16 week course... I'm not even that sure. Since I don't know how long it'll be until I am able to blog more regularly, I have been toying with the idea of putting a couple of chapters of the novel I've been working on until I am able to come back and write a proper blog. If that happens, it'll start soon. At the moment I'm thinking about posting maybe 3 chapters... over a period of maybe a week and a half to two weeks (I have to break them down because they're too long for a single post). Again, I am not 100% sure that I will do this (because I have a thing about having my things ready before they are completed) but if I do, I'll start posting them very very soon.

Advent is coming up, I will be posting more regularly since it's my favorite time of the year. I do have a lot of things to write... I just need to find the time to write them. With school and the deadline for my novel approaching, I haven't had much time for anything else... including soccer matches (and y'all know what a big soccer fan I am... and how much I just cringed when I called it soccer. lol).

Alright, well that's it for now. I HOPE to write something either later tonight (though not likely since the L.A. Galaxy are playing for the Western Conference Championship... GO GALAXY!!) or tomorrow. Hang in there. I'm doing well... just a tad bit overwhelmed with school this semester. :)

I hope everyone is doing well. :D As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls' Day; Dia de los Muertos

That is my father's grave marker after we decorated it for All Souls' Day. We were keeping the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos (my father was Mexican-American... Mexican born, naturalized American) in which add some of the person's favorite things, when they were living, to the grave. All foods and candles were strictly forbidden by the cemetery so we couldn't decorate it any more. Since we couldn't put a coffee cup, his favorite thing in the world after his cars, we added pinwheels which he thought were fun (he was a kid at heart.) One of them has the Mexican flag on it in honor of our Mexican heritage.

The day itself was a pretty deal for us, especially since this is the first time we really celebrate it. As soon as we found out that all the Catholic cemeteries in the Los Angeles Archdiocese were going to have Mass at 10 a.m., mom and I decided to go in honor of dad's memory. It also helps that dad is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery so we would be able to visit him after the Mass without any problems. Of course, that meant that I'd have to miss my Philosophy course but I didn't care. I was going to go to that Mass and my love of arguing with my professor wasn't going to stop me. I am so happy that I made that decision because it was only one of most beautiful experiences I've ever had.

The Mass was... beautiful, and bilingual. I was able to pray and sing hymns in both English and Spanish. There were many priests, representing the parishes around the San Fernando Valley, including Fr. Stan (who was my spiritual adviser until he was assigned to a different parish) and Fr. James (who is the new Irish-American priest at our parish). The sat in the sun, while the rest of us were in the shade. They said the reason for that was that they were doing penance for us. God bless them; it was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun burned. The hymns that were sung were lovely and appropriate. "Ave Maria" was sung in Italian and I teared up a bit because the woman put so much emotion into the song. I loved that they really focused on what the feast day was all about. The presiding priest, Fr. Steven Guitron (of Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima), gave a beautiful homily in which he talked about souls, purgatory, and trying to lead saintly lives so that we can, one day, enter Heaven and be with the Lord. He added things in both English and Spanish that I wish everyone there understood because it was a lovely message. Mom and I both received the Eucharist at the Mass and it all just felt... so right. Before the Mass ended, they thanked us for going to Mass and praying for the deceased. They concluded with Psalm 55:6, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest." As soon as that was said, they let about a dozen doves fly, surprising everyone in attendance. Many of us, both men and women, shed tears at how beautiful it was. (btw, I'm well aware that I'm using the word "beautiful" a lot but I honestly can't think of a better word for this experience.)

After Mass was over, we went back to visit dad's grave (where we first stopped before Mass). On our way there, we passed Ritchie Valens' grave. My mom is a big fan of the song "Donna" so it was interesting for her to see where the composer/singer of one of her favorite songs was buried. After passing by his grave, and praying for his soul, we went to daddy's grave to decorate it. As you saw in the picture, we really decorated it and would've probably added more things if we were able to. We didn't add marigolds, which is the tradition in Mexican cemeteries because my mother didn't want to do. I did but I was vetoed for once. lol. As we were decorating it his grave, I thought about how much I was like... what I'd learned from him... how much I missed him... how much he would always be a part of my life even though he's no longer physically here. All in all, it was a great experience and I look forward to doing it every year.

Whatever you did for All Soul's Day, I hope you remembered all the loved ones you've lost and remember that they'll always be with you. As Fr. Steven reminded us at the Mass, we may not see them, but they're looking out for us... helping us (through intercession) as much as they are able to, much like saints and blesseds.

That's all for now. I hope everyone had a great weekend. :D As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Upcoming Dr. Paul Camarata Interview

edit: The interview is now available here. :)

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned coming up with some interview questions that would see the light of day (on this blog). What I didn't mention was that I was going to interview Dr. Paul Camarata as part of Fallible Blogma's Catholic Speaker Month. While I don't have the interview to post up yet (Dr. Camarata has been understandably busy, he's a doctor! :D... me? School is slowly taking over my free time), I will give y'all a little pre-interview bio of Dr. Camarata.

Dr. Paul Camarata is the producer of SQPN's The Saint Cast. His knowledge of saints is impressive and he uses it to inspire us, through the podcast, to live more saintly lives. Not only does he update the podcast whenever his time allows it, he's also an active SQPN board member, and (if that weren't enough), he's a neurosurgeon who manages to juggle it all while keeping his Catholic faith alive. He's a great family man who will twitter about things such as seeing his kids in a theater production of Brigadoon (oh yes, I remember that). That was one of the big reasons why I chose him... his love for his family as well as his faith is impressive and is (sadly) not something we often see in today's society.

I hope to have the interview up as soon as both Dr. Camarata and I are able to have it ready for y'all. In the meantime, please go check out his podcast (which I highly recommend) and write him a great review on iTunes. :)

That's all for now... but keep your eyes peeled for more in the near future. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Traditional Than Expected?

Every time I go to Mass at the parish where I've gone since I was in my mama's womb, I become just a little more disillusioned with them. The fact that they pretty much skip over the Penitential Rites really bugs me. The clapping, and (sometimes) dancing along, I see during the Alleluia/Gospel Acclamation always makes me cringe. I've had priests (one in particular) look at me when they see I'm not partaking in the clapping most of the parishioners are more than happy to do. I refuse to clap along, sorry. I feel like it's disrespectful to the sacredness of the Mass. More things I don't like: not wearing a skirt or dress to Mass... not wearing a mantilla/chapel veil... not receiving communion... not attending Mass, period. I have been known to cry when I am unable to attend Mass. The more I learn and read about the Church pre-Vatican II, the more I feel like the "outdated rituals" would suit me the best. That doesn't mean that I am against the Second Vatican Council... I just prefer the way things used to be way before my time. Am I more traditional than anyone, including myself, expected?

I have never been to a Latin Mass before but, after learning more about it and watching videos on youtube, I feel like it is the perfect Mass for me. Sadly, they're not really offered within the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Not even Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum has helped that issue here. The nearest parish where they offer Latin Masses is almost an hour away from where I live (for those who aren't familiar with L.A., the county is large and sprawled out). They don't even offer it at the San Fernando Mission anymore! I could go into the whole issue many of us have with Cardinal Mahony, but I won't. All I will say is that I think it's sad that the archdiocese seems to have something against the TLM. If you want to hear more about what's wrong with this archdiocese, go to Joe's blog, Verbum Veritatis in Mahonyland. He expresses himself better than I do on this subject. (P.S. He can attest that I actually wear a mantilla to Mass; he's seen it for himself.)

I have embraced the fact that I have become a traditional Catholic (and I fall in the first group of traditional Catholics according to Fish Eaters). When I started this blog, on Christmas night 2007, I had NO CLUE that my journey returning to the Church would lead me here. For those very few that have read this blog since the beginning, I ask you: did y'all see it coming? I am actually very proud that! While I no longer wear the mantilla my father brought me from Mexico earlier this year (I have decided to not use it until my wedding day), I still wear one. I am proud to wear my mantilla to Mass... even if I'm the only woman under 50 that wears one. I REFUSE to receive communion by the hand. I'm usually one of the very few people in my parish who receives the Eucharist directly in the mouth. I wouldn't mind seeing altar rails brought back to the parish, though I won't hold my breath on that one. I'm not even going into the music played during Mass because I will never stop writing (St. Cecilia would be proud. :D)

I've read recent articles (which I cannot find at the moment, I need to organize my bookmarks) that say that statistics and surveys have shown that my generation (those in their late 20s and younger) seem to be more traditional than previous generations. Yes! Most, if not all, my Catholic friends are traditional, so I believe the articles. So will I be one of several that, with the help of Pope Benedict XVI, get their wish fulfilled and see parishes allow more Latin Masses to be said? Will we slowly see beautiful mantillas return? Only time will tell... but I am certainly hoping it happens.

Though I want to write more, I will stop for now and pick it up sometime in the future. Maybe next time I'll have the links ready. lol. ;) I am off to prepare myself for tomorrow's Philosophy course. Another round of "Oh no you di'nt" discussions with my professor? We'll see. :D I hope y'all are having a great start of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Catholic Nerd Say What?, Fun in Philosophy

I am surprised I'm functioning on 4 hours of sleep. I'm not even tired enough for a nap! This lack of sleep has done two things to me: make me VERY giddy (I haven't stopped smiling all day AND you can't bring me down no matter how hard you try) and also very brave.

The reason for the lack of sleep was because I was doing studying for the Philosophy exam I had an exam today. Since I missed it last Wednesday (due to my still being ill), I had to make it up today. I studied... I crammed... I'm pretty sure I didn't ace the test. I drew a lot of blanks. Thankfully, the exam was mainly multiple choice (which made me remember the answers more quickly) and it was based on things from the Old Testament that I knew (this exam was on the Judaism portion of the course). Still, I'm not too confident about it. If I passed, it'll be a miracle and St. Joseph of Cupertino is getting all the credit for that because I couldn't concentrate too well on the exam. After the test, though, things went very well -- for me.

I feel a little bad about being smug about what I'm about to share but... well, you'll see what I don't feel completely bad about it. After I finished my exam (in about half an hour), I went back into the classroom to hear the rest of today's lecture. Since it's the beginning of the Christianity portion of the course (whoo-hoo!) I didn't want to miss it. I knew he'd naturally go into Catholicism (which the professor called the "universal" religion) first so I was pumped. This is something I wouldn't need to study (much) for. That excitement turned into "what is he talking about?" and thus my fun in Philosophy began.

I turned the next hour of class into my own personal game... which I really shouldn't have done but it made the class fun. lol. I payed very close attention to what he was lecturing... and I caught a couple of discrepancies that I was more than happy to correct. Who was the only one in the class who knew St. Elizabeth's (mother of St. John the Baptist) husband, Zacharias (St. Zachary)? It wasn't the professor; it was little ol' me. lol. This isn't the first time I've had to fill in the blanks. Making sure they didn't get St. Joseph and St. Jude Thaddeus mixed up? I spoke up on that. Going into talks about St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologica"? I was all over that. Making sure people understood that Jesus Christ resurrected on the 3rd day, not from one day to another? I said my two cents on that. Talking about Christianity like it was the most ridiculous thing? You'll get a raised eyebrow from me. Debating the Virgin Mary's virginity? Oh heck no! No one messes with my mama! I'm pretty sure the professor is already pretty sick of me but, oh, it's only going to get started. I'm sorry but I have to speak up... especially after he said that he sympathized with Pontius Pilate. "Seriously? Did you just really say that? Oh... it's SO on!" Catholic nerd say what? Did she just challenge her professor. Yes... yes, I did. lol. Any attacks on Catholicism can and will be counterattacked by me... and I shall do it with a smile. Is it bad that I get so much joy from proving professors (who talk smack about the Catholic Church) wrong? I feel a little bad about being smug... but I enjoyed it too much to feel horrible. Maybe I should continue attending a public college/university so I can keep arguing with Philosophy and Religious Studies professors who have things all wrong... I'm a stinker, aren't I? lol. :D Does anyone else do this or am I just a weirdo who loves debating with professors? lol.

One professor I won't be debating -- my math professor. My course started today... and I should go do that before I crash. Fingers crossed that last night's all-nighter will be my only one this semester. Let's hope so because I'm way too giddy and silly for my own good when I have less than 5 hours of sleep. My obsession with Laurel and Hardly movies at the moment pretty much tells you how silly I am. lol.

And speaking of Laurel and Hardy, I hope you enjoy these videos of musical moments by them. :D

Alright, that's it for now. I'm off to tackle math *groans*. lol. I wish I was done with my lower division requirement so I could take all my Philosophy and Religious Studies courses and have more fun. lol. And, yes, this is me stalling. lol. Alright, alright, I'm going. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Time for Inner Reflections

I've spent nearly two weeks sick and, I have to say, I'm getting tired of it for several reasons.

Whoever said that people who dealt with anxiety and/or depression just needed to "get over it" is in need of some sensitivity training AND actual knowledge of the diseases. It dawned on me, during the time I've spent away from twitter and Facebook, that I was experiencing the physical symptoms of depression... and that they'd started the day after the last time we went to visit my father's grave. I had almost all of the symptoms: daily headaches, chest pain that came and went, digestive problems (a lot of nausea), extreme fatigue, change in weight (I went down from 128 lbs prior to my father's death to 117 lbs -- underweight for me since I'm 5'7" -- after his death), and A LOT of lightheaded and dizziness. Though I've never been diagnosed as being depressed (the two times I've been "tested", I've come out as being quite optimistic and in good spirits), I thought it was an interesting that I'd made the connection between the symptoms and the illness. The doctor said I was either going to come down with the flu (which I didn't) or I had something else (which, again, I didn't). My self-diagnosis seems to be the correct one because once I thought about it, and tried to change it, I DID begin to feel better. I'm sure St. Dymphna helped when I started asking for her intercession again.

I actually had another realization during my time away that I think most people have struggled with: I had become too busy and my life was too scheduled... and most of it was not worth it. The stress and anxiety should've been my first clues but I had ignored them. This is the first time I've had to deal with this. My life had become all about school, helping my parents, and taking care of my father that I had forgotten what it was like to have time to do things for myself. Instead of taking the time to do things I enjoyed (hobbies), I ended up throwing myself into work that was time consuming and not fulfilling. After watching Bright Star and being given encouraging words that really breathed new life into me, I began to re-think about what path I'd been on and what I needed to change.

After trying to get out, and having someone in particular basically drag me out of the house to take a walk every day, I started feeling much better. I actually didn't mind being away from the social networks. I also began to concentrate more on my prayer life (which has recently begun to flounder). I developed a nice, steady pattern in my week. I studied more often than not. I learned how to better manage my time and priorities. The creativity began to flow. Things I prayed about were finally given answers. Most importantly, I started to feel like the person I loved being -- the person who, while was suffering through aches and anxiety, felt very close to God. Maybe the time I spent in bed, feeling horrible, was to remind me not to lose myself in something not worth it... and to remind me that it's okay to do things I want to once in a while.

I think I will continue to take some time away from twitter and Facebook once in a while to reflect on things. I hope to do one of the retreats they have for women every couple of months to center myself again. I hope the way I am feeling lasts for a while because I often lose it when life gets hectic. I've already recognized what I need to change and what causes me to stray even the slightest from the path I want, and I think God wants, for me. See what a little time away from social networks can do for you? lol.

Alright, I guess that's it. I have studying to do for my Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam course. It's a mouthful isn't it? lol. I hope y'all have a great weekend (or had if you're reading this after).

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Bright Star" of Love: Review and Thoughts.

I FINALLY got a chance to watch Bright Star tonight, which was recommended by one of my best friends, Nannina, (who has an amazing taste in films) and many Catholic friends of mine including Rebecca of Modestia. (Btw, she recently wrote a blog about modern clothing that reminded her of that worn in Bright Star.) It was such a beautiful film. The acting was fantastic, the scenery was breathtaking, and the story was... *sighs*. lol. If you know anything about the life of English poet John Keats, then you know how the story ends; I'm not going to spoil it for those who don't. lol.

As I was watching the film, a plethora of questions and answers popped into my mind. "If I were in Fanny Browne's shoes and I knew the outcome of my love's fate, would I do as she did and hold on? Would I end it because of the ultimate outcome of the situation?" The answer was: yes, I'd stay and fight right beside him! If I were in love with someone and I knew I wouldn't have him for long, I would stand by him and do as Fanny did. I am not one to give up on something, and especially not on someone, I love because I know it's not going to end up the way I want it to. What I love about the love story of John Keats and Fanny Browne, and what Jane Campion beautifully captured, is that it wasn't idealistic in the sense that there's going to be a fairy tale ending. There is no such thing as a fairy tale ending, though I'm sure many have come close to it. It's not my being pessimistic about it; it's being realistic. I'm a hopeless romantic, I'll be the first to admit it, but I know that what is usually presented to us in the media isn't what a relationship will be like for every one of us.

One of the main reasons why I love period films like this and Pride and Prejudice is the innocence and honesty in the relationships. As Deal W. Hudson wrote in his review of Bright Star for Inside Catholic, there was "a level of mutual desire" that showed how deeply in love they were but they never overstepped their boundaries. Of course, in those days they reserved and they weren't overly sexualized like our modern secular society is. It's something that is severely lacking in most of the films that come out these days. Films in which a relationship isn't consummated or overblown into dramatics (I'm looking at you, Twilight) is almost unheard of... and that's very sad.

Perhaps I'm the only one that thinks this way. I long for films in which a relationship is gradually built, one that starts with a solid foundation and friendship, instead of the rush we usually see. Maybe I'm just an old fashioned girl who believes in courtship. It's quite possible that this Janeite is just so used to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility stories that that's why I think they way I do. Either way, this film was such a breath of fresh air and it's further convinced me that courtship is the right thing for me. As I said months ago, I'm thoroughly enjoying being single but I am ready for whenever God wants to send me someone.

I believe the film is about to end its run in movie theaters (today was the last day it was being shown at the nearest movie theater to my casa) but if it's still being shown near you, I really recommend it. Be warned, though, you will most likely tear up during the film; I certainly did. This film was truly a "Bright Star" of love and sincerity that you can take a lot from, no matter if you're single or happily taken. :)

Alright, it's actually pretty late and I want to get some Old Testament reading done (missed my Judaism exam because of illness and now I will take it on Monday) before bed. I hope to blog again tomorrow or, at the very latest, on Saturday afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for you... and fingers crossed I continue to feel as well as I did today.

Anyway, that's all for today. Thank you so much for reading and God Bless. :D

Monday, October 19, 2009

St. Teresa of Avila's Help; Music Monday

I know this post is very belated (St. Teresa of Avila's feast day was a couple of days ago; on the 15th) but I've been stuck in bed for the past week. Actually, the last time I was well enough to sit down in front of the computer to blog (or, really, do anything online) was last Tuesday. But, no worries I am feeling better now. :) A Twitter friend actually called me a "victim soul" who, much like St. Faustina, gets sick often but offers it up for others. I don't think I'm worthy of calling myself a victim soul. While it's true that I do get sick (though I use that term for everything from anxiety/panic attacks to other kinds of pains and ills) quite often and I do offer them up either for someone else's health or for the souls in purgatory, I don't think I've suffered enough to even be considered one. Let's just say "Emmy gets sick a lot, but she doesn't mind." I truly don't view illnesses as a curse or anything negative. On the contrary, I view it as a blessing from God. I've found that I feel closer to Him whenever I feel sick, which helps when I'm feeling like a massive crumb cake. St. Teresa of Avila actually helped me start looking at things this way.

Without repeating too much from a previous post I've written about St. Teresa of Avila... a couple of years ago, when I was returning to my faith, I had a dream about St. Teresa of Avila. I saw her picture in my dream and I kept repeating her name... even as I was waking up. I actually didn't know who she was, let alone her name, so when I got online that morning, I immediately googled her name. The more I learned about her, the more I felt a connection to her. We have several things in common -- everything from our heritage (she was a Spaniard, I'm of Spanish descent) to how we view certain things (such as gossip; my intense dislike for it mirrors hers) -- that sometimes I feel like she personally picked me to really delve into her life and her ways. I actually haven't been able to get through her autobiography yet but I hope to soon. What I have read has stayed with me for more reasons than one. As I said, she's really helped me embrace my illnesses and see them not as suffering, but as something that will bring me closer to God AND that will only strengthen my faith. Lately I haven't really done much in terms of praying or devoting my time to learning more about Catholicism because of my crazy schedule... and it took my illnesses and temper to remind me of how I need to get back to that.

Much like St. Teresa of Avila, I have a strong temper. It takes a lot to get to me that point where I'm terribly feisty, but I definitely have the ability to go there. A couple of days ago it got bad enough that I started limiting contact with those around me so I wouldn't get upset with them over trivial things. I know what triggered that temper flare (and I'm surprised it didn't get worse because the situation was really bad) but as soon as I remembered St. Teresa of Avila, I found ways to bring it down. I reminded myself that while she also had a temper, she knew how to use it in a manner that would turn the situation into something positive. Just the thought of that completely changed my perspective on things and I was able to turn the bad situation into something good (with help from God, of course). I still have to deal with the unpleasant situation but it's getting easier now that I've started using my new "weapons" against a bad temper. :) (P.S. If you ever find yourself with a bad temper and can't find a way to calm down, either ask St. Teresa of Avila or St. Jerome, who also had a notoriously bad temper, to intercede for you.) And what it's also done is remind me of when I first began returning to the Church and how much I loved doing it.

I've also realized that while I have been really busy lately, I've also been wasting my time on a lot of things that don't really matter. Do I need to get on SuperPokePets and play? No. Do I need to waste my time on games on Facebook? No. So I've cut off my twitter and Facebook for the week. Okay, I'm also doing it as a promise for an intercession Our Blessed Mother did for me. I have to reprioritize a lot of things -- especially my schoolwork which has taken the back seat to almost everything. That's fine, though, because I'll be able to focus on getting back to my personal studies of the Catholic faith which I haven't done in a while. See what I mean about having to reprioritize? lol. I have to brush up on a couple of things because we're heading into the Christianity section in my Philosophy of Monotheistic Religions course and I already know I'm going to have a doozy with a couple of "know-it-all" classmates. All I have to say about that is Bring. It. ON! lol.

I should make this post shorter than usual... but before I go, I wanted to share with you my Fall 2009 playlist as part of Music Monday. These are some of my favorite songs that are often on repeat during Fall and into late Winter. :D I hope y'all enjoy at least one of the songs. I know I have "old fashioned" tastes sometimes. :-P

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Alright, well, I actually have to go study for a possible exam on Judaism on Wednesday (I don't know; I've missed two class sessions/lectures due to illness and I have no way of contacting either classmates or the professor). I'd rather be safe than sorry. :D I hope to post tomorrow but no promises. ;)Hope y'all had a great weekend!

As always, thank you for reading and God Bless.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Give Me the Simple Life

FOR TODAY: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Outside my window... the palm trees sway in the breeze as the rain hits the clear blue pool.
I am thinking... how much I love this rainy weather.
I am thankful for... everything the Lord has given me.
I am wearing... long sleeved plum colored top, red-blue-green checkered pajama bottoms, white socks.
I am remembering... my dad since I'm wearing pajama pants he gave me last winter.
I am going... finish this blog, finish my cup of tea, and then go read my book.
I am reading... Man of the Beatitudes Pier Giorgio Frassati by Luciana Frassati
I am hoping... that I get to watch Bright Star and An Education this weekend at a nearby movie theater.
I am hearing... "April in Paris" by Count Basie.
On my mind... interview questions that will soon see the light of day on this blog.
Noticing that... I've been changing quite a bit lately, in more than one way.
From the kitchen... a cup of Country Peach Passion tea and toast as a brunch snack.
Around the house... hints of flowers, artwork by Andrea Laliberte, and other personal touches are making this place seem much more feminine than it was before.
One of my favorite things...
cuddling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea on a rainy day.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing... What the rain looks like outside my window.

Survey taken from The Simple Woman's Daybook


To quote an old standard tune, "give me the simple life." Lately that's what I've been doing -- taking it easy. I've spent a lot of time catching up with friends as well as having some time to think things thoroughly. There have been a lot of changes happening in my life lately, but all have been for the best. I will gradually write about a few of these changes in the blog. :)

I will say one thing though... I still believe that everything that is happening is because it's God's will and I'm more than happy to do these and to change a couple of aspects of myself. St. Teresa of Avila's feast day in a couple of days is going to be the perfect timing to talk about one of these thing since I've learned much from her life experiences. As I wrote several months ago, I'm probably more like her than any other saint I've learned about and I've really noticed that lately. :)

Alright, I'm going to go listen to Mel Tormé's "Coming Home Baby" and finish my cup of tea before I go tackle one of my books. I'm currently torn between finishing the book of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (re-reading it to get direct quotes for my review) and finishing St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography for the blog about her on her feast day. Either way, I will (hopefully) finish both by tomorrow night. :)

And this concludes my "simple woman" blog of the week. :D I hope everyone in L.A. and Southern California is enjoying the rain. :) As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Week of God, Love, and Friendships.

I have the best friends a girl could ask for... and I'm completely unworthy of them. I've been trying to finish this post for the past week but my friends keep doing amazing things so I kept putting off. More on that later. Getting back on topic, I have been truly blessed with the people I call my friends. It's taken many failed friendships, arguments, and tears but I finally have the friends I've been praying for.

I've always been a people pleaser. I was a little feistier and a terrible little know-it-all growing up, but I always wanted everyone to get along. Unfortunately, this meant that I would often change myself just to fit with so-called friends. It's a horrible habit I developed at a very young age that became hard to break as I got older. Often, friendships would change me into someone I was not proud of. There were many that brought out the worst in me. Not surprisingly, these friendships happened while I was away from the Church. I call the period between high school and my turning 20 years old my "lost years" because it's when I was the most horrible I've ever been. I lied a lot because I did not trust my "friends" (and had good reason not to) and/or because it was the only way I would earn their "respect" so that they'd leave me alone. At the time, my reasoning behind my actions was "Well, I can't tell them the truth because they'll try to take advantage of me (which many truly did, especially since I was starting out in the biz) and/or because they'll gossip whatever I say back to others (which most did; and a majority of the gossip ended up being false, anyway)." What I failed to realize was that the better option was just to cut these so called friendships off and find myself friends that would inspire me to become a better person. A year or so before I returned to the Church, I went through a process of cutting ties with all the people that had caused me to act the way I did. I'm not blaming them for everything; I take full responsibility for my own actions and will, to this day, own up to everything I did. I'm not proud of what I did and said, but I am grateful that by the grace and mercy of God, I was able to sort of start over (in a sense) and start down the right path. At the end of the "cleansing" period -- which actually culminated with my getting physically sick -- I knew I'd done the right thing... no matter how lonely I'd feel.

I kept, or I should say was kept by, friends who proved loyal and trustworthy and who had known the real me and not the front I'd given to other people. They knew the truth and that's all that mattered to me. Slowly, some of those friendships ended (many had gone down the path I was previously on and/or were unable to give up that lifestyle), but I also gained friendships that would slowly change me into the person I am today. Most of these friendships were made because we shared a common love of God. As I started coming back to the Church... attending Mass, going to confessions regularly, breaking the horrid habits I'd grown used to... my friendships flourished and multiplied. The more in love I became with Catholicism and with the idea of doing things that would please the Lord instead of things that would hurt him, the stronger the bonds with my new friends became. The stronger the friendships became, the better I wanted to be. The first friends that actually inspired me weren't Catholic. They were Christians. I had Catholic friends who brought out positive aspects of myself, but they're all lapsed Catholics (don't worry, I'm working on it. :D). As I saw myself becoming a person my parents could be proud of, and with the help of priests I've talk to, I vowed to never do the things I once did with my former "friends." I could never hurt the people that had brought so much love and understanding into my life. This, btw, explains my hatred of lying and dishonesty. I can no longer lie to anyone about anything, even if it's the smallest white lie. I loathe it! It's like when you eat something that makes you violently sick and you can never eat it again because you know it's bad for you in more ways than one. If someone asks me something, I'll give them the straight answer... unless it's something I don't wish to discuss because it's too personal. When that happens, I just say that I don't want to talk about it because I truly don't. I've become increasingly private as I've gotten older. :D

I reflected upon these thoughts the past week... especially when I saw that my friends, old and new, had begun spoiling me. I had many friends whom I didn't speak to for weeks because they either didn't know how talk to me after my father's death or because that person (or I) had become so busy that emails and phone calls became infrequent. Lately we've all been stepping it up, though. I thoroughly enjoy my chats with my friends during the week and outings whenever we can plan something. I've been giving advice, and receiving it myself, and it's all coming from the heart. I want the best for my friends so I try to help them with whatever they need and it seems to be vice versa.

A couple of days ago I received a card and prayer bouquet from my friend Claire of Musings of a Twentysomething that showed me just how amazing my friends are... and how blessed I am that the Lord has brought these people into my life. I actually haven't personally met Claire yet, though we certainly tried to meet up when she was in L.A. earlier this summer. Despite this we've developed a very strong bond which neither of us can explain. She's also my first real traditional Catholic girlfriend too, which makes things even better. :D Anyway, a few days ago I received my first prayer bouquet from her and members of her women's prayer group. I can't begin to describe the amount of love and support I felt from these women who I've never met. All but Claire are still complete strangers to me, but here they were... telling me that they were going to pray for my father's soul and for me. I teared up as I read their lovely messages. May God bless them for everything.

That was just one example of what my friends have done for me. I thank God each and every day for the people I call my friends. Like I said at the beginning of this blog, I feel like I'm truly undeserving of their friendship... but I am truly grateful that God has brought them into my life. Not only do I have a wonderful support system, many of whom will drop what they're doing if I ever need a shoulder to cry on or a person to rant to... and vice versa :), but I've learned what true friendships are like. Of course God is in the center of all these friendships, which is why I think they work and why they've made me a better person.

Have I gushed enough? lol. I think it's not enough, and I haven't talked about all the wonderful things that happened to me this past week, but I don't want to make this any longer than it is... plus I still have to study for my Interpersonal Communications test. I will hopefully blog about what I'm doing for the 40 Days for Life. :D

Alright, since I've finished novel writing for the day (which also has a strong theme of friendship in it) and since I have nothing else to do... I will go make myself a cup of tea and study for my exam. Hope everyone has a great evening (or day for my British friends :D).

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, September 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Daddy's Grave
From Daddy's Grave

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Transfer Application Tango and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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