Monday, August 31, 2009

Fighting Vocation Rethought; Music Monday

I cannot get the vocation rethought out of my head today. It's actually taking a bit of time that I should be using to get homework done. Yes, we've already got assigned tasks on the first day of classes. As my Philosophy professor said this morning, "Welcome to college!" lol. Anyway, I'm even more confused than ever on what I should do and it's starting to take a toll on me, spiritually.

I once again feel, deep down, like I'm meant for the married vocation but I still have that nagging feeling like maybe not. It's doing quite a number in my head. I've had a number of people who know me tell me they think I've make a good wife and mother (and a couple of those people are guy friends of mine), especially since I've already ruled out the religious vocation which some people felt I should've "done." Unfortunately, we don't get to decide these things. If I had it my way, I would be a wife and mother in a couple of years, after I finished college and established my career. If a couple of my "trad" Catholic friends had their way, I'd be a religious sister/nun (you guys know who you are). If you had a chance to peek into my mind, you wouldn't make sense of ANYTHING in there at the moment. I'm stressed about school already (thank the lack of financial aid for that), I'm still getting over my "anger"/frustration that accompanies the mourning process, etc. As reluctant as I am to admit this... I acknowledge that I'm still getting over all the disappointment, and a bit of anger, I recently felt due to things that were uncovered about a person whom I deeply loved. Even thinking about it makes me tear up, that's how fresh it still is. All of these things make me sometimes wonder if the thoughts about the single vocation aren't just an "attractive" option because of everything I've recently gone through. Honestly, even when I thought about the religious life, I always felt like I was meant to be married. I sobbed endlessly when my father's death hit me because of thought that I wouldn't have him to walk me down the aisle if/when my wedding day arrived.

I've thought about the single vocation, and I honestly don't know if I would be able to handle it. Though I'm fiercely independent (I actually enjoy working for my own money and paying for my things with my hard earned money) and could probably survive on my own, there's something that... I don't know... makes me cringe and uncomfortable about it. I'm not saying it's horrible and that I pity those who are meant for that vocation; I just don't know if it's for me. Again, it's not up to me, I've already told God that if it's my vocation, I won't fight it as much as I'd probably want to. And do I want to. Right now I want to cry and fight the feeling that I'm meant for this vocation... and I don't know if it because it's in my very nature to "rebel" against what I feel I'm being forced to do because it's my meant vocation or because, even though I'm not meant for it, I feel like I would be force to choose this to spare my mother's feelings. Again, I never felt this way until my mom kept bringing up marriage often followed by "I don't know what I'd do on my own." Yes, I had single vocation thoughts before all of this, but I never gave me second thoughts. I was so sure of my vocation until recently. Ugh! I'm sounding like a broken record, aren't I?

What I hate more about this is that it's causing me to lose my prayer life. I don't know where it's coming from. I just don't want to pray though I still do and fight against this apathetic, yet rebellious, feeling. It could be that I don't want this vocation so badly that I don't want my prayers answered or it could be the enemy putting all these thoughts into my head and thus making me a nutty nerd. It literally just dawned on me that all these thoughts and doubts could've just been put into my head because the enemy wants me to abandon my prayer life and wants me to be angry at something I love so dearly. If I ever needed St. Therese of Lisieux's intercession and one of her roses, it's now... or very soon; before I go absolutely batty. If y'all could please pray for me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I think I'm going to go pray for a little while, after I finish a couple of quick things for my online/distance-education courses which start today. I want to get all the things that have deadlines before I can focus on my own internal struggle.

Oh, and since this is the first Music Monday, in a while, that I've posted anything... here's this week's song. I've mentioned Celtic Thunder a lot recently so I thought that one of the songs by a member of the group was appropriate. I've chosen the cover of "Castles in the Air" sung by C.T.'s Keith Harkin. (P.S. Celtic Thunder is made of 5 vocalists who do their own songs as well as group songs.) I think it's a beautiful rendition of the song and is currently my favorite song.

Okay, I'm off to tackle Biological Psychology and Interpersonal Communication before prayers and a quick nap (in that order). I hope everyone that returned to school today had a great day (better than mine; long story, lol)... and that those who went to school near the fires are/were safe! May St. Florian keep all the firefighters safe during this difficult time (and crazy heatwave).

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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Epiphany at Church: Married or Single Vocation?

I love when things "randomly" click together, especially when I'm at Church for Mass. It actually happens more often when I go to Mass by myself than when I go with someone. Since my mom worked today, I had to go by my lonesome. Last Sunday I ended up missing Mass because my ride (actually a transportation service in L.A. which I am qualified for) failed to pick me up and then by the time they were going to send someone, it was too late for Mass. Argh, these people. :( Anyway, I was glad that I was picked up (late, but better than nothing) and that I was able to get there in time to get confessed before Mass.

So, why didn't I go yesterday? I did... and we didn't get a chance to confess. For the first time since about October of last year, the confession line was so long, that people worried about whether or not they would get a chance. Sadly, there was only one priest (which could explain the dozen or so people still waiting to confess 15 minutes before time was up) and we were at the very back of the line. Since there was no way I was going to receive the Eucharist (I MUST every weekend) if I didn't confess, I made it a goal to do so before Mass today. Luckily, Fr. Leo let me confess before the last English Mass of the day (the noon Mass) and I was good.

One thing I also got to (quickly) talk about with Fr. Leo was my vocation. I'm going to talk to him about becoming a Lay Carmelite soon, since I am positive that I am not meant for the religious vocation. I wouldn't be opposed to it if I was. :D After my talk with him, while at Mass I realized something that I'd been neglecting to think about... what if I'm actually called to be single? What if I'm so afraid to be alone, or so selfish to want my own family, that I'm failing to see what my vocation could truly be? I'd never really considered it before. I was internally fighting against the thought as it came into my mind.

I considered what I thought, that maybe I didn't think about it before because I was either afraid to be alone or because I'd been too selfish, wanting a husband and children... but then two more thoughts crossed my mind; maybe I've just thought about this (single vocation) because I've already gotten guilt trips about leaving my mom to fend for herself. As I said in my No Dating; Courtship post, the topic of marriage has come up often recently (if I had a penny for every time it came up...) and every time I've felt bad about even thinking about it because I know I'd have to leave my mom and make my own life with my new husband. The thought of being called to be single had crossed my mind, and I had seriously thought about becoming a religious sister for a long time, but I'd always felt like I was called to being a wife and mother. Up until recently, I really felt that that was it for me. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm not sure if my feelings changed because of all the guilt I feel or because it's truly my vocation. As Fr. Leo briefly advised me, I need to really pray hard about this and then get back to him soon. Since he is now my main spiritual adviser (Fr. Stan got transferred to another parish), I'll have to update him with my journey thus far. What I am sure of it that whether I stay single or get married, I will still want to be associated with the Carmelites in one way or another.

I have A LOT to think, and pray, about. Hey, now I have something new to think about when I'm back to school. :D And, speaking of which, I'm off to get my schedule printed and make sure my ride will pick me up on time. I like to over-prepare myself so that I'm not stressing in the morning. First class of the day/school year: Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Whoo-hoo! :D

Hope everyone had a great weekend. :D As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back to School With Prayers, Saints, and Faith.

*Picture: Textbooks for my Biological Psychology, Interpersonal Communication, and Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam courses. St. Dymphna prayer card on top of Bio. Psych. book; St. Thomas Aquinas prayer card on top of Phil. book. Yes, I purposely put each saint on book that relates to their patronage.*

First off, I just want to say a big "Thank you!" for all the positive (and one not so positive) feedback on the last post I wrote on being single. I got a couple of messages on here, a couple on twitter, etc. It makes me happy to know that some of y'all enjoyed it and/or that helped you in some way, no matter how small it might've been. :D

Now, I'm sure the following topic is one that most students dread after a long summer vacation: Returning to school and classes. I'm actually both very excited and slightly nervous about going back to school. This post is already sounding a little like last year's, isn't it? lol. Well, I'm not as nervous as I was last year because I was able to make it through the last semester with NO ANXIETY (first ever since I was 15 and newly diagnosed with anxiety disorder) and the entire school year without dropping any classes. Yes! It definitely gave me confidence about the rest of my career as a student. I still give a lot of credit to St. Dymphna for always listening to my prayers, and St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph of Cupertino for their help/intercession during the school year. By the way, you can find the student prayers to both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph of Cupertino here. I will bring them (saints and prayers) up again around midterm and finals so y'all can find them if you don't bookmark the page now.

Last year was the most successful year I've had in a long time. I intend to pray as much, if not more, than I did last year. Since I have time between my Philosophy course and the "staff" meetings for the school's literary magazine (side note: yes, I'm once again working on it except that this time I'm doing it as a way of saying 'thank you' to my former English Lit prof. and not for credit), I hope to be able to go to a nearby parish. I don't know why but there's just something I love about going to church during the week, even if there is no Mass being said at the time. *shrugs* I will definitely be there during midterms and finals week because it's when I'm most stressed. I've made it a goal to go back to school with a lot of prayers, saints (either in the form of reading books on and/or by them or by asking for their intercessions) and a lot of faith. I have a feeling my course load will require me to be on the "defense" when it comes to my faith... especially in my Philosophy course.

As a Religious Studies major, I take at least one Philosophy course per semester (two last Spring). This semester I'm doing one on the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I hope I won't have to do as much defending of Catholicism as I did last year but most likely I will. Last semester I won my battle in one of Philosophy courses (Philosophy of World Religions) and no one bashed Catholicism after a while. In the other course (Ethics), the professor just quit giving wrong information on Catholicism because he knew that my friend/classmate/fellow Catholic, Elizabeth, and I would immediately correct him or make comments on what he was saying. And we sat right in front of him, too, with our rosaries and miraculous medals in full display. lol. (side note: He was a Unitarian minister). I will not stay quiet and let someone drag our religious through the mud, especially if it's based on misinformation. I think I'm a little more prepared than I was last semester to face whatever Catholic bashing might come so... BRING. IT. ON! lol.

I'm going to have one packed course load this semester, but I'm SO EXCITED! My courses this semester are as follows:
- Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
- Biological Psychology
- Interpersonal Communication (Part Two)
- Mathematics.

I'm going to definitely pray I don't suffer through my math course because it's, without a doubt, my worst subject. lol. I haven't taken a math course in years (yes, seriously) but it's a requirement so I must. I actually have to take math the entire school year so... *groan* Luckily I love all my other courses (well, love what we're supposed to learn in each class) so I hope it all balances out. Did I also mention that I'm joining a couple of clubs (not counting the Literary Magazine)? Yup. I want to be able to really experience college now that I don't have as many restrictions as I had in the past.

I'm actually pretty introverted at school (stems from my being humiliated in front of my peers, by a teacher no less, in high school) so it will good for me to be a little more social. One of the clubs is also for students who are Christians and Catholics so it'll be good. No Newman Centers at either of the schools I'll be attending, since they're community colleges, but I'll try this club/group. Last year they held movie festivals (for movies such as Facing the Giants) during the Fall, which was pretty cool. I am also prepared to set anyone's preconceived notions of Catholicism straight. I won't getting into heated arguments over it (I tend to avoid that with non-professors, lol), but I will try to clarify things to them. Maybe if I do these things, less people will talk ill about the Church or its members. It might be a pipe dream but I'll hold onto it. :)

Alright, well, I should probably go get my class things in order so that I can just wake up on Monday morning and go to class, unstressed. *fingers crossed* I'll be sure to take my prayer cards with me, as well as a Rosary, in case I feel a bit anxious. :) I hope that everyone that's going back, or has gone back, has a successful school year... and that we Californians don't suffer too badly with all the budget cuts the Goverantor made. That's a whole 'nother rant y'all don't want to hear. lol. ;)

Okay, I'll be quiet now. :D Thanks for reading and God Bless!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Me? Date? No, Thank You! I'm Focusing on God

*Originally started on 8/12, finished/published on 8/27*

If there's one thing I've been feeling pressure to do, it's date and/or find someone to marry. It's been worse since my father passed away last month. It's mentioned so often, about how I "need" to find someone, right now (!), or else it's going to get more difficult as I get older, that I've resorted to poking fun at it. Um, hello, I just turned 24 years old a couple of months ago! Why all the pressure? Why all the comments? Unfortunately, I think it's because our society has been conditioned to think that we're not complete unless we have a significant other. Being the youngest of my siblings, I get all this advice, and my brothers threatening to hunt down any guy that hurts me (heehee), but I've come to the conclusion that I would be better off not listening to that advice and relying on prayers for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother (to make me a woman worthy of entering the married vocation), St. Maria Goretti (for purity of mind and speech), and St. Therese of Lisieux (over all patron in both my single and married vocations) to guide me through this time in my life.

To be completely honest, I haven't "dated" or had a "boyfriend" since I was in my late teens. I've never been on a proper date, which I'm actually proud of. lol. :D I do go out with my guy friends, but it's never in a romantic setting. Every thing I've done with my guy friends has been something I could easily do with a girlfriend. Well, the only exception was a football (soccer) match I went to with my friend Andrew of Per Fidem, but that's because my girlfriends aren't big on the sport and I am. (P.S. I still say we brought the L.A. Galaxy luck and that they owe us season passes, lol). Other than that, I tend to avoid doing things with my guy friends that I wouldn't with my girlfriends. I've avoided dating because a) I have horrible "luck" with guys (seriously, just ask any of my close friends) and b) in my experience, most guys have been after only one thing, yes THAT, -- even if they swear they aren't and hide behind the fact that they're Catholic to see if I fall for it. Too bad for them, I like to think of myself as being just a little smarter than the average nerdy bear.

Recently, with this new path that I feel the Lord is guide me on, I've re-evaluated the reasons why I've avoided dating... and this time, the reasons are better, more practical (which I'm trying to be), and I believe are more in line with what God wants from me. After reading two (completely different) books on dating, I've finally come up with how I will handle my future relationships. Let me say, before I go further, that this isn't what I hope everyone does. This is something I've figured out for myself, with the help of the Lord, and will do because I feel, in my heart, this is what will be best for me.

The two books I've read, Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson and I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, couldn't be more unlike each other. In one book (J. Austen's Guide) we have your typical dating advice with a twist. This book tells you not to play games with the person you're interested in and also has good advice about not holding a person up on a pedestal. It's good, sound advice and the twist is that she uses things that have happened with characters in Jane Austen's novels to make her points. Very cute concept, a couple of good tips (such as not dating someone based on their income/career)... but it sadly fails with all the mention of pre-marital sex. Every single chapter has so many of these examples. "So and so waited a month and now they're happy." "Him and her had a baby and are now content." "A and B moved in together and are now happily engaged." I don't recall one example that didn't have the more "traditional" process of waiting until marriage to enjoy that intimacy. Not one. It romanticized the idea of sex outside of marriage which is very dangerous for a young girl/lady who thinks this book, which will use example of Austen's novels, will be something completely different. After reading this book, I had to tell my younger adopted "sisters" (friends who I see as my sisters) not to bother with this book. It's not that I think they'll fall for the ideas presented, I just think it's a waste for modest young women. It made me sad to think that, as a young adult in today's society, what was written in the book is what is expected of me. And, sadly, it is. Thankfully, I have no problem "rebelling" against what society expects of me. The second book I read helped give confidence to my "Me? Date? No, thank you!" attitude and definitely countered the disillusionment I experienced from the first book. The second book, appropriately called I Kissed Dating Goodbye (by Joshua Harris), once again gave me hope for the future. Not only that, it actually helped solidify some ideas that I already had.

While some of the ideas in the books were more Protestant than Catholic, I was able to look past that and see what Josh's point was in each chapter. In fact, his constant reminder that we should pray about our vocation (though he never mentions religious life) kept reminding me that we should focus on knowing what our vocation is before pursuing any relationship. This is just one example, of many, in which I agreed with Josh. When he says that "dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, disposible-everything American culture" (pg 29), I think he totally hit the nail on the head. How many of you had an idea of what dating was supposed to be like due to what was given to us through movies and shows? The Notebook, anyone? The reality of it is that we're not going to live a romance like we see on tv or at the movie theater. I'm not saying it's horrible to like these kinds of movies. I'm very much a chick flick person who likes those happy endings... but it's also important to realize that it's all make-believe and that our reality isn't a fairy tale. (I hope I'm not bumming anyone out.) This is all coming from a self-described hopeless romantic, too.

As Josh wrote, many of the dating relationships we see are because they're attract to each other and want to have a good time. Most, sadly, don't want commitment; they just want to have fun then and there with that particular person. Trust me, I've had more than my fair share of guys trying to do this. One former guy "friend" was very blunt about how he just wanted to get to know me "in the biblical sense"; just have a little fun. Yes, he was attracted to me, but he just wanted that one time thing and not a relationship. Apparently, he didn't know me as well as he thought because those responses usually get either a kick in the shins or a sock in the nose (usually only metaphorically). Unfortunately, I've gotten this type of thing quite often, which was the initial reason why I decided to quit dating.

As I've said before, I do go out with my guy friends but never in a romantic setting. I don't treat any of them differently than I do my girlfriends. I enjoy getting to know the guys just as I do the girls. For me, I've found that getting to know members of the opposite sex as just friends will help you a lot. It's helping me learn how to deal with certain things (because we girls tend to be more emotional than guys) and also how to talk to them properly. I've also had the blessing of giving some of them advice, which I've always tried to give as honestly as I can. I call many of them my brothers because they've become like part of my family. Lately I've realized that I should keep doing this... and if someday I begin to develop feelings for one of them, then I'll already know him well enough to know whether to pursue something more than friendship. This way I'll know what I'll be getting into without getting my heart broken the way I would in a dating relationship that will go nowhere. As the book says, we tend to skip the friendship stage in relationships. We're in such a hurry to date with that initial attraction that we don't think twice about whether we know who we're attracted to. It's not completely easy once you have a crush, especially with having this "if you like someone, go out with them!" message constantly thrown at me, but not impossible either and I've been able to do it.

One of the most important things that IKDG did for me was make me very excited and happy about being single. Do you realized that once we get married (if it's also your vocation), we'll never have this freedom again? And I'm not saying that getting married is taking away your freedom. Not all! The freedom I'm talking about is getting to know yourself, and learning about yourself, so well that when it is time for you to share your life with someone, you can go into that relationship with confidence. When again will I get a chance to go to sporting events or even to the movies, with my guy friends? It's not appropriate to do this when I'm married. When again will I be able to travel without having to take anyone else's schedule into consideration? I'm able to make my own plans at the moment. Sounding selfish of me? Well... here's the one thing about the book that really stuck out to me: when again will I have a chance to completely devote myself solely to God and doing what God wants me to do without worrying about how it'll affect my (future) husband? Being single and being married are completely different vocations. I will be able to serve the Lord in both states, but each will ask different things of me.

As I've said in the last couple of posts, I believe that God wants me to focus on myself (for once) and on what I want to do for Him. I've realized that I've spent the last couple of years doing things mainly for my parents. There's no complaint at all though. I was blessed to be able to help my father during his last 7 years, and 3 cancer battles, of life. There has not been anything more rewarding to me than being able to take care of my father the way he took care of me as a child. I look forward to doing it with my mother when she reaches old age as well. Because of this, though, I have neglected my own needs and wants. There were times when I've wanted to volunteer at soup kitchens but couldn't because I preferred to stay at home and look after my father. I gave up my dreams of attending university partly for the same reason (the other part was because of the anxiety which used to be worse). MANY TIMES I've wanted to help out the homeless but, as I mentioned last year, my father wouldn't let me do this without getting lectured and yelled at. Now that I have this newfound freedom, I can do everything I've wanted to do that will help others and serve God in the process. THIS is the path that I feel God wants me to take, now that I am single and have no big commitments and responsibilities. I love that there's no man in my life to give my heart to, at the moment, other than God.

In mid-late June I had a dream that St. Therese of Lisieux showed me this red book with different people's pictures in it. It dawned on me that it was a book on dating and relationships. As soon as I took this book, I heard her tell me "have patience." When I woke up, I thought it was a sign, whether divine or subconscious, that I would have to be patient because the man I'm supposed to marry either isn't ready (if I already know him) or isn't ready and I haven't met him yet. I thought it was something different because I had a little "crush" on a guy friend at the moment. Even then, it all seemed a little confusing but now, looking back, I understand it. St. Therese, being a patroness of vocations, will now be my patron saint when it comes to my future relationships. Well, I should say my (hopefully) future relationship (singular) because I have made a promise to myself, and to God and St. Therese, not to enter a courtship ("old-fashioned", but, hey, so am I!) until I'm sure that the man I enter the courtship with is someone I could see myself marrying. I'm glad I made that decision because that way my next relationship will be that much special and sacred. I'm not afraid of commitment or of getting my heart broken. I'd just rather save that for my future spouse. I'm sure he, whoever he is, will be glad that I'm not going into the relationship with the cynicism one can get from getting their hearts broken through many failed relationships. I'm not jaded (and have been able to quickly bounce back from past disappointments) when it comes to romance and I hope that it stays that way. For now, I will do as my big brother's friend, who is a Protestant minister, has advised me to do: pray for my future spouse and hope that he puts God above all things, like I'm going to do, until he's ready for marriage.

By the way, I may joke about my footballer boyfriend on facebook and twitter but that's all it is - a joke that originated from a dream I had about marrying a footballer I wasn't (and am not) actually interested in. I had this dream for two months straight so it became a joke amongst friends. I told y'all my dreams were weird. lol. As I've often said in the past, I rarely talk about this side of my personal life but I decided to share and hope it'll help someone in the future.

I was going to write more, but I think I've been able to say all I wanted to say without sounding redundant and (hopefully) without sounding preachy. Again, these are just things that will work for me. Not everyone is the same and I'm sure some of you will disagree with me (I know a couple of my own close friends will), but that's how it is for me.

Okay, that's about it for now. I want to go pray for a little while, especially with this darn anxiety that seems to sneak up. I haven't had a full blown attack since the day dad passed away (and no attack months before that) and I'm going to ask St. Dymphna for her intercession so I am able to keep the anxiety at bay until I've figured out what's causing it.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Path and How St. Therese of Lisieux Fits Into It

Lately I feel like God's been calling me to follow a different path than the one I've been on; a much holier one. No, that doesn't mean that I believe my vocation is to be a religious sister; I still feel, in my heart, that my vocation is that of wife and mother. This new path DOES, however, involve my vocation. I can't go into it too much because it's part of the other blog post I'm working on (yes, it's still in the drafts page) but I will say that I find it amusing that it took a Christian (non-Catholic) to really make me realize that all the signs have been pointing in this direction. I had a dream in mid-late June that St. Therese of Lisieux had told me to have patience about this particular thing and showed me something that I did not understand... but now, with this new epiphany, I understand. (side note: She also said that a friend, who is currently discerning his vocation, was meant for a particular vocation but what do I know? lol.) I'm not saying that all my dreams come true or that they're all divine messages. Not at all. I wanted to clarify this for those who are new to my blog and have read about my dreams occasionally coming true. For all we know, this is something that I've subconsciously known but that it's just clicked in my mind. Point is that I think I know why I've had this inexplicable need/want to have St. Therese present in my life in some way.

So now that I know what I have to do, and have already begun doing it, I have to do a lot to reach my new goal. First, I need to work on myself -- a lot. There are still many things I want to accomplish. Second, I'm still doing research but I am certain I want to have something to with the Carmelites. Perhaps a Lay (Third Order) Carmelite? As I said, I'm still researching all of this but I feel like God, with the help of both St. Teresa of Avila (whom I've felt connected to for years) and St. Therese of Lisieux, is calling me to this. I believe there are some Carmelites that attend (or did last semester) one of the colleges I'll be attending this semester so I hope I can speak with them about this if I can find them. All that I want to do is somehow connected to St. Therese -- either in what she did or how she did things while she was alive. It all sounds kind of vague, I know it does, but I promise it'll all make sense when I publish the other post I've been working on. I haven't finished it only because I haven't finished a particular book I want to discuss in the post. I will try my best to finish it later today or tomorrow to post tomorrow. I'm halfway through the book and I've been known to read books quickly (when I have the free time to do so). Fingers crossed.

Oh, before I end this post I want to give a HUGE "Thank you" to Rebecca of Modestia and Catholic in Film School for unknowingly helping me on this new path. All she did was invite to go have lunch and go shopping, which we did for 8 hours (I think my feet are still sore, lol), but she helped me discover a newfound confidence in myself that I didn't know I had. (Btw, if you read this and if you end up using any of the pictures you took of me, please blur my face out or something, lol.)

I guess that's all I can say, for now, without giving too much away about the next post. I will say that it's a little bit long, though I will try to make it as pain-free as I possibly can. :D Okay, that's it for today. I need to go clean the house and see what I can find to eat 'cause we have almost nothing edible left in the house. I will be happy when I go grocery shopping later today. :D I hope everyone had a great weekend and that we, who are returning to classes next week, enjoy the last week of vacation. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The 7 Things I Love

I was tagged by both Kelly of Gratiae Ut Deus and Joe of Verbum Veritatis to do this so I will. Also, it serves as a "filler" post since I haven't finished reading "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" yet. And, yes, the blog (which I started last week) is on that particular topic. I have my reasons which you will soon read about... Anyway, without further ado -- the 7 Things I Love

1. Going to Mass and wearing a mantilla to the Mass. Anything having to do with the Mass makes me happy. Liturgical abuses make me one sad nerd. P.S. I refuse to clap along when singing hymns.

2. Saints. Reading saints books and having saint dreams. I'm also in the process of making myself a bracelet made out of saint medals.

3. Tea. All kinds of tea. I even drink it during the super hot summer. I guess you can call me a tea addict. Maybe I should've been born British. lol.

4. Flowers. I don't know why but I'm not happy unless there's a couple of flowers in each room. I also like falling asleep in a friend's garden. My favorites are different kinds of lilies and pink roses. If I ever have a home with a big backyard, I'll have a huge garden and put a statue of St. Fiacre in the middle of it. Wouldn't mind getting one of St. Therese of Lisieux's roses either. ;)

5. Things from the late 1930s to early 50s. Fashion, movies, music... love it all from that era. In fact, if I had the money, I would change my entire room to reflect this. Audrey Hepburn would be proud. :)

6. Music in general. Dancing to music, singing along to music, playing an instrument, etc. I have an "addiction" to iTunes. I've been trained (vocals and guitar) by the best, too. I've been very lucky. I still say St. Cecilia chose me, not the other way around, and am very happy she's my confirmation saint. :D

7. Ireland and the Irish culture. I don't know why but ever since I was a little girl, I've had a thing about Ireland. I wear a claddagh ring (and want to eventually get one with an emerald - my birthstone - on it)... one of my patron saints is Irish (St. Dymphna)... I look forward to St. Patrick's Day more than I do Valentine's Day and/or other holidays... in middle school I use to mumble something about wishing I was Irish on St. Patrick's Day to anyone who would listen... the men of Celtic Thunder and The Script make me swoon like a school girl (lol), etc.

See? That was short and painless and now you know a little more about the nerdette that writes this blog. lol. Okay, now I'm going back to my reading. :D I hope to have the new post tomorrow but no promises. :) Hope everyone had a good week. Thanks for reading and God Bless. :D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Should This Nerd Stay or Go?

It's been over a month since dad died and I'm still attempting to go on with my life as much as I can. Last Tuesday, the 11th, a good friend of mine took my mom and I to the cemetery to leave flowers for dad since it had been a month since he died. I think we're going back on the 22nd to leave him more flowers, since he was buried the 22nd of July. The shock has worn off, the crying comes and goes. I'm also going through the "anger" stage in the mourning process at the moment. I feel upset all the time but I keep it in because I know if I snap it'll be directed towards my mother (who's also going through the anger stage; we're driving each other crazy so we interact as little as possible at the moment) and that would not only be disrespectful, but very hurtful. The last thing I want is to hurt her. I went through the numbness and the shock. I went through the guilt stage pretty quickly because Lord knows I did all I could to help him. The depression stage is supposed to come and go and I already went through a bit of that last week. But while I'm going through all of this, I'm still hopeful and optimistic. It's weird that I've been able to hold onto this throughout everything. I guess I truly am an eternal optimist.

I guess maybe I am still going through a guilt stage... only not over dad's death. With school starting on the 31st for me, I have to start thinking (again) on where I'll apply to for transfer this Fall. I have ruled out Mount St. Mary's College (L.A.) for good, though I was truly happy there. I'm trying to be practical and it would just be too expensive for me to be there for another couple of years. I've been thinking of re-applying to UBC in Vancouver, Canada (where I was originally destined for this Fall) and a couple of univerisities in England because it's always been a dream of mine to attend college outside the States. If I could, without any guilt, I would go to UBC. But I can't exactly do that without thinking things through... and with A LOT of prayer.

See, I have this dilemma right now. For the first time in my college career, I don't have anything keeping me in Los Angeles. Every time in the past, there was something - usually dad's battles with cancer. Now that dad's no longer with us, and I've got a good handle on my anxiety, there's nothing that's really keeping me here... except my mother. The one time I have the ability to be selfish and follow one of my dreams, I can't because I have mom to take care of. I'm fully aware that she's a grown woman and can take care of herself... yet, I still feel responsible for her. In so many ways, I've become the adult in the family. I keep track of things and keep her from doing things (like spending massive amounts of money on things we don't need) that would affect the both of us. She's currently battling another cold... which she got because she didn't listen to me about not taking a shower and then going out at 4 in the morning, a number of times. She was just getting over her bronchitis and I knew the cold, wet hair + cold pre-dawn weather would not help her. It's weird that it's almost like roles have been reversed and now I'm the mother in this relationship. Because of all of this, I feel like I can't go... though I really want to.

Now the question I have is... should I stay or should I go? UBC is my dream school and I think I have a pretty good chance of getting in and doing very well there. I want to be autonomous, which I know I can be, and really enjoy my youth. Of course, doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy -- I just want to go to a top university that offers all the courses I would love to take. Anyway, my idea of a good time is drinking tea and reading a book. lol. AND UBC has both a Newman Center for Catholic students AND a Catholic chapel within the university. That was what sealed the deal for me -- what made me really want to go there. At the same time, I'm afraid to leave my mother. Not afraid because I don't think I can take care of myself, I know I can. I'm afraid of leaving her here because I know she would need me in more ways than one. I'm the only family she has left; I have her AND my brothers and sister left.

It doesn't help that she's starting to guilt trip me into not going anywhere. I honestly can't even go out with my friends, even if it's for a quick bite. She either wants to go with me EVERYWHERE I go, or if I tell her (politely and respectfully) that I'd like some alone time with my friends, she guilt trips me into staying home because she can't come with me. It's both frustrating and understandable. I think this is where part of the "anger" I'm feeling is coming from, and I don't like it. As Fr. Juan told me last week, the opposite of love is anger, so I should really try to get this out of my system. I've started asking St. Jerome for his help in dealing with this impatience/anger/frustration since he had a similar problem when he was alive. I'm not used to feeling this way; it's all very new to me.

Maybe I've felt an inexplicable want/need to be closer to St. Therese of Lisieux because of all of this. She lost her mother at a very young age. She knew her vocation early on as well (though I'm quite sure that my vocation is to be a wife and mother, and not a religious sister). I'm sure there is a lot I can learn from her. This feeling has been building, slowly, over the last couple of weeks. I really need to get my hands on her autobiography. The only book I have on her (which isn't her autobiography) is only a few pages long and is in Spanish. I grew up speaking, reading, and writing Spanish but I've always felt more comfortable doing these things in English. Too bad my school textbooks are costing an arm and a leg, or else I would get myself her autobiography right now. Hmm...

Well, to wrap up this blog, I will say that it looks like I'm going to be undecided for a long time. If at least one of you guys can please help me pray... that I get some sort of clue as to what to do, I'd greatly appreciate it. I might take some time away from the computer, after my London research (which I am doing from home instead of directly from/at London as planned; again, I can't go anywhere. :(), just to do some heavy praying and meditating. I think I'll ask St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or St. Bridget of Sweden to help mom out (they are two of the many patronesses of widows). Actually... I just realized something VERY weird. A couple of months ago I had a dream that my big brother Moises (who died as an infant) showed me a holy card of St. Catherine of Sweden and told me it was meant for mom... St. Catherine of Sweden was the daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden, who is the patroness of widows. Wow. What a weird coincidence... I'll try finding a prayer card of St. Bridget for mom...

Alright, I think that's enough for now. I think I might go to the San Fernando Mission for a little while (perk of living not too far from it) and see if that doesn't help me with this little anxious feeling I've had all week. No full blown panic attacks yet (thank you, St. Dymphna!). Oh, and btw, I HAVE been working on blogs, one of which has been in draft form on here (not yet published), for a couple of days. That one is taking a bit of research. :D More will come before I go back to school. I hope everyone is doing well and is having a good end of summer.

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Anti-Muffin Award; Music Monday: Britt Nicole.

Thank you, Rose of A Rose in Bloom, for the Anti-Muffin Award. So, what exactly is the Anti-Muffin Award all about? Rose created it and gave it to bloggers "who are decidedly "Anti-Muffins". Bloggers who promote what they believe without hesitation and without fear of possible negative feedback. Bloggers who don't conform to the world's standards." I hope I do the award justice. I certainly don't shy away from writing about what I believe, fully knowing that I have friends who read this blog regularly and who have the opposite beliefs I do regarding certain social issues. I don't do it to get a rise out of anyone; I just write what I'm discovering on this lifelong journey as a faithful Roman Catholic.

I'd like to pass along this award to the following bloggers:
- Rebecca of Modestia and Catholic in Film School, for continuing her great work to help promote modesty in fashion. She definitely shows us young women that it IS possible to find great clothing that won't compromise our beliefs.

- Clare of The Catholic Young Woman (formerly A Maiden's Wreath) for, like Rebecca, helping promote modesty and not being ashamed of the fact. We need more women like this.

- Monique of Catholic Chicks, for helping empower Catholic women of all ages by using different mediums.

- Claire Christina of Musings of a Twentysomething, for being one of the most faithful, and traditional, young women I've met. Next time you're in L.A., we'll definitely work out the transportation issues. :D

- Joe of Verbum Veritatis, not only for being a great friend and coming to Mass with me the day after my father passed away (sorry about all those liturgical abuses, I can't control those!) but for sharing his discernment journey... as well as calling out all the liturgical abuses we often see in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. btw, he's so far the only one that can confirm the fact that I wear mantillas to Mass. :D

- Fr. Austin Murphy of Jesus Goes to Disney World, for continuing to bring the Catholic faith and pop culture together to help better understand our faith to young people everywhere. btw, Happy Belated birthday, Fr. Austin!

And, though the following don't blog/update as often as the rest of us, I'd like to pass it on to the following because, on a personal level, I know how deep their faith runs and how they never shy away from speaking out about their faith:
- Delaney of Hat Full of Hope
- Andrew of Per Fidem

Hooray for Anti-Muffins everywhere! lol.

I promise not to make this post any longer so I will just say that I am bringing back Music Mondays! I will continue to spotlight an artist that make good, positive music for everyone instead of "selling out" and doing what they think will help them sell more records to the masses. This week's artist is Britt Nicole.

While Britt Nicole may not be Catholic, she is still a hardworking Christian artist that allows her music to speak out on her faith. Her latest album, The Lost Get Found, will be out tomorrow but you can listen to her album for free (thanks to Sparrow Record) before it hits stores tomorrow. Just like her first album, Say It, tracks include songs that inspire young women not to be afraid to speak out on their faith and their love of God.

This is the first single, and title track, off her latest album, and is also the perfect example of the kind of message she tries to send others.

Alright, that's all for now. I want to get back to this book I'm reading (and hoping to do a completely honest review of it; I won't be kind...) so I can get up a new entry soon. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. :) As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting Excited about WYD 2011; Saint Books

Is anyone besides myself getting really excited about World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain? I know it's still 2 years away but with the introduction of the new logo for the event and the website the Archdiocese of Madrid has launched (which is currently only in Spanish), it's a little hard not to get excited! I was excited last year, and all I did was watch it on T.V. Btw, yes, I did sacrifice sleep to watch most, if not all, of it. :D One of the downsides of living on the U.S. West Coast and having the event broadcast live from Australia; several hours ahead of us. I was so bummed I couldn't go last year. I was still dealing with my anxiety (which was still in full force and was just getting into the routine of going to Mass without getting panic attacks) and we were also still dealing with dad's chemotherapy at the time. While I didn't get to experience the entire thing in person, I am thankful that EWTN (especially the Spanish channel, which is the only one Time Warner Cable allows me to watch without extra cost) broadcast it. I felt like I was still able to experience the joy and wonder of it all, though, admittedly, not the same way the people who went probably did. I was even on the edge of my seat, waiting for them to announce where the next WYD would take place, and I was overjoyed when it was announced that it would happen in Spain. I told myself that I would try to do everything I could to make sure I would be able to go to the next one in Madrid.

I told my parents that we would all go to the next WYD, especially since it's happening in the country where our ancestors came from. (Here's my Spanish heritage pride coming out. lol.) They both said that it was a plan. I actually planned on helping them return to the Church by then, if not then and there, but things don't always go as we planned. Anyway, as soon as the Spanish language website and logo were revealed, I told my mom about this. We now have a game plan. We're going to set aside a little bit of money every week for the remainder of the time so that we can go. I'll also have to figure out how to help mom with her fear of flights/airplanes, and, okay, myself as well (although, I'm more used to that than she is) but I still have more than enough time to figure that out. :D I fully intend on making the trip and hopefully I'll be able to stick around Spain for a bit after to visit places like where St. Teresa of Avila, and other Spanish saints, lived. :D

And while I'm talking about St. Teresa of Avila, I hope to re-read (and actually finish this time) her autobiography, long with other saint books before I head back to school. I've already gone through 4 books (plus currently reading another) but they haven't been about saints, or even Catholicism. As soon as I finish the one I'm reading (Jane Austen themed), I will re-read one of Bl. Pier Giorgio's books and finish the other I haven't read. After that, I hope to finish St. Augustine's Confessions, a book on St. Therese of Lisieux (which is in Spanish and was passed down to me by mom), one on St. Philomena, all before I go onto St. Teresa of Avila's book. The reason I saved hers for last was because it'll prepare me for the new school year. I don't know what it is about her and her autobiography but it definitely puts me in the right mind frame to tackle school. I hope to finish them all by the 30th (which gives me 23 days, 22 if you don't count today). I do intend to write reviews for them. I hope to get my hands on St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography, too. I love saint books. If anyone has any more suggestions for good saint books, please let me know! Any and all suggestions are welcomed. I'm a bibliophile that needs to have a book with her at all times. lol. :D

Alright, I think that's about it. I've fallen into my summer reading mode and I am not online much because of it. All I need is a book, some jazz music, and a cup of peppermint tea to be perfectly content. If you can add some lilies to the room, even better. Yes, I'm a full on nerd. lol. Sorry this post has been a little boring, I'm just very anxious to get back to my book. lol. I hope to write something a little more substantial next time; perhaps even a book review on one of the books on my list. :)

OH! Before I forget... I currently have NO prayer requests from anyone. Aww. :( If any of you would like me to pray about something -- illness, lack of job, anything! -- please let me know. I LOVE praying for others and my little book is currently empty. :(

Okay, that's all for now. I hope everyone had a great week and will have a great weekend as well. :D Thanks for reading! God Bless. :D

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dad's Warning; Mission Complete! New Mission Set?

I'm sorry it's taken so long to update. I had hoped to jump right back into blogging after my last entry but the shock finally began to wear off and I spent a good week away from the computer (both as a promise to St. Timothy as a 'thank you' for his intercession and for my own mental health). I am still trying to figure out how to do this... live without dad in my life. I had already begun developing a pattern while he was in the hospital (the last month of his life) but it didn't really hit me, until last week, that it's now just mom and I. I did spend a couple of days just completely bummed out and crying over the smallest things, but I'm happy that I got it out of my system. Of course, I will always have dad in my heart and mind but the grieving process is moving along well... and I know that dad's in heaven, or the very least purgatory, and looking after us now, especially after the dreams I've been having of him. One particular one ended up coming true, too.

If you've read my blog long enough, you know that I usually have saint dreams. Don't know why or how but it's what I usually dream about. Last week my dreams were a little different. For a couple of days I dream that there was a massive earthquake and that dad hurried us out of the way, and took care of us so that we were safe. That lasted for about 4 days; same plot - earthquake, dad rescuing us, different setting. Then I had a dream in which dad answered a question I had in real life. I won't go too into the specifics of it because it's of a personal nature (as in, regarding my love life) but I will say that I had NO CLUE that the advice and warning I had would come true later that day. In the dream, dad warned me that while the guy wasn't exactly a bad person, he wasn't the best choice for me and I wouldn't be happy. I clearly remember dad shrugging and said "It's not my choice, it's up to you if you want him like that, but..." with a look that made me understand that I would not be happy with what I was about to find out about the guy. I told my mom the dream and a few hours ago, I found out exactly what dad was hinting at in my dream. Again, I told my mom and she said she thought it was a direct warning from dad through my dreams. One of the last conversations I had with my dad was about just that, my future relationships, and he said that he trusted my judgement so he wouldn't interfere. If the dream was an actual warning, I'm glad he DID interfere because it saved me from a broken heart. I came out relatively unscathed... though, later on, I did get my heart nearly broken but this time by someone I considered a best friend; the heart break was not of a romantic nature, either. I'm sure this will be a surprise to most of my friends because, just as I've said on this blog, I very rarely discuss this part of my life with anyone who isn't my mother. Anyway, thank you daddy for the warning!

And while I'm still talking about my parents... I DID IT! My mission is now complete!!! "What mission?" You may ask? As I've mentioned many times before, like in this entry, my life's mission became to get my parents back to the Church. For the past 3 years, that had been my ultimate goal. I got into many arguments with my father over it but eventually broke him down first. Thank God in Heaven that I was able to get him to come back just a little over a month before he passed away! Dad was the most stubborn person, but I did it. Of course I'm not taking all the credit here; I know God used me to get him (and eventually mom) back to Him. He passed away closed to God and having received the Eucharist, for the last day, only a few days before his death. While dad was in the hospital, mom and I never missed Mass. It became a routine for us to go to the first English Mass our parish offers and then go visit dad at the hospital before we came home. We still haven't missed more than one Mass (the weekend we both had fevers and horribly ill) in a long while. In fact, we went to Mass the day after dad passed away (he died on a Saturday, we went to Mass that Sunday). It seemed that all my bugging, coupled with my father's death, finally broke mom down. She was actually considering going to confessions the week before my father passed away but dad's death really made it click for her. This past Saturday, she finally went to confessions... after many prayers (btw, a massive THANK YOU to my twitter friends who helped me pray for courage for my mom) and a lot of "coaching" on my side. I had to remind her what kinds of things she had to confess and the Act of Contrition, which she'd forgotten. I had to do it in Spanish, too, 'cause she feels more at ease with the language. She kept saying she was too nervous but I told her what I think about confession and why I think it's important that we do it, so she finally got the courage to do it. I was SO happy when I came out of my confession and saw that she was inside with the Hispanic priest. YES! The next day, she received the body and blood of Christ. I will admit that I teared up a bit when I saw that happen. My heart was overjoyed. I could feel the presence of the Lord with us in that moment when we both received the Eucharist. :D Mom's also been praying a whole lot more lately. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to do this (again, with His help) and achieving my ultimate goal! That has ever made me happier and prouder than seeing both of my parents back at the Church. :D

One little thing about that, though... I need a new ultimate goal in life. I honestly didn't think God would grant me my biggest wish so soon. I thought it was going to take me a number of years to get them back; especially dad. I had years of fights with him, every weekend, because he didn't want to go to church. I was thinking that maybe I should continue this path -- getting more people back to the Church; or at the very least to confess. One small step. My parents weren't the first. A few months ago, I helped convince another older woman to go back to confessions for the first time in decades. She was a stranger but she was drawn to talk to me while I waited an hour to confess. I don't know how I convinced her but I did it and it made me happy. I won't forget the gratitude I felt, thanking God for allowing me to do it. I've also started getting a few others on the road to returning, all without trying. Maybe this is what God wants me to do for Him. I'd be more than happy to do it! We'll see what happens...

Alright, well, that's going to be it for now. I have a lot to write, but will do it little by little so I can have a few more posts this month before I head back to school. *groan* Why does my summer have to end so quickly? On the upside, my Philosophy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (my Religious Studies lower division course for the semester) is looking promising. :D I'm procrastinating, aren't I? Okay, I'll stop writing soon. lol.

Thank you for all for your continued prayers and support. It's meant a lot to our family that so many people would take time out of their lives to pray for us in our time of need. Thank you for reading and God Bless you all! :D

P.S. For those of you who have asked, my cousin's grandson is no longer in the ICU for his pneumonia. He is doing much better, though is still in the hospital. Thank you for your prayers!