Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Year This Nerd Grew Up

Photo by Nino Andonis.

No, I was not immature (or I hope I wasn't) but I felt like I did a lot of growing as a person this year. I started the year kind of numb, a little apathetic, still mourning the death of my father and ended the year feeling the most alive and spiritually fulfilled that I've been to date.

As I said, I started the year in mourning. My mama went to my dad's room at the strike of midnight and broke down in tears as it was our first New Year without him. I also cried but I think it was harder for her as they were married for nearly 27 years before he passed. A week into the New Year I decided that I did not want to be in the rut I was finding myself in. I did not like feeling numb to most emotions. I did not like being a walking zombie who did not care about a lot of things. Though my faith thankfully did not take a hit, I was still going through the motions without emotions. To be honest, I didn't really snap out of this state right away. It wasn't until this summer, a year after my father's death, that I truly felt like myself once again. The hardest days for me were what would've been my father's 67th birthday, my birthday, and Father's Day. Thankfully I had amazing friends all year that helped me out. The majority prayed for me to get out of my state depression and mourning. Some went to Mass with me and I had two go to the cemetery with me to leave flowers on daddy's grave. I was thrown the best birthday party ever (breaking my bad birthdays "curse")... and basically everyone made sure I never felt alone. Whether they were online friend or friends I got to see in person, I was (and still am) to have truly amazing friends.

Of course, this year had the usual ups and downs. I was sick but less than usual. The anxiety was under control for most of the year (and, bonus!, I finally got to the root of it so I can hopefully move on) and I didn't have many health problems except for the stomach bug I got a few days ago (now you see why I haven't posted in a week?) and two allergic reactions. Otherwise, I'm solid, man. lol. :D School was a trip. For those following my tweets and my blog posts, y'all know what I mean when I say that school was interesting. Little did I know that my experiences at school would bring me so much attention... which I am still surprised by.

The CINO (Catholic in name only) College post unexpectedly blew up. I kind of wanted to hide, to be honest. I don't like being in the spotlight (or the limelight) but my post helped others which is all I wanted. I ended up on websites like the Cardinal Newman Society and First Things blogs. I got tons of comments, emails, and phone calls (seriously!) with words of encouragement, advice, and even schools offering to help me transfer to their schools where being faithful Catholics was the norm and feminist, liberal agendas were nowhere to be found. As I explained, financial and family responsibilities ultimately kept me at the CINO college I wrote about but I'm much more confident going into the next semester (though I don't start until the 10th). I have friends who help me out when I'm stuck on things that professors bring up. I'm still learning about our beautiful Faith so I occasionally need help. Thankfully I also have Patrick Madrid helping me which is amazing 'cause I'm learning a lot from him. Oh and something else that Patrick helped me with was getting my first article published in Envoy Magazine. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity and it only solidified my dream of doing what I want to do for a living which is writing. I still have a lot to learn but I've been fortunate enough to have good guidance. :)

Personally, I think I've grown a lot. From the late night-early morning epiphany I had last January in which I realized how lucky I am to have left my old life and dedicate myself to my faith and to doing God's will to coming out of the spiritual desert I just came out of, I have never felt closer to God than I did this year.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what I'm talking about when I say spiritual desert... in a nutshell, I just spent Advent being attacked by you-know-who with things I did not even know I would ever have to deal with. I had to deal with a lot of issues I'd unknowingly buried when I was a child and I went through a really rough time right before (and during) finals. I believe that if it hadn't been for the second 54-day Rosary novena I'm currently doing and my soul sister Angelica being there for me, I don't know how I would've (emotionally) survived. I had weak but secularly logical "valid" reasons to be angry at God, but I wasn't and still am not. I know other people who've gone through similar experiences have blamed God and/or lost their faith but I didn't. If anything, I came out of the spiritual desert with a greater love of God... and it's given me absolutely no doubt as to what my vocation is. On the contrary, I'm looking at the whole experience as a blessing. Though I spent nearly a month in constant tears and trying to make sense of everything, I feel like I had to go through everything in order to be completely ready for my future role as wife and mother. I'm still single and am in no rush, but never before have I felt more ready for whenever my future husband decides to show up. In fact, I'm excited that I will be sharing my vocation with someone and that we our love of God will only get strengthened by it. (Though, knowing men, whoever the guy is probably got lost and has refused to ask for directions thus making me wait a little longer. Typical. lol. jk.) I will soon write more about this -- you have been warned. ;)

Anyway, I've learned so much about myself and I've gotten some comfortable in my own skin that I feel like I can say that 2010 was the year this nerd grew up. The months of February (at the beginning of Lent) through May were especially good for me on this front. Maybe it was because I was entering my 25th year or maybe it was because, as I believe, God is getting me ready for the next phase of my life but I really did grow as a person and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. By the way, who knew that knowing what my temperament, Phlegmatic-Sanguine, would help me on the path of self-discovery? As I said right before my birthday, in my unofficial declaration of independence (from expectations and peer pressure), I decided to embrace who I was and be unapologetic of it. Although I still have a hard time being assertive (except when I fight against heresy and blasphemy in my classes as this is when my passionate Sanguine side comes out; I'm a lot quieter and can be quite shy in person which I know some of you aren't used to online, lol) I don't deny who I am and what I like and am steadfast in my beliefs. I've lost friends in the process but those who were really my friends have stuck around. :) I have a new outlook in life, and no longer live in the past, which has made me very happy with myself and with where my life is heading. :D Needless to say, 2010 was an amazing year for me despite the lows.

And this concludes the final blog post of the year. :D I still have to pray the Rosary novena for the day as well as take care of my mama who's sick with food poisoning (or possibly the start of the flu I just dodged). I hope everyone had a great year. I want to thank everyone who left a comment, sent an email, or sent me a tweet. Y'all made my year that much better. :D

I wish everyone a wonderful 2011 and look forward to seeing what the year brings (besides the start of my senior year this Fall). Oh and my 26th birthday at the end of May can just get lost; I'm good with being 25 and looking like I'm still in high school. lol.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Traditions; First Year with a Nativity

As Christmas is only a few days away I've been trying to figure out just what Christmas traditions we're going to be doing to sort of make up for last year since we didn't celebrate anything from the last Father's Day (June 2009) we had my dad until my 25th birthday this year. Unfortunately, we were still in mourning and kind of numb to everything last Christmas so there was no celebrating. This year, however, I've been on a mission to celebrate Advent and Christmas properly. Being Mexican, Spanish, Irish, and Italian I have a lot of traditions that I'm trying to incorporate into our humble celebrations this year.

First off, with the help of my confessor, Fr. Peter, we were finally able to convince mom to get a Nativity scene. Yes, you read that right: we didn't have one until last week. Actually, we had one when I was growing up but it got broken/thrown away/lost when I was about 7 years old. We haven't even had a Christmas tree since I was that age as well. My parents weren't/aren't anti-Christmas but for some reason we just didn't really celebrate it aside from some presents (though I didn't always get those because I've asked for no presents for a number of years) and the occasional Mass. As I said, things are going to change this year.

The main thing behind my plans is that we remember one important thing: Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and the hope that gives the world. The Nativity, though quite small, in the living room was the first step. As mom and I are still growing in our faith (and I don't think we ever stop growing with in comes to the love we feel for God), it was important for us that this (as well as the Advent wreath and candles at the beginning of Advent) were the first things that were taken care of. Since I've been stuck in bed (and indoors) for the past 5 days, both due to being sick and due to the torrential rain, I haven't been able to put the other plans into action just yet. Hey, I have 2 more days and most of what I need involves going grocery shopping and cooking/baking so I am not behind schedule. ;)

We have one new tradition, inspired by my paternal grandmother's side of the family, which I have ready but I won't have up until Christmas Eve. In Ireland there is a tradition of lighting a candle and placing it in the windowsill on Christmas Eve. It is said that this was done to symbolize a welcome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on their search for shelter. Tradition says that the light is to be lit by the youngest member of the family, which is me in this household as it's just mom and I. Tradition also says that the candle should be extinguished only by someone in the family named Mary but the last Mary we had was my late paternal grandmother so we'll have to assign this to either a guest (since we've had family members unexpectedly stop by) or my mom turn it off. Yes, "turn it off" since we will have an LED candle on the window. Since we live in an apartment, and the manager would have a cow if we lit an actual candle overnight, we'll have to settle for one that we can get away with. :D

I will spend Christmas Eve baking. I've never tried to make a pandoro (an Italian sweet bread; a nod to my maternal grandmother's part of the family) but I guess this weekend is as good as any to try. We may buy a Mexican Rosca (different style from the Spanish and Portuguese versions) but those are usually pretty expensive and too big for us. I would attempt to bake it by myself for Christmas but I may not have enough time with all the other things planned. I'll save the attempt for the Epiphany in which, once again, our heritage will help us celebrate. I will save those celebrations for another post though. ;) I also have other plans that involve food but not for ourselves. I enjoy giving for more than receiving... and my friends can attest to my specific instructions for no presents both on Christmas and my birthday (though I'm rarely listened to.)

I will try to go to Midnight Mass this year though I will have to go by myself as my mother has to work on Christmas and her shift starts at 5 in the morning. (There is no rest for those who work in hospitals.) If not, I will at least be tuning in to the Solemn Mass of Christmas Eve with Pope Benedict XVI via EWTN (online as Time Warner Cable is greedy and took my channels away) and then attending Mass on Christmas morning.

I'm always curious to hear others' Christmas traditions so please share if you'd like in the comment section! :D

Alright, I have a lot to do as I'm a couple days behind on the annual clean-a-thon (those reading this blog long enough will know what I'm talking about) and I need to start getting the last phases on my plans in motion. :D

OH! And if you haven't already: please vote for the patron saint of this blog for the coming year. At the moment, St. Therese of Lisieux is in the lead with 10 points followed by Mary Undoer of Knots and St. Gemma Galgani tied for second with 8 votes each, and Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin, St. Raphael Archangel, and St. Thomas Aquinas tied for third with 7 points each. Last year it really came down to the last day of voting for St. Cecilia to win so your vote still counts. Only 9 more days of voting left! :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Help Me Choose the Patron Saint For 2011

I took this picture of St. Cecilia the last time I went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

It's that time of year. Clean-a-thons are about to begin, cards are being sent out to different corners of the world, and a new patron saint is chosen for this blog. As is tradition, I have posted a poll in which you can choose as many saints as you'd like in hopes to help me pick out the patron saint for 2011. I had multiple saints in 2008, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati in 2009, and St. Cecilia this year. The purpose of this is to help me focus on a certain saint for the year and hope that he/she will help me grow spiritually. Since I'm pretty indecisive I let my friends help me out... and thus the whole concept of the poll was born.

I have the poll set up so that it's open until December 31st so you may vote, or change your vote, until then. The patron saint for the year will be announced on the New Year's Day. Oh! And because there's a possibility of being asked again this year... I pick the patron saints for specific reasons. Each saint is the patron of various vocations or health issues. I tend to pick them according to what I believe they could help me out with if they are chosen as the patron for the year. This year is focused mostly on my vocation. You can either vote for your favorite or for whomever you think you be the best saint for me to focus on. That part is completely up to you. Last year St. Therese of Lisieux was only a vote from tying with St. Cecilia and she helped me out this year as much (if not more) than St. Cecilia did. :D

Anyway, that's it for now. Please vote and help a nerd out. The poll (in case you're getting this post via email) is on the right side column of the blog. :D I have a book to finish for review. :) I hope y'all are having, or had, a great weekend! :D

As always, thanks for reading (and voting) and God Bless!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finals, Cancer Scare, and Rosary Novenas

... And I'm officially back! Sorry it's taken me nearly a week after finals to return to the blogging world but I have good reason for it... and you might've guessed what it was from the title. First, though, an update on how the first 54 day Rosary novena has been working and how it's affected my experience at the CINO.

I know I have yet to post an entry on the novena (which I will hopefully tomorrow) but I'm going to go ahead and say that it's worked wonders. I started the first Rosary novena at the beginning of the semester because I knew that I was going to need major intercessions as long as I attend the CINO. After the first week of heck (which is explained in the upcoming post), I started to notice things changing. It wasn't an immediate change (and things are still a work in progress) but I am truly grateful for what has already changed. While before I was overwhelmed and upset with everything that was going on, I now have a little more fight in me and I am at a place where I am feeling so much better. I still don't agree with my professors but I now openly challenge them in class because I'm no longer being a Little Miss Nice Nerd. I'm sorry but when material that is clearly anti-Catholic or trying to be passed as Catholic (when it really isn't) is presented I'm going to say something. I can't sit there and allow it to happen. I sometimes wonder how things would've gone if I hadn't completed the first novena because, even though I am openly defying my professors, they're not marking me down as much as before. I actually did pretty well this semester. I managed a 3.0 which is kind of miraculous considering everything that's happened. A 4.0 is a pipe dream at that school so I glad I got the required 3.0 to keep my financial aid. Finals were the most intense thing I've ever experience in my academic career, but I came out alive. Even though I got marked down for ripping a pornographic, anti-Catholic film that we were forced to watch to shreds, I still made it out in one piece... without having to compromise my beliefs. Thank God in heaven and all the saints and angels that helped me along the way. By the way, the fact that I was dealing with a cancer scare during finals made things a little hard for me.

I'm on day 20 of the second 54 day Rosary novena and, well, things have (had?) not been going very well for me. I actually had to restart the novena (on day 15 no less) because one of my professors decided to change our last essay at the last minute and had to basically rethink my essay and do everything from scratch. That night I finished right before midnight, lost the day, and thus had to restart. Just like my "week from heck" during the first novena, the past (nearly) 3 weeks have been really hard for me. This time around, things have gotten just a little more intense but I refuse to stop praying the novena. Repressed, and deeply unpleasant, memories randomly popped up the week before finals which did not help. As soon as I was able to get the memories out and began the healing process (through more prayer) I had this cancer scare. So during finals I was pretty depressed. Only one of my friends, whom I consider one of my closest, knew what was going on because I don't like worrying people. I actually didn't mention the scare to my friends or anyone until I a few days before my doctor's appointment (which was yesterday) and that was because I was so nervous and panicked that I really needed prayers. Because of the kind of scare that I was going through, I reached out to my girlfriends first because they are amazing women and I knew that they would have an idea (or could imagine) what I was feeling. The night before my appointment I was still a little panicky so I took to twitter where we Catholics have become pretty good online friends.

I won't lie and say that I wasn't fearing the worse but hoping for the best. After having gone through 7 years of my father's fight with colon cancer and seeing him die from the disease last year, it's no wonder why I was so scared of potentially having cancer. I've cried more these past 2-3 weeks than I have all year and things just felt horrible this week while waiting for the doctor's appointment. I was ready and prepared to do what God wanted, even if that meant that the worse case scenario would happen, but I was still terrified. Through the prayers of my friends, and through the second Rosary novena I'm doing, I felt nervous but more accepting of things. Like I said, I had resigned myself to whatever God's will was. After the doctor told me that it wasn't a cancerous tumor (though it is a benign tumor) I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and thanked God that it wasn't cancer. I actually imagined St. Therese of Lisieux and her mother, Blessed Zelie Martin, at either side of me as the doctor made his diagnosis and I'm glad I did it because it kept me from breaking down into tears. We don't always understand why we go through things until they are over and this experience was no exception. Though it may be too soon to say that my theory is right, I do believe that I have gone through everything for specific reasons.

I believe the stress of finals (and of the semester) needed to happen because I needed to strengthen myself, spiritually, more. After dad's death I went through a period where I wasn't completely apathetic but I definitely felt numb. I never lost my faith and love of God but I didn't feel the same way as before. Everything I've gone through the past couple of months have reawakened those feelings in me and I truly grateful for that. I believe the repressed memories came up because I needed to really deal with them. I am afraid I can't say what they were about as I'm terribly private about certain things but I will say that it was something that needed to be dealt with so that I could truly move on and be ready for my vocation without any reservations. Believe it or not, the cancer scare also helped me realize that I am truly ready to become a wife and mother as soon as God sends the right man my way. It took all these things to help me both reevaluate my priorities and also put me back on the track that I was on prior to my dad's death. I've snapped out of all the worries and I'm back, baby. lol. ;) Because I've finally snapped out of the funk, have 4 more weeks of vacation, and said "adios" to the blog writer's block, expect more blog entries from me. Sorry. lol. :D

I have to go finish an online game for review *gasp*, as well as a couple of books that will also be reviewed on this blog, so I should get going. I hope everyone is having a great week thus far. :)

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

P.S. I've posted some back entries from October until now that I hadn't before so please check them out. :D

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm Undercover at the CINO...

This is Emmy and I'm reporting live from the CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college with this breaking news... I am officially done with my Intro to Catholicism class! Whoo! I just finished my final presentation on parishes within the L.A. Archdiocese. Phew! But that isn't why I am blogging today.

I've been getting a lot of hits on my CINO post, largely due to Patrick being nice enough to send them my way for advice and comments of support, and I've realized that I haven't really updated how it's been going since the post. While I do tweet about my experience, as it happens, on twitter I haven't had the time to sit down and write a proper entry on here. I also feel like I should clarify some things. By the way, to the person who called me a "dumb, ignorant, pathetic excuse for a Catholic" (I'm paraphrasing but those were the words used) for "making a dumb decision" regarding what school I chose to attend: I hope this post will make you understand where I'm coming from and will make you re-evaluate the hurtful attack you launched on me last night.

First off, thank you for all your comments. As I said in a previous post, I made my decision as to what to do. After much consideration, talking to friends whose opinions I valued, and prayer, I decided to stay where I am. Before anyone comments on that, especially for my new readers, let me explain something. When I initially chose this school in 2006, I was barely returning to the Church. As I got more serious about my faith I looked elsewhere. I wasn't majoring in Religious Studies (I was an English Literature and Jazz Studies major before I settled on RST) so it wasn't like I was looking for the school with the best Religious Studies or Theology department. I looked into St. Bede's Hall in England, Thomas Aquinas College, Ave Maria, Steubenville, etc. I actually came very close to going for the more faithful colleges, as well as the secular University of British Columbia, when my father was diagnosed with cancer the second time (before the third and final time). Since I wanted to take care of my father, and I was still dealing with my anxiety and panic disorder, I decided to stay in L.A. and I chose to attend my current college over the other "Catholic" college in the area because I hadn't heard as many bad things about it. From the research I did, it seemed to have been getting better in terms of the heresy spewed so I decided to give it a shot. Still, I applied elsewhere just in case my dad did get better and I could go away. As my father got worse and his cancer became terminal, I decided to stick with the plan to stay in L.A. for as long as needed. When my father died last summer (2009), I decided to stay at home for various reasons but mostly because of the concern for my well being and because of family responsibilities I inherited with his passing. I didn't want to go away while mourning my father and while my mother was inconsolable (and she still is nearly a year and a half later; they were married nearly 30 years).

Right before I started this semester, literally weeks beforehand, I started hearing about how bad it was. From what I heard I thought I'd still be able to survive in one piece and thought "Hey, if they still allow me to believe what I do and to engage in conversation, I'll be okay." After all, it never hurts to learn the arguments from the other side to both strengthen your own beliefs and to get an idea of where they're coming from. So I began the semester but quickly learned that it was "my way or the high way." I began the 54 day Rosary novena, hoping Our Blessed Mother would help guide me on what to do. Things got worse before they got better. As I got closer to finishing the novena, I noticed a sudden change in my professors. With the exception of one, they began to allow me to challenge their beliefs. By the time I finished the novena early last month I was no longer getting marked down. On the contrary, I got full points for assignments in which I argued with the pro-Vatican II, "traditional Catholics need to get with the times" classmates. I learned how to do my assignments without agreeing with them, and getting my points across tactfully. One of my professors, whom we don't believe is actually Catholic, spoke to me after class and she said that she actually admired me for sticking it out and for "having the guts" to major in RST in this "environment."

Also during the novena, and after, I got to know some of my classmates better. There were some closeted "traditional" Catholics or simply conservative Christians on campus that were in the same boat as I was. We all formed a support group. In one of my classes, I met someone with whom I could roll my eyes with and with whom I could talk about Catholicism properly. (Btw, she might read this so hi! :D) When we had the assignment to visit parishes in the Archdiocese, I got some of the girls to attend a Latin Mass given at St. Catherine of Siena in nearby Reseda, CA. That made my professor not too happy with me but she's since gotten over it. While I still clash with my professors (boy, do we clash) I am allowed to speak my mind. Things are so much different... including how I view things.

I still have the same beliefs I had prior to attending this school, but I have a better understanding of where the "progressives" on campus come from. It's making me do more research and it's helping me learn so much more about my faith. My arguments are stronger and clearer than before. I'm gaining confidence when defending the Faith while helping bust stereotypes some of my classmates had about what it is to be Catholic and what the Church's teachings are regarding subjects such as homosexuality and birth control. While my professors do skip over me when they say something they know I will contradict/try to defend, for the most part it's getting much easier for me. I expect to continue having a hard time but it's now manageable. I know what I can get away with and have found loopholes around a lot of things so I can't technically get kicked out or failed for stating my beliefs.

Thank you to all of you tried to help me transfer to other schools but due to financial difficulties, familial responsibilities, and other things, my only option is to stick it out. Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, and by praying the 54 day Rosary novena, I am at a better place now. I can do this... and I more willing and prepared to defend our Faith than I was when I first started in mid-late August. :)

My Lit class starts in about 15 minutes so I should go but I hope that this blog will shed some light into my situation and decisions. For the person who decided to attack me, I have no ill will towards you and I pray that this post has been eye-opening for you. I still recommend really looking into colleges carefully and I do not recommend my current school for other faithful Catholics (and I stick by what I wrote in the first CINO post). For everyone who is in a similar situation, please know you are in my prayers and hope that you stay strong despite opposition for professors, faculty, and other students.

And now off to Literature class I go. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update: I AM Alive, Just Busy

I've been asked why I haven't blogged in over two weeks. The short, straight to the point answer: I've been very busy. I have two more weeks before finals start (in fact, my full day of final exams is in exactly 3 weeks) and this is when the professors load us with an insane amount of work. Throughout the semester the majority of the professors have fallen behind schedule and now they're trying to catch up which is more stressful for us. I had to read an entire 400+ book in a week. Well, I was supposed to finish it but I didn't because it's insane for a professor to assign us work as if it were the only class we were taking. I have a paper due tomorrow for Lit class and an exam early in the morning for my Intro to Catholicism class so I can't spend too much time blogging today but I thought a quick update would be good for now.

I have many posts that I started and do plan on publishing as soon as they are completed. Topics included in those posts: the Latin Mass (which I finally attended last week), St. Therese sacrifice beads, more updated on my life at a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college, NaNoWriMo (see, I HAVE been writing something), novel (and sequel) update, and one on the 54 day Rosary novena I finished (as well as the one I just started). Don't know when I'll have the posts up but they will be up soon-ish. Let me finish reading all the books assigned, finish writing all the papers due, and basically catch up in time for finals and the posts will be written on a regular basis once again.

Alright, I need to finish my paper of Ovid's Metamorphoses so this is all for now.

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Verso L'Alto!

By now it shouldn't be a secret that I am huge fan of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. I've spent enough blog posts talking about what a great role model he is for my generation as well as the younger generation, especially in these modern times when values and morals are looked upon with contempt. As I was thinking about what I'd just experienced in one of my Religious Studies classes this morning one phrase came to mind: "Verso l'alto." It means "towards the heights" or "towards the top"... a phrase that has become synonymous with Bl. Pier Giorgio's name and his short time on earth.

During the first class this morning, two big (well, big to me) things happened. First, I keep bringing up the Latin Mass in class whenever I can and have been pestering my professor for the past couple of weeks about how it's valid and how it should be an option for our "Parish Visit" final project. (We have to go to 4 different kinds of Masses, Latin Mass not offered as an option.) Today the professor finally put the details of the TLM at St. Catherine of Siena in Reseda (in the San Fernando Valley) next Saturday (the 13th) on the board. A couple of girls from class are ready to go which makes me very happy. :D The Mass counts towards the Foreign Language Mass requirement and I made sure everyone knew that the professor had said it counted. I did a little happy dance in my seat although that little "victory" didn't last too long.

The past two class lectures we've actually been watching videos on Vatican II. Today's video was very political and left winged. Some people were criticizing the late Pope John Paul II for "betraying the spirit of Vatican II" while others thought he was too modern. Some priests criticized those priests, bishops, and Popes who have taken an interest in politics of neglecting to help others grow spiritually. It was kind of a mess which some people would argue was the problem with Vatican II. Anyway, after the video was over the professor began to speak about how Humanae Vitae really "messed" Catholics again, and how the Church had no right to tell the faithful what to do regarding sex, reproduction, etc. That led to a sort of feminist, liberal rant that was completely unnecessary. She brought up Natural Family Planning and how it was an accepted form of birth control in the eyes of the Church and how it resulted from Vatican II. She then went on to say that birth control was okay and shared some personal stories to try to emphasize her point. When I challenged her on what she'd said, she said that she was right and my understanding of Natural Family Planning was wrong. A friend/classmate of mine and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and sighed. We know better but those who don't are taking the professor's word on it. I walked out of the class not sure of what to do except that I knew I'd continue to challenge the professors even moreso than I have.

All of this led to think about the phrase Bl. Pier Giorgio loved. From what I understand from his biographies and from what's up on the Frassati USA website, it means both to the top of the mountain (as he loved to climb mountains) and also "a constant striving to reach the summit of eternal life." I feel like if I don't say something in class, if I don't challenge the dribble the professors "teaching us", that I am not only not speaking up in defense of the Church but I'm also not doing anything to help my fellow classmates became spiritual stronger and more faithful. As a friend/classmate in my Ethics class said yesterday morning, a majority of our classmates don't question what the professors say even if it doesn't sound like it's a genuinely Catholic. They take what the professors say and it's automatically true. Because, as I said in my previous post, this school says it's Catholic they believe it. Of course, it's Catholic in name only but I don't think a majority of people realize that.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm perfect and that I know everything. Far from it. I'm still learning and I'm nowhere as knowledgeable as say Andrew or Joe (two good friends my age who could teach any of my classes properly if they wanted) and I'm definitely nowhere near Patrick's understanding but I'm definitely working at it... and I want to bring as many people as I can along for the ride. If anything, my experience at this school (and especially after lectures like the one we just had) give me the drive to keep going, to graduate, to go to Grad school and eventually become a professor and teach Catholicism properly.

By the by, if you were wondering what happened after the last blog entry: in a nutshell, Patrick was kind enough to get me in contact with Belmont Abbey College (with whom I unintentionally ended up playing phone tag with last Tuesday) and have the option to go there now open. A majority of my friends are pushing me towards going there while a friend and my mom are encouraging me to stay where I am and "fight the good fight" as I've been known to be up for a challenge, no matter how big it is. I've made my decision about what I'm going to do and I'm at peace with it. I also want to thank everyone for your prayers and advice. I was a bit overwhelmed last week and I took everything into consideration. I firmly believe your prayers helped as well as Our Blessed Mother's intercession (I'm on day 53 of the 54 day Rosary novena).

Alright, well, since I have another 3 hours (wow, that went by fast!) before my next class I will try to finish and post past blog entries as well as work on my NaNoWriMo entry for this year. Yes, I am crazy enough to attempt it again this year. :D

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

St. Jude Thaddeus is the Reason I Reverted

Happy St. Jude Thaddeus feast day! I will keep this post very brief since I have a lot to do but I just wanted to, like every year, say how much I appreciate all the intercessions St. Jude Thaddeus has done for me.

First off, I would not be here, writing this blog entry, if it wasn't for his intercession. A couple of years ago, when I was so sick that things like "she won't make it" and "she has little time" were thrown around, I began to pray. It's something I hadn't done in years since I'd drifted away from the Church during my teens. Since my mom was/is a huge St. Jude devotee I decided to ask his intercession. That was the beginning of my reversion. From that moment on I made the promise to learn more about my faith and to keep other promises I made... including one which I said that as soon as I graduate college I firmly intend to go to Vatican City to give thanks to him and especially God for giving me a second chance at everything. :D He has since interceded for me, as well as for many of my friends, countless time and I wholeheartedly recommend his novena whenever you're in a bind. I have never, ever, been let down and I don't doubt that if you ask his intercession, and if it's God's will, your prayers will be answered.

As much as I would love to write more, I have so much to do. No rest for the wicked, eh? lol. Anyway, I hope everyone is having/had a great day. :D

'Til next time, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, October 25, 2010

CINO (Catholic in Name Only) and Double Majors

Have you noticed anything new on the blog layout? No? In your left side bar, under the Personality Profile, is a counter that shows just how long I have until graduation. Currently it's 1 year, 6 months, 1 week, and 6 days. *sigh* Seems like such a long time but then I think about how fast these past 2 (nearly 3) months have gone and that makes me feel better. Being at a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college is hard and getting harder.

I'm beginning to see certain assignments marked down. The tension between professors and certain students (myself included) is beginning to increase. My anxiety's also beginning to get a lot worse. My anxiety had been under control and had gone months without an actual attack and now I have them every other day. Yesterday I was told by several people that I should just leave the school; to finish out the semester and transfer elsewhere. My poor mother, who's seen me at my worse, has been noticing the same pattern which I display before the anxiety gets really, really bad. Yesterday I nearly fainted while standing and had the worse panic attack I've had in a really long time. I don't know if my being at that school is bringing this on but it certainly looks that way.

On Friday I was talking to another faithful Catholic and she was talking about leaving the school as soon as the semester was over... and she's not the only one. Many of us who do not agree with the "teachings" that happen at that school are considering transferring elsewhere, even if it means losing this semester. I had the good fortune of meeting a former student and she said she left after a year because she went through the same that I went through with the professors... and she had the same professors, years ago, that I have now. You can just imagine how bad things are. I don't 100% regret going there only because it's taught me a valuable lesson, but I wish I would've really looked at the school before even applying. I knew things were bad but I didn't know the extent of it until I actually got there. I think I can withstand the abuse (and I feel like it is a form of abuse) for another semester or even until I graduate but I am not 100% sure. As I said, my anxiety is getting worse (so much worse) so I am really thinking about what to do.

My advice to those who have children, siblings, or friends thinking about going to a Catholic college/university is: do your research!! Avoid the CINOs (Catholic in Name Only) colleges. I can tell you that in Southern California the only two that are geniunely Catholic are Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and (according to The Newman Guide) John Paul the Great University in San Diego. If Thomas Aquinas College accepted transfer students I would've gone there years ago. I still think about it -- about going there -- but having to start over as a freshman and have a lot of loans prevents me from attempting to go there. A recent list of Catholic colleges and universities came out in the publication First Things (you need a subscription to view the article) which listed the Most and Least Catholic. I'm surprised my current college didn't rank in the bottom 12. The list seemed to echo what The Newman Guide recommends as far as which schools are recommended, plus a couple others the Guide doesn't have. I'm actually using both to help zero in on which Graduate schools to apply to. Even though I'm only a junior, I'm already seriously thinking about where I want to go for Grad school.

There is one more thing I have to consider; one thing that will be decided in less than 24 hours from now (2:34 p.m. PST). I recently took my Foreign Language placement exams and, well, I very did well. I did so well that the head of the department asked me to consider pulling a double major in Religious Studies AND Spanish with an emphasis on Translation/Interpretation. This only happened today, and it was sort of a fluke that I even sat down with her in her office to briefly talk about it. I was really discouraged about school yesterday but the chat I had with the head of the Modern Languages department kind of sparked a little something in me. A friend suggested I drop Religious Studies and focus solely on Spanish but I don't think I can. At most schools (and I think at mine as well) you can't change your major once you transfer into one. I want to major in Religious Studies but if I could do it elsewhere, I'd be uber happy. If I'm going to stay at this soul sucking school I'm seriously considering adding Spanish so I have something else to focus on. So, that's where I'm at now. I have a big decision to make and I don't know what to do. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

By the way, if anyone knows of a college/university that allows transfers with a cap of about 70-80 units, let me know. I will have 82 at the end of this semester but I'd consider losing a semester's worth of units to go elsewhere. I'm kind of desperate at the moment. lol.

Alright, I have to go write a 7-page essay on the New Testament... which I don't expect to receive full credit on because (like the other assignments) I fail to write what she wants us to write... because I don't agree with what she's teaching or her beliefs. That's right, I am purposely refusing to write what she wants us to because I can't, consciously, agree with it. And the professor is supposed to be open minded. Go figure.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and will have a great week.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

*EDIT on 12/7/2010: I have since posted two separate posts on the subject last month and this month, including a detailed post last week. Thank you for the comment and advice but I already made my decision weeks ago. :)*

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Online "Spring" Cleaning and Catholic New Media

If you're following me on Twitter then you saw my "tweet" about going through my list of nearly 500 people and trying to "clean" it so that I would only be following those I actually communicated with or those whose posts I follow regardless. At this point, I have less than 300, which is huge for me. I am not done yet and would like my list to be closer to the 200 mark. Part of the reason for this is that I felt bombarded with information that seemed superficial. Twitter, which I originally joined to keep in touch with friends who weren't on Facebook or who were too busy to email long messages, has become more and more impersonal. The data overload was making me feel disconnected from people, not to mention I was missing a lot of important information some of my closest friends were posting because they were buried in between posts that I wasn't interested in. It's been a long time coming and I'm glad I finally got the bulk of it done.

I'm current going through some major online "spring" cleaning. Taking a cue from Dan and Dustin, I've decided to make my life online just a little easier. They've bravely deleted their Facebook account but I think I would have a hard time doing that since I keep in touch with family and friends when I'm too busy to email. I am, however, going to delete a lot of information and photos that are unnecessary. We have so much information overload every time we get online, and much of the time it's information that is irrelevant or damaging to us as Catholics, and I'm tired of it. As my free time has now become precious due to the insane amount of homework the professors have assigned to us this semester, I need to have my priorities in order and I want to keep my friendships intact and the only way this can happen is with the "spring" cleaning.

I was able to step back and see how much time I was wasting online when I could be doing other productive things. Since the semester started mid/late August, I've spent more time playing games, taking quizzes, looking at sites like eOnline... and none of it was contributing to making me a better person. On the contrary, it's sites like eonline (which I like to read for movie news) that were actually hurting me. Is it really necessary to read who's being cast in what movie, what these so-called celebrities were doing on their off-time, and spoilers to shows I don't even watch? Not at all! Slowly I realized that I would often skim stories of celebrities that were gossip... and I hate gossip! I have a "no gossip policy" that I enforce: I don't gossip about people and don't like to listen to gossip, even if it's about me. It somehow didn't click that by my skimming these articles I was partaking in what I didn't like. *facepalm* Those were the first things I cut out when I started my "spring" cleaning (and since I'd only recently started reading them it hadn't become a bad habit.) The games were easier to cut out because I only like playing the games that take a couple of minutes to finish (i.e. puzzles). I still occasionally do quizzes on Blogpost but it's because it only takes a couple of seconds and I can do them after I am done with what's more important.

I've begun substituting a lot of what I browsed online with what has been dubbed "Catholic New Media." I've been keeping up with it since I returned to the Faith 4 years ago but I'd sort of put all the podcasts I once listened to (i.e. The Break with Fr. Roderick) on hold once I went back to school. Not only that, I haven't been keeping up with the numerous blogs and websites that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I'd gone into full on academic mode and had shut out anything that wasn't school related. Well, everything except the sites I previously mentioned. It was a BIG mistake to this. I missed a lot of great articles and blog posts that would've helped me, both spiritually and mentally. In light of everything that's happened at school, in my classes with my professors, I think it's important that I begin to use the vast online resources we Catholics have. I've gotten to the point where I know how to handle my classes and professors so I am having a lot more free time and I'm also stressing out less. Now that I've gotten the courage to speak up and defend our faith (in the majority of my classes), I have time to do research and to fully immerse myself in what is true so that I can combat whatever heresies my professors unleashed on us. There have been times I've felt I haven't been able to defend something properly and that's both infuriating and sad. (side note: I still can't defend anything in one class because the professor won't allow us but at least there's a growing support group amongst us conservatives.) I don't know whether it's my utter detestation of what we're "learning" at my school or Our Lady answering my petitions during the 54 day Rosary (I'm on day 34)... or a combination of the two things... but I'm definitely making some major changes in my online life (as well as my personal life).

Before I end this post, I was wondering if y'all can help me out on something. As I've previously mentioned, I started this blog to give y'all an insight on the life of a Catholic revert. I'm still learning (there's so much I have to learn and so much I will not get a chance to get to despite how long I may live) so that is why I keep posting. Since I have a huge mountain (school) I'm slowly climbing, I was wondering if it would be too repetitive for me to write about what's going on with that. Of course not a day goes by that at least one heretical utterance is said at that school but I've been thinking about writing about my progress at that school once a week, like on Fridays. I want to try to not complain about what's going on (although, the complaints are not actual complaints; I write them because of my amusement by what's "taught") but maybe just write about my progress with what's going on and how I'm handling my time there. I just wanted to see what y'all thought because I don't want to become repetitive with what I write. :) I hope that, if I do these weekly updates, it'll be a positive contribution to the evangelization we Catholics are doing online.

I actually want to get some "spring" cleaning done in my "offline" life (y'all should see my poor desk) so I will end this post here. I hope to post some back posts tomorrow and this weekend since I have a 4-day break from school.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

Okay, so this picture has nothing to do with what's going on with me because I don't have writer's block... I simply haven't had the time to do much writing outside what is needed for school and for Envoy Magazine. Still, I love it so I posted it. :-P

I have back posts I started but didn't finish because of time issues and a major change which has thrown my time management/schedule for a loop. Long story short: less hours sleeping, more busy hours during the day, and I dropped my math course for both time issues as well as, well, because my professor was insensitive and I was advised my faculty here to drop it after an incident between him and I. Anyway, since I don't have much time at the moment (I have Lit in about 40 minutes for so) I just thought I'd answer some questions I've been getting through email, on here (via comments) and twitter.

First: Did I do it? Did I end up wearing a mantilla two weeks ago? The answer is: YES! If you're a Facebook buddy you saw the photographic evidence (which a friend/classmate took inside the chapel). I did indeed wear a mantilla. There were dirty looks and a lot of pointing and whispering (and not discreetly) as I had predicted. I won't go into how... *shudders*... the Mass was and how the Eucharist (which wasn't really one) was basically shoved into my hands despite my efforts not to but I will say that I did wear it and I'm happy I did. I already know that some of my classmates think I have a "holier than thou" attitude because I go pray in the chapel whenever I get the chance and because of other things so I wasn't too concerned with what they thought about my wearing my chapel veil. It's kind of funny because if they knew just how hard I am on myself, they'd know it's the complete opposite. I did get a compliment, from the school's president no less, about how "pretty" it was which I did not expect. Overall, I was glad to do it despite what others said/thought.

Second: Do I have another article for Envoy Magazine coming up? The answer is: Yes! I've been trying to get it Patrick (and will attempt it again after my Lit class) for a couple of weeks now but my email is acting dumb (or it's going straight to his Spam folder because of that one time my account was hacked). Either way, it's written and it will hopefully be in the next issue. Can't say what it's about (yet) but I have a feeling y'all will relate to it... or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

Third: Why the lack of updates? Well, you guys probably know the answer to this by now. I'm not lazy and I don't have writer's block... I just have to rearrange some things so I can make the most out of my free time (like bringing a laptop to school so I can both work on school essays as well as update this blog). Since I have two very important exams this week (both placement exams - one for my Foreign Language requirement, the other for math), I want to dedicate as much time as I can to studying. I'm praying that I can test out of Intermediate Algebra (which is the last math course I took; they still make you take the test here) so I can knock math out of my life (forever) next semester. Fingers crossed.

Fourth: How's school going? It has its ups and downs. I "played" a game with my Catholic friends on Facebook called "Spot the Heresies." Basically, I posted a note with direct quotes from my professors and asked my friends to spot the heretical teachings. Now they see my pain. lol. The heresies are becoming a bit infrequent in all but one of my courses. I still dread coming to school (and still cry some nights at the thought of having to come the next day) but it's getting somewhat easier. I have a friend who's in the same boat as I am - both are regretting but learning from the decision of attending this school but we are both trying to make the most of our experience here. Today we talked about how we would've rather attending Thomas Aquinas College about an hour north of here but how "it is what it is" and now we must survive until graduation. Thank God (I'm literally thanking Him) that I am finding (or, I should say, that God's putting into my path) people with the same beliefs.

Okay, I have just a few minutes before class started and I still have to walk to the building and then up to the top floor so I am going to end this blog post here. I will try to update again on Thursday... at least the post on St. Therese and how suffering beads have changed my life quite dramatically. I wanted to post it on Friday but couldn't. :D

I hope y'all are having a great start of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Therese Suffering Beads

Happy St. Therese of Lisieux feast day! Since St. Therese has been in my life quite a bit lately, her feast day is a bigger celebration than in previous years. She's always been a favorite saint of ours but her story, as well as that of her parents, have really helped us these past couple of months. My mom actually passed down a book on St. Therese's life (written in Spanish) that she's had since before I was born because I've been trying to get my hands on all the books on St. Therese that I can. Basically, I'm trying to learn how to better handle things from her.

I'll be the first to admit that it takes a lot to push my buttons to the point where I actually get really mad. I'll be unhappy about something but I can usually get over that thing a minute or two later because I don't like dwelling on things that are negative. I don't see the point and I avoid drama like the plague. Unfortunately, the professors at my school have been pushing all the right (or should I say wrong?) buttons lately. I'm so passionate about my faith that it really makes me upset when someone butchers it and presents it the way they want to and not the way it is. I actually started keep track of how many things I was offering up because I tend to not say anything until I'm really riled up or until I feel comfortable enough to do so. A lot of things are quite irritating, such as saying that God can be referred to as either a man or a woman *sigh*, and when my professors are in a mood we can't even say anything without fear of a full on attack so offering up the assault on my ears is the best option. It wasn't until recently that I got my hands on some sacrifice beads to help me.

Lately I've been using St. Therese Suffering Beads that my good friend/soul sister, Angelica, was kind enough to send me. I've been trying to keep track of things I offer and on bad days I have to "reset" the sacrifice beads more than one or twice but it's okay because it's helping me cope with school a little better. I actually hadn't heard of sacrifice beads until Angelica mentioned them but I am glad she did because goodness knows that I seriously needed them. I don't always move a bead, signifying a sacrifice made, but I've begun to automatically catch myself so that I don't have an uncharitable thought about my professors. If you have a problem with impatience or have to deal with people or situations that make you unhappy more often than not, I strongly recommend investing in a "chaplet" of sacrifice beads. :D

Alright, well, I have loads to do so that is all for today. I hope everyone had a wonder day today. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Mantilla or Not to Mantilla...?

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

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

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

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

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nearly Fainting During Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Things Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

I hope y'all have a great day!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Monday, September 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed the song.

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

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stand Up to Cancer

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

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

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

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

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 5, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to School: Week from Heck

Yes, that's me and, yes, that was the reaction I had to everything I endured past week. (Side note: so no one wigs out, that is my claddagh ring. I'm a Hibernophile and am also part Irish so I can get away with it. ;D) To say that this was the hardest week I've ever had in my academic career would not be an exaggeration. I had to make some of the hardest decisions I've had to make and all I will do is pray to God that I've made the right ones.

Believe it or not, I spent every day of my first week back to school (and first week at a new school) crying. Despite trying to remain optimistic and having the support of both my family and friends, I came very close to dropping out of this school and applying for enrollment at another. If you're following me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook, you probably read my tweets and status updates in which I expressed my indecision and unhappiness. If you read my last blog post you got just a small glimpse into what was going on in my mind as well. Actually, right after I posted that blog (which I wrote on campus, in the library) I attempted to take a much needed nap but it didn't end up happening. At the end of the day, the combination of my anxiety of being the odd girl out as well as the lack of sleep ended in the worst panic attack I've had since the day my father died.

I had to leave the classroom (I was in math class) and I nearly fainted in the hallway. I had to sit down and I cried my eyes out (and a special "thank you" to the 3 people who stopped and offered me water or tissues while I endure the panic attack) while I tried to control my breathing. I felt too weak to stand up, my hands and feet began tingling and I was extremely lightheaded. I've never had a panic attack that bad at school and never in public. Once I controlled my breathing, I walked into math class but was so lightheaded that I nearly fainted again. I had to catch myself on the piano stool in the classroom (math class is offered in a music room) before making it to my seat. I had to endure the whispers and stares from my classmates and that nearly set off another round of panic but I was able to focus on drinking water and writing down whatever was on the board. Have I ever mentioned how easily embarrassed I get and how uncomfortable I get when the spotlight is on me? This is why I hate getting anxiety in public and why I avoid public speaking at all costs. Anyway, after that experience, I was ready to call it quits.

So what exactly triggered the panic attack? As I said, I believe it was a combination of the lack of sleep, the general anxiety I had (and have) about my classes, the uncomfortable feeling I've felt since day one, and a slew of other things. I just don't feel like I fit in... and I probably don't. As I mentioned in the previous post, if there are "traditional" Catholics on campus they're all hiding. It's almost a crime to be this way... or at least it's the way it feels. While I have no personal problems with any of my professors (they've all been lovely and helpful in terms of my anxiety and working with me because of it), I don't agree with what they teach. One of my professors asked us to erase the thought of Hell out of our minds because it didn't exist... and this was in a Religion class. Of course Hell exists, as does purgatory and Heaven. A lot of things that are being taught, well, I am just not comfortable listening to but I sit there and don't say anything because I've already been warned not to p.o. my professors unless I want to fail. They have a school policy, which I recently learned, which states that we are able to speak our minds regarding religion and that we can't be punished for our beliefs. Regardless, things said about "traditional" Catholics are extremely passive-aggressive. Every time I had a break, I'd go into the chapel and the St. Therese alcove and I'd pray for the strength to make it through my classes because I just didn't feel great in them. Every time I would come out I just dreaded going back to class a little more.

After going through all of these things the first three days of school, plus the elitist snobbery permeating from a great deal of classmates, I was ready to call it a day. Why subject myself to all of that? Why endure two more years of this treatment? Deadline to withdraw without penalties (fees) was Friday so I had hard decisions to make. The anxiety got worse and Wednesday night into Thursday morning was a nightmare. I ended up missing all my classes on Thursday because I was so exhausted from a day of back-to-back panic attacks (they can be both emotionally and physically draining) and I ended up sleeping (recuperating) most of the day. By the time I woke up, I'd missed the entire day. Thursday evening and night I got words of support and encouragement from my mother and friends. The majority supported whatever decision I ended up making while some tried to get me to either leave or stay because it was what they wanted for me. While I appreciated it, I am not a fan of being told (especially when it sounds like I'm being forced) what to do when it comes to my personal life and decisions. It was something both Joe of Verbum Veritatis and Andrew of Per Fidem said that really made look at the situation differently: endure the classes as penance and offer it up. While I usually do this (offering things up for souls in purgatory), I hadn't really thought about doing it for school. I actually spent the rest of my Thursday night going back and forth with Andrew on the whole issue of staying versus going until I had a moment of clarity that really helped me make my decision.

In the end I decided to stay. As someone close to me told me on Thursday night "You are not a quitter." It's true. I don't like giving up and I like proving people wrong when they underestimate me. While I am still really uncomfortable with what will be said about "traditional" Catholics and even though I will want to cry every time they butcher Catholicism and the Church, I will have remind myself that all of this will help me learn what "progressive" Catholics and Christians argue so that my counterargument will be stronger. I am still unsure about whether or not I will sit there and fight all the time or if I'm just going to do it when I am asked (in essays and whatnot when I am directly asked). I have to learn how to pick my battles because I know that no matter what you present, and no matter how sound that argument may be, there are some people who will keep attacking just because they don't agree with you.

By the way, I'll also admit that part of the reason why I decided to stay was because of the tuition. If I stay at this school I'll graduate debt free since I am not asking for any loans. I'm a practical, frugal woman. Taking into consideration that my mother's paycheck is the only one regularly coming in and not knowing what the future holds or how the economy will be in two years, I felt it would be best not to overburden myself with any loans. I still have grad school to go through as well and I have to think about that.

To not make this entry even longer I will say that I dealt with all of this while fighting an upper respiratory infection (and taking antibiotics all 5 days of the week) and then getting cold. I was, and still am, physically drained so much so that I ended up missing Mass today. As I joked Thursday night, I better get some time off in purgatory for all of this. ;)

Alright, well, I have procrastinated long enough. I must get to my math homework which is due tomorrow. While I still feel anxious (which might explain the horrible weakness and fatigue I currently feel; I've been stuck in bed for hours), I've made a personal vow to really give it my all and go down swinging if it comes to that. We'll see how tomorrow and the rest of the week fares.

I hope those of you who returned to school this past week are having a better time than I am. To those who start this coming week: all the best of luck to y'all. :D

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