Monday, February 19, 2018

Becoming Benedictine

I've had Sara Bareilles' "I Choose You" stuck in my head for the past couple of days. As I drowsily wake up from whatever dream (or nightmare) I'm having, the chorus keeps repeating in my mind...

"Tell the world that we finally got it all right,
I choose you.
I will become yours and you will become mine,
I choose you..."

What does this song have to do with the blog title? Well, perhaps the fact that after years of going back and forth on third orders (it was a tie between lay Carmelites and third order Dominicans with the Dominicans edging them out in recent years), I've finally settled on a lay order that (seemingly) came out of nowhere.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've finally decided on becoming a Benedictine oblate.

"Wait, Benedictine?" you may be asking me. "Since when were they on the radar?" It's kind of a long story but I'll try to condense it for y'all.

When I first got the idea to look into third orders -- when I was sure I wasn't called to become a religious sister -- I looked at ALL the third/lay orders. I will admit that I dismissed the Benedictine oblates because they didn't seem to be a right fit for me. Even my spiritual director at that time thought I was a good fit for the Dominicans because of my academically-inclined mind and nature. My favorite saint (well, blessed), Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, was a lay Dominican. I loved St. Catherine of Siena. I had a fire to teach others about the faith and defend it, especially when I was an undergrad at my CINO (Catholic in name only) college. With one of my dearest friends discerning his vocation with the Discalced Carmelite Friars and so many of my friends leaning Carmelite -- as well as finding a kindred spirit in St. Therese of Lisieux -- I also considered the Carmelites as frontrunners. I think I kept going back and forth between these two orders because, as much as I loved the people associated with them and the orders themselves, neither felt like the right fit for me.

How did the Benedictines win me over? I believe it started with reading The Benedict Option by Rob Dreher last Lent. Yes, I know... I know. A controversial book, but I got my first real taste of Benedictine spiritually from it. After reading it, I was intrigued to learn more about the order so I read The Rule of Saint Benedict. All this happened last Lent. Little did I know that everything (and I mean everything) that began last Lent had planted the seeds for what I was going to go through for the rest of the year. I had no idea that it meant me also choosing to become a Benedictine oblate before this year's Lenten season began.

When I knew I was finished with school, my former spiritual director's words kept coming back to my mind, "Wait until you finish school to discern. Wait until you finish school to discern..." Then I met a lovely lady who talked about discerning with the Monks of Norcia and it all clicked for me... including the thought of discerning with them as well. There has always been something about them that has a struck a chord with me (those who have been reading this blog long enough may remember I even donated my entire royalty check (and then some) of the last novel sale of 2016 to their earthquake relief fund).

I'm lucky that they accept overseas oblates. It will mean a lot of hard work in the future because it will mean that I'll have to make a trip out to Italy once a year but I'm willing to do all the work to make it happen. (btw, if you do want to make a trip to visit them -- even if you aren't a discerning oblate -- there's one coming up this year). I've also looked into the local Benedictines (at St. Andrew's Abbey) but there's something in my heart that really wants my discernment to be with the Monks of Norcia. I've already contacted them and now I have to wait to see what happens.

If you're wondering if there was one specific thing that sold me on the Benedictines, the answer is "no." I took a lot of things into consideration: their spirituality, what was required of its oblates, the orthodoxy of the particular abbey, my strengths, my weaknesses, my temperament, what gifts God has given me, what I felt He has planted in my heart (which I have yet to share with the world), where I felt He was leading me to, etc. Most importantly, I didn't do it on a whim... which I tend to do when I get excited about things. I took the time to think about it, research it, pray about it, and make sure it felt like the path God was leading me down on.

And so my journey begins. I don't know where it'll end but I've felt both very excited and at peace about this decision for a while now. I can't wait to see what God store in store for me. :)

That's it for now. I'm still feeling weak and terrible (I've actually written this blog post in parts over the past 2-3 days.

I hope you all have a lovely week!

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lent 2018: Giving Up Everything, Giving Up Nothing

First off, congrats to the winners of the Magnificat Lenten companion apps: Lianna, Theresa, and Katie! There were some people who popped up as winners but they had cheated (they didn't do things they claimed to do), so they were automatically disqualified. Hey, Rafflecopter knows all!

I've been thinking about what I wanted to do for Lent for weeks. I went back and forth on the usual options -- giving up social media, extra expenses, adding acts of charity, giving up more screen time, etc -- because nothing was really sticking this year. Aside from my live tweeting during the figure skating competitions at the Winter Olympics, I don't really tweet much. I'm not as addicted to social media as I once was. We (Mom and I) are on a strict budget so not spending money we don't have wasn't hard. I don't really watch TV (again, except for the Olympics right now) and I tend to read more than I watch TV so, again, not hard for me.

I've been going through lately (so much that it's going to take a couple of blog posts to sort through in the near future -- some good, some not so good, some amazing and overdue) that I decided to give up everything... and give up nothing.

That doesn't make sense, does it? How can I give up everything while giving up nothing? Do I ever make sense? lol. Yes, I'm going to explain myself and my train of thought.

I'm not giving up anything as an individual. My mother and I decided to collectively give up miscellaneous spending for the sake of our financial health but, again, that's not a big problem because of our strict, tight budget. It will mean that meal planning will be involved which will save us money when it comes to grocery shopping, which is essential. Beyond that, I'm not giving up anything in the usual sense.

I'm giving up everything in the sense that I'm giving up everything I once thought I knew. In my quest to completely abandon myself to God's will and His Divine Providence, I'm giving up more of myself. I'm giving up my fears. I'm giving up my doubts. I'm giving up my tangible certainties. I'm giving up the pride that comes with the knowledge I've accumulated in all my years of academic education and other experiences. I'm giving up on toxicity in my life. I'm giving up the negative. I'm basically giving up everything, interiorly and exteriorly, that will not matter at the end of my life.

I'm not giving up on my faith... my optimism... my hope... my love for God. I'm not giving up on treating my body with respect by taking care of it and nourishing it to the best of my abilities. I'm not giving up on my family and friends. I'm not giving up on my drive to do as much as I can to make God known and loved. I'm not giving up on the things that will get me closer to God and to my ultimate destination of Heaven.

I'm giving up everything... that is harmful to my body and soul.

I'm giving up nothing... that will help me praise the Lord for eternity once my time here on earth is complete.

Does it make sense now? ;)

Anyway, I have a lot to share over this next couple of weeks so stay tuned to this blog.

What are you all giving up (or adding) for Lent?

I hope you all have a good beginning of the season and that, if you're giving on social media for Lent and we're in contact through it, you let me know how we can stay in touch during this time. Let's all pray for each other!

That's it for now!

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Magnificat Lenten Companion 2018 Giveaway!

Hello, everyone! I'm sorry for the delay in posting this giveaway but I've had a rough couple of days. I didn't even get to sorting through my emails until this morning -- three days worth of emails. Yikes! I'm having a slightly better day today so here I am, ready to give away a Magnificat Lenten Companion.

Can you believe Lent begins in a couple of days? I actually began thinking about what I wanted to do for Lent a couple of weeks ago before Christmastide ended actually. What can I say? I like to plan. I have yet to solidify my plans, including fasting because I cannot fast or abstain from meat. I know I won't be giving up social media for Lent but perhaps I can do it on Fridays as a way to abstaining from something.

Anyway, the point of this post is to give away yet another Magnificat Lenten companion. This is only for the app, not the physical Lenten companion. For the last couple of years, Magnificat has been kind enough to send me two iOS app codes to give away for Lent and Advent. In previous years it's only been for iOS app but they've added two Android codes. That's FOUR Lenten companion apps to give away this year! Thanks, Magnificat! I've used this app previously and it's been really helpful to me, especially when I was really busy and couldn't find the time to devote more than a couple of minutes to prayer.

It's easy to enter. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions and you're set. I believe you can also tweet about the Lenten giveaway every day until the last day of the giveaway for extra entries. ;)

One important note: please let me know which app you're entering for -- iOS or Android -- so I know who will be drawn for which app. You can do this by leaving me a comment on any social media platform where you can reach me (Twitter, the blog's FB page, as a comment on this blog, etc).

The winners will be randomly chosen at midnight Eastern Time on February 13th. I will personally email the winners before I blog again.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you all have a lovely rest of the week! :D

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