Sunday, March 28, 2010

Long Absence

Hello again fellow bloggers!
Ok so my little hiatus was jam packed. Not only have I been busy, but my mind was pre-occupied and I didn't feel worthy of writing religious material when I was in such a funk.

A little while back, I posted how my room mate was mad that I didn't participate "correctly" at the party we went to, and told me I was too religious. This comment really stuck to me and I began to question my own identity, first and foremost as a Christian, but also as an individual...a simple human being. I was unsure if I was living my life simply to fit a mold or because this was what I wanted. I immediately tried to strip myself of anything stereotypical "Christian", while staying in the limits of morality. I went shopping for clothes I wouldn't normally wear (ex: shorts, skirts that rise a little above the knee, some tank tops, and tankini bathing suits), I tried flirting more and participating in the "girly" talk/gossip with my room mates, and I started to question my stance on love: who should be able to love? how should we love? how far is too far in the physical realm for a single girl like me?

Now this has only been going on for about 2-3 weeks and I noticed drastic changes in myself. I thought I was staying in my moral boundaries...just breaking the idea that all Christians must conform to this ultra-modest, ultra-strict lifestyle. I don't think anyone else noticed the changes...except for me, because they were emotional changes. My once confident self (in terms of body image) was suddenly looking at my body as a strange & imperfect enemy. I started to see "problem zones" and had the urge to fix them now. I knew right away something was wrong because I had overcome this battle since becoming a serious Christian. My weight had ceased to be an obsession for over a year and a half, I just focused on health, not the vanity. I also felt this guilt when I would make comments about certain guys...critiquing them like everyone else. I was objectifying another human being for what? A stupid game? I was allowing impurity into my heart...straying from my focus on God and my life as a single young woman. I was disappointed with myself...but this was what I wanted. Experimentation in finding my true self.

One of my room mates asked me if I would ever break my purity vow to have sex with this handsome foreign exchange student...and I couldn't even react. It was like 'what are you doing?' The thing is...I couldn't even answer it. I was so absorbed in "fun" of this game...of connecting with my room mates for once.

And then someone posted Romans 12:2 on their blog:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

And I realized how off the straight and narrow I had gone. I didn't even like the person in the mirror. I lost my confidence, my direction, and my strength. The "old" me (the one from...a few weeks ago hahaha) was the real me. I wasn't blindly following a Christian stereotype...I was responding to the weight being placed on my heart by the Lord. When I felt like I needed change in my life (whether modesty, head-covering, character, etc) I would research, study the Bible, ask more experienced Christians...and that "conformity" was to the will of GOD, not a cult! Just because many Christians share the same habits and lifestyles does not make them wrong or stinted in creativity...we're living a life devoted to God and His Will is perfect and ONE. Meaning similarities will arise in our communities. I don't need to blatantly stand out and act differently for the sake of individuality's sake, nor do I NEED to conform to beliefs (Christian or not) that I am not sure are right for me and for the path God is leading me on. I need to stick to the discernment God has equipped me with.

I'm still working on fixing the damage I created (it spiraled so fast!) and I am unsure about some of the clothes I bought. My policy was always "to the knee!" so my capris, skirts, dresses...all went to the knee. Even my bathing suit which was board shorts and a surf guard thing. And now I have 3 pairs of shorts and 2 bathing suits. I feel like the bathing suits are ok...modesty on the beach (for some reason) is always different than "on land". But am I willing to compromise my modesty for a simple beach standard? I'll give it a try...I can always wear cover ups if I feel uncomfortable. This is all a learning process...God just needs to lead me. And I will NO LONGER let the words of others (especially the opinions of my room mates, who cannot even grasp the happiness I have in my God and His ways) deter my from this life...from righteousness. I'm ashamed I let it happen, but I was afraid of becoming a bigot...from becoming a Christian who scares off non-believers rather than draws them in.

Pray for me! (not only for guidance, but for the crazy amount of tests I have this week!!)
Peace always~

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm Sorry!

A new post is long overdue, and I am sorry I haven't had the time to get on here, let alone write a meaningful post. My schoolwork seems to come in waves...some weeks there will be little to do and then others (like now) will be so chock-full I feel like I am drowning.

Please bear with me while I make time to post!!
Blessings always~

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saint Gertrude the Great (again!)

I cannot help myself, I have found such encouraging pearls of wisdom while studying this woman's life and role in the Church. Apparently she was never truly canonized, but in 1677, Pope Clement XII instituted her feast day. Neat eh? Anyway...

On a website, I found a quote I want to share, in which St. Gertrude had a vision and spoke to God. She asked Him that people have less distractions, so they can focus more on prayer, and He answered her "It does not matter to me whether you perform spiritual exercises or manual labor, provided only that your will is directed to me with a right intention. If I took pleasure only in your spiritual exercises, I should certainly have reformed human nature after Adam's fall so that it would not need food, clothing or the other things that man must find or make with such effort."

How moving is that? I keep rereading it in awe, as once again, it applies to my life directly. Today as I was coming home, I thought about how much I have failed to do my rosaries and meditations, especially when school gets busy, and I just got down on myself. It's like God is sending me these little bits of encouragement so I don't lose sight of what is really important.

This website is truly a blessing, despite the fact it is merely a page long. Please, please, please if you have the time, read it!! There is such hope in the paragraph about Purgatory (and the prayer given to her from God) and in the conclusion of the Sacred Heart. I have never imagined the Lord's pierced Heart in such a manner...being so close and hearing Its pulses...amazing! I cannot stress it enough!

I am so lucky to have come across this incredible woman!
St. Gertrude the Great, pray for us.
Peace to all~

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sorry guys! It's been mid-terms week. After tomorrow, I am officially on spring break, so I'll be up and posting again shortly!

Pax Vobiscum!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Latin Significance

My parents always say how "in their day" much of the mass was said in Latin and my dad (who is no longer practicing) always brags that he still knows the Latin prayers. I remember when I was younger and our Church incorporated some Latin music once in a while, my mom would get excited because she remembered the lyrics and simply loved the songs.

Now that I have made the U-turn in my spiritual journey and have returned to the Church, little aspects like this intrigue me. (also I love languages and once part of MJ-ism I loved was the Hebrew prayers; I still recite the Sh'ma in Hebrew) I love the Salve Regina video I posted a few topics back, and I have been listening to some other Gregorian chants and Latin "tunes" on youtube. They're very peaceful and so incredibly beautiful. On one of the blogs I follow, the blogger, a young Catholic mother, recites the rosary in Latin to her child before bed which soothes her to sleep unlike any other technique. I have keep hearing about the Traditional Latin Mass, although I have never been to one or heard of one before the internet lol Has anyone ever been to one? What is it like? I heard women have to cover their hair upon entering ;) My kinda mass!

I think there's something very unifying in language. Muslims insist a convert learn Arabic to fully understand the Qu'ran and prayers, Orthodox Jews recite their services in almost all Hebrew, the Amish use High German/PA Dutch,and so on. I have been looking at the Latin rosary lately, I find it quite lyrical!


I haven't been keeping up with my rosaries this Lent, but I have been doing well with the other sacrifices. I had a quick question though, why does the RCC not count Sundays during Lent, but the Orthodox does? (I thinkthey don't...but even so, their Lent is much more challenging, they go Vegan basically! I cannot imagine...especially here at school, there is simply no way!) I read in my church pamphlet that Sunday is a celebration for us and that we are not allowed to sacrifice on this joyful day, is that universally accepted? Do you break your Lenten fasts on Sunday?

Peace always,

PS- Just a quick update, I just wanted to let everyone know once again how incredible God is!! My faith has truly been cleansed and renewed these past 2 months here at school...I cannot even describe how close I feel to the Lord after really delving into the Eucharist, the saints, and coming around to Mary. It's like a completely different spiritual level than I have ever experienced and I regret putting it off for so long. But God is good! baruch HaShem :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Prostestant MUST READ! On Mary & the Saints

A blog I subscribe to called Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall created a post about Mary being the Coredemptrix. The title hit me and I knew I had to read it, especially after some worries being mentioned about Mary and the saints. He really hits the nail on the head on what I have been trying to convey...but not doing such a great job myself, I'm sure you will understand Catholic doctrine better by getting these often misunderstood points & definitions.

He explains:
"[Incidentally, the distinction between "absolute" and "relative" is essential to the Catholic doctrine of prayer and mediation. Christ is the absolute mediator between God and mankind since His both fully divine and fully human. However, all baptized humans are relative intercessors in that we can pray for one another by participating the mediation of Christ. His mediation is absolute. Our mediation and that of the saints is relative to His.]"


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saint Gertrude the Great

Sometimes, in my spare time, I like to sift through the hundreds of saints on saints&angels. I've also been very drawn to the Scandinavian countries and Germany, as I love the people & the cultures and I wanted to see if there were any saints from these areas. Neither are notoriously Catholic countries...if anything they're incredibly secular-Protestant and even persecuted Catholics in the past so I wasn't expecting much when I did the google search. But I am glad I did because it changed my life. Well...maybe not earth shattering, but it was amazing none the less!

Saint Gertrude the Great was born in Germany and accepted into religious life as a teenager at Helfta. She was very into her studies and it was said she neglected her spiritual & prayer life in doing so. (sounds like someone I! Gotta work on that But once she started having visions of Jesus, things changed, and she felt she was truly "converted" only after they began. From what I gather her experiences and life were collected and recorded into a book called The Herald of God's Loving Kindness (or simply Divine Love, but the one at Borders has the first title) I am so buying this book when I am in able to get to a Border's in the future!! She sounds like an incredible woman who was very human. (Not that saints aren't just that, human, but I can really relate to her for some reason) She struggled with everything we do and she's even let her priorities go out of whack at times. Just researching her visions and getting only vague answers is toying with me! There is a quote from CatholicEncyclopedia that states: "The spirit of St. Gertrude, which is marked by freedom, breadth, and vigour, is based on the Rule of Saint Benedict". How weird, my soul has been craving and aching for freedom and adventure, she'll be a great intercessor in my quest for just that ;) But MOST importantly, she had an incredible devotion to Jesus, The Sacred Heart, and the Holy Eucharist. I wish I had more to post, but alas I won't until after reading her book. (If anyone else knows more, feel free to post!)

I only see her prayer for the release of 1,000 souls in Purgatory on only some websites. It goes:
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

So I don't know what truth this has just yet, but the prayer itself is very moving. I have to say it a few times just to meditate and it brings me to tears. St. Gertrude makes me realize my own humanity...and yet gives me such hope because I have the most perfect sacrifice in my Lord and Savior...why is God so Good???

Praise the Lord for a great day/weekend, despite how busy I am!!
Hope all is well on your sides of the computer screens!
Pax Vobiscum,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ave Maria

So, on this Lenten journey I am taking, I thought it would be appropriate to really "re-sculpt" my character. Now, I've tried this a lot, and posted about it, and have always fallen short. For a while, I've just "gone with the flow" of who I am and how I act, but upon going home this weekend, I discovered a simple necklace that seem to have changed my mindset completely.

Mary, as in the Mother of Jesus, has always been a controversial subject with me...coming from a protestant perspective and all. My mom, as she knows I have been studying my Catholic faith for some time now, has been leaving me Catholic jewelry, rosaries, books, etc in my room for me when I come back to visit. This time, I found a little prayer card with a little ovular necklace taped to the back. The medal had Mary on it and the text around her read "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. 1830".

I didn't realize it was a miraculous medal at the time, but I felt a strong urge to start wearing this necklace, and thus I immediately put it on. For a split second I wondered "Should I?...What if this is not what God wants? Is this an idol?" But literally, one moment later, my worries vanished and I felt very at peace wearing it. I even felt a stronger sense of her presence when I was asking for was just weird to me, but I liked having this medal around my neck. I have been asking God for guidance over a certain area of my life that I am utterly confused about, but after asking for Mary's intercession, my mind immediately calmed. I was dumbfounded, I have been going absolutely insane for weeks over this matter and in one simple prayer, no different from the others, I get exactly what I needed. Clarity and peace.

I put the necklace back on today at school and I have been feeling more of a pull to say my rosary, read the bible, have compassion on those who hurt me (and believe you me, that's not a natural instinct from this stubborn sister!!), practice not talking so much and just keeping things between God and myself (another not so "me" character), and to learn more about the complexities of the faith. I looked down at this little medal and did a google search, where I found that this was a miraculous medal. (What are medals with other saints called?) I read the story Saint Catherine Laboure and her visions that eventually lead to the creation of this medal. This story of Marian visions reminded me of the story at Fatima, which I then searched as well. I am coming to see there is more to Mary than I have understood thus far. I definitely have a lot to learn from her, her life, and her Son and it's high time I put my protestant anxieties behind me and let God work His plans out for me. I'm excited that this stage is beginning, as I always wondered if I could ever make the hurdle past Mary...who was she to me anyway? But now, I can almost taste the spiritual fruit I will reap by building this relationship with her.

Maybe this mysterious pull to her is God's way of telling me He thinks it is time to introduce me to His mother ;)

Pray for me! And may God bless you all on your journies,