I am a young girl striving to separate herself from the allure of the world in the hopes of attaining a peaceful & God-fearing life. I would love to share my experiences as a testimony to my faith. May God keep you all. Pax Vobiscum.
As much as I want to say that my love and devotion to God is 100% (or close to it!), I find myself questioning how devoted I truly am. It's easy for me to say I love Jesus and I spend most of my day in prayer with him, but really I feel like I am light years away from having a truly stable and concrete love for God.
The reason I say this is because of the topic of vocations. I have always pictured myself getting married and being a mother, as you must know because I seem to post about love and purity a lot. In the Jewish circles I dabbled in, that was the way to go for a women because in Judaism (or at least in the biblical/orthodox sense) it wasn't "good" for a women not to...her honor comes in bearing children. For Protestants it's similar depending on denomination and everything. Not that that is my reasoning for wanting this life...I just have always wanted it, this theology just backed up my plan. I am somewhat of a hopeless romantic and I just adore children, as they have always gravitated toward me (and they're just so sweet!).
But now that I have returned to my Catholic faith, and I see the need for religious vocations in our modern era I began to question my devotion. My natural instinct to even THINKING about becoming a nun is: "why would I waste my life this way? Am I even sure enough in this faith to want to give up my plan, hopes, dreams, and life to live such a lonely life?"
Now trust me, I know nuns are not wasting their lives. We need these religious men and women desperately , but so few people have the strength and trust to live a chaste life in poverty and obedience. Not to mention my family tries to rally their own little army in the quest to end celibacy of the priesthood, as they believe no healthy man would enter a life such as that. And all this piles up in my mind and I feel guilty for not even trying to consider a call to this vocation. I cannot even give it an honest try because it's so foreign to me. Living my life alone. no career. no children. and devoting myself fully to worshiping God. I cannot think of a nobler life, yet I myself do not wish to take it on. This makes me feel as if my love for God is not fully genuine....because if it was, would I even think twice about giving my life solely to Him?
I know God's plans will all come to pass, but what if I mess up and miss a turn? What if I was so busy looking for a husband (one who would never come because that was not my vocation) and missed the true purpose of my life? Or maybe just worrying about this is hindering me from trusting in God all together. I don't know! Ah, stressful. How did you know that you were not called to religious life (if you are Catholic...as I am assuming none of you are priests/nuns? lol) did you ever wonder if you were supposed to be a religious or did you just know you weren't?
Ok so you hear it EVERYWHERE in Christian/Catholic circles: Charity. But what the heck does this word truly mean for the Christian person?
From what I gather online...the religious definition of the word is going out of one's way to be kind/patient/loving etc for the sake of God. Is this somewhat correct? I was a little delighted to find this definition because it helps me IMMENSELY in my walk to become a more patient and compassionate person (as I said I was working on in my last post). When I want to just yell or make a comment out of frustration at times, I just think of Jesus and offering up this moment of discomfort for Him and His glory. I cannot think of a more easy and satisfying way to please God with my character and "virtues" than by practicing them for His sake! Changing my ways is much simpler when done for God.
If my understanding is wrong, please correct me because it has been challenging finding a website defining this word. Peace be with you all! ~RA
Ok so stemming from my story about my changed major in school and my mini-vacation, I had a a chance to ponder my future. It was a huge relief back when I changed my major, to have new options-basically ANYWHERE in the world-to do my study abroad (as my new major is heavily into having another cultural perspective and ever a second language under the belt if possible). Ever since a high school trip to Europe, I have been in LOVE with Scandinavia, as I have posted multiple times before haha. I went to Norway and Denmark and simply fell head over heels. I remember looking out of my hotel window in Bergen thinking "I feel quite at home, I'll be back at some point for sure". But I have also wanted to visit Sweden, as the cultures and languages are pretty similar. So since I had this renewed chance to visit...with the intent to study, thus paid for by my dear parents (lol!) I wanted to take the chance. I was so excited, I would get to live in one of these countries and LEARN a culture, some of a language, and learn to be independent (a trait I truly need to work on for the sake of my calling as a Catholic).
But then, as always in the chaotic land that is my mind, I questioned this idea. Maybe, since my major pulls for bilingual grads if possible, I should continue my french as a minor and do my study in France. BE PRACTICAL GIRL! Right? I was set. Scandinavia was just a dream, maybe you can visit again for fun someday. Or so I thought. The weeks prior to finals, I was completely infatuated with a guy I saw around campus (ok I know that's bad, I'm trying to work on keeping my heart pure, but I had a weak moment...this boy was quite attractive). Come to find out, he was not American, he was an exchange student, but nobody knew from where. So we made bets...and, through friends speaking with him, we find out he is Swedish. I SOOOOO badly wanted to talk to him, just to get a feel about his country, studying there, etc...but since I had this little crush, I chickened out and never approached him. How creepy would that be anyway? lol So one night, to blow off steam, I was taking quizzes on facebook like "what European country are you?" all my friends got Spain, Germany, England, Italy, France, etc and I take it and get Sweden. Weird, seeing as I didn't think that would have even been a result on there! Once I was packed and driving from school, I passed the exchange boy again, making me yearn for Scandinavia even more. Flash to Vacation: near the hotel I stayed at there was a hotel called the Kalmar (a Swedish city) with a giant Swedish flag waving overhead. I could ignore it, it was like I was being taunted. It had taken me a few weeks to agree that France was the place I needed to be, but I had all these little bitty signs that continued to remind me of my original plan. So I prayed about it. On the way home, we stopped in a little town to eat and the store directly next to our car was a Scandinavian imports store...I was in HEAVEN. As I woke from my car-sick induced coma and read those glorious words, I nearly dove straight into the little boutique. I saw Norwegian mugs, Danish aprons, Finnish license plate holders, Swedish patches, and recipe books from every variety. Needless to say I wanted it all...but I settled on a Swedish cookbook and a mug. Now there was this lone mug out of all the shelves of choices that caught my eye for the simple fact that it had "Jesu" on it. It wasn't the whole word I was used to, so I did a double take. Did that cup say the "J-word?!" (As they say, get someone drunk, they'll talk about their sex life, get a Scandinavian drunk, they'll talk about God) So I picked up the cup and it had a whole prayer on one side in English and on the other side, it was in an unknown language (at the time haha)
I brought my purchases up to pay and asked the woman what language this mug was in, and she said she thought Swedish...I disagreed, it looked Norwegian to me. So I cam home and used a translator, it was Norwegian. But anyway, what touched me the most was the prayer itself: "In Jesus' name to the table we go, to eat and drink according to his word, To God the honor, us the gain, so we have food in Jesus' name" How awesome and true is that? I never imagined having such luck finding such a creation haha, but I don't think it was just luck, I think I have a calling to one of these countries-countries that have incredibly small Catholic populations and whose larger Christian population is in name only.
I have lots of time left to discern, but I'm nervous. Nervous that maybe I am totally off. Nervous that maybe I am spot on. Nervous that this calling could be bigger than I imagine now. I just need to trust Him and follow His leading. He's taught me well in trusting Him thus far, but I have lightyears to go still!
Pray for me! and if anyone here has any personal info/experiences in relation to these countries or study abroad/travel, etc...really anything at all that you'd like to share, do! You know how much I love to hear from you all :)
Hey Guys! Ok so finals ended on Thursday...I felt pretty confident at the end, I studied, but I also conquered my anxiety again through prayer, bible time, and meditation. It's simply incredible how I (the worry-wart since childhood...no joke haha) have completely overcome this flaw in me...I know it was only possible through the grace of God...and the comfort of this scripture (one of my favorites!)
Matthew 6:25-34 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So after finals, I was whisked away on a minivacation to the beach. It was beautifullllll and it gave me a lot of time to contemplate my life and my purpose here as a young believer. Through this quiet time with the Lord, I was able to reflect on my lack of patience and compassion during "the hard times". I constantly give into the temptation to be hard on people ( and not even just my enemies ) and I see how that is not a true representation of Christ to others...when others, especially non-believers, see me act in such a hot-tempered manner, I am pushing them away from finding the Truth. It's hard to control my anger sometimes, but when it comes, I just meditate on Jesus and let my heart "soften" a bit. It's funny how God knows when He needs to tackle a habit or a problem in our lives, even if we are unaware of it, and He places the SAME obstacles in our paths for "practice". (for instance, I have never needed as much patience as I have this first few days back at home, helping my over-stressed mom around the house, getting my dad every little thing as he is bed-ridden from surgery, and making trips to my Grandmother's to assist her.) It's not even the constant helping, I don't mind serving others so much, it's just the conflicting opinions and frustrations that arise on both sides...it just wears on us and I get close to snapping. I know there are a lot of other flaws within me that may have the same affect on people, but I am tackling these one at a time ;)
But another journey weighing on my heart lately is my "career" at school. I have finally found a program that combines my love for languages, culture, service, and family...but it has also shot dozens of questions my way. I was originally a french major...and I was supposed to study abroad in France next year....and woah did that freak me out! I realized how I was not in love with France like my teacher expected me to be. She made a comment to the class how I was a francophile and thus I lovedddd french culture...and then she made a little joke that, had I been an anglophile, I would simple love crumpets. It made me think-oh boy! I ADORE England...more than France...and that still isn't my favorite culture. (I am a big history buff as well, so when I fall in love with a country, it's normally for the history, the food, the everything haha) I've just always been drawn to different cultures I believe, because I just love people. I love our differences. I love the new sounds of languages and the fact that learning only one new language can open you up to an entire people; a new way of life. And now that I am strong in faith, I see how much of a gift this quality is that I have. My mother always said I was going to travel the world, as this love sprouted in the 3rd grade (I remember it vividly haha!) and now maybe there is a purpose behind it.
I'll save the rest of this story, that ties into my vacation story, for the next post! Pax Vobiscum, ~RA
So this year is finally coming to an end, and as I was reflecting on my experiences these past two semesters, I realized how much I've grown and how much I still need to work on. One thing in particular that I am sorely in need of changing is my attitude toward people I don't get along with.
My room mate is the best example of this weakness of mine. She is literally the only person on the entire campus who can anger me by simply walking into the room. I think my "beef" with her comes from the agonizing months of living together. We're the exact opposite of each other: I get up early, do my work during the day, go to bed at a decent hour. She doesn't get up til past noon, plays all day, starts her work when I want to sleep, and goes to bed in the morning. We're started to annoy each other really fast with our conflicting schedules, and to top it off, she was the one who kept fighting my faith, telling my I'm too devoted to God, that I was closed minded for not partying, and that I was uptight because I didn't laugh when she and her friend burned the pages of the bible.
Just posting about her angers me, and I cannot express how excited I am for leaving next week and never having to live with her, or hang out with her, again. But that simultaneously upsets me because that is NOT what Jesus would expect of me. This girl has many problems (medical & emotional) as well, that I tried to be sympathetic towards and help her with, but she's some who doesn't want to change, even if her actions have deadly consequences. So I found myself giving up. Giving up on supporting her, listening to her, being patient with her, being kind to her. I just shut down completely because she was only bringing me down spiritually and emotionally and I felt entitled to some sort of happiness in my life...a happiness she was sucking from me at an alarming rate.
And now that I am at my final days on campus, I am reminded that I kind of failed her. I failed to show her Christ's love at any given moment...I failed the commandment to love thy neighbor. But while I am sad I wasn't strong enough to love & forgive her (forgive her for every new blow she sent my way) I am also angry that she didn't even try to respect my faith, my lifestyle, and my personality. I was not who she wanted me to be obviously and she made that clear throughout the year with her comments and actions. So do I have a right to be angry? How is a Christian supposed to love someone they cannot even bear to like? Do we become doormats when we are always forgiving and always re-accepting those who have no intention of changing their ways?
I am just really confused...while I have tiffs with others, I always find it easy to forgive and move on. I have in fact been called a doormat by the people I forgive...they tell me how passive I am and how I just let them & others "get away" with stuff...so they feel comfortable "messing up" around me because they know I'll forgive them in the end. Is this what Christ wanted from us? I find it almost degrading that that is how I have been come to be viewed by some people.
And then to top it off, God finally sends me someone I simply cannot bring myself to reconcile with...I truly have no desire to be close to this girl and I cannot even feel a speck of love in my heart for her. The thing is, I don't know what I am supposed to do in this situation...I'm sure God's trying to get my to learn something through her, but I don't know how to overcome this obstacle, the Christian way.
Have any of you ever felt this way? What's your view on this issue? How do you deal/solve this problem?
The past few weeks have been grueling: countless research papers, homework assignments, readings, presentations...my head's been spinning. And I've also been dealing with my personal life as well. As the work load increased severely, I noticed myself sinking into sin/away from God more and more...I guess I allowed my anxieties to rule me. But I kept my prayer life going strong, though I did not "feel" that closeness to God for some time. I cannot really even describe it, but when I was pulled out, for the billionth time, from my spiritual rut, I was so different.
I feel like I have been going through the motions most of this year, and while I learned a lot education-wise, socially, and spiritually, I was not truly living my life. This past week God has taught me so much...I've never experienced Him on such a deep level. What I realized though, was that this year I have gone through periods of struggle, and then felt this incredible sense of revelation and closeness with God that was new each time and more powerful each time. I feel as if I am truly on the right path, and I am where God wants me, and that if I stay on His path He has set for me, I will only draw nearer and nearer unto Him. The sensations I have felt and the answers I have received while in meditation the past few days have been life changing and I only have more, even greater, opportunities to know God more intimately in the future.
Each week has been so difficult since spring break and at the start of each weekend I have been in dire need of the Eucharist. Today, there were first communion recipients and I was so touched watching them in their fancy clothes receiving the Lord for the first time. It made me remember my own first communion and how it was one of the rare occasions I took the blood, because even back then, I wanted to do it "right!" These little kids inspired me today and I took the blood. As that pungent taste hit my tongue I just thanked God and as I returned to kneel in the pew, I was so overcome by His presence...knowing his body and blood were united in me. The source and summit of my faith. I prayed simply for His guidance, as he knows the worries of my heart and as I walked back to campus, I was in complete splendor. Everything around me was bringing me such joy: the warm embrace of the sun, the birds flying overhead, the sweet scent of the flowers on the walkways...God was everywhere. And I knew at that moment I was being taken care of. Through the Eucharist I am united with God and drawn so near to Him that I cannot help but surrender my entire self over to Him and His ways. And while I will stumble and forget this many times over my lifetime, each mass I can renew my walk and my state of mind through His perfect sacrifice, and for that I am eternally grateful.