Monday, September 27, 2010

Witchcraft & Occultism: In Style?

It's funny how topics I randomly ponder to myself and pray over come up in my life or show up on blogger. I am reading the Bible in its entirety (should have been in one year, but it may take a little longer! lol) and I am making my way through the Old Testament now. In many parts in the OT (and even NT) scripture, we are warned not to engage in witchcraft, soothsaying, divination, etc.

Even though this is such a widely repeated warning throughout the Bible, hardly anyone pays attention to it anymore. I know of so many people looking to engage in these things, from simple horoscopes, to seeing a psychic for fun, to using a Ouija board, and having full on seances. I don't know how it formed into a trend...I think people like to be scared and we see these things occurring in our much beloved horror flicks and want to experience it ourselves. We like to be shown outright that there is another realm besides the world we live in now. We're curious, but God has no patience for it.

I prayed about this for the past couple nights, to see where I should stand. I had friends in the past whose parents banned Halloween and Disney movies/Harry Potter...and that was just so unappealing to me. My friends were trapped by this ultra-protective environment and they were the ones who ended up rebelling the worst.

My cousin came to me and asked me if I believed in psychics and mediums. She just lost her father in a tragic accident so her and her siblings have been constantly looking for "signs" from beyond the grave and have sought out mediums to connect with their dad. She wants to throw a "psychic party" by hiring a psychic and inviting all her loved ones to hopefully connect with the deceased and or get a good sneak peak at the future.

I love my cousins and I have been trying to hard to be gentle with them during this difficult time. At one point, I tried to ask if they ever thought this could be a harmful practice...they could be conjuring up false spirits and opening themselves to a world they were not anticipating. They don't follow any one form of Christianity thoroughly so they were unconcerned and adamant that this was true stuff. I don't know what to do...should I attend the party and just show my support for them during this grieving period? I wouldn't participate, but I also don't want to support the event itself...

I feel the Lord is convicting me to be more "separate" and firm in my faith. This is not tolerable to matter how harmless or noble our intentions are. But then where do I draw the line? How much Halloween is too much? Is this too another form of witchcraft? Does God detest the decorations with the witches, cauldrons, and ghosts? Am I misrepresenting Christ by enjoying this holiday? What about Harry Potter? I simply cannot bring myself to badmouth this awesome literary series...not only did it inspire a generation of kids to read (myself included), but it has awesome underlying morals.

What are your opinions on this matter?
Where do you stand in this "trend" that has quickly become a strong force in our culture?

Happy Fall & Blessings to all~

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Saint Francis Prayer: Near & Dear to my Heart!

I learned this prayer at my weekly rosary and thought I'd share it with you all, enjoy!

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cleaning Out Our Lives for God

Last night I spent a substantial amount of time clearing out my itunes playlist. I had recently read a great blog post about clearing the bad influences from our lives: tv shows, music, hobbies, friends that were bring us further from Christ rather than closer to Him. I took this to heart, seeing as these things do greatly affect me, I feel as if I am easily influenced at times by the emotions certain music, movies, and friends bring out in me.
I knew it was time for a change! Like Mrs. Duggar says "we don't put garbage in our mouths, so don't put it in your mind!" What a great philosophy ;) Fortunately, I don't watch too much tv anymore, only select shows I really want to watch: ie. 19 Kids and counting (which my roomie likes now! yay!) because my room mate doesn't like having the tv on. That was an adjustment for me, but a good one none the less! So I focused my attention on my music collection.

What shape is your playlist in? Your movie selections? Your favorite tv shows? Do they glorify God or do they tempt you in negative ways, toward sin perhaps? We must work harder at cleansing our lives for the Lord, as we are commanded to be separate from the world and to be a peculiar people. So even if we seem weird for boycotting crude music, or ungodly movies (Like Easy A...I refused to see it this weekend and that resulted in me getting confronted by my old room mates, as mentioned in the last post.) we need to stand firm and accept any suffering this causes us. Maybe our family and friends will be resistant to this change, and even persecute us to a degree, in trying to get us to revert back to old ways, but we need to rise above this and sacrifice these things for God.


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
-Philippians 4:8

College Happenings

Yet another hectic week of school has passed. I am swamped with the two clubs and their activities almost every night of the week...and I love it! Monday nights are Bible study nights, Tuesday I fellowship with the Protestant group, Wednesday I fellowship with the Catholic Ministry, Thursdays are women's bible study, and Fridays are the Christian alternative nights where the Protestant group hosts fun activities for those of us resisting the temptation to go out and party. And of course Sundays are mass days! Though that can change depending on student mass and other events.

I just wanted to share what has been happening in my neck of the woods this weekend, it was truly amazing and I am so grateful God has so drastically changed my college experience this semester! At the Friday night hang out, the group was invited by a local Christian family out to their farm for a home cooked meal and a good time. The farm was breath taking...I felt like I was warped back in time...the old farmhouse was like something out of a fairytale and the host family was simply the sweetest! The lengths they went to to feed us all! And after dinner and mingling, we were taken on a night time hayride and subsequent bonfire. Just looking up at the stars that night, I was starting to grasp what it meant to fear the Lord. This great big clear sky and the countless stars shining brightly down on us...knowing how far those stars were from us and how many years it took their light to reach earth was just mind boggling....and I just started to put together the pieces of God's magnificent creation. His creation is so much larger than just this earth and He ordained it all so perfectly that nothing went wrong, even though science tells us that our mere existence is a marvel. If the Lord could be trusted with such great a matter as creating us so perfectly, why do I have trouble trusting Him? Why do I defy His Word when I know His ways are surely the best? I should be in utter awe of Him and His great works and yet I treat Him as if He was my servant at times, expecting Him to grant me my every desire. It was a real challenging moment and something I definitely need to ponder more...

Saturday I was bogged down with work, but later in the evening I attended a Singles for Christ event. I guess this group originated in the Philippines and it's goal is to bring together single Catholics in fellowship/volunteering/etc? I wasn't quite sure, but yet again I was blown away by the generosity of those hosting the event. They brought together 3 colleges at my local church here at school for mass, pizza & a variety of home cooked Filipino dishes, and worship/fellowship. Another great night in my book. I met some great people and one of the ladies was pursuing her masters in the major I am currently in...which I was so encouraged by as I had been having my doubts. On top of that I received some wise counsel from one of the girls in my ministry club about our major that I was desperately seeking. So keep me in your prayers as the Lord unveils His plan for me career-wise! :)

Today I just continued my school work. My room mate and I spent hours discussing some of her struggles with college. Her and my old room mates are a little jealous that I have branched off from them and found new friends in these religious groups and so I had to spend a great deal of time just listening. A part of me was angry because I had finally found happiness and a group of people who believed and lived like me...this was what they encouraged me to do all along because they were not supportive of my lifestyle to begin with. I was the buzzkill, the "stuck up" girl, the "judgmental" one who didn't "try hard enough" to fit the party crowd. Not only that, but they treated me pretty badly last year so I assumed they just didn't click with me in general...and that's ok! We're not all meant to get along perfectly.

I have been so busy with school and club events that I have failed to "conform my schedule to theirs". I have offered my time to them between these events, but apparently I should skip my clubs once in a while for them? I simply cannot bring myself to want to do this for them. I feel as if I may not be being charitable towards these girls, but these clubs are bringing me closer to God...the people I am meeting are making me the better version of myself and I don't fear sliding into bad habits...I feel like I am finally glorifying God better throughout my days having this support system in my life! How can I/ Why should I give this up? Please, once again, pray for me that God gives me wisdom in this matter. That He grants me patience and compassion toward these girls who are obviously frustrated with college life like I was. Pray that they find happiness elsewhere and won't take their anger out on me, and that they will hear the Lord's calling in His time.

Blessings from a *finally* ecstatic college student!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Feast Day: Our Lady of Sorrows

Just got back from a great ministry meeting and an even better rosary circle! I just wanted to stop in to let everyone know today we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, for her role in our salvation. Mary was not only an instrument to God, but she was a Mother. Yes, she was the mother of our Messiah, but that doesn't make her any less "mom-like", she suffered many heart aches in the process of trusting God to fulfill this plan to save a dying world. So if you would just briefly meditate on/remember the darkest moments Our Lady endured during her life as both a Mother and a servant of the Most High:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

Thank you Mary for enduring all the pain my sin has caused you, and most importantly, the True and Living God. Pray for us that we may turn from our evil and follow Jesus with all our hearts.

Holy Mother, imprint deeply upon my heart the wounds of the Crucified.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Need More Sensitivity

Lately I have been harboring a wee bit of unresolved anger toward a muslimah blogger whom I used to look up to quite a bit. She's a convert and I have sadly noticed her becoming more and more radical. She compared me to that of a racist over a difference in opinions- because I would not accept her side, I was suddenly an "enemy" of sorts. Simply not true! So I had to just stop following her blog because it stopped being a place for sharing ideas/different opinions from different faiths and started being a radical 'one way or the highway' kind of blog.

I have started to see this breakdown of communication between faiths, cultures, and politics in many places besides blogger and I am absolutely horrified by it and simultaneously saddened. Maybe I just never cared enough to see that we Americans (well I guess anyone who lives in a 'free' nation) really aren't as tolerant as we say we are. And why is this?

We have the Constitution and laws protecting us so that no one will be maligned or abused for personal beliefs, lifestyles, politics, etc. Everyone is welcome here! Basically it's the law to be fair-we have established rights, so what is with the hostility? We're all free to choose our own path, and others theirs, without fear. However, with these freedoms, we start to get so caught up in our "right" that we forget charity and the needed sensitivity needed in using/expressing those rights.

I really didn't want to post about the Ground Zero mosque, but as it is 9/11 and so much of the news is spent on this discussion, I felt it appropriate to make a point. 9/11 was conducted by radical muslims, those who lost concern for human God Himself created. Not every single muslim should be held guilty for this crime, because most muslims are just as appalled as us non-muslims for the attacks that went down that fateful day.

I am 100% in support of muslim's rights and protecting them from disgraceful stereotypes. Do I have to feel or act this way? No, I could just as easily give it no thought like I do politics (couldn't care less to put my energy into it.) But I do make the effort because I know it is right and these are human lives...human emotions on the line. I need to make the effort because without this sensitivity for fellow man, we'll never bring peace to this world.

Now at the same time, Muslims need to reciprocate this sensitivity to the non-muslims in America...those who perhaps never even heard of Islam until the terrorist attack hit NYC. People lost family members, friends, coworkers, etc that day and sometimes human emotion runs so deep it's hard to heal without making irrational claims or harboring immense anger. Unfortunately, we humans always seem to need a scapegoat, and for 9/11 this has sadly become Islam.

We should be trying to heal these wounds together as a nation, Muslim along with non-muslim, teaching each other and condemning hate crimes. The issue I have with the mosque is not that of "do Muslims have the right to build a mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero?" (Because yes America, they do! No matter how you try to twist it, it's their right.) But that there is no sensitivity in this decision. While we are people proud of our freedoms & rights, we are also a people guided by our hearts & emotions. Those in charge of getting the permits and everything in place are showing no charity toward those affected on that day. Perhaps there shouldn't be hard feelings toward Islam to begin with, but think about how the world reacts to violence in general:

How is the world handling the scandals within the RCC? Why is it that my Chinese friend is forbidden to date a Japanese man (her family harbors anger from the rape of nanking)? Or why did the Jews resist the RCC building a Carmelite convent close to the Auschwitz site years after the Holocaust had ended? Why is slavery still taught in a way to make caucasian students feel guilty? Why did my Lithuanian great grandparents dislike my Polish ones? Because humans have always, and will always (most likely), carry their pain & anger in their hearts & lash it out on the supposed "culprit" (even when those blames had nothing to do with the issue itself).

Those in charge are not paying attention to the utter uproar this is sparking across our nation. There is a Greek Orthodox Church that was damaged on 9/11 and the government won't give them their permits after 9 years, yet this mosque is all we seem to be talking about. The Muslim response to the resistance is that we Americans are biased, showing prejudice, etc when really it has nothing to do with the faith itself, but with association to the hijackers. If Baptists did this crime, and then wanted to set up a chapel, how would we react then? The same as in this situation. And Christianity would be slandered even more than it already is.

Believe me, I know what it is like to have my faith dragged through the mud. In my campus ministry groups, we vent that it has now become legitimate "education" to read Christian texts and tear them to shreds through discussion, commentary, essays, etc in the classrooms at our college. People mock the Pope to my face, saying his is a nazi or a child molester, I have been attacked over the fact that Christians caused the Inquisition, how Christian ignorance & anti-semetism caused people to kill Jews in the middle ages, etc etc etc etc....It's a never ending list of things I am guilty association. Does it make it right? No. But I know that the hurt is still there, and in a way, Christians did mess up all throughout history and I need to keep that in mind so I can further the Kingdom of God by doing the opposite. I need to be sensitive to those who still harbor the pain and anger because Jesus would want that. I cannot make a tense situation better by FORCE, even if my rights permit me to do so.

This applies to the Pastor who wanted to burn Korans today. "What a foolish thing to do" was my first reaction, but then I went through the steps again: Is it his right to do this? Yes, freedom of speech. Should he do it? No. Why? Because it is utterly insensitive to Muslims who revere the Koran.

I know there are many who won't agree with this because it is hard to look past your own perspective and stand in someone else's shoes, even when that means taking flack from others for situations that were beyond your control. But we have control over the future. Will we use it to heal and understand God's other millions of children, or use it to propagate more tension and animosity? I sincerely ask you to please be patient, please be kind, and please be sensitive to those who still hurt so that someday we can come out of this world spotless!

May God Bless you all on this day & guide you in your choices,
My prayers go out to all those who lost that day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Eucharist: Symbol or Truth?

Since having joined the Protestant group on campus, I have had a few friendly discussions/debates on Catholic doctrine. I simply love their fellowship and how they are choosing to alter their lifestyle to align with God's Holy Word. And naturally, questions arise between them and I: mainly it is I asking questions to better grasp their "culture" (because there are significant cultural differences! lol) and I am just fascinated by learning every minute detail of other faiths.

I read in my local Catholic newspaper that 45 years ago this fall, Pope Paul VI created the Nostra Aetate in an attempt to encourage inter-faith dialogue. I read this just in time to remind myself to be very open this semester, as many of the members want me to try their churches just for the experience alone (no conversions as promised haha). I am weary, but if I let this hold me back, what use am I to the Kingdom of God? I need to be willing and excited to open dialogue! As someone said on my comments, they were Protestant in college and by the example of a Catholic peer, they converted. *Not* that I want to convert anyone, that is definitely not my goal. I simply want to bring down the walls between us, as one of them expressed concern with the Catholic dogma. I want to prove their misconceptions wrong and bring them to a level of comfort with other Catholics...that they won't just dismiss us as "wrong".

So one of my friends from the group asked me to prepare a little list as to why I believe certain dogmas, and he would make a list of why he finds them to be false. (and he reads a lot of Reformist literature...something I never even thought to read, so ahh! nervous haha) But the main issue he had was *drum roll* the Eucharist and of course Mary/saints/rosary, but I'll just focus on my questions for you on his

Ok! So this young man is concerned that I take the Eucharist as more than a symbol. I started by quoting the mass/Luke 22 "This is my blood, the blood of the new and ever lasting covenant, which will be shed so that sins may be this in memory of me". This alone was not significant to him, he said that the disciples did not take a bite out of God then and there, thus Jesus was not being literal, he did speak in parables after all. This made me think hard, because a lot of the Bible isn't literal. So why this part? All I had was this feeling in my heart that he was severely wrong, and I longed for him to know Jesus in the Eucharist so badly.

This brought me to my next point: If we trust that God made Jesus in the first place, why can't we believe that He can bring Jesus to us in the Eucharist? My friend said that Jesus is risen, no longer on earth, He has no place/business here until the second coming. (This made my flash back to another debate I had with the woman on the boardwalk: my Jesus is raised!)

I think this is where our differences stem on this issue: Is Jesus raised and out of our lives here on earth until the second coming? Does His cross still have relevance in our worship of Him? Or is that not how we should view Him since He conquered death? An old MJ friend would not wear crucifixes because she felt they portrayed Jesus in a way He wasn't anymore.

I was driven nuts by this discussion for hours after it had ended because I wanted to give him a better answer. I just kept singing this song from mass, but didn't pay much attention to it. The next morning I was yet again singing this tune and I was curious as to why I was singing it, so I ran through it again, this time letting the words hit me "When we eat this bread, when we drink this cup, we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come in glory"

Wow moment! I was like, duh that's the answer right? Catholic worship is almost centered entirely on the crucifixion because that passion was the saving act that covered all humanity's sins. Why shouldn't that be a vital aspect? Yes, Christ has been raised, but our sin has not stopped. We all crucified Jesus that day, and continue through further sinning, yet He readily gave Himself up to a painful death. God's grace doesn't end because the crucifixion itself has ended. Jesus' death was an intimate sacrifice for us, it was personal and individually tailored to each of us who believe & trust in Him. And while yes He is indeed risen, we could not have been saved without first having received His death. Thus, Catholics will remember and proclaim this event to remind us of His purpose in our own lives...until He comes again! We're not going to ignore His human life until He returns to us here on earth...because His sacrifice is always present.

53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" -John 6:53-60

So we read here that the Israelites, who physically ate the manna in the desert, died. Jesus says He is the new manna...God miraculously sent down the original manna from heaven, so we cannot reason that that was a metaphor. Jesus states He has been sent from heaven (and any Christian does agree that miraculously, God sent us Jesus through Mary). And He tells us that we will need to eat & drink his blood, just as the Israelites ate the manna in the desert. The disciples were obviously shocked by this teaching and even questioned it.

I know I don't have all the answers, but this is just what I have reasoned thus far through study & googling for common Catholic responses to this problem between us. Please leave your comments/opinions/further reasoning here so we can all learn a little bit about the Catholic faith and stance, and about our other differing beliefs.

If you're a Protestant/Christian, what is your most difficult Catholic concept or dogma? It may help me in making my list for my friend and for doing my part in the Nostra Aetate.

And I am sorry if these topics bore you! I know I post on the Eucharist a lot...I just love the topic and the experience itself. And I love my new friends and have such a respect for their faith in Jesus alone that I want to understand their qualms a little better.

So thanks guys! Love you lots,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Have Been Tagged!

I haven't been tagged in months, but this is the first tag I will actually be able to do. I wasn't very tech-savvy back then, but I think I have improved since then :P I have been tagged by the wonderful Daughter of the King, her blog is one of my favorites so do give her a visit.

So here we go:

Books I've read recently...
1. The Bible (it's my first time reading it in its entirety, I just need to finish the OT from Joshua onward haha)
2. Anna Karenina (I'm still finishing this one)
3. The Duggar's book, 20 & Counting I think it's called?
4. Watchmen (it was for a Comp class, but it was good!)
5. Le Petit Prince in French
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (ok I haven't fully read this prevents me from having my own reading time!! lol)
7. The Other Side of Silence
8. continually reading the Catechism

Songs or albums I listen to all the time...
1. Both Taylor Swift albums
2. While I'm Waiting by John Waller
3. Glee soundtrack
4. Lots of Hall & Oats
5. Your Song by Elton John
6. Revelation Song by Kari Job
7. You are Holy (Prince of Peace)
8. Wonderwall by Oasis

Things I love...
1. Prayer/meditation/rosary
2. My electric kettle (essential for tea drinking college kids!)
3. Eating
4. My jewelry collection
5. My 19 Kids & Countings dvds (but ya'll know that :D)
6. The library here on home away from home: peaceful & air conditioned
7. The Our Lady of Ostrabrama icon I ordered
8. My puppies!

Things I've learned this year...
1. Living with a room mate, even one you love, is a daily challenge, but it forces you to have charity, mercy, and patience with others & can be a great blessing in disguise
2. That being a Christian in college can be incredibly difficult and that it is very important to search for like-minded friends to encourage your walk.
3. Sleep is secondary to study (ha!)
4. Separation makes the heart grow fonder (is that how it goes? anyways, I miss my mom! haha)
5. That I cannot control my life...whether it comes to my career or my future spouse or my walk in general...and that I need to surrender my trust to Him and let go
6. That dried cherries are awesome in plain oatmeal (w/ a little syrup of course!)
7. That being shy is not helping me any and I need to open up and let people in: what's there to be afraid of!? Nothing! :)
8. That the Eucharist is essential in starting my week and I should make the effort to receive it more than just on Sunday. And simultaneously, confession is super necessary at fighting sin & temptation and restoring oneself to God! Make it a weekly habit!

New Recipes I Want to Try and Make...
1. Veggie Burgers (I didn't like the last recipe I tried too much)
2. More Indian recipes! The dal was a hit so anything involving garam masala, curry, and lentils is ok in my book :D
3. Pumpkin bread for the fall (there was a pumpkin shortage last year and never got to make it)
4. Golabki: polish meat & cabbage concoction my Gram makes
5. my own sushi rolls (sans raw fish)
6. Homemade chili (I'm big on beans/legumes!)
7. Homemade hummus
8. Ginger bread house (never made one, but ma mere got the recipe from a magazine...must try this winter!)

Favorite Online Hangouts...
1. Blogger
2. Facebook
3. Hotmail/school mail
5. (shut up I know I have a problem! haha)
7. Youtube
8. and then for any research/questions/interests I may have!

Projects I need to work on...
1. My Mongol Invasion of Russian power point *eek*
2. Finishing my Bible and the other 8 million books I start and never finish
3. Finishing crocheting my scarf...*sigh*
4. My "go green" project...I'm failing over here, buying water bottles and not using a brita!
5. Painting my family room
6. Well this isn't technically a project...but learning to drive longer distances...haha
7. This blog...I need to be more dedicated to it/brainstorm ideas.
8. My mini garden & future vegetable garden...project still in the works!

Other people I think should do this...
1. Caraboska from The Fiddler on the Roof
2. Delta Flute from My Twisted Life's Journey
3. Bethany from Bethany's Blog
4. Barbie from the Mary Mission
5. Coffee Catholic from the Farm
6. Yesie/Jesse from Yesie or Jesse? The Right Path
7. Miss Fifi from Musings of MissFifif
8. NeverEver from Finding Guidance...