Oh Hai Internet

My poor neglected blog. I always have these dreams of posting more than once a millennium, and those dreams last right up until I sit down to write a new post and end up getting distracted by Tumblr. Such is life.

I haven’t been a zombie these past couple of months, though. Thankfully, it’s been more of a “living so much that I don’t have time to write it down” situation. And let me tell ya, that is a great situation to be in. I went on a weeklong vacation to my hometown, just because. It was lovely to spend time with my family on a non-holiday. We went to the beach. We spent time with my sister. I got to celebrate my best friend’s birthday IN PERSON. That hasn’t happened in ages! It was great.
Then came the novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (who I have a big devotion to) and the feast day! I attend a Carmelite parish (Little Flower Basilica FTW!!) so it was a solemnity for us. The Mass was glorious, and the dinner afterwards was great!

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The altar all decked out for Mass.

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Carmelite Sisters! More about them later.

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Ora pro nobis, Regina, decor Carmeli!

I received some major graces during that novena. I mean, I was just happy because one of my favorite Internet peeps said he would pray it with me (and he did!). But Our Lady interceded for me in a big way and I finally feel like I have a clear path cut out for me for the time being. God is so good.

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I didn’t read quite as much as I had been earlier in the year, but here are two of my recent favorites.

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Epic. I saw the movie ages and ages ago, but as a card-carrying member of Team The Book Is Always Better Than The Movie, how could I resist picking this up and blazing through it? It did not disappoint. It’s not a short book (my copy had over 1000 pages) but it’s definitely a page turner. I carried the book with me everywhere, reading snatches whenever I could, because I just HAD to know what was going to happen to Scarlett next.
And can I have a second to talk about Scarlett? Holy crap. Book Scarlett is like 9727182637 times more infuriating than Movie Scarlett, and let me tell ya….I loved it! She’s just one of those characters you love to hate, and I kept having to suppress audible reactions to things she said or did. Definitely recommend!

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I’d never read any Merton before, other than random quotes floating around the Internet. The only thing I knew about him was that he’d converted and then joined a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. And for some reason I associated him with sketchy theology??? (I don’t know why?) Anyway. I enjoyed this book. He’s pretty quotable, and has a way of writing that occasionally makes you go, “Huh. Hmmm. Yeah. Yeah!” The book is a bit slow in the beginning when he’s talking about his childhood, but picks up after he gets older. I liked it a lot, so much so, that I checked out “The Sign of Jonas,” which is his journal from his first years in the monastery, from the library the other day.

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I’ve started looking around at different orders here in San Antonio. Nothing too intense, just sort of feeling out a few that caught my eye. I did go and visit the awesome Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus! I’d actually never heard of them before the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, but after I saw them at Mass on the feast day, I asked around and got some info. It was soooo much fun, and they are definitely on my short list of communities to look into further!

Please keep praying for me! As you can probably tell, I’ve decided to go full steam ahead into looking at religious life. So if you think of me, please ask for continued clarity in discernment, por favor. 🙂

Until next time!

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7 Quick Takes: Tarantulas and Toenails

1. Dwija had her baby! Dwija had her baby!!!!!!! Welcome, Pointy Bird!

2. So let me tell you about my Tuesday. In the morning, I walked outside and saw this guy:
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It was literally as long as my index finger and much more hideous in person. Like a true child of the Internet, I took a quick picture to show the friend I was FB chatting with before running inside.

3. Seeing the spider was traumatic enough, but then! Ohhhh, but then! I looked up like 15 minutes later AND THE SPIDER IS INSIDE MY HOUSE OH MY GOSHHHH. Of course, I flipped the F out.

My exact reaction.

I tweeted about it while keeping one eye on the intruder and frantically messaged my friend, who then immediately sassed me:
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Men. 🙂

4. I didn’t want to leave the room, because I was afraid the spider would escape AND THEN WHAT?!? So after sobbing for 10 minutes, I found the biggest book in the room (which turned out to be the big green Catechism), wrapped it in a grocery bag, and swung it at the wall. Holy spider guts, y’all. I cried more tears of grossed out, threw away the bag, and then dried my eyes and calmly burned my house to the ground. Okay, I didn’t do the last one. But you’d better believe I wanted to.

5. I had to get out of the house after that, so I had a nice solo lunch and then went to heaven aka Barnes and Noble. Afterwards, I was sitting at the bus stop, just beginning to get over my gross morning, when this random guy comes and sits thisclosetome and begins grooming his toenails almost exactly like the soldier in Mulan. (I tried looking for a picture, but there are only so many times I can google “mulan soldier picking dirt out of toes” without wanting to vom forever) I wish I was lying.
Luckily I had Twitter to distract me and keep me from barfing.
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Y’all always come through in times of need.

6. The bus came, and I was 1000% done with life in general, so I booked it to the chapel and spent the rest of the afternoon with Jesus. Much better.

7. Today I met Sr. Maria Kim, who is a Daughter of St. Paul!
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*fangirls* She and another Sister just got to San Antonio to reestablish their presence here. Get excited, y’all!

Go see Jen for more Quick Takes!

Possibilities

Oh dear. I was doing so well with posting for a while, and then…I don’t know. My bad. Here’s a picture of Carmelite friars hitting a piñata as an “I’m sorry” gesture. 🙂

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I’ve been taking a bit of a social media break over the past month. I just felt this strong pull to sit and think and, most importantly, listen.

Mostly, I’ve been pondering the scary-ish (for me, at least) question of Vocation. As in, what is mine? I confess, I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought over the past couple of years. Oops. But in the midst of moving up here and getting settled and working on trusting God more, I just haven’t had any time! Okay, well, I’ve had time, but I didn’t feel like I was in a space to be deciding anything major. But no more! I have a decent job, I have no debt, and I feel emotionally prepared to actually listen to what God is telling me instead of talking to myself and pretending that it’s God’s will for me. Do you hear that, Lord? I’m ready to listen to all the things!

However, let me just say this: I’ve already given religious life a serious try. About three years ago, I went through aspirancy with an amazing cloistered order in Kentucky. Obviously, it didn’t pan out, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good, spiritually fruitful time! Seriously, though. I don’t know if it was because I was younger (21! d’aww) or if it was my first time seriously away from home, but holy homesickness, Batman. That, combined with my inner people-pleaser taking over my life coming out to play, which made me clam up something fierce (not good), combined with the death of a family member coming right at the end of aspirancy, made me seriously freaked out about religious life as it applied to me. Whenever someone tried to ask me, how was it? Or, are you going to try another order? I was like:


nopenopenope

At the time, it felt like the end of the world, but now I just feel a little ridiculous when I think about it. Because nothing bad even happened to me! The nuns were lovely and awesome and kind and fun, and I learned SO much about myself, and I definitely grew up a little. I would definitely do it again.

Lately my prayer has been different. For the past three years, I was just like:

But now? Not so much. It’s a lot less fearful; it’s freer, somehow. I have been feeling the urge to tell God, “Take me wherever You need me to go. I’m not so afraid anymore.” It’s times like this when I am even more grateful that the Church, through the Liturgy of the Hours, gives me the words for the movements in my heart:

“Incline my heart according to your will, O God.”
“Speed my steps along your path, according to your will, O God.”

So. Here I am, back at square one. At first I was like, “Right…so…how  do you discern again?”

For real.

Now, before someone goes, “Just do what you did before, Liz,” well, the last time I seriously discerned, I put my name on some mailing list, and a week later, my mailbox was stuffed with mailings from religious communities all over the country. I got stuff from over 80 different communities, multiple times. Yeah. All it did was bring out my indecisiveness and freak out my roommates. (Sorry, past roommates. I promise I’m not a religious nut. Well, actually, I am, but I’m the fun kind of religious nut!)

So I’m making it my mission to find a spiritual director soon-ish. I’m extremely nervous, mostly because I’ve never asked anyone to be my spiritual director before! Eeek. And all of this doesn’t mean that I’m looking to join religious life anytime soon. I’m definitely open to it, though! I just need some help getting going with discernment.

Anyway. This is basically a very long-winded way of saying, “Pray for me! Because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing! Yayyy!” But seriously. If anyone has any advice, throw it my way, please.

Until next time! I promise it won’t be a month. 🙂

Random Update of Random

Hey, y’all! Happy Easter! I hope you are still partying, because I totally am. Alleluia!

I was lucky enough to get to go home for Easter weekend, and that’s always, always super fun. I spent my time in the RGV eating, talking, going to Mass, talking, sleeping, talking, flying kites, and did I mention talking? Seriously, though, my family is an Catholic extrovert’s dream.

How I spent my Easter vacation.

I finished both The Namesake and Between Heaven and Mirth. Real quick about those two books: I didn’t realize that I’d already seen the original talk on which Between Heaven and Mirth is based, and while I enjoyed it in book form, I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it more if I hadn’t seen the talk first. Such is life. I still highly recommend it, though! The Namesake was good, too! I now want to READ ALL THE JHUMPA LAHIRI BOOKS.

In case you live under a rock, just letting you know that this happened yesterday:

So epic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch it because of work, but I saw plenty of pictures and a couple of news clips. Also, my aunt and uncle were there (I KNOWWWWW), so I’m looking forward to their descriptions! I was talking to a friend about Pope St. John XXIII, and we both agreed that 1) we know almost nothing about him and 2) we definitely need to get to know him better! So if you have any favorite quotes or pictures or whatever, send them my way!

I promise to try to blog more! I’ve had lots of thoughts knocking around in my head, and I definitely need to be more disciplined about setting them down somewhere instead of letting them evaporate in my head. Easter resolution!

I think I’ve pretty much caught you all up on my life now. Have a lovely day!

The Book Pile March 30-April 6

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I only had time to read two books last week because the toilets in my apartment building backed up not once, but TWICE. Add a bunch of crazy shifts into the mix, and at the end of each day this was me:

Thankfully, I was able to stay at a friend’s house for a couple of days. But still. You never notice how much you love indoor plumbing until it stops working.

Finished
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On Such A Full Sea-Chang-Rae Lee : Sigh. I so wanted to love or at least like this book. Remember how excited I was to read it last week? It was a simpler time.
Okay, the good things first. There was some gorgeous writing in there, especially this, which was my favorite sentence in the whole book: “Isn’t this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?” I took that to prayer, big time. Also, I enjoyed reading about the city of B-Mor; how they lived, what they did for fun, etc. But I generally enjoy things like that. So I’ll give him that.

But. But but but. Okay. First of all, the protagonist had such a weak personality, and you’d better believe it grated on my nerves. I felt like she just let the story happen to her instead of being part of the story, if that makes any sense. Second: the first person plural narration style was kind of cool at first, but by the middle of the book I was longing for some good dialogue. Third, the story just kind of went SPLAT all over the place about halfway through. I kept thinking, okay, it’ll pick up now…or now….how about now? And so on. Finally, without giving anything away, I was super disappointed with the ending. The things that I felt should have been resolved weren’t resolved!!! Or, at least in my opinion they weren’t. I made many noises of disgust and stewed over it for a couple of days. Why you gotta do me like that, Chang-Rae?

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A Prayer Journal-Flannery O’Connor : This book was much, much shorter than I expected; almost half of it was just a photocopy of the original journal. Okay…why? I mean, it was nice to see her actual handwriting, but one page would have been enough, yes? Anyway. Despite the fact that it was so short, I enjoyed it. Her longing to long for God jumps out of every page. My favorite part: “I don’t want to fear to be out, I want to love to be in…Help me to feel that I will give up every earthly thing for this. I do not mean becoming a nun.” Word, Flannery. Again, I just wish it had been longer!

Up Next
The Second Coming-Walker Percy: Haven’t even cracked it open. See first paragraph. But he’s next!

Between Heaven and Mirth-Fr. James Martin, SJ : This book was briefly on my radar when it came out, but I’d forgotten about it until I saw my friend watching a talk Fr. Martin gave that was absolutely hilarious! I definitely agree with Fr. Martin: holiness=happiness! I’m interested to see how he expands on this topic.

The Namesake-Jhumpa Lahiri: I’ve been eyeing this book for years, but it kept getting pushed to the back of my mind. Now I’m finally getting around to it, and I’m excited but also a little nervous about being excited, mostly because of the whole Chang-Rae Lee incident last week. [totally over it (not)]

What are you reading this week?more importantly, who wants to wench talk about On Such A Full Sea with me? Did you love it? Or did you also hate it?

The Book Pile: March 23-29

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Finished

The Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews /Mystery and Manners – Flannery O’Connor

I’m sticking these two together because I basically have the same thing to say about both of them. First thing: I really enjoyed both of these. I mean, I knew I was going to enjoy Mystery and Manners, but I wasn’t too sure about the other book, because, well, I never read book reviews!

Pretty much.

Like I said last week, Flannery isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, which is actually harder than it looks. At least, for me it is. But reading these reviews has inspired me to be more discerning and to think about what I read/see/hear, instead of apathetically taking it all in like I normally do. I know that I am sometimes almost afraid to speak up if something is not that great, because I don’t want to discourage people. But sometimes things are so badly done that it’s almost worse to not speak up (*coughSonOfGodcough*). I’m not saying we should be tearing them a new one, but it’s probably better to be charitably honest instead of lying and fawning all over something just because it’s done by a Christian or has to do with Christianity. I don’t know. I have Many Thoughts about this, and they probably need their own blog post.

 

Abandoned

The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikubu: Welp. It’s official. 11th century Japan is Not My Thing. I kept getting lost and bored with all the staring at moonlight and contemplating blossoms….the only thing this novel made me want to contemplate was the inside of my eyelids.

I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I soldiered on for about 100 pages after I lost interest, but in the end I just couldn’t take it and had to give up. Womp womp.

Up next
A Prayer Journal – Flannery O’Connor : I put this book on hold ages ago and promptly forgot about it until I read this post on one of my favorite blogs, which made me want to read it even more. Well, what do you know. Two days later, I got the magic email of magic that said it was finally in! Serendipity FTW. It’s much slimmer than I expected, but I’m already loving the little bit I’ve read so far.

 

The Second Coming – Walker Percy : Marie recommended Walker Percy to me last week after I mentioned that I liked Flannery O’Connor, because Southern Catholicism, that’s why. I picked this up at random.

 

On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee : Sometimes I place holds on books and then completely forget about them. And by “sometimes” I mean all the time. I have no memory of requesting this book, but it looks so interesting. Way to go, past self!

From the jacket:

“In a long-declining future America, abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as secure, self-contained labor settlements of contented workers–descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined cities in China–devote their lives to the cultivation of pristine produce and seafood for the wealthy residents of the elite walled villages that lie outside….Within one of these labor settlements…lives Fan, an almost mythically gifted female fish-tank diver. When the man she loves disappears, Fan shocks her community by leaving the safety of its gated walls to go in search of him, crossing from one world into another, and another, and another.”

Go me! This is totally up my alley and I’m psyched to read it!

What are you reading this week?

Be It Done Unto Me

 

"The Annunciation" by Fra Angelico

“The Annunciation” by Fra Angelico

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Today is the solemnity of the Annunciation, when our Blessed Mother gave her trusting “Fiat” to the angel Gabriel, and changed the course of history. How wonderful!

When I try to imagine the Annunciation, it almost always ends up as a meditation on how badly I would have reacted if the angel Gabriel had shown up in front of me and given me a message like that. I can see it now:

Gabriel: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Me: WHAT NOOOOOO

Gabriel: The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.

Me: WHAT NOOOOOO

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on trusting God. This has turned out to be much, much harder than I expected. I am a worrier by nature, and it’s hard for me to “let go and let God.” This aspect of my personality, combined with some past experiences that were deeply discouraging and upsetting, led to some extreme fear of God’s will for my life. I was terrified of losing the illusion of control. I took no risks. I only loved those who I was absolutely sure loved me back. I barely prayed. Oh, I went to Mass, recited the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully, joined in the occasional Rosary. But I’m sorry to say that it was mostly out of habit and fear of God’s wrath if I neglected these things. I only sincerely prayed for one thing every day, without fail: “Please, please, God, don’t change anything about my life! I can’t handle it!” In other words: be it done unto me according to my word. I spent almost all of my time inside the carefully constructed prison of my fears and insecurities, and I might as well have been dead.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

I had somewhat of a breakthrough a few months ago because I was given the scariest, hardest penance I could think of at the time.

What was this terrible awful penance, you ask?

The sweet Italian priest downtown told me to go into the pew after he absolved me, look at Jesus in the monstrance and tell Him, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

You cannot imagine how my heart sank. Couldn’t I walk across hot coals or say a million Rosaries or something? Anything but…THAT. I proceeded to wobble out of the confessional, into the pew, and have a (thankfully, silent) crying breakdown. It might sound a bit silly, but I was terrified of letting go. Not because I believed that God would ever, ever do anything to hurt me; rather, telling Jesus I trusted Him meant that I would have to begin to forgive those who had hurt me, including myself. Especially myself.

I sat in that pew for what felt like a hundred years, shaking and sobbing and trying to summon the courage to do my penance. Father was maybe five minutes away from coming out of the confessional for Benediction, and my time was running out. Finally, finally, I forced myself to lock my eyes with the Host, and (somewhat unsuccessfully) pushing down my insecurities and fears, in my mind, I haltingly whispered the words.

“Jesus….

(help help help)

….I…

(I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t)

…trust….

(wait wait wait stop it stop it)

…in….

(too late to turn back now)

……………………You.”

 

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Relief is an understatement for what I felt. I had been carrying the huge, heavy load of my imaginary future for so long, that I hardly knew what to do now that it was out of my hands. It was out of my hands. This was terrifying and exhilarating. I didn’t have to worry about Screwing It All Up, because I had given “it” to the One who loved me beyond imagination. I must have been slightly hysterical, because I began to shake with laughing sobs in the middle of Mass until at last I was utterly worn out emotionally. All that was left was gratitude. Thank you, God, for not leaving us to ourselves. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for the glorious example of your “Yes.”

I wish I could say that after that experience, I was magically able to trust God in everything ever, no matter what. Haha. No. This is something I wrestle with daily, and I will probably struggle with it for the rest of my life. In Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, there is a line about falling “into the kindly hands of the Father.” He continues, “If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One who loves you.” Even though I will certainly suffer and fall during my life, I know and believe with all my heart that no matter how often I fall, I will always fall into the kindly hands of the One who has loved me since the beginning of time, and who sent His Son into the womb of the Blessed Mother, so that I might never be parted from Him.

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ, our Lord.

Amen.