Tag Archives: spirituality
7 Jun

It feels like ages ago since I last posted, but I think it’s actually only been two weeks. I volunteered to pick up any extra shifts at my new job, so I’ve been keeping myself plenty busy.

Even though it’s kind of a painful process, I’m learning a lot.

I’m learning how to quietly, patiently, and humbly bear the crosses I’m given, while also making sure that I have coffee with a friend or meet with my priest every couple days so that I can talk and express what’s going on in my heart.

I’m learning the difference between catharsis and just plain complaining.

I’m learning to see people and circumstances the way that Christ would see them. Or I’m at least trying to learn how to do that…

I’m learning that there is a time to speak and a time to keep my mouth shut. And I’m learning that I’ve got a lot of room to improve in deciphering the difference between the two.

I’m learning to keep myself busy throughout the day and then give myself fifteen minute increments of “think time.” Otherwise I go too far one way or the other – and I either bottle everything up to the point that I explode on someone or I constantly feel the need to mope and complain.

I’m learning that I am blessed beyond comparison. I have a good job that I like. I have good friends. I have a sponsor whose family has taken me in and cooked for me, spent time with me, done my laundry for me, and doted on me. I have a priest who loves me. I have a fiance who adores me and who is working to provide for our wedding and the family we’ve decided will follow soon after. I have a God who loves me -and I have plenty of people to intercede with Him on my behalf.

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Healing

14 May

Father, Spirit, Jesus – heal me.

Take my broken heart, my tears, my long lonely nights of insomnia, my hours of holding my tongue as my mother speaks daggers into my life.

Take them – they’re Yours.

And in return give me a heart of strength, eyes full of joy, nights of rest, and days of uplifting words.

But if you can’t do that right now, help me to accept more of this cup of bitterness. Hold my head and my hand as I taste more of the things I do not want.

Help my parents. You and I both know that this isn’t just about me becoming Catholic – I’m growing up and that scares my parents. They need to feel needed. And I don’t need them the way that they want anymore. Give them opportunities to feel – and be – needed.

I trust You.

I asked for a place to live and You gave it to me two hours after I asked.

I asked for another job and You gave it to me two weeks after I asked.

You have provided and I trust You to give me the things that You know I need. I also trust You to withhold the things You know I don’t need – or to give me the things I need in Your own timing.

So whether it takes two months, two years, two decades, or two centuries – please heal my family. Heal my mother’s anger and my father’s disappointment.

Heal me. Love me. Take me. Mold me.

 

Struggles

20 Apr

The dailiness has set in…the shine of being Catholic has worn off a little bit for me. It’s still as beautiful of a part of my life as ever, but it’s not new anymore. I knew deep down that this day was coming, but I really wanted to pretend that I would be permanently excited about my faith.

Thank goodness for my sponsor and her family – I would be really discouraged right now if I didn’t have them. I also found out that a guy in one of my classes is Catholic. The joy in his eyes as he asked me about my Confirmation and First Communion revived my spirits a bit. I also got the chance to talk to S’s mom about joining the Church – she’s really happy for me and had tons of questions. Actually she acted exactly the way I wish my own mother had…

I found a beautiful version of The Litany of the Saints and a couple of songs by Libera and those have been pretty encouraging. I’m trying to get through my reading list, but I haven’t picked up anything but a textbook this past week. My sponsor and I have also started doing this Bible Study by Scott Hahn.

But I’m struggling.

I am finding more and more things about being Catholic that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. And the people who’ve pointed these things about to me haven’t been particularly gentle. I’m balking. I’m resentful. I’m confused. I have no problem obeying God and the Church, and but I’m struggling with some of Her followers who’ve taken it upon themselves to tell me that I need to buy a veil, set up an elaborate altar in my (very small four-person) apartment, and buy certain medals and other religious objects.

Those things are all really nice, and maybe at some point they’re things the Lord would ask me to do, but for right now I think He’s okay that I don’t wear a veil to Mass, especially since I always make sure that I’m dressed modestly enough not to distract anyone. And I think He understands that the little cubby in my desk that contains my Confirmation candle, crucifix, and a couple prayer books are the best I can do for an altar right now. And I definitely think He knows that I don’t have the money or the space for religious objects that I’d just end up having to get rid of when I move after graduation anyways.

I love being Catholic – but I feel like all of a sudden people are bombarding me with extra rules and traditions. And while I can see the value of those things, I just need some breathing room. This is a lot to take in. And quite honestly all the extra stuff is a bit of a stumbling block for me at this point. I’m struggling because I feel like I’m not Catholic enough, like I’m just not good enough or smart enough or patient enough to handle what everyone else seems to be able to manage like second nature.

3 Apr

My parents aren’t speaking to me.

My dad left me a calm voicemail to tell me that he and my mom need some space from me.

I expected a tearful phone call.

I expected yelling and arguments.

I hoped that maybe, just maybe they would understand, that they would tell me that they love me and support me no matter what.

I just want to sit on my couch and cry.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, patroness of lost parents, pray that I might not lose mine.

~~~

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

Well…the Catholic cat is out of the proverbial bag…

3 Apr

I sent my parents an e-mail this morning that said this.

I literally could not sleep last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about how I needed to tell them. I feel a lot better now because it’s not a secret anymore…

We’ll see how they react.

In the meantime I’m asking for all the prayers I can get. I even stood in the shower and timidly asked St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for her intercession.

I’m an adult and I’m obeying the Lord. There’s no reason I should be this worried…

All you holy men and women pray for me and pray for my family.

Pray for me, dear readers.

“Ellie, you’re too good at being a Christian to be Catholic.”

2 Apr

I didn’t really mean for my co-workers to even find out I became Catholic. I mean, I wasn’t going to hide it from them, but I honestly thought they wouldn’t even care. So (as with nearly everyone else), I’ve freely talked about the Church when it’s come up, but I haven’t intentionally pushed it into everyone’s faces. Even as a Protestant I preferred to share my beliefs in actions and allow the Holy Spirit to make ways for conversations.

So last night at work I was making calls to raise money for a scholarship here at my school. It was a pretty typical night…lots of hang-ups, swear words, and just generally grumpy people. And then one man answered the phone with a courteous “Hello.” [As a side note: I get paid to be nice to people on the phone, so I really appreciate it when they’re nice back. Even just a “Hello” instead of “What do you want?” can perk up my night.]

I  asked him how his night was going, and then he shared a story with me that broke my heart – a story of loneliness and pain that just made me hurt inside for him. One of the nice things about working at a Christian university is that they encourage us to listen to these stories, and then if the person we’ve called is willing, we get to pray with them. I love this part of my job, because it honestly feels like the most worthwhile thing I do.

After I hung up the call, I sat and dried my eyes and was quiet for a few seconds as I got ready to make my next call. I looked over at the girl sitting next to me. She was shaking her head.

“You’re so good at this. I don’t understand why you would want to give it up. Seriously, Ellie, you’re too good at being a Christian to be Catholic.”

Meanwhile I was thinking, “Uhh Holy Spirit, I guess I wasn’t done with you yet…words please?”

To which He responded: “Just smile at her and then turn around and make your next call.”

Feelings

30 Mar

When I was growing up I went to a lot of churches who were out to make me cry. I went to churches who existed to evoke emotion – to make their congregants feel something.

In a culture where we are constantly in touch with our feelings, sometimes it’s difficult to actually feel. Emotionally driven books, movies, TV shows, Facebook and blog posts, songs, and pictures bombard us. People respond to emotion, so those who want to be heard appeal to our feelings – and while it works for a time, eventually we become desensitized.

We’ve felt  so much – and our hearts need a break. Years of exposure to emotional appeals leave us needing time away from feelings – a repose from the ups and downs. So we allow callouses to form on our hearts. We allow them to become hard.

I think this is why I’ve seen so many churches that wanted the attention of my feelings. It’s good to feel. It’s good to have catharsis – to purge our emotions. It’s good to be excited. It’s good to have a nice long cry. Churches know this – and they also know how to evoke feelings. They know how to stir up our hearts and get us excited, or how to make us feel as guilty as Hitler, or how to reduce half of the congregation to tears.

And while those things aren’t bad, per se, I’ve seen a lot of churches who made evoking emotion their main goal. If people weren’t running or dancing or crying or expressing some extreme emotion by the end of the service, then the church had failed.

The problem is that when we focus on creating a feeling, we’re not focusing on God.

This Holy Week I’ve found myself feeling. I have felt joy at the grace of God, I have felt uncontrollable sadness over the pain of Christ, and I have felt overwhelmed by the love and goodness of the God I serve. But no one set out to make me feel those things. Rather, in meditating on the Lord and the things He has done, I found those feelings flowing as a natural result.

And you know what? If I had felt nothing it would have been okay – because God doesn’t command us to have a feeling. He blesses us with feelings, but He only commands that we obey Him.

In her book Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, Mother Angelica says, “Spiritual dryness is a gift from God, because it removes the soul from the emotional level and puts prayer on the level of the will, where I am a child of God who does the things of God because I decide to do so, not because I am depending on emotions outside of me.”

These past few months I have been a mess of feelings. (S is worried I have a hormonal imbalance.) I have spent Holy Week weeping for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I have wept for the pain of the Blessed Mother, and I have wept for the sins of humanity. And I am absolutely overwhelmed with excitement for when I enter the Church tonight.

But I know that in a little while these feelings will fade. The dailiness of my spiritual life will take over. But that’s okay. Feelings are not the goal. Jesus is the goal, and feelings may or may not be a result.