Friday, May 25, 2007

Questions from the Comment Box

Some good comments, some good questions.

Heard from God two days ago. He simply showed me to read Isaiah 51. I've perused it. Will probably look at it in depth again.

I'm somewhat apathetic right now because I'm unemployed and can't find too much in my field; useless without a license and at least a M.A. / M. S. degree.


Questions arose in comments as to why I was going to Opus Dei meetings but not speaking to anyone there. Firstly, I've got to know someone there otherwise I wouldn't know when meetings and recollections are. I know a numerary (right term?), one of those celibate members, and I know her from OD first, and University second; she works at the university and I attended it.

Why don't I have a spiritual director? I began discernment late last July, and when school started I honestly thought I was smart enough to land myself a spot as a graduate student in a psychology PhD program. That bottomed out in April this spring as I got several rejections. I thought that if spiritual directors were "life coaches" for one's soul, there was little point in finding one in September when I might have to pull up roots and go to the PhD program in Davis or Riverside or Santa Barabra. Sisters and others that I talked to seemed to agree; the LA Archdiocese women's vocation director seemed to as well.

I still don't know where I am going for grad school as I have an application pending still and will not hear from them for at least another month; know, however, that I have tentatively accepted a state school for a M.A. program in psychology.

That's why I don't have spiritual director.

Why do you enjoy participating in Opus Dei activities? I enjoy most Catholic activities, if they are filled with faith and a deep reverence and belief that Christ actually exists; the kind of faith that admits there is a Purgatory, a Heaven, and Hell. So, why do I like this kind of faith, and the life of Opus Dei members, probably because the nature of Christ's and St. Josemaria's teachings ask that they actually live it out. That it's a part of who they are and its not swept under the rug when company comes over. Faith, as I've seen it in OD and in the religious life, is not a trifling matter. Maybe I've seen and lived with those who take faith as a trifling matter too long.

Is that enjoyment possibly a sign that God is leading you in that direction? Sure, anything's possible. I don't believe in concoidences.

If you are participating in their activities, why haven't you talked with an Opus Dei priest or numerary? I have through confession. I have talked with other priests (not OD) and vocation directresses and such many times over. Some express doubt, others don't say much at all.

Is the fact that you haven't talked to one a sign that God is not leading you in that direction? or you just did not think of having an Opus Dei spiritual director and are thinking of it still? I'm waiting for my academic life to come into focus. What is the point of having a spiritual director in Los Angeles if I'm down in Long Beach, or vice versa? I have to wait for the dust to settle before making a decision. Indecision is my companion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Messy Process

I'm writing a lot today. Not sure why, but probably best not to fight it.

The post that I just wrote below, clearly lost its focus about 2 paragraphs in. Began to tell you about my discernment process, but trailed off and started to project onto you (any reader) about my mom.

This past semester I took a class on positive psychology and one of our many assignments was to take Seligman's VIA (Values in Action) questionnaire of 200+ questions. My top strength was religiousity. No big surprise there at all! Seligman wrote in one version of his book Authentic Happiness that many people find that they really enjoy and define themselves by their first strength, and I'd have to agree that I do the same. He also went on to write that it also proves to be a point of contention and oftentimes gets them into trouble and hassels as well, to which I also agree.

My faith, and the strength of my faith, is fun, I love it, and it also creates a lot of trouble for me; most of this trouble, clearly, is at home.

I am the only practicing Catholic at home. I attend Mass every Sunday, Saturday vigil if I foresee that I will not be able to attend Sunday's Mass. I am quickly developing devotions to some saints, and of course to our Mother, the Blessed Virgin. I've pulled various religious gifts over the years out of hiding and place them on the dresser or on my night table, so everything's in easy sight or easy reach.

This August, it'll be two years since I began to believe again; judging by the strength and steadfastness of my faith, "born again" is an apt phrase to use.

Right now, there's no trouble for me being a Catholic at home. Except when you count the Sundays that I've been invited to Recollection and Mom asks where was the Church and it's name. How do I say that the Mass was held at Opus Dei Center for women in Los Angeles? How do I answer Dad's yearly lectures on why I would be smart to meet and get engaged to a man while in college, when I have no desire to get married? What do I do when people say that I should be a Sister, or say that I look like a Sister? Honestly, what does a Sister look like anyway? I hope people don't say that just because I have self-respect and don't want to become some man's next near ocassion of sin!

My outlook on my profession is quickly shifting from therapist to Licenced Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I am alright with that shift. I like how it enables me to further help people -- not the rich-needy, but those who are actually in need. Now all that mom tells me over the past few days is that "it's not pretty work" and "you're going to see nasty things." *Really, gee, did not know that* She asked how I planned to handle it, I said I'd be fine. I'm reminded of an email that a friend sent me a while ago and he wrote that of all the people he knew as counselors and social workers, the few that were not burnt out after a few years were Christians. How will I handle it? By the Grace of God. Just like everything else.

Discernment is a process. It's difficult, I know that; I've felt how difficult it can be.

Problem is that I haven't heard from God in months (Since February, to be truthful).

He takes His time, meanwhile the world goes by and I have to find work and enroll in graduate school.

God, I'm making time for you. I'm making sacrifices for you. I'm talking with you.
When you gonna realize this isn't a therapy session, decide to reciprocate, and actually offer a clear-cut reply that will help me know what it is that You want for (or, of) me and this life You've given me?

What Momma Oughta Know, but Doesn't Want to

These last few posts are among the first vocation-related in the last 2.5 months that I have written. I did not intentionally decide to ignore the discernment process. Between midterms in March and until graduation two weeks ago, I many different things going on. There was the Conference in Anaheim, which did not help me at all; there was one Sister to whom I should never have spoken with; her words felt like spiritual poison, saying that I would never properly discern and enter a community/convent if I did not take at least 6 months off of academics and work and just discern (what a luxury that must be!). I tried to ignore it, but didn't work too well. I had graduation pictures to take a few weeks later, and I had to take off my medals (one of our Mother, and another of St. Benedict). I did not put the medals back on for a week. I've since learned that spiritual attacks get disgusting and nasty when I take my medals off -- the kind that make want to not sleep at night. Self-induced insomnia wasn't too fun. prayer didn't work.


Returning to the present, it wasn't until the Pastor Emeritus at my home parish celebrated his 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest that I was happy again to be in discernment. Prayer's good, but it'll gradually become better. I'm pulling the vocation mail out from under my bed again, although it's still hard to think of myself as possibly becoming a sister. I had a lot of introspection, a lot of indepth consideration of a friend's doubt.

The majority of what stands in my way of becoming a sister is the stark reality of my personality, my emotions, and quirks. I wrote draft posts, then never posted. My friend said that until I could love my blood relations like I treat the homeless I fed on Skid Row every week, I wouldn't be able to be a Sister. He said that religious life was hard work, and draining, and unless I could unconditionally love, I wouldn't be able to take it. I see his point. He also told me a week later, in person, that there's a lot of passion, a lot of energy in me, but also a lot of anger. I need to work on that anger.

I know that I need to forgive someone in particular, but I don't see a consequence in her life at all. She's blessed: a family, a wonderful neighborhood. She's got friends and people inquire of her when I go to Mass every Sunday. She's got more than most people have, or would think to ask of. There's no consequence. She sins. Doesn't care at all, and throws God out of her life like you throw the garbage out on Monday morning for the trash collector and his smelly truck. Replaces God with mimickry and falsehood. Then has the nerve to yell at me last November that the RCC is a cult. Woman, I know what a cult is better than you ever could.

But she doesn't care. She doesn't want to understand so many things. so many things.

Like the way she's fanantic about her idols, I am like that towards God. The way she's concerned about the status quo and the perfect life, I'm concerned about eternal life/damnation in the same way.

She gets upset with my attitude and tone of voice; woman now you understand what it was like to be the brunt of your disgust back when you had that job and that boss, and all those late hours. You couldn't stand my bad grades; I can't stand your blithe attitude towards sin - like it all don't matter.

Two say its up to me to repair the relationship. Their idea of repairing the relationship is to just go along with whatever she says. She might say "you don't have to go to church, you're already saved," I go anyway. She might drag me to her voodoo and make me participate, but you could read the ridicule and disbelief on my face. She might not like the rosary, the chaplet to St. Michael, and the statue of Mary surrounded by dried flowers, and I just add more flowers, prayer cards, and holy water in vials.

I don't care about what you want, desire in this life. It's not about you. It's about God. God gives and He takes away. You cannot decide to just take, and think there's no consequence. But God's forgiving, and I'm not. Maybe judgment day will come and He decides that He loves her, and there's no consequence for her. So I don't like her, I don't forgive her, I don't love her very much. Hard to love someone who thinks abortion's okie-dokie and only Catholic on paper, a mere technicality, a blip on a baptismal record and a confirmation record and a marriage license.

There is a Hell.

There is a Heaven.

I'm trying to make my way to Heaven, but woman you make it so darn difficult with your sin and your idols and your concern for the World.

You love the status quo. I fear what you'll do and think and say when you find out that I don't want a part of it. All I want is your approval but I'll never get it.

I'm Catholic, you think it's unattractive.
I'm Catholic, you think it's a cult.
I'm Catholic, you think you don't have to make sacrifices for Faith & Love.

I'm Catholic, and I believe in a Hell and a Heaven that is more than just a symbolic removal from God. I'm trying to work towards one, and you just blindly slide toward the other, but you don't care.

You don't care.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is it selfish?

I am incredibly comfortable with myself.

  • I'm Catholic and I really love being so.
  • Same goes for being single.

So the thought that has been nagging me for the past 2 days has been that hopefully its not some how selfish to enjoy being single, Catholic, and virgin; and to be comfortable with it that I don't cherish the idea of ever being married and having to give up the virginity.

I don't want to lose it. I want to keep it forever.

Does that make sense to any of you?

It's not really a point of confusion for me; it seems to come naturally to me.

Yet, there's this sense of taboo about virginity, and even more so about keeping it. And not just "in the world" but also in the fact that this isn't discussed in the Church. The only time I've ever talked about it with a person is with a friend who's Baptist and she said that she remains pure because God takes pleasure in it. End of conversation.

Marriage is beautiful, as are children. And as attractive as a man might be, I don't have ANY desire to marry him. As cute and adorable babies and little kiddies might be, I don't want to have them. This leaves me with three wonderful choices to make: religious life, consecrated virgin, or be a celibate member in a lay ministry such as Opus Dei, which I really enjoy participating in although I'm not yet a member.

Any yet, although I only have 3 to choose from, the possibilities still seem infinite.

Oh boy, do I need a spiritual advisor or what?