Lent

Lent is upon us. Enter the days of the Catholic “diet”: give up chocolate, soda, etc. As long as it’s not a REAL sacrifice to you. It definitely should not be REAL since Christ’s suffering and Passion wasn’t that. Right?

I was thinking of going partially Greek/Byzantine for Lent: no meat dairy, olive oil or wine. Yet, in thinking about it for the past few weeks, I realized that left me with lentils, beans, rice, fish, and nothing with which to cook all those items. Then I was thinking of doing a normal Latin Rite fast on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday; Greek/Byzantine from Wednesday through Friday midnight. I struggle to remain at 120lbs at 5’3″ currently, and on these dietary restrictions… Erm, that just wouldn’t do. I’ve settled upon simply no meat for all of Lent minus the Sundays. You may be wondering why I desired to do a more intense fast: I’ll be on retreat in late March for discernment for a week with the nuns. Lent is my favorite (liturgical) season, why not see what life is like during my utmost favorite time of all? Additionally, I’m be making my Consecration to Jesus through Mary, using St. Louis de Montfort’s book. An intense Lent calls for an intense fast, but it’s supposed to be a fast, not a starvation.

However, Lent, as I mentioned earlier is not meant to be easy going. You don’t give up chocolate if it’s only something you eat at the office when someone offers it to you, you give it up when it’s in your milk at breakfast, you enjoy a piece of cake or candy at lunch/dinner, you have syrup on your ice cream at dinner each day, everyday. That is when you give up chocolate. You give up something you’re ATTACHED to: a favorite color, clothing item, food, music, television program, television itself (yes, even via Roku, Hulu, Netflix, etc), websites (i.e. fanfiction.net), etc. I love meat. I love bacon. I try to cook fresh meals every evening when I get home, even if that’s 8:30pm. I love the smell of cooked animal flesh. During Lent, especially the first week, I hallucinate the taste of meat in all of my food; I’ve done so in vegan guacamole! If I enter the monastery, officially, the nuns fast from meat year-round. Oh boy, I’ll be dreaming of bacon, chicken, liver & onions.

Lent is to remind you of life on the OTHER SIDE, without actually dying.

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a quote about the Holy Cross

“My daughter, if the Cross was not felt, it could not be called a Cross. Be certain that if you stand beneath the Cross you will never be lost. The Devil has no power over those souls who weep near the Cross. My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me, if I had not crucified them. The Cross is a very precious gift, and many virtues can be learned through it.” — Jesus to St. Gemma

Lenten Reflection

Lent is a solemn and sober season.  It is at once my most favorite, and one that I do not always look forward to with eagerness, but I do look forward to it with a certain spiritual sobriety and longing.

In 2008 I fasted particularly strongly: no noise, music, or auditory stimulation at all. The only music, conversation etc occurred every Sunday at Mass.  It took me a good two weeks after Easter to turn the radio on in the car.  I cannot fast that way this year, however I am curtailing my music choices.  I’m cutting certain practices out, and resuming some spiritual reading.  What I mean by cutting certain practices out, is not like giving up chocolate or not watching television to gain more time to read.  Rather I’m gouging out unsavory practices: habitual sin. I know that it’s going to flare up before it ceases, but it will end.

As Lent is somber, there’s a pervasive element of despair.  It’s the desert season: without water, without seeming refuge; exposed under scrutiny however painful.  It’s a time that I give myself permission to spiritually flounder, and I pray for it as well.  I know that I need pruning and trimming.  It’s a difficult process, but in being aware that I need to go through it, I have to let it occur.  I do not like it.  I do not willingly seek it out in joy.

Do we enjoy scrubbing the toilet? No, but wouldn’t you rather have a clean toilet to purge into when you’ve got food poisoning?  Well, it’s the same spiritually. We need to enter into Lent and it’s sobriety to purge our Souls.

Masking

Driving home last night from my counseling class, I realized my mask of control has been slipping off a lot more frequently. I’m going to be posting some things on here, which are much more stark and blunt about my life and my personal struggles, than I have posted here on Blogger in the past. You have been given fair warning.

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First, a month-by-Month Play to bring you up to speed:

October was (I can barely remember) okay. I don’t think I got any job interviews during that month, and sitting at home was pretty boring and depressing. The best way I’ve come to describe Oct – Dec is that it was like sitting on a rock in a forest at night, and a heavy damp fog rolls in. And I’m just supposed to sit there and wait for the sun to come and burn off the fog.

November was better, activity wise. I had a few more job interviews, although no offers. I took part in NaNoWriMo, which is a manic writing spree hosted online. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days in a somewhat cohesive manner; to write a novella in 30 days. It was a blast, although in posting my chapters online I got flamed by some people because my characters weren’t all Christian saints – there’s no plot without drama, &c. Needless to say, I didn’t keep those people around, and in currently beginning my second draft, I’m removing some characters as well.

Mom had an episode; not as bad as the one in September where dad had to restrain her and we debated above her yelling, whether to call the paramedics.

December, in an effort to make some money, I was one of those kettle workers/bell ringers for the Salvation Army. I rang a bell for 7.5 hrs/day; for $8/hr. It’s boring, mind-numbing, and depressing. I had to quit, since there came a day where I just lay in bed for a full hour, fully awake but unable to find an ounce of strength to actually get up. I made a call to my spiritual director, and made an appointment with my therapist (who I hadn’t seen since April 2009) which went against all my natural inclinations to just shut away. December was gray.

January
I never did see my therapist; and I found a job through someone I met while bell ringing. Let’s call him “Dirty-Old-Man” (aka, DOM). Why? Because that’s what he is. I was paid $10/hr under the table, a few days per week, in an office in South Pasadena (1.5 hours from home). The $100/wk I made working for him just about covered my gas for the week and food, and sometimes if I played the dollar right, was able to scrimp up a bit for fun nights.

I felt better than I had in December. Except for my boss, who looked at the other women in the office the wrong way – there were only 6 people in the office. I was hired to sort through and organize paper; copy & fax, etc. Well, the things I had to sort through were economic futures and the occasional unsavory email between my boss and women half his age (ick). So, I wasn’t comfortable working for him and do not complain that he ‘fired’ me via email in February. The only thing I miss is having some money.

I had 3 job interviews, some of them looked good. I didn’t land any of them.

I think it was in January, although it may have been February, the Sisters informed me that my acceptance was only good for two years, and if I did not have my loans taken care of by June 1st I wouldn’t be entering. I have been interacting with KoC and other regional Catholic groups in parishes, and none of the groups are able to help much, if at all. I was told that March would be too soon to have any funds raised at all.

Mom had another episode. I’ve since noticed that I get terrible tension headaches and migraines after her tantrums (the kind that 75 mg of Vicodin don’t help with the pain).

February
As I mentioned above, I lost my job with the DOM. I started taking classes at West LA Community College to fill my time, to stay relevant in the field. Plus my parents would not stop bugging me about it. Clearly, I wasn’t getting hired any time soon with 12% unemployment in CA, so I should be back in school again. Funny enough, now they want me to look for jobs instead of studying. I’ve got three classes in the Drug and Alcohol Counseling program. If I actually finish the program, I would have a certification in D&A counseling.

Lent was odd. Some weeks were insightful, and others just dragged in that Lenten way.

I got told by a ‘friend’ that I was abusive, abrasive, and should not speak until spoken to. Then he promptly invited me to help him move out of his apartment. I’m “abusive” but he wants my company? No, that’s not the way it works. I haven’t spoken to him since, which apparently he is fine with.

I think mom had another episode; I had about a whole week of tension headaches and migraines. One of them is the now infamous Vicodin-don’t-work migraine. That sucked; you really have no idea. I say ‘think’ because I’m pretty sure that she did, but I tend to block them (yeah, block them & try my hardest to not listen or remember what she says).

Continued discernment about my loans and vocation. Seems to be less called to the Sisters. Focusing more on what is my experience of the Faith, what I enjoy doing, and why certain Saints come through for me (One of them dramatically shaped religious life; and I’m curious to know why this one Saint comes through for me when so many others with more appropriate patronage do not).

March
About two job interviews, one of which led to a second interview; really excited about this, but down playing it. I’m pretty jaded and ambivalent now about finding a job. A whole year of unemployment, I’m amazed that I still try!

I don’t know. I don’t try too hard to remember the past month, or much of anything. =) I went to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (it’s as bad as they say it is) but it’s a weekend outside of the house and somebody gave me their tickets. It was cool.

April
Easter Vigil was awesome. Ended running into friends which makes it better, left with standing room only (long narrow church from the 1880s).

Mom decided to quit her job. On one hand that’s good because she’s less stressed and less likely to blow up. And here the other shoe drops – she’s home all day with me: the unemployed, unsuccessful daughter. So, when she’s not busy with other things, which wore off after the 2nd week, I’m her project. She’s signing me up for classes. Pushing for me to enroll in an MBA program, etc.

You say, ‘get a job’? I’m trying!!

You say, move out? I have $323.60 in the bank. If I move out, I have to pay for food, rent (upwards of $900/mo), car insurance, health insurance, gas, cell phone bill, etc. I have no job; no job, no move out. I particularly enjoy hearing from people who say ‘move in with me’ and what, they’re gonna be my sugar daddy?!? I’m not floating in money, I’m floating in debt!

~ ~ ~

If you’re saying, “And the good times?” They’re all in there in between. I stopped attending the Bible study session and prayer meetings for Adoration nights during Lent and Faith sharing dinners with closer friends. I’ll probably continue doing so. There’s multiple issues at play: chauvinist tendencies at the Bible study sessions; prayer meetings are with the guy who said I was abusive and don’t have the right to speak. I go to a potluck dinner once a week with my grad school friends down on campus, which is tons of fun & hilarity.

Obama to Sign Order for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The raindrop does not want to think that it was the one single event that changed the puddle from becoming a flood.

When will the blood of unborn children cease to be shed, and who will take responsibility for the travesty that will finally be wrought on American soil when God’s ears have been over-filled with the cries of the innocents?

Who will be the one to say that he (or she) was the one that changed the events that were a few court rulings into a massacre?

I’d cry, but the tears wouldn’t end. Last Lent I spent time praying and fasting for the end to abortion and spent much of the time crying for the loss of the children: for the unknown siblings, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc.

Yet, on Monday March 9th, Obama will sign an order authorizing widespread provision of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.

Sometimes I am forced to wonder. Many have prayed, many have fasted. Many have prayed and fasted, yet God stands by. But I know that He stands by our side and is waiting for His perfect moment. I just wish it wouldn’t be at the cost of so many lost lives, loves, and souls.