Coiled

 

rattlesnake
rattlesnake

I went hiking this past weekend for 2 hours (hiked 4 miles). I like to hike the hard way in and the easy way out, that way I get my exercise in, my rest period with a snack, and some creating (i.e. photography, drawing, thinking), and lastly my cool-down period. On the way back to the parking lot along the deteriorating fire-road, just past the ruins of the Keller cabin, the wind died down. The woodpeckers stopped jostling their brains. I stopped and then I heard it, the rustling of the leaves like a ball was rolling in the brush. I looked closely, and saw this guy ^ gliding on by. He/She’s a rattlesnake, about 3 feet long but not very thick, and the rattler didn’t look very well formed.

The imagery and experience of watching a snake in the grass seems to be a good metaphor of how the month of August has been for me: I was on a monastic visit and I don’t know what to make of my experience; my Spiritual Director quit; gossip at work encouraging/pressuring me to date a male colleague; slanderous gossip at work on a different matter which is abhorrent in nature, & more. As it is late in the month, I’m getting to the point of just watching the snake in the grass. I take a step closer because I’m curious, but I use my zoom lens to get a better look. I stand around to make sure it goes into it’s hole in the ground, and I go on my way. I’m just watching all this “danger” come at me and I’m TRYING to let it pass.

My thoughts since learning of the slanderous gossip at work are as follow:

  • if you have the luxury of enough time to conjure such abysmal stories about me, perhaps you need more clients.
  • I only speak negatively of the people who’ve done me wrong (i.e. my direct supervisor calling me a lesbian).
  • I’ve been honest about my family, why make up more horrific stories – the truth isn’t enough? (verbal & physical abuse)
  • Do you actually desire that kind of trauma to be upon me?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact that I’ve made statements that I’m Catholic and therefore will not have strange unmarried men spend the night in my apartment?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact I’ve stated numerous times that I do not date people at work?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact I’ve stated “I’m Catholic”?
  • Driving into work today, I’m was still furious. I frequently talk to myself in the car at times like this. I explained to myself that my life does not exist to please you, to appease you. I am not standoffish about sex, but I will not engage in sex outside of marriage, I will not masturbate, I will not procure abortions or contracept. Not because I’m afraid of sex, but that these are the teachings of the Catholic Church. If I did not want to have to follow these teachings, I’d go find a religion that does fit my thoughts. For example, if I thought children should not be baptized prior to the age of reason, I’d be a Baptist, if I thought modernity were completely of the Devil, I’d be Mennonite. However, these are man-made constructs. I’m Catholic because that is the Church Christ established through Simon-called-Peter/Cephas. If I were to run around to find a religion that fit me, that wouldn’t be Faith, it’d be Pride. I’m Catholic, I follow what Mother Church teaches since She can only speak the truth of God. I don’t attend the Church of You wherein there’s practices of masturbation, abortion, contraception, fornication, emotional extra-marital affairs, loose associations, and Soul-selling for a few moments pleasure: Let’s see, maybe 20 minutes of sex in exchange for eternity in Hell, or I can forego sex outside of marriage between the ages of 13 to 30ish, and have better hopes of going to Heaven. I submit to God. My life is created for the glory of God. I’m made by & for God, so I’m Catholic. I follow what God teaches through His established Church. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.
  • If you’ve never had the experience of seeing a real bonafide Catholic and that scares you to the point of committing slander and defamation, I don’t think I need to say which situation is more foolish.
  • I don’t want to know who this person / whom these people are. Really, I don’t. I’ll lose so much respect for them. I’d loathe calling them colleagues. Their minds are pure filth. Additionally, knowing your name(s) opens you up to a lawsuit.

 

Vocational Update 3? or 4? Who knows?

I’ve been quiet about this – at least in the details. I will continue to be quiet until more is understood. I first wrote a letter to a monastery in June, and have been slowly gaining in communication since then via email and phone calls. I will be visiting a monastery from Thursday August 7th through Sunday August 10th. In lieu of a stipend to stay at the guest house, I’ll be working with the sisters for a few hours each day. If I’m really diligent and finalize the vocation questionnaire, I may be able to speak with the Novitiate during recreation one evening.

I’ve told my spiritual director, and three additional friends, the specific details. My parents are not aware. My sister, once she reads this blog post will know precisely the information that is here and nothing more. How come? What happens when you spread your business everywhere – is anything respected? Is it honored? Is it accepted? I’ll bet you a student loan that the answer is ‘No’. Everyone runs roughshod all over your thoughts, your desires, God’s desires for you, and so forth; suddenly everything is up for debate.

In my previous experience in trying to enter the DSMMEs (Thank goodness I did not; I loathe teaching.) I was told a great number of things:
~ we should use this to get more drinks at the bar
~ you’re a lesbian
~ you’re a disgrace
~ you’re neglecting your responsibility
~ you’re throwing your life away
~ do you know how other women will touch you?
~ what about sex?
~ you should go do all the things that you can’t do once you enter
~ that’s a blessing
~ you’ll save your family
~ what grace

See how the vast majority of responses are negative and bitter? How focused they are on an erroneous thought that I’m losing something when I enter religious life. Rather, consider what I gain, in a non-materialist way: God. I have Him. All of Him. His full and complete attention. I get to respond to His love for me in a unique way, a way that I was created to do. I have the ability to work in cooperation with God.

This world will kill you; it will kill me. It will slay me to death with pride, lust, sloth/laziness, anger, greed, gluttony. I do not choose this world. I was born in the world at the time God wanted me to exist here, but He did not make me or you to be immersed in it to the extent that you can lose yourself in it. He bought you and me at the price of His Son’s Flesh, Blood, Soul and Divinity hanging tattered and exsanguinated on a Roman cross at the behest of the Jewish elders.

Keep me in your prayers, I’ll pray for you – you can leave requests in the comment box or you can (I think?) email or message me.

A Phone Conversation

I received a letter last Monday, the 16th, from Mother superior informing me that I should really call the Novice Mistress, or if that’s inconvenient, to email her. The irony is that I sent a letter because there was no response from the email I sent her two weeks ago. I called and let Sister know when she could call me.

She called on Thursday (traditional Corpus Christi). In the middle of an initial session with a client and her parents. This kid needs a lot of prayer, her parents, more. Anyway, the call went to voicemail.

So I called later after Mass and Eucharistic procession, around 10pm. We did eventually speak on Friday the 20th. She told me about how they still maintain duties for hospitality because they follow the Order of St. Augustine; they are a “daughter” of a religious order over here. Sister spoke frequently of “if you’re a serious discerner” and “you could come visit”. Sister seemed to be understanding of my work schedule, but suggested visiting on the weekends. I may be able to find a time to visit for 4-5 days (especially if I take advantage of weekends), perhaps as early as the middle of July. I’ve also received a copy of the “simple” vocation questionnaire. I can answer most of these easily, I’m only concerned about how to phrase the response about my family.

I need prayers for this.

I spent time today driving to Hermosa Beach to speak with my spiritual director about this, but he had a previous task which ran late; it was cancelled after I got to the residence. Since I don’t know when I’ll be speaking with him, I didn’t feel confident in thinking about it (I like to do my thinking while hiking). Instead, I cleaned my room. I have a ton of junk: chargers with nothing to charge, an ereader without a charger, books, 3 trashbags of clothes, jewelry, etc. It took all day and a set of plastic containers from Target to sort, organize & clear up. I also found my old vocation story and acceptance letter. Heh! That was strange; I felt like I was reading about someone else, and back then, still living at home and hampered, I was someone else. I’m not going to use any of the previous materials in this questionnaire, since I’m more fully myself today than I was in 2008.

Please keep me in your prayers; the spiritual attacks are, well, you know how they get difficult.

Oh, St. Joseph!

Do you have an absolute favorite saint?

Perhaps you pray to him/her, wear their medal & frequently ask help.

And there’s the other saint who surprises you.

Seemingly out of nowhere.

My favorites are Ss. Anthony, Benedict & Michael

I ask help of some additional ones like St Dr Guiseppe Moscati

And, there’s St. Joseph.

He’s so quiet – literally in the Gospels; only sometimes being addressed in private devotions. Over the years, I’ve read many stories about the miraculous staircase to the nun’s choir loft, of real estate breakthroughs, jobs found, etc. I never really understood it, how do you get attached to a Saint of which you have no personal reflections? No writings? Almost no presence? Does it not strike anyone else of how funnily he’s absent from the Gospels and we know nothing after the Angel tells him the Child is in danger? Yet, there’s always a statue of him somewhere in every church? He’s hotly contended in tradition: old vs youthful, assumed into heaven or not; how he came to be Mary’s chaste Spouse; so forth.

Years ago, when I was trying to process the reality of my brother’s abortion (my sister & I were informed via her Confirmation letter), I sought the advice of a Christian leader of a student religious group and she wisely suggested naming my brother to make him “more real” and less abstract. The processing stopped there for several years, simply naming him Joseph. But that’s where I got to know St. Joseph. In the past 3-4 years in which I’ve been attending the TLM, I’ve been praying to St  Joseph, asking him help in the grieving and adapting process pertaining to the loss of my brother. I prayed his Litany every Sunday, without fail. Eventually, I came to reflect on more than just the loss of my brother, but on him who is Terror of Demons or Lover of Poverty, and Mirror of Patience. Holy cats, that’s what leaks through the silence surrounding him! There’s also the prayer at the end of the litany asking him to be our lord and protector on earth as he protected the Christ-Child & our Lady; to protect the Church from error.

Now, especially on Sundays, I’ve taken to adding on the prayer to St. Joseph after the Rosary, which is typically for October, but that’s been good overall. And finally, my spiritual director told me I should say a novena for my vocation. He didn’t to whom or any other restrictions. I figured, why create a new devotion when I already one. So I ventured down to the local massive Catholic store and got two prayer cards (size, plastic & weight of a gift card) one from Padre Pio & one from St. Joseph. The St. Joseph one had to be said for 9 mornings which is hard for me to manage because I’m a school-based therapist, my mornings are eat-wash up-drive; they’re not very leisurely. So I messed up, but I put in my nine mornings, and that day (actually about 12 days after starting) someone name-dropped a particular monastery. I put them on the list along with 4 other places that were attractive to me; and narrowed it down to just 2 places during my last meeting with my spiritual director. However, if I’m actually trusting St. Joseph to pick the place for me, why do I have two places listed? A plan b does not say trust!

Nope, just one place. I got impatient with sending Mother Superior an email, so I also sent a hand-written note.

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interest and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do help me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son and spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms, I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls – pray for us. Amen.