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.

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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.

Foot cramps are some of the most annoying things.

I’m tired as all get-out.  Friday evening into Saturday morning: sleep got worse the more that I prayed for it to come.  Saturday evening, I slept a bit better, but I still woke up 30 minutes before necessary.  I also encountered some spiritual attacks akin to September 2009.  I’ve since doused the room and bed in holy water, I just need to get my hands on some exorcised salt.

I learned that the blessing is gone from a Rosary if it is broken and not repaired; that it needs to be disassembled and buried.  What about when the beads on the rose petal Rosary shatter and fall off? The beads were replaced, so now what?

Bought two books on Mary today.  One is an illustrated prayer book; I am His Child, and if I need pictures to help me out, so be it.  It’s terrible, trying to learn about Mary and have her be my Momma when I can scarcely figure out my own mother, how to get her to want me as me, and not as her creature.  The other is titled Mary of Nazareth, which is proving to be simply clear and informative.  No fancy words, just saying it plainly with Scripture.  Hopefully I’ll find this information more human and connective.  Although there was a great book I saw in the parish bookstore a few weeks back that looks really interesting: The Life of Mary: As Seen by the Mystics. Perhaps in a few months?

Speaking with good spiritual friends recently has helped me keep my chin up.  I may be tired, sleep deprived, and not eating all three meals per day, but it will come to pass.  I spent the morning at Mass, an hour on the phone, and spent the majority of the day teaching a different class for Confirmation – they were lacking an adult leader so I got switched out.  Its neat to know that some of the difficulties I have to teaching my kids are personality differences and attitude, since the group I taught today was small, but we were all good and nice to each other.  It was different.  Not every class is like mine; that’s one of many things I got out of today.

Another was the offer to spend a week in a good family home, and a good Catholic one at that.  I wish I could accept it.  I spend so much time outside of my home, just to get away that I have incurred plenty of examples of good Christian homes.  I get to know that not all parents shout and yell in arguments to the extent that you wish and wish to fly away out of the house.  I get to see people who actually show chaste affection rather than just coolness or a weird short burst of cuteness (weird – as it’s out of character and only a few months per year rather than daily affection).  Perhaps one of these days.  This is one of my aims in entering therapy – wanting to learn to switch from the ways I’ve been taught, to the right path; otherwise I’ll enter and leave religious life angry and confront people wrongly.  Subversive living is adaptive at home and it kills vocations in religious life.

How am I supposed to learn how it is to have a Mother?

Spiritual Matters

I jumped head long into spiritual battle after this weekend, and like usual I was counter attacked by the third day.  It’ll be a few more days before I’m back on my feet. Hopefully some down time tomorrow will help me out since I’m dragging my feet.

I saw “The Rite” this evening with friends.  It’s amazing to me how people were asking, “Isn’t that how it is with spiritual warfare?” in amazement and disbelief.  And I wanted to grab them by their shoulders and shake them up.  How can you profess to be such a strong Christian, and Catholic nonetheless, and not know what is spiritual warfare? What kind of spirituality are you following that you are not daily attacked by Satan?  How do you not know?  Yes, that movie depicts demonic possession, but it also depicts the progression of spiritual warfare, half-truths, and nature of Satan.  Portions of the film are Hollywood like the somber setting for Fr. Lucas’ quarters, but the plagues, the screams, the voices, the hallucinations, etc are all realistic.  I think it’s an as realistic depiction as will ever be coming out of Hollywood; it’s the most accurate thus far.

Finally got me a therapist after not having one for about 2 years.  I think I caught him off guard with how introspective I am; how I look into the foreseeable future and know what I need to work on in my life and why.  He was a bit taken back by how forward I am with my faith as well.  He brought it up saying, “Did I say anything about faith on the site where you found my listing?” As I explained to him, he listed himself as Christian, and he then mentioned that he is Catholic.  I don’t care if he’s Christian or Catholic, or not at all.  It’s an added bonus to be Christian, and even moreso to be Catholic.  But I’m Catholic, and I’m involved with the Church.  I’m going to talk about it.  I’m going to mention teaching Confirmation. I will be mentioning the issues at home and the hostility about the Faith I face at home.  So it’s better to talk about it in the first session. It’s not a special debut topic or anything.  It’s as much a part of me as the color of my eyes.  If he doesn’t like it, he can put it on his therapeutic back-burner.

Keep praying for me, as I’m praying for you.

Santeria

According to dictionary.com, a religion is a “set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Therefore under this general understanding I will refer to Santeria as a religion, although I do not give it any credence.

When the Spaniards were establishing a colony in South America and the island of Cuba, they brought slaves with them to do the hard labor. These slaves came largely from West Africa in the 1600s and 1700s, and they brought with them much of their folklore, culture, and religious practices. The slaves were polytheistic, but soon the Spaniards tried to encourage them convert to the Roman Catholic Church; yet, the West Africans continued to persevere in their practices. Therefore, the Spaniards began persecution of the slaves that included many of the atrocities we are vaguely aware of such as beatings, whippings, rapes, and other forms of torture.

Instead of converting, the West Africans began to take notice that some of their gods and goddesses looked vaguely like some of the better known Catholic Saints which the Spaniards put into their churches and chapels. So, what looked like Catholic converts to the Spanish, were really African slaves practicing the same pantheistic, animism and ancestor worship.

The main god is Olofi (aka, Olodumare or Olorun), but of the 400 minor gods and goddesses, only 16 are popularly worshipped and practiced: Obatala, Yemaya, Oshun, Oya, and Chango, to name a few. These five form the foundation of the practice of Santeria. The will of Olofi is manifested through the forces of nature. In exchange for total submission, observation of feasts, obedience to orders and rituals, the follower is promised supernatural powers and protection from evil in most major domains: influence/power, health, position, and ablitiy to see and modify the future. The “priests” of this religion are known as santeros.

The practices are supposedly limited to white magic and excludes black witchcraft.

Obatala is associated with Our Lady of Mercy and is the origin of the other gods and godesses and creation, but is not the creator (Olofi). He is also the patron of purity and peace. Orunla (aka, Ifa or Orunmila) is the patron of the high priests and the principal magician. He is associated with St Francis of Assisi. Yemaya is associated with the Virgin of Regla and is the patron of the sea and motherhood. Oshun is the younger sibling of Yemaya and the queen of love, marriage, gold, and the rivers. She is also the favorite concubine of Chango and is associated with our Lady of Charity. […] More information: here.

How do I convey how familiar these names are, if not in print from the numerous trips I’ve made with my mom to the santero shops, to perhaps hearing some of them? Like, I’ve seen the names of Eleggua, Oggun, Ochosi, and Osun at different times as well as those mentioned above.
The Orishas, or gods, are represented by 16 cowrie shells and small figurines which represent the powers of each deity. These have to be wahed with sacred liquids made from teas and juices of plants, rubbed with oil, and fed with the blood of the deity’s favorite animal (most typically chickens, pigeons, and other fowl). These objects have to be kept in the personal home. The bead necklaces and bracelets are made of the characteristic color of each Orisha, which protects the wearer from any magic spell via deflection. The Orisha protects it’s “child” with its color.

There are initiation practices involved which are long, complicated, costly, and completed in a series of phases. First, the santero needs to learn which gods correspond to the initiate, which begins with the necklaces (which were constructed and then soaked in animal blood – and the smell is never lost) and ends with the asiento. The process is as follows: the wearing of old cloths (they are cut off of you), the bathing (a tea/infusion), and changing into white clothes to symbolize new life. An Orisha is assigned to the person to watch and protect and initiate. There are prayers in a foreign tongue (not Spanish), and animal sacrifices. Usually a second phase includes the divination of the initiate’s future in which stones are thrown into a bowl filled with sand. Then the initiate is given the santeros’ reading of his/her future. Then the initiate recieves his/her own set of cowrie shells, on which blood poured and a home for his/her Orisha, a decorated box containing food and oil for the seed. The seed is the home of the Orisha.

The Orishas are subject to human weaknesses: material greed, incest, adultery, drunkeness, violence, etc. Most of them “practice” witchcraft, divination, and magic. Necromancy also exists in Santeria along with the use of amulets and creating prayers or changing the fate of others (i.e., setting up white magic ‘hexes’ for someone, much like the Mormons can ‘baptize’ the dead). The whole focus of Santeria is the betterment of a single person, using prayer/hexes, magic, and divination of the person and others close to them to change their destiny which was created before they were born.

I’ve been involved with this stuff against my will, and often deceptively brought to participate in the initiation events – as in the the true nature of the outings were revealed to me.

Sources:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/153-santeriahttp://www.namb.net/atf/cf/%7BCDA250E8-8866-4236-9A0C-C646DE153446%7D/BB_Santeria.pdf