Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Praying the Traditional Rosary

One of my many rosaries. :)
Since All Saints' Day (when I began the 54-day Rosary novena), I've been praying the traditional Rosary. What does this mean? That I've been praying the Rosary as it had been prayed before Pope St. John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries. That means that I pray the Rosary like this:

Monday: Joyful
Tuesday: Sorrowful
Wednesday: Glorious
Thursday: Joyful
Friday: Sorrowful
Saturday: Glorious
Sunday: Glorious

The first time I pray it in the original order, it was when I attended my first young adult group meeting in mid-October and the FSSP priest (who is the group's spiritual adviser) led us in praying the Glorious mysteries on a Saturday. Then I did the entire 54-day Rosary novena with only these three mysteries from All Saints' Day through Christmas Eve. Once the novena ended, I was torn about adding the Luminous mysteries back. I think I did for a week or two afterwards but then I began praying the Rosary in the traditional order.

This big change was very hard at first. No, correction: it's still hard. I spent the first 10 years of my reversion praying the Rosary with the Luminous mysteries so this change has been a constant struggle and I sometimes consider adding them Luminous mysteries back into the rotation.

If you're wondering why I made this change, it's very simple: I had such an amazing experience praying the 54-day Rosary novena that I wanted to continue it, in a way. I liked the order of the mysteries. Though I like the Luminous mysteries, and I understand why Pope St. JP II added them, I sometimes struggle with them. I can focus on the importance of the Sacraments of the Church (which the Luminous mysteries represent) and I like that but I like focusing on the life of Christ more. Not to say that the Luminous mysteries don't; it's just a bit different.

As I said, I still struggle with the change. Sometimes I consider praying the Luminous mysteries in addition to the Joyful mysteries on Thursday but have yet to actually do it, though that's mostly because I've had lousy time management skills lately. I don't know if I'll continue praying the Rosary with the traditional (original) mysteries or if I'll occasionally add the Luminous mysteries but it's been quite a challenge for me.

Question time: do any of you pray the Rosary in the traditional form? Have any of you switched from one to the other, specifically from having the Luminous mysteries to omitting them? Was it hard? Did it take some getting used to? Anyone have any tips for me regarding the change?

Anyway, this was just a short blog post to share this new change and, I guess, ask for a bit of help because I'm quite torn between continuing as I have since All Saints' Day and reverting to the order I had used for the first 10 years of my reversion.

I hope y'all are having a lovely start of the week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I Feel Restless in My Faith and with Myself

Deep breath in. 

I've been feeling incredibly restless in my faith and with myself and I know it's due to my lack of Mass attendance and trips to the confessional. 

Exhale.

You guys know that I've been struggling with attending Mass for months. Yes, months. I get a deep desire to go to Mass and confession but something always happens. What I wrote in October still applies. I feel like the worst Catholic... a sorry, pathetic excuse of a Catholic. I felt it particularly hard a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes I wonder if I'm truly cut out to be a faithful Catholic with how often I've missed Mass. I haven't been to Mass since Candlemas, and we arrived late and I was too distracted to enjoy it. During the last full Mass I attended a month ago, I had to keep my snobby and somewhat uncharitable thoughts to myself. 

If you're wondering what happened today: light-headedness, as is the most common reason for my failure to attend Mass. I didn't even pick Mom up from work today and that only happens when I get so lightheaded that I'm afraid of getting into a potential accident. "Well, that's a valid excuse," you may be saying, but it doesn't take away how uneasy I feel. 

The longer I go without attending Mass or confessing my sins, the more restless I get. I feel absolutely horrid as I type this out. I've noticed how bad things get for me the longer I go without both Mass and confession. First, I become less charitable and more grumpy. Then it becomes easier to do the smallest (and, oftentimes, dumbest) venial sins. Then my patience runs out easier. Things built up. My temper gets worse. I literally cannot focus on anything, especially in prayer. I can't focus on my prayers; they feel robotic and empty. After about the second or third week, I'm an edgy mess. Again, the desire is there but then fear sets in.

Fear is what's at the root of my missing Mass. Fear of getting into a car accident because I'm not as mentally focused as I should be. Fear of getting more sick or not being able to get the medical help I need (this is anxiety talking when I have palpitations like I did earlier today). Fear of physical pain. Fear of fainting, especially when I've felt physically weak like I did two weeks ago. Fear of this... fear of that...

I know that fear is not from God. I know that the evil one uses fear. I want to have the courage to push beyond that fear, but I can't. I don't know what stops me. Oh, wait... yes, I do: more fear. Sometimes, when I think I have the courage to actually go through with it -- to get in my car and drive to Mass -- I begin to second-guess my decision. The "what ifs" begin to roll around in my mind. What if I should just stay home and not risk myself and my health? What if I'm just making up excuses for myself because I don't want to go to Mass? (That last one is one that popped up in my mind). 

I've cried more than once out of my inability to attend Mass. In fact, I'm trying to fight that lump in my throat that is threatened to form while I type this post out. I know I need to talk to a priest about this problem, especially since I feel utterly overwhelmed at this point. I don't like how I feel... and when I say "how I feel" I mean how I act. I don't like living in fear. I don't like losing my temper more easily as time goes by. This isn't who I usually am. I've been (jokingly) referred to as a gal with patience to spare. I don't get angry for more than a couple of minutes. I can let things slide... except I can't. Not these days; not since my lack of Mass attendance began to break personal records.

I humbly ask for your prayers. Beyond praying and talking to a priest, I don't know what else to do. I feel helpless. I feel restless. I feel scared. I don't want to put my soul in jeopardy if I can do something about it. 

Okay... here come the tears. That's okay. Tears only remind me that I care. I care about my soul. I care about my relationship with God. Once my time here on earth is done, I want to spend eternity with Him. I can't do that if I don't feel grounded in my faith; if I keep missing Mass.

Deep breath in. 

Exhale. 

God willing, things will work out. I just need help. And, with this idea, I'm going to stop writing and email one of my favorite local priests to see if I can set up a meeting to talk to him or see if he can give me advice as to what I can do in the meantime (while I wait for my next trip to the confessional and Mass).

I'm sorry to end this blog on such a downer but this is real life. This is -- and has been -- my biggest struggle. Nobody said the journey of this Catholic nerd writer was going to be easy or even pretty.

Alright, email to the priest and then I'll try to catch a Mass on EWTN before my evening/nighttime prayers.

I hope y'all have a lovely weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Magnificat Lenten Companion 2017 Giveaway!

Hello, everyone!

Can you believe Lent begins in exactly two weeks from today? I actually began thinking about what I would be doing for Lent this year, a couple of weeks ago. As soon as Christmastide ended, actually. I have yet to solidify my plans, including my dietary plans since (as many of you longtime readers know), I have a lot of dietary restrictions. Lent since my reversion has been hard because I haven't been able to eat fish (it makes me sick) and the only protein I've been able to eat has been chicken and beef in recent years. I still have to talk to our new priest about what I can do on Fridays in regards to food but I have a lot of ideas about what else I can do for this season. I don't want to overwhelm myself with too many things (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt), so I may choose one or two things from a long list.

Anyway, as you might've guessed from the post title, Magnificat was kind enough to send me two iOS app codes to give away for Lent. This is for the iOS app only. That means if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you're good to go. I did it last year for Lent and again for Advent and it turned out really well. I've heard great things from those who've used both the app and the physical booklets so I'm happy to be able to have this giveaway once again.

The winners will be randomly chosen on February 28th at midnight, Eastern Time. I will personally email the winners before I blog about it because I know I'll be doing an exam that week. As you may have noticed, exam week = (typically) no blog posts until the exams are finished.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


That is it for now. I have so many things to do and not enough hours in the day to do them but I'm going to try anyway. ;)

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Charity: Pride (Vanity) or Kindness?

Before I begin, I want to wish everyone a happy feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! Also, I offer my apologies for the long gap between blog posts. I got sick and then had two exams to do... and then had a bunch of things to do. I actually still have a lot of errands to run today but I'm taking a break right now to write a quick post.

Earlier this morning, Mom reminded me that one of my best friendships started when I offered to share my umbrella with a fellow classmate with whom I had two courses. It was pouring that morning and, since our classes were at opposite ends of the campus, I asked him if he wanted to share the umbrella since he was getting soaked. He declined -- I believe he said something about it being okay; he was already wet anyway -- but it was the thing that started our friendship.

From that morning on, we started by acknowledging each other in classes... then we started talking on the walk towards our second class... then we started having a late breakfast after our second class in the class cafeteria... and then we eventually started hanging out (with friends) outside of school. It was a lovely friendship that ultimately ended because another mutual friend wasn't very nice and ruined the friendship. (semi-spoiler: the character of Candice in the first Will and Lina novel was partially based on the girl who ruined this -- and other -- real-life friendship(s)).

I'm not sharing this story to make myself look good. No, I'm sharing it because one thing stuck out about this one little act: I did it with no motive. I saw a classmate getting soaking wet on our walk, his shoulders tensed up as he hugged himself to keep warm in his jacket. It wasn't because I thought he was cute (I never thought about that; our friendship was never based on any physical attraction). It wasn't because I thought it would make me feel good or make me look good to others. I just felt like doing it. That then brought on the question: how many things to do we do for others out with some type of motivation?

Let's be honest: most of us have done something for others to look pious, charitable, and/or to gain something out of it at some point in our lives, even if it was only once. I've been totally guilty of this, even if the only thing I gained was the satisfactory feeling of doing something good for someone else. "Ooh, look how charitable I am." Yuck!

When I think about doing something for someone, sometimes I have to stop and thinking about whether I'm doing it because I want to do it -- because God commanded that we love our neighbors -- or because of a selfish motivation. Furthermore, I thought about the times I've shared what I've done for others and wonder if I've done that out of pride (vanity). I have a great respect and admiration for those who do things anonymously. You know, the ones we hear about in the news but never find out their identity.

I want to issue a challenge to anyone who is willing to accept it: for Lent (and it is coming in a couple of weeks), do an act of charity that will not benefit you... and don't tell anyone about it. Ask yourself "what if I have to gain from this?" If the answer is "nothing", do it. As you do it, offer it up for any intention you may have or for the souls in purgatory. Thank God for the opportunity to do something for one of His children. It doesn't matter if it's something small or seemingly insignificant. We sometimes believe that little things don't make an impact but they can in ways we can't imagine. I believe that doing something for others out of brotherly love will help us slowly shed any pride we may have. At least, that's what I'm hoping. It's something I hope will help me be less selfish and vain and make me someone worthy of entering Heaven one day.

Anyway, that's it for now. Like I said, I still have a lot to do today and I might not have enough hours to do them. I do have a few blog posts coming up in the next couple of days, including a giveaway that could be useful for Lent. ;)

I hope y'all have a lovely weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Feeling Unworthy and His Divine Mercy

A couple of days ago, I was going through what I think might've been a spiritual attack. I was trying to pray the Rosary when I was bombarded with thoughts that I was a pathetic excuse for a Catholic.

"Maybe Fr. G was right; maybe I should quit being Catholic. I'm terrible at it. I can't do anything right."

I clutched the beads and started crying, shaking my head as if I could shake those thoughts out of my mind.

"Maybe I should stop praying the Rosary. If I suck at being Catholic, why continue praying? Why not give up?"

I almost stopped but I shook my head. "No," I said to myself. "This is possibly an attack. Okay, I might be a horrible Catholic but maybe there's hope for me?"

"No. You can't get your act together," the thoughts persisted. "Just stop. Quit. What's the point?"

The inner struggle then became physical. I felt like I couldn't breathe; like something was tightening together in my chest. I let go of the beads, temporarily losing my place in the Rosary. I immediately returned to my place. My hand wanted to let go and give up... but I didn't want to. It was a fight (mostly internally) until I finished praying the Rosary.

I was a sobbing mess when I finished. I felt awful. I felt like I had been kicked down and was incredibly unworthy to ask Our Blessed Mother to be with me when I fail spectacularly. I knew I still had to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy since it's one of the devotions I must pray daily (it's a desire to pray it).

I started praying the Chaplet... and it literally felt like whatever was plaguing me had become undone and that it was falling to my sides. You know when you have something heavy on (like a backpack or a heavy coat) and you get home and you slide it off, making you feel lighter than you had moments before? It felt exactly like that. Not only did I feel a calming peace, I also felt like that moment was a gift.

I finished the Chaplet and then decided to read the Blessed is She devotional for the day. One part (which that day's writer chose to share) immediately stuck out at me:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9)

Hello, new wave of tears and gratitude. You know how I said that the moment felt like a gift? When I read that verse, it all made sense to me. Through my moment of weakness -- in which my thoughts were negative and I felt like I kept getting kicked while I was already down -- I came to remember how much I love God and being a Catholic. During that moment of divine mercy (see what I did there?) -- while praying the chaplet -- I was reminded that no matter how badly I mess up, God still loves me and that there's still hope. I also thanked God for the gift of tears because (as I said) it felt like a gift at the end.

Have you ever felt that you were unworthy to be called a child of God? Someone unworthy to have a relationship with Him and Mama Mary? You're not. I'm not. Sometimes it's hard to see or feel that -- especially when you're in the middle of a spiritual dry spell or an attack -- but you are. We all are. No matter how often we fail (or how big our failures may be), we can always come home. We can always repent. That's what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for. We're not perfect and we're not expected to be perfect. Also, we can't egotistically believe that our sins are bigger than God's mercy and grace. Those are all lies that pop into our heads.

Tomorrow is Feast of the Purification (Candlemas) when we say goodbye to Christmastide. If your parish (or a local parish; takes only minutes to inquire) will bless candles for the day, I highly recommend it. The candles must be 51% (or greater) beeswax but those are easy to find, especially if your parish sells them. Whole Foods and other stores have 100% beeswax candles, too. Get a candle (or two) blessed and light them up during times of darkness. If you don't know much about the practice, I recommend checking it out here.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this. I'm currently taking a break from finishing my lecture videos because I have mental fog that makes concentrating on the detailed notes hard to do. I'll get back to it when it clears up a bit. :)

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D