5.30.2006

Spiritual Warfare

I've been spending a lot of time at the Catholic Message Board. Let me tell ya, it's an awesome community.

I've been dealing with some issues lately. My big one is that I had lost interest in school. I assumed it was just burnout, and some personal issues with a staff member .

My problems with school started the week after Easter Vigil. As I began opening myself to God's will, things got worse. As I entered into the discernment process, my attendance dropped off drastically and I suddenly found myself not caring about school.

The enemy is sneaky. He's not gonna take the direct path of attacking my faith- I have a lot of people praying for me on that end. He found another way in and he took it. The attack was almost successful- I was on the verge of dropping out of school altogether.

Thankfully, my eyes have been opened. This of course means the Enemy will look for another way in, and he'll be even more subtle. I'm gonna have to learn to be vigilant.

(x-posted to my Xanga)

5.28.2006

Good day

I finally got the article written. That was a real challenge. Now to see what the ed. thinks.

Went to two masses today. Why? 'cause I CAN. Yeah.

Big things happenin' in our humble little parish, what with Fr. Louis going back to St. Gregory's and Fr. Rex is going to Clinton. I will miss them both.
Also, we're getting a new guy as associate pastor. Dan Letourneau will be ordained Friday. Don't know him well, but hopefully that will change.

I will venture to say that I have started the discernment process. I plan to take a tour of Villa Theresa (the Carmelite convent in OKC). I'm also going on a retreat at Red Plains Monastery in Piedmont. I pray about this a lot and I hope others are praying for me too.
The main challenge of wriring the article is that I have to keep it around 800 words. That is so much harder to do than I thought!

5.26.2006

Wow. just wow.

Wow. Today has been full of surprises.
I had an interview at Mardel, which I think went pretty well. I really hope I get on there. (I'll pray about it.)
Had lunch with Jason, Jenn, Theresa, and Dave again today. Wonder if this will become a regular thing.
Major news- I read an article at Busted Halo (an online Christian magazine for young adults). I liked it enough to send a letter to the editor, asking him to pass my compliments to the author. I got a response from the editor, who had read this blog (the link is in my email signature line, and I know what a self-promoting hoser I am, thanks). Anyway, long story short, he liked my blog, especially the entry where I detailed my conversion to Catholicism, and he asked me if I'd like to write for Busted Halo.
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
Is the Pope Catholic? Is Satan evil? Of COURSE I'd like to write for a national publication. I am over the moon.
God is so, so good.

(Xposted to my Xanga, btw)

5.25.2006

Subject for debate

I've joined a Yahoo! group for women in discernment. (It's called "Women in Discernment". How frightfully original is that?)
A topic that is being thoroughly and almost heatedly discussed is appropriate attire for Mass.
My preferred Mass wear ranges from slacks and a blouse to a dress suit. Then again, I am of the old school and I would feel really weird wearing jeans and a t-shirt to visit God in his house. (I did go semi casual once- a humor tee from Hot Topic and bell-bottomed slacks with sneakers; I felt really odd about this.)
I've noticed that a lot of my fellow parishioners tend to go pretty casual to Sunday mass- lots of jeans and polo shirts. Also, some of the younger women wear things that strike me as less than modest (a little too snug and low cut, IMHO). Of course, I'm glad they're there, but is it wrong for me to think that dressing with a little more care for Mass is appropriate and respectful, and that failing to do so is kind of rude? (Don't get me started on the overall tackiness of modern fashion- I could go on about that for weeks.)
Let's open this up for discussion- what do you think is appropriate attire for Mass?

5.24.2006

I attended my first daily mass today. It's like Sunday mass but a lot shorter, and waaaaay less populated.

After an excellent dinner at a local Chinese place, I went back to church to sit in on the new RCIA class. It was very informative, as usual. It looks like Deacon John has finally decided to stick to PowerPoint, as opposed to a large pad of paper and a Jumbo Sharpie.

Still not sure what to get Frs. Louis and Rex as departure gifts.(BTW, Fr. Rex is so close to having competition for the spot of Anastasia's Favorite Priest Ever- in the form of Fr. Shane at Catholic Ragemonkey.)

5.23.2006

How I became Catholic

I know I yammer on and on about how great it is to be Catholic, but maybe what I should share with you is the story of how I came to Catholicism to begin with. This means telling you about myself.

I was born to married teenage hippies in 1975, in Oklahoma City. I highly doubt we attended church as a family, for my parents were too busy getting high and just chilling out. (Well, my dad was anyway. I think once I was born my mom's priorities did shift somewhat.) My mom didn't tell my dad she was pregnant with me, probably because she didn't want to be weaseled into terminating the pregnancy. I'm not sure if she told anyone besides her mom.
My dad left us within a few months of my birth, swinging back by to visit (and to help create my brother). Their divorce was final in 1978. For a while, my mom just kinda drifted a bit, partying and trying to raise two children who were still in diapers.
In the summer of '79, my aunt was in town. She had been religious pretty much from the get-go, and she was probably concerned for my mother. They wound up going to some concert the local Southern Baptist church was holding. Mom wound up "getting saved"; she decided that she needed to change, and she needed the Lord in order to do so.
We were Southern Baptist from then until 1985. My mom participated in everything, as well as getting her GED and starting college. She also made a lot of new friends. I learned a lot about hell before I was 10.
My mom felt called to drop everything in Oklahoma City and move us to Nashville, TN in 1984. She found a really good nondenominational church out there. I liked Nashville- it's a beautiful town, and the people are just super-friendly.
Financial difficulities forced us to return to OKC in 1986. My mother, to my knowledge, went back to the church that we had belonged to, and for some reason she didn't care much for it. From that point on, we pretty much stopped going to church, unless it was Christmas or somebody was getting married. My brother and I were pretty well left to our own devices as far as church went- just so long as we stayed Christian.
I wasn't terribly interested in church until I started college. (I had, in tenth grade, expressed an interest in the Catholic church, only to be shot down by my well-meaning mother who honestly thought that Catholics were severely misguided.) I started occasionally attending a Methodist church near the University of Central Oklahoma. I liked the sermons being so kind and gentle (and not chock-full of references to hell and backsliding) but I somehow felt that something was missing.
The sudden death of my mother in 1997, when I was 22, was a severe trauma. I sank myself into a self-destructive lifestyle in an effort to not have to deal with it.I wound up getting myself arrested and spending a night in jail. That was my wake-up call.
I resolved to live sensibly. I got back into church, another Southern Baptist outfit in Norman. I also met a guy and got engaged to him. I submitted to being rebaptized, only to leave the church within months. My fiance turned out not only to be really anti-social, but also a Wiccan. That engagement set the scene for what was going to be the biggest thing to ever happen to me.
I was in college in the fall of 2000. It was the only thing I had to look forward to- my engagement was not going well. I made some friends in the drama department. One of them, Theresa Lepak, would wind up being my best friend and my sponsor.
One night, I was preparing to leave work when she swung by to talk to me. She told me that her church was having a college night, and hey, it was free food and the opportunity to meet people. By now I was sceptical about anything church-related. I had pretty well decided that I was not meant to go to church. She then mentioned that this was a Catholic church. This appealed to my rebelliouness and I found myself at St. Thomas More that night.
The feeling I had gotten while at mass was the one I had always wanted to get at church. I felt, despite the fact that I didn't know the prayers or when to stand, sit, or kneel, that I was home.
I started attending mass with Theresa fairly often. In 2002, I went on a church-sponsored retreat called SEARCH; it was a real turning point in my life. I decided to look into converting. I began RCIA that fall;however, my well-meaning friends and family (including my brother Jason) talked me out of it. I would still attend mass on occasion- usually at STM or St. Paul the Apostle in Del City.
Last summer, my brother started asking me questions about my desire to become Catholic. I answered as honestly as I could. I assumed the matter was finished, but he dropped a major bomb on me a few weeks later: apparently, he’d been learning a lot about Catholicism (in order to debunk it) and, based on what he had learned, he had decided to convert. I immediately knew that it was time for me to resume my faith journey as well.
We attended mass at St. Charles Borromeo, and Jason was in the same position I was in at my first mass. He was astonished at how well I knew what was going on. I reminded him that I had almost converted. He apologized for having anything to do with my leaving RCIA.
In his quest to find a church home for himself, Jason decided to try St. John the Baptist in Edmond. We went and immediately knew that this was where we were supposed to be. Jason made some inquiries and next thing you know we were in RCIA. I've posted about St. John's excellent RCIA program before.
That's pretty much it. We finished the program and came into the church at the Easter vigil. It's only the beginning.

5.22.2006

ROFLMAOTIH

I was reading a review for The DaVinci Code and came across this little gem:

Catholic writer Mark Shea tells an anecdote about a college bull session among students at Central Washington University over The Da Vinci Code. “Even if it’s just fiction,” a student opined, “it’s still interesting to think about.”
To which another student replied: “Your mother’s a whore.” And then, to the first student’s stunned incredulity, he added, “And even if that’s just fiction, it’s still interesting to think about.”

I have attempted to read "The Da Vinci Cod" and have found it to be really , really boring.
Sad when the parody bores the reader to tears. Makes me definitely want to give the actual work a miss.

5.21.2006

Ou est CRM?

There have been no new posts at Catholic Ragemonkey in days. I need my fix, yo! I'm twitchin' here.

Ebay totally rocks, though. I scored a bunch of Catholic paraphernalia (in search of a statue of Mary, wound up with several, plus a statue of St. Francis- for $10.50!!)

Aaah, well. I'd best get to bed- I have Mass in the AM (YAY! I need that fix too. Can't wait until I get my schedule cleared enough to start swinging by the occasional daily mass).

5.18.2006

i am teh w1nnz0rz!!!!

First off, I must tell you all that I finally got my paws on a copy of C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" (per Fr. Rex's recommendation). All I can say is, whoa. That is one awesome book. I rather figured it would be, though- I really enjoyed "The Screwtape Letters".

My meeting last night with the various religious sisters of the archdiocese went well. (I was the only inquirer who showed up.) It was very informative and gave me a lot to think and pray about.

Pray for me.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, homey. Happy birthday, homeboy. Be grateful I don't know where you live, and I'm lazy; otherwise, it would be gift-wrapped toilet time for you. Happy birthday to you. (You know who you are.)

5.16.2006

Am I thorough or just mental?

In what little spare time I have, I've been making a list of pointers, hints, and tips for vocation discernment. It's five pages long. I'm very proud.

Awesome quiz!!!

Your Spirituality Type: PATH OF DEVOTION (Augustinian prayer)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The majority of saints are of this spiritual temperament as well as 12 percent of the population (but half of those who go on retreats or belong to small faith groups).

This method uses creative imagination to transpose; the world of scripture to our situation today--as if the scripture passage is a personal letter from God a addressed to each one; of us (like Saint Augustine picking up Romans 13 and reading; a message pointed directly at him). The essential element of this spirituality, going back to New Testament times (Jesus, Saint Paul, the early church fathers), is experiencing a personal relationship with God. Because they read between the lines and catchy what is inexpressible and spiritual, those who follow the path of devotion best understand symbols and their use in the liturgy.

This path concentrates on meditations that loosen the feelings and expand the ability to relate to and love others. The stress is on the love of self, others, and God. Those on this path can follow the four steps of the Lectio Divina: listen to what God says in scripture; reflect prayerfully and apply it to today; respond to God's word with personal feelings; remain quiet and stay open to new insights.

By Roger O'Brien. Reproduced online with permission from the author.
Found in VISION: http://www.vocationguide.org

http://www.visionguide.org/content/view/28/60/ Take it for yourself. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

5.13.2006

Oooh... tingly!

We wound up painting the house for Habitat. On one hand, I'm certainly comfortable around paint. However, I did not dress accordingly and now a perfectly good pair of jeans is paint-spattered. Oh, and I forgot to return the shirt I borrowed. And my eyes sting, so I'm gonna go lie down.

I'd still do it, though. In a minute.

5.12.2006

Imagination= endless possibilities

So, I made it to my appointment within five minutes of when I was supposed to (bonus!). Boy, was that an hour very well spent, and worth getting up before noon. :)

Fr. Rex was so helpful and patient. I was right about getting perspective from him on my current situation. I was pleasantly surprised by just how well he understood what I've been through and what's going on now. I am so happy that he shared so much of his experience with me. (*insert mopey sentiment on how much I'll miss him when he goes to his own church*)

That meeting was just what I needed! I feel like going home and praying a rosary. Unfortunately, I have to put in at least a couple of hours at school, then I have to get up early in the morning to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

5.11.2006

RCIA

First off, I'd like to express mad love to the folks at Catholic Ragemonkey for linking to my humble blog, and for the kind words of encouragement.

A quick early a.m. blogfest brought to light an interesting topic. The priests who run CRM are also planning to work on their respective RCIA programs. Silly me for assuming there was a standard program, and that it rules.

My first brush with RCIA(at St. Thomas More) was several years ago. It was informative enough, and I was sad to leave it as early as I did.
I just finished RCIA at St. John the Baptist, and let me tell you, it was a fantastic program. Several people are responsible for the program: Deacon John did the vast majority of the teaching, and several laypeople (very dedicated folks, let me tell you) helped. Fr. Rex also was a big part of RCIA- he gave a couple of talks, and he led our pre-confirmation retreat.
Let me tell you a bit about Deacon John. He was a trial lawyer for some time. He is, therefore, quite intelligent and articulate. He gave up his law practice to become a deacon. This guy is very passionate about his faith, and about teaching the basics of it to anyone interested in learning.
The classes last for a year- the latest round just started on Tuesday. We went over a wide variety of topics, from the life of Jesus to the sanctity of life to the importance of stewardship and discipleship. Classes more often than not ran over the allotted hour and a half because Deacon John would just totally get into the topic. (I didn't much mind this, though; the presentations were really informative. I managed to pay attention, which given my ADD says a lot.)

So, yeah, mad love to all the people responsible for the RCIA at St. John's.

Now I need to go get dressed and out the door for my job interview.

5.10.2006

"Father? Duuuude. No, man, this isn't a bad time."

I made an appointment with Fr. Rex for Friday morning. I have no earthly idea why I get so nervous about talking to the priests. (I was really tightly wound before my appointment w/ Fr. John). Fr. Rex is very nice and I have nothing to worry about.I'm not there to tell him how I've screwed up this week (I'll save that for Saturday). Just because he is supposed to be a religious 'father', it doesn't mean he's going to criticize my clothing choices while telling me to stop chewing with my mouth open and/or interrogating me as to where I was last night and why I was two hours late getting home.

Anyway, jangly nerves aside, I've only wanted meet with Fr. Rex for the past two weeks. You see, he was raised Protestant (as was I); he came into the Church in his late 20's (I think that's what he told us),and he obviously felt a calling to the priesthood. I totally value the perspectives offered by my cradle Catholic friends, I really do. I also have the utmost respect for the advice offered me by my non-Catholic friends (most of whom are not surprised by my possible choice of vocation). However, Fr. Rex is in the unique position of having been raised Protestant, converting as an adult, and joining the priesthood. From a Protestant perspective, that's a really radical change. (Protestants have nothing like the celibate priesthood or religious life.)

So, anyway, yay me. I did good. (And I managed to be up before 10. I managed to be awake 20 minutes before the nice priest called me at 9:45.)

Oh, yeah. I'd like to give a shout-out to my homeys at Catholic Ragemonkey for being so gosh-darned cool.

5.07.2006

Solitude

This week has been a bit of a challenge for me. I'm feeling a little ill-at-ease over some personal issues; it's something I'll have to just suck it up and work through.

I will really miss Fr. Rex. He's just an incredible guy, and I see him as a role model. I really do. He is absolutely suited to his vocation. The people of St. Mary in Clinton will be especially blessed to have him as their pastor.

I'm praying a lot more than I used to, and I'm no longer quite as tongue-tied when I pray on my own. I think that's a plus.

I really needed Mass today. It definitely makes me feel stronger as a person when I go, and especially when I partake of the Eucharist.

5.01.2006

No, I've never been in the **** Navy. Why do you **** ask?

My weekend was pretty standard. I went to Confession on Saturday (about my bad habit of using the Lord's name in vain) and got a bit of help on dealing with the potty mouth I developed to shock and scare my mom. After all, I apparently represent Catholicism (and even Christianity) to a lot of people; having people be surprised by lil' old me dropping the F-bomb (or anything else) is not amusing any more. (Admittedly, most profanity isn't technically a sin, but it's really vulgar- and Catholicism is totally about being respectful.)

Also, apparently, I am not in the discernment process yet. I am meeting with a religious sister on Wednesday to learn more about it. There's a lot I simply don't know about religious life. There's also a meeting for women interested in religious life sometime in the next two weeks.

Sunday was good too- I went to a Mystagogy Mass (a mass for new Catholics) at the Archdiocese Pastoral Center. I am so glad they haven't renovated it a whole lot since it was built in 1959- it still retains a lot of its original appearance -turquoise tiles and just lots of clean, friendly lines. (I LOVE 50's architecture.) And the chapel there is really cool- very much in keeping with the design principles of its' day.

Archbishop Beltran is really very personable, and apparently has a slightly offbeat sense of humor- He made a point of pestering the guy in the pew in front of me (they must know each other personally).

One of the challenges I face is that I will probably be asked to wait for a couple of years before I start planning to become a religious sister. This is because I just came into the Church at Easter. While I am eager to engage in what I am being called to do, I must respect any regulations that are in place. Besides, there is nothing stopping me from volunteering at church or finding other ways to do the Lord's work.

Also, I'm thinking very strongly of spending at least a year at St. Gregory's University. I think that would be a good thing for me in a couple of respects; I'll be in a Catholic environment, so I can learn more about my faith with fewer distractions from the secular world. Also, it's a really good school. I just hope I can get in.