Sunday, January 29, 2012

St. Paul and the Single Ladies

Even some 4-5 years later, St. Paul still has my back.

Now, I don't want to talk about the fact that it was almost 5 YEARS AGO now that I took a leap of faith and entered religious life. Nope. I don't want to talk about that. Five years just does  not seem accurate so I just can't be bothered by that fact.

However, one of the girls I entered postulancy with did make her first vows this weekend. So I suppose the numbers don't exactly lie...

Shoot. That's kind of a lot to think about. I could have been wearing a veil right about now. And not like the ones on "Say Yes to the Dress." But how did I celebrate yesterday as my co-postulant friend was receiving her habit and vowing to religious life?

Um, I was at one of the bars that was very significant during my time of discernment 5 years ago. Naturally.

This is one of the items which I just noticed yesterday when at this illustrious establishment. This is my kind of home decor. WANT. 

Yup. About 4.5 years ago, my friends were sending me off with a "bachelorette party" at this bar and now, 4.5 years later, I was back, talking with one of my single friends about my decision to enter. And leave. Like it was just yesterday.

I just want to say my past 2 weekends have been great because they have been filled with quality time with some of my favorite single ladies. Last weekend, I drank some wine and played an epic game of trivia pursuit with a co-worker and then hung out at a bar listening to a 90s cover band with one of my favorite uber-Catholic YM friends. This weekend, different names, but kind of the same: lunch with an uber-Catholic single gal like myself and then shopping/dinner/drinks with another co-worker. All single ladies. All fabulous gifts to me right now in my life!

So my coworker last night was asking me over beer (and next to this amazing table piece above!) about why   I decided to enter religious life in the first place. I still kind of can't believe that 4-5 years later I'm still talking about and processing this, but I guess it's going to be a fact that I discuss the rest of my life since it was a significant decision in my life.

I articulated to her for the first time in a long while that I had done it because I want to give of myself in a special way. Of course, there was more than that and there are many ways to do that type of giving without signing up for an order. But it was good to hear myself say it again and remind myself that I still want to give of myself for God in a special way.

And I believe I am doing that now with the single vocation and the way I am living my life through teaching and trying to be as holy as I can be (while still drinking at bars now and again ;)

St. Paul gave me an extra boost years ago when I was discerning and he gave me more insight today with this second reading at Mass:

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband. 
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

This reading definitely affirms me in my focus on "things of the Lord" in  my singleness. As I think I mentioned before, our society today says that the advantage (if there is an advantage at all) to being single is getting to do all the UN-holy things. But here, St. Paul seems to say almost the opposite. We get to focus solely on our relationship with God and making ourselves holy while married people can become distracted. 

Now, of course I know MANY holy married people with families and they give me hope for the Sacrament of Marriage and that if I am called to that vocation, the beauty and grace that can be given in that call. But I like thinking of the advantages I have as a single person since society doesn't always seem to think there is one.

In the midst of my bar-evangelization conversation with my co-worker (my favorite kind of evangelization :) and the telling of my religious discernment story, she looked at me and said: "I just got a flash of what a good mom you would be. I think you are going to be a mom." To which I said:


For now, I just want to focus on living this vocation that God has placed me in with the focus that St. Paul says it requires. Thanks, St. Paul!

And many prayers for Sr. Emily Beata on her first profession :)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blogger's Block?

I am definitely having writer's block of late. This year has been off to a pretty good start, but much like 2011, this first month has flown by!

It was easy to be reflective over Christmas break because I had TIME. Once school kicks in, it's full steam ahead, and we're there. I've had to make a pact with God that when I go to my prayer time (when I take it- yikes!) that I will just be attentive to Him and ME. Using our prayer time for others is great and important, but I get so easily wrapped up in thoughts of school that it has begun to consume my life and my prayer- NOT COOL!

Hard to believe, but we start the second semester at the school tomorrow. I'm excited to see some of the sophomores I haven't seen yet this year and to meet my new freshmen. I had a really good semester this year, and I pray that this second year, second semester of teaching gets even better.

SEE!? I'm doing it AGAIN. ENOUGH SCHOOL TALK. more thing. And this thing's okay 'cause it's about grad school and I'm doing that for MYSELF, right? Right.

I'm taking another Scripture course this semester and it's with a priest who is- no joke- 90. YEARS. OLD. He was there when I was in undergrad, which should come as no surprise because he's been there since like the 1950s...

A few months ago I was having coffee with two dear friends and we were talking about the "trifecta of adorable" and realized that each of us was partial to one of the three. The trifecta being: small animals (dogs in particular for my one friend), babies (naturally), and the elderly. We all know that my heart (and ovaries) only burst for babies on minimal occasions, and I almost take a little bit too much pleasure in reminding my students that animals were created inferior to man. But old people...damn if they don't make my heart of ice and stone melt.

So the ancient priest is adorable. And smart! Many of you are familiar with my 89 year old quick-witted grandmother who doesn't act a day over 70. This priest falls into similar territory, God love 'em.

Here's a pic of Babci in 2009 with my cousin, doing jello shots the morning AFTER my sister's wedding. Yeah. That's how we do. I may or may not have still been my bridesmaid's happens...

I've been taking my reflections of my Scripture studies with Father Nonagenarian a little to you think that's breaking my no-school-during-prayer-time rule?! It's just good stuff!

So I said I had writer's block and now I'm talking about all of the things without even mentioning how awesome retreat was!

I think I'm postponing writing about it because it was so great and there's still alot for me to unpack. But I also think if I continue to postpone, I may never write about it, so here's the breakdown:

My spiritual director led another awesome retreat. That is all.



Just kidding! There were about 15 of us again this year and it's always an amazing group and I'm always in awe of what amazing people God has placed in my life.

This is why I'm confident He will continue to place the right people in my life at the right time.

The theme I originally wasn't crazy about when he told me what it was, but I KNEW he would rock it and God would rock it and we'd be all about it the minute we got there.

The group and my old roomies- reunited!

The theme was The Magi and Father broke it down into three talks or themes more or less: The Search, The Encounter, and then the Transformation.

The first talk was discussing the difference between Herod's search for Christ and the Magi's. The Magi didn't know exactly what they were searching for or what they would find. Herod did his research (or had others do it for him) but his motives were impure. The Magi were much more open. Father challenged us to ask ourselves: are we still searching for Christ? And if so, are we searching openly or selfishly?

For the Encounter piece, we talked about the gifts that the Magi brought and each of there significance. The gold was fit for a king and a sign of beauty. Frankincense is a pleasant oil used for worship and the sacrifices of a priest (meant to cover the nasty smell of animal sacrifices back in the day- yuck!)

Father had broken us up into small groups to discuss the gifts and my group got the last gift- myrrh. Another oil, but not as pleasant. It came from kind of a broken looking, nasty, gnarly tree and was used for embalming dead bodies. Fun! What a gift for a king, right? We looked at the symbolism of it and were asked to reflect on how we could offer such a gift.

I thought it interesting that the others in my group were the other single people and my friend G who has been struggling with infertility. Our plights were different from my other friends who were all engaged or married in the other groups. I thought the symbol of myrrh- a strange, different kind of gift- was fitting for the unconventional sacrifices that my small group itself has to offer- our "strange", unconventional struggles of singleness and infertility in a world that expects marriage and babies at this time in our lives.

Father also encouraged us to think about places we search for and encounter Jesus. The Retreat Center where we were is a place where I often encounter God. My friends from CUA and I love going there because it has had so many peaceful, joyful memories involving God and our friendships.

Lastly, Father asked us- how are we going to leave transformed? The Magi departed The Holy Family by a different way than which they came. Were we going to do the same? How?

The retreat overall brought me much joy, but like I said, I'm still unpacking certain pieces. But I"m so grateful, and as always, I can think of no better way to start a new year!

Well, off to....I was GOING to say, starting a new semester, but I'm trying to cut the school-ties so to speak, so I will tell you what I'm ACTUALLY going to be doing right now and that is this:

Watch the Bachelor! haha!

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...don't judge. (Though I will be judging ALL of the contestants on this show but that's because they are CRAZY :).


Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Twenty-Twelve" has a nice ring to it...

As previously mentioned my roommates from the past 3 or so years and I used to come up with themes to live for each new year.

Before I started living with them, they had still roomed with each other and I believe some of their themes were something like: "the year of high expectations." The years of  "low expectations" and eventually, "no expectations" soon followed...

2009, though, was the year of "positive realism" for us. I had one roommate who would have high hopes all of the time, but maybe not always achievable, realistic goals. I consider myself a realist, so we melded our two mottoes together.

I believe 2010 had something to do with hope, and 2011 I can't recall...I can't seem to recall much of 2011, actually, not because I was in a drug haze or drunk stupor, but just because it went SO FAST!

I texted my old roommates and asked if this year- 2012- could be the year of "wanton bliss." Heh. I was half kidding. I just always try to be so grounded and realistic and the saying goes that "ignorance is bliss." Sometimes, I don't want to analyze stuff (yes I do) and throwing practicality aside to be "ignorantly blissful" sounds fun (I would never want to be ignorant.)

So maybe "wanton, unabashed bliss" is not the best theme for me...but I will keep it in mind! I am toying around a theme with "joy" and I also have been struck lately by the virtues. So perhaps "virtuous joy" will be a theme. I will try to focus on virtue that is being produced in me, rather than suffering or the struggles. And I will try to be joyful and not jealous or envious.

Other new year's resolutions for 2012:

- cook more (gasp!)
- drink less  (I just realized that drinking is what alot of us singles go-to as the thing we "get to do" since we are single. Ie: "oh, you're pregnant? HA. I get to DRINK." "oh, you're getting married? I'll be at the BAR." I don't like that this as our default, so Imma keep that in mind this year)

-like I said before, look at the virtue in things, rather than the struggle
- and try to be more joyful for myself and others

When I was home for Christmas, I went to one of my favorite chapels to pray. It overlooks Lake Erie and has Perpetual Adoration- two of my favorite things: nature and Jesus!

I particularly liked the saying that was underneath the tabernacle embroidered on one of the linens:
It says: "He has come as He has promised- Let us rejoice and share His Love with all the earth." - Love it!
 Sometimes I'll go and sit outside and overlook the, not this time...
 outside the chapel :)
 check out the waves blowing up on the lot! pretty sure that's how the tree got like this:

Happy 2012, everybody! May it be a year of much virtue and joy for all of us (and maybe a little bliss for good measure ;)