My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Friday, January 29, 2016

Venting...

I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while.

I am putting fingers to keyboard now in an attempt to get so. many. thoughts. out of my head, and maybe spark the Muse in the process....

My friend Brendan has been on my mind a lot lately. A year ago today, I had no clue he was sick or that he had been having tests; one day later, my world was turned upside-down when he asked for prayers. Brendan beat the cancer, but he has to go back for regular check-ups; and I can't imagine the stress that causes him and his family. Please continue to keep them in your prayers!

A friend metaphorically slapped me upside the head with a 2x4 today, when I was venting to her about this, and she said: "Em, two words: Stop it. Brendan is ok, he's not sick any more, stop worrying."

I needed that, because I am definitely prone to reminiscence, to ruminating about things, until they become a huge tangled mess of thoughts in my head and I don't know how to handle it all, and then I freak out.

In other news, a friend's family experienced a horrible tragedy last year, and soon they will have to re-live it. In a court room. I'm struggling with how to be there for my friend; I'm not good with words (I managed to royally stick my foot in my mouth last year); and there's nothing I can "do" other than pray for them. Which, of course, is the most important thing to do for them, but is also something I struggle with.

There's stuff going on with a relative that's making me realize just how UGLY divorce is. How much it hurts the kids. How much it can still hurt the kids, even if that "kid" is almost 27 and it's been almost 20 years.

I'm still coming up empty on the job-hunt. It turns out that my current part-time employer knows someone who knows Someone in the library field; after they all communicated, I contacted Someone and am waiting to hear back. They say "networking" is the way to get a job...hoping this works out.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to stay busy. I'm reading (well, attempting to read) the Silmarillion. I didn't read Lord of the Rings until my Junior Year in college, so this might be a bit soon.

My part-time job is keeping me busy. I've picked up some extra hours here and there. (More money to pay bills...thank You, Lord!)

O, yes, the snow. Snowmageddon, snowzilla, Boris the Blizzard. It was fun. On Saturday, one of my roommates, another friend and I went outside to throw snowballs and make snow angels.

Snow at the apartment where we used to live

Me in the snow. The blurry effect is from the snow and wind.

And it piled up......

Interesting snow formations hanging from our roof.


Well, that's all for now.

God Love Y'All!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hello, Trust (2016)...Goodbye, Fear (2015)

Well, it's here. It is officially the Year of Our Lord two thousand sixteen.

A new year is a time for new beginnings; for many, it is a time of resolutions to better oneself (most of which don't last for more than a couple weeks...or days, if you're anything like me).

Back in December, I took the Saint Name Generator to pick a patron saint for this new year.

I got St. Thomas Aquinas...patron, among other things, of theologians. Now, I would not call myself a "theologian," but I did major in Theology; so his patronage seemed fitting. Time to read the entirety of the Summa Theologiae...

After reading this post by Mary at Passionate Perseverance, I knew what my word for 2016 was:


Trust.

This wasn't something I sat and thought about; it just came to me. (Can you say "Holy Spirit"?)

Trust is my word for this Year of Our Lord 2016.

Trust is something I am called to do, especially in this season of my life when I'm job-hunting, when I don't know what the next step is.

Yesterday called for a hefty dose of trust, when I realized that a monthly bill had more than doubled. I had known it was going to increase, but did not realize that it was going to double. Cue the panic...

The Bible verse was pretty easy, too...something that speaks of God's love. Because that was the "theme" of the advice that one friend gave me last year over and over again: "God loves you. Regardless of the contempt you feel towards yourself, God loves you."

I did some Googling, found this list, scrolled through the Bible verses...and this one spoke to my heart:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear . . . he who fears is not perfected in love. (1 Jn. 4:18, cobbled together translation)
Because that is my problem.

I am a coward. I'm afraid of failure. I'm equally afraid of success. Thus, I'm afraid to try. Which makes job-hunting difficult to an almost-paralyzing degree. (On a lighter level, I'm also afraid of heights and drowning.)

I am afraid to trust. To be honest, trust...putting my entire life and future and job and *everything* in the hands of an infinite God and trusting that He won't drop me (being afraid of heights makes this metaphor click with me)...scares the living daylights out of me.


Two days ago, on January 1, 2016, I sat down with some quotes on the love of God, planning to sit there and pray with them for ten minutes or so; and I found every excuse to get up: I need a drink of water, Dad's cat sounds like he's getting into trouble, I'm too hot and need to take my jacket off, etc., etc.

Is that sad, or what? I am scared by the thought of the unconditional love of God. I do everything I can to distract myself from sitting there and thinking about that love. I run.

Enough running, Emily. It's time to stop running scared.

In 2016...I will trust that God has a plan, that "He knows what He's doing," that He is "a good, good Father," and that He will provide.

In 2016...I will spend more time meditating on the infinite love of God for me, trusting in that love, and fighting back against the fears that overwhelm me.

Jesus, have mercy on me and save me! Help me to believe in Your love for me! (First prayer composed by a dear friend of mine; second from this blog post, written by another dear friend.)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye, 2015

Well, here we are...the last day of 2015.

It was a good year: there were marriages, babies, friendships.

It was also a hard year: so much suffering and heartbreak and senseless tragedy for so many of my friends.

On my end...I got my driver's license, struggled so much with each hard thing that hit my friends, and slashed my hours at work by more than 2/3. (Good, hard, stupid, in that order.)

And through it all, as I talked about in my last post, there were continual reminders of the love of our God for each of us...for you, for me, for our friends and family and each person we know, each struggling person, each person whose particular hardship has brought us to the foot of the Tabernacle, tears in our eyes, asking Him: "Why? Why this friend...why that man, who's a husband and a father and a very dear friend? Why that baby and her family and extended family? Why that friend? Why death in that family and that family and that other one? Why, Lord, why?"

And the answer comes as we lift our eyes to the Cross hanging above the Tabernacle:
He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
And now the year has come to an end; and as I sit here typing this, the over-arching theme of 2015, the thing that friend after friend...well, one stubborn-headed professor in particular...kept reminding me of is this: God loves you. Individually. Personally.

Fr. Boylan writes in This Tremendous Lover:
[God] loves us as individuals, and died for us as individuals. Each of us can truly say with St. Paul: “He loved me, and delivered Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).  ....  His love for men is not merely a love for humanity in general. God is in love with each human individual, personally and particularly. It is essential to remember that fact. Each of us can rightly regard the whole of our Lord’s heart and interest as centered on our own self, for our Lord would have undergone all His passion for any one of us, and each of us was present to His mind just as clearly and as significantly as if there were no one else to redeem.
The New Year...and I'm talking calendar year here...begins in the Christmas Season, with the Octave of the Nativity, with that Baby Who brings a promise of so much new: "I make all things new." (Rev. 21:5, KJV)

We're celebrating the Birth of a Baby Who is God.

God has become Man. The Word has become flesh. God has come to His people.

God--infinite, all-holy, unchangeable, loving {more than that, "God is LOVE" as St. John says), omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient--became Man, took on "the form of a servant," humbled Himself to become a little Baby, hidden in the womb of a virgin for nine months, all because of Love.

He Loves YOU. He Loves ME. .

Those tiny hands--in the words of Sheen: "tiny arms that were not long enough to touch the huge heads of the cattle"--are the hands that made the universe; and, yet, they are the hands strong enough and powerful enough to hold us, to carry us when we're worn and tired, to hold us close when we're burdened and grieving, and to press us gently to His Sacred Heart as He whispers:

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

God Loves YOU

The last days of Advent are upon us.  In one week, we will celebrate the Birth of our Savior.

It's been an interesting Advent...hence, the lack of posts...over here at the Theological-Librarian.

The first week of Advent was rough; there was a lot of anger and fear in my heart and head...most of the anger directed at myself (for cutting back on my joub hours), most of the fear directed at God (that He wasn't going to provide...that's He's sitting up there saying: "Ha, Em, you were stupid and quit your job, so now you're on your own"). I know, intellectually, that He's not like that; but the fear is still there.

The anger and fear weren't helped when someone--who is supposed to be helping me work through these things--basically told me that I was "learning my lesson" re: it being imprudent to quit one's job before having another one lined up. Those words made it very hard for me to listen or pay attention to or believe him when he added that, yes, God would provide.

The thing that's kept me going through these past few weeks has been words of advice from a very dear friend who--no matter how hard I lash out--is always ready to remind me: No, God loves you. Regardless of the anger or contempt you feel towards yourself, God loves you.

That's something we all need to be reminded of at all times, but especially during this Advent season. That's why we're preparing for that Baby in the manger.

The Baby lying in that manger is God. And He is lying there because He loves YOU. Personally, individually, as if you were the only person He created.

He is there for YOU. God took on human flesh, enclosed Himself within the virginal womb of Our Blessed Mother for 9 months, and submitted to being born in a filthy, cold stable, warmed only by the breath of animals, out of love for YOU.

That is what we celebrate this Christmas: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son" (Jn. 3:16).

He loves YOU. And He loves ME.

And the only proper response to that love--the love of a Baby Who is also our God, and Who loves us with heartbreaking tenderness--is love.

Along with that love has to come trust...which is another post for another day. I promise I'll try to not leave y'all hanging!

God Love Y'All!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Lord, save me!": St. Peter, Trust, and my Job-Hunt. O, and Gratitude (52-61).

I have loved St. Peter since I was a small child. His impetuosity--wanting to walk on the water to Jesus--his avowal that he would not deny Our Lord, his tears after he did deny Him (I felt so sorry for him!)--all these attracted my six- or seven- year-old self to Peter.

We have a new priest at our parish, Fr. Noah Morey. He's young, he's a Christendom alumnus (which instantly won him brownie points in my book); and he is rock-solid in the confessional.

So it struck a chord the other week when Fr. Noah made the connection between my worries and frustrations about my job-hunt, and how St. Peter started to sink precisely because he took his eyes off Jesus. Peter got distracted by the worries--the waves around him, the water under his feet, the storm crashing around him--and looked at the waves and the storm, taking his eyes off Jesus.

Peter had to trust Jesus a lot in this scene.

First, when he said: "Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to You on the water." He had to trust that that was actually Jesus standing there, because a minute ago, he and the other Apostles had been terrified that it was a ghost coming towards them on the water. Then, he had to trust that this Man was also God, because only God can walk on water or help a weak, hot-tempered, sinful fisherman walk on water.

He trusted Jesus. Even after he took his eyes off Jesus and got overwhelmed--"When he saw the wind he was afraid, and beg[an] to sink"--he still trusted Him, because he called out to Him: "Lord, save me!" He trusted that Jesus could save him from drowning.


When I allow the fears that I'll never find a job, the frustration that I never hear back from applications and in some cases can't even follow-up on (i.e. library applications...receptionist would  told me to "just check the status of your applications online"...and they can't update every single status because they have 5K applications for jobs in the county, so I won't know anything unless I get an email or phone call asking me to come in for an interview), the anger at myself for cutting back on my job hours because I was burnt-out...when I allow all that to overwhelm me and I "freak out," fearing that God won't provide for me, I am taking my eyes off Jesus, just like Peter.  My prayer life goes rapidly down the drain.  And then I start to sink under the weight of the fears and the worries and the overwhelming nature of the job-hunt.

I know this job-hunt is a perfect opportunity to trust God...but I am also so, so scared that the fact that nothing has panned out after 2 months of applications, is a punishment for quitting my job against prudent advice.

Deep sigh.

There, I said it. I am scared that God is punishing me for stupidly quitting my job before having another one lined up.

I know He's not like that, but I'm still afraid He is.

Now, trust is a good thing; and I know God is trustworthy--He always fulfills His promises, He always keeps His word--but it's very hard to trust when you've been betrayed and let down by people (like close family members) who were supposed to provide for you and be there for you and take care of you.  It's even hard to trust an omnipotent God Who you know always keeps His promises.

*
While I was at my part-time job last night, this song came to mind:

"Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart"

It had to have been a prompting of the Holy Spirit, because I can't remember the last time I listened to that song. I have heard it before, but it is not one of my favorite pieces of Christian music. Although I guess it should be, with its message of gratitude in everything.

"Let the poor say 'I am rich'": I'm not totally broke yet.

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ His Son.

And now, let the weak say "I am strong"
Let the poor say "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for me.

(Give thanks to the Lord, give thanks to the Lord)
And now, let the weak say "I am strong"

Let the poor say "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks.

In fact, I have a lot for which to "give thanks with a grateful heart." I have a roof over my head. I have food on the table. I have clothing on my back and in my closet. I live in a house with central heat and running water. 

As a friend of mine says when she prays for me over the phone: "Thank you, Lord, for all the ways You have provided for Emily, thank You for her perfect job, for the one You already know she's going to get. Thank You for what You are doing in her life--even though we can't see it. Thank you for how You are going to provide."

So, today's gratitude list:
#52. Food in the fridge.
#53. Central heat and running water.
#54. Spending Thanksgiving with my adopted family :-)
#55. Music to remind me to be grateful.
#56. Friends.
#57. Job applications. (That one might be pressed out through gritted teeth, but there, I said it. I am grateful for job applications.)
#58. Money in the bank account.
#59. The use of my roommate's car over Thanksgiving.
#60. A job to go tonight.
#61. Chicken noodle soup.

(And I know some of these are repetitive and seem very simple...like food and clothing and heat...but I figure I need to stop taking these necessities of life for granted.)

Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
God Love Y'All!

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another survey

I'm doing another survey!

This one's a little more open-ended; you can fill in your responses.

Have fun!

Click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hic est domus Dei

This past Monday was the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Today is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of the church I attended as a little girl.

These two feasts, so close together, make me think of the importance of church architecture and beauty. I like beautiful churches. A church that is bare white plaster walls, with few saint statues and no stained glass, does very little to lift my mind and heart to God.

The purpose of church architecture--the high stained glass windows, pointing up towards the sky, towards heaven, towards God--the windows themselves, telling stories of saints' lives, the lives of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother--is to raise your heart and mind to God, to create an atmosphere that is conducive to prayer and not distracting, and to help you worship God.

This is the sanctuary at St. Martin of Tours. My mother and I went to Mass here at least weekly--sometimes daily--from the time I was 8 ½ until I was almost 12:


This is the Adoration Chapel, where my mother and I made a weekly Holy Hour:


This is the organ, imported from Germany in the 1800's:


This is why I tell my friends that I'm spoiled when it comes to church architecture.

A church like St. Martin's, with its high altar, saints' statues, and saints' relics, was an excellent inspiration--even to my child's mind and heart--for prayer.

"This is the house of God and the gate of heaven."