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

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 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."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 23-30: quick review; and we're done!

Writing 30 days in a row is tough. Today's the final day, and I'm lucky if I've posted two consecutive days in a row. I had a theme when I started, but that's gone up in smoke. O well.

Evidently, my last post was my 100th post on this blog. Yay! I didn't realize that in the panic of the moment, and, really, 100 posts over 4 years isn't that much; it rounds out at about 2 a month. Maybe these next 100 posts will be more interesting.

Friday (day 23):
I saw that some friends were going to start NaNoWriMo, and I thought about it for about twenty minutes; then I looked at my "work-in-progress"--which is never going to see the light of day because I only write it for my own amusement--and realized I'd written more than 50,000 words on that already. So maybe I'll just try to work on that instead of starting from scratch...

Saturday (day 24):
Saturday was a quiet day, reading and cleaning. I should write a post to let y'all know what I've been reading lately.

Sunday (day 25):
On a friend's advice, I started a novena to Our Lady, Untier of Knots. I'm really bad with novenas; I get to about the third or fourth day and that's it; but so far, I have been faithful to the five days I've said. Four more to go!

Monday - Tuesday (days 26-27):
These days were filled with trying to job-hunt, and a lot of panic over what was going to happen re: the car I hit last week. Whether my roommate's insurance premium would go way up (something I can't afford right now), whether the other person would file a claim, when (not if, but when) my roommate was going to get mad and explode at me (she still hasn't), etc., etc.

Wednesday (day 28):
I had to talk to the roommate's insurance company, tell them my side of how the accident happened. The person I hit is filing a claim (not sure for what, she had a scratch on her car; my roommate's car got the bumper all dis-jointed). It's still considered my fault, even though the person in front of me turned without slowing down (unless her brake lights are out) or using her turn signal. Dang it. Here's hoping my roommate's insurance premium doesn't go up because of me...I can't afford it.

Thursday (day 29):
I (finally!) put in an application to volunteer at our local public library. People have been telling me for months that that's the way to get your foot in the door and get a job; but I hesitated because of my work schedule. I've been hesitating even since I quit my job, because what if I get a full-time job (that'll be the day....) that conflicts with the volunteer hours I agreed to? But today, I took the plunge and just did it.

Friday (day 30):
Well, I've made it. It's day 30 of my (mostly failed) attempt at thirty days of successive writing. Thanks for sticking with me, even though I blog so infrequently!

I promise not to neglect y'all; I'm going to try to write a bit more frequently! (I know, I know, I make empty promises all the time...sorry!)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Days 20-22: Panic

Tuesday and Wednesday (days 20 and 21):

The job-hunt is not going well.

Some days I can coast along, hoping that somehow eventually I'll find a job.

Other days, I realize that it's been 4 weeks since I quit my job, I've had exactly one interview, the bank account is going in the wrong direction, and I panic. Along the lines of: I don't know what I"m good at and I need a job and I'm never going to find one and I'm going to die! (Because, yes, not having a job = death. At least in Em's corner of the universe.)

Sometimes that leads me to email a friend: "need prayers now!" and that friend writes back: "Sure thing. Hang in there!" and that settles the panic for a little while.

Until it surges again and I have to stop and say: "Em, breathe. Breathing is good. Your friend is praying for you. Your friend isn't mad that you asked for prayers. It's going to be ok. Just breathe."

Generally that works; if it doesn't, I distract myself (music, a book, stretching...although, I need to remember to breathe when I stretch...sometimes I forget).

Thursday (day 22), today:

Today started off well. I woke up earlier than I had been, got ready to go to Mass...

And half-way to church, I rear-ended a car. (Mass is very hard to sit through when you're shaking and freaking out.) Long story short, my roommate's car needs what might be a minor repair. I spent a great majority of the day (because it was like 4 hours before I could tell her what had happened) panicking...complete, total panic. I'm good at that. It's a hidden talent of mine, completely freaking out. And being afraid people are angry. Also very good at that.

So today was not a good day. But I am going to go to bed and hope that tomorrow's better.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Days 18 & 19: Books

I'm a bookworm. Yesterday and today, I went to two libraries; so I figured this was a good time to write about some books I'm reading these days.

Sunday (day 18):

On the last Sunday of each month,I volunteer at the parish library. It's very rare that I walk out of the library without at least one book under my arm. Yesterday was no different; I came home with four books.

An Invitation to Faith: an A to Z primer on the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI looked interesting; but of its very nature, it jumped around and was thus hard to follow.

So I put it down, thinking I would exercise my brain cells and read Truth and Tolerance, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. 

I love the writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict--both those he wrote as Cardinal Ratzinger, and his Papal writings. But Truth and Tolerance is very dense--all it did yesterday was put me to sleep! In the middle of the day, no less. I'll have to try to pick it up again tomorrow.

A Shepherd Speaks, by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. It goes in a pretty logical order; the one God, the Trinity, Scripture, the 4 Last Things, the Church, the organization of the Church (the parts on the Roman Curia look interesting to this Canon Law geek!), Creeds, Canon Law, fun sections ("The Bishop's Mail" is one!), the Liturgical Year, the Sacraments, Morality, grace, prayer, and Our Blessed Lady. So far, it's been a good read.

Married Saints and Blesseds, by Ferdinand Holbock, is one I picked up because my roommate was talking Saturday night about how few married saints she knows of. So I thought this would interest both of us.

Monday (day 19):

Today, I went to the public library. I needed some easy, light reads, so I checked out a few of the Hardy Boys mysteries.

On the other side from light and easy, I checked out MAT for Dummies. I have vague thoughts of taking the MAT (some schools accept it for an MSLS [library degree]), so it'll be around on the off-chance that I get motivated to study. Grad school's one of those'd be cool to do, but then there's the major obstacle that I don't think I'm smart enough to survive the GRE (hence, the MAT) or grad school. So I'll probably never do it. Plus, it costs a lot of money, and money is one of those things that's in short supply these days.

I also have a few books out on writing--Write Your Novel in 30 Days--because of my very vague thoughts of writing a novel.

Well, that's all for now, folks!

God Love Y'All!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Days 12-17: Discouragement

Welcome to days 12-17 of #31daysofwriting, again linking up with Passionate Perseverance and The Corner With a View.

It's been a long week.

Monday (day 12):
Monday began with an interview. It went well, but I'm not going to take it if I get offered it (which I think I will). The hourly pay is less than what I'm currently making, and I wouldn't be making ends meet even working 40 hours a week there. I need to get past the living-from-paycheck-to-paycheck and expenses-exceed-income mark.

(And before anyone suggests it, no, I'm not going to pick up a part-time job and work 60 hours a week like some people tell me they did when they were my age...I don't have that type of energy or motivation.)

Tuesday (day 13):
The math that I did yesterday led to an all-day struggle with discouragement.

I tried to follow up on the library applications I've put in, but the receptionist at the HR department told me to just check the status of my applications online. So I can't talk to anyone and tell him how much I want one of these jobs.

Wednesday (day 14):
Got a few much-needed reminders today:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)

I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)

Thursday (day 15):
Got to see and pray before the relics of St. Maria Goretti, (one of) my Confirmation patron(s)!

Friday and Satuday (days 16 and 17):
The discouragement's lingered, fueled by a word here, a word there.

This is today's list of jobs on Catholic Jobs:

  • Database List Maintenance Coordinator
  • Fiscal Analyst
  • Quality Assurance Director
  • Family Reunification Case Aide
  • Family Reunification Social Worker
  • Job Developer MRS
  • Bilingual Therapist
  • Technology Project Administrator
  • Staff Attorney
I can't do any of those.

Sure, I could go get a job at a grocery store or Panera or Cracker Barrell...but that would still leave me living-from-paycheck-to-paycheck and probably not even that.

I suppose I shouldn't be too discouraged, because, right now at least, I have more saved than I had during those five jobless months immediately after graduation. But savings won't last forever.

I can't do this. I can't keep sitting around looking on job websites, and hoping to find something. The job fair was not much help; I got exactly one interview out of that, and it doesn't pay well enough.

I need a job. I need a job that is something I know I can do. I need a job that pays the bills, puts bread on the table, and something in the savings account.

If only writers weren't notoriously broke, I'd write. But that won't pay the bills.

I give up.

This song is sort of helping a bit:

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will
"Just Be Held," by Casting Crowns