Saturday, 27 October 2012

Moving

So, blogging world, I have decided to move. As of now I am now on Wordpress. I've imported all my posts over there but I will also leave them here. So if you want to continue reading, my new address is:


I hope to see you there! 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Confusion

I am starting to think my confusion is not what I originally thought it was. I thought I was unsure of what my vocation is. I am realising more and more that I really do believe that God's will for my life is the religious life. My doubts are not so much about what my calling is but the realities of following that. 

I loved the cloistered life. I realised that when I was writing my post on enclosure. I remembered how much I loved it there and how complete I felt living that life. I remembered how much I seemed to just fit into that life. I remembered Mother Mistress asking me if there was anything I didn't like about it and being totally unable to come up with anything. In the most literal sense, I had nothing bad to say. It was so wonderful in ways that I couldn't possibly imagine. And I was so sure there that God was calling me there.

Since I left I've become so much more aware of what I'm giving up for that life. I know the rewards of the life, I've seen it, but the doubt is whether I can do it. I feel terrible for thinking that. How can I be even thinking of not doing His will? There is only one thing holding me back, and I feel terrible that a human person could possibly be more important to me than doing the will of God. There are times when I think "okay, it will be hard but I can do it." Then there are times when I think "how can I be giving up someone who means this much to me?" But then God means even more to me! How can I possibly choose something else over him? 

I'm reminded of something that happened at recreation one Sunday. I was sat next to one of the very elderly sisters, Sister MB. Sister E was sat on the other side of her and she said "Tell Emily how long you've been here." So Sister MB turns to me and says "I've been here for 63 years." She paused for a moment and said, "And you know what, I haven't regretted it for a moment." In this sweet elderly sister was this fierce passion and devotion to the life she had chosen. It was one of the most profound moments of my life, and I remembered thinking that I want my life to be like that. I want that. I want to be that old and be able to think "I made the right choice". I just wish I knew what the right choice was. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thoughts on Enclosure

I was reading a blog post by someone who had been to Mass and some of the Offices at St. Cecilia's. They expressed pity for the nuns. They talked of the nuns being trapped and lacking in freedom. I almost commented to them in response but decided it was the perfect opportunity to post on the enclosure.

I loved the enclosure. I thought it was beautiful. It never felt enclosing. It felt so natural. The grille is as much a part of the abbey as the ceiling or the walls.  One of the first things I read in the enclosure was Verbi Sponsa: Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns. It is one of the most beautiful texts I have ever read, and I thoroughly recommend it.
In watchful waiting for the Lord's return, the cloister becomes a response to the absolute love of God for His creature and the fulfilment of His eternal desire to welcome the creature into the mystery of intimacy with the Word, who gave Himself as Bridegroom in the Eucharist and remains in the tabernacle as the heart of full communion with Him, drawing to Himself the entire life of the cloistered nun in order to offer it constantly to the Father. To the gift of Christ the Bridegroom, who on the Cross offered His body unreservedly, the nun responds in like terms with the gift of the "body", offering herself with Jesus Christ to the Father and cooperating with Him in the work of redemption. Separation from the world thus gives a Eucharistic quality to the whole of cloistered life, since "besides its elements of sacrifice and expiation, [it assumes] the aspect of thanksgiving to the Father, by sharing in the thanksgiving of the beloved Son". (Part 1, 3)
One of the things I did for work was clean the church. This photo shows the outside church and sanctuary, although things are slightly different now. There is a low grille/fence in place of that rope and there is a new crucifix on that far wall. The choir is, obviously, on the other side of the grille on the right.


Obviously to clean the sanctuary and the church we had to go through the grille. Sister would get the key and we'd unlock the grille and open up the doors. When we were done, we'd go back down the stairs and through the grille again and lock it behind us. It was one of these simple things that was somehow still so profound. For me at least, it was a weekly reminder of everything the enclosure is. 

People associate the enclosure with imprisonment. The enclosure is many things but it is not a prison. Never have a met a group of women so happy and so fulfilled. They do not feel anything is lacking in their life. St. Cecilia's is not a small space, the abbey is spacious and fairly large and has large and beautiful gardens. But it is still not the same as being out in the world. There is still a physical limitation of space but it is anything but limiting. 


I managed to find this beautiful picture of the abbey. You can see just how spacious it is! My cell (the visitor's cell really) overlooked the gardens and the woods beyond the boundary of the abbey. I would stand at the window and look out at how beautiful it was. I realised after a few days that my gaze never left the abbey. I could look out beyond what was the abbey grounds but I didn't. I purposefully looked beyond the grounds but my gaze was always drawn back. That is only a simple thing, but I did not for a second in the abbey long for anything outside of it. 

The enclosure is beautifully symbolic of the total forsaking of the world, not just in possessions but in literal space. They enter into a place of God, they go into the house of their heavenly Bridegroom. Just as their lives are centred around him, so is their physical space. They have left behind the meaningless frivolities that occupy so much time for those of us here in the world. In the enclosure nothing is missing, nothing is lacking. There is not need to wander, there is no need to leave because everything that fulfils them so totally is already there. 

The cloistered nun chooses that space freely because as I have said, those things her heart longs for she finds in the enclosure and not outside of it. The enclosure is not a prison, far from it. The enclosure is place of freedom, because the nun is loosened from those bonds that tie us to worldly things. In giving herself entirely to Christ, she is made free in Him. There are so many things in the world that we think are important. Those meaningless frivolities I have already mentioned. I had thought myself before I went into the enclosure how much I would miss these things and wondered how I would cope without that. As I have already mentioned, I did not for second long for anything outside the enclosure. One might wonder why but answer is simply that I did not need them. There is nothing missing in that way of life - the fact that it has endured for millennia is a living testament to that. 

So my message here is do not pity those in the enclosure, because they do not need it. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

10000 views

So last night I hit 10000 views. Right now I'm at 10047. Which is totally awesome. In less than a year at that. It is almost the 1 year anniversary of me starting this blog so I will have to come up with something super awesome to post for the 12th November. 

I will post properly later hopefully but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads/has read my blog. It genuinely means a lot to me, and you are all in my prayers. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Some rambling

I've had one of those weekends that was just emotionally draining. I went to visit my mother and my sister was visiting as well. It was a family friend's birthday so we went out to lunch to celebrate, which is why me and my sister were visiting in the first place. I got there on Friday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon so it's not even like I was there for a long time.

I love my family, I do. But sometimes being there is exhausting. I think my blood pressure shoots up the second I step into my mother's house. I feel like I'm under constant pressure, I feel constantly stressed and on edge. I knew when I left St. Cecilia's that things weren't going to be easy with them. And that was when I was totally sure of my vocation! I can't even begin to talk about it with them because they couldn't understand when I was sure, and they'd just take my confusion as a sign that I'm not going to enter.

Despite all the confusion I have this bizarre sense that I have to go back to St. Cecilia's. I don't know why I feel like that. I don't know whether that's from God or if it's just me but it's the only sure thing I have right now. I think I said the same thing before, and possibly that says more about things than I'm seeing right now. But the thought of not going back feels wrong. I think about going back and deciding that it's not for me and that feels wrong. Going back and deciding to enter seems right. I couldn't even begin to describe why, or how I feel that, or what that even means.

I'm going to send an email to Mother Mistress soon, letting her know how I'm doing and so on. I haven't contacted her since I left in July so I really should! The other thing I've been thinking is that perhaps I need someone to talk to - an non-internet kind of someone. There's something on the vocations website for my diocese (I know the Consecrated Life section almost by heart now) so I may have to bite the bullet and ring/email Father.

On head covering

Someone pointed me to this beautiful blog post: I love my chapel veil. I've posted before on my own decision to veil (So...veiling). What shocked me wasn't anything she said, but what had prompted her to write that post: an article claiming that "Head covering is thinly veiled patriarchy." Loath as I am to give this article more press, it made me want to write more about my own choice.

I am 21 years old. I am studying at a respected university. I am single, and pay my own rent and my own bills. I have, by all means, a fairly average life for a 21st-century first-world young woman.

I cover my head for Mass. I am not married, so I do not do it for my husband. I am not a Traditionalist. I do not do it out of conformity. I do not do it out of necessity. I do it because it is my choice. It has literally nothing to do with anyone outside of me and the Lord. 

I lived in the Middle East. I have seen real oppression and real patriarchy. Someone trying to tell me that my free choice to cover my head is oppressive and patriarchal is laughable. Nice try.  I covered my head there and it was oppressive. But that does not make head-covering intrinsically oppressive. 

Head covering is not compulsory. I'm not saying that everyone, or even anyone should cover their head. One of the most beautiful things about the Catholic Church is that it allows us to express our devotion and our spirituality in different ways.

Take the Brown Scapular for example. It is a devotion and a personal choice, and choosing it for oneself in no way says that everyone should do it. Head covering is the same, it is a personal devotion that one can chose to follow or not. That choice is up to you.

But if you are so threatened by someone else's personal choices that you feel the need to attack them, then perhaps you should spend less time looking at others and think about yourself for a minute. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Maybe not such a bad day after all...

So it was only a few hours ago I posted about today being a write-off. Now, with only 20 minutes of the day left, as I was preparing to go to sleep, my fortunes have changed. As I have posted about before, I have a particular devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows (I also discuss it in the page on My Patrons). The first encounter I had with Our Lady of Sorrows was through a holy card that I found in an old book of my fathers. Battered though it was, it was the beginning of a great devotion. I had lost the card over the years and had pretty much lost hope of every finding it again.

As I came back upstairs from brushing my teeth I was thinking about it and when I passed my bookshelf I suddenly decided to take out a particular book from the shelf. There in the pages was my holy card! Now when I say this card is battered, I mean it has been through the wars. Our Lady's face is pretty much obliterated - you can see the line where the top of the card would have stuck out from a book and sustained the most damage. You can just faintly see a sword piercing her Immaculate Heart.

I am so happy to have found this card again! After so long of not finding it, Our Lady found me right when I needed her.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bad Day

Today was one of those days that just got off to a bad start. I got up at my normal time, which gives me an hour and a quarter to get ready for class. Somehow I managed to be late, only by about 5 minutes but that was by walking really fast. I was supposed to be going home to see my family today but I just couldn't make it, I was too busy to be even remotely prepared.  I'm going tomorrow instead, but I'm still not ready. I think I've been sleeping badly or not getting enough sleep or something because I can remember my dreams and that's always a bad sign for me. I fell asleep for several hours this afternoon, I have no idea how, so I think that's a sign that I need to re-assess my sleep pattern or something. I had flu recently and I'm still not feeling 100%.

I'm rambling. It's just been a muddled day. In my morning confusion I didn't have time to say my morning prayer, which probably didn't help things.

I think today is just one of those days that I'm just going to have to write off and try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Missing the enclosure

I've been looking at St. Cecilia's website and I've found myself missing it again. Realising yesterday how long it will be until I can realistically go back makes me sad. I miss the choir stalls, I miss the grille, I miss the stained glass in the cloister. I miss picking peas and packing hosts and cleaning the tabernacle. I miss the Divine Office, I miss the Latin, I miss the Mass. I know the religious life is not easy, but I fit so easily into it. I remember in one of my journals that Mother Mistress said she had been surprised at how well I had settled there. I felt so comfortable there.

As I write this I'm thinking about how they will be preparing for Vespers right now. The sisters will soon be assembling in the cloister to process in. And now, since I was distracted for a few minutes, Vespers is in full swing. I wish I was there.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Spiritual Strength

I'm not nearly as spiritually strong as I used to be. I know my relationship with the Lord has been broken and at the weekend I made that first and most important step to repairing it - Reconciliation. And I feel so much better for it. Nothing has changed from Saturday to today, but I feel so different. I'm no longer defenceless and alone, because He is with me. And I might not be as close to Him as I used to be but I know that I can be again because He wants me to. I'm working on refreshing my prayer schedule so I hope that will be helpful to me as well. I need to add in something for midday prayer as well, since before I only had morning and evening.

I'm still slightly murky, discernment-wise. It's difficult, because my family and friends are sure to start asking what I'm doing after college. The only decisive thing I have at this point is that I have to go back to St. Cecilia's. Maybe that says more than I'm thinking it does but I just have this unmistakeable sense that I have to go back. I was devastated when I realised I won't be able to go back in January like I had originally hoped. My term dates are just too short and I have my dissertation due too soon after to take three weeks out from that. And after Easter I have exams, so it may be that I can't go back until after my exams. I must admit, I can imagine the abbey would seem even more wonderfully refreshing after all the stress of my last semester!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

God is Good!

I went to Reconcilliation this evening and stayed to go to Mass afterwards since I won't be able to go tomorrow. I hadn't been in a while, even though I meant to last week. When I left the Confessional I felt so clean, so refreshed, so renewed! I knelt before the tabernacle and I was so happy to be reconciled with Him once again. I couldn't stop thanking Him! When I went to Mass I felt so glad to be there, I couldn't wait to receive the Eucharist. At the Consecration, when the priest held Christ up for us all to gaze upon Him I was in tears. I felt so honoured, so blessed to be there and knowing that I could receive after not being able to for two months made me so happy. When I received Him, oh the joy was indescribable! I had almost forgotten how much I love the Eucharist. I realised how much I longed for Him. My heart yearned for Him and to receive Him was (as always) such a great blessing.

Whatever my vocation is, I know that I love Him more than anything and my life will always be dedicated to His glory.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Timing

I've been thinking lately and I can't help but think that the timing of everything that's been going on is significant. For all these things to happen so soon after my live-in, I don't think it's coincidence. I don't necessarily know what the message the Lord is trying to send me is, but I truly believe that there is definitely something He is trying to say. I'm going to Confession tomorrow, which I really really need so I am hoping that will bring me some much needed clarity to everything. I don't expect things to suddenly become completely crystal-clear but I know that it will help me hear the Lord's voice a little clearer.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A Joke

So I can't remember if I posted this before but it's really funny so I'm posting it anyway. 

A Franciscan and a Jesuit were arguing about which order was the greatest. To settle the matter they decided to ask for a sign from God. A piece of paper floated down that said:
My sons,
Please stop bickering about such trivial matters.
Sincerely,
God, O.P. 
 For those who don't know, O.P. stands for Ordo Praedicatorum (Order of Preachers). God is a Dominican! As tempted as I was to change the joke to say O.S.B. but I do like Dominicans so I kept it. I always said if I were to discern active religious life I'd go Dominican. 

On a totally unrelated note, you may notice I've had a redesign. I like to mix things up every now and then anyway and it seems my old font was a bit difficult to read so hopefully the new layout will be better. As always, let me know if there are things you like, don't like, etc. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

New Beginning

So I posted this a few days ago about not really knowing at the moment what my vocation is. In light of that, I've decided perhaps I need a new beginning in all this. Not a wipe-clean kind of new beginning, but a back-to-basics kind of new beginning. I realised I've been trying to skip ahead, and looking too much at the ending and not enough at where I am now and what comes before I get there. I'm trying to refocus on building my relationship with God as I am now. Not as a discerner or as a future religious or whatever, but just as Emily. I need to find that foundation of simply who I am as a person before Him. I can't try and build all those other things without that foundation. And I'm obviously not starting from scratch, but I do need to strip back a lot of what I had started taking for granted. I need to remember that my relationship with Him is not just about my future. It's not just about discerning His will for my life as a whole, but His will for me right now. It's difficult because I am not someone who likes uncertainties. Not knowing my future scares me. I know that trusting in God's plan despite knowing what it might be is something that I know I need to work on.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Miss Conventionality

This afternoon I was having a conversation with an old friend about our plans for after college. She's doing a Masters degree and I'm still in the final year of my undergrad. With my graduation impending, I get this a lot. None of my friends know about my discernment but when she asked me what I wanted to do I told her that I didn't really want a career. She was confused and asked me what I meant. So I told her what I had always wanted for my life: marriage and children. I've told a few people about this before and they've always reacted very positively. I know a few female friends who also feel they would want to be stay-at-home-mothers, at least while their children were young. So this particular friends reaction took me by surprise. I know not everyone wants that kind of a lifestyle and that's perfectly valid. But what annoyed me was that she acted as if the things she wanted for her life were the only things that were valid or worthwhile.

It made me wonder how people are going to react, whether I end up in that married life or in the religious life. Either way, I will have chosen an unconventional and perhaps unpopular path. And that is why I named this post 'Miss Conventionality': because that is something I'm never going to be. And a lot of people are going to react just as my friend did today, and worse. But at the same time I remember something I realised on my live-in: that I can do it. Whatever the judgements that the world may throw at me if I know in my heart that what I am doing is the will of God then I can take it all.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Reconciliation

Schedule for tomorrow: Reconciliation. So I decided to share this extract from an article I'm writing: 

Christ told us “I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.” [Luke 5:32] Repentance and redemption are central to our faith as Catholics. We are sinners, from smallest to the greatest among us. But (contrary to popular opinion) our faith does not condemn us: on the contrary it gives us light and hope. The mercy of God is waiting: we need only repent. God has given us the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation: it is not a sacrament of condemnation or judgement but one of love and forgiveness. It is at its very heart a sacrament of great joy because we are cleansed and renewed in God’s grace. 

God does not wish us to be separated from Him, and He has given us this sacrament so that no matter what offence we commit we may always come back into His embrace. Remember the words of Christ: “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need to repentance.” [Luke 15:7] We are those sinners: His apostles, the saints, you and I and all of mankind. We are His precious children and it is His greatest desire that we should find our home in His eternal kingdom. As Catholics we recognise our sins and our weaknesses but we look to God in hope and trust, knowing that He will not forsake us.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Trust

Right now, I honestly couldn't tell you what I feel my vocation is. I'm discerning in a totally different way now. It used to be I had an idea of what the Lord was calling me to and was "testing the water" so to speak. I don't know what it is that's changed, if He's stopped telling me for some reason or if I'm just not listening properly, but I'm having to learn to trust Him in a totally different way. Before I was on a path and trusting that He was leading me. Now I'm wandering through the woods blind and needing to trust that He will lead me to the right path, that He is leading me to the right path.

I've also had to learn a new kind of openness to His will. I feel at this point like the gates have been opened and that He could lead me anywhere. I'm having to learn to accept all those paths as possibilities and be able to say to the Lord, "I'll do whatever Your will asks of me." If He asks any one of those things of me I need to be able to say "Yes, Lord." I'm not sure I'm quite there yet, but it's not something that comes overnight. I'm having to learn to let go of things I never realised I was holding on to. Perhaps the Lord sees my unreadiness and is waiting for me to find the trust and the openness that I need to do His will.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Need

I realised today how much I need God. I am everything that I am only through His mercy and His grace. Sometimes you have to be lost in order to realise that you've had the map in your pocket the whole time. Sometimes we think that we can find the way on our own and we depend on ourselves rather than on the Lord. One of my favourite quotes from Scripture is Obadiah 1:4
"Though you soared like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, I would still fling you down again - it is Yahweh who speaks." 
It's a hauntingly beautiful reminder of the power of the Lord and how small we are in comparison. No matter the heights of human greatness or the grandeur of our achievements, they pale in comparison to the power and majesty of the Lord. However great we may think we are, in reality we are nothing. Our very existence is only because He willed it to be so, we were fashioned by His hands.

It is truly a blessing to be able to say that I am a child of God and that I totally, utterly and completely depend on Him.

Friday, 28 September 2012

An Update

So I realise I haven't been blogging much recently, for which I apologise. Whoever says discerning is easy is so very wrong! As some of my more recent posts will tell you, I have been struggling recently. I'm still working through some stuff but I'm feeling a lot calmer and a lot ore like I can handle things which is good.

On a less positive note, an old health problem of mine has cropped up again. It was quite a shock to me because I thought it had settled itself. I'd never gone to the doctor about if before but I've decided now I'm fed up and so I've got an appointment for next week. I'm a little worried because I'm not sure what the doctor will say or be able to do. The difficulty also comes in that it is something that could be a problem for me in terms of discernment. I don't know yet if it would be an complete impediment, but it could potentially cause me significant problems in both the religious life and in marriage. So I'm trying not to think about discernment as such at the moment and focus on seeing what can be done about my health. Once I know that I can think more seriously about how it may impact my vocational discernment. It might not at all but I want to be sure.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Punishment

I have never forgiven myself for my mistakes. I wish more than anything that I could change the things I've done but I can't. I feel tainted, I feel unclean. I'm not that person anymore. I know that. Two years later and I am not that person. But it still haunts me.  I live in constant fear that people will find out and will judge me. More than that, I fear the things that are important to me will be taken from me because once people find out what I've done then that's all they'll see. Because sometimes it's all I see. I feel like I can't be forgiven. The worst part is that I can't even remember why. If I had a reason, a real reason, I could make sense of it. But I don't.

I feel like I'm being punished for my sins.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Update

I haven't posted much lately. I'm still trying to sort through some stuff and I have a wonderful friend who is helping me so I've been trying to take some time to think and untangle the confused, conflicted mess that is my thoughts right now. I'm going on vacation for two weeks tomorrow so obviously I won't be able to post for that time. I wish I'd had time to schedule some stuff for while I'm away like I did when I was on my live-in but things have just been crazy busy at the moment. Hopefully being away will be good for me, and I will be back to posting more regularly when I get back.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Call Me Maybe: Vocations Edition

I wrote this as a parody of the song "Call Me Maybe". It wasn't my idea, someone made a joke about the idea and I was bored so I decided to write it. A video may follow at some point, I might make one and I know someone else who has already asked me if they can make a video of it as well. So if a video follows I will be sure to post it up as well.

Anyway, enjoy:

In Adoration one day
In the silence I pray
I looked up at the altar
And I heard Him say

You see that Sister right there?
In her habit and veil?
She listened in prayer,
And now I’m calling you.

I want you as mine,
True bread, and the true vine,
For in my path you’ll shine,
Will you come and be my Bride?

Did I just hear that?
No, this is crazy!
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

It's hard to think straight,
It’s all so hazy,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Did I just hear that?
No, this is crazy!
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Poverty and chastity,
Obedience too,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

I will listen to your call,
To you I will give my all,
I will make myself small,
Your light will shine in me.

I ask you mother Mary
Please help me, it’s scary
I didn't know I would hear it,
But He’s calling me.

I am the true vine,
I want you as mine,
In my path you’ll shine,
Will you come and be my Bride?

Did I just hear that?
No, this is crazy!
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

It's hard to think straight,
It’s all so hazy,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Did I just hear that?
No, this is crazy!
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Poverty and chastity,
Obedience too,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Before you came into my life
I messed up so bad
I messed up so bad
I messed up so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I messed up so bad
And you forgave all
I messed up so, so bad

It's hard to think straight,
It’s all so hazy,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Did I just hear that?
No, this is crazy!
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Poverty and chastity,
Obedience too,
Could it really be,
He called me, maybe?

Before you came into my life
I messed up so bad
I messed up so bad
I messed up so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I messed up so bad
And you forgave all
He called me, maybe?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Test?

On Sunday I decided to go Mass at the cathedral in town rather than my parish. Father P knows about my discernment and he hasn't been around the last few times I've been to the cathedral. Finally he was there today so I was able to tell him about my live-in and stuff. Obviously I've written about it here and on my forums and stuff but it was nice to have a "real" person to tell about it. Father was really happy to hear things are going well for me, he knows the community quite well.

I've written before about my problems with dealing with my feelings for a friend of mine. I was dealing a lot better recently. I can't remember who it was but someone suggested to me that I entrust him to the Blessed Virgin and that helped a lot. Being on my live-in helped a lot. It all seemed like it was falling into place. It is falling into place. Hopefully, I will be entering in just over year, assuming things keep going in this direction.

I'm struggling at the moment. I still feel like my vocation is to the cloister. I'm just feeling confused at the moment. I don't know if this is some kind of a test of my resolve. Maybe it is. And I know the Lord doesn't give us more than we can handle but I don't feel like I can right now. My heart feels like it's being torn in two. I want two things that completely oppose each other. I'm scared of entering and discerning that it's not my calling and losing the other. I'm scared of losing everything.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Suffering

I was watching a video on YouTube of a song I like and some of the photos in the video are of the Crucifixion. I'm guessing they come from a movie but they don't sugar-coat, they really portray the horror of crucifixion. I used to dislike these kinds of images, they made me uncomfortable. I didn't like the bloody reality of it all. I've come to realise that we have to recognise those realities that make us uncomfortable. So often we talk about the sufferings of Christ as if they are stories. I know I've done this. We think about them but we don't let the realities sink in. The realities of the sufferings Christ endured for us are more than we can possibly imagine, but we so often take them for granted. Every Sunday at Mass we proclaim either the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed. We don't just proclaim that Christ died. In the Nicene Creed we proclaim He suffered death, in the Apostles Creed we proclaim that He suffered under Pontius Pilate. His death was one of great pain and suffering.

The human body, unsurprisingly, does not like pain. We instinctively take ourselves out of the way of pain - think if you've ever accidentally put your hand under a boiling tap or touched a hot pan. Before you even consciously recognise that you're in pain you're body has reacted and pulled away from the source of the pain. It takes an incredible amount of strength of will to consciously allow yourself to take on as much pain as Christ endured. The reality of the pain He endured is not really a pleasant thought. To think of anyone suffering like that, much less the Son of God Himself, is quite terrible.

Crucifixion was a particularly painful way to die. A person could take hours or sometimes even days to die. Though there were many things that could eventually cause death (blood loss, dehydration, and sepsis to name a few) the most common was probably asphyxia. If you've ever gone swimming you've probably tried to see how long you can hold your breath underwater for. It's uncomfortable, right? Imagine that multiplied and then for hours, plus all the pain from the wounds in His hands and feet, the exhaustion from carrying the cross, the raw wounds from His scouring. It must have been agonising. I can't even begin to fathom that kind of pain and suffering. He could have come down from the cross, He had that power, but He didn't use it. He laid down His life willingly and endured all that pain and suffering.

He endured it out of love. He endured it for you.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Signs

When I was on my-live in I was at one point very confused. I expected some kind of immediate answer. I realise now God was giving me time to experience the life before He gave me an answer. One afternoon during my private prayer I did something I've never done before: I asked God for a sign. I've never been one for signs, I know that God communicates with some people through signs but it's never been that way for me. He speaks to me in a very interior way but at this point I couldn't tell what was my voice and what was His voice. I know we shouldn't ask God for signs, but I remember just praying, "I know I shouldn't ask for a sign and I'm not but if there was ever a good time for a sign, now would be it." It wasn't so much a prayer for a sign but a prayer to hear His voice because I couldn't then. My mind was so muddled and I think God was just waiting for me to be at that stage where I could say, "Okay, I don't know where you're leading me but whatever it is, I'll do it, just tell me what it is." The very next afternoon Mother Mistress caught me after Vespers and suggested we have another chat. The very first thing she asked me was if I'd ever thought about marriage. More than ever in that moment I heard the Lord telling me "no". He didn't send me a sign, He spoke to me just as He always has. He was just waiting for me to really listen. From that moment on I knew He really was leading me to religious life.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pro-Life

Recently I've been talking to an online acquaintance of mine who is pro-abortion. I've had to take a break before I reply to her last message because what she said upset me so much I knew I would just lash out, and that isn't going to help my cause. Of course the whole idea of abortion upsets me, but this is one thing that hits me pretty deep. So what was it?

She said that babies who would be disabled should be aborted. So many people think this and it breaks my heart every time. I grew up with a girl with Down's Syndrome, for the purposes of this I'll call her Angela (after St. Angela Merici, a patron of the handicapped). Down's Syndrome can have varying degrees of severity and Angela's condition is very severe. She couldn't speak, she needed constant supervision and will never be able to live independently. A lot of people would say her parents should have aborted her. Her parents are devout Catholics and incredibly inspirational people. They cared for her with love and devotion and you could tell that not even for a second would they choose for her to be any other way. In their eyes, she is perfect. Angela loves and is loved. She may not be able to lead the same kind of life as her siblings, but she has always had an amazing life, full of beauty and love and joy. It angers me when people are so ignorant to think that someone like Angela doesn't deserve life, because anyone who has ever met her will tell you how wonderful she is and what a blessed and happy life she leads. I've worked with other disabled people over the years, some less severe than Angela and some more, and not a single one of those people deserves to be told their life is not worth anything because that is just so wrong.

A lot of people have told me it's "kinder" to abort disabled babies than let them live. Yes, I'm sure those babies would be thanking you for wanting to murder them. This thinking is eugenics attempting to masquerade as charity. These people are trying to decide who has the right to life. Where is the line drawn? Who has the right to draw that line? It's fundamentally wrong.


I think I posted this before on my other blog and it's just such a beautiful and inspirational video. The woman doesn't even speak, her face speaks for her. You can see the emotion as she goes through her story. I cried when I watched this, it's so emotional.

Where are we as a society when life itself is no longer respected? When the very sanctity of life is dismissed as outdated, what do we have left? Nothing. Without the sanctity of life, life itself loses meaning. If life is not precious, we have lost something fundamental to ourselves.

I'm sorry if this post is kind of incoherent. I'm not all that clear at the best of times and my mind is just feeling kind of foggy today.

Links
Abortion in Tough Situations
Abortion Question
What about abortion after rape?
Will the Church allow the child to die to save the mother?
Isn't this a just reason for having an abortion?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Live-In: Part 2

As you may guess from the title, this is the second part of my live-in. My journalling became more sporadic towards the end of my stay as I got into the routine and so obviously had less to say about new things happenings. Most of my journals in this part are very mundane so some days I haven't posted anything from my journal but have just written a little about.

20th July

Today I decided to take my lectio outside since it is a wonderfully sunny day. It seems St Swithun is delivering as promised! I chose mostly to walk as I read, though for a while I did stop at some benches near the gardens but I find I get restless so I walked back around. I passed Sr. MTo and [postulant] doing the same thing and one of the cats came up to me and MM walked past as I was pausing to stroke it. 

At Mass I got terrible confused during the Eucharistic prayer, I couldn't understand what Father was saying very well and because it was EP1 there are pages of other stuff in the middle of the prayer and so for the first time I couldn't find me way again so I just listened but I much prefer having the Missal. 

There was no lesson, so I had another talk with MM. She asked me a few things about my health and if I'd ever thought about other vocations and made sure I was still feeling happy here. We talked about the next stages of applying and MM told me I had to meet with Mother Abbess at some point but that so far she still thought I was doing very well and couldn't foresee any problems.

22nd July

This morning I went to Vigils so I was up at 4.40 this morning! It seemed terribly early, the sun was still rising. Vigils is quite different from the other offices, and much longer. But I almost missed Prime and Terce! I was reading and I sort of acknowledged the bell but was so absorbed in my reading I forgot what it actually meant. Luckily Sr. MTe came to find me just as I realised my mistake. But I made it eventually if slightly late. 

I really liked Vigils. I wanted to go more often that I did, but I knew that even if I was willing I wouldn't be able to cope. Even [postulant] doesn't go every day, they're very good at easing you into it.

I found it rather astonishing I was still very awake after evening recreation as we went to Compline, despite having been up for Vigils. I think being able to have a cup of tea before Vigils really helped. 

Since there is no lesson or work on Sundays, I often find myself at something of a lose. But today MM gave me some typing to do from one of MA's conferences and I glued the frame together for the refectory decorations for MA's feast day. My apron is also falling apart a bit so I offered to mend it and MM was very surprised. 

23rd July

St. Cecilia's is right on the coast of the island and so from the grounds you can see the beach below, the abbey is on a hill and the beach is below. Apparently there is a cafe or something there and some nights it plays very loud music. When we went for a walk during evening recreation we could hear the music coming from the beach below. It was very strange because reggae music is one of the last things one expects to hear at a monastery! Luckily they stop the music about when we went to bed otherwise it might have been quite annoying, but as it was it was just quite funny.

24th July

Tomorrow after Mass I am meeting with MA! 

Luckily, MM only told me about this very late otherwise I might have been panicking. I was quite nervous, because obviously if it went badly it could end my chances there.

25th July

I didn't write anything for this next day, I was using all my spare moments to finish a gift for [postulant]. And of course it had been my meeting with MA so I was still thinking about that.

26th July 

MM says that MA is pleased with my visit and wants me to make a second one. At first I was very upset, thinking this meant they thought I wasn't suitable but MM assures me it is very normal and so it was in fact a good sign that they want me to come back! So I was very reassured by that and MM and I were able to talk and I hope I was able to clarify a few things she was concerned about. 

I have some weird food issues and I think MM was concerned I wasn't eating healthily. I admit it's something I need to work on but I think I was able to explain to MM that I really had been trying while I was there and that it was something that was improving over time.

And that's where my journal comes to an end. I left a few days later. Leaving was very sad, but all the novitiate and MA came to say goodbye to me at the door which was lovely. I loved my time there, and I left wishing for the day when I can go back through those doors again.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Magazines

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to grab some food. I decided to go to the magazine stand. I don't usually, I have subscriptions but sometimes I like to see what else is available. But I looked at this stand and (not for the first time) I was horrified.

The first thing I noticed: the men's magazines. I mean, really? I can't go to a magazine stand without inadvertently spotting some basically nude woman posing provocatively on the front of these magazines. And all I wanted was a crafting magazine. These magazines are not covered, they're right there in full view. In smaller stores, they can be very near to kids magazines. Any little child can walk up and see. How is it that stores consider it acceptable to have pornography on full view to everyone? It's disgraceful. I mean no wonder our society has absolutely no sexual morals when things like these magazines are allowed to be on full view in an average store. Having these things out on show like that tells people, "You know what, this is okay. We're going to objectify and degrade women, but that's okay. Remember, if you're not having as much sex as possible with as many people as possible then you're just not living." It makes me sick.

 The women's magazines aren't much better. Almost all the covers show women with barely more clothing than the men's magazine covers. And then they almost all mention sex at least once on the cover. These references aren't even subtle, they're usually in a very large print and obviously designed to stand out on the cover. These are usually accompanied by reminders that you clearly need to lose weight, and here's how you can do it, and how to dress as 'sexy' as possible once you've achieved that size 0 figure. I've read magazines like this before and the message is the same: "Your worth comes from being super skinny and dressing as provocatively as you can. After all, if men don't look at you and see how hot you are then what's the point? Don't forget you exist for giving men sexual gratification!" And again, how is it acceptable that these blatant sexual references are on parade in front of everyone, where young children can see them? It's disgraceful.

I was talking to one of the very elderly sisters at St. Cecilia's who has been there for over 60 years one recreation and she said to me, "I really don't know much about the world nowadays" and I just replied, "You wouldn't want to." I'm truly sad sometimes for our society. It really makes me long to enter and get away from it all.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Live-In: Part 1

I've been insanely busy since I left St. Cecilia's so I haven't had much time to write fully about my live-in. Luckily, I kept a fairly detailed journal while I was there so I don't have to try and rack my brains to remember everything. I'll post it in two parts, to save from having one ridiculously long post. Some days will have more than others, depending obviously on how much time I had to write that day.

Obviously, I have to be discrete out of respect for the privacy of the community. But if you have any questions about my stay then feel free to ask and I will answer as much as I feel able to. I'll post some sections directly from my journal, those will be in brown. I've shortened names to initials, again for the privacy of the community.

On a completely unrelated note, I've hit 8000 views! Every time I hit another marker I'm just amazed.

Anyway, here is the first half of my live-in!

12th July

I came in yesterday after Mass. Being a feast day it was rather unusual being that there was therefore no work. But it made it easier to just focus on the Office rather then other things as well. Sr MTo was assigned to look after me, and I was surprised that [postulant] has entered already, so it was lovely to meet her. 

Postulant and I had spoken via email before she entered. I expected to miss her since her entrance date was supposed to be after my live-in but she ended up entering earlier than that so I got to meet her which was really nice.

Today has been a normal day. I didn't say the early hours of the Office, I got up just before breakfast. I was relieved at Mass that the Missal they use is the same kind as my Sunday Missal, so I understood the basic format, though switching between the gradual and the missal was quite confusing. 

St. Cecilia's have Mass in the Ordinary Form in Latin, except for the readings. It's so incredibly beautiful. Also, I learnt there that there's a Eucharistic Prayer 4, which I had never heard of before but thought was incredibly beautiful. It's a pity it's not used more, but it can only be used on ferias because it has a proper preface (I learnt this from Mother Zelatrix). The Missal I have is a fantastic one that has both English and Latin alongside each other, so I was able to follow the Mass fairly easily despite my deficiency in Latin.

I've been learning things mostly by copying Sr. MTo, who is wonderfully patient with me. Some of the habits I'm learning easier than others but there is a lot to pick up on and thankfully everyone is very willing to point me in the right direction. I can roughly find my way around, at least from the novitiate to the choir. I stand next to Sr. MTe at choir. I don't try to sing the offices, I just say them in my head as I try to keep track. So far I've done alright and I seem to find my way when I get lost.

One thing that I realised I had been expecting was an instant answer from God. I wanted to walk in and go "right, this it it" or "nope, I'm outta here." It sounds silly and I realise it is. There is a naivety often in the so called 'instant connection' because one must wonder what that connection is based on. That is not to say all such experiences are invalid, just that one should be cautious. So while I cannot say I have felt any such thing here, I find it worth noting that I also do feel comfortable here. I have not been here nearly long enough to feel at home as such but I feel like I could feel at home here. I suppose on some level though I am being cautious: there is a fear of them telling me 'no'. But as I keep saying in my prayers, let it be done according to His will. 

13th July 

Yesterday [postulant] had been here for a month. It was very sweet, Sr. MTo and Sr. MTe for very excited and were wishing her a happy monastic birthday. Mother Mistress said the time had flown by, and it seemed like she had been here much longer. 

I am having the opportunity to rad the Holy Father's book "Jesus of Nazareth", which I am finding greatly interesting, if challenging in part. I am also reading Dom Gueranger's book on the religious life and have seen more writings oh his in the library I will read if I get time. 

One thing I am getting used to is the Great Silence. It is a wonderful kind of silence, the effect is very peaceful. It makes one treasure the time we have to speak freely. 

I really learnt to love the silence. Most of the time I'm the sort of person who is only silent when alone or I've gone to church to pray. I actually found the silence much less intimidating that I thought I would. Even when working I learnt to appreciate the work that allowed for silence - some work obviously requires more talking that others. There was probably in some areas more talking because of me, since I needed quite a bit of direction.

14th July

I am very careful not to hope too much of being here again, in case I come to the end of my visit and they do not think I fit in here. But let it be done according to His will. Though I am still guarded despite saying that, I am to speak with MM tomorrow so I shall see what she has to say then. 

I worked in the altar-bread department this day. I was only packaging but it was quite incredible to think that these little breads before me would become the Body of Christ! It's just so amazing, it really makes you appreciate what a wonder the Eucharist is.

15th July

Recreation is always such fun, and the sisters often bring with them the interesting things they've been sent. Sr. MTo showed us a lovely postcard from a friend, and yesterday a very funny letter from her granny, which at least partially answered my question as to whether their families called them by their monastic names of not since the letter was addressed to her baptismal name. 

One thing I do not feel here is enclosed. I suppose it is difficult to feel enclosed in so much space but even behind the grille when we are in choir does not feel suffocating in the way some might find it. It feels very natural somehow and I expect it would be strange without it. 

Since there was no lesson, MM and I went for a walk. She says she has been surprised at how well I am settling here so I hope that is a good sign for the future. So far I am very comfortable here and MM commented that my feelings on the Office were very Benedictine. I discovered that the illumination [belonging to mutual friend] was done by MM! She was quite astounded that I had seen it, but I remember it well from their house. 

Explanation: MM and I have some mutual friends - she is friends with an old work colleague of my mothers and I knew the family very well when I was younger. I lost contact with them many years ago so it was lovely to hear how they're all doing. They are a very devout family and I knew them around when I was baptised and preparing for First Communion and they always inspired me.

This afternoon, MM was teaching me and [postulant] calligraphy. I really enjoyed it and apparently have quite the knack for it. So far I've been working on 'c', 'o' and 'd'. I also had a go at writing my name, which turned out okay but [letter] wasn't very good. 

16th July

This morning I overslept and missed Lauds. I was still in my nightgown when Sr. MTo knocked on my door, but she assured me everyone does the same thing at least once. I was fairly tired yesterday so obviously I needed the extra little sleep. Hopefully I shall make it to Lauds tomorrow! 

This afternoons work was in the altar-bread department, this time I was mixing. It was messy business but I had to mix it in a large vat and test how think it was until it was suitable. Stirring the vat make me feel rather like a witch at her cauldron, since the mixture was bubbling away as it mixed. 

It was so awesome to see exactly how altar-breads are made. Plus, I learnt that my parish buys their hosts from St. Cecilia's so that was really cool to learn.

17th July 

I managed to wake up in time for Lauds today, thankfully. I must say I was rather embarrassed at missing it yesterday. 

One of our bidding prayers at Mass today was for an improvement in the weather. This morning it was so cold that I had a blanket on during Lectio but the Lord has answered out prayers and the day turned out wonderfully. 

Weather may not seem like a big thing, but when it was miserable we couldn't have recreation outside. Not that recreation was any less fun when inside but they have such beautiful grounds that one wants to be able to take advantage of that.

19th July

Just as we were starting work (church cleaning with Sr. MTe) MM came and asked if I wanted to see the slideshow on the abbey life. Some of Sr. E's friends were visiting and she was showing it to them and MM thought I might be interested. I had to help her with the computer a bit. Some of the pictures are also on their website so it was very strange seeing them again but knowing who many of the sisters were! It even had Sr. MTe as a postulant. 

Sr. MTe had made her first vows just before my visit so it was really sweet to see her as a postulant and know that she's in first vows now.

All the sisters were so nice and kind, and so true to the hospitality of their Order. Even Mother Abbess checked how I was doing when she passed me in the hallway. I didn't get to meet all the sisters but by the end of my stay I knew pretty much all their names even if I hadn't actually spoken to them. The sisters I got to know most were obviously MM, MZ and the novitiate, and those that I worked with.

Monday, 30 July 2012

I'm back!

So I am back from my live-in at St. Cecilia's. St. C's is wonderful. I love the community, I love the Office, I love the Latin, I love the work, I love everything about it. Their whole life just fit me like a glove. It was different to how I expected, in the most wonderful way because it was just so amazing. But then again I'm not really sure how I expected it to be. The sisters are all wonderful, though I didn't get to really meet all of them. The novitiate are just fabulous - Mother Mistress and Mother Zelatrix and amazing. They have two juniors, one made her first vows not long before my arrival, and a brand-new postulant who has only been there six weeks. The postulant had actually read my blog and send me an email but we expected to just miss meeting each other since she wasn't supposed to enter for another few months but ended up coming early so it was fantastic to meet her. Anyone who thinks nuns are unhappy should be sent straight to St. C's - their joy just shines out of them. At recreation we're always laughing right up to the bell for the next Office! There were times when I was walking down the cloister to Compline still giggling to myself. And the silence! Oh the silence. I never thought of it as silence but more as quiet, a beautiful calm stillness. The Great Silence lasts until Mass so you get a wonderful few hours in the morning of just quiet, punctuated only by the Office. And the lessons were always so interesting, even in just the short while I learnt so much. I loved the host-making, but I was surprised I actually liked gardening a lot and I'm well known for claiming an allergy to nature of all kinds. And of course I wasn't exempt from having to clean! But even that could be enjoyable if you took the right attitude to it. 

One of my most profound moments there was one Sunday at recreation. I sat next to one of the older sisters, a very sweet lady I became very fond of. The sister on the other side of her said "Tell Emily how long you've been here." The elderly sister looked at me and said "I've been here for 63 years." And then she paused and after a moment she said to me, with a fierce determination in her little voice, "And you know what, I haven't regretted a second." In this sweet little elderly sister, with the quiet gentle voice, she said this with such passion and determination, it was incredible. 

Mother Mistress and Mother Abbess want me to go back for a second visit, hopefully in January. At first I was a bit cautious about it, I was worried this was a round-about way of saying "no". But MM assured me it's good and that most people make several visits, especially since I've got a year of university left it would be good to make another visit just to be sure I still feel it's the right place. But I could be looking at an entrance in about September 2013! 

I'll write more fully about it soon, at the moment I'm lacking a computer so this is being posted from an iPod touch and it's difficult to write with. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Quotes

There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing. 


          Venerable Fulton J. Sheen



I know it'll have been a while since this happened when this goes up but I was so excited to hear that Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been declared Venerable. He is seriously like awesome. I watch his shows on EWTN and he is actually like the coolest person ever. So yeah, I am so totally excited about him being declared Venerable and hopefully soon he will be officially a Saint. 

Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for us! 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Litany of God the Father

This is a litany I composed in honour of God the Father. It's not very long, since I really lack the creativity to write anything longer. The intention here is that the seven verses are representative of the seven days of creation, which is why the seventh verse representing the day where God rested is different from the other verses. Similarly, each verse has seven lines, with the last line being different to form the "rest". 

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Father most high, thanks to You.
Father most majestic, thanks to You.
Father most glorious, thanks to You.
Father most almighty, thanks to You.
Father most wondrous, thanks to You.
Father most exalted, thanks to You.
Thanks to you, oh God our Father.

Creator of all things, glory to You.
Lord of heaven and earth, glory to You.
Author of life, glory to You.
King of angels, glory to You.
Lord God of Hosts, glory to You.
Ruler of all men, glory to You.
Glory to You, oh God our Father.

Father most powerful, praise to You.
Father most omnipotent, praise to You.
Father most holy, praise to You.
Father most righteous, praise to You.
Father most just, praise to You.
Father most honourable, praise to You.
Praise to You, oh God our Father.

Refuge of the oppressed, grant us peace.
Shelter of the persecuted, grant us peace.
Healer of the sick, grant us peace.
Saviour of the penitent, grant us peace.
Comforter of the desolate, grant us peace.
Relief of the needy, grant us peace.
Grant us peace, oh God our Father.

Father most gracious, have mercy on us.
Father most nurturing, have mercy on us.
Father most living, haver mercy on us.
Father most generous, have mercy on us.
Father most kind, have mercy on us.
Father most forgiving, have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, oh God our Father.

Light of nations, hear our prayers.
Shepherd of men, hear our prayers.
King of kings, hear our prayers.
Bearer of truth, hear our prayers.
God of Israel, hear our prayers.
Master of creation, hear our prayers.
Hear our prayers, oh God our Father

Thanks to You, oh God our Father.
Glory to You, oh God our Father.
Praise to You, oh God our Father.
Grant us peace, oh God our Father.
Have mercy on us, oh God our Father.
Hear our prayers, oh God our Father.
Forsake us not, oh God our Father.

Oh God our Father, to You is due all praise, worship and glory. May we glorify You with every deed, actions and thought, May Your will be done in us and in all mankind. For those times when we fail to give you due glory and fail to follow Your divine will, we profess our deepest sorrow and regret and beg for mercy and forgiveness. May all the heavens and earth eternally give you praise and thanks. Amen.

NB: I'm not particularly talented at things like this so please be charitable!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Adoration

"Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: 'This is My Body.' No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it." St. Augustine


I've mentioned before I have a great love of Eucharistic Adoration. The very first time I went to Adoration was at St. Peter's in Rome. I had heard about Adoration when I was in RCIA but my parish didn't offer it and I never sought it anywhere else. I suppose you don't miss what you've never had. After my first year of university my family and I went on vacation to Rome. They were more interested in the pizza and the old Roman stuff but I was into the churches. I love the churches in mainland Europe, they're all so beautiful and elaborate. And all for the glory of God! It's amazing. 
"Eucharistic worship is not so much worship of the inaccessible transcendence as worship of the divine condescension, and it is also the merciful and redeeming transformation of the world in the human heart," Bl. Pope John Paul II

England doesn't have the same culture because Catholicism isn't as prevalent and was historically oppressed so a lot of the great beauty was lost. That is not to say there aren't beautiful churches in England, they just tend not to be as ornate as those in Europe. So Rome was like paradise for me, I insisted in going into practically every church I came across. I was so excited to go to the Vatican City especially, and to go to St. Peter's. After all, St. Peter's is probably the most famous church in the world.
"O loving, tender Word of God, You tell me: ‘I have marked the path and opened the gate with My Blood; do not be negligent in following it, but take the same road which I, eternal Truth, have traced out with My Blood.’ Arise, my soul, and follow your Redeemer, for no one can go to the Father but by Him. O sweet Christ, Christ-Love, You are the way, and the door through which we must enter in order to reach the Father." St. Catherine of Siena

St. Peter's is amazing. It's possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. I was in complete awe, I was transfixed by it all. Just outside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a little sign telling people that the chapel is only for prayer, to separate it from the rest of the basilica. I remember thinking how much I wanted to be in that chapel. It's funny, even though I said you can't miss what you've never had I knew I wanted to be in that chapel. I sensed something there that moved me. 


"If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of man. The miser would run no more after his treasures, or the ambitious after glory; each would shake off the dust of the earth, leave the world, and fly away towards heaven," St. John Vianney




From there on in I was hooked. I loved it, I couldn't wait to spend more and more time in Adoration. It strengthened my prayer, both when I was in Adoration and in the rest of my life. When I realised that my parish at university had Adoration every Friday I was ecstatic. There's the quiet and peace you normally get from praying in the cathedral but the added presence of the Lord just fills the whole cathedral. Even where from the entrance you can't see Him, you know He is there. 
"...In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood." St. Francis of Assisi 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Mass at St. Cecilia's Abbey

Since I won't be able to post during my live-in, I've got some posts scheduled for the time I'm away since I wouldn't want the blog to just lie dormant for three weeks. 


If I've managed to somehow time this correctly, then I will be at Mass when this goes up on the blog. And this is where I will be - the church at St. Cecilia's! When I was there for my visit I went to Mass and it was so beautiful. St. Cecilia's have the Ordinary Form Mass but in Latin, except for the readings which are in English. 

You are all in my prayers and please keep me in yours. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Past self

Last week, I went clubbing. I know, it probably sounds very strange. It was a celebration for the 21st birthday of one of my close friends, who I also live with. At that point I don't think I'd been out like that since the beginning of the academic year. I don't like clubs and I never have done, but for my friend I was willing to put that aside and go out. It was okay in the end because since term has ended and most people have gone home for the summer it was pretty empty. My friends were pretty much the only people there, so it was much better than I expected it to be because one of the things I hate is all the crowded people.

Of course, I behaved myself. I drank but not too much, my skirt wasn't too short and I just generally behaved myself. But I was reminded there of a person I used to be, a person I once was in that very same nightclub. That was when I drank far too much and my skirt was far too short and I most certainly did not behave myself. It was a long time ago but I'd on some level forgotten being that person. I wasn't only reminded of what I was like all that time ago, but how far I've come and changed since then.

I had a good night for my friend's birthday, and I genuinely enjoyed myself - aside from being in pain from my high-heels. But it reminded me that I never want to be the person I used to be again.

Monday, 2 July 2012

It's been a weird day.

Today really has been a very weird day.

I'm in the process of moving house. I've moved into my new place but I've still got work to do over at my old place before I hand back the keys. I spend part of the afternoon there cleaning until I had to come back to my new place and help bake a birthday cake for one of my new housemates. In my new place I've barely unpacked, since I finished late last night and just couldn't be bothered. But I have unpacked one thing - my statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I've strategically placed her on my bookcase so that anyone looking into my room from the outside can't help but see her. Earlier I saw my friend notice her. She didn't say anything, she just looked at it, but Our Lady is watching there and who knows, maybe my little statue will be a witness to someone if they keep seeing it. But all round I'm super happy to be in my new house, I love the people I'm living with and I already feel at home here. It's a little further from my parish than before but a little walk won't hurt me.

But something super weird happened today at Mass that happened before once. The first occasion must have been a few months ago since I haven't been at my home parish in a while. It was a Sunday Mass and I went up to receive the Eucharist, nothing unusual there. Went up to the priest, bowed, "the Body of Christ", "Amen", received. Y'all know the drill. Went up to the EMHC who was holding the chalice, bowed . . . silence. She didn't say "the Blood of Christ", just shook her head at me and pulled the chalice closer to her. I was baffled, since it had been a gap since the last recipient so she'd have had time to notice if the chalice was empty. No, this was purely in response to me. I just kind of looked at her, I was so shocked. I just kind of went "Amen?" wondering if she'd said it while I was bowing or something and I'd missed it. She just looked at me funny and reluctantly said "the Blood of Christ" and passed me the chalice. Then for the next recipients, she was normal as far as I could see. I tried not to think anything of it but I was really shocked and quite upset by the whole thing. I just tried to let it pass as a one time thing and to be honest I'd forgotten about it. 

But then I was back at my home parish this week for the first time in a while and the same thing happened again, with this same woman! I received His Body as normal and then went up to the EMHC, bowed, and she did the whole take-the-chalice-away and shake her head deal. I couldn't believe this was happening a second time! I didn't know what to do, I just looked at her with this kind of "hello?" expression because well, I wanted to receive His Blood! What else would I have been doing standing there? She asked me something but I couldn't hear her properly over the music (we were right next to it) so I just nodded and she conceded and let me receive. I watched her when I went back to my pew and she didn't do this to anyone else. I found it difficult to focus on my prayers and the rest of the Mass because I was so distracted and I've found it difficult to focus on my Sunday prayers and spiritual things because I'm so caught up in this. 

The only thing I can think of is that I wear a headcovering, the first time probably a silk scarf in a triangle like a mantilla and this time just a normal scarf over my head with the ends over my shoulders, but then she wears a hat (though I'm not sure if that's just a fashion thing or a covering thing, who knows). I've been really upset by this happening, not once but twice now! I'm trying to think as charitably as I can about it and not be angry but I've been really hurt by this. I'm concerned about who else this woman has been refusing Communion to because they may not have said. It is absolutely mortifying, I am not exaggerating, so I wouldn't be surprised if other people had the same experience and are just keeping quiet. I have been genuinely really hurt by this whole thing and it's really upset me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it now and I'm kind of feeling scared to receive Communion now because I'm scared of being rejected again. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. I posted about it on Phatmass and the general consensus seems to be I should speak to the woman and speak to my priest. I'm really scared to speak to this woman, but at the same time I do kind of feel I should speak to her before I speak to Father. I may go into the city tomorrow, I have to go to the doctor anyway, and see if I can speak to the priest there. I know Father Philip quite well, he's helped me with contacting St. Cecilia's in the past, and so I could get advice from him without going to Father S yet. I'm kinda bummed about this whole thing so hopefully Father P will be able to help me out with what to do.