Saturday, November 21, 2009

An update, with gratitude

I've just finished my first week in a job that I have been planning for the greater part of this year, if not longer. I'm mentally exhausted, which I keep reminding myself is totally normal after the first week of a job. It was an interesting week and I just need to say that I am so deeply grateful that I have this Saturday morning to myself, to sit in my bed with a strong smooth cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend, listening to the wind and rain outside my window while I am sat snug in my bed, recording my thoughts.

When I think back to all of the obstacles that came in the way of me making it to where I am today, I am reminded that there have been so many people who have been instrumental in getting me here. My old boss, my new boss, my friends here, my mom and dad, my siblings (for the most part), and even all the faceless officials that kept me humble. I can't forget them at this time, and I'm going out of my way to send Christmas cards to them this year, something that I have always been a bit neglectful of doing.

I am grateful to be where I am and see that the work that I put into this year has evolved as good as expected, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to contribute.

I am grateful for the timing that brought me back here when I did, finding a house that feels like a home, with people that I sense I can trust.

I am grateful that the people that I work with have been so genuinely supportive and welcoming. Since I will be spending so much time with them, it makes all the difference in the world to feel comfortable in that setting.

Now, I just can't wait to see where this road leads. One of my roommates is an attractive young Englishman who happens to be on a trip at the moment, deciding the fate of his relationship with his long-time, long-distance girlfriend. This could have big implications for our relationship, as I sense at least a lusty attraction there, as well as mutual interests as far as activities go.

Then there is my boss, a strong, radiant woman, with a strong and impressive career who found the love of her life a bit later than expected. She's now taking a leave so that she can focus on having a baby through IVF. She has thus far been unsuccessful, but is now going to try and see if work stress has been a factor. I wish her the best and I do hope that she conceives!

That leaves me with my acting boss, who is somewhere in Africa for the next couple of weeks. My first impressions of him were very positive, with a natural chemistry. He also is very well-liked and respected for his wit, intelligence, approachability, and hard work ethic. I do believe we also share a similar ideology when it comes to the work we are doing.

All in all, I think this is a very good step in the right direction. I have to continue to rely on prayer to direct me and not let my exhaustion get the best of me. The first week was tough, but I'll step into it. It does take a few months sometimes, but I see this rolling out in a exciting direction.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And lead me not into temptation...

Last week I went to Confession for the first time in over a year. I have been meaning to go for awhile, literally months, but I've obviously not made it enough of an effort. I do take it very seriously, so part of me not going was due to the fact that preparing for it can be draining and exhausting if one truly does a thorough examination of conscience.

Regardless, last week I was led to the Confession booth following a dream in which I was preparing for death. It was a profound and deeply moving dream, one that I woke up thinking about, making a mental note not to forget it so that I could consider its meaning. In my dream, right before I awoke I was lying down, peacefully approaching death. I was mixed with strong mortal panic of crossing to the other side, balanced by a flood of peace and desire to go and meet with God. In short, I was strongly experiencing both the love and fear of God throughout my soul.

So I decided that meant I should go confess my sins and get right with God. And I did.

As part of my statement of contrition, the priest said to ask God to help me not to sin anymore. And he said that I should repeat that every night. (Of course, I can't remember the exact prayer line now but...that's not an excuse). And it dawned on me - of course! I knew that I have sinned and had been repeating the same sins. So how simple is it to ask God to simply help me not to do (X) anymore?!

It makes sense, when you think of the perfectly constructed 'Our Father' prayer. "And lead me not into temptation". Duh! I tended to always focus on the "Thy will be done" part, thinking that made me humble because I truly wanted to experience God's great plan for my life rather than my own. But I conveniently neglected to consider that maybe all of these times when I led myself into situations where I might be tempted to break God's commandments, I might have had help walking away if I had taken those words to heart, and simply asked God not to let it happen.

Sure enough, that very day I remembered a "white lie" I had told that had just slipped out, and I really didn't want to retract it at this point. I knew that I was wrong, I wasn't sure why I had said it in the first place because it was so irrelevant and superficial, but still, I didn't want the person to whom I had told it to think that I was a liar. So, I asked God not to put me in a situation where I would have to confront this lie, and knowing me, probably tell another, and another, in order to weasel my way out. Well, that was a week ago, and it appears that that little incident is in the past. How good and gracious of God to protect His little sinner like that!

But it truly is a lovely new focus for me: asking God not to lead me into temptation. I am weak. Really, truly weak, and I know that sinful behaviour easily becomes a habit.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

- Jean de la Fontaine

This quote struck me not because of any particular "destiny" that I myself am trying to avoid, but it does help reflect on the importance of conscious choices that we make. It reminds of times when I was trying to avoid certain people or situations in general, yet I would ultimately come face to face them. I recall a certain man who was also trying to dodge any chance of confrontation with me, only to repeatedly turn up in the same places that I would be. I must say, watching him squirm did make me smile inwardly with content, satisfied that he was indeed being forced to own up to his part of the relationship. I did care about him though, so I really believed that having to face our situation was important for both of us.

I read somewhere this week, every lie we tell builds an alternate reality that we are forced to live in. Over time, and I know this from experience, that alternate world can become very destabilizing. So this quote becomes about honesty, about being true to the path we have traveled and the people we have affected so that we can peacefully proceed on the road ahead of us. It may lead us to unimagined places, but we can be sure that full acknowledgment of our previous deeds, good or bad, will generate less unwelcome surprises in the future.

The freedom that comes from atonement with the past gratifies your present self, creating hope and joyful anticipation for the future.

A person left a comment on a photo taken two years ago of a facebook friend, gazing out into the sunset, about how at that time, she had no idea how her life was about to change. This was right before she met her future husband, to whom she was recently married. They seem completely made for each other.

The friend's remark touched me. Although this scenario is not unlikely for someone my age, that comment helps us to remember to be grateful for the chain of events that brought us to our current reality. Remembering what our lives were like before these pivotal events helps usher in a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for life.

So what I am saying is that we never really know what God has in store for us right around the corner. But it is our responsibility to be fully prepared to embrace it. I mean hey, it's in our own best interest, right?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Learning Humility

A good article on humility at


Here’s what I suspect: much of what I think are the evidences of humility in my life are really something else entirely. There’s an ongoing skirmish between a desire for holiness (tainted with pride), discouragement over failings (tainted with pride) and goals of using my talents in the best way possible ~ for God’s glory of course. (Also tainted with pride.) Ugh.

The discouragement part is quite seductive actually, because it can give the appearance of sorrowful humility when it is often wounded pride. Humility does not mean I must dislike myself. To speak ill of myself, to mentally berate myself over my flaws and mistakes is not evidence of humility. It is evidence of pride. It just means I’ve not lived up to my expectation of myself, or worse, my delusion of grandeur.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

Ever since he first appeared on the Colbert Report, Father James Martin, SJ, has been one of my favorite voices of faith and reason, combining worldly intelligence and credentials put to use serving God as a Jesuit priest.

I mainly want to post the link to his story of conversion, as reported through his Alma Mater, the Wharton School of Business at U Penn. I came across this particular story in an article in the NY Times today about the impending exposure of GE's unethical financial reporting activities. These were the same shady tactics that had given Fr. Martin pause back when he worked in the financial reporting department at GE, the exact practices which GE had now been found liable for $50 million had been documented in one of his book's decades ago, “In Good Company: The Fast Track From the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.” Father Martin himself describes his own glee, feeling vindicated all these years later, at America Magazine.

Check out an excerpt in Fr. Martin's own words at how he somehow ended up in his unlikely position today. Referring to his background in finance that led him to work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Kenya and eventually establish the Mikono Centre, which helped channel investment funds for the refugee community:

The "somehow" of Father Martin's priestly vocation haunts him when he thinks about it. Somehow he set out on a lifetime career in business and ended up a priest - almost despite himself. "Divine Providence," the theologians call it. "If I had tried to design a perfect background to work at the Mikono Centre," he observes, "I could not have done as well as I did by accident."

It's a hope-giving tale of real life karmic justice. Made me smile.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Death and Timing

A friend of a friend of mine just lost his mother. He is in his twenties and they have had a tumultuous relationship due to her decades-long alcoholism. He had just returned from living abroad for an extended period of time and had only been back for over a week. Their relationship had been strained and painful for him, and she was known and gossiped about as the town drunk.

Then one morning, he found her in bed, dead. She had not been dead for that long when he found her. He, being in the next room, had not heard a thing.

My friend recounted to me how he had described his last night with his mother. He had cooked her dinner and it was the first time that they had sat together and talked in years. He said it was a proper talk, no fighting, and that it had given him hope. That very same night, with no indication, she suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Everyone had always talked about how it would happen, whether it would be an overdose, or something related. Ultimately, a premature death for her was predicted as inevitable after the way she had abused her body for most of her life.

So now he is struggling to understand why God would take his mother just as they had began to make amends. It does seem like particularly awful timing, but it could have been worse. They could have had a fight that night. Or he could have still have been abroad and lived with the guilt of not having been there, to try to make things right.

So I will keep him in my prayers and hope that God bestows graces on him that will bring good out of this terribly painful tragedy. This reminds me of when Obama's grandmother died the night before he was elected president. If one had no faith, her death epitomized the cruel randomness and injustice of our world. But through the lens of faith, it illustrates the often tragic poetry of life... and necessarily keeps one humble so we do not exalt ourselves. Particularly when God asks big things of us, I think we can also expect Him to remind us who is in ultimately in charge.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Prayer on Timing

A Prayer by Teilhard de Chardin, via Ignatian Spirituality on Facebook.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
-- that is to say, grace --
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Finding God in All Things

Thoughtful video on My Catholic Voice. They give useful tips for prayer in the ignation tradition, describing prayer as our response to God's invitation to communicate with us.

A tip so that we won't overlook moments of grace in our lives:

"Set aside time for prayer. If you don't put the discipline upon yourself for prayer, if you don't respond to that invitation from God, a lot of ways God might have of communicating with you are overlooked." -Fr. James Martin, SJ

(via Ignatian Spirituality on Facebook).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thoughts from Isaiah

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
-Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Prayer: An Act of Abandonment

An Act of Abandonment

O my God, I thank you and I praise
you for accomplishing your holy
and all-lovable will without any regard for mine.
With my whole heart,
in spite of my heart,
do I receive this cross I feared so much!

It is the cross of Your choice,
the cross of Your love.
I venerate it;
nor for anything in the world
would I wish that it had not come,
since You willed it.

I keep it with gratitude and with joy,
as I do everything that comes from Your hand;
and I shall strive to carry it without letting it drag,
with all the respect
and all the affection which Your works deserve.


By Saint Francis De Sales

via Catholic Online

Monday, June 15, 2009

Breaking through passive aggressiveness

I resolved the situation with the ex by challenging my horrible communication skills, namely my use of sarcasm used as a defense mechanism. There's a fantastic book that helped me out of addiction and unimaginably low self-esteem in my teen years by Dr. David D. Burns called The Feeling Good Handbook. I highly recommend it. It breaks down why we have communication barriers and what we can do to overcome all sorts of obstacles that can hinder the growth of many types of relationships. It also deals with issues of anxiety, depression, etc. Very concise and non-judgmental.

But I digress. Anyway, I resolved my anxiety about this by sending a brief email to him, apologizing for not asking how he was doing in my first message, saying how surprised I was to hear from him, that he seemed to be doing well and so was I, and if he could drop me a line.


I feel a million times better now. It's out of my court, it's not weighing on me, I feel like I took it towards a path that I normally wouldn't have. I need to break my old habits if anything is ever going to change in my relationships. So this is a start, regardless of what happens with this particular fellow.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Confused over a man

One week ago, an ex added me on Facebook. The background is that this is an ex who I haven't spoken to in two years. Though we only dated for a few months, it was extremely intense and the breakup was painful. We had an instant connection to each other. We parted ways with no hope of a future together because (even though neither of us would say it because we knew that it would really end everything) he is Jewish and I am Catholic. He is not religious but I know his Jewish identity is very important to him, as my Catholic identity is to me. Apart from our own personal views, our families have a huge part in that too.

We did stay in touch by email for a few months after, but ceased all contact when it became evident that it would be too easy to hold onto our feelings for each other. At least, this is how it was from my end and how I imagine it to have been on his end, but I can't know for sure.

So when I see his name come up last week, I was in shock and not at all pleased with the reaction in my stomach. That is, lots of emotion, memories, and feelings came flooding back.

I waited a few days to add him and when I did, I sent him a one-liner, making a joke about his profile pic. That was 5 days ago and I haven't heard anything from him. From what I can tell of his profile, he is not in a relationship.

So why has he added me and then not said anything to me? What is up with this? Seeing his pictures again gave me a lot of anxiety this week as it caused a temporary resurgence of feelings for him that I have never had for anyone else. So I was a little scared and even annoyed that he chose to find me now.

I ask myself, should I even be bothering to open up this old wound?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An inspiring tale: Tommy Finds an Angel

I could swear that I have heard this story before, but re-reading it today gave me the inspiration I needed. It's on Beliefnet and it's about an atheist who found God after getting cancer, which forced him to reconcile with his family.

It drives home the point to me that, although the professor had tried to get a message through to Tommy, seemingly in vain, it was not until he let go that God was really able to work. Then, it was Tommy's concerted effort and subsequent surrender that led him to where God ultimately wanted him: to reach out with love and humility to those closest to him.

With man it is impossible, but anything is possible with God.

I hope that I can be an instrument for people who are seeking even though, ironically, I often feel like I am continuously in search of Him too. Somehow, when I see people that need it, I am able to speak of faith and its value and truth. Maybe because in my own human and egoist view, it all sounds silly. But when I see someone in a weakened state, it forces me to humble myself to the Truth of our condition that goes far beyond my own understanding.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:5-6

-Story via Susan Gregg on Beliefnet

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tiredness and Spirituality

This is my third or fourth night in a row where I've had less than four hours of sleep. I've continued to have energy during the day and I am fully functional, but in all honesty, I think this is a result of the ex re-entering the picture. I've been stressed, anxious, angry, hopeful, smitten, nostalgic, eager, excited, contemplative, weak, and strong. My mind has raced me through all these nights, refusing to let me sleep properly. All of this is catching up with me.

Yesterday, I began my Novena with a heart full of love and at least some hope in God's love for me and that He had a plan for my life. This coincided with my feelings towards the ex that arose out of a discussion with some friends about what a great guy he was/is. They said: play it cool. They could see I was in my smitten phase and said that at least he was obviously thinking of me too. So I began my novena with the request that there be reconciliation between us and for Jesus to protect our hearts and guide us towards our true loves, which is what we both want.

Now today, I feel nothing. No sense of faith nor any feelings towards ex. Just indifference. I suppose this isn't a big deal but it does make me question how much of my religious faith is really just a plea for help when threatened with an emotional upheaval over which I have little control.

Nevertheless, I said my prayers and pleaded for God to help me feel his love in my heart. This has been my problem in general lately. I just don't feel "God" the way I used to. I am even begging for some trials so that I can trust in Him again. The types of trials that bring me to God are often those over which I have little control, such as my romantic life. It is much easier to convince yourself that you retain at least a modicum of control over areas of your life such as work or school, but not with love. So maybe this is what will bring me back? I do beg for some trials in my love life. Anything at all would be a bonus.

Or maybe I'll just feel fine after a good night's sleep. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Jesus looked upon them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."- Mark 10:27

Sometimes I just need a reminder.


Novena to the Sacred Heart, Day 1

I went on a long walk today to try and clear my head and I stumbled upon a church in which I have never been. It was a long church, only one person praying quietly in there at the time, and I went around to visit the different statues of the saints.

I came upon the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and found, coincidentally, that today is the first day of the Novena. The theme is,"Christ is close to me and gives me hope", a leaflet by Brian Grogan, SJ. This is from the Sacred Heart Messenger Magazine.

The leaflet gives a brief description of the Ignatian practice of imagining yourself seated next to Christ while you pray. I have never tried these exercises before but this may be the perfect time to start. Also, each day requires a bit of scripture reading as well, which is something that I have been meaning to start again. I've been neglecting my Bible and right now I have a million thoughts going through my head (it all has to do with the ex who just added me to FB - but that's a whole other post).

Anyway, sometimes it is nice when we stumble across exactly what we need most, when we need it most.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

When an ex contacts you

Everything that has been troubling me lately - work, visas, etc - came to a head last week. Everything has worked out very well in my favour. I am no longer stressed and I am confident that I am in a good place, right where I need to be. My career looks like it will pick up in the next few months and I was beginning to look forward to a bright and peachy summer.

Then today, out of the blue, I get a message on Facebook. An ex added me as a friend.

Not just any ex, but an ex with whom I had intense chemistry and cared about very much. We were only together for about three months, and it was over two years ago. Now, that's the longest relationship that I have ever had a. And he was. We clicked immediately and we had a very strong bond. He was very dear to my heart.

So what happened? We were both working overseas, my contract was up, and our relationship ended. But it would have ended anyway. Why? Before we parted, he said he could never see himself in a relationship with me or marrying me. Though he never said why and I never asked, the most obvious reason for it, to me, was that we came from very different religious backgrounds.

After this, we had some contact over email for a few months, and then it stopped. I think we both saw that we needed to move on. And now, two years later, I get a message from him. I haven't added him yet because I am still in shock. I was so happy not to be thinking about him (I am not currently seeing anyone). I am happy where I am at so maybe I shouldn't worry.

I have always thought, or hoped, or wondered if I would ever see or hear from him again. I knew it would have to be on his initiative and I sincerely would love to hear how he's been doing. I just don't want to be hurt again.

Please God, protect my heart.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Love Your Enemies...

Henri Nouwen on Peace:

Here we touch one of the greatest dangers that face peacemakers: that peacemakers themselves become the victims of the evil forces they are trying to overcome. The same fear of "the enemy" that leads warmakers to war can begin to affect the peacemaker who sees the warmaker as "the enemy." Words of anger and hostility can gradually enter into the language of the peacemaker. Even the sense of urgency and emergency that motivates the arms race can become the driving force behind the peacemaker. Then indeed the strategy of war and the strategy of peace have become the same, and peacemaking has lost its heart.

One of the reasons why so many people have developed strong reservations about the peace movement is precisely that they do not see the peace they seek in the peacemakers themselves. Often what they see are fearful and angry people trying to convince others of the urgency of their protest. The tragedy is that peacemakers often reveal more of the demons they are fighting than of the peace they want to bring about.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen in Peacework

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our Lady of Fatima video

I have watched this video many times because I like the music, but this morning it made me weep.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good News

Today I spoke to a reasonable man from the Visas section who said that I should have no problem getting an extension on my current visa. I hope so! That would allow me to work another job as well!

Plus, my mom said that this incredibly good-looking man that we noticed in Church at Christmas time - accompanying his mother - has been showing up at the evening Mass. My sister might make an announcement about Taize at the end one night when he is there. Hopefully he would be smart enough to go and talk to her. That would be fabulous. God I really hope so.

I'm glad today was positive. I felt so awful and anxious right before bed last. Now, so much better. Anxiety is a great sin because it is a sign that we are not trusting in God. It's true. Glad I discovered those old posts.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


After a recent job interview went less than stellar (to say the least), this excerpt frmo Fr. Ciszek is appropriate:

Be thankful then... that God in his loving care sends humiliations your way... It was the same God who arranged for (joy) in order to strengthen and console you and who has now arranged your abrupt and humiliating departure from the scene to remind you once more that all things on this earth are governed by his providence and not man's efforts. That was yesterday, and today is today. You haven't done anything yet in (the Soviet Union) except by his grace and his will; to work out answers beforehand, you made a miserable mess of your efforts and had to learn all over again to look for God's will in the situations and circumstances. Isn't it about time you learned? Isn't it time you learned to be meek and humble of heart, to give up your own will and strive to conform to God's, to seek first the kingdom of God and his justice - not to worry about where this plane is taking you, or what you will meet there, or what you are leaving behind?
-Page 179

Ouch! There is more in that chapter that I will add on later, all about truth, humility and humiliation.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gut Feelings

I was out with friends from work tonight. One of my Scottish friends was telling me that she had an instinct that I wouldn't be leaving. That something would be pulled out of a hat and that I would stay. I suppose I had already planned to stay, but without a real job prospect. But she did say that she had a very strong feeling about that.

I hope so.

My plan is to find out about alternative types of visas. That might be my way out (or in, I should say).

I'm approaching the end of Angels in my Hair. It's a wonderful book and I will be sad when it is done. I'm so glad I'm getting to learn more about her life (Lorna Byrne). Why is it that I believe her but have such a hard time accepting it and putting it into full practice? Can I just accept and believe that I have a guardian angel with me right now, that God has given to me as a gift? I'm confused but I am going to try harder to connect with it.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Last Saturday or Sunday, I felt certain about the direction in which my fate was about to unroll. I was to up and leave my current home and head back to mom's house on another continent. In a way, this was part of my preparation for the "worst-case scenario" and had less to do with me feeling certain about the outcome than it had to do with me just craving certainty. Living in a state of limbo with your fate in the hands of a bureaucracy certainly tests one's patience and invokes a feeling of utter powerlessness that I longed to be rid of.

At the same time, my inner-faith spoke to my sister, "Anything can happen in the next week." And as usual, events and outcomes that I hadn't foreseen or even considered were where the truth was hiding. I'm allowed to stay and work longer than I had requested and now everything looks much more clear. I am delighted, but it certainly was a test of faith, knowing that a destiny over which you no longer have any power is unfolding by the hour.

Not everything seemed to go in my favour, however. I was reminded that the easiest way to experience self-loathing is to go to a job interview where you know in advance that you are unqualified and then attempt to lie about your suitability for the position. I may have destroyed some future job opportunities, but at least it may have settled this issue.

With that door closing, I do see hope on the horizon. It may be a man, it may be a job somewhere else in a different capacity in which I am not yet aware.

I will pray. I am finally reading "Angels in my Hair" by Lorna Byrne and it is full of the childlike love and hope that I need right now. I am very excited and curious about my future. My flatmate thinks that things will really come together for me in the next month or so. In a way, that is inevitable! But I truly feel that this may be connected to some sort of path. I have to keep praying.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When things don't go the way we planned...

So it looks like my so-called "worst fears" are coming true. Not only will I be unemployed next week but I will also have to relocate to my home country. Ok. The tears flew down my face and I felt anger towards the whole "system", but how can I question God's will? We do not know what he wants for us.

A part of Fr. Walter Ciszek's book He Leadeth Me brought me this wisdom:

Each day, every day of out lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act. He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and if we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day is divine will.

That about says it and I have to trust that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Memorare

Something odd happened to me last night. I was reading an interview with Matt Baglio on Beliefnet a journalist who has just put out a book about exorcism. He describes an experience he had after viewing part of an exorcism of a woman who was cursing the Virgin Mary, about whom the priest said had helped the woman greatly. So the journalist said a prayer to Mary, and shortly thereafter, a strong aroma of flowers filled his car. What struck him most was that along with this, he couldn't seem to stop smiling and he couldn't explain why.

So I went to bed, saying my prayers and asking the Virgin to give me a sign that she was still with me. Oddly enough, I did go to sleep and I was dreaming. I think it was about exorcism, etc. At the end of this dream, it was incredibly clear that I was told to begin reciting the Memorare, though I could not fully remember the words. My mom used to make me recite this prayer.

As I was reciting the prayer in my dreams, I awoke to a disturbing presence. I had to get up to use the toilet and if I may say so, I felt a somewhat evil presence - not too intense, but definitely unsettling enough that I began reciting this prayer and a few others. I don't know if there were bad angels with me or what, but it is odd that that was the prayer that came into my mind so vividly.

So this morning I woke up and googled a line from the prayer, discovering that it is called the Memorare. It is a plea for the assistance of the Blessed Virgin. I am glad I discovered it and I enjoyed praying it this morning. It filled me with strong and positive feelings while I recited it.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thine intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy
hear and answer me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One day at a time

Yesterday I experienced some of the worst feelings of anxiety when my fears about the future appeared to be confirmed. Not mortal fears, but employment. I may have to return to my homeland since the employment situation here in the Emerald Isle continues to contract, with just over a month left on my current permit.

There is still a chance for me though... but under the circumstances, which I won't go into in detail, I won't find out until the last minute.

This could signal an abrupt change, or the continuation of a project where my enthusiasm for it has already shifted from a source of current excitement towards a place in my memory bank of the experiences for which I am thankful. A key signpost on my path.

Today I woke up after a relatively restful sleep feeling much more hopeful about the future. And it's taken me back to some of the old school 12-step principles that were so instrumental in the formative years of my adult faith.

One day at a time... one step at a time. Focus on the present for "who of you by worrying has changed a hair on his head?"

This is true. I should not fear. The change does not have to be negative - when have I ever looked at change that way?!! I LOVE change! I thrive on it!

The loss of stability and familiarity does not have to mean a loss of security. It can be seen as a catalyst for innovation in my own life, and hopefully, towards a life serving others.

That is one thing I have learned, or rather re-learned, from working in a big institution - they have no loyalty. Individuals within it may try to help you, but ultimately the institution will take your ideas and contributions and own them, disregarding the personal source. It makes me want to start my own business, but in what?

i don't know.... but time will tell. For now, I am going to continue my leisurely morning sipping coffee and reading He Leadeth Me, by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, SJ.

Monday, March 16, 2009

From Henri Nouwen:

There was nothing spectacular about Jesus' life. Far from it! Even when you look at Jesus' miracles, you find that he did not heal or revive people in order to get publicity. He frequently forbade them even to talk about it. His resurrection too was a hidden event. Only his disciples and a few of the women and men who had known him intimately before his death saw him as the Risen Lord.'s hard for us to believe that Jesus revealed God in hiddenness. But neither Jesus' life nor his death nor his resurrection were intended to astound us with the great glory of God. God became a lowly, hidden, almost invisible God....

That's a mystery which is so difficult to grasp in an age that attaches so much value to publicity. We tend to think that the more people know and talk about something, the more important it must be. That's understandable, considering the fact that great notoriety often means big money, and big money often means a large degree of power, and power easily creates the illusion of importance.

... in our publicity-seeking world, a lot of discussions about God take it as their starting point that even God has to justify himself. People often say: "If that God of yours really exists, then why doesn't he make his omnipotence more visible in this chaotic world of ours?" God is called to account, as it were, and mockingly invited to prove, just for once, that he really does exist. Again you hear someone say: "I've no need whatever for God. I can perfectly well look after myself. As a matter of fact, I have yet to receive any help from God with any of my problems!" The bitterness and sarcasm evident in remarks of this sort show what's expected: that God should at least be concerned with his own popularity. People often talk as though God has as great a need for recognition as we do.

Now look at Jesus, who came to reveal God to us, and you see that popularity in any form is the very thing he avoids. He is constantly pointing out that God reveals himself in secrecy. It sounds very paradoxical, but accepting and, I would venture to say, entering into that paradox sets you on the road of the spiritual life.

Allowing ourselves to be created

Here is a excerpt from an interview with the Dominican Priest that I had linked to previously. The question was about feeling certainty over his decision to become a priest:

I will never forget the moment when I finally said yes in my heart. I was in my little studio apartment in St. Louis, sitting there with my books, like a lot of grad student geeks, and I was thinking about my whole life, women, marriage, professorships, the priesthood, the Dominicans, God, all of it and none of it in particular. I was not at all certain in my intellect about a lot of things. In that memorable moment, I simply consented in my heart to do what my conscience had told me to do so very long ago, and was telling me even now to do. At that moment, in my heart, I said, "alright, I'll do it." From that point on, over many months, clarity gradually grew in my intellect, joy grew in my heart, and peace grew throughout my being. To be a priest was becoming what I wanted. You see, what happened in that moment of consent, I now realize, was that God gave me an inclination of the heart to allow him to be in my life what he truly is -- my creator. All along he wanted to create me as a priest, and I was saying no. As soon as I said yes, the creation of the priest commenced at a whole new level in my being. God began to outfit my being with a whole new set of desires, instincts, emotions, dreams, etc..The whole thing was gradual and supernatural.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Random thoughts

I managed to go one full day yesterday without any chocolate. I felt great. I felt so great, I felt like rewarding myself with chocolate. I didn't, but I loved how my mind-body connection is a mess of contradictions.

My Lenten sacrifice was to give up chocolate and over the past two weeks, for the most part I have considerably cut down and I am glad to say that I am making progress towards abstaining. I hope it is a step that will strengthen my faith since I am having difficultly maintaining a balance of work and prayer life. I am facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment and I know that maintaining a strong individual spiritual life should be connected and supported by a greater community. I don't have any friends near me that I could count as being supportive of or even aware of that side of me. I go to Mass alone and pray alone and for the most part I like that. But it would help if I had friends that thought about these issues as I did. Am I mad to think every day about whether or not Christianity is true?

Today's Lenten prayer from Henri Nouwen speaks about how we define our contributions to life based on our worldly accomplishments but that living a Christian life means finding an inner freedom out of solitude, a lonely place, a quiet center, so that we can appreciate not what we conquer, but what is given to us.

A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as the only way of self-identification, then we become defensive and possessive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life....In solitude, we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.

It's good food for thought and it reminds me of a former classmate of mine, with whom I had had a falling out over something trivial. Ultimately, it came from her continuous competitiveness with me that included subtle put downs about my own accomplishments or even character traits, while boasting shamelessly about hers. This was someone who could never be alone and by her own admission, was wildly insecure and could not take criticism.

But I digress... I miss sharing little things with friends and I don't know how to make new ones.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Agnosticism to the Priesthood

From Conversion Diary, an interview with Dominican Friar, Br. James Dominic Brent, O.P.:

The story of how I knew I was called to be a priest, and the story of how I lost my faith and found it again, are basically the same story. Finding one's vocation and finding one's God are the same movement of the heart. Discernment and conversion are two ways of looking at the same movement toward God.

This speaks directly to me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


A few ideas have been running through my head about the future, which have urged me towards the practice of discernment. Since I have been struggling with my faith, this is obviously going to be a challenge. I have to remember how and when to discern. As I recall, St. Ignatius of Loyola has been the definitive voice for learning how to discern God's word. I found an article about it here:

Before we can say discernment is actually occurring, certain conditions must be met:

1. You must desire to do God’s will. This means that this must be your fundamental choice in life.

2. You must be open to God at the moment of discerning. This means that you must be completely open to accept any of the possible results of discerning. If you are only interested in doing what you want to do, and are not open to other possibilities, then discernment is not possible.

3. You must know what God is like.

4. You must be a person who prays.

He also mentions that a good discerner must be humble, charitable and have strong courage. Now to put that into practice.

About two years ago, I remember reading one of the books he recommends, Weeds Among the Wheat by Fr. Thomas H. Green. I'll have to go back to that.

I am a very impulsive person, and the thrill of doing something new and risky always gets my blood pulsing, in a good way. I become intoxicated with adrenaline, but I have to be careful that I don't interpret that adrenaline as a message from God, encouraging me to go ahead with (insert wild plans here). It is very likely that those feelings come from my a desire to serve my own selfish whims and go off on an adventure. It is easy for me to forget that I should use new opportunities and take risks in order to serve God.

At the very least, I should be finding ways to serve God while doing things that I already consider fantastic and exciting. Right?

Update: A good quote from He Leadeth Me, by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, SJ:
God's will can be discerned by the fruits of the spirit it brings, that peace of soul and joy of heart are two such things, provided they follow upon total commitment and openness to God alone and are not founded on the self's desires. That the validity of the call can be tested - whether it be the call of a vocation or of some new departure within that vocation - by the movements of the soul that accompany it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wise Words from Pope Benedict

I want to record a passage from a small book I picked up at the library today, "Questions and Answers", by Pope Benedict XVI. It contains a section whereby youth ask questions pertaining to the practice of faith in their lives.

A 17-year-old asks:

We are often led to believe that knowledge and faith are each other's enemies; that knowledge and technology are the same thing; that it was through mathematical logic that everything was discovered; that the world is the result of an accident, and that if mathematics did not discover the theorem - God, it is because God simply does not exist. ... What can I do to harmonize knowledge and faith?

Pope Benedict responds:

The Great Galileo said that God wrote the book of nature in the form of the language of mathematics. He was convinced that God had given us two books: the book of Sacred Scripture and the book of nature. And the language of nature - this was his conviction - is mathematics, so it s a language of God, a language of the Creator.

Let us now reflect now that mathematics is: In itself, it is an abstract system, an invention of the human spirit that as such in its purity does not exist. It is always approximated, but as such is an intellectual system, a great, ingenious invention of the human spirit.

The surprising thing is that this invention of our human intellect is truly the key to understanding nature, that nature is truly structured in a mathematical way, and that our mathematics, invented by our human mind, is truly the instrument for working with nature, to put it at our service, to use it through technology.

It seems to me almost incredible that an invention of the human mind and the structure of the universe coincide. Mathematics, which we invented, really gives us access to the nature of the universe and makes it possible for us to use it.

This is a wonderfully articulate expression of how scientific discovery should actually reinforce the sense of wonder and awe associated with God, as He comes shrouded in mystery. It is incredible how we've been able to realize a structure underneath the chaos on the surface; that we may not be capable of creating laws, but that we are able to extract them from what already exists. And we are free to choose how we employ them.

The Pope adds one more important insight into his analysis of the relationship between knowledge and faith:

Therefore, the intellectual structure of the human subject and the objective structure of reality coincide: The subjective reason and the objective reason of nature are identical. I think that this coincidence between what we thought up and how nature is fulfilled and behaves is a great enigma and a great challenge, for we see that, in the end, it is 'one' reason that links them both.

One reason could not discover this other reason were there not an identical antecedent reason for both.

In this sense, it really seems to me that mathematics - in which as such God cannot appear - shows us the intelligent structure of the universe. Now, there are also theories of chaos, but they are limited because if chaos had the upper hand, all technology would become impossible. Only because our mathematics is reliable, is technology reliable.

Our knowledge, which is at last making it possible to work with the energies of nature, supposes the reliable and intelligent structure of matter. Thus, we see that there is a subjective rationality and an objectified rationality in matter that coincide.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prayer: Abandonment to Divine Providence

“My God, I desire with all my heart to do Your holy will, I submit in all things and absolutely to Your good pleasure for time and eternity; and I wish to do this, Oh my God, for two reasons; first: because You are my Sovereign Lord and it is but just that Your will should be accomplished; secondly: because I am convinced by faith, and by experience that Your will is in all things as good and beneficent as it is just and adorable, while my own desires are always blind and corrupt; blind, because I know not what I ought to desire or to avoid; corrupt, because I nearly always long for what would do me harm. Therefore, from henceforth, I renounce my own will to follow Yours in all things; dispose of me, Oh my God, according to Your good will and pleasure.”

The most relevant part of that quote to me is that I do not know what I desire. Like many people today, I do not have any job security for the future. My current contract is up in a month in a country where I am, as of yet, not legally permitted to remain. I may be moving back "home" in a month's time, and I am not sure how to prepare for that upheaval. I do not have any desire to pursue a job or a life anywhere else.

I remember reading something along the lines that God is responsible for the desires of your heart, and if He didn't want them there, he would take them away. I also suppose that to mean that if He wanted something else for me, He would place a burning desire that would lead me to where I ought to be.

For now, I hope to remain where I am and pray that my contract be renewed, if it is God's will. If it is not, I have not the slightest inkling of what He wants for me. I am just trying to be patient during this time. I think that is the only thing that I can do as He has not placed any other desires in my heart. Or maybe I need to search a bit deeper...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quick update...

Found out about "Signal Graces" and the Rosary. I prayed the rosary last night and I was happy to do so. But I think it's the explanation I was looking for - about intuition. More tomorrow, have to say the Sorrowful mysteries before bed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A few prayers...

I saw this prayer in Henri Nouwen's book, "Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent". It is about serving God as the number one commandment, with all your heart, soul, and mind.

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you;
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this,
O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love
of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
with boundless confidence.
For you are my Father.


by Charles de Foucauld

Another good one from this post

“Advance with simplicity on the pathways of God, and do not worry. Hate your defects, yes, but quietly, without excitement or anxiety. It is necessary to be patient with them and to benefit from them through holy humility. For if you lack patience, your imperfections, instead of disappearing, will only grow. Because there is nothing which strengthens our defects as much anxiety and obsession to be rid of them. Cultivate your vineyard together with Jesus. To you the task of removing stones and pulling up brambles. To Jesus, that of sowing, planting, cultivating and watering. But even in your work, it is still him who acts. Because without Christ, you could do nothing whatsoever.” —St. Padre Pio

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Prayer and Intuition

It is just a few days into Lent and I have already failed in my abstinence of chocolate, and my prayers haven't been that consistent. But this is a path of growth, I have to remind myself.

I came across a quote today that summed up what I was trying to explain in my first post. Lorna Byrne, an Irish woman who communicates with angels (...yes... i know, I'll return to that) offered spiritual advice to a publisher named Jonathan Black on his website that rang true:

Lorna Byrne has been advising me on my spiritual practice. She tells me how, if we persist, parts of ourselves are enlivened by it and continue to pray after we've - consciously - stopped.

I recall that when I habitually prayed, and prayed with the heart, it had that same effect on me. It was like I was seeing the world through a new set of lenses, set in a much deeper tone. But the prayer had to be with faith and I remember feeling the rewards of it.

Similarly, he adds that Rudolf Steiner's advised that conscious work over 21 days creates permanent change in the etheric body.

Now, I'm not entirely sure what Steiner means by "etheric body" but I'm going to look into his work. Even just the title of one of his books, "Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path", seems to match my own experience of developing my intuition and spirituality.

My hard heart is my main obstacle. It is a lack of strong burning faith, and it is difficult for me to pray meaningfully and make sacrifices if the foundation of my faith isn't that strong. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Is that the question I should be pursuing?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


It is the Sunday before Lent and I am preparing my heart for the next 40 days, where I will attempt to bring myself closer to God.

I have lost a great sense of my spirituality in recent months, or even almost years, I received a quiet rekindling of spirit on a recent pilgrimage. I could sense myself pushing it away, maybe because I don't know if I am ready for the consequences of allowing God, or my belief in God, to return. In a way, I am anxious for some sense of my spirituality to return, not necessarily because I have logically accepted the intellectual path to Christianity or anything that complicated. Rather, in the past I have found that when I practiced a more devout life, my intuition has come more attuned to my circumstances and surroundings. I had become more sensitive to subtleties that I may have overlooked had I not been thinking of everyday events in terms of good and evil, as though there is the potential to exercise virtue in seemingly mundane ordinary decision.

I am a point in my life where big change lay around the corner and I feel great anticipation towards an uncertain future. I want to be sure that I am able to recognize the "right" path, the right actions to take so that I don't miss any opportunity.

I realize that I am using spirituality as a tool, to detect God at work in my life, or at least, a sign that maybe there is some purpose to what I am doing, and that I may find the unforeseen righteousness that brings me delight on a higher level.

This is just a start and I realize that I should define what I mean by "returning to God" more clearly. I'll have to update later.