Tag Archives: Reading

It’s Not Really That Complicated

This morning I did what’s called an “examination of conscience.” It’s basically a self-assessment based on the ten commandments, and it’s ideally done relatively often. My family and I came back from vacation this past Sunday. I hadn’t done much of anything other than sleep, eat, and read Lord of the Rings over the course of two weeks. It was honestly a little boring, and that is my kind of vacation. Because I did nearly nothing, I began to question where I was at, spiritually.

As best I can remember, I have done an examination of conscience twice before. I’m afraid of doing it, not because I’m afraid of God’s justice, but because I don’t like looking at my sins. Before I did it this morning, I took a pen and a piece of paper, and I prayed. At the top of the paper, I wrote “I am good. I am beautiful. I belong to Jesus.” I wrote that because I thought I’d be writing a laundry list of ugly things. Then I asked Saint Faustina, who was the catalyst for the Divine Mercy devotion, to pray for me, I asked my guardian angel to be with me, and I asked the Blessed Mother to walk me through it. I also asked the Lord to be gentle with me, because He is gentle.

If you’re not Catholic, those first prayers might seem a bit weird. As Catholics we believe that we are connected to the entire Church, even after death. That means we can talk to, and even be friends with the saints in Heaven, and the righteous souls still working toward perfection in Purgatory. I won’t get into Purgatory here, partly because there’s plenty about it on the internet, and partly because it’s not the point of the post. The point is, I can ask Saint Faustina, who knows so much about God’s Mercy to pray for me, as a friend on earth might pray for me. I can ask my guardian angel to do whatever he needs to in this situation, because I don’t know exactly what that is. I can ask Mary, Jesus’ mom, and by extension, my spiritual mom (again, there’s a ton about this online) to just walk with me through it, before I even start.

A self-assessment is difficult, especially when it comes to the spiritual life. It means I have to look at what I don’t really want to see. I remember realizing for the first time that what I wanted most was to become a saint. To be a saint means attaining perfection. Part of that means looking at what I don’t want to, asking for God’s forgiveness, and letting Him help me. It means figuring out what I can do to change where I can, and mostly it means letting Him work on me, whatever that might look like. It’s hard for me to deal with the fact that He does most of the work. It’s hard to let go of control.

Recently, I realized that God’s Mercy doesn’t always look like what one might expect. I realized that often, His Mercy looks like making sure there’s a time and place for me to go to confession when I need to. I didn’t find a four-page laundry list of sins. I found four things. It’s one thing to be able to make the self-assessment and be honest with myself; it’s another to actually go to confession and state how I’ve gone wrong out loud. I know that I’m really going to Jesus, and I know that I will receive His Mercy. I just don’t like having to verbally admit that I’m not perfect.

The Lord knows that I’m as jumpy as a rabbit, but He also knows that I will go because if I’ve sinned, it means I’ve hurt my most intimate friend.  He’s been kind enough to make sure the priest I go to is gentle. Nonetheless, going to confession makes me anxious. I’m not alone in this. The last thing the priest says is “Go in peace.” The feeling after confession is amazing because sin is heavy, and it quite literally feels like that load has been taken away.

This is why not forgiving someone is such a huge problem. When we pray the “Our Father,” we ask the Lord to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Our forgiveness and mercy is meant to be exactly like His–infinite. It doesn’t mean it has to be immediate because forgiveness is sometimes hard (when you’re not God), but it has to come around eventually. God wants to forgive, but we do have to ask for it because that’s part of a genuine relationship.

I should acknowledge that there are two different kinds of sins. Small (venial) sins can be forgiven simply if we pray for forgiveness, and if we really are sorry. More serious (mortal/deadly) sins are what we have to go to confession for, but sometimes it’s helpful to go to confession even for smaller stuff. An inevitable question is, “Why do Catholics have to go to confession at all?” The Church is the Body of Christ and we’re all spiritually connected. That means that stuff I do, even if it doesn’t obviously affect anyone, does have a spiritual effect on the whole Church, myself included, and because we are connected, it hurts the Lord, too.

As a member himself, the priest is, in this context, a representative of the Church, as well as a representative of Christ, through whom Jesus administers the sacraments. That means when I go to confession, I can acknowledge that I’ve hurt the Church, I’ve hurt myself spiritually, and I’ve hurt Jesus, and because God is Mercy, He can take the load from me. I still have to do some sort of penance, though, because I did make a mess in the first place. An analogy might be a brother and sister playing together get into an argument, so the sister breaks the brother’s toy. The sister then feels bad and says she’s sorry. The brother forgives her, but the toy is still broken, so the parents decide that the money to pay for a new one has to come from her allowance.

None of that is to say that I’m still guilty after confession. Penance should be natural if I really am sorry because out of love, I should make amends for causing hurt. Because we are God’s adopted children, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re a massive, crazy, dysfunctional family, which is seriously awesome. I have written a post before about “agape” love. It’s love that simply wills the good of the other. It’s the kind of love that, by nature, looks outward. We should be attentive to our inner spiritual lives in order to most effectively maintain this agape love.

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Human

I was at a seminar at our church last night about the humanity of Christ. Obviously there’s a lot to talk about there, but I came away from it with one particular conclusion that I thought I needed to share. I’ve been slowly making my way through the Gospel of Luke, and I’ve been reading it differently than I normally do. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like I’m actually hearing Jesus talk, instead of just reading what he said. Sometimes I’ll reword the lines on the page just slightly so I can “hear” it better, and in doing that, I’ve come to understand Jesus, and therefore, God’s personality better.

I used to read certain things Jesus said as if he was being impatient or snarky. When I was just starting to read the Gospels on my own, there were a lot of times the words, translated into English, on their own, made him sound kind of like a strict, emotionless teacher and not a whole lot more. I’m thinking of the many times he tells people they have “little faith.” On the other hand, he tells his disciples that someone with faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains. That can be confusing. I’ve discovered that, yes, I do have little faith, but God answers my prayers in amazing, and often unexpected ways.

Last night in the seminar we discussed human nature in general. Human nature is the interaction of a person’s body and soul. However, our human nature is flawed by original sin. Christ’s is not. He reveals to us, then, not only who God is, but also, what humanity is really meant to look like. In essence, I think, he reveals to us the truth that we were made in the image and likeness of God.

The final and most important conclusion I took from the class last night was that, yes, God loves everyone no matter what, but what I think most, including myself, neglect is that he wants desperately for us to love him back. This is evident most in the Old Testament. Our priest explained something to me after the class that I hadn’t understood before. What we perceive as “God’s wrath” isn’t exactly God “reacting” to what we do, but is a consequence of us straying away from his love.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly

Kind Of Like Eating Vegetables

I’m discovering that I have to approach a lot of things kind of like eating vegetables, even if they’re things I want to do. There’s a part of me that sincerely just wants to do nothing, and I mean NOTHING. There’s a part of me that just wants to lie in bed all day and think about random stuff without worrying about anything. I guess everyone’s probably got that part of them.

I’ve finally got back into a consistent writing routine. I write a minimum of half an hour every day whether I want to or not. There are some days where I feel like a literary genius, and there are days where I feel utterly uninspired. I do it because I want to finish my book and see what happens, but I also do it because I need structure in my life, and because it’s good for me. I’ve also been a lot better about reading the Bible, and I approach it in a similar way. I started a reading plan that splits the whole Bible up into daily reading assignments. I’m actually ahead of where I’m supposed to be because I read a minimum of one assigned reading every day whether I want to or not.

Honestly, things have been going pretty darn well lately. I’ve been writing more (either blogging or working on my novel), I’ve been reading more, and I’ve been praying more. The best thing that’s happened recently, though is that last night, my friend and a couple of her friends came over so the four of us could plan a prayer/service group that’s going to meet once per week. We already have several things planned, and I think this is going to go really well. We even have a meeting tomorrow with a social worker who’s connected to a homeless shelter to talk about one of our ideas.

I’m really loving teaching religious ed at my church this year, too. There’s a girl in my class who really actually seems to be interested and genuinely wants to have a serious spiritual life. She asks good questions and really tries hard to come up with good answers to our discussion questions. Our last class was about the importance of going to mass, and what the Eucharist actually means. I like going to church, but of course, there are days that I just don’t want to.

What I’m coming to realize is that I have to approach everything, even things I like doing, like eating vegetables sometimes. Sometimes I think a part of me just wants to be isolated and hide, partly because a lot of the things I like doing also take me outside of my comfort zone. I’m also coming to realize that a part of me doesn’t think I’m going to succeed at this stuff, so I have to force myself to do it.

My prayer group is already forcing me to do things that I’m not sure I know how to do or that I’m not sure I’m good at, but they’re also a really supportive bunch of girls. I’m feeling really optimistic about this. For the longest time I’ve been trying to find a community to belong to. I’ve been trying even just to find Christian friends. Periodically, I’ve given up and resigned myself to the fact that this might never happen. Might. I’ve been called an insufferable optimist, but I’m also a realist. The fact of the matter is that I was looking in the wrong places. I’ve known the friend I started this group with for several years, and I’ve known she was Christian for quite a long time. It just never occurred to me to suggest this to her. When I first met her, she didn’t seem that into the whole spirituality thing, and after a while she switched churches. I think that did it for her because now she’s really involved with her church and volunteers all the time. I like to think maybe God was getting us both ready, but that’s partly because I think I was probably just being dumb for a while. Maybe it’s both. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to some of the stuff we’re going to do, and hopefully it doesn’t have to be like eating vegetables.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Because It Really Does Work

I was in a class that I hate last night, and there was a guest speaker. She was a retired preschool teacher and the wife of the minister at her church. She came to tell my class a story. She brought props. She came to tell us a story about how she and her family got through her husband’s cancer, her cancer, and her recent knee surgery. It got real really fast.

I remember reading a book called “90 Minutes In Heaven.” It was about a preacher who got into a really bad car accident and had a near death experience. Actually, he technically did die. His heart stopped and he saw amazing things before he was resuscitated. He spent a long time in the hospital and had to go through a really arduous and painful recovery.

What these two stories had in common is this: the characters in them were not alone. The lady in class last night said that she and her family would not have got through two cancer diagnoses and recoveries if they hadn’t had people praying for them. They knew that they had people and God on their side, and it was tremendously helpful to them psychologically, but also, they–and I– believe spiritually, in that the prayer itself made a real, significant difference.

The preacher in the story I read had given up on life. Towards the beginning of his recovery, there was one night when he was lying there in the hospital and decided to stop living. This decision had a real, physiological effect. He started dying. His friend, who was also a preacher came and told him that he may have given up, but his friends were going to hold an all night prayer vigil and were not going to let him die. They did that, and miraculously, the preacher started getting better and completely recovered relatively quickly.

I know from experience that it sometimes feels like praying is futile. Sometimes prayers are answered, and sometimes they’re not, and we have no idea why. Sometimes our prayers are answered in ways we don’t understand; in ways that don’t really seem like answers at all. Sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes, even if our prayers are answered and we’re sure of it, we despair because of all the prayers (our own or not) that don’t get answered. Sometimes we despair because the world and its problems are very big and we are small.

I read a quote–by whom I forget–that said something along the lines of: hope and despair are not polar opposites. They are out of the same mold. The only difference is that hope holds on to something. Hope believes in some kind of future. Hope allows for love, while despair is weirdly narcissistic.

As individuals we are small, but together we are huge. Metaphysics suggest that all beings are interconnected in a mesh that is meant to work as one individual, or mechanism. Sociology suggests that humans are social animals that are happier and more productive when working and playing in groups. Religion suggests that we are meant to worship God together and work together to better the world.

So many times it seems that when people pray in groups, those prayers are answered. When people pray together, miracles happen. When people pray together, mountains get moved…. That’s not to say that individual prayers aren’t as powerful. God loves each individual person equally, and pays just as much attention to the lonely hiker lost in the mountains as he does to the mega churches on Sundays.

That being said, there seems to be some kind of power in numbers. I know that, for some reason, I find it easier to pray when I’m with other people. I also feel more genuine when I’m praying with other people. Sometimes when I’m praying by myself, I get distracted, or I don’t say what I really want or need to say. Sometimes I try to pray for something I know I should care about, but actually really sort of don’t.

A couple nights ago I had a dream. A knight was charged with the defense of the castle while the king was away. He was strong, and a good fighter, and fully capable of doing his job. However, he was not quite capable of dealing with a supernatural threat. At one point, a demon showed up in the castle and attacked the knight, nearly killing him. The knight said, “Please, have mercy on me.” The demon obliged, but said that the knight must leave the castle and that he would be forever shamed. The knight left and went to hide away in a dark place. Then he said, “Lord, let there be courage where there is fear; let there be strength where there is weakness; let there be love where love is lost; let there be faith where there is none.” I had not been a character in the dream up until that point, but then I came into the dream as kind of a spirit-thing, and gave him a hug. That was it.

I think his prayer was wicked good, and I’ve been using it when I can. I’m really not sure what my part meant. I guess I’ll leave you with that. That is my prayer for tonight; that there would be courage where there is fear; that there would be strength where there is weakness; that there would be love where love is lost; that there would be faith where there is none in this crazy world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Thank You

I’ve recently made it up to almost 180 followers. I really do want to say thank you all for following me, because half the time I feel like I have absolutely nothing important to say; half the time I feel like a pretentious poop face when I talk about “important” things; and half the time I’m just an idiot student/musician trying to promote myself and/or “save the world.”

I’ve said it before, but most of the time I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Most of the time, I’m probably wrong about something. It’s absolutely a thrill to find that people agree with me or are at least interested in what I have to say sometimes, so thanks.

I started this blog nearly three years ago almost on a whim. I’ve talked about a million different things, thrown out really stupid and/or random ideas, and I’ve changed, and it’s changed a lot. I’ve been terribly controversial, and incredibly boring, and for some reason people read this stuff.

I really do appreciate it, so thanks for reading, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for coming back!

Katie

The List

Things I want to do:

Get married
Get payed for playing music
Travel (everywhere if possible)
Be philanthropic
Change the world (on a small scale would suffice)
Own at least one pet (this will be happening soon)
Pay rent
Buy groceries
Start over at something
Start something new
Go skydiving
Sit at the top of a mountain
Burn the ships
Get utterly and completely lost and then find my way back
Be an aunt
Read lots of books (working on this one)
Live a century
Be happy (in progress)

It isn’t exactly a bucket list, but in some ways it is.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

On The Horizon

I just finished my paper MUCH earlier than I thought I would, which is AWESOME because I didn’t and don’t have to stress out about it. For ONCE I planned my time well. I’m so excited my head might explode because after I do my presentation in class today I’m DONE with that class and that professor. Let’s just say he and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye.

Anyway, I thought since I have time to write a good, long blog post that I’d tell you all about some cool stuff that will be going on this summer. As mentioned a thousand times because I’m obsessed, music will be happening this summer! In other news, a girl named Hope from my Creative Writing Nonfiction class had a lovely idea. She sent out an email to the whole class suggesting that we make a list of everyone’s blogs, since apparently half the class or so has a blog. It’ll be pretty cool to see what the peeps are up to. It’s funny because I checked out Hope’s and Kat’s blogs and they’re both a lot more organized and in a way, more serious than mine.

I also had a cool idea as a result of taking that class. One of my essays (writing about faith) was about how I write worship songs (so I could avoid writing about faith) that I titled “Passenger,” which is the title of what is probably my favorite song (out of the one’s I’ve written). My idea was to write a bunch of stories or essays based off of or at least sharing the titles of all my songs. It’s not a huge, crazy endeavor because my “Passenger” essay was around four pages long, and I would sort of model the rest after that. It would be mostly just for fun and I’d probably just publish them on my blog.

That’s about it in terms of cool stuff other than reading and making noise. I’ll probably end up going to Canobie Lake Park with either my cousins or my friends once or twice, ’cause it’s just kind of what we do. We might go up to Portland for the Fourth of July. We haven’t done that in several years, and it would be really cool to do it again. We are going up to Montreal to visit my cousin Amber in a couple weeks. As I mentioned, she was here on Friday, but it’ll be cool to hang out for a whole weekend. She has a job up there this summer, so she won’t be coming home again until Christmas. She’s super nerdy and super fun to hang out with. She’s going to force me to eat french fries with gravy and cheese on them because apparently that’s a thing up there. I can’t decide if it sounds disgusting or pretty good. We also might go to a restaurant where you eat in complete darkness to experience what it’s like to be blind. It’s a cool idea.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

15 Years + 2 Girls = A Lot Of Weird

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my final project for my American Lit class, which is definitely going to be my hardest one. I’m almost done with my paper for Music in Worship and I already passed in my creative writing final. Other than that I just have to study for my Romanticism exam, which I don’t think will be too hard. I’m DONE on Wednesday.

I’m very excited because my friend is going to make me a cake and we’re going to watch “I Am Legend.” It was on TV on Friday, but my cousins were over and they don’t like scary end of the world movies. It’ll be sort of a birthday party as well since Julia turned 20 today. We’re both officially 2 decades old and we’ve been friends for 15 years. We’re practically sisters. I’ve always thought it would be weird to have a sister, but I don’t think it would be weird to live with Julia. She’s stayed over for entire weekends before. We hung out in the basement and played Spyro and probably listened to Green Day. Between the 2 of us we probably own every Green Day album. We went through a serious emo-punk phase in middle school.

I got Julia a book for her birthday. I read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in high school and I really liked it. I saw the movie a few weeks ago with my mom and I thought Julia would like it. A few days later she came over and we ended up talking about books. She said something along the lines of “Yeah, I don’t know why, but I’ve been into depressing books lately,” and I said, “Oh, good you’ll like what I got you for your birthday then.” “You got me a depressing book?” We laughed.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Words

Today I started reading a book called “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies” by Marylin Chandler McEntyre. She talks about how words seem to have lost or are losing their worth in a culture where everything is based around exaggeration, propaganda and marketing. She laments the misuse of words such as when young people use the words “like” and “whatever” far too frequently and in the wrong places. I am entirely guilty of this misuse in my speech. I know proper grammatical constructs, and I think I have a larger than average vocabulary, but I speak like a buffoon (awesome word).

It’s interesting that I speak one way and write another way. When I am writing less formal pieces, people will often say that I “sound” like myself, but when I speak I use so many erroneous words and phrases that I often have to take considerable time and think things through very carefully before I say them. This is partly why I dislike giving oral presentations. I know that I can sound far more thoughtful and convincing in writing rather than speech.

I dislike arguing very much for this reason. In writing I can look things up and present my point of view in a well informed and logical way, but I am not good at responding to arguments from others “off the top of my head.” In speech I think I also tend to repeat myself sometimes. When I run out of ideas I just hold on to whatever happened to be my strongest one and try to hold it up like a shield as best I can.

McEntyre’s book was not entirely a rant about the misuse of language. She also talks about how people should step back and enjoy words for what they are. She mentions that people often say to her, “I like the word, ‘pie,'” for example, for no other reason than it sounds nice.

Some of my personal favorite words are:

ErroneousShenanigans
Comandeer
Eclectic
Bulbus
Absurd
Bucket
Idiosyncratic
Nice
Loiter
Ketchup
Flippant
Totalitarian
Megalomaniac
Tortoise
Snarky
Quirky

Most of these I like for the way they sound. I know what they mean, and some of them are not good, but they are fun to say, which is why I can put “bucket” and “totalitarian” in the same list.

Well, I should get back to work. I’ll have another tangent for another time.

Back In Business

I’ve been crazy this week. Last Wednesday I had a bit of a medical issue that put me out for a few days. I was basically back to normal on Friday, but I haven’t really been writing because I was busy this weekend. I wrote for a while today. I did some editing and wrote a new scene. I’ve hit a bit of a weird spot. I know what the next major thing in the novel will be, but I’m not quite sure how to get there. I have a few ideas sort of floating around in my head. I think what I might do is just keep writing and see which one ends up flowing the best.

I’ve been practicing guitar a little more than usual. By “practicing” I mean learning covers. I’ve been musically prolific lately but after I write a particularly good song I tend to get writer’s block for a while. It’s fun learning new covers.

I start classes on Wednesday, so I’m going to get my books tomorrow. Last semester I ended up getting enough money from my research gig to pay for all my books. That was nice. I recently got a decent pile of money from that, so I can probably pay for at least some of them. I have enough money saved up to pay for them anyway, but it would have been nice to get them basically free again. Alas… We don’t live in a perfect world.