Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only in You am I


O Lord my God.
Teach my heart this day
where and how to find you.
You have made me and re-made me,
and you have bestowed on me
all the good things I possess,
and still I do not know you.
I have not yet done
that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
for I cannot seek you
unless you teach me,
or find you
unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire;
let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you;
let me love you when I find you.
Lord, May I never forget that only in you am I.
-St. Anselm

This weekend, I will be on a retreat with about 50 other young adults. I have been on the planning committee for this retreat for many months, so I would appreciate it if you would pray for us this weekend - that we have a powerful retreat experience, that our participants will feel God's presence, and that we all will continue to seek God's will.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Men, Aspire to be Worthy!

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
- Fulton J. Sheen, Life is Worth Living

Kissing the Face of God by Morgan Weistling

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Joe, My Beau

Today is my new favorite feast day, the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

Is it because St. Joseph was probably the holiest person to walk this earth after Jesus and Mary? Not really.

It's actually because St. Joseph is my new BFF.

Why, you ask, has St. Joe, my beau, become my latest new friend?

Because he is one of the greatest intercessors EVER. He's the bestest friend a gal could ask to have!

I'll have to back track a bit, but let me tell you our philia love story...

Once upon a time, not too long ago, in a land not too far from here, there was a young, 20-something Catholic trying to live life to the fullest...

I prayed my first novena ever a little over a year ago to the Holy Spirit. I was discerning a call to ministry, and prayed earnestly for some concrete answers. It became clear to me that I was not heading where God was calling me. Unfortunately, praying that novena was the last time I remember sensing God's presence and peace in my prayer life, and this is where I entered the dark desert of my spiritual dry spell.

My last post detailed that this last year has been rough, to say the least. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out "What's next?!" and have been down the "Nope, that's not it..." road more often than not. Pile months of unemployment and a major back injury on top of my massive spiritual dry spell and it's probably not difficult to understand why I've felt like a lost and wandering soul in the desert, without an oasis in sight, wondering where God was in all of this.

Thankfully, I have a great prayer army that have kept showing me where the path is when I haven't been able to find it on my own.

One of these ways of trying to keep me on the path was my spiritual director urging me to keep praying novenas. I was willing to try anything, and the side effect of forcing me to pray for 9 days straight wasn't too bad for me either.

I started out by praying a Lenten novena for an end to the darkness. It just got darker.

Then I tried praying one to the Holy Spirit again for guidance. Imagine crickets chirping. I gave up for a few months.

Then when I hurt my back, I prayed one to St. Gemma Galgani. I still felt pretty alone in my suffering, even though I knew that Christ was carrying the Cross for me.

After 4-5 months of unemployment, I was getting desperate to find a job. I decided to pray a novena to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, my confirmation saint. She's always got my back when I need to find a parking spot downtown,* so I hoped that she would be able to persuade God to send a job my way. But, again it just felt like I was reciting meaningless words to an empty void.

*Cabrini, Cabrini, don't be a meanie, find me a place to park my machinie!

I was ready to give up on the whole novena thing. Oh yeah... and I was ready to give up on the whole spiritual dry spell thing, too. My mental yelling at God: You want to keep me in the dark, God? Fine. I'll just do the bare minimum to get by! No, I wasn't angry/frustrated/fed up at all!

Sensing my desperation, my spiritual director urged me to give another novena a shot. He suggested a novena to St. Joseph as our last ditch effort for me to get a job. I'm not kidding when I say "last ditch" either. I was ready to pack up and move home. I begged my way through that novena, yet it still felt pretty empty and bleak. Was someone actually listening in Heaven? I finished that novena, not expecting much to happen.

A few days later, I had a job offer.

Granted, it was for an administrative assistant position for a property management company (i.e. not related to my field at all), but it was a JOB.

Thanks to my oh-so-great spiritual mood (see my mental yelling above), I half-heartedly thanked St. Joseph. I had a friend in Heaven, but I had a roadblock up to acknowledging that. Somehow, what he had done wasn't really enough to prove to me that he prayed on my behalf and God answered.

I thought that getting a job would solve all my problems, especially spiritually. I thought that once I didn't have the worry of being job-less looming over me, my spiritual dry spell would dry up and all would be right with my world again. Except it wasn't. I was thankful to have a paycheck every two weeks, but I also knew that my search was not over. It was clear to me that my job was not my calling in life, and I struggled to figure out how to continue discerning the next step. The spiritual dryness still persisted, and while I was starting to accept it, that didn't make the silence and unrest I felt in prayer any better.

Fast forward. After months of whining about venting calmly and coherently sharing my continued spiritual frustrations with my spiritual director, can you guess what he suggested?

If you guessed praying another novena to St. Joseph, you win the prize!

At this suggestion, our conversation went something like this: (the following may contain slight exaggeration for dramatic effect)
Me: ANOTHER ONE?!?!!? C'mon, can't I be done with this whole prayer thing? It doesn't seem to be working.
SD: No.
Me: But I feel so lost in my prayer! I don't even know where to begin! I don't even know what I should be asking!
SD: Keep it simple. Pray: "Show me my vocation. Show me what's next."
Me: (grumble grumble exasperated sigh) Fiiiiiiiine...
So I did.

It just so happened that the timing of all of this worked out that I would be finishing up my novena on Ash Wednesday, the unofficial anniversary of my spiritual dry spell. Coincidence? I'll leave that for you, dear reader, to decide.

A dim flicker of hope?
Knowing that it was probably because of St. Joseph that I got a job before, I tried to pour my heart and soul into my broad novena intention. Throughout the nine days, however, my simple intention evolved into more and more petitions, desires that had been lying on my heart that I had been ignoring. I started to glimpse little flickers of light and feel tiny waves of peace rushing over me when I prayed, but they didn't last very long.

Day nine arrived, and I spent part of my lunch break praying my novena in front of the Blessed Sacrament, begging dear St. Joseph to show me something... anything! Part of me hoped that I would be rewarded with a spectacular vision of my life all laid out, but I left adoration without any new revelations. By this time, I wasn't too surprised. I had become fully accustomed to my dry spell.

It was that night when things started to get weird. One of the intentions that had shoved its way into my nine days of prayer popped up, and I dared to think, "Could this be a result of my novena?"** Not wanting to set myself up for disappointment though, I tried not to read anything into it, and I went to sleep that night still waiting for answers.

**This became the very specific intention of my next St. Joe novena, which I finished today!

The next day was any other day, just a normal Thursday. I'd missed a call while at work, and I finally got a chance to check my voicemail while driving home.
This is [insert name of HR person here] at the US [insert government agency name here] calling to make you a job offer as a [insert job title here]. The salary is [insert number that is way more than I've ever made in my life here]. If you could please give me a call back, I would be happy to give you more details. Congratulations, we're excited to have you join us!
Can you imagine my shock?

But wait, it gets better.

I got home and not only did I have an email from this person with more details, but I had another job offer in my inbox from a company in Ohio.

This is when I started freaking out! After almost a year of job craziness, I suddenly had two job options staring me in the face?!

St. Joseph, I asked you to show me what's next! How are TWO JOB OFFERS showing me what's next? That's making me make a decision! You were just supposed to show me everything... Oh wait.... I get it.

I then realized that I have a best friend looking out for me in Heaven. St. Joe wanted to help me so much that he asked God to throw it all at me. He has such a powerful position with God that God did just as he asked! Yes, I was faced with a difficult choice, but I somehow knew that with the guidance of St. Joseph, I would make the right decision for my life right now.

Through a bit more prayer, I felt at peace with accepting the job that would keep me in the DC area. I felt like something was keeping me tethered here, and even though I haven't figured out what it is, I decided to trust that sense of calm and stay. I accepted the job with the government agency less than a week later, and started my new position a week ago.

The past few weeks have been crazy, to say the least. I don't know if I've ever felt so overwhelmed from everything in my life, but despite this, I feel more at peace than I have in the past year.

Is this new job the one I will have for the rest of my life? I have absolutely no idea, but I am pretty sure it's where I am meant to be right now. I've already seen fruits from my decision, and it's only been a week!

Even more, while I don't think I have both feet entirely out of the desert yet, I think I might relief on the horizon. Even tonight, as I finished my latest novena to St. Joseph, I couldn't help but let a smile cross my face. I'm not alone anymore when I close my eyes to pray. In my mind's eye, I can see St. Joseph taking my prayer intentions to the Heavenly feast, offering them up for me to God.

St. Joseph was a father and husband, chosen by God to lead the holiest of families. He lived his life as a faithful servant to Christ, working hard to provide whatever his family needed. He did all of this with humility, despite the suffering he had to have endured throughout his life, and was graced with the privilege of dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary. This same St. Joe has become my Heavenly beau, my cheerleader, my guide. He wants me out of that desert so that I too can live my life as a faithful servant to Christ.

So, don't be surprised if I start hanging out with St. Joe all the time. We do practically everything together now. You might even say we're attached at the spiritual hip. I want to keep my friend with me in my daily life, so that hopefully I will someday get to meet him in Heaven so I can say, "Thank you, St. Joe, my beau!"

St. Joe even helps me blog!
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.
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