I am in a rut and I am but an instrument

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in aeternum! Amen.

The Divine Office

Memorial of Saints Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and martyr and companions, martyrs

Before I get to how and why I am in a rut, I want to share something I did.  Ha.

I used to listen to a certain podcast that shall, for charity’s sake (and the fact that I cannot attest to the faithfulness of their content to Church teaching), not name.  It is a rather well-known podcast by members of a particular religious community of women where persons are invited to send in questions about anything from the basic tenets of the faith to different aspects of religious life.

Now, these dear religious are a bit more “progressive” than is probably prudent for the sake of fidelity to Christ and His Church (though they would probably beg to differ) and that is abundantly apparent in what they talk about and how they talk about it.  Not to mention how they describe the relationship of the Church to other religions … yes, they cross into the territory of religious indiffrentism.

Being the impish person that I can be, I sent in a question about inclusive language, thinking they would ignore it since I had once before sent in a question about the Apostolic Visitation (though I must confess that time my mind-keyboard filter was disabled a bit but not excessively) and I never even got an acknowledgement.  Didn’t really expect one.

Well, they decided to answer my question that basically asked why is it suddenly so necessary to neutralize all the male pronouns and images of God when it’s worked pretty well for so long.  Never mind the fact that Christ Himself calls God “Father.”

I won’t even get into what they considered a worthy justification.  Nothing but the typical talking points.  God has no gender (well, yeah, He’s God) and therefore has the characteristics of male and female (okay …) and thus it follows that calling God “Mother” is just fine (O RLY?).  What does that make Mary, the Mother of God?

Then we get the typical feminist codswallop talking about how male imagery is oppressive to some and that Jesus did not necessarily call God exclusively male titles (WHAT?).  Of course, concerning that last thing, how would they know when they use an INCLUSIVE BIBLE!  I looked up that travesty that has the heretical cajones to present itself as an authentic translation (more like “let’s take Divine Revelation, throw it in the Word Chipper, and take the pieces we like and turn them into our own interpretation of what Scripture ought to say”), yeah, I won’t even go there.

This discussion went on for about 20 minutes.  It becomes more and more painful.  My angel was all, “You did it to yourself, Allie, you knew you would never get anything authentically Catholic from them.”

I am a glutton for punishment, I guess.

The thing that really disgusted me?  The fact that they said that the Church has no problem with it and they  would know because they have their “advanced degrees” in Theology.  Big whoop.  Who cares?  Besides, obviously they (w/e institution they attended) failed at conveying the Truth that is found in its fullness in the Church so what good is that degree if it’s not even based on the Fullness of Truth but rather some warped agenda-laden interpretation of “Truth?”

Besides, I have found with people who pull the “I have advanced degrees” card have some even minute idea that maybe just maybe they know, somewhere in the deep recesses of their subconscious, what they are spewing is wrong but they can’t admit it because they have dug themselves in rather deep.

Okay.  I’ll stop ranting.

Anywho … *clears throat*

I am in a rut.  A delightful rut.  A rut that roots me.  A rutty routine that centers me and gives me a sense of security even when certain things are going bat merde insane around me.

I have a routine that I follow every morning.  Very few parts of it have changed since I was a kid.  I wake up, I  wash up, I do mah hair (loving the lack of humidity and soul-melting heat) and apply my facial shellac, get dressed, and head to church.  When I get to church, I follow a certain order of doing things in preparation for Mass. (I am not a creature of routine at all)  Though today, I didn’t pray Lauds in Latin *gasp* since I had a chance to sleep in a smidge and decided that my heat-exhausted self still needed to do some recovering.  I walked both to and from church but, laudetur Iesus Christus, it was a delightful day for a stroll or two.

I then have a bit of routine that I follow during the day though it is not hard and fast because I have many things to which I must attend.

OH!  I called SHMS today and talked to someone about grants and such.  While the 45 percent is for undergrad, I can still get 30 percent covered by one grant and hopefully another chunk covered by another.  One of the conditions of my getting the former grant is being active in the catechetical work of my parish.

Okay, so I teach catechism.  This should be fun.  Especially since when I went to volunteer to do it last year I was told that a.) my degree over-qualified me for the job (BAH ANGST! In one place I am over-qualified and in another place I am under-qualified … angst muffins), and b.) the kids would not respect me because of my age.  When I told my pastor, he just looked at me like “Huh?  Wha?  That don’t make any sense, Ms. Allie.”  This year, Imma tell him that my grant-getting is contingent on it so if I face any resistance, he can pull his “benevolent monarch” card and “strongly suggest” that I be allowed to teach catechism.  It’s not like Imma be teaching them to pray in inclusive language and instilling them with only the most rancid form of heresy my sometimes twisted little mind can formulate (I was the Popessa of the “Church” my friends and I established in College … I started out as the Dean of the College of Cardinals).

Please, Lord, let this work.

My evenings also have their own routine.  I schlep into my mother’s bathroom, put my hair back, grab my jar of Pond’s cold cream (I swear by this stuff, srsly), and slather a goodly layer of it on my face, and rinse it off with some warm water (wiping it off with tissue doesn’t cut it for me), I then apply a very thin layer on my face  that keeps it from drying too much during the night.

After my evening ablutions, I head back to my room and prepare for prayers.

I grab my purse and pull out the gold drawstring bag that holds my mantilla.  I unfold it and reverently whip it on.  I really really love my mantilla.  I just wish I could wear it more often. Must go to more Latin Masses.  Must.  Will.  Must.  Will.  I want to make the TLM a more regular part of my life.  There is something ethereal to it that does something to me … I feel more connected to the transcendent when I attend a TLM (don’t burn me at the stake, I am not saying the Novus Ordo is not connected to the transcendent … it’s merely my personal preference).

I then go into my bag that has all my things I use when I go to church and pull out my Breviary.

Even the rhythm of unzipping the leather cover and picking the right ribbon to get to the appropriate section is soothing.

Covered with my mantilla, which reminds me of my holy submission to Christ and my own dignity as a daughter of the King, I begin to pray my Office.  Slowly praying the words, bowing for the Gloria Patri (which I do in Latin, of course), signing myself at the beginning of the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis (Latin, again, of course), and reciting the Salve Regina at the end of Compline, I allow the Lord to lift me above my fallen state and spend time with Him even if it’s just the few minutes I am in prayer with Him.

Praying the Office is that “rut” I am so happy to be in.  It roots me.  It, superseded only by the Mass, centers and directs my day and life.  It gives me peace.  It keeps me sane when things around me seem insane.

I feel “off” when I miss praying even one part of it.  I confess it because, though I am not yet bound to pray it *wink wink*, I feel that when I do not offer that bit of time to the Lord in that way, like I am falling short of what He wants for me.  Besides, it’s those times when I miss praying even one hour of my Office that Old Goat Legs  or one of his minions comes out and decides to try to mess with me.  Thank God for Saint Michael.

Don’t even get me started about when I miss one weekday Mass (I don’t miss on Sundays and holy days unless I am dying) … that just screws me up.

In order for me to feel as complete as a finite and fallen being can be, I need to spend time with Him Who is outside of time and yet became like us.  I need to spend that time just sitting and gazing at Him.  Having a prayerful staring contest to see W/who blinks first.  He always wins.  Letting Him speak to my heart and take all of my troubles and worries (and I have many).  Asking Him to help me to trust Him more because I am not trusting enough and my lack of trust can only get me in trouble in so many different ways.

I need to go on retreat.  Most def.  When I go on retreat, it’s just Him and me, no distractions, no worries, just Him and me.

Besides, if I am going to be espoused to Him, I have got to learn to rely more and more on Him.  To trust more and more in Him because He knows what is best for me.  Darn my strong Calabrese hard-headed-ness.

I really think my praying the Office teaches me to do that and that is probably one of the reasons why I feel “off” when I miss an hour.  It’s like I am jipping myself of some wonderful time alone with Christ and being less faithful to Him than I ought be.  Missing the mark.

But I try to pick myself up.  He knows I do.  And He gives me to grace to do so.  I can do nothing on my own.  Nothing good.  All good comes from Goodness Himself.  We can take credit for nothing.  We must always point to Christ.

I have kinda figured out why I stay up so late.  Because it’s late at night, when I am putzing on  Aloysius that my Facebook comes alive with messages from friends who need a listening ear or some advice.  Some of these persons I have only seen in passing since high school.  Others are college friends that live on the other side of the state or country.

No matter where they are, they have something in common: they are in need of guidance.

I have learned from my years of being something of a moral adviser to friends that you just have to listen sometimes and talk only when necessary.

I have friends who are dealing with rather bad relationships.  Friends who are dealing with post-abortive stress (a form of PTSD) … I talk to them as best I can but then I refer them to some other places.  I have friends who are going through rough patches in their personal lives or are having issues with figuring out what the Lord wants of them (while some would see this as “the blind leading the blind,” most just need someone to whom to vent … I can totally empathize and give an objective viewpoint and Lord knows I can be blunt).

They all tend to be online late at night or that’s just when the Evil One likes to drop the seeds of anger, despair, and doubt in their heart and they are in need of help.  Sometimes I will be randomly on my computer during the day and I will chat with them but it’s mostly at night.  Tonight’s been quiet.  Some are really wrestling with a rather strong evil in their life and they need and want hope.

I am honored and flattered that they trust me as much as they do because they share things with me that I would only share with either my spiritual director or confessor.  They know I would never violate their confidence (my version of the Seal) and that helps them open up.

I can remember when I would be in the library in high school and a girl would sit at my table and ask if we could talk.  She would then tell me about how her boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex with him in order to continue their relationship.  This girl approaches me knowing that I am not going to just tell her to go along with it … my nickname in high school was Sister Allie, after all.  I think sometimes she would just do this to hear it instead of just hearing it internally.  There is something about hearing it rather than just knowing it.  It must make it more concrete to some.

I can remember when I was in college when either there would be a knock at my door or my phone would ring and it would be a friend or acquaintance who needed to talk.  Of course, we’d go for a stroll.  I’d throw on a pair of heavy sweats (MI nights can be cold) and meet them on one of the paths through campus.  If there was a knock, I would sit with them in the lounge and let them talk about what’s going on.

It was also in college that I encountered more post-abortive young women than I want to think about.  Some chose to do so of their own free will but came to regret it.  Others were pressured in one way or another.  It didn’t matter: one life was lost and another was very much in pain.  It’s the reason why I refused to wear or show anything that said “Abortion is homicide” on it in college because of the women who were already wracked with guilt and despair, they don’t need the knife to be wrenched in their hearts any more, they need healing.  Some of my other friends didn’t understand but it’s not their fault.

Whenever they thank me for what I have done to help them, I would always remind them that it was not my doing.  I am merely an instrument through which God works.  If I do any good, it’s not my own doing, ’tis God’s Providence and grace.  Without God, I can do nothing good.  In order for myself or anyone else for that matter to do any good, we must first know Goodness Himself, have a relationship with Goodness Himself, and love Goodness Himself.  We must experience Goodness and Love to share it with others in its fullness.

All right, I am getting sleepy.  Have a nice night!

-Allie

About Ms. Allie

I am a Catholic young woman who works as a Theology teacher at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of the Detroit. In Spring of 2015, I graduated with an MA in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. My MA thesis was titled: "Mary as Woman of the Eucharist in the Theology of Pope Saint John Paul II." I also hold a BA in Theology (with a dabbling in Philosophy) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa (θΑΚ), the National Theology/Religious Studies Honor Society. Prayers are appreciated.
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