Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in aeternum! Amen.
My parentals are out of town for a couple days so I have run of the house! Yay! Party at Allie’s house!
Right. If your definition of party = wake up at 6am, go to morning Mass, Rosary walk home, get a few hours of work done, throw together some foodstuffs (improvisation FTW), watch some idiot box (mostly EWTN, Discovery, or History (aka Hitler) Channel), get ready for bed, pray Vespers and Compline, and then hit the sack.
I was hoping to go to Latin Mass this Saturday but the Lord must not have willed it because I shan’t be able to. Instead, I think I will order some of my favorite Italian takeout (real Italian food … no pre-fab I-tie for me. When you’ve had the real stuff, you can’t really go back.) and pop open a bottle of champagne (doesn’t everyone have a bottle in their room?) that I was saving for a date that never happened (Doesn’t God have a sense of humor? That, and I am a hopeless romantic for all my “cynicism” and sarcasm.). Yes, I dated even if you don’t count the roughly 2 years I spent with my one serious boyfriend.
However, He knows how to console me. You know, being God and all that stuff.
After Mass this morning, my pastor asks me what I am up to. I tell him how I have run of the house for the weekend. He looks at me amused and says, “What does Ms. Allie have planned?”
“Oh, I was hoping to attend the Pro-Life Vigil on Saturday, at the very least the Mass.”
“Speaking of that, you want to serve?”
*shocked pause of joyness*
So yeah, I am now serving Mass with the Archbishop of Detroit! Whootz! Totally not breaking the “stained glass ceiling” and I have absolutely no collar ambitions. Of course, y’all already knew that about me.
Talk about coming out of retirement. Haven’t served Mass in a while. Hopefully it will come back to me. I remember all the hand signals. I was taught well. I had an excellent Jedi Master.
I know I have written about this more than you all probably want to acknowledge but the past eight months that it has been since I came home from the convent have been a time of great growth. I can honestly say I know more about myself than I did when I entered a year ago.
I remember when I was telling one of my dear priest-friends about my leaving and he said that I should not view it as “lost time” but rather that I “have more information about [myself] that [I] can use as [I] continue discernment.” (I kept that email because I have to go back to it during the times when I question things). I can tell you that when I read that, I understood it intellectually but I don’t think it quite sank in my heart until recently.
In the past eight months, I have transitioned from convent life back to lay life (yes, canonically religious are still lay since (unless they are ordained) they are not clerics but there is are major differences between convent life and lay life) with my eyes set on further discernment and growing in my independence. I have found employment, been unemployed (it ain’t fun and I was only unemployed for a few months), and found employment again. I have applied to and been accepted to graduate school for an MA in Theology (God will take care of those MAJOR things that still need doing for me to start in January. I know He will do what is best for me.). I have been working toward attaining my goal of actually passing my driving test and getting my license (a rather sore spot on my ego and my self-confidence).
It hasn’t been easy. At all. Add to that other things in my life that have made for many sleepless nights, times spent with my spiritual director/father venting/letting out the bottled-up tears (I don’t like to cry in front of people … if I cry in front of you, that’s a major sign that I trust you), time spent on my knees in church with tears stinging my eyes or before my Infant of Prague begging His help (I still talk to Him … every day).
There have been dark times when I have wanted to give up. But I haven’t and I won’t. I won’t give the Evil One the satisfaction of getting me.
All the troubles and issues in my life have done just what the Evil One doesn’t want: drawn me closer to God. Never before has my daily assistance at Mass been so integral. Never before has my regular praying of the Office been so vital. Never before have my daily Rosaries been such a source of strength for me.
And don’t even get me started on the Infant of Prague.
BTW, I remind Him often that my promise still stands (not that God can be bribed because He can’t): If he allows me to get my license and start grad school, I will attend TLM more regularly and offer 9 (a novena of sorts) in thanksgiving for graces granted both known and unknown.
I am trying to get into the habit of praying the prayer of thanksgiving to the Infant of Prague for graces granted. It reminds me of what Father Solanus Casey used to say, “Thank God ahead of time for all that He will do for you.” I intend to make that maxim a part of my daily life.
I prostate myself before Thy holy image, O most gracious Infant Jesus, to offer Thee my most fervent thanks for the blessing Thou has bestowed upon me. I shall incessantly praise Thine ineffable mercy and confess that Thou alone art my God, my helper and my protector.
Henceforth my entire confidence shall be placed in Thee! Everywhere I shall proclaim aloud Thy mercy and generosity, so that Thy great love and the great deeds which Thou dost perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all.
May devotion to the Thy holy infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians, and may all who experience Thine assistance persevere with me in showing unceasing gratitude to Thy most holy infancy, to which be praise and glory forever.
Random side note: I was looking for one of my bifold holy cards of Our Lady of Good Remedy (I have a lot of holy cards … I kinda collect them) when I find what I think is that one I sought. I flip it over and it’s a bifold holy card of the Infant of Prague.
I tell you, He’s taken me under His protection. I don’t mind it at all.
In fact I rely on Him constantly. Not one day goes by that I don’t pray to Him.
In those times when I was wondering how things were going to work out, it has been in putting myself entirely in the Lord’s hands that I have experienced the greatest peace.
Before I left the convent, I think I relied too much on myself and not enough on God. I think my belief in depending on Divine Providence for everything was more intellectual (I live in my head a lot) rather than pragmatic.
Because it’s the nature of my personality.
How do I know that?
Standard operating procedure for those entering seminary/formation is that they undergo thorough psychological examinations. I had mine in June 2011 in Chicago at the motherhouse there (the sisters there are amazing and so loving).
The psychiatrist delved into the depths of my mind and soul. I talked about some things about which I have only spoken to my most trusted spiritual director/s. I also took some really interesting personality tests (not like the crap you find in Cosmo magazine) and took some IQ tests where I couldn’t use scratch paper so I was tracing numbers on the yellow tablecloth with my finger tip visualizing the numbers as if I had written them in dry erase marker.
When I finally got my results, the outcome was eerily on the mark. I am very introverted and thus it can take me a while to get comfortable with new things/people. But once I have gotten comfortable and/or established a system of trust, I can open up more and be a bit more extroverted.
I also have a very systematic personality. I like to have control over situations. I like to know the who, when, where, and how of things. Case in point, when I was in college, when the semester began, I would take all of my syllabi and input all of my deadlines from the reading deadlines (if given) to the paper deadlines.
Sure, this can be a sign of a diligent student but it’s just a small sign of the nature of my personality: I like control. I like schedules.
When I would input the deadlines for papers, I would always have an alert pop up two weeks ahead to keep me on track. Sure it’s diligence but it’s also control. I like to have control over things.
Now I am not really a controlling person when it comes to others. At least I don’t think I am. But I am very controlling when it comes to my life.
I like to know what is going to happen, how it’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and why it’s going to happen.
When I left the convent in January, that was thrown to the wind and I was a bit thrown off kilter.
I was planning on spending the rest of my life in the convent. I was going to be Sister Allison Michael Marie. I was going to be doing this, that, or another thing for the Lord and His Church.
Then I came home. Then everything was in the air.
I hated it.
Thank God for friends.
For a while, I was all “What am I going to do? I can’t just flounder directionless. I have to make something of myself.”
I needed a job. I had little to no money to my name and I refused to take any more money from my parents. It was/is generous enough that they allow me to live at home rent-free though I hope that the Lord will bring me beyond living in my parents’ house sometime in the future (real real life) but He knows what is best.
Enter a friend of mine who is a parishioner at my home parish. She knew a lady who was looking for someone to help out with her fine arts apostolate that was having performances at the Cathedral and in the preparations for them.
Got a job and worked for a few months. I got to spend three weeks at the Cathedral. I got to wander around the Cathedral. I got to see parts of the Cathedral that not many get to see. I had staring contests with Jesus on the crucifix over the altar (lost every time). I got to oogle the stained glass windows and mildly bemoan the modernization of such a beautiful Norman Gothic church (don’t even get me started on what happened to the high altar or all the carved wood sanctuary appointments).
After the performances ended, I worked for a few more weeks but then work dribbled to a stand still and soon I was jobless.
Then I decided, “I think I’ll apply to grad school!”
So I did! I took the GRE (did much better than I thought), got all of my academic ducks in a line, got the recommendations I needed, the essay, and all the other fun stuff. Got my acceptance letter.
Decided to wait until the Winter term to start. I have some financial crap with which to deal (this economy burns more crappage than the Spanish Inquisition did heretics … ’tis probably true) and I need to get my license.
Then I landed my current job that allows me to still go to morning Mass and such (yay!) so now I can really start to re-establish some semblance of savings (saving for gas, books, and incidentals).
My biggest issue has been my driving thing. I know I can do it while simultaneously I am scared of failing again. I don’t take failure very well. It’s my perfectionism. I set really high standards for myself and when I don’t achieve them, it is not very pretty sometimes. When I failed my test last year, it was not pretty at all.
I have confidence in myself and yet I don’t. I know I can do it but I don’t think I can.
Do you have any idea how draining that is? It’s physically-draining. It’s emotionally-tiring and spiritually exhausting.
I have gotten into the habit of whenever a negative thought comes to mind (it happens more often some times more than others), I give it to the Lord. I, literally, at the moment the thought pops into my head pray mentally, “Lord, I give it to You. You take it. I can’t do it on my own. I know You will take care of me.”
I say that prayer all the time. I tell it to my Infant almost every time I look at Him on my dresser. I tell Him as I am changing His vestment. I tell Him as I am praying Vespers and Compline. I tell Him while I am putting on my makeup and doing my hair in the morning. I am nagging the Child Jesus.
There are still those times when I worry about how things will work out. I think it’s a natural part of being human. We/I always want to have control over things. I think I have a bit of a more controlling streak in me. It’s just my knowing myself.
I also have to say that putting the things that weigh most on my heart and mind into the hands of the Lord through Our Lady has also been the most freeing. It has taught me and continues to teach me that I need to trust the Lord completely and with everything.
When my trust starts to falter, thoughts pop into my mind and heart such as “Don’t you *think* (He knows I live in my head) that if I can conquer sin and death that I can also help you overcome these things?” and “I’ve conquered the world, don’t you think I can help you conquer your own issues no matter how large or small they may seem?”
Those really raise my spirits. They give me the boost I need to keep going.
Every time one of those thoughts pop into my head I think, “Lord, forgive me for when I don’t trust You completely. You, of all persons, should be the one I trust the most completely and unfailingly.”
Have any of you read The Imitation of Christ? You should. It’s amazing. Completely and totally amazing.
It seems like every time I read it, some thing/s pop out to me to be particularly applicable to my situation. It’s almost like the Lord put those words on the page for me to help me grow in my relationship with Him. There hasn’t been a time when I have sat down to read it that I have not experienced this. Every time. And every time, my heart overflows with love for Him. I only read it when I am sitting in church and have finished praying Office of Readings and Lauds (coming to church an hour early allows for a lot of QT with the Lord) so He’s right there in front of me in the tabernacle for me to look up and smile at Him (yes, I’m in love).
Seriously though, if you have never read this spiritual classic before … read it. The link above is to the translation I have (though a more modern printing of it, mine is from the 1950s/60s) from Ignatius Press on Amazon.
If you click on the link and buy it, I get a cut and it helps me save up for grad school. I promise that all funds I get from orders placed goes straight into my grad school fund for books, tuition, gas, and other academic things. I have to figure out how to set up a general link to Amazon so that whatever you buy so long as you click on it through my site I get a cut. Consider it an act of kindness on a poor grad student who only wants to do the will of God.
All right, I have to get ready for bed. Mass in the morning and such. Looking forward to Saturday!
Have a nice night!