August already?

JMJ1

lilleIt’s been kind of a sad stretch of time since my last post . . . with the summer break wrapping up, things have been busy! But I have to include a picture of my first experience with a Lille baby carrier (awkward snapshot, but still). I fell in love! With the sweet baby, of course, but also with the ability to carry him hands-free for about three hours and do things such as sweep, vacuum, push his sister on a bicycle and pick up toys, while babysitting with Lena earlier this week. It was delightful! I felt just like a kid who dresses up in her dream profession and steals glances in the mirror. Yep. 😉 I got far too used to having his little sleepy head and body snuggled up against me, and have been missing it for the past few days . . .

The Dash and I celebrated eleven months of courtship on the feast of St. John Vianney (Old Calendar) and the Fourteen Holy Helpers . . . we’re almost at a year! It’s gone by so fast, and God’s goodness is overwhelming. I love Him and him so much ❤ I think back to the days when we were first getting to know one another, and I can only marvel at the beauty of a friendship that keeps growing. It’s truly something only God can give. And I also continue to realize how even our wonderful courtship, in and of itself, isn’t enough to make me happy or holy. It brings me so much happiness and opportunities to practice virtue but also reveals to me my faults and littleness, and the greatness of the vocational task that still lies ahead of me. Our courtship is both a dream and a daily grind because we have the ability to see and love one another at our best, but we also have to keep struggling IMG_7661 (2)through life and our human condition while embracing crosses and our learning curves. (They’re mostly my learning curves 🙂 )

Anyway; this particular picture is from the night he asked me to court him . . . and apart from still melting my heart, it makes me laugh because we look like babies compared to how we are now (and more awkward, too!). And it’s a beautiful paradox to have come so far from that night and yet still feel like we’re at the very beginning. ❤

But August! It’s here already! The month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the Assumption, my birthday month, one of my best friend’s birthday months, the month in which tutoring starts back, as well as The Dash’s final semester of college (woohoo!) . . . there’s a lot going on! My first day of tutoring is just over a week away (I can’t wait to start!). I’ll be wrapping up the 54-day novena to Our Lady of Pompeii a few days before my birthday, and then I have about a week placed in between that and the beginning of the 33-day renewal of my Total Consecration. I definitely need it and I’m eager to embark on that 🙂 Hopefully I will be able to blog about this month’s remaining shenanigans with some success!

I pray you have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Sig

 

 

 

 

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This moment in time (#1)

JMJ1

Thank you, Emma, for the inspiration! 🙂

Mary1

What I’m doing: Soaking in some early Saturday afternoon calmness 🙂 Just for fun, I snapped a quick picture of myself here in the girl’s bedroom (I’m the only one in here right now). Behind me is my bed . . . hanging over it, you’ll see several holy cards, the picture of “Song of the Angels” that The Dash gave me last year–he built the frame himself–, and right beneath it, a blessed image of the Blessed Virgin that friends brought me from Rome. The rest of our room is decked with similar sacramentals 🙂 It’s so much fun for sisters to share a room . . . even in spite of very different personalities and tastes 😉 However, Lena and our youngest sister are already considering and comparing color swatches for what they’re going to paint this room “once I’m gone.” I guess it’s imminent enough to start looking at paint!

Apart from a little laundry and a quick errand, today hasn’t been busy at all, and so right now I’ve been catching up on reading a few of my favorite blogs. I might write a little bit more of fiction soon. After having wrapped up my projects on deadline last week (and although I have another one due next week that I’ll try to tackle Monday), I decided to dabble in something slightly more relaxed and right-brained. I picked up a story I had worked on for years (I initially came up with the idea when I was 15-16 years old) and I jumped in at an, until now, unexplored plot point that was really always the beginning of the story (only, I’d been habitually engrossed in backstory). I haven’t even finished the second scene yet, but it’s been pretty fun 🙂

What I’m listening to: “Beyond the Stage” by Dario Marianelli. The soundtrack for Anna Karenina, along with Romeo and Juliet by Abel Korzeniowski, are the two major bodies of music that are the guiding inspirations for this story. (Let it be known that I have no interest in watching the corresponding films . . . forbidden love, despair, and suicide aren’t really my thing 😉 ) I don’t think I would have ever written fiction at all in my teen years if there wasn’t guiding music behind it.

Both soundtracks are primarily waltz-form and brim with themes of tenderness, darkness, intrigue and suspense–really, almost like a Russian ballet, especially Anna Karenina, which only makes sense. They’re marvelous.

What I’m thinking about: Here we go . . .

  • I finished my re-read Sophia House this morning and, all throughout the final scene (of the story proper, anyway . . . there’s an epilogue afterwards, not exactly necessary but interesting), I cried my eyes out. I hiccuped and grew completely congested and made all sorts of whimpering noises. I wasn’t expecting to cry. But once I reached a certain sentence, my mouth twisted once and it all just came tumbling out. I can count on one hand the books I’ve cried over . . . My temperament isn’t exactly conducive towards such. And I’ve already read Sophia House before (though it must have been several years ago, by my memory), so there weren’t any plot-related surprises.

    But, curled up on the couch after having run over to the post office for Mom, I read that scene and cried and cried. My brother came downstairs and was slightly shocked to find his oldest sister a whimpering, puffy-faced victim of profound fiction. “Are you okay??”

    In this instance, I had sought to re-read Sophia House because I was in a place of personal difficulty and struggle, and so joining my thoughts to the tale of Pawel Tarnowski, a true sufferer, brought a deeper perspective and an acknowledgement of sufferings far greater than my own. And also a reminder of a hope of healing and peace that no suffering is beyond, but which only comes in proportion to one’s willingness to sacrifice all that he is and has to God.

“To be a father in the realm of the soul,” Pawel said. “I would like to be this for you. May I be this for you?”

“Yes, Pawel,” David said in a tone of calm deliberation. “This would be good.”

As if standing on a threshold of radical departure, they faced each other without speaking, gazing now into a dimension that seemed for both to be wholly undiscovered. This sense of embarkation into a fathomless mystery was in no way daunting; neither was it fraught with emotion. It was a moment of perfect stillness.

At last the boy said, “It is a blessed gift to be a son in the realm of the soul. May I be this for you?”

“Yes,” Pawel nodded.

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  • Well, I’m always thinking about The Dash 😉 I’m excited to see him in a little bit and kick off our miniature summer break, now that he’s finished his internship, and that stretches until he starts his final semester of college and I start tutoring next month. It’s always fun to have a little break, especially with your favorite people ❤
  • And I’m also thinking about how very, very good Our Lady is. I have brought so many intentions to this novena to Our Lady of Pompeii (on Monday, I’ll be halfway through!) . . . and even more consoling than the increasingly answered prayers, or the graces for endurance, is the growing awareness of her motherly love for me and every soul. What a beautiful thing it is, to be able to trust in Our Lady.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend!

Sig

A Good Sign (I’ve been published!)

Congratulations to Lena on the publication of her wonderful poem today!!! I couldn’t resist re-blogging 😉

One Good Catholic Book

Alan (66)

So, it’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of the old western TV series Laramie. It’s not just because of Jess, either (though he has an awful lot to do with it. . .) It’s just an excellent show. Slim and Jess make an amazing pair of partners. There’s so much to love. . .and when there’s something you love, you write a poem about it, right?

For some reason a couple months ago, I got on a sestina kick. It’s pretty much the coolest poetry form ever, and I just had to write one, even though I’m certainly no amazing poet.

And, it just so happened I had recently come across a great Laramie fan site and they were accepting fan fiction. . .and within a day, out came A Good Sign, my very first sestina, based upon the first episode of Laramie, Stage Stop, and written through Slim’s point…

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Valiance

But some of the Israelites continued to love and to serve the Lord in humility and detachment from the world, for they knew that the Saviour would come to free men from the oppressor within their own hearts.

It was from these pure families that, by His grace, God developed and guided the ancestors of His future Mother. They were extremely simple and devout persons, very gentle and peace-loving and charitable. Out of love for God, they always lived a very mortified life. Often the married couples practiced continence over long periods of time, particularly during holy seasons, for their highest ideal was to raise saintly children who in turn would contribute toward bringing salvation to the world. They lived in small rural communities, and they did not engage in business. They worked on the land and tended flocks of sheep; they also had gardens and orchards. They were very conscientious in fulfilling their religious duties. Whenever they had to go to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices in the Temple, they prepared themselves by prayer and fasting and penance. When traveling, they always helped as best they could any sick persons or paupers whom they met. And because they led such an austere and detached life, these good people had to endure the scorn of many of the other Jews.

Thus Mary’s grandparents inherited from their ancestors a love of humility, chastity, mortification and the simple life. Her mother, St. Ann, and father, St. Joachim, were the very finest products of this long line of pure and holy servants of God.

The Life of Mary as Seen By the Mystics (compiled by Raphael Brown)

* * *

It’s a very different season of life in contrast to those I’ve ever been before. Last year, I posted on the feast of St. Anne, and how amusing and amazing it is to go back and read over something you’ve written a year (or more) ago and marvel how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same!

On a similar whim, I flipped through an old journal, attempting to find something from July 26th of a previous year. 2014 (I was 17 at the time!) reads as follows:

I promised to journal. Now I have done it. Life has been rolling delightfully along with music & fiction & recording & website & more fiction & more music. And other serendipity. Tonight is “chess night with Mr. Wemmick”  – or, rather, LOTR with Lena. So tally ho!!! End.

Not too much about St. Anne. Alas. (I have always been a horrid journaler. Not that I needed to tell you that.)

This season of life, this time of courtship, has given me so much: so much joy and beauty and grace! But it’s also asked much (“to whom much is given, much is expected”)–it’s asked for what I’m increasingly realizing to be valiance. Not that I’m a valiant person by any means . . . but I’m having to strive for that, all the same.

Valiant:

  • boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted: a valiant soldier.
  • marked by or showing bravery or valor; heroic: to make a valiant effort.
  • worthy; excellent.

As you may have gathered from an earlier blog post, I’m in the middle of a 54-day Rosary Novena to Our Lady of Pompeii for numerous private intentions. (Currently I’m on day 22 . . . and even though it takes effort some days, it’s amazingly beautiful and a total gift to whoever prays it!)

But of course, I still had to make time for St. Anne’s novena. And for whatever reason, while I had a few people I wanted to pray for specifically, my main intention for this novena surfaced as, “That St. Anne would intercede for me, and obtain the necessary graces for me to grow in all the feminine virtues, but especially the ones I most stand in need of in this courtship.” Not that I had particularly anything in mind . . . but as the way it often happens with novenas (and prayers in general), my prayers were actually answered. (Gasp!)

Current faults (that I’d been mostly blind to) and corresponding virtues to strive for were, by the end of the novena, illuminated in my mind–and the path ahead was made clear to me. Humbling but beautiful . . . you know the routine. I am so grateful for this, and for good St. Anne’s intercession! (I suppose the prayers you pray for self-knowledge are the prayers answered more quickly than any others!)

I’ll be turning 22 before long . . . but although I guess one could say I might possess some nice qualities and some relative maturity (like so many other people!) . . . becoming a valiant woman is an end still very much in need of attaining. Worthy and excellent. Brave and stout-hearted. Daily doing battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil with virtue and with strength.

St. Anne, pray for us that we may grow in all the virtues, especially those most needed in our current state in life!

Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good, and not evil, all the days of her life . . . Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

God bless you all, and a very happy feast of St. Anne! 🙂

Sig

 

 

7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 16 :: On my mind . . .

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂

JMJ1

1.

Too much time gone by, too many thoughts to recount . . . oh, well, something is better than nothing!! July is ending and I’ve only made three posts this month?!

I’ve been pondering the task of stress management over the past few days. For a variety of God-given reasons, the past few months have contained the most mental/emotional stress I’ve personally experienced. (Which honestly isn’t saying too much in the grand scheme of things, I suppose, given the fact that I’ve lived a relatively happy and sheltered life 😉 ) Maybe that’s why I haven’t blogged so often recently . . . I’ve been too busy losing hair rather than writing (which might have actually helped me . . . )!

In observing myself, I’ve been honestly astonished at how easy it can be to become imprisoned inside my own feelings of stress and worry, to where simply feeling stressed makes me feel stressed simply because I’m stressed. (Isn’t that delightfully circular?!) Also, it’s been so easy to become so tired, and to lose motivation for combating my stress and anxiety, to where the stress simply becomes my very draining “norm.” However . . . I’ve recently realized that this isn’t sustainable. (*Cough*) Even with prayer! Even with a ton of prayer! I’m having to take physical steps to remedy this . . . so, you might ask, what’s a body to do?

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I’ve committed to some relatively hard daily exercise (no surprise there), fresh air, hydration (because I never seem to subconsciously manage to drink enough fluids on a daily basis), limited sugar . . . but also enough time to read fiction (for reasons explained below), to listen to music that elevates my thoughts a little (at the moment, stirring ballet-like film soundtracks) and to ponder things in a reflective but calm frame of mind.

And I also came to an epiphany recently that accepting stress as part-and-parcel with becoming an adult, and acknowledging that stressful situations will regularly arise between now and the time of my death, is actually incredibly helpful. I’m not sure what was holding me back from that realization, but I’m sure glad it came when it did. Yes, this is stressful, but there are going to be stressful trials all throughout my life and God’s grace is sufficient for all of them if I do my part. These are Crosses (oh, right! Crosses!) that refine and purify and strengthen you, if you accept them and offer them back to God. Marriage and children, while sweetly and supremely beautiful and my heart’s dream, will still be incredibly stressful sometimes! (You have my permission to giggle at me.)

2.

Fiction . . . Particularly, Sophia House. Good, true, beautiful (though not necessarily happy) fiction lifts you out of your pains, hopes and weaknesses . . . and yet simultaneously escorts you deeper into your pains, hopes and weaknesses. Truth is always ordering and healing. You are reminded you are not alone. You perceive your human condition, the continual presence of Providence and the necessity of supernatural hope, in the stories of others.

The act of reading good and true fiction . . . it ushers order back into my perspective of my own struggles and the struggles of others. Sophia House is one of the finest novels in existence. All of my children are going to read it one day (well, I hope so, anyway!) . . . and The Dash, too, if I can force him to ever read fiction, that is 😉

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“Everything I do is worthless,” Pawel sobbed. “Even my play! My stupid, stupid play!”

S O P H I A   H O U S E

The fact that we have a nicely cleared out piano/sitting room full of sunshine in which to read a book during the afternoons is quite consoling, also 😉

3.

One of Lena and I’s close friends just passed through the Crucible on Parris Island and became a Marine. He didn’t merely survive; he excelled in it and was nearly named Iron Man of the whole company. Our happiness and pride are beyond words!

His mom texted a recording of their first conversation with him post-Crucible, and hearing his voice (for the first time in months) describe his experience of completing the Crucible, as well as hearing the changes and aging that had come into his voice across that gap of time, filled my heart with things impossible to express.

4.

I’m slowly gearing up to tutor for the upcoming school year, and have also been immersed in a few more paid projects with deadlines that have kept me nicely busy–as well as provided me the thorough enjoyment of getting glimpses into the lives and hearts of others who are living out the vocation I desire 🙂 It’s been a blessing!

5.

Okay, I can’t hold it back any longer . . . I have finally, finally, been able to attend Mass and go to Confession to a priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter. What a blessing!!! Lena and I would never embarrass them by gushing, but in private, they are absolute celebrities to us 😉 What a joy it’s been to watch this particular priest visit our parish and work in tandem with our wonderful parish priest for the past few weeks.

6.

Yesterday marked a whole year since the first day The Dash and I really spent getting to know one another as new friends in the company of our families. At the end of it, I was decidedly smitten.

Remembering that day fills me with so much gratitude! It is such a joy to reminisce about all the things that went into that day, like swimming and volleyball games, dancing and having our first legitimate conversation together because we happened to be able to sit beside one another during lunch (a total coincidence of course, ahem . . .) 😉

God is so good. He is the source of every happiness and the only End towards which our hearts journey in sincerity and truth, and yet He loves us so much that He also sends us friends and companions to love and be loved by, to know and to be known by: to be a shadow and a mirror of His Divine and wholly generous love–to pursue Him in one another’s company, to grow in virtue together as members of His Body. Our Lord has such gentleness and patience with my weaknesses and it amazes me, how willing He is to watch over my feeble attempts at perfection and slowly guide me towards Him through the tiniest events in my life, through all my stumbles, and especially through this courtship: all of these, in ways I could never have expected. Few things are sweeter this side of Heaven than what The Dash and I have been given together in our friendship and courtship 🙂 Deo Gratias!

As a side note: it pains me that I don’t have any pictures from that day! However, on a whim, I just looked to see if I’d taken any pictures at all around that time . . . and sure enough, the day before that visit (if the picture is dated correctly . . .), I was out in the backyard, experimenting with my CANON and trying to get some of the sky to reflect in my subjects’ eyes for better light.

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Anyway, I guess I eventually ran out of subjects and had to resort to taking awkward pictures of myself as I tried to master the technique. However funny the photo is, it’s still a documented photo of my face the day before . . . well, the day before I started falling in love with The Dash ❤

7.

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And this is me, just a couple of weeks ago, getting ready to go through a few training webinars and, meanwhile, sending The Dash (at work) a funny face as I attempted to express my nervousness of the Unknown World of Webinars . . . But happily, they were pretty fun; although not nearly so fun as having The Dash to send that picture to 😉

I pray you have a blessed Monday and a very happy feast of St. Apollinaris!

Sig