The Church I Love Despite the Hate

Typically participating in weekly Mass renews my soul, nourishes me spiritually, mentally, and strengthens me for the week. Being in the presence of and receiving the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is like Pedialyte to my soul. However, today I felt the full weight of shame my Catholic, universal Church has caused. The sadness, betrayal, hurt and mistrust many have especially toward Catholicism is absolutely justified, but the purpose of this entry is not to defend what is abhorrent.

I was raised in the Catholic Church which sowed the seeds of faith into my soul and seems to be built into my DNA or something. I have willingly discarded the Church along with my faith in God for the ways of the world which eventually brought me back to where I began, the Church and the faith and Sacraments which were given to me at my birth. Anointing of the Sick after my premature birth, Baptism, penance, Holy Communion and Confirmation. No matter how far I distanced myself, no matter how angry with God I have been, no matter the alluring promises of our “you do you” culture, I must honestly ask myself why did you revert and choose to identify as a practicing Catholic and continue to be a member of such a broken flawed and hypocritical church?

The church leaders and laity around the world, in my state, and in my Diocese, who have knowingly caused and covered up their evil actions, choices and afflicted pain onto God’s most vulnerable, what do you say of that? How can you still profess such a faith?

This poem hopefully will summarize my answer.

“How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I would like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely. And besides, where would I go? Would I establish another? I would not be able to establish it without the same faults, for they are the same faults I carry in me. And if I did establish another, it would be my Church, not the Church of Christ. I am old enough to know that I am no better than anyone else. …)

The Church has the power to make me holy but it is made up, from the first to the last, only of sinners. And what sinners! It has the omnipotent and invincible power to renew the Miracle of the Eucharist, but is made up of men who are stumbling in the dark, who fight every day against the temptation of losing their faith. It brings a message of pure transparency but it is incarnated in slime, such is the substance of the world. It speaks of the sweetness of its Master, of its non-violence, but there was a time in history when it sent out its armies to disembowel the infidels and torture the heretics. It proclaims the message of evangelical poverty, and yet it does nothing but look for money and alliances with the powerful.

Those who dream of something different from this are wasting their time and have to rethink it all. And this proves that they do not understand humanity. Because this is humanity, made visible by the Church, with all its flaws and its invincible courage, with the Faith that Christ has given it and with the love that Christ showers on it.

When I was young, I did not understand why Jesus chose Peter as his successor, the first Pope, even though he abandoned Him. Now I am no longer surprised and I understand that by founding his church on the tomb of a traitor(…)He was warning each of us to remain humble, by making us aware of our fragility. (…)

And what are bricks worth anyway? What matters is the promise of Christ, what matters is the cement that unites the bricks, which is the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of building the church with such poorly moulded bricks as are we.

And that is where the mystery lies. This mixture of good and bad, of greatness and misery, of holiness and sin that makes up the church…this in reality am I .(…)

The deep bond between God and His Church, is an intimate part of each one of us. (…)To each of us God says, as he says to his Church, “And I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2,21). But at the same time he reminds us of reality: ‘Your lewdness is like rust. I have tried to remove it in vain. There is so much that not even a flame will take it away’ (Ezechiel 24, 12).

But then there is even something more beautiful. The Holy Spirit who is Love, sees us as holy, immaculate, beautiful under our guises of thieves and adulterers. (…) It’s as if evil cannot touch the deepest part of mankind.

He re-establishes our virginity no matter how many times we have prostituted our bodies, spirits and hearts. In this, God is truly God, the only one who can ‘make everything new again’. It is not so important that He will renew heaven and earth. What is most important is that He will renew our hearts. This is Christ’s work. This is the divine Spirit of the Church.”

Carlo Carretto

Jesus is the foundation of my faith which has caused me to feel the anguish and pains of spirutal growth. This is why I will actively live out my Catholic faith on this side of heaven. In the end, to know, love and serve God in this world, and to be happy with him in the next is what it is to be a Christian.

Until next time,

Anjelina

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Finding Strength in Weakness

https://youtu.be/4cvK5eBIrboHowdy bloggers. The Mass readings for today really spoke to where I have been and continue to be mentally and spiritually. When it comes to depression, I am blessed beyond measure to have found a therapist who says very few words; however, when she speaks I certainly listen.I falsely bought into this mindset that meds should fix my depression and anxiety, but it is only 5% of the battle, and the rest is the hardest part of doing the heavy lifting to tangibly do something to help myself. The truth that depression may never vacate my life is something I am learning to accept. This is where I can relate to St. Paul’s assertion to let God’s will be done no matter the struggles, because I believe through offering it up, strength can be found in weakness.And fyi, this does not mean I gleefully carry on my merry way without my grumbles to the G man.Here are the readings for today if interested:http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070818.cfmDepression is the cross I try to graciously carry, but today tears and the overwhelming feeling of defeat nearly took me under, but it is the little things I am learning through therapy which have given me tools to make incremental changes. For example, getting out of bed when all I want to do is cry seems to be my recent struggle, but despite how I feel, because feelings are not always factual and are often fleeting, I have been setting a timer so I can have my cry-time, but as soon as the timer goes off, that’s when I have to make a choice to push past how I feel and realize in the little moments I have choices. Now, I am the first to say it sure is not easy, and most of the time as I am going through the motions, the despair does not lift, but in these times I can see the healing in my brokenness.I have been doing a daily Examen, which has also really helped to put each day into perspective. Here is a link about the Examen:https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/26156/the-steps-of-the-examenFeeling the sun, hearing the birds and holding to my faith and the simple prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you” are what keep me going. Also, I know the world cannot bring me peace or eradicate my struggles is even more dependence on my faith, and while this sounds morbid, the truth is each day we are one closer to death, and with heaven as my goal, with ten trillion years of purgatory before my final destination, I can feel the painful reformation and molding God is doing in my heart, mind and soul. And what’s so amazing is how those in my life have been His instruments.I wish no one had to struggle, I wish everyone who claim the title Christian made it a daily way of life instead of a to-do Sunday obligation, and the list goes on and on, but instead of wishing life away,in whatever situations, or through trials, joys and those who are placed in my life I find strength in at least doing what I can each day, and when I falter we are blessed to begin again tomorrow.I pray in what we say and do we can be authentic examples of compassion, kindness and friendship to all we meet.Until next time,Anjelina

Don’t lose yourself

“Don’t gain the world and loose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold.”

Bob Marley

 

Long time no write, eh? Despite the current soggy weather, rumor has it summer has arrived.

Over the past year I wanted to resume writing; however, often I found reasons to justify not doing so, and in the end, neglecting purging on virtual paper my thoughts/feelings culminated into a mucky mixture of anxiety, depression and at times unbearable emotional pain. Instead of continuously sinking into the quicksand, and mindlessly allowing history to repeat itself, I am trying a different way for a change.

My life is often compartmentalized into transformational segments. Grief, joy, and happiness have spiritually, emotionally and mentally broken me to the core of my being and from the ashes somehow by the grace of God my life is transformed.

I have realized when I allow God and life to work in and through me, such as returning to the faith I cherished as a child and took for granted as an immature, stubborn, know-it-all adult. Words cannot explain the blessings I can often see on the other side of the refining process; however, going through the dismantling and reassembling is painful. I know it is purposeful, so maybe this is a spiritual exercise in redemptive suffering. Since my last entry, so much happened which has stripped me of just existing from day-to-day. The build-up of tangible loss, sadness, loneliness, depression, and even a sense of stability prompted this entry. It is interesting how for me depression, Anorexia and anxiety have unique ways of getting down to the bare bones of the thoughts and emotions I erroneously thought I was obviously not so expertly avoiding.

During these figurative splits in life, I find myself examining my life with a fine-tooth comb. From everything I possess along with frequently taking the pulse of my mental and spiritual status. I respect for many these realizations may be of no use, but if they are helpful, know you are not alone in not just accepting who or where you are in life. I truly believe life is about becoming better than we were yesterday, and this also includes not completely relinquishing all the baggage we cannot so easily check at the door.

 

I preface what I am going to write with the assurance I am not suicidal or have a plan to harm myself or anyone else. So, here we go.

The closest daily activity I can equate the past year with is seeing my life through a mirror. Instead of simply noticing a few favorable qualities as well as numerous faults from a skewed perspective, examining what I long for to use the remainder of my earthly time through the lens of my faith feels like a burden and prayerfully is somehow a blessing unknown to me.

Some day we are going to die. We cannot escape it and as ardently as we try to stave off the inevitable, ready or not, the death of our human body will greet us, and just as when we entered this world, all our possessions will not accompany us on our next stop. Knowing something logically is vastly different from beliefs and feelings. I often think about death, and yes, mostly when I am depressed suicidal ideations are a constant struggle, but the angle from which I am currently processing death is a mixed bag. These realizations have moved from simply head to heart/head knowledge and I am finding this rearranging a bit emotionally uncomfortable because, at the core of who I am, what I long for will not be obtained in this earthly life. This earthly existence will never bring me the peace I seek.

Whether it is today or ten years from now or some other time to be determined, I will die. This marry-go-round ride will stop, and although I have faith that maybe I will spend ten trillion years in purgatory because I am not worthy of heaven, prayerfully God will have mercy on my soul. No matter where I or any of us spend our eternity, the reality is each day we have choices. I can ritualistically go through the motions of my Catholic faith, but if I do not put all the professions of faith into action, then I am a hypocrite.

I often become frustrated and jaded by our society which simply accepts the way things are just because of our boxish tendencies, whether it be our social groups or political circles. Imagine if we put into action the faith we Christians profess, how transformed our world could be? Btw, this has nothing to do with current hot button political topics.

I know my little island eutopia of books, music and all-around authenticity may be an imaginary state, but if only we could work toward respecting one another, our differences, the life lessons and stories or experiences so many we initially discount.

I am a highly sensitive person to my detriment, and a frustrating downside of this trait is emotionally feeling the pain of others. In some ways it can be a gift of connection and investment especially during happy joyous times; however, general life events on various levels over the past year sure have been an emotionally rinse and repeat cycle. It is a form of connection that is not superficial, but on the other hand the pain of humanity, the daily happenings in the world, the petty squabbles I read or hear about hurts and I am left with this indescribable longing for peace, for all of this to end and for me to understand why I am going through this torment.

During a walk I heard the chattery chirps from birds and the sounds of lives going on around me, my soul felt both anchored down with worldly sorrow, as well as this indescribable yearning for the world to not just know but also fully embrace and feel this sorrow, pain and compassion for one another in the hopes no matter religious affiliation or lack thereof, we can be the visible Church of Christ on earth.

I cling to the truth whether on this side of heaven or when I take my dirt nap, God will reveal to me the wisdom of His plan or maybe the missteps of my earthly life which brought about this grief.

As I am writing this well after the conclusion of Lent, I have realized the gift of liturgical seasons has a way of returning me to the big questions of life, and each year as I grow, regress, change and try to be a better person than I was before, I feel as if my spiritual speedometer is getting a workout, however, it is putting ware on me mentally, physically and emotionally.

I have always valued the liturgical seasons of the Church, and unlike previous years this Lent and Easter were not just about going through the routine no meat on Fridays, Ash Wednesday, fasting, prayers, sacraments and penance and almsgiving trickled into a feeling of longing. It was not like a happy spiritual high or anything. It has been a deep sadness for my brokenness, the evil and pain in the world, and the pain I see in the lives I encounter. These feelings are tiring, and there are many days I pray for God to take away this intensity, but as long as I am living, I will keep on keeping on.

I am rambling, and my editing tendency is starting to creep in, so I will do my best to put this entry to bed.

  1. Please, whatever you do, recognize in life we are all in this together. The greeting you give to a stranger, the ear you offer to a friend who is going through a difficult time, the gossipy words we withhold as to not speak untruths about another are small ways I am learning what it means to truly live and respect one another as we want to be respected.
  2. Related to eating disorder recovery, I do not know if I will be alive at 40, because truthfully, I know my body will not take any more of my madness without repercussions, but what I do know is if I do nothing worthwhile with my life, I pray I can at least try. Each day although I may not succeed with following my meal plan, I can at least try. If we do not try, then how can we know whether we can overcome?
  3. Recently I have pondered why I have maintained this blog for so many years. Initially, I thought maybe I should resort to private free writing, because who wants to read my rambles? I realized even if I die today, prayerfully with my little life lessons contained in this blog, they could be paid forward to the world in some way. We never know how our actions, no matter how small or monumental can change or even save a life.

 

I pray we can all live out Mary’s fiat, and say: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

I am sad, worn down mentally, physically and emotionally, but what keeps me going each day is my faith which gives me strength and trust that this too shall pass, and life lessons will be learned. Without the gift of my Catholic faith and Audrey Assad songs, I would be without hope to keep on keeping on.

 

Ave Maria, gratia plena,

Dominus tecum.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus,

et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,

ora pro nobis peccatoribus,

nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

Amen.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnlT_wopACk&index=16&list=PL7_V7nXKouS09EJZ47Fe7-BvJiyCr3tzj

 

Until next time,

Anjelina

Ubi Caritas: (“Where Charity Is”)

“Sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.” Jodi Picoult

 

As always I preface my entries with the same old adage. I want to write more; I want to comment and interact with fellow bloggers, but sometimes mustering up the energy to engage is difficult. As I shift from Enya to Audrey Assad playlists which softly play in the backgroun, more than ever I have realized sitting silently with my uncomfortable internal chaos is an emosionally taxing task; however, just as we cannot avoid death, I might as well soak in my feelings instead of avoiding them. What follows is a Gregorian chant which is keeping me going, and prayerfully I return with more to write. As much as I abhor visiting the jumbled jigsaw I reverently refer to as my brain, I find writing therapeutic. Words provide an outlet to reflect and tap into the raging resivour of recent situations, thoughts and complex feelings, so here’s to more to come.

I pray these lyrics accompanied by Audrey’s beautiful voice speak to your soul whereever you may be on this journey called life.

 

 

Below are the Latin and English translations:

 

Lyrics in Latin:

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur: Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus. Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites. Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul quoque cum beatis videamus, Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus: Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum, Saecula per infinita saeculorum.

 

In English:

Where charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him. Let us fear, and let us love the living God. And may we love each other with a sincere heart. Where charity and love are, God is there. As we are gathered into one body, Beware, lest we be divided in mind. Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease, And may Christ our God be in our midst. Where charity and love are, God is there. And may we with the saints also, See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God: The joy that is immense and good, Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

 

On this all saints day, may we cling to the truth healing can come through hurt, beauty can come from broken things, we grow stronger in the broken places and while on this side of heaven life may appear without purpose, saints are sinners who never stopped trying. Let’s keep on keeping on.

Until next time,

Anjelina

Love Is

I hope this Sunday is a relaxing restorative one for all. I am thankfully in a better mindset than I was when I last wrote. Even though I am having a difficult time accepting a positive aspect of eating disorder recovery, I have vowed somehow this time must be different from the other relapses, because if I do not make a change the cycle will inevitably keep on repeating itself.

For me, weight restoration is the most mentally exhausting part of recovery. On one hand, I hate it. I loathe the feeling of defeat and the associated self-deprecating thoughts and feelings, but then the logical part of my mind knows this is good. This is what my body needs and if I can conquer this fear, then I can tackle the other lies and distortions of anorexia. It’s all fine and dandy to intellectually know these truths and ponder them on paper, but how do I put these realizations into action? How do I move further along this continuum? How do I take a leap further away from the eating disorder? A step into unknown territory in which there is no place for disordered thoughts and being held captive by unrealistic perceptions and entertain the idea of a life in which I let go of unattainable goals.

I am not going to delude myself into thinking if I actively try this time a setback can’t or won’t occur, but unlike previous attempts to truly let go of this vice I am going to do my best to view caring for myself as more than a chore or task; it’s an act of love. Although I am not yet to a point in which I can say I love myself, somedays I do like who I am becoming.

As I was considering this entry, the following verse came to mind: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

I began to question whether I actually “love” myself. I can easily love and care for others, but as the adage says, you can’t love others until you love yourself.

I often need to remind myself loving oneself is not being selfish. Being patient with ourselves, showing kindness to our bodies by providing the food, exercise and needed sleep it requires, being gracious with our faults and accepting we are not perfect, and caring for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing are things only we can do for ourselves.

I pray this week in small but noticeable ways we can all care and love ourselves for who we are in the here and now, rather than only projecting into the future which is never promised.

Until next time

Anjelina

Uncovering Depression

“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.” – Margaret Atwood

 

Hi there on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi and Father’s Day,

Maybe what I am about to write about is just yet another one of my quirks which make relating to the living so difficult. I know when I am depressed I am difficult to “deal with.” I am irritable, lifeless, a hopeless cause and just taking up space under bedcovers during the day when the world goes on outside my window.

This weekend has been one such time where depression sucked me into its quicksand, and no matter how hard I tried to fight the thoughts or the crushing wave of intense feelings I lost the battle. I slept, barely got out of bed, only enough to minimally interact with the world and fell far into the shelter of nothingness.

It’s difficult to explain why I felt this way, but maybe you may have some ideas how I can prevent another episode. It all started with a beautifully real intense book I read which displayed vulnerability, humanity at its worst and the outcomes of pain. The author is not amazing for what she overcame, but rather for putting words to her experiences. She deftly put words to my feelings of hunger, feelings of wanting to disappear but to be noticed all at the same time. I certainly will be blogging my thoughts in a future entry, but oh my!! Words are powerful. We as humans are powerful beyond our realizations. Our words, our expressions, our actions and reactions can unknowingly impact another for good or ill. Please, whatever you do, everyday offer someone a smile, a kind word, give a friend a hug, an authentic encouraging word because sadly humanity can be so overwhelmingly savage and cruel.

This is what pulled me into the vortex of depression. Feeling the author’s pain, comprehending the superficiality of our culture and as these feelings and thoughts crashed over me like a tidal wave, I could not bear to fight feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. I don’t know how tomorrow will go, but I will put on my mask of “I am not depressed” and keep on keeping on and will “fake it till I make it.”

Until next time,

Anjelina

As We Change we grow

The following quote is taken from a Facebook friend’s post:

“Sometimes, you and someone else were only meant to share a moment of time with each other. Sometimes friendships and relationships are not built to last forever, they are built to teach you a lesson. Maybe you both needed to learn something from each other that no one else in the world could teach you at that time. Maybe you both were perfect for getting each other through a terrible storm together. In life, you will fall out with people that you never thought you would. Get betrayed by people you trusted with all your heart. And get used by people you would do anything for. But life also has a beautiful side to it. You will get loved by someone you never thought you would have. Form new friendships with people that will establish more meaningful and stronger relationships. And overcome things you never thought you would get over. We all have chapters that end with people at some point in life. But take pride in knowing that the very best part of your book is still being written.”

 

Hi blog world,

As usual it has been some time since I took time to write and read your posts, but lately I have felt the nudge back to reflective writing, so here is a brief entry about what I have been thinking.

Often my heart feels burdened, emotionally tired and worn, however, there is this change I feel taking place. It’s a gradual realization I cannot control the outcome of relationships or situations. It’s the acceptance each day is a blessing with its unique challenges, choices and triumphs, and I can only embrace each day as a precious gift. This deeper understanding comes from years of self-imposed physical and mental torture, way too much time dedicated to pushing friends away because I always felt less than, undeserving of love or just plain unworthy.

I have somehow arrived at a place of liking who I am for the most part, along with an awareness in life comes the lesson of learning to let go of my specific plans, the comfortability to show my vulnerabilities, the past, to let go so I can change, and changing to become a more well-rounded spiritually-centered person.

Attempting to attain perfection, whether it be in my personal or professional life will only lead to this repeated feeling of inadequacy, and these unachievable goals reinforce my natural human shortcomings. I am beyond blessed by God’s gift of my relationships with friends, coworkers and family members who are helping me realize my worth, who are cheering me on as I use my words for good rather than my self-destructive actions whose purpose is to only slowly silence my voice.

Thank you for sharing your life lessons, wisdom, and most importantly pouring your trust and love into this cocooned caterpillar who prayerfully someday bud into a butterfly.

Until next time,

Anjelina