• stük, Johnny, + twigs •

It has been eleven days since my last post which is shameful.

But I think you’ll excuse me when I give the excuse of (a) finals, (b) being out of town with no internet, and (c) being ill. Terribly ill.

I still am, so this post will reflect my lack of mental capabilities. Sorry.

I want to focus on (b) though! Waffle-Shake Girl, whom you will recall from this post, is so done with me. After four days and nights with basically me 24 hours a day is enough for anyone methinks. But, to be fair, I had to put up with her too. So I think we’re even.

We took a trip up to Maryland with another friend’s parents and little sister to witness her continue her journey into a religious order (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará). She knew ever since she was eight years old that she was called to be a bride of Christ; twelve years later, it came to pass!

You would not believe how absolutely nuts these religious sisters are!

(Note: nuns and sisters are different. Nuns are cloistered and spend most of their time in prayer. Sisters do prayer + missionary work – like Mother Theresa.)

It’s really crazy how human they are. You think “religious sister” or “nun” and go “oh, yeah; boring, prayerful, holy” but really this is the farthest thing from reality. At least with this order.

The Sisters Are, In Fact, Human

  • First thing when we see Kristina (now Sister Mary Crown of Purity), she goes, “where’s Dad?” He’d been abducted by a seminarian like five minutes earlier.
  • When we get to the car (which will take us to the convent), she immediately overwhelms us with stories of how the other sisters make fun of her for this or that.
  • All squirrels are named Johnny. Don’t question it. They just are.
  • The brothers (basically the male version of this order) call soda “stük” and the sisters call candy “stük”. Sounds like drugs, but I promise it’s not.
  • Sister Karitatis ran up to me and goes, “you know, I wish I’d met you before I entered this order. We’d be like the greatest friends.” Me: “We can still be friends…” Her: “Oh! That’s right!”
  • Sister Passie is the bomb diggity. She has to shower NOW.
  • Sister Purity’s job is to push people on the tire swing. And to stay out of the kitchen because apparently you’re not supposed to use four cups of yeast for a saint’s favorite rolls… The baker in me cringed + is still cringing.
  • And we can’t forget Father John Paul. Who mentions Doctor Who in his sermons. And goes all out with the fanboy hand motions.
  • Or the seminarians of IVE America who create parodies such as Star Weirds.

See what I mean? So human.

Okay. Sounds like fun, right? It was a blast! So why would Waffle-Shake Girl be so done with me?

Because weather, twigs, people get to live here, trees, I can see my breath, and look at that sunset!

I have never been so excited that I literally hop from foot to foot because I can’t contain myself. Never. I am probably one of the most generally chill people you will ever meet. Ask Waffle-Shake Girl. (I want confirmation of this statement in the comments.)

I would double over, run my fingers through my hair, and whisper, “people get to live here.” Then I’d look at the sisters and say, “you get to live here.”

Needless to say, I was exhausted because being that excited is draining.

Cold weather makes me so happy. You have no clue. I look best in winter clothing and I’m a much nicer person when I feel cute.

• stük, Johnny, + twigs •

Highlights

  • Eating before our flight; Purity’s dad is going around asking for trash to throw away; WSG girl goes, “that’s a rude way to talk about Rana.”
  • This happened multiple times over the course of the trip + it didn’t get old.
  • Getting my hand cream confiscated. Because yes. I will do something dastardly with Sweet Pea perfume. I, the five-foot-nothing minor.
  • Cold weather (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Heading to a military base where Purity’s parents met and seeing where they first saw each other, where her dad proposed to her mom (the first time), picking up a twig and screaming, “this twig is prettier than anything in Florida!” Also, evil faerie kings, bad wishes, “bop, bop, bop”, and “buzz, buzz, buzz.”
  • Going to Five Guys. When they called out Purity’s dad’s number, he shouts, “BINGO!” and everyone laughed.
  • Getting sick in China Town after getting a Chocolate Peppermint shake from Shake Shack. Blaming WSG forever.
  • Discovering that sushi trucks are an actual thing. The future is here.
  • The first thing when we get to the China Town in D.C. and some guy is getting arrested outside a McDonalds.
  • D.C. is “…like Santa’s workshop except everyone here is scary and they look like they want to hurt me.”
  • The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. So many chapels, so much reverence, so much history… I was in total awe. My heart didn’t know how to heart and my lungs kind of forgot how to lung too.
  • Witnessing one of my oldest friends continue to follow the path of her calling was so beautiful. Cardinal McCarrick celebrated the Mass and blessed the Miraculous Medal I purchased from the gift shop. The amount of faith and love for Christ is overwhelming.
  • Sarcastic goats.
  • Sister Guardian of the Child Jesus. I love her so much. She is so gentle. So kind. So patient. So faithful… ❤
  • Sister Karitatis. Hilarious and a maniac-driver.
  • Passing through the Holy Door on the day of its opening.
  • Oh. And Purity’s biological sister bedazzling e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. It was like Tinker Bell barfed all over the place.

Conversion

I’d been going through a spiritual dryness period. You know the kind. You don’t feel anything. You don’t feel a sense of conviction. You know you believe, but you’re going through the motions. I prayed for a long time to feel my heart stir again with that love I wanted to have for Christ, my Lord and my God.

Even through prayer and Adoration the first morning, I felt nothing. But Mass started. And the first reading was from Isaiah. It was a reading of love + mercy. Something I needed to hear and be reminded of. It was like a dam broke and my heart beat again.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for the opportunity, for the graces You have showered upon us. Let us be open to your love, mercy, and kindness.

Peace + blessings,

Rana || xoxo

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It’s Not Over, Dear Heart

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the priests at my church recently passed away.

I guess I was fine until the funeral Mass because that’s when it sunk in. He’s gone. He won’t be walking around the church and clicking his heels or asking everyone to say “Amen!” at the end of the homily. He won’t be buying donuts or filling the candy jar in the rectory. He won’t mispronounce my name but make it sound beautiful anyway by rolling the R. He won’t laugh off the crying babies in the middle of Mass and tell the congregation that they’re letting him know it’s time to stop talking. He won’t smile down at me with the clearest and most joyful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. He won’t be around to never get frustrated with anyone. He won’t call anyone “dear heart.” He won’t listen to political rants from our other priest in the morning. He won’t hear confessions.

He’s dead.

But it’s not over.

This is not the end.

And these tears will be forgotten when an immense joy takes their place.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18

He lived Christ’s love.

He was so joyful. I never saw him get frustrated or angry. That wasn’t him.

And I guess I never thought about what he had gone through before I met him about thirteen years ago. But I learned yesterday that he had three brothers – two of whom had died in World War II. One died on a sinking ship and the other was killed. The third died in 2013 of cancer. Father Bratus was so devoted and cared so much for his brother.

This holy man felt pain. But that didn’t bring him down. And I need to live his example. I need to be selfless and generous like him.

You know, I feel very peaceful about all this though.

Obviously, it’s like something important is missing and the parish will never be the same, but Father was dying from liver and pancreatic cancer. And he’s in a better place. He’s not in pain, he’s not grieving; he’s clicking his heels and singing as loud as he can to bring joy to God and I know he’s succeeding.

Take courage, dear heart.

This is not the end.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Some Two Thousand Years Ago Today

It hit me yesterday a few times.

Especially during our Holy Thursday Mass.

Jesus is real. And He’s not a pie in the sky, abstract being with no concern for us.

See, this is the danger of falling into checklist love. I prayed multiple times today, check! I said, “I love you,” check! I did something nice for someone else, check! Etc.

That ain’t love.

But, often times, that is how I love.

I do it out of habit.

What’s more is the fact that I think I do it to not go to hell as opposed to doing it to get into Heaven. It’s a dangerous lifestyle and I need to change it. I don’t want to be a checklist lover of Christ. Because that’s not what He is for me.

What’s the most striking thing is the fact that, at this very moment, some two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was hanging on the Cross, dying, hurting, suffocating, in mental agony. He saw us all when he was in the garden, praying. And He loved us.

In those raw moments of agony, He still loved.

Mark 15:25 says, “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.”

Nine.

And He died at three in the afternoon. That means He hung for six hours.

Do you know the history of the cross?

It was a means of torture and humiliation invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans. It was used for the worst criminals. They died by suffocation. See, they would need to pull themselves up in order to breathe. And if they didn’t die fast enough, their legs wold be broken, taking away their means of pushing up to breathe.

Jesus was already dead before his legs could be broken.

It must have been around midnight when the soldiers came into the garden and arrested Jesus. (Jesus – the God of the Universe, of Heaven and earth, the Creator.) From then until nine the next morning (this morning), they spat on Him, taunted Him, beat Him, scourged Him, pounded a crown of thorns onto His head.

This is real.

This happened.

And it happened today.

How great His Love must be to still care and want us with Him after we’ve hurt Him over and over again.

I’ve been hurt and the last thing I’d want is to be around the person that did the hurting. The last thing I want to do is forgive them and love them.

But this is what God does. After everything we did to Him, He still loves with a perfect love.

And that’s what we’re called to do.

Keep in mind that, just because Jesus is God, He was still human. 100% God, 100% man. He still felt pain, temptation — the difference is that He didn’t give in to it.

I know many of us would like to say that, were we there when He died, we would have stood up for Him. But I think that I, at least, would have doubted His divinity. I would have doubted.

But in three days, He defeats death.

He gives us another chance every second of the day.

If you ever find yourself checking off a prayer list without really thinking about how much love you’re putting into it, stop. Say a prayer to soften your heart. Ask Him to give you the grace you need to be a saint.

At least for today.

40 Days and a Writer’s Thoughts

Good afternoon, darling!

I’d like to split this post into two sections. One is more fun, but demands less of a priority for me. And the other is probably less interesting, but sits higher on the Important List. So, let’s go ahead and start with the one of more importance. 😛

1. Fat Tuesday and Lent

It’s no secret. I’m Catholic. We fast for the 40 days before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. This period is known as “Lent.” During this 40 day period, we abstain from meat on Fridays and, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we fast. Fasting means that we eat only one regular sized meal and are permitted two snacks before and after.

Why do you do this?

Check out this article and this article.

Essentially, though, it’s a time of discipline (the first article does a brilliant job of explaining this much better than I can). We take this time especially to put ourselves aside and make a harder effort to grow closer to God through sacrifices (this is where you might want to read the second article).

Here’s the opening paragraph of the first article (because it does a much better job of explaining than I could 😉 ):

“…Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Catholics pray, fast, contemplate, and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. Catholics do these things because Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is the greatest holy day of the Christian year (even above Christmas) and Catholics have recognized that it is appropriate to prepare for such a holy day by engaging in such disciplines.”

And, because sacrifices start tomorrow… today is Fat Tuesday! Or Mardi Gras. Whichever you prefer. So, I’m binging on one of the best combinations invented by man: peanut butter and chocolate.

Only… this isn’t JUST peanut butter and chocolate.

No, ma’am/sir.

No.

It’s whipped peanut butter and a king sized Hershey’s chocolate bar.

Did you know there’s such a thing as whipped peanut butter?? I didn’t. Not until last year.

What are you giving up/adding?

I think I’m going to stop eating so much excess and eat only what I need. Your stomach is the size of your fist. So if I eat that much whenever I’m hungry (not bored, but hungry), it’ll be a decent sacrifice.

Also, I’m going to try to donate to those suffering in the Middle East from ISIS attacks and such. I’m trying to shift my focus from worldly possessions to eternal prizes. And I’m hoping that doesn’t sound cheesy. 😛 That’s not to say that you can buy eternal life. For me, it’s more trying to not be so attached to money.

I’m also going to try to devote more time to prayer as I think I’ve been lacking in that department of late…

But let’s go ahead and move on to the second topic:

2. A Thought On Writers

I’m scrolling through Pinterest as I often do during school time. (Don’t judge me. Or other homeschoolers. We’re just privileged jerks. But, mind you, I have a very strict school schedule and I get my crap done. This ain’t the little kids’ playground. Homeschooling requires an insane amount of self-discipline. But I digress.)

And, as I’m scrolling through Pinterest, I see nice pictures of nice-looking people.

Where I would see a psychotic villain, main character, or love interest, the rest of the world sees a picture that goes onto their board… “Cute Guys?” or “Girl Crush?”

I don’t know about you, but, to me, it just seems like writers are so much deeper than the average person. This is not to downgrade anyone else. Not at all! It just seems like writers and artists in general see so much more than the average.

They see a crumbled building. We see shelter for someone on the run or a villain’s HQ (although that can get a bit cheesy).

They see a good lookin’ actor. We see our next murderer.

They see hundreds of people dashing about in an airport. We wonder what their stories are.

Know what I mean?

Just as an artist notices the way light and shadow fall, writers notice people, places, ideas.

We can turn your simply “cute guy” into a con-man, drug dealer, son of an alcoholic, or murderer.

We can build worlds, races, lives.

We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Peace, love, and blessings,

Rana

{Have you ever felt?}

Hello, you!

Have you ever endured a pain so consuming that your skin seems to shrink and crawl over bone and muscle? Your heart sort of morphs into a little monster trying to tear its way out of your chest and, in that intense moment, you’re not thankful that your ribs hold it back. You wish your fingernails were claws instead so you could tear yourself open and apart. Maybe then the pain would ebb and a comfortable numbness would replace it, right?

Have you ever waited until the lights were out before you’d allow your mind to run through all the thoughts you forced to the back of your mind throughout the day because maybe a memory might trickle down your cheek and you know others see tears as an invitation into your struggles even though they have no right to even ask to be let in?

Have you ever felt that people asked what was wrong, and listened to only half of what you said so they could take that less than half of a truth and use it as a conversation starter with someone else?

Have you ever felt there could be no reason good enough to justify the pain you’re barely making it through now?

Have you ever felt…?

It’s been something I’ve thought about for a while. I believe there’s a reason behind everything. But until recently, if someone asked me why, I wouldn’t have had an answer and that bothered me. Now, I do and I thought I’d share it.

{Does pain have meaning?}

Yes.

{Why?}

I have a few answers to this question.

>>>>>>> Because I’m only human and this world is crap. If I didn’t believe that pain had a meaning, I’d have no hope. This planet is full of suffering, bloodshed, hate, anger… If there is no meaning to pain, and life is full of pain, then, to me, life would have no meaning.

>>>>>>> Because I have faith that this suffering can be used to help someone else whether by helping me relate to their situation in the future or…

>>>>>>> Ever heard a Catholic say, “Offer it up?” Hold up, non-Catholics! This applies to you too (if you’re Christian). It has a Biblical basis. In Colossians 1:24, Saint Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” 

(Quick note: Christ’s suffering lacked nothing. What this verse means, then, is that we should unite our sufferings with that of Jesus’ on the Cross. We can gather this from Romans 8:17 which can be found below.)

Jesus told us to rejoice in our suffering in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Now, where does the term “offer it up” come from? Well, we see it in Romans 8:17: “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”

When Jesus said, ““And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” in Luke 9:23, He was telling us that we would suffer. But for a greater glory. His glory and also (take a look back up at Colossians 1:24) for the sake of the Church.

So suffering isn’t worthless then. And that’s the biggest thing for me. If it means nothing, then a lot of our lives have been wasted. But, if it has a purpose, and we act upon it, then I think it’s justified. Now, if we complain a ton while we’re suffering, are we really acting as Christ would and uniting our pain with His? I think not.

For a more comprehensive article on the Biblical basis of why we suffer, I strongly urge you to click here.

I hope this helps you, lovely. ❤ I hope you can see the beauty in your pain and I wish you the best.

So what are your thoughts? Is there a reason behind your motive to push through pain? Anything that helps you deal with it? I’d love to hear it!

God bless!

Rana

P.S.

This song is just wonderful. Don’t be afraid to get hurt. Don’t be afraid of pain, darling.

United, We Stand

Hello, lovely!

I trust everything’s been going well since yesterday. ❤

Today, I wanted to ramble a bit on what is and isn’t freedom of religion/speech in regards to the Satanic Black Mass happening in Oklahoma later on today.

1) It’s not freedom of religion and here’s why:

Want to be a satanist? Fine. Don’t steal a consecrated Host from a Catholic Church so you can desecrate our Savior (although I believe the stolen Host was returned to the Church). I don’t care if you hate Him. You wouldn’t be allowed to get a bunch of people to rally and use a stolen Koran as toilet paper. That would get shut down immediately.

It’s not freedom of religion. It’s the sick and twisted parody of religion designed to mock a true God. Just as abortion is a sick parody of the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper when He said, “This is My Body,” satanists twist the Catholic Mass to spit in God’s face.

2) It’s not freedom of speech and here’s why:

It’s hateful. Want to set up a rally for Nazis to publicly announce their hate for Jews? I doubt if you could. It’s offensive and totally wrong.

Free speech should be limited to only the laws of libel, obscenity, sedition, and slander. This would fall under obscenity and slander. I have no clue why the state would legally allow this to happen other than the fact that they don’t care and are part of a society that hates God.

Fact: Satanists only go for consecrated Hosts from the Catholic Church because they know it’s the true Host – they know it’s Jesus Christ. I read an interview done with a former satanist who said that the ones who are really in deep could pick out of several identical pieces of bread which was a consecrated Host. The Host is not a symbol or replica of Christ. It IS Christ.

Further more, at this black mass, it’s said that they will perform a reverse exorcism – they’ll cast the Holy Spirit out of a person. It’s so sick. Disgusting.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter if you believe the Catholic Church is right or not. We’re all Christians. An attack on one denomination is an attack on all denominations. We should be unified as it says in the Bible. Let’s take a moment (or between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. – the Holy Hour) and pray together that God intercedes and doesn’t allow this blasphemous thing to happen. Let’s pray for a change of heart of those participating in the Black Mass.

United, we stand. Divided, we fall.

To help stop this event, click here(I don’t know if you can still sign the petition to stop it, but just in case…)

God bless!

Rana

Our Constant Choice

Good morning, darling!

I hope you had a phenomenal week. ^_^ I’ve been fighting some sort of sickness. Maybe the flu. I’m still not over it. Oh, well.

Today, I just wanted to share something with you. I was reading my Bible last night and stumbled across Sirach 15:11-20.

11 Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates. (He may allow undesirable things to happen, but He Our Constant Choicedoes not cause them and will not lead you into temptation.)

12 Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes.

13 The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil.

14 When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. (“Free will, though it makes evil possible, also makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” – C.S. Lewis)

15 If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not.

16 He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want.

17 You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.

18 The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything.

19 He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him.

20 He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin.

What struck me was the fact that life is a constant choice. Being a Christian is a constant choice. It’s not a once-and-done sort of thing. You can lose your salvation (Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 2 Tim. 2:11-12 …)

But you know what? You can also get it back.

Salvation is a process and God wants to help us through it. As a proud (practicing) Catholic, I believe that I have been saved (Mark 16:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 6:3-4), am being saved through cooperation with grace (I Cor. 1:18, I Cor. 15:1-3; II Cor. 6:1), and I will be saved if I persevere in the Faith (Matt. 10:22; Romans 2:6-7; Gal. 6:7-9).

You see, if I say I’m a Christian, but go and murder someone, I’m not acting like a Christian; therefore, I’m not a Christian. Actions are more important than words. You can say whatever you want all day long, but in the end, what matters is what you did.

We’re not saved by our works, but without them, we’re useless. (Contrary to what many believe, Catholics do not believe works save them. We believe they are necessary, but we cannot earn salvation.)

In James 2:17, we’re reminded that, “faith of itself, if it does not have work, is dead.” And in verse 24, James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And later: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (2:26).

I encourage you all to choose life with me. 🙂

God bless!

Rana