• 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

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.

A Pessimist’s Take On The Holidays

Hello, lovely!

I have a question: What does Christmas mean to you and how do you feel during the holiday season?

While you’re thinking about that, let me go off on a little tangent and answer that myself.

What does Christmas mean to you?

We’d all like to say that the meaning of Christmas is about:

  • the birth of Jesus (if you’re Christian)
  • being with family
  • giving
  • being kinder to people

But none of that is really true to the fullest extent, is it? Nah. No. A more honest answer would be:

  • trying to get through the anxiety of finding stuff for people at the last minute
  • struggling through the already-obnoxious Christmas music
  • impatiently waiting to figure out what people got us
  • wondering why the heck we signed up to help with all those Christmas-themed happenings

The mentality, of course, should be more along the lines of the first list, but if we look at it through the lenses of reality, that’s not really what the holiday season is about as we celebrate it.

  • Thanksgiving is about the food. Without the foot, we probably wouldn’t look forward to Thanksgiving.holidays
  • Christmas is about the gifts. Without the presents, we probably wouldn’t look forward to Christmas.

New Years is about getting dressed up, partying ’till the morning, and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Without the traditions, we probably wouldn’t celebrate anything.

Thanksgiving should be about reminding ourselves of where we came from and remembering what the kindness (of people who were not like us) did. Without them, many of us probably wouldn’t be alive today.

Christmas is about Jesus; remembering what He did for us – humbling Himself to be like us in everything but sin to save our pathetic lives. He cried, He got hungry, He felt pain, He knew heartache on a more massive scale than we can imagine. Christmas is when we remember what He did for us and we should humble ourselves.

I heard from a mom that her daughter’s school play was going over every other religion’s meaning for Christmas except the Christian one. Like, what? You afraid to offend someone by including the reason for the season? Well, I’m offended by your not doing so. I’m totally cool with you including other religious traditions, but can we stop with the anti-Christ “Christ”mases? I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of this materialistic, superficial tradition that’s shoving the real reason why we do anything this time of the year out of the picture.

The New Year is supposed to give us a fresh start or something. But what’s the difference if we’re not going to follow through with our resolutions. Key word: resolution. We’re resolving some aspect of our lives. If you’re not totally committed, don’t even say you’re going to do something. Seriously. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

What do you feel during the holiday season?

To be honest, I feel quite lonely, tense, self-conscious (more so than usual), irritable. Everyone else seems to be really anxious or really happy. Obnoxiously so in either case. I’m already sick of Christmas music. So help me if I hear another “kissing under the mistletoe” line. I’m having a hard time not mentally murdering the people I like.

I think the biggest reason why I feel the way I do during the holiday seasons is because, everywhere I look, people are smiling and being kind, and I feel next to nothing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not fun. It’s like watching all your friends get into relationships and you’re just not even interested in people in general. It’s like being at a birthday party for someone everyone likes, but you don’t. Know what I mean?

Everywhere, people are feeling things and I’m not. It’s like I’m missing out on some bigger picture thing.

Another factor, I think, that contributes to this problem o’ mine is the fact that maybe I am seeing the bigger picture, and I’m constantly remembering why we’re celebrating and it just seems like no one else is. They’re all caught up in the moment, in the gifts, in the pretty paper, and ribbons.

The fact that people are kinder during this season is also pet peeve of mine. Why only around Christmas time are you a good person? Please be consistent. If you’re usually a kind person, stick with it! You’re awesome! If you’re usually a jerk, acknowledge the fact. We can work with that. But don’t put on a mask during the holiday season.

You can fake a smile, but people remember the way you made them feel throughout the rest of the year. Don’t be a faker. This is life, not a masquerade party.

I also detest the fact that no one says “Merry Christmas” anymore. It’s all “happy holidays.” Can we not?

I suppose if we got back to the real, raw meaning of our celebrations and made that the first reason we do anything, then the rest would follow more easily. Our decisions would be based, not on what is expected of us, but what we should be doing instead.

Now it’s your turn, darling. What does Christmas really mean to you and how do you feel during the holiday season?

Love,

Rana