30 December 2012

2012 Year In Review

A lot of really good stuff happened this year. I tend to take a lot of photographs [with my phone, which is alright: I'm hoping to later save up for something a bit more substantial (Canon Rebel, anyone?), but the phone does well for now], which helps me remember all the things I've done. Below, aided by photo collages, the events of my year are collected. In this year, 2012, I...

Visited bakeries and cooked legit dinners:

Bakeries include: Baked (NYC), Termini Brothers (Philadelphia) and Mirabelle's (Urbana, IL)

Baked, a lot (a lot more than is pictured):

Feast your eyes on a lot of butter and sugar, folks.

28 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Happy Christmas!

I am now hailing from the East coast and will be here until mid January (the majority of break between semesters). I love it here: the cities are plentiful, the scenery is gorgeous and my boyfriend, C, lives here.

I got in in Saturday after a few flight delays just in time to prepare for Christmas. The 23rd was spent baking, one of my favorite activities. We left Connecticut late Christmas Eve and stopped in Manhattan for midnight Mass (my first) at Holy Innocents, mere blocks from Times Square. It was a sung Latin Mass, which I'd never gone to before. I was so antsy to get to the parish in time, the fact that it was finally Christmas didn't hit me until we knelt. All of the anticipation over Advent bubbled over as excitement. The Mass was beautiful, the sermon thought-provoking and the Latin easier to follow after attending Latin Mass on Tuesdays at school. I also got to wear a mantilla for the first time, which made me feel pretty fancy. :)

21 December 2012

First Confession

I had my first Confession yesterday morning. I woke up nervous about it, but for incredibly silly reasons. "What if it's randomly cancelled and I don't know?" "What if there's not a line and I don't know where to stand?" While the first one has a bit of validity, what on Earth is going on with the second worry?

This is how my brain works. I'm not worried about how my life will sound to the priest. I'm not (too) worried about passing out from nerves. I'm worried about minor technicalities that don't change the fact that I need to Confess but could slightly mess with my day.

And actually, that's a little important: I do need to know where to be if I'm expecting to be doing something in a certain moment. But anyway:

I got to the parish about half through the hour of Confessions and there was already a line (a short one, thankfully). But as the time drew closer I found myself reciting Hail Mary in English and Latin (my new challenge: learn prayers in Latin) to calm my nerves. Doing things correctly is already important to me, but doing things correctly concerning faith is so much more important. I want to do everything I can to please God.

Soon enough, the door opened and it was my turn. I recognized the voice of the Father and instantly felt a greater ease. I wasn't embarrassed by my sins to the point of worrying about how saying them would make me appear. I did and have detested them, so I certainly did not treat my sins lightly. But Father was patient and kind in asking questions and giving his advice and act of penance.

This was wonderful. He understood it was my first Confession and made sure I was aware of what I was doing, checked that I was baptized, made certain that I was certain about converting. All bases were covered, so to speak, in a very compassionate way. I'm sure Father has heard tons of Confessions, probably a lot of first Confessions, but he was careful to guide me through the process and encourage me in my walk in a way that felt very easy and natural. Pray for your priests! They do amazing things in their vocation to cleanse and strengthen your soul. Pray that they will be faithful to the Church and their duties, that they will seek Truth and Love in all they do and that they will Confess themselves.

10 December 2012

Advent: Waiting

So the first week or two of December sounded incredibly exciting to me about a month ago. I'd never celebrated Advent before and was excited by the challenge of it. Here was something else new I could learn about. But Advent is more than just a "something." It is an entire season of the liturgical year leading up to Christmas. 
Going into the season, it reminded me of Lent. I was all prepared to feel anticipation, and likely impatience, even excited about the anticipation. Waiting makes not waiting worth it. And that's how it has felt: waiting has just made me want Christmas to come all the more. It has made me excited, probably more excited than if I had been baking cookies and singing songs and decorating all Christmas-like all along. 
But there was something else I was not excited about for the first couple of weeks of December: the end of the semester. Last minute papers, projects and exams hit my desk all at once. The darkness and struggle I was vaguely expecting with Advent became very tangible with end of the year stress. This was especially exaggerated by the trip I would take after exams to the East coast, where I will be spending Christmas with my boyfriend and his family.
Why I was surprised by this, I don't know. I knew exams were coming up. I also had welcomed any struggle that came my way at the start of Advent. In the middle of deadlines, the third Sunday of Advent came and reminded me that the darkness will end. Exams will end, waiting will end. Christmas will come. 
Another thing that brightened my week was Mass on Tuesday. The parish I attend does Latin Mass in the evenings and I have enjoyed getting used to the language and imagining this is what it must have been like to attend Mass years ago. However, this week everything was in English! I didn't despair too much, though, because after Adoration occurs before Mass, the hymn "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" is sung a capella. It has become one of my favorite hymns an it is absolutely beautiful. It always turns my mind toward God and reminds me that He will reign justly and perfectly forever. There is a great deal of peace that comes with that thought. It brought me a glimpse once again of the light I am expecting at the end of Advent.

07 December 2012


Yesterday's Gospel reading:

"Jesus said to his disciples:
'Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord,"
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,

but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

'Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.'"
Matthew 7:21, 24-27

While Father was reading the passage at Mass, into my mind entered:

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter;
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Matthew 16:18

02 December 2012

Inspiring Words (Part I)

"To be Your Spouse, to be a Carmelite, and by my union with You to be the Mother of souls, should not this suffice me? And yet it is not so. No doubt, these three privileges sum up my true vocation: Carmelite, Spouse, Mother, and yet I feel within me other vocations. I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR. Finally, I feel the need and the desire of carrying out the most heroic deeds for You, O Jesus. I feel within my soul the courage of the Crusader, the Papal Guard, and I would want to die on the field of battle in defense of the Church.
I feel in me the vocation of the PRIEST. With what love, O Jesus, I would carry You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls! But alas! while desiring to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St. Francis of Assisi and I feel the vocation of imitating him in refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood.