Oh, and just one more thing, I am getting ready for yet another fun-filled semester of TA'ing a course....Toxicology. (I also tried my hand at apartment searching in NYC...but that's a whole other failure-laced story I'd rather not get into.) Needless to say...I've been busy.
As you can imagine, I am not getting married any time too soon between Pre-Cana and qualifying exams (that seem to be looming around the corner, whether I want them to or not). We've settled on October 5th, 2013. It's a ways off...but I think the wait may just be worth it. I'm pretty excited that this day turned out to be Saint Faustina Kowalska's feast day (not intentional, and it was the Fiancé that first suggested it). I have been reading her diary little by little over the past few months...and the writings of this very humble pre-WWII sister are extremely inspirational. I may as well spoil it for you, but this modern-day saint was blessed enough to commune with Christ, the Blessed Mother, her guardian angel, and other saints throughout her life. She was praised for her faith, chastised for her shortcomings, and ultimately sanctified through her sufferings and complete trust in God.
Though she lived in a convent, she was not completely concealed from the worst characteristics of humanity. Some of her order's sisters betrayed her confidence, mocked her goodness, and made her life a living hell in any way they could. This poor saint, whose body was already being tortured for the sake of other souls, could barely make it through the typical day...but still did her best to go on in spite of the cruelty she saw...and all for the love of Christ. Ultimately, through her silent sufferings and humility, she began to truly understand Christ's Passion, His immense love, and His never-ending mercy.
Christ, as Saint Kowalska came to know, was neither the "fire and brimstone" God to be feared by all...nor was He anything like the rainbows and unicorns sort of Christ that will love you and let you sin as you please. He was a perpetually crucified Lord who still continues to relive His Passion and suffer immensely as a result of the sins of this world. He is the God who constantly seeks to offer mercy to sinners in need of redemption...sinners who continually ignore His love as they pursue the pleasures of this world. He is a Christ that is literally wounded time and time again by our words, actions, and deeds. He suffers for us, bleeds for us, moans in agony for us, and is ultimately ignored by us.
This book was a sobering reminder of what it truly means to follow Christ. It's not enough to call ourselves "Christian" or "Catholic" and simply go to church on Sundays. Our call to follow Christ does not mean we get to pick and choose what teachings of His we chose to follow...and which are too outdated to consider.
To truly follow Christ, you take up a cross alongside Him. You suffer for Him. You suffer for the salvation of souls. You suffer out of love for souls. You devote your entire life to Him, dedicating whatever work you can in His name and for His ultimate purpose. You decrease as He increases, regardless of how inconvenient it may be at times or how many relationships you put on the line. On top of this, you are called to serve out of love...and called to put all of your trust in Him even if you don't appreciate His purpose for you.
As I have read this book, I have reflected on my own spiritual life...quite a lot. One of the biggest things I have thought about is my inner conversion from a "craptastical" catholic, so a "still somewhat crummy" Catholic (aka "work-in-progress Catholic"). My conversion led to many miniature conversions that challenged many of the views I used to have. It shames me to say, but I was once a proponent for some of the things I so vehemently oppose these days. Considering how popular some of these terrible things are, I know that my inner inspirations did not come from this world. The world sure as hell never wanted me to oppose all forms of abortion, but I do. 10 years ago, I would not have believed that I would ever be one of those people that pray whenever I pass an abortion clinic. I would have never believed that I would be so outspoken about how this practice is murder and how women deserve better than abortion. I would have never imagined myself overcoming fear of losing friends in order to make it known to them just how I feel about abortion, hormonal birth control, IVF, and a few other things.
However, it happened. Something changed. Something forced me to challenge all of my comfortable beliefs, and ultimately become the "hateful," "stupid," "brain-washed," "bigoted," and "small-minded" person in quite a few impromptu debates. The names bother me sometimes, but what troubles me most is how angry these people tend to get and how blinded they are by certain views. Even in cases where a well-reasoned response on my part leaves them speechless or quickly changing topics/arguments... I see a headstrong mentality that is fueled by bias rather than truth. That saddens me. These people are the type of people that seek to change scientific understanding because it is too inconvenient for them to look at a fetus and consider it human. Biology thinks this is stupid....and I certainly side with biology on this one, as a scientist.
The way I see it is this, if you ever find yourself congratulating a couple on their pregnancy...and then turn around to a mother at an abortion clinic to tell her that she's not carrying a baby... you are either blinded by stupidity/stubbornness, or an incredibly evil person. The only difference between these babies is an issue of convenience and cowardice. This goes for children that are the products of rape, children that are the products of incest, children that are born to poor individuals, etc. I see no exception here. You can bring up the fact that women are sometimes put at risk health-wise if they, for example, are given a choice of chemo or carrying their child to term. However, arguing intrinsic/conditional evils doesn't change the fact that there is a human being inside of that womb. The DNA is there, the cell division is there, and the anatomical structures are there. At least that is how I see it as from a purely biological perspective. If you are up at arms about the teaching of creationism in schools...then you should be up at arms about a redefinition of basic biology such as this one.
From a Catholic standpoint, I oppose abortion because of the belief that every life is given by God and every life has a purpose. Every human being out there is a temple of the Holy Spirit...regardless of the circumstances of his/her birth. With that said, you cannot imagine that you know more than God when you decide to support the killing of one of His creations. Sister Faustina Kowalska's diary emphasizes this in a very sobering passage where Christ explains the purpose behind some of the intense sufferings Saint Faustina experiences in order to offer reparation for the sins of others...to suffer for the souls of others.
(A very sobering excerpt from Saint Faustina's Diary)
September 16, 1937.
I wanted very much to make a Holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament today. But God’s will was otherwise. At eight o’clock I was seized with such violent pains that I had to go to bed at once. I was convulsed with pain for three hours; that is, until eleven o’clock at night. No medicine had any effect on me, and whatever I swallowed I threw up. At times, the pains caused me to lose consciousness. Jesus had me realize that in this way I took part in His Agony in the Garden, and that He Himself allowed these sufferings in order to offer reparation to God for the souls murdered in the wombs of wicked mothers. I have gone through these sufferings three times now. They always start at eight o’clock in the evening and last until eleven. No medicine can lessen these sufferings. When eleven o’clock comes, they cease by themselves, and I fall asleep at that moment. The following day, I feel very weak.
This happened to me for the first time when I was at the sanatorium. The doctors couldn’t get to the bottom of it, and no injection or medicine helped me at all or did I myself have any idea of what the sufferings were about. I told the doctor that never before in my life had I experienced such sufferings, and he declared he did not know what sort of pains they are. But now I understand the nature of these pains, because the Lord himself has made this known to me. Yet when I think that I may perhaps suffer in this way again, I tremble. But I don’t know whether I’ll ever again suffer in this way; I leave that to God. What it pleases God to send, I will accept with submission and love. If only I could save even one soul from murder by means of these sufferings!
My apologies if this post was a bit harsh for some readers...but as inconvenient as these words may be, I just had to share them once I finished reading the book. With that said, I must stress that this book ensures us just how unfathomable God's mercy truly is and how much love He has for all of us. This includes women who have had abortions in the past...and I certainly pray for these women and their children very often and with much love in my heart. I hope you will join me in doing the same.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone out there who may need some guidance in their journey towards Christ's immense love...as well as those who may need some reassurance regarding God's mercy. God truly loves you, all of you....all you have to do is trust in Him and let Him work through you. For a free PDF version of this wonderful book, please click here.