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Forgiving Yourself

Sometimes it is easier for God to forgive you than for you to forgive yourself. You separate yourself from God when you are in a state of mortal sin, but this separation ends when you seek reconciliation and truly repent for your failures at holiness. While it is easy for us to abuse the sacrament of reconciliation (and my younger self was certainly guilty of treating confession as a quick "get out of jail free" card), it is even easier for us to fall into a state of sorrow and guilt when we mess up...and surprisingly easy for us to remain in this state even after we are forgiven by God and by the people we have wronged. I have been guilty of this too and it has been something I have struggled with and something that other people struggled with.

This week, I was fortunate enough to overhear a priest mention that it was Padre Pio's feast day. Officially, I suppose it is proper to consider it the Feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina...but I (for whatever reason) cannot help but continue thinking of this wonderful monk as Padre Pio...or Saint Padre Pio. It is more of an affectionate term than a lack of respect on my part. I heard the priest as I was leaving confession at the Church and Friary of Saint Francis of Assisi in NYC...and quickly made my way to the Church of Saint John a block or so away to commemorate the day with a quick visit to Padre Pio. As I knelt at the altar to offer some prayers, a nice older lady held up a Padre Pio relic for me to venerate and handed me what appeared to be two booklets. I was also given the opportunity to write a few intentions down, which I did. I also thanked Padre Pio for his intercession in the *big announcement* CURE OF MY COUSIN. That's cousin (who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma less than a year ago), is CURRENTLY IN REMISSION.

I did not realize until later that day, that these booklets contained a third class relic of Padre Pio as well as some very wonderful spiritual guidance on forgiving yourself. I am including the spiritual guidance offered in the end of one of the little booklets published by the Capuchin Franciscans (Province of St. Mary) ...and I really hope they don't mind my sharing as I felt it too uplifting and helpful to keep to myself.

"Spiritual Guidance from Padre Pio"

Someone complained to Padre Pio of being excessively distressed by sins he had committed. Padre Pio replied: "That which you feel is pride; it is the demon which inspires you with this sentiment, it is not true sorrow." The penitent replied: "Father, how can you then distinguish what comes from the heart and is inspired by Our Lord, and that which is inspired by the devil?"

"You will distinguish it," replied Padre Pio, "always by this: The spirit of God is a spirit of peace, and also in the case of grave sin, it makes us feel tranquil sorrow, humble, confident, and this is due precisely to His mercy. The spirit of the demon, on the contrary, excites, exasperates, and makes us in our sorrow feel something like anger against ourselves, whereas our first charity must be to ourselves, and so if certain thoughts agitate you, this agitation never comes from God, who gives tranquility, being the Spirit of Peace. Such agitation comes from the devil."

If you are having any trouble forgiving yourself for the things you've done, even after you've repented and sought God's forgiveness...please be at peace. God, as I have found out time and time again, is loving as well as merciful. His mercy is endless and He never tires of picking you up when you fall down...just as a parent will pick up a child when they fall on the ground. We need to trust in His Mercy...and one step towards trusting His mercy is in finding forgiveness for ourselves. God loves you and God forgives do not be afraid to forgive yourself!

Pax Vobiscum

Catholic Dictionary: A Geeky Review

I have never taken a theology course, so I may not be the best go-to person when it comes to Catholic terminology. I suppose my background as a first generation American may have also been a bit of an impediment when it came to learning the difference between words like "transubstantiation" and "transfiguration." Much to my embarrassment, I have gotten these mixed up before. Still, I am always seeking  new ways to expand my knowledge of Catholicism through reading, listening to programs, and engaging in conversation with some of my Catholic brethren. 

I didn't know what to expect when I first got the chance to review Hardon's "Catholic Dictionary." I had a vague idea what a book like this would be about and how useful it may be. At worst, I imagined that it would be the Catholic version of a standard dictionary. I pictured a book full of words and their definitions that could be referenced whenever I needed to recheck my spelling or reference a word that I had half-forgotten. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the manner in which this book was written and compiled.

Yes it is a dictionary, but it is far more than a list of words and dry definitions. It is, in a sense, a very condensed version of a theology book specializing in the Catholic faith. Hardon does more than provide simple definitions, he introduces us to different topics and expands upon them. I would liken the "definitions" provided in this book to the kind of explanations you would get from a parish priest or theology teacher if you were to approach them and ask them what a "consecration to Mary" meant. In this book, Hardon introduces readers to this act of devotion by first talking about its origins and then explaining what it means to be consecrated to Mary. The act of consecration (in part) is also included in the definition. 

As I looked up different definitions to words I had heard before (but didn't understand completely), I found myself finding out more about my faith with each passage I read. This book is no substitute for proper religious education, but it would be quite a help to anyone who is interested in learning more about Catholicism. I know I certainly learned a lot of things just by reading up on any term that happened to catch my eye as I went through this book. This dictionary may also prove as an invaluable reference tool for anyone studying theology or someone who reads a lot of Catholic works, lives of Saints, doctrinal materials, etc.

Pax Vobiscum

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was offered a free copy of this book for review by Blogging for Books.

Wedding Drama

Is it me or do weddings bring out the worst in people? Or maybe I got it wrong and it's weddings bringing out the worst in the world? The universe?

I've been pretty laid back with everything (far from Bridezilla), but the drama...OH THE DRAMA! Just to give you an idea of what the end of August and beginning of September have been looking like, here's a sneak peak at the craziest 48 hours I've ever had in my life.

Within the span of 48 hours (during the blue moon, I think) I almost got skunked, had a half-naked drag queen dance dancing with their butt in my face on the subway, and had to replace two of my brand new tires because some jerk decided that there was something about my car that they didn't like. I was the only car with slashed tires in that parking lot...but as we were towing the car to the mechanic that night, there was a damaged car getting towed into the same lot and nothing but police cars on the way home. I then found myself in the lab the next day, half-crying and half-laughing, retelling my lab peers (and boss) about the insane turn my life seemed to be taking.

As if that 48 hours wasn't crazy enough for a lifetime...Flash forward to this week...and the drama is at it again! A specialist I had been trying to contact for weeks and weeks, finally emails me back 11:30pm on Friday evening to set up an appointment that was supposed to be set up in July. On top of that reagents that should have arrived in August have now been pushed back (for the third time, at least) to September 20. Had I known it was on back order (something the company failed to mention before and after our order), I would have just ordered the reagent components and made it myself a long time ago! Meanwhile, we have a new secretary who cannot yet process orders...and a backwards system of ordering things when funds in the system aren't processed yet. This translates to 3X the paperwork, half a day lost processing paperwork/quotes/emails, and another bunch of days before anything can be ordered. Needless to say, I have been eating a lot of chocolate and drinking a lot of coffee lately to deal with all of this.

Don't get me started on wedding drama. A thread where I suggested Lord of the Rings-themed entrance music for the wedding party quickly descended into chaos quicker than I thought possible. This was followed by, you guessed it, more drama. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I found myself shaking hands with the fiance, simultaneously celebrating/regretting the agreement we had just made. I got to pick the wedding song...and he got to pick the wedding reception entrance song. Let's just say he's an avid Star Wars fan.
Image from Phineas and Ferb's "Nerds of a Feather"
 depicting the Fantasy vs Sci Fi war
In case you are wondering, this is the madness I've been stuck in for the past month or so and the madness I will continue to be stuck in until the end of October 5th...when all the wedding stuff will be over. I didn't get how stressful all of this would be, even after all the warnings from seasoned veterans out there. However, it is getting harder to keep up with wedding stuff like RSVPs and paperwork as I am trying to deal with lab stuff. Still, that's nothing to compare with how hard it's been getting for me to remain diplomatic when someone decides to start unloading some pretty ridiculous and sometimes harsh criticism of pretty much every aspect of my wedding. I don't feel like dealing with it and have done my best to remain civil....but I only have so much patience and I am already on wit's end dealing with this and so many other things. Is every wedding like this? Or is it just amplified by the fact that I am stuck in the lab all day, trying to manage wedding stuff as I deal with purchase orders and track down missing reagents/specialists.

Oy vey. I need some chocolate and all the help God can give me. I'll take a heaping dose of patience, and any other gift of the Holy Spirit I can get at this point. Something tells me things are only going to get worse as the big day approaches...and I am going to need all the help I can get. All I wanted was a priest, a church, and someone to marry. How did it get this crazy and straining?

Pax Vobiscum