Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NAS: Expectations vs. Reality

Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever have expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

Boy I have a LOT of thoughts on this ... hopefully they will be written coherently and not all over the place!

There are two questions here: Do I have expectations of what the single life is? AND Do others place expectations on me because I'm single? Although I think the prompt is really getting at the latter, the former is more of a big deal for me right now and has been on the last fifteen years of my life.

So I will get the easy one out of the way and then deal with the more difficult. Do other people have expectations of me? Yes, of course - I have them of others. Do they interfere with the relationships we have? No, not really. The one exception might be my family. My sister is always telling me to get on ChristianMingle.com and then all will be better - I'll magically meet a man, get married, have lots of kids, and be happy. Now she's not saying the specifically, but it's what I'm inferring when she tells me "this will be the year I buy you a subscription for Christmas." Now I'm here to say that although online dating can be successful for some it's only an avenue that God uses, not the avenue that God uses. I have a CatholicMatch subscription and it's not all that and a bag of chips if I'm being honest.

I think my mom also has an expectation of what my life is like - but more in that I'm dating all of these guys and am in long relationships that I'm not telling her about and that's completely wrong. Again, I just might be inferring her thoughts, but it's what I hear.

My friends are super supportive. Married friends with and without kids never take advantage of me for baby-sitting (I mean I watch their kids, but it's not too much - and honestly, I could stand to do it a little more). They are always great about having me over to hang out with them and their little ones. I love all of the super cute stories, drawings, and book readings that get to happen during those visits. Sometimes it's them who wants an afternoon, an hour away to just be with a friend. I don't mind being interrupted by little ones, but it's probably because I never am and only want that for the future.

So the harder question - what are my expectations for myself? Well, I read this book (well, part of a book) about twenty-somethings (which I'm not even one anymore!) and she said we need to prevent "Expectation Hangovers." I had to read the chapter about this to get a firmer grasp on it, but the gist is that we are disappointed more when we don't get what we thought we were going to get than if we just had realistic expectations and the experience was what we expected.

Make sense?

Example - when I turned 25 I had this quarter life crisis of sorts - I was so upset that my life wasn't what it I expected it to be. I thought I would be married, at least dating someone, have kids, love my job, have a stable living situation (ie: not seeking out roommates over and over again). I didn't have any of those things - no husband, no boyfriend, no kids, okay job, roommate after roommate (all terrible) and I had a super hard time turning 25. So I decided to change a few things - first being my expectations. So what did I do? Well, I set some other expectations - I couldn't control not expecting things, but I could change what I wanted to do. So I made a 25 things in the next 25 years list. I figured these were things I could accomplish before I turned 50. Most of them were things to do rather than things to be - although married with kids is on that list.

There are some other great things I've already done like: Be a High School Youth Minister, Run 1 mile, Attend Fr. Michael's Ordination, Go to Italy, Buy a Big Bed (ie: queen), Start a Blog...

I've done these - and about one per year since I wrote the list. I didn't set out to accomplish them, more like I did the thing and then months later I looked at the list and happily realized I did something and crossed it off!

This changing my expectations habit has helped in areas of work, personal relationships, and life in general. Not that they are low, but that they are realistic. Why set yourself up for failure when you know you'll just be disappointed? (I also do this with friends - you know, the ones who are late, a LOT - you know who you are!)

It's not settling, it's about being realistic. Realizing that my job is not my purpose in life. Marriage is not the goal of my existence. My purpose in life is to be a Saint and my goal is Heaven. When I have those two things set then I'm ready to take on the hundred other tasks that clutter my day!

Thanks to Jen for Hosting and Morgan for always being there! Next week the answer to the challenge (which I didn't write about, but have a super big announcement to share with y'all)!

Happy Holy Week! Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NAS: Lent Check-in

We're more than half way through Lent... how's it going?! What did you decide to give up/take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of the season?

I missed last week for the link-up (and a bunch of blogging / writing stuff) because St. Joseph's been kicking my butt with his response to this month's Novena! More details to come, but prayers for courage and patience from y'all would be much appreciated.

I am back this week and excited to talk about penance - well, not really - but happy to discuss Lent. Last year my Lenten sacrifices were much greater than this year. I went to Mass on Ash Wednesday and then promptly gave up my cell phone, got on a plane to a country with only one flushing toilet and a serious lack of electricity and went from there. When I came back to the US, I gave up coffee for the remaining of Lent which was really difficult with the jet lag and overall tiredness - but honestly, probably the best way to get over jet lag I've every experienced. I had this in mind when it came to this year's Lenten Sacrifice.

In January you might remember my Whole30 where I gave up grains, gluten, sugar, soy, legumes, peanuts, alcohol, dairy and a few other things I can't remember. Oh, that's right - coffee - since what's a cup of that goodness without some half and half. Some of these I've taken back on, but others, like coffee, I haven't. I don't need the caffeine in the morning, but there are days I do miss the taste. I also had this in mind when it came to this year's Lenten Sacrifice.

So I decided to not do a food fast - besides the regular Friday no meat and the prescriptions on fasting as outlined for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I'm fasting from the creature comforts of the kneeler - which seems weird, I know. I mean, isn't that like fasting from a torture device? Well, maybe if I was fasting from kneeling - which I'm not. But instead refraining from using the kneeler at Mass, Stations, praying the Rosary, etc... It's a small thing, but since I have the privilege of being able to attend Daily Mass, this is a pretty significant period of time each day - especially since Fr. C insists on always doing Eucharistic Prayer I, even for a regular old daily Mass.

I remember each time I kneel down to refocus my energy toward the Lord, preparing my heart for Easter. It's been an interesting fast, not one I would have taken up if I wasn't there so often, would seem rather silly - but for this chick, at this time, it's been quite beneficial.

My second crosses off two things on my to-do list. I always tell myself I need to read more Scripture and then never get started, and on my 25 things to do before 50 is to "read the entire Bible." So I found a reading plan to read the entire Bible and the Catechism in a year. I've been doing this in the morning when I wake up on the first alarm (no snooze!) after my morning prayer. It's been a great way to begin the day - in about 30 minutes of prayer in the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church.

So all in all, Lent is going pretty well. Although some of my sacrifices (the kneeler and the snooze) are small, they are making a big impact in my journey. So here's to a great final two weeks! May we all be closer to the Lord at the end of it!

Thanks to Moran and Jen for bringing us the Not Alone Series. These ladies have been quite the group of friends these past two years! Hoping for many more posts together! The link-up is over at Morgan's this week, so head there to hear about everyone else's Lent. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Latin & Me, part 6

Over the course of the last six weeks, I've been sharing my journey from "no latin ever" to where I am now. I wanted to conclude with why I think preserving, attending, and cherishing the Old Rite of the Mass is important. This can be applied to anything we do in the Mass actually, so even if you don't want to attend a MEF or don't have one around, this can apply to your Mass going experience as well.

I try to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form in my parish when I can, but this amounts to maybe 2 times per month, maybe. So that's 2 out of 25 Mass experiences a month, not even close to a majority, not even a number that is statistically significant. However, appreciating the Mass in this form has helped me to appreciate the Mass in the Novus Ordo as well. Why?

Because it is beautiful.

I was thinking of this verse from Philippians 4:8 as well:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
These are the sorts of things that we should be thinking about all the time. The sorts of things that should occupy our mind on a regular basis. Are they for you? Are they for me?

The Mass is important for so many reasons - I'm not going to dive in to why we should attend Mass. The rites of the Old Liturgy are worth preserving because they are beautiful. There are a lot of other reasons, but beauty is a good unto itself. Truth, Goodness, Beauty - all ends unto themselves. They don't need reasons beyond that.

Many people will talk about how it is better, how you should only attend this rite, but I don't really believe that. I can appreciate the Novus Ordo Mass because it is also beautiful. One of our young adults was saying that it was so different (the Latin Mass verses what most of us know as Mass) and I was trying to tell her that it's the same, really. And it truly is. Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus comes, we consume Him. The basics are all there. It looks a lot different. If you attend a Low Mass, it looks even more different and it's basically silent and you kneel a LOT. That was my experience two Saturdays ago, but the Mass is the Mass. Truly.

So the reason why I keep attending is that I can't stay away. He's wooing me there. Fr. C was telling me about a regular attendee who asked him if it was necessary that he follow along in the missal or if he could attend Mass without using it. Basically this means that he wouldn't see any of the translations and might not be able to comprehend the readings, prayers, etc... Why did he ask? He told Fr. C that he felt like Jesus was wooing Him into a deeper relationship at the Mass, and the book was distracting him from that. Fr. C's response? Of course, put the book down - who are we to let the book get in the way of God calling us to Himself.

Now that is not the inherent purpose of the Mass - our obligation to attend on Sundays doesn't center around that desire, but isn't that really the purpose of our lives. To be called and drawn closer to the Lord, to be in right relationship with Him. The goal is Heaven - and if yours is something different, I recommend taking that to prayer and re-evaluating.

At the end of this life none of these things will matter - rich or poor, CEO or McDonald's worker, married or single. We take none of it with us to Heaven - and that's where we want to be - Heaven. The other option is awful, truly the worse than the worst possible thing you can ever imagine. 

So next time you're at Mass - let Him draw you to himself - don't worry about the music, whether you can sing it, if the Reader pronounced Azariah correctly or not, if the servers did what they were supposed to do - focus on Him and His love for you. If you can't see it, ask Him to show you. If you don't believe it, ask Him to present His truth - and be open to the answer. Focus on the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of God and let the rest fall into place.

Someone asked last week about what to do or think about or look at when you attend for the first time - so I'm going to write about that next week because I have to do some research - but the one piece of advice Fr. C gave to the congregation before our Orchestral Solemn High Mass was this: "Think of today as a Spiritual Buffet - you don't go to the buffet and eat everything all at once, but just one piece at this time, another at a different time. There will be a lot going on up here with the Liturgy and the Music - pay attention to what you are being drawn to, He'll guide you." So I present similar advice (for the overall picture) to you if you are a MEF newbie. Let Him guide your thoughts. The more you attend, the more familiar you will be with the Rite. I'll go through the missal we hand out and post some highlights to help you along.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6

Friday, March 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... March 13th

Happy Friday the 13th to You! & Happy 30th Birthday to me! Well, I can't say that I'm excited to turn 30, but I can say that I'm excited it's my birthday! Yesterday we celebrated at work and our receptionist (the resident cake maker) made this for me!

It was SO delicious - Salted Caramel Latte Cake ... and each bite was like having a nice warm latte in the middle of the afternoon! It's from Annie's Eats if you want to make it!

Earlier this week I had a small revelation in prayer that I wrote about ... if you missed it check out "Simply, That's How" with a mix of me, Papa Frank, and Therese.

I'm one post away from finishing my Latin & Me series. It's been so good for me to reflect back on this journey as I'm turning 30. The Katie who turned 25 wouldn't even have thought the Katie turning 30 would be who she is now. I guess that's how it always is though, right? We cannot see into the future, we cannot know who we will become - only that we will continue to grow.

Cindy posted this article from Jason Evert in our Not Alone Series Facebook Group. It was quite interesting, particularly these paragraphs:
In the book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael declares to Tobias, regarding his future wife, “Do not be afraid, for she was destined for you from eternity. . . When Tobias heard these things, he fell in love with her and yearned deeply for her” (Tob. 6:17). 
This isn’t Hollywood; it’s the Sacred Scriptures. We know Adam was made for Eve, Sarah was destined for Tobias, Joseph was created for Mary, and so on. But how, when, and why does God choose to play the role of a heavenly match-maker? 
Obviously, only God knows the answer to this. But we know that divine providence intervenes in our lives to the extent that we make room for it. Those who walk with God often marvel at how he seems to intervene in the most providential ways in the tiniest details of life. Believers routinely speak of “divine appointments,” and other occasions where we can see God’s hand at work. (emphasis mine)
An interesting note to pray about.

Someone asked me yesterday what I was doing for my birthday - the answer? All of my favorite things! Some friends are coming over for dinner tomorrow, and I asked that they bring my favorite dish they make for dinner. I'm pretty excited! And also just excited to spend time with everyone at my place. 

Just for Fun on the 2nd Anniversary of his election ... check out these great Papa Frank Memes!

From ChurchPOP

Pictures from my 29th Birthday celebrated in the Jungle of the Congo last year!

Fr. Charles after Morning Mass

Fr. Blaise after Morning Mass

Everyone sang to me at lunch

Flowers & a Candle at my place

All of the people at the house made cards mostly in French

That's all for this week ... here's to a great beginning to my 30th year! See you later!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Latin & Me, part 5

A little over a month ago Fr. C told me he was doing a Requiem Mass for a woman who was not a parishioner but who he had visited to give Last Rites to the week before. He said it was just going to be our Organist, the husband who wasn't Catholic, and maybe a few others and that I was invited if I was interested.

I've been to many funerals - and now working at the parish I've gone to many funerals of people who I never knew either because it was the only Mass time that worked for me that day, there were few people who were going to be in attendance, or a variety of other reasons. So I decided to attend Maureen's funeral Mass out of pure curiosity for the Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

I don't know all of the ritual that goes into the rite because it was my first time and additionally, it's a very rare experience; however, I can tell you that it was absolutely beautiful. I can say that not knowing a word of what was said. It's so hard to describe. I find that to be true with any Mass I attend in Latin celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. It's beautiful, but I can't put my finger on why.

This is the main reason why I'm beginning to love it more. Can you even believe I wrote that? Remember part one?

Having dinner the weekend after with MG and another friend, I was relaying my experience and how I decided I would like my funeral to be in the Extraordinary Form - for the sheer beauty of it. She laughed since she's been on this crazy journey with me since we've been friends but said she would ensure the right people knew what to do when the time came.

One weekend I was babysitting for Stephanie and her husband has a love for the Extraordinary Form. We got to talking about the Marriage Rite and how at one point before the couple exchanges rings, the groom presents the bride with a bar of gold and a bar of silver. He explained it much more eloquently, but it made me realize how beautiful the rite must be. How precious the woman is to this man, more precious than all of the silver and gold that the world could offer.

I haven't made any decisions, particularly, since I don't even know who would be standing in the place of that groom - but if/when I am planning my wedding, considering the Rite in the Extraordinary Form won't be off the table. A coworker and I were discussing last week when Fr. C came in and she mentioned to him that I wanted a Requiem Mass for my wedding ... which I was quick to correct ... because well, a funeral Mass as a Wedding ... not that's just crazy!

Finally, if you've never been to a Mass in the Extraordinary Form check out this video I made back in November when we had an Orchestral Mass celebrating All Saint's Day.

Anyway, next week I'm going to conclude with my thoughts on how this all fits into the rest of my faith life.  If this the first time you've visited for the "Latin & Me" series, check out parts one and two and three and four.

If you have questions that you'd like me to answer next week, comment below - that will be some great direction for my final post on the subject (well in the series, I'll probably post on the subject again).

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

NAS: Encouraging Men

We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

Well, we've talked about Chivalry before. I just reread that post yesterday because I was looking at my blog stats and noticed that it is my most read post. I thought, "what made that so good?" But if you remember it, or clicked over just before getting to this sentence, you'll remember that I was talking about a priest friend of mine who was so kind to me when we last got together (and always has been). 

Last week I had a similar experience when I did some errands with Fr. C (our associate priest) to prepare for an event we were having with the 20s & 30s of the parish with our new Aquinas' Finest efforts. Such a gentleman. I think these are skills they teach in seminary! But anyway...

How can we encourage? I think we can be grateful, kind, and respectful in return when men go out of their way to be kind to us. I don't have a special formula of how I want to be treated by men, not really. It's how I want to be treated by all people, and how I try (key word) to treat others.

Cindy's post today (I Am Just An Average Girl) hits many of the points I would also say. What should a man who is interested in me do? Simple, pursue. Be a man of character who says what he means and means what he says. Understand the value of hard work and be able to admit where his areas of weakness are by asking for help. Value the opinion of the Lord over the opinion of the world. Be more concerned over the state of his soul than building up a reputation with his peers or co-workers. Living a virtuous life worthy of sainthood rather than pursuing the emptiness of worldly accolades. 

Young Catholics are caught in a crazy culture war right now. The world thinks what is up is down, what is left is right, what is wrong is right - and we are having a hard time standing up for what we believe and know to be true.

Real men understand this and are striving (even when they stumble) to be a shining light in the darkness. 

Check out what the other ladies have to say over at Morgan's (Natalie's is particularly great today) and say HI to Jen!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Simply, That's How!

“This is how the Lord acts: He does things simply. He speaks silently to you, to the heart. Let us remember in our lives the many time we have felt these things: the humility of God is His style; the simplicity of God is His style. And even in the liturgical celebration, in the sacraments, what is beautiful is that which manifests the humility of God, and not the worldly spectacle. It would do us good to journey through our life and to consider the many times the Lord has visited us with His grace, and always with this humble style, the style He calls us, too, to have: humility.”
—Pope Francis, daily homily, 3/9/15. Read more. (found on The Deacon's Bench ... if you don't follow, you should - he's got all kinds of fantastic stuff each day)
How many times have I tried to figure out the complicated nature of God? The answer to that question is incalculable. Just this morning, for example.

At our parish we have Eucharistic Adoration every day between the Daily Masses. It's fantastic. How often do I take advantage? Less often than I really want to, but each day for anywhere from 3 minutes to a Rosary length of time. I've been praying the 54 Day Rosary Novena (concluding this Friday), and I've been trying to do so in front of the Blessed Sacrament - at least Jesus in the Tabernacle, if I miss the Adoration time, or it's canceled.

This morning I walked over to the Church to put a timesheet away in the Sacristy and noticed that Jesus was all alone. If you're a Catholic, you probably know that we want Jesus to always have company when He's exposed for Adoration (the King of Kings should always have His court with Him). So I quickly walked over to my office to grab my Rosary and this book I'm reading to spend some time with the Lord.

I've been praying the 54 day Novena for the intention of finding my spouse. Basically that is just code for figuring out where the Lord wants me, what he needs me to do, and how I am supposed to accomplish it. I know the big picture answers to these questions: in Heaven, be a saint, and with every action. But the small picture answers aren't so simple. He placed me in this position of Office Manager over 2 years ago, but is it where He wants me to stay? Is my next job just not visible to me or am I ignoring the signs that the Lord is sending because I despise change? Or does my work have nothing to do with all this, just a means to something else?

Today, and a lot lately, I've been reflecting on my singleness and whether it will remain forever or just for a time. I don't know the answer to that question. If I did, my prayer life would look a lot different.

Anyway, after I was finished praying the Rosary, I was just sitting with Him asking all kinds of questions of "WHY?" What do you want from me? Am I listening? Why is this where you want me? He urged me to open the book I'd brought over, "open the Therese book."

I've been reading Shirt of Flame by Heather King. I got this book as a gift for my birthday last year and am just now reading through it. There have been a lot of really great passages. Today this is where I was:
I also knew that my passion for writing stemmed from perhaps the wrong reason: my idea that if my love would not bear fruit in a person, maybe it would bear fruit in my work. If I could not focus my love on a person, at least I could focus it on my essays and stories and books. That opened me to a different kind of pain when, as had happened of late, my work was not succeeding in the way I'd envisioned, and was one more illusion of which I recognized, however dimly, that I was being, or would have to be, stripped. (pg 108)
The next couple of pages talk about how Therese begins Story with this quote: "[I]t isn't about my life, properly speaking, that I'm going to write, it's about my thoughts concerning the graces that God has consented to grant me" [SS, p4]. King writes that all accounts of the spiritual life are accounts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We all have those times. That was, in essence, the story of Therese. How she experienced the Death and Resurrection.

How does this fit with the quote from the Holy Father from above? Well, I think this is all part of my story of how I'm experiencing the Death and Resurrection. How I'm experiencing the Lord. How I am finding my way to sainthood, my path to Heaven. That's really the question I have for him. How will I get to Heaven?

Beautiful Sunsets waiting for the traffic to pass
so I can pull out of my housing complex!

The reflection from Papa Frank helps to explain it - simply. Look for the Lord in the simple things. See Him in everything. As MG always says (about the most mundane things), "look how the Lord loved you today." Like a lover, He's wooing me in every aspect of my life. I'm looking so hard for a grand gesture, I'm missing the simple, beautiful, every day ways that He's sharing His love for me.