Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

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“Overcome Fear and Anxiety”?

I tried to blog yesterday, but for some reason wordpress.com was blocked on my computer? Anyway, today it seems to be working okay.

Yesterday my therapist gave me a CD to listen to entitled “Overcome Fear and Anxiety”. After going through it today, I’m not sure what to think about it.

I was surprised it included a lot of Christian references, including affirmations about God/divine spirit and many verses from the Bible. I’m religious, so it did not bother me; it just seemed weird.

To spice up the affirmations, I decided to add “bitch” to some of the end of affirmations. For example, “I am confident BITCH!” I was entirely too amused with calling a disembodied voice a bitch.

Some of the sentiments expressed are untrue. For example, the speaker stated “You cannot feel love and fear at the same time”, which is entirely false.

Then, one affirmation stated, “When we fear something enough, it can become real and attracted to us”, and I automatically thought of Amnesia, which was, to say the least, not good. Then I thought, “Oh my God I’m afraid of ghosts and demons, and now they’re going to be attracted to me? That’s not a very reassuring thought!”.

The CD itself made me a little anxious and depressed, because it forced me to think about my anxiety, stress, worries and fears. This was magnified by the fact my mind combated many of the recorded statements, accusing quite a few declarations of being ridiculously cliche.

During the CD, though I was not overcome by any intense emotion or epiphany whatsoever, my hands started shaking and my entire body was soon encompassed by this shakiness. I am not quite sure what that was all about.

Overall, I do not feel any different, though this was the first time I have used this CD, so I do not expect instant results. About a half an hour ago I experienced another anxious episode, and I really hope this tape will help, but I am only slightly optimistic.

I asked my therapist if I could listen to it while I work out, and she said yes. This is fantastic because I can motivate myself to listen to the tape, which will at the same time force me to exercise five times a week, and vice versa. Basically, killing two birds with one hand grenade.

Has anyone else used these affirmation/self help tapes? Have they worked at all?

In a Bad Place

This weekend, from about Friday around 4pm until yesterday evening, I was in a pretty bad state of mind, as you can see by this poem I wrote Friday night.

Help me

Anybody

Somebody please help me

I don’t know where to go from here

There’s darkness clouding my mind

And I’m drowning in the fear

 

But no one even turns their head

And I’m left alone once again

 

But I’m back now. Saturday I went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland with my family because they had an information session/campus tour for prospective students. This is probably my number 1 college right now-like seriously, walking around felt like I could actually belong there. The issue, of course, is getting in, because it’s a top notch school.

The sucky thing is, from what I’ve gathered, they only look at the Critical Reading and Math sections of SAT, which I got 650’s on for a total of 1300/1600 (which is eh in my opinion, considering the quality of the school). I got a 760 on my writing portion. Yeah, fantastic. I have some options for making it work though, and of course SAT scores aren’t the only thing. I have really good grades from junior year (and all years I suppose) so I’m hoping for the best.

Plus it’s the number 1 research university in the nation, and receives the most funding from the federal government to support this, which means that I’ll have opportunities to pursue my own interests inside biology in addition to classwork. The campus is the perfect size, Baltimore is a phenomenal city, and it also has German, which I want to minor in.

It was my first college visit, and I really just fell in love.

MOM Day 29-Inspirational Songs

“Music can change the world because it can change people” (Bono). 

I’d like to share a couple songs that have helped me through times of doubt. Whenever I’m upset or stressed or afraid of failure, this songs help me to keep pushing forward.

This first song, “Determinate”, yes, is from the Disney channel movie “Lemonade Mouth”. Not a fan of the movie, but this song is one of my favorite songs to work out to. I think this year for soccer, when we do our timed 2 mile run, this is going to be my last song on my playlist, sort of as a “hurry up you’re almost out of time” warning. It just puts me in a good move, and I’ll probably be dancing to it as I run.

Second is “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. No lie my sister and I discovered this song playing guitar hero for the DS. But it makes me remember that, even if I’m not where I want to be now, work is in progress. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say as long as I’m working toward my goals and making myself happy.

Last is probably the most important song of the trio, “Drive” by Incubus. Again, funny story about how I discovered the song…I was watching Kendall Schmidt’s covers on YouTube and he did this song. This is especially imperative to overcoming my self-doubt and fear of failure. I could not be positive and optimistic without the aid of this song. I don’t know how else to express how beloved this song is to me.

The Chase

I remember faintly,

like the whispers of a dream,

the days when I pulled you close

and you never once let go.

 

But I need to feel wanted,

To know that you still care;

through unfortunate events

my welcome seemed to pass.

 

I should have let you know

I’m the kind of person who

wants others to ask me stay

whenever I try to pull away.

 

And you seemed to notice this before

and even when I faltered

you never once broke your firm hold

even when I acted cold.

 

but recently

as I’ve fallen sadder and sadder

you’ve seemingly suddenly forgot

our bond without a second thought.

 

I must ask more of you:

Please tell me if I’m at fault.

reveal what I’ve done wrong

disclose what’s going on.

 

I’m afraid to let you go

because I truly care

and I’d gladly chase after you

if you chase after me too.

A Walk on the Beach

During my vacation with my family, we went on an early morning beach walk to watch the sun rise. It was very peaceful and was an excellent place for my thoughts to wander. We walked the length of the beach and then headed back.

On the way back to the house, I saw the pale gray-white lines of where the water had come up to in the sand. There were a couple of the right next to each other, and they sorta reminded me of paths. I wanted to take one, like the kid I am on the inside to, and walk the rest of the way balancing on that line.

But I got a sudden shock of fear because I didn’t know which one I should take. So I simply continued walking.

I compare these paths to the different roads of life. There were quite a few, all pretty close to each other. Some paths diverged into different directions, which is I think what most people picture when they think of paths and decisions.

But I also recognized that some of the paths converged, almost as frequently as they diverged, which made me feel better. I’m not quite sure why…maybe because it meant that my decisions could lead to the same place, putting less pressure on me to decide which one to take.

Then there were some paths that stood completely alone. Though they frightened me and made me very nervous, I was curious about them. What makes this path so different from the rest? What would it be like going down this path?

Then I thought about the changes I’ve made since my Euro trip, and how I’ve grown. I’ve been so worried about changing, because change can be scary. I don’t want the people I know and love to see a different person when they look at me. I want to still be me.

Then I realized that, whether we like it or not, change is a necessary part of life. Instead of denying myself change and attempting to hinder change, maybe I should just let it be. It’s not like I’m going to purposefully force myself to unnecessarily change; some things are better left alone. But I don’t want to be afraid of change anymore. Even if I do grow as a person, I will still be me.