I’m having a big problem of late. My usual malaise at typical daily life which has been with me since I could figure out what daily life was seems to be getting worse. Not in the sense that I am depressed or anything, but I am about to turn 27. Now, I have done "the usual" in the sense that I went to college, I got married, I bought a car and a house, children are likely in my not-too-distant future (as in the 3 year plan rather than the 5-to- never year plan). But I still feel like I have yet to figure out what it is I am supposed to do. This isn't troubling in and of itself, this is rather normal, I should think, for anyone who holds a BA. No,I am troubled because many, many times, even as a married person in a happy marriage, I seem to think about how great it would be to be a religious sister. I guess this is because being a religious sister fits the skills I have, and let me tell you, I don’t have many. I’m not saying that to be self-depraving or humble, it’s just the truth. I always had a hard time trying to figure out what my career should be because I don’t have any specific talents other than knowing stuff. When I took one of those career tests in high school, it told me I should be a rabbi (which had two glaring issues being that I am neither male nor Jewish.) Although, rabbis do know a lot of stuff.
Now imagine them in cubicles.
I work in a dead-end job. Literally. I do data entry. I don’t particularly want to take on a job that has more responsibility because my job affords me a lot of time to listen to podcasts and little stress. I am busy most of the time, but it is feast or famine, and I have very little stress. When I am busy, I am still able to go home at the end of the day, completely sure that nothing I did can’t wait till tomorrow and it’s not going to ruin my or anyone else’s career. I have few deadlines, and I am essentially a minion in my workplace. I like it. I also have a part-time hobby business that I barely have any time for and that is wedding planning. I enjoy planning weddings, or at least I did, before I had a bride that kind of ruined for me and am still burned out from. I liked wedding planning because it afforded me the ability to be the person who knew everything, who got to take charge in a quiet, no-fanfare-needed kind of way. So the other day, when I was informed of an opening at my parish for their wedding and events coordinator/parish support staff I got pretty excited about it. Then I found out how much it paid and that it was part-time, and I got really, really sad because it’s basically impossible for me to take it if Hubbs and I ever want to do anything other than be mid-to-late 20 somethings at the beginning stages of our marriage. We would be basically stuck in the same situation as we are right now until the job either paid more, got more hours (preferably both) or I got so stressed out from the amount of work I had to do for the amount of money and too little sanctioned time to do it in that I had a nervous breakdown and ended up taking another dead-end job. I was sad for a little while and then I kind of realized I don’t really want to do that anyway. Which got me thinking: what do I want to do?
The reason why this whole religious sister thing really puzzles (and, yes, troubles) me is because I wasn’t religious when I went to college. I wasn’t religious when I met and then married my husband. Remember how I am super trepidatious about kids? Yeah, that troubles me too. I keep thinking to myself: what if I was meant to be a Sister? I definitely never discerned anything for myself then, and I have no idea how to discern things for myself now. I keep trying to tell myself that God has a plan, sure, but he also gave us free will which I’m pretty sure means that maybe if I had been religious I would have figured out that maybe I should have run off and joined an abbey, but since I didn’t choose that path, God’s not going to slam the door on me and make the rest of my life difficult, nor would He place on my heart a desire to do something I can’t do unless I completely go against His will. Not to mention, I don’t really want to leave my husband because I think that would make me miserable anyway. I keep trying to figure out what it is about religious life that has me so enthralled and all I can come up with is: you never have to worry about money because you’re provided for--no debt, no payments, no bills, no expensive clothes to buy when your company gets bought out by another one and changes the dress code, no clothes to buy period; Lots of alone time studying and praying; Depending on what order, the chance to share your love of the faith and the Church and God and the Saints—no questions asked because no one is going to argue with a woman in a habit.
So what I can take away from all of this is: I want to study the faith and share it, and I’m sick of worrying about money. I guess the money thing is my cross to bear, but I can’t exactly figure out how to go about the other two. It’s not exactly lucrative to be a theologian, though with an MA I could teach at the Parish school. So yet again, the devil of money jumps out at me. I guess maybe what I need, before I go out and get an MA, is a crash course in discernment.
So the blog post that gets the most hits on my blog is the one about tattoos and the majority of them come from google.it. Apparently a LOT of people in Italy want Padre Pio tattoos. Rock on, Italian ink lovers!
I was dreading going to Mass a little today-- my parish has been all too keen in the past to make Mass into a show of patriotism that kind of gets under my skin. I sincerely dislike the Sundays when we get to sing "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful" in Church. This always kind of bugs me because America, while founded on "religious freedom," hasn't always been the nicest of countries to Catholics, and this random outburst of nationalism seems trite, contrived and a bit anachronistic to me. In any event, it turned out okay. Because today, GOD had a message for us.
While people in Protestant communities across the country were sitting in... pews (folding chairs? Gymnasium bleachers?) listening to what I can only assume was their preacher's thoughts on today's milestone, possibly diatribes about the need to Christianize Western society, Catholics all around the world got this message, from the Book of Sirach (don't try to find it in your KJV):
Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults. Sirach 27:30-28:7
Now, for those of you who don't know how this works, today was the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Catholic liturgy includes four readings per Mass: one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, one of the Letters of the Apostles and a Gospel reading. These are on a cycle so that the Gospels are chosen from a different book of the Bible depending on the cycle year we are in. This Old Testament reading is one that we have been reading on the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time for at least 40 years, likely for centuries. It just so happens to have fallen on September 11th, 10 years later.
Perhaps we should all reflect on this passage and really think about it.
...And be grateful that we didn't have to sing "God Bless America" at Mass today.
"Rebels are we! Though heavy our hearts shall always be! Ah, no ball, no chain, no prison shall keep, we're the Rebels of the Sacred Heart!"- Flogging Molly
So, last night I was talking to one of the people in RCIA class about something that I know a lot about: rebellion. As I believe I have mentioned many times, I spent a lot of my formative years rebelling against a lot of things: “class” structure at my school, statistics on single-mom households, religion, football games, studying for the SAT’s, etc. Basically, anything I could get my overly logical brain behind. Most of this was in defiance against something “society” made me do. I didn’t jump around from fad to fad and passionately just believe in it, I did, in fairness, tend to be loyal to my anti-social structure and was properly brooding by the time I was 17. I blame this entirely on my blood, by the way, which is a nice mix of Cajun (also called “The Defiant Ones” by the English when they refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to Queen Anne and the Church of England), and German, who we all know are stubborn as mules—all the ones I know anyway. Which is why, when I came back to the Church it was something I had to laugh about to myself a lot. “Oh, so many people who knew me will think this is so crazy!” I thought to myself, chuckling and shaking my head “they will all think I’ve lost it entirely this time.”
Rights? I don't own them. Such a rebel!
But last night, as I was talking to this person, I realized something. I think I am drawn to Catholicism precisely because it’s rebellious now. Not only is it rebellious to be religious in a very secularized world, it’s almost a rebellion in itself to be Catholic in religious society. Maybe that’s what drew me back to it in the first place. I studied a lot of religions, as in-depth as I could, starting from about age 10. Deep down, I wanted to belong to a religion, I think, probably just not “my” religion because that was not rebellious. But once I was completely removed from it and had all belief structures at an intellectual arm’s length, I was drawn back in. It’s not rebellious to be Buddhist or New Age! It’s not rebellious to be an atheist or a relativist. It’s rebellious to be a good, traditional Catholic; to actually know something about your faith and not refer to yourself as “recovering” or “raised that way.”
Hopefully this person, who, by the way, is concerned that she will never be able to not disagree with the Church on some things, will see it that way. I wish I had thought of this when I was talking to her about it. Maybe all us defiant Catholics out there just need a change of viewpoint.