Our Lady of Guadalupe

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which in my case, brings sweet memories of local pilgrimage to the Minor Basilica in Monterrey, Mexico, where with the matachines we would walk a couple of miles into her Basilica, singing beautiful hymns dedicated to her, sometimes, I would complete several of these mini pilgrimages in one season, going with my school, then with my family, then with friends.  Outside of the temple, the matachines would dance, and there would be dozens of places that would sell food, traditional candies, candy canes, etc.

Someday, I wish to go back, but for now, the memories will do.

St. Juan Diego’s Obedience

20171202_203058.jpgOur Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego (Cuauhtlatoatzin), while on his way to learn more about the Catholic Faith, and asked this humble man to request the Bishop that a temple be built in her name.  He was obedient, and Our Lady impressed her image in his tilma (a kind of apron) to show the world that she meant business, after she instructed him to gather roses from a specific place.  His tilma still is displayed at the Basilica of Guadalupe at Tepeyac in Mexico City.

His feast day is today, December 9th.

What do we have to learn from St. Juan Diego?  Obedience.  This humble man was asked the impossible and through obedience, he pleased Our Lady, which in the end pleases God.  St. Juan Diego had a dying uncle he was taking care of, and put the desires of Our Lady over his uncle – Our Lady healed him.  and when Bishop Juan de Zumarraga wouldn’t believe him that Our Lady had appeared to him, he said to bring proof.  Once again, Juan Diego obeys and asks Our Lady for proof.  And so we have her miraculous image in the tilma, which has been studied scientifically, and has been deemed a miracle.  There is detail in this fibery fabric that would not have been able to be achieved by the techniques and advancements of the era – 1531.

Advent Begins.

IMG_20171119_132226_914.jpgA propos of my previous blog post, “Praying“, I would like to remind you that Advent begins.  With Advent, we know Christmas is coming, which means we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Much like Lent, Advent is a time to prepare.  Usually, I don’t do much in terms to prepare.  I hang my decorations, I pray my usual prayers a little harder, I do my yearly (local) pilgrimage to an Our Lady of Guadalupe church (because her feast day is always on Advent) and I might click around surfing for better ideas to prepare, but this year, my fiance gave me this book called “Rooted in Hope“.  And I am really excited to say that this little book/prayer book/activity book will be part if my Advent prep this year.

Elizabeth Foss, one of the authors of this book, reminds us that God can do loaves and fishes miracles with our small parcels of time, if only we are willing to offer Him what we have. (Much like I said in my previous post!)

But the authors also challenge us to do more.  It’s the time in which we seem to be busiest, spreading joy and cheer, planning dinners, attending parties, gift shopping, gift wrapping, what-have-you.  So in spite of being already shorter on time, let’s carve out some more time for prayer.

They propose a formula for prayer that Pope Benedict XVI proposes in his Verbum Dominus.  It includes 5 steps: reading (from the Bible), meditation, prayer, contemplation, and action.  These steps follow a logical progression, starting from the Word of the Lord to living the Gospel.

If you haven’t done so already, order the book.  Rooted in Hope from Amazon.  I am really liking what I am reading so far, and I think you can benefit from it, too.

 

 

Praying

Prayer, or “mommy’s quiet time”, has become central to my life and self-care routine.  Even if it is just sitting down and reflecting on my day, or doing a full conscience exam, it is definitely a helpful tool.  Not only do I find it helpful when it comes to quieting my anxious mind, but it is great in grounding myself and moving forward, one day at a time.

With prayer, I am able to reflect on my life as contrasted by the life of Jesus and the saints.  I am able to make my suffering useful by offering it up.  It helps me put the pain in perspective.  I realize that pain is not only part of the human experience – but it is also a part of life.  Even Jesus suffered pain.

I am able to concentrate on the here and now.  I can’t change the past, and the future is not yet here, so why not concentrate on the here and now.  I can’t make choices about the past – just an examination of conscience – what I did that may be wrong or questionable. But it is not a reason to dwell in the past, it is a reason to move forward, to get a perspective on how to act here and now, and concentrate on just today, because, as cliched as it sounds, tomorrow is not promised.

What bothers me? What makes me happy?  If something bothers me, I am able to share it  with the Lord and put it in perspective.  If something makes me happy, I am able to be grateful about it, and thank the Lord for it as a gift, even if it is through gritting teeth.

I love my prayer time not only because it is mommy’s quiet time, but because it also is part of my self-care.

 

Live a life worth blogging about

Sometimes, I look on Pinterest to try and come up with a new blog post.  It has yet to pay out, but I have to admit I look.  And there was this image – that had a list of things you should do in order to have a successful blog.  One of them, really caught my eye, it said, live a life worth blogging about.

But what exactly does living life worth blogging about even mean?  I live a fairly boring life, but I would like to think that it is worth blogging about. Why?  Because life isn’t about showing off your booty on Instagram, or even talking about makeup tutorials.  Life isn’t about vanity, or watching TV to keep up with the whomevers.  Life is a series of learning moments joined together by opportunities to learn.  It is also a series of fairly boring moments joined together by happy and dramatic moments.  It is also very much a pilgrimage to Heaven, where we will ultimately be united with Our Savior.  And this pilgrimage is all of the above, joined by the binding powers of faith, hope, and love.  Life is a journey.

As a blogger, I do like to share insights into my own life, but (and maybe this is where I fail as a blogger) I am not eternally looking for the special moments that are bloggable.

I also wanted to remind people that life isn’t about being thrilled and excited and quasi-manic all the time.  A lot of what you see in the blogosphere is “photoshopped”.  Sure, there are some really good, raw blogs out there, but for the most part, they are sanitized, beautified, and perhaps even exaggerated.  A reason a lot of youth suffers from depression is because of all these happy instances on Instagram, YouTube, etc. (social media) seem to be the exciting life of others, while we forget that those exciting moments are glued together by boring, less enticing moments.  So to me, a life worth blogging about is one that sets the example.

 

The Stigma Around Mental Illness.

Mental Illness is highly stigmatized by society.  Whether it is because society in general thinks that it is a matter of “only trying harder”, “he/she is making it up”, “he/she is weak”, or what-have-you, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around.

I am here to tell you:  Mental Illness is real, as real as cancer or diabetes, and recent studies point towards this direction.  It is not cured by “trying harder”, just like cancer doesn’t go away by trying harder.  It is not something that we sufferers make up.  It is as real as a doorknob and as dark as a starless night.  It is also not a sign of weakness as much as having cancer isn’t a sign of weakness.

However, among some christian circles, mental illness is deemed a “demonic possession”.   And while demonic possessions are very real and in many cases similar to mental illness, there are clear distinctions between demonic possession and mental illness.  I am not qualified to make these distinctions, but This Article from CNN explains some differences (TL,DR; This psychiatrist can’t explain certain things that have happened during exorcisms that just don’t happen with mentally ill patients.)

So, please, please, I don’t know how to start this “campaign”, but don’t equate mental illness to demonic possession – let a qualified priest or doctor make the distinction.  Don’t equate mental illness as a sign of not wanting to be healthy enough or some sort of weakness, because it is not.  Let’s stop spreading misinformation, and care for one another regardless of illness experienced.