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.

 

 

What Is Your Self-Care Routine?

One of the things I hear the most often from my therapists is “what are you doing for self-care?”  Over the years, I have had different self-care routines, because they have had to be adjusted for different reasons.  Usually, because the routine wasn’t working too well, and it was time to go back to the drawing board and figure out the routine over again.

My self care routine nowadays consists of several things:  stress management, time management, symptoms and illness management, meditation (specifically mindfulness), and things that are likely to bring pleasure.  In addition, it also includes my values of creativity, spirituality, and friendship.

It sounds like a lot, and some days, it really is a lot.  There are days in which managing the self-care routine manages to be the task of the day.  But with practice, as with anything, it becomes a part of daily life.  Thankfully, stress management is closely related to meditation and mindfulness.  Time management is a task in and of itself, especially for someone as disorganized and unfocused as me, but with the help of calendars and to-do lists, and bouncing off my fiance helps a lot.  Structure and routine make things like time management more manageable (was that a mouthful?).  Friendship is instrumental, as isolating is usually not a good thing, and it is something that is likely to bring me pleasure.  My value of creativity is part of what fuels my blogging, sewing, and beading, which are things that are likely to bring me pleasure, too.  And of course, spirituality:  A biggie for me, as you can tell from my posts.  Not only is my spirituality good for the soul, it is also good for my mind.

My meditation practices revolve around biblical reflections and prayer.  And my mindfulness takes several forms, but usually it involves exercises that are helpful in keeping my mind in the here and now.  One of my favorite exercises is to take a shower with an exfoliating soap.  The scrubbing with the bumpy soap doesn’t let me forget that I am just taking a shower, and well, a good exfoliation is not bad for you, right?

In terms of friendship, I make sure that I cultivate the friendships I do have by keeping up with them with messages, phone calls, and the occasional coffee date or dinner out.  And sometimes, even creating bags and jewelry with them.

So, while self-care may seem like a big chore, incorporating daily exercises dealing with self care every day and in every little action possible, it is possible to make it a routine.

 

 

 

 

Finding Motivation with Prayer.

You know, when you struggle with depression, it is hard to find motivation to do the smallest things.  Things that normally would get done, don’t get done.  What are normally simple tasks appear monumental.  Getting out of bed, for example.  Taking a shower, preparing breakfast, making coffee…  But there’s something I can still manage to do, and that is prayer.

I don’t have to pray a whole Rosary.  I don’t have to even complete a Hail Mary.  All I have to do is summon God and ask for his graces to just get motivated enough to get done the bare bones minimum, to ignore the Inner Mean Voice that tells me I am a failure, to get out of bed and see how my son is doing, brave my face in front of the mirror and brush my teeth.

This small prayer:  “Lord, grant me motivation to get going.” is normally good enough.  I force myself to get out of bed, and drag my feet around the house.  I keep repeating the prayer as a mantra throughout the day.  Until I find that even though I might have been dragging my feet, and skipped a few steps in the daily routine, I got things done.  And at the end of the day, the realization that the motivation to get going got granted, and humility to be thankful for it.

It is easy to take things for granted, but when it comes to being grateful, even the smallest of things is something to be thankful about.  Sometimes, just being grateful for breathing is enough to be grateful about, and it’s okay.  I have noticed that on days that I wake up thanking God for breathing, I am set in a better mindset to deal with the day than when I wake up and complain about how hard life is with depression.  Turns out gratitude is a good thing to have when you are struggling.

What are you thankful for today?

 

Forgiving Oneself and Being Forgiven

We all do some pretty bad things from time to time.  It is in our imperfect nature that we mess up.  And sometimes, we do something that we deem so terrible that we just can’t forgive ourselves.  Yes, I bet even some saints in Heaven have been there, too.  It’s all too human.

As Catholics, we have a great gift in the Holy Sacrament of Confession.  Sometimes, this guilt of having messed up, is eased by telling someone about the horrible thing we did, but it always feels better after it has been absolved by a priest (who sits in persona Christi).  Sometimes, however, even after the repentance, absolution and penitence, we still can’t seem to shake off the guilt.  I think this is because we haven’t forgiven ourselves.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the guilt – a tool that the devil sometimes uses to keep us away from Confession and from feeling better.  But we have to remember that no matter how awful our mishap/mistake/sin was, we have to forgive ourselves.  Obviously, we have the guilt because we feel bad about it, and that’s a good sign that we repent.  However, when this guilt doesn’t go away, we need to work on forgiving ourselves.  This can be hard, but the beauty of Confession is that you can bring up this pain, this guilt, as many times as needed until you process what happened.

Wallowing in the guilt is not going to make things better.  Keeping the sin to ourselves is not going to forgive it.  So, I highly encourage you to go to Confession to be forgiven and to forgive yourself.

Guardian Angels

We all have a guardian angel assigned to us by God.  This being is by our side always, and we should be calling on him regularly, in times of trouble, and in times of gratitude.  It’s our personal intercessor.  It is amazing how often we forget about him!  And even so, he is always by our side.

The joke goes around that our guardian angel must be holding his head in shame because of the things and troubles we manage to get into!  But how often do we pray for him and thank him for being by our side?  How often do we offer sacrifice for him?  How often do we even think about him seriously (instead of in a joke)?  Have we cultivated a relationship with him, our personal intercessor?

What a great gift guardian angels are, and we often don’t appreciate them.  I’ll go as far as saying that most people have even forgotten or don’t believe in their existence.  Let’s make an effort to acknowledge them and make them a part of our daily lives.

Our guardian angel is a brother and a friend, that we can call on always.  And as such, we should call on him not only when we are in big trouble, but also when we are in small trouble, no trouble, joyous times, grieving times, etc.  In other words, we should call on him always.

PRAYER TO OUR ANGELS

My God, I thank Thee for all the graces Thou hast given to my dear angel.

My God, I thank Thee for having given me this great angel to be my brother and my friend.

My dear angel, I thank thee thousands and thousands of times for the countless favors thou hast done me, for the countless times thou hast saved me from evils and dangers.

My angel, I love thee with all my heart.  Make me feel thy presence at my side.