Friday, December 14, 2012

7 QUICK TAKES - Religious Freedom / Pharmacy School / Cardinal George


...not only for Catholic Pharmacists and pharmacy students, but for RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN GENERAL!! I wrote about this a few months back (read it here) but the decision has now been FINALIZED...OMG OMG OMG I am so excited that good things are happening in terms of conscience rights and religious liberty. Now, we just have to overthrow Obamacare and my happiness will be complete!

Read the full article below or simply read the excerpts underneath. Basically: Catholic/Christian pharmacists or any pharmacists who believe in the sanctity of human life, are no longer obliged under Illinois Law to dispense Plan B, which is an abortifacient. For 7 long years, the law was that a pharmacist COULD NOT REFUSE to dispense/sell this drug to ANY PATIENT who wanted to purchase it at the pharmacy counter. Oh, and this drug is available without a prescription for 17+ year olds. It's as easy as walking up to the pharmacy counter.

Conscience Victory in Final Illinois Pharmacist Ruling
Religious-liberty advocates hail the end of a seven-year legal battle against provision of abortion drugs as a major triumph for conscience rights.

This decision is a great victory for religious freedom,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented the pharmacists in the case for several years.

Pharmacists who did not comply with the rule were threatened with fines and the loss of professional licenses.  The governor did not allow a religious exemption to the rule, saying that pharmacists who were morally opposed to the drug should find a different profession. 

^^^ (Isn't this outrageous and unthinkable and scary??? O my Lord!!! stupid governor Blagojevich...oh well, he's in jail now anyways. Ha)

Several pharmacists and pharmacies that morally object to cooperating in the destruction of human life filed a lawsuit challenging the rule.

The suit argued that the rule violated state religious-liberty laws, health-care conscience protections and the religious-freedom guarantees in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
It charged that the rule unfairly discriminated against health-care professionals seeking to contribute to society according to their principles by forcing them to choose between their constitutionally protected rights and their livelihood.

#2 The offending drug

Plan B aka emergency contraception, which causes abortion of a newly formed human embryo, after its conception.

#3 A picture of me on the job a student pharmacist aka pharmacy intern. My friend surprised me with this one. I look as if I was amused by that bottle of alcohol....which is for cleaning purposes by the way :-)

Add caption

#4 This is what I was studying yesterday 

from 3pm to 3:30am and this morning from 8am to 1pm. I had my first exam in my "Chemical Principles of Drug Action" aka Medicinal Chemistry class. It was a scary 40 pages of linking chemical structures with pharmacological drug properties, actions, and side effects. Looks fun, huh??

#5 Going along with pharmacy school....

 somebody in my class posted this on facebook and I thought it was pretty funny. Pharmacy school sure isn't for mediocre students, nor for the weak-willed. It is tough and consumes your life! 


Chicago's very own Francis Cardinal George. Sooooo proud of to be a part of his archdiocese.


 We've been praying for him lately with my adoration group because he has been sick.

Saints walk among us :-)


#7 If you are reading this, introduce yourself in the comments.

I set up this blog last year but it's been pretty abandoned (only about 1-2 posts per month) due to my crazy pharmacy school schedule and working and such. But I'd love to meet some new bloggers and make new relationships.

Yours in Christ,

Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes - #2 - Advent/Prayer


.....for those of us always putting God in the "margins of our lives" like I sometimes do when I'm just "too busy" or "too tired"

Since Advent starts on Sunday, this is the perfect time to improve our prayer life. I know I want to be more focused on God during this Advent season, so that I may be better prepared for the joy of his birth. Here are some personal tips and tricks that have helped me to improve my prayers and increase my daily prayer time. These may or may not be useful to you, since everybody is on a different level and in a different spot on their path to holiness, but I tend to make excuses and leave prayer 'til the very last minute of the day...until my eyes are closing and my body is ready to collapse onto my bed...and then it either does NOT get done ("I'll pray more tomorrow I promise!") or I fall asleep after the first 5 words.


On my morning commute (which is about 30-40 minutes), I turn off my car radio and spend that half hour in silence and prayer. I usually also eat breakfast and sip coffee/tea in my car to save some time, but the food is always preceded by prayer. I usually dedicate about 10-15 minutes to prayer, then I bless my food, then I eat my food, and then I just relax for the rest of my morning commute. I arrive at school or work refreshed, inspired, and ready to tackle the day!


When I am in school Monday through Friday, I carry around a little planner, which I use as a journal. It is not a journal for extensive reflection, but I pull it out of my backpack whenever I feel the need to jot down a few words for God...whether they are due to joy, gratitude, or a troubled heart. This helps me get all my feelings/worries/joys OUT and offer them up to the Lord, which helps me proceed through the day in peace.


Since I know it is impossible for me to pray the rosary every day (I am jealous of the people that do), I set up a specific day of the week on which I know I have to pray the rosary--no excuses allowed. So Wednesday is my special Rosary day. It's only once a week and it's always right in the middle of the week--so there is no excuse to forget or no excuse to be "too tired" to do it. In addition, I also pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on Fridays, since that is the day of Jesus' death and that is the day that St. Faustina told us to pray it - ideally at 3pm - "the hour of mercy"


If you are the type of person that only sees your church for one hour on Sundays, make a commitment, for just ONE extra day, to go to your church...whether it is an extra morning mass each week, or a holy hour. I tried the morning mass routine last year, but the times the morning mass if offered in my church conflicts with my school schedule. So what I have been doing for about 6 months is going to my church's HOLY HOUR, which is every Thursday at 7pm. The hour consists of both communal prayer and adoration of the Exposed Holy Eucharist, as well as periods of silent prayer and adoration. I cannot tell you how precious Holy Hour has become to me. No matter what is going on in my life and how many exams I have to study for, I simply LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND, take my cars keys and drive to church. Even though I'm feeling anxious and stressed because I feel like I have NO time for this, I just do it, period! And it has been such a beautiful experience to spend an hour of silence in front of the living hour of not asking for things and worrying about things, but just ADORING HIM for His Indescribable Goodness and Endless Mercy. Sometimes, I just don't want to leave. I want to stay in the silence of the church for the whole night...I don't want to go home and face all my school work and stress all over. I cannot even begin to describe the value of that ONE hour spent in HIS presence every week. It is priceless.


I used to have this idea that evening/night prayer should be the last thing we do before we go to bed. Well, that ran me into trouble. By the time I got around to my evening prayers, I was already halfway asleep. Then I made up my mind that I cannot constantly put God at the bottom of my to-do list and make school work and other things take priority over Him, because it always turns out that I either don't get to the bottom of my to-do list at all, or when I do, I'm so tired that I can't focus and have no idea what I'm saying anymore. So, I decided that what I need to do is set an approximate time that I will pray each evening. Right now, my commitment is to get on my knees for AT LEAST 10 minutes, ideally before 10pm. And the hardest part of it all is the "getting on your knees to pray" part. Once I'm on my knees, it is actually a pleasure and a comfort to be spending this time in God's presence...and I end up staying waaaay past the 10 minutes...But you have got to start somewhere. So set a minimum requirement that's not overwhelming, because like I already said and like everybody knows: "the hardest part is showing up." So decide to show up! Even if it's for 5-10 minutes.


If you're like should decide that God should not just be an "item on your to-do list" but the over-arching purpose of everything you do throughout the day. Thus, even when I am in the midst of studying, working, or eating a really quick meal, I take my time to just say a few words to God. When I see something beautiful in nature, my first thoughts are usually "Wow GOD, You created this. Thank you for letting me see it." Once you train your mind to see God in everything and in everyday, it becomes a habit to THANK HIM for every single thing...especially for the "little things" that people often take for granted. Living every day in the AWE of HIS PRESENCE makes every day seem like such a beautiful gift - and makes all troubles/worries/fears drown in the ocean of His Mercy.

7. And my favorite phrase

 which I repeat almost non-stop and which puts EVERYTHING back into perspective for me.

" It's all in His Hands "

I find myself saying this so darn often, because I always forget that GOD is GOD and He is in control of my life...I don't have to worry or fear. He'll take care of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.


I hope this helps..

Love, Agnes :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - my 1st ever!


Since I have not written in over a are some updates in the various areas of my life. Lots and lots of things have changed, I just have been running around like a madwoman ever since school started back up in September, hence, barely any time to keep my blog updated...And I guess Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to reflect upon one's life, so here we go...  :-)

1) Update on the Life of a 2nd Year Pharmacy Student

Pic from Sterile Lab where we pretend to make IV bags

 I just survived the first quarter of the second year of pharmacy school. I took the following courses: Pharmacology, Pharmacotherapeutics aka Therapeutics, Intro to drug structure, Nutrition in preventive medicine, Medical Spanish, Sterile Compounding Lab (making IV bags), and Intro to Pharmacy Practice Experience -Longitudinal aka IPPE-L.  I have been living my life between sitting in lectures, doing labs, writing hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes, studying for 2-3 exams each week, eating, sleeping, praying, going to church, and playing with my cats.  Oy, 2nd year of pharmacy school is not for the weak! I only got done with my 1st quarter of the P-2 year, and I am very exhausted. As I described already in an earlier post, my dear fiance started working nightshifts right as I started pharmacy school in September of 2011...and that sure has not made things any easier on me. I still only see him maybe once during the week, then I work a 10 hour shift on Saturdays--so that only leaves us the evening together...and Thank God for Sunday--the holy day of rest--since neither of us works and we have the whole day to each other.....WAIT.....scratch that...we go to mass together but then I usually spend the rest of Sunday studying for the next exam. Pharmacy school is intense. In case you were wondering. It's pretty much like Med school. You have to make a pretty big sacrifice in your life for 4 years..since there is not much left of it if you take away all the time you spend studying. I study around the clock Sunday-Friday, then work a 10-hour shift at a pharmacy on Saturday, followed by more studying when I get back. But it's okay...if this is where God is leading me and what God wants out of me...then blessed be His Name! I shall put forth my best effort into becoming who He wants me to be. If 4 years of working my butt off and suffering a bit will make me a better person in the eyes of the Lord, then I will put forth every last bit of hard work, time, and effort into this, and I will try to do it with joy and without much complaining and grumbling.

 2) Update on the life of a pharmacy intern

Work has been going alright. I mentioned already that I was promoted from being a pharmacy technician to being a pharmacy intern as soon as I finished my first year of pharm school...Along with that, I got transferred to a different store, since the rule is one intern per store. This new store really is a whole different world from the old one, but that does not mean that working there is any easier. Yes, I work in a nicer area where most people have good insurance (versus my old store, which was in a shady area where most of our patients were welfare folks on medicaid or with no insurance). And Yes, we fill much less prescriptions per day (about 200-300 per day versus 400-600 per day in the old store). So the "work" part of work is easier...but there is a catch. The "people" or coworkers part of work does not make it easy or enjoyable. It seems that everybody talks behind everybody's back when they're not there, and most people are two-faced. Everybody judges everybody else and the technicians are split into the "good" and the "bad" techs. And if you talk to the "bad techs," you're not cool. So stupid and immature. I'm not kidding...almost every person that works there regularly (with the exception of maybe one or two) constantly brings out the faults of all the other techs into the open. It's a realllllly bad learning environment! You cannot learn in an environment where if you make one silly mistake, instead of getting a correction and an explanation of what you did wrong and how to do avoid making the same mistake next time, nobody says anything to you until you're not there---and then they are LOUD as heck about it: " OOOO MYYY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE SO AND SO DID THIS!! WHY WOULD HE/SHE DO THAT???"....And I've been trying to jump in to such accusations (since they happen regularly) and defend the victim, explaining that they "probably didn't know any better" or "I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose," but then I get accused of defending and siding with the people I'm trying to defend. So that's what makes working in this very nice pharmacy in a nice area with nice patients, extremely difficult. I have to really watch my own thoughts and my own mouth so that I do not just start going along with the "crowd" and judging some of my coworkers and accusing them of making mistakes or saying silly stuff. It's a battle for me. But again, if these battles are just trials for me and if they make me a better, stronger person, then I don't mind being in the midst of them. Let Thy Will be Done. I just hope I am not disappointing God and hurting Him through hurting His children by judging them or gossiping about them.

A pic of me on the job :-)

3) Update on the life of a very blessed couple

We recently celebrated our 6th dating anniversary (on 11.11.12). Well, unfortunately we didn't really celebrate b/c I was in the midst of my 9 exams...right smack in the middle. It fell on a Sunday, and on the following Monday morning I had one of my hardest finals: pharmacology. Other than that, as I already mentioned above, we have not been seeing very much of each other, but we still love each other very much and when we do see each other, it's much more least to me :-) I know that we are in a difficult situation now but I am eagerly counting down to our wedding, because I am hoping that being married will change EVERYTHING (unlike the popular belief that getting married changes nothing, it is just on paper, and thus there is no point in getting married). I know that once we are married and living together, there will be no more issues of "never seeing each other." And so I am countin'...!

4) Update on the life of a soon-to-be bride in the midst of wedding planning

We have our church, banquet hall, photographer, videographer, and 2 bands booked (one regular band and one Polish Folk music band that will play Polish highlander music since I'm from the "mountain region" in Poland and we "highlanders" have a very rich culture and traditions that are distinct from the rest of Poland). We also picked our wedding color: it will be aqua / tiffany blue like pictured below. I already made an appointment with the seamstress lady that will be making our dresses. I called up all my bridesmaids and Greg called up all our groomsmen, and they all said yes! Now I just have to meet with a Florist (I am lucky because my aunt is one) and do all the other fun stuff such as invitations, favors, etc...and of course plan the bridal shower.

Samples of aqua colored stuff ^

5) Update on the life of first-ever-home owners

It's been a little over 6 months since we bought our house. Well, technically it was just Greg that bought it, my name is nowhere on it since I have my pharmacy school loans under my belt. But I think I can call it my home too since we are soon-to-be-married anyways. Well, if you remember, it was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work and updating. We have been working on it for over 6 months now and are still not done. It's taking very long because we are doing most of the work ourselves. My love, my hard-working Greg has put in soooooo many hours of hard work into that house, I can't help but be amazed at him. His friends helped out a bit. And I helped out a teeny, tiny bit too. But poor Greg...he works the nightshift and instead of sleeping in, he wakes up in the morning and drives 30 minutes to our house and works on it for about 4-5 hours almost every day, then drives home, showers, and goes to work. Talk about my life being hard and all...his isn't any easier. It's been this way since April. He's exhausted and I can tell. He wants to be done with it and I don't blame him. Today, they delivered our appliances for our kitchen, which I am very thankful for. As the house is closer and closer to being done, I've been doing some shopping for decor, rugs, and pots & pans. Oh it has been such a blessing to be able to afford to buy all these nice things for OUR house. On the other hand, one thing I'm worried about is that as soon as the house is done, everybody in my life will pressure me to move in. There will be the constant questions of "when are you moving in?" and "have you moved in yet?" and if I say no, the disappointed "Why's." What am I supposed to do?? Explain Theology of the Body to them? I do not just go with the status quo and cohabit before marriage. My plan is to just help Greg move in and get settled, and make the house a home for him, but I keep living with my parents until the wedding.....but the more I talk to people the more discouraged I am becoming that this plan is actually going to work. Even my parents think I'm silly when I tell them I don't want to move in til after the wedding. My brothers will probably think I'm nuts and a weirdo if  they find out that we bought a house, remodeled it, and now I refuse to live in it?!?! I have 3 brothers but they stopped going to Sunday mass a while ago and they pretty much succumbed to the secular the culture of death...the status quo. And my parents... they want to put their house on the market in the spring and move to Michigan...and then what am I gonna do??? Get an apartment by myself?? I absolutely cannot afford that. I only work one day a week. I would hate to be forced to offend the Lord and move in with Greg due to the situation and due to ignorant people. For now, I haven't been faced with any lame questions and judgements yet because the house isn't finished...but I know it's coming soon. For now I just have to hope and pray for strength and courage...because I want to do the right thing for GOD.

6) And for the end...politics. 

A few explanations of why Mr. Obama (the biggest anti-God, anti-Catholic president thus far) won the election to remain the president of the "Divided States of America" (....since the election was almost 50/50...and the results made half the nation happy and the other half bitter, angry, disappointed, and fearful for the future of our nation)

#1 reason Obama won: the BIASED, LIBERAL media

 #2 reason: people don't care about national and moral values and the future of our country, they vote the "SELF" and self only in mind. Whoever guarantees more free stuff. Free for them means the hard-working, tax-paying patriots will pay for it.

#3 reason (goes along with #2): the hipster on the right and the entitlement generation. Think they're entitled to everything in life.

7) Let's pray for America. 

It needs our prayers now more than ever.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Overwhelmed but Thankful - (Pharmacy school!)

So, life has not been very easy on me lately. Actually, I have been pretty depressed for the past few weeks, believe it or not. This may sound like a lot of whining, but writing about it, I hope, will be at least somewhat therapeutic for me. And maybe even someone reading this can relate or learn from it. 


I started my 2nd year of pharmacy school in September. I've been warned by pharmacists at my work that graduated from my school of pharmacy, as well as by professors in school, that the 2nd and 3rd year is very, very challenging and requires lots of hard work, motivation, and perseverance. Absolutely true. Now I can feel it on my own skin. The amount of material we go through every week is insane. I constantly get up at 5 or 6am (even when I don't have to be at school until 9, 10, or 11 sometimes), so I could catch up and get ahead in my lectures...and despite all my efforts and studying from 6am to midnight every day, I'm still constantly falling behind as more and more assignments, projects, workshops, and exams come around. It's intense. We have 2 exams every single week, and they are not exams you can study for the night before. Some of my school days are very long and exhausting. For example, on Monday, we start out with a 2 hour exam at 7am (means I have to get up at 5am and leave my house before 6am to get to school on time), and then we have lectures for the remainder of the day, until 5pm. Tuesdays are the same (7am-5pm day), but with lectures all day and only 2 breaks in between.  I do get very good grades, but I really, truly put in a lot of work into it. I put pretty much ALL of my time into studying, take away basic functions like eating, sleeping, showers, and praying. Every single day feels the same. Get up, eat, go to school, study well into the night, take a shower, pray, go to sleep. Every day, over and over, and over again. And I am growing sick and tired of this every day sameness...all WORK, no play. Another thing that's contributing to my sadness is being lonely--not having my other half by me to support me and cuddle with me and tell me he loves me. My lovely fiance has been working nightshift for a little over a year now (pretty much since I started pharmacy school) and so my life has changed dramatically since then. At least last year was a little less intense at school so I still got to see him a few times a week, but this school year is so hectic that I only see him on the weekends. During the entire week, I am lonely. Just me and my piles of notes and my laptop. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to study and focus because I miss him so much and I'm scared that we'll grow apart. I'm so foolish sometimes. I think foolish human thoughts instead of trusting that God will always bless our relationship and provide for us no matter what. Our future (the future of our relationship, marriage, family) is all in His Hands...yet I can't help but worry, fear, and feel lonely. Resting my soul in God has definitely been helping in those moments of loneliness, but still, it is difficult to get used to such a dramatic life change of being with your love all the time to barely seeing your love and just being left completely alone with endless amounts of hard work. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know it is there.

So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, here are some things that I realized, that help me cope with my feelings:
  1. God loves me. He knows everything I am going through. He knows exactly how I feel. He hears my thoughts and prayers and sees my troubles. God will not let mine and Greg's relationship suffer, because He created us for each other and as long as we trust in Him, our now relationship and future marriage will survive any trial! (Suck it up devil!)
  2. People have bigger problems than I do. Some people have no food to feed their families, others are going through painful divorces, still others live in fear and oppression. 
  3. I'm not the only one who has felt this way. I'm not the only one that has gone through this. Some people in my pharmacy class have husbands and small kids to take care of on top of studying, and they're handling somehow. (Their loving husbands and kids are probably their source of support).
  4. Pharmacy school is supposed to be challenging and hectic, and I knew this going in. I knew that I would have to sacrifice a lot. I was ready to give up having a life and let pharmacy school take over for a short 4 years. Besides, it's only 2 years of loneliness, because for the last 2 years of school, I'll be a happy wifey.
  5. This is only temporary. Yes, I have 3 more years of pharmacy school but I have many things to look forward to in the near future, things that will change my current situation. 10 more months and I will be married to the love of my life and I will be coming home to him every day instead of feeling lonely, depressed, and abandoned.
  6. I rely too much on things and people to make me happy and fulfilled. I should start relying completely on God. Even if I feel disappointed by something Greg does or doesn't do, I should not let that bring me down and make me feel depressed. God sees everything. He knows. And He wants me to trust in Him and rest in Him in times of trials and suffering. And that is what I should start doing more often.
  7. I'm only 22 years old. Pharmacy school is only a very small chunk of my life. There are many, many more years ahead...years that I hope will be filled with the beauty of married life and family...that is, if the Lord blesses me with those.

Thank You God for helping me shift my focus from all the bad, depressing, overwhelming things in my life, to all the things that I am currently blessed with, and all the amazing things that wait ahead. For now, I just gotta "keep swimming, swimming, swimming" and this difficult time shall soon pass and I'm sure the Lord has good times in store for us. Oh I just absolutely cannot wait for our wedding. Please please God, can I just fastforward my life to August?? Pleeeaaase??  

10 more months...

I can do this....

So Help me God, Amen!

P.S. on a related note, check out my latest post on Suffering...I have some pretty good quotes on suffering from some awesome books that I read.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Long-awaited VICTORY for Catholic pharmacists practicing in Illinois!!!

Not only is this a long-awaited victory for Catholic/Christian pharmacists in Illinois, but also a great victory for religious freedom

I don't really have time to elaborate, I really wish I did but I have a ton of homework, projects and exams to study for. This is really, really, really, really important for me, since this actually affects me directly, in my every day life. I work at a retail pharmacy (as a pharmacy intern), where anybody can just come in and ask for Plan B - or the "morning after pill." And they do. People don't want to face the consequences or take the responsibility for their actions, so they can just go to the pharmacy, pay about 60 bucks, and buy the magic pill---and that gets rid of "their problem." Hey, 60 bucks is much cheaper than raising a child, right?

Basically, the law that pharmacists could NOT refuse to sell the Plan B pill, even if it was against their religious beliefs, came out about 7 years ago...and when there were protests from Catholic/Christian pharmacists...they got fined and thrown in jail. Yep, it happened. Did it make it to the mainstream media? Probably not very much. No surprise. The mainstream media has a major liberal bias.......So, that was the end of the discussion. Pharmacists in Illinois just had to stick to this terrible law for 7 years.

You can read the full article here, or if not, below are some excerpts.

In 2005, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich mandated that all pharmacists and pharmacies sell "Plan B," the brand name for a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours.

The Illinois appellate court agreed that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protects pharmacists' decision not to dispense the contraceptives due to their beliefs.

But of course, there are still some liberal idiots who don't understand the concept of women's health and say stuff like this:

"We are dismayed that the court expressly refused to consider the interests of women who are seeking lawful prescription medication and essentially held that the religious practice of individuals trumps women's health care"

Ugh, the present situation with the government both walking all over the constitution, abusing their power, and taking away our religious freedom...and people still cheering for Obama like blind fools, makes me lose all hope for humanity. This may sound harsh, but it's the truth.

Well, anyways, YAY for this unjust law being overthrown! This means that I am no longer OBLIGED by the government to VIOLATE MY CONSCIENCE and have to sell you the abortifacient pill aka the morning after pill aka Plan B! booooyahhhhh government!!! and booooyaaah irresponsible people who just want to have all the pleasures in the world without facing any consequences. Sex is a baby-making if you don't want babies when God sends them your way, then close your legs. For real. It's as simple as that.

Oh, this makes me so happy! We need more victories like this one! More importantly, we need to overthrow Obama's healthcare law! Darn you Supreme Court, why did you uphold that?

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Below is some wisdom from Mother Angelica’s AND Father Ciszek’s books that I read sometime in the past. I really needed some encouragement and it seems that I forgot everything I learned in these books already. So I needed a refresher.
 I can’t even focus on studying or doing anything else because I feel that my soul is in the darkness and that God is somewhere far, far away. I do not feel His closeness as usual. I don’t know what I feel. Emptiness. Because that’s all there is without God. Emptiness. Nothing. At least nothing of worth. Yes, there is the whole world of pleasures and transient joys, but I don’t want to go there. I will not find joy there. I have tasted the joy of the Lord, the true joy that can be felt down to the marrow of my bones and in the depths of my soul—and now my heart is restless and my soul is troubled. I’m in the darkness. I’m confused as to what is really happening.  Have I done something so terribly wrong that He is mad at me, or is this a trial He blessed me with in order that I learn and grow because of it? Maybe both. God only knows what is happening and I am sure it is happening for my good. I trust that it is. Since I am in this situation of darkness and internal suffering, it must be the Lord’s will for me at the moment. Perhaps this is a cleansing experience for me. Perhaps this is an experience that will significantly contribute to my spiritual growth. Perhaps the good Lord put me in this situation in order that I learn humility and trust—to realize that I am NOTHING without Him—and that only He can provide me with light and strength and courage. For now, all I can do is trust that this is for my good and a part of God’s plan for me. Meanwhile, I find courage and consolation in these excerpts below:

(These are books I read in the past. I always highlight all the excerpts that stand out to me and teach me important lessons. I will post a review on both of these books in the near future.)

From Mother Angelica’s  Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality

If God wants to draw me higher spiritually, He has to create a situation in which I can get there. He creates a hunger within you, and you yearn for spiritual food. They only way to feed your soul, to mold it and change it, is to give you this hunger. You must absolutely have a hunger before God can grow in your soul.

Sometimes I am so cold and in such darkness that I merely look to Heaven and plead for light. That’s a prayer of faith. A lot of people think that faith is all joy. Faith is sometimes scary.

How are you going to grow in faith if you don’t have darkness? How are you going in trust if there is no crisis?

When things seem lost: trust. Sometimes we have to get very low before God will bring us up again.

Do you really believe God loves you? If you do, you know that everything that happens in your life is for you good. And it isn’t always a peaceful experience.

God’s Will is never inactive. It is only inactive to you, because you cannot see further than your nose. God’s providence is ever working and bearing fruit. When you pray, God has heard it. When the Lord refuses you, or nothing seems to be happening, something is happening. We may see no solution to our problems and no relief in sight, but faith is always there to assure us that in the end, we will triumph.

From Fr. Ciszek’s book He Leadeth me

For every man’s life contains its share of suffering; each of us is occasionally driven almost to despair, to ask why God allows evil and suffering to overtake him or those he loves…I had learned in those darkest of hours to turn to God for consolation and to trust in him alone.

Somehow then, God must contrive to break through those routines of ours and remind us once again, like Israel, that we are ultimately dependent only upon him, that he has made us and destined us for life with him through all eternity…that we must look to him and turn to him in everything. Then it is, perhaps, that he must allow our whole world to be turned upside down in order to remind us it is not our permanent abode or final destiny, to bring us to our senses and restore our sense of values, to turn our thoughts once more to him—even it at first our thoughts are questioning and full of reproaches.

No situation is ever without its worth and purpose in God’s providence. It is a very human temptation to feel frustrated by circumstances, to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of the established order—whether that order is an NKVD prison, or the whole Soviet system, or “the status quo,”…or the whole, oppressive rotten world!


And when I’m feeling discouraged and tired of the fight, I can’t help but repeat to myself over and over again Jesus’ words of encouragement:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry."  Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reflections from my Journal #3: Confession, Penance, and My Fall 2012 Resolutions

This is the "happy ending post" of my previous two posts about my struggles with lukewarmness.

My struggles with Lukewarmness (1)
My struggle with Lukewarmness (2)

...because the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference (aka lukewarmness).
The posts were actually my journal entries that I decided to 'share with the world.' They aren't very exciting posts, but my hopes in spilling my heart out about my internal struggles were that maybe, just maybe, by some slim chance, it will help someone who is going through a similar trial.

So, finally, after a few rough weeks of drowning in my own misery, I did a very thorough examination of conscience and went to confession and mass on the First Friday of the Month. The confession was phenomenal. It made me feel so much better, so much lighter. No more sin laying heavy upon my heart and weighing me down! God also led me to the right priest! There were about 10 priests doing confessions but God led me to one that was very understanding and gave me some great advice and encouragement for the future. I now feel so light-spirited! I am a happy gal!

Right after I did my examination of conscience (which involved so much reflection that it took me a good few hours!), I came up with a list of resolutions which target all of those things that I keep tripping over and thus need to work on. This is what I came up with:

What I shall seek to improve in myself   :
I shall strive for silence; both physical and silence of the heart
I shall strive to love my neighbor the way he/she is, without judging or criticizing
I shall make daily sacrifices for the Lord, such as fasting and staying off useless internet websites, such as facebook
I shall set aside time for prayer / meditation /reflection daily
I shall set aside time for weekly prayers such as a weekly rosary and chaplet of divine mercy
I shall practice self-discipline by exercising regularly as well as waking up early in the morning (instead of being lazy and sleeping in)
I shall put my best effort forth into preparing to be a pharmacist by regularly studying instead of wasting time
I shall put my best effort forth at work, every single time I work—and work hard without complaint
I shall show more love to my parents and offer them help without complaint and without expecting anything in return
I shall suffer silently, offering it up to the Lord – instead of becoming stressed, discouraged, worried
I shall not leave God for last and place other things/people before God
I shall NOT BE LUKEWARM in my relationship with God and my daily walk on the path to holiness
I shall TRUST IN THE LORD at all times, in all circumstances!

Then, after confession, I came up with a few very specific resolutions based on the above list - some firm resolutions that specified exactly what kind of sacrifices I am going to make each day for the Lord and for the sake of my own soul. And so far, I have been following my daily resolutions religiously! In fact, last week was one of the best weeks I have had in a really long time. It was heavenly! I got up early in the morning (6am or earlier) every single day last week and was productive from morning to evening. I stayed off facebook. I prayed for at least 10 minutes before bedtime. I said my weekly rosary on wednesday and Chaplet of Divine Mercy on Friday, and even went to an hour of adoration at my church on Thursday! I was proud of myself. I felt so strong and so confident that I didn't even once have any difficulties sticking to my new resolutions and being a good person in general. However, I know that this strength, fervor, and joy is not of my own doing--it is from above! I know that without God's grace, without His supporting me through this past week, I would have failed many times. Without Him, I have no strength, no confidence, no joy - and without Him I feel discouraged and hopeless. 

The Lord is so good and full of compassion! It's incredible.

Here is the psalm I have been praying after every confession, for a few years now. It makes me feel much better: 

Psalm 32

Happy the man whose offense is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.
I groaned all day long,
for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.
Indeed my strength was dried up
as by the summer's heat.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: I will confess
my offense to the Lord.
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

So let every good man pray to you
in the time of need.
The floods of water may reach high
but him they shall not reach.
You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will give you counsel
with my eye upon you.
Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent,
needing bridle and bit
else they will not approach you.

Many sorrows has the wicked
but he who trusts in the Lord,
loving mercy surrounds him.
Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

That's all for now.
Keep a lookout for my next post on pharmacy school :-)

Love, Agnes