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.
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/22/14026790-court-illinois-cant-force-pharmacists-to-give-morning-after-pill?lite


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 act...so 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

ON SUFFERING AND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS


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


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections from my journal #2: My struggle with Lukewarmness (2)

Here is a continuation of my journal entries about my struggles with lukewarmness. See "My struggle with Lukewarmness Volume 1" from yesterday. These might not be very fun to read, but I had to put it out there, in hopes that maybe my experiences will, one day, help someone....at least one person...who is struggling with the same thing.

Tomorrow I will be posting more, funner stuff about pharmacy school and my fall 2012 resolutions!


9/2/12
Sunday Mass

I was very emotional in church today. I swear, today’s homily was just for me. When I heard it, I could not even believe that the priest was talking about exactly the issue I am struggling with now: being indifferent and lukewarm. I mean, the scripture readings for this Sunday weren’t even about that, yet the priest talked about it as if he was talking directly to me! Wow, God, did You arrange for that or what? Did You put me in the right place at the right time? Did You really want me to GET IT? To open my eyes to the truth?  Just 2 or 3 days ago, You have revealed to me that this is what I am struggling with, that this is what I’m up against, and now, on this Sunday mass, You confirmed it! The priest even referenced the same bible verse in the Book of Revelations that I just looked up earlier this week.  “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” And the priest explained that being lukewarm and indifferent is the worst thing we can be guilty of—it is even worse in God’s eyes than hating. God would rather know where we stand. Do we love Him or do we hate Him? Simple. Make up your mind. Love and follow His Will, or hate and reject His teachings. Do not stand in the middle. That’s the worst position. It is the worst position to know the truth and to have the faith, but to NOT LIVE IT OUT—to not care about God! At least when you hate God, you are true to your name, but when you believe in God but are lukewarm, you are a hypocrite. God sure does not like hypocrites. Just think of the many times he criticized the Pharisees in the bible, because they were big hypocrites, who did everything just to be liked and praised by the people.



9/4/12

First Day of School

We watched the Hunger Games with my fiance Greg and my brother Jake last night and I didn’t go to bed until about 3am (wanted to savor the sweetness of my last day of summer),  and today I had to get up a little after 5am. So in the first lecture of the first day of school, I already could not keep my eyes open. Off to a bad start? Haha, it's ok. The first 2 weeks of school, we don't have any exams or major assignments, so I can take it easy.  Now, we have a 4 hour break in school (it’s a 7am to 5pm day for us). I already had some yummy lunch at Noodles and Co with my friends M and J.  ( I couldn’t help but notice the “I stand with planned parenthood” sticker inside J’s car. She is a Polish Catholic that has fallen away from the church and now she is very liberal—to the point of supporting abortions and gay marriage. It hurts me to see a beautiful, young, Catholic-raised woman fall into the trap of liberal mentality…Well, PP gives out free birth control and abortions so what is there not to like about them? Maybe the fact that they killed off a large portion of my generation).  Anyways....  So, today I got bombed with a ton of notes, syllabi and assignments. I have to go home and organize all this junk into binders. When I get home, I also need to pray. I need prayer REALLY bad. I have been way too lukewarm, avoiding God and prayer, only speaking to Him somewhere between the lines of my life, or as I like to say, in the margins of my life. I am definitely going to confession this Friday, since it’s the First Friday of the Month. I already got a plan. I am getting out of my nutrition class at 3pm and driving straight to church to adore, pray, and reflect in the presence of the Lord, followed by going to confession, followed by some more adoration and prayer, followed by mass. But prior to that, I must prepare, and I mean really prepare for Friday.  No, God will not just brush my sins under the rug. He will forgive me, but I must truly want repentance and penance, and I must be truly sorry for my sins—for God is merciful, but He is also just. 

According to Revelations 3:16, God surely does not appreciate lukewarm people—people who just want to stay out of everything and stand in the middle, because they are afraid of being judged and disliked by others.   People that will take neither side. They will neither side with God and His Church nor will they side against the Church and Her Teachings. People that want to do “just enough to get by” in life and will not go the extra mile to follow the Lord’s footsteps. They want to be liked—they do not want to be accused of anything. People that care about themselves only, including their reputation. How else can God feel about those kinds of people? He just put this metaphor in my heart, that a lover who truly loves his beloved wants to be either truly, madly, deeply loved back, or else he would prefer to be hated and forgotten…rather than suffering heartbreaking agony over the beloved’s silence and indifference—their lack of purpose and caring. That's how God feels about lukewarm people. I know exactly the fact that I am guilty of offending the Lord with my indifference and lack of strong resolution to change my life, yet I still keep letting another and another day go by without doing enough about it. I need to make a resolution—a strong resolution. No, it’s not New Year’s and it is not Lent either, but it is the beginning of a new school year with a whole new routine to my life—so I really need to determine what changes I am going to make to my every day life and to my character, so I can begin walking in the Will of God. I need a plan that involves prayer, fasting, exercise, writing….a plan that builds up guts and self-discipline. 

It is almost time for me to go to my next class, but I will keep my thoughts on You oh Lord, because nothing else brings comfort to my achy, disappointed-at-myself, heart. 


When I am feeling discouraged or tired of the struggles, I love to repeat this fragment of the bible:



No one is a better comforter and consoler than God.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Reflections from my journal #1: My struggles with Lukewarmness (1)


Since I can not find the time and/or motivation to blog regularly and I need to share some of my late struggles with somebody, I will post some excerpts from my latest journal entries. Somehow I still cannot make the transition from journaling to blogging. I have been journaling since like 6th grade though, so it is really hard to quit writing in my journal and start posting blog posts instead. I am very, very jealous of some fellow bloggers who post religiously, every or every other day. I wish I could do that. It is one of my goals to start publishing at least one post per week. I have a lot of saved drafts that I began but did not finish. I will try to work on those in the upcoming days/weeks. Anyways, here is some writing from my journal over the past few days. It is mostly about my struggles with being lukewarm and indifferent in my relationship with God. I really needed to share this with somebody. Sorry for being brutally honest.


08/28/12
Today, as always, I have put prayer and reflection to the bottom of my list—to the very end of the day. I’ve been troubled all day, and I know that I Must really reflect and examine my conscience and my current weaknesses so that I can finally get up and keep making progress on my path to holiness..... Today, I decided that things must change! I must really start to focus on my inner self….I must really start reflecting upon my own personality, my flaws, my weaknesses, my habits. I must make that my priority! Doing the Will of the Lord is the sole purpose of my whole entire life, thus I must let myself be changed and molded by Him into a better, holier person. Today, I decided I must start doing some real penance for my sins and offenses against the Lord. I decided I must stop being indifferent, or in other words, LUKEWARM. That’s it! I finally figured out the right word to describe the state of my soul these past few weeks! Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling like crap very discouraged. But now I know what is wrong with me.  I am simply LUKEWARM in my daily life.  I do not show that I am madly in love with Him. I do not show that I deeply desire to follow Him all the days of my life and dedicate myself to Him completely. I’ve been neglecting my Christian duties—especially prayer, reflection, examination of conscience.  I have been LUKEWARM. And God sure does not like or appreciate lukewarm Christians. I’m pretty sure Jesus said that He’d rather be truly loved or truly hated, than being treated in a lukewarm way. That’s baaaaaaad. Now what do I do? Well, I need to stop being lukewarm! I need to decide to take up my cross and follow Him no matter what! I need to quit making other things take priority over spending time with my Lord. I need some self-discipline! School is starting in less than a week, so I really need to start thinking about what my routine will be once it starts. This second year of pharmacy school is supposed to be really tough. So, I need to figure out a plan to make GOD the center of my life—not just in general—but the center of EVERY SINGLE DAY. This quote that I read somewhere really helps me straighten out my priorities: "When Christ is at the center, everything else falls into place." I am pretty sure one of the Saints said this, just not sure which once. Also, in the bible (Matthew 6:33) it says: "But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Therefore, I now see the importance of placing God in the center of our lives. It makes sense, since He is the source of life and love. What are we without Him? 

Hopefully Lord, You will help me come up with a wise plan—one to which I can stick to, just like I did in lent. I know that it will probably not always be easy and it will require a lot of sacrifice and a lot of going against my own will…but with You I can achieve anything.

I love You, I thank You, I ask for forgiveness. I beg for forgiveness.
I ask for Your Help—especially for guidance and strength.
Guide me my shepherd, for I know not where I am going.Show me where to go and I shall follow You all the days of my life.



8/30/12
I’m still feeling empty and deprived of true life, but it’s because I really have been deprived of life. I am in a state of mortal sin and according to what I read about it today, my soul is in a state of death. It’s pretty scary when I think about the fact that the sanctifying grace of the Lord, and thus the lifeline of my soul, has been cut off by me choosing sin over love of God. And now I am still feeling like complete crap discouraged. I am in a real great need of confession, of reconciliation, of penance, of prayer. I’ve been feeling like this for a while now, because as I stated earlier this week, I have been very, very, very lukewarm with God. I have been “doing just enough to get by.” I have been saying my morning prayers every single day on my way to work, randomly thinking about God throughout the day, but not much else beyond that. Once again, I have been keeping God in the margins of my life. And it has been like that for the majority of the summer. My summer was supposed to be the opposite. I had goals of prayer and reflection and spiritual growth. Instead, I am now spiritually dead. I am wounded, weak, weary and in need of healing and redemption. I have been very busy working all summer (full-time 40 hour a week pharmacy internship with a 45 minute commute each way) as well as helping out with remodeling the house and I think the devil took advantage of it.  I have been coming from work…and by the time I eat, shower, clean up my room a bit, and sit on facebook for like an hour (ugh! another addiction I need to desperately get rid of!), I am already ready to pass out. Sometimes I go to our new house straight after work to help Greg out because the poor thing has been doing most of the work himself. And I come home at 10 or 11pm, only to shower and sleep, and do the same thing again tomorrow. 

 In the beginning of summer, I at least continued on with my goals from the spring. I was regularly praying the rosary on Wednesdays and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on Fridays, and also going to adoration pretty regularly on Thursdays. Lately, I have done NONE of these. Always too tired to pray at night and too lazy to go to adoration, because I have “other” things to do.  I just don’t have life in me. I cannot even bring myself to my knees. For the first time in I don’t know how many weeks, I have prayed the rosary yesterday. And I had to make myself do it. It seems like it is so hard for me to pray. I do not know why. It seems so dry. I am not drawn to prayer at all. It seems that I would almost have to force myself to kneel down or sit down and have a real conversation with God (one that is longer than 5 minutes).  Perhaps the Lord is putting me through a trial--through a period of spiritual dryness--for a reason? Perhaps Christ, the teacher, wants to teach me that the next step on my journey is to show Him that I can remain faithful in my duties even when I don’t feel like it.  Maybe He wanted to see how I would behave when I am tired, indifferent, and not drawn to Him. Perhaps He wants me to learn on my own skin (although I learned this in theory already) and solidify the lesson of “doing things on purpose.” After so many weeks of being miserable and simply unable to “FIND” myself in prayer or reflection mode, He wants me to see that I have to, on purpose, PUT myself into prayer mode. I have to CHOOSE the right thing, ON PURPOSE, even when I don’t feel like it.  He already knows my weaknesses, for He knows me better than I know myself. Thus, He did not put me through this so that He could “test me and see how I do,” (sine He already knows), but rather that I CAN SEE my own failures and thus discover the truth about my current strengths and weaknesses.  He wanted to open my eyes. I thought I was doing so good on my path to holiness, and the Lord showed me all of my shortcomings—showed me just how SHORT I fall of His Glory. I have been working hard, but what is the point of work if I do not use it to glorify the Lord? What is the point of every day if I do not dedicate it to God?  What makes sense without God? Certainly not life.  So, I need to figure out what happened, learn from it, and use that gained wisdom for the remainder of the journey. I trust that God makes all things new and turns all things, even bad things, into goodness and righteousness. Even though I hurt and disappointed my Lord, He is so merciful that not only will He forgive me my offenses, but He will also bring good out of the bad I have done. A single ray of His Mercy is bigger than all the sins of the world.








 By the way, don't feel sorry for me. I already went to confession and God renewed my drooping spirit and put new life in me-- I just needed to share my struggles.  I will post some more journal entries tomorrow along with an ending to this trial-and my new resolutions for Fall 2012.


Love, Agnes