Ode to Cincinnati

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Postulancy Shopping List! and Sister MG!
I had planned to blog more about my pilgrimage and preparations for entering the convent in the past few months, but since April 4 (the day I quit my job) my life has been a beautiful/blessed whirlwind and I've been intentional about trying to live in each and every moment and enjoy being in the present. It sounds a bit morbid, but my days are numbered, and quickly dwindling, so it's important to be intentional with my time, family, friends, leisure, and prayer. As a side note, I've been very surprised how much it costs to enter a convent. I've been making jokes about how I'm spending myself into taking a vow of poverty because there are so many items I need to buy (I have a 10 page packet listing the items!). But really, nun shoes are darn expensive. And ugly. Lord knows how much I love shopping - this blog should be retitled Shopaholic Enters the Convent - so it's been an extra gift and pleasure to have all summer to shop for things I will need in the convent. Convent shopping also helped me see and break my unhealthy attachments to shopping and the emotional fix I got from shopping after a stressful day. Now I am only shopping for things I need (this is a new concept for me...and I've failed several times and left Target with new sandals and clothes...). If anyone reading this is entering a convent - do yourself a favor and buy an Amazon Prime subscription so you can get 2 day free shipping (and free returns on certain items). You have to buy lots of weird and specific items for the convent. Ain't nobody got time to scour the shelves for two pairs of white Isotoner classic ballerina slippers in satin or the Documents of Vatican II, Volume I or the perfect nun watch (1" face or less, no alarms, no bling, in black or silver). With Amazon Prime you can order 5 watches that look promising, then have your friends rate each watch on a scale of 1 to nun, keep the winner and return the rest. In case you're wondering, this watch was the winner. It's solar powered so I don't have to worry about how and where I'd get a new watch battery if it were to die.

Anyway, back to Cincinnati. I had a small breakdown yesterday in the Kroger in my hometown because they don't sell spreadable goat cheese, fresh pizza dough, or fresh guacamole. Yes, I know this is absurd and I am a brat, but Cincinnati spoiled me (and might have turned me into a bit of a snob) and I just wanted to make some recipes I made routinely the past two years. I realized later, that I really haven't "mourned" all the good and beautiful things I left behind in Cincinnati and it's all catching up with me now that life has slowed down enough for me to think about moving. It's not like I didn't want to live there any more, but saying Yes to the Lord and His plans for me meant saying No to continuing a fun life in Cinci. A religious vocation is a gift, and I am so thankful for this freely given gift and so excited to enter the convent, but that doesn't make the sacrifices any less difficult or painful. It makes them sweeter, knowing each sacrifice is like a flower in a beautiful bouquet I'm making to present to the Lord, but not easier.


I never really blogged about how much I loved living in Cincinnati. When I first moved there, I noticed lots of cars had "I love Cincinnati" bumper stickers on their car. I had never been in a city where I saw so many citizens willing to slap a permanent sticker (not just a magnet) on their car declaring their love for said city. I didn't get what was so great about this city. But now that I've been living in Indiana for over a month, my appreciation and love for Cincinnati is making it hard for me to accept that I don't live there anymore and I'm not going back, at least not anytime soon. The sisters do have a convent there, so I'm praying maybe one day I'll get missioned to teach there :)

Taken a month after I moved to Cinci and the night I met one of my best Cinci buds! Hi Katie!

My humble abode
I miss my neighborhood and my adorable apartment. Who has stain glass windows and chandeliers in their apartment? I miss walking to St. Cecilia's, Fresh Market (love me a good dose of pretentious grocery shoppin), my favorite coffee shop, and my favorite hole in the wall Thai place. I miss having a dozen daily mass times to choose from and being able to go to churches all over the city and run into a friend at mass. I miss walking to Sunday Mass and brunch at my favorite fancy brunch place with my girlfriends. Having a fancy brunch and mimosas doesn't exist in Kokomo. I miss going to random live concerts at 8pm on a Tuesday, just because that's an option and why the heck not. I miss living in the same neighborhood as my friends and spontaneously meeting up for mango popsicles or thrifting furniture off the curb on trash day. I miss Hyde Park and all of it's snobby restaurants and shops. I even miss the Hyde Park Kroger (now that I know I can't get spreadable goat cheese at other Krogers) which I previously dubbed my own personal hell. I miss Women of Praise. I miss Gladys and my friends at work and laughing with them. I almost cried yesterday at the grocery store in Kokomo when I saw Graeter's ice cream in the freezer. The only thing I don't miss and I didn't love is my job. Everything else - loved it. But even my job was good because that's what brought me to Cincinnati and ultimately what helped propel me to the convent.

I'm going back to Cinci this weekend to visit some friends. Honestly, I'm kind of nervous that going back will make having left in the first place even harder. I should probably avoid driving past my apartment. Too sad. Hah, see, I still call it my apartment. I can do all my favorite things while I'm there and see my dear friends...but Cincinnati isn't mine anymore.

Last Sunday Mass, brunch, and farmers market with the Breakfast Club ;(

Cincinnati, thanks for loving me so well the past two years and making it so hard to say goodbye. The past two years were an absolute gift and proof to me of God's providence, goodness, and mercy in tenderly arranging the details of my life, which he continues to do.

You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.

Overlooking the Motherhouse chapel and downtown Nashville
from the dormitory where I'll be sleeping at the convent
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Even the AT&T guy

Monday, June 16, 2014

+JMJ+

I called AT&T this morning to have some roaming charges adjusted from while I was using my phone in Italy. The AT&T agent, Richard, was very friendly and chatty. As I explained the situation, he started asking questions about where I went and if my trip was for business or pleasure. I could have just told him I was on vacation, but I felt prompted to tell him the real reasons I was there - for the canonization. We talked about that experience for a few minutes then moved on as he worked on adjusting my roaming charges. It must make his day more interesting and enjoyable when he strikes up a conversation for a few minutes with the customer he is working with, so I didn't mind the conversation and the innocuous questions. Richard ended up asking what I do for a living and I decided to just go for it and tell him I was entering the convent (this also happened at Kohl's recently when the employee asked why I didn't want to open a Kohl's credit card...ha). I'm pretty sure that was the last thing he was expecting to hear :)

He had several thoughtful questions so we ended up talking about religious life and I shared an abbreviated version of my vocation story to give him some more context and then asked him about his faith when he mentioned that he is particularly fond of Benedictines, even though he isn't Catholic. He's raising his children Catholic with his wife and was a history teacher for 20 years so Catholicism in Europe and religious communities is familiar and of interest to him. Richard was genuinely excited for me - I am still so surprised how positively my entering the convent is received among people who I wouldn't expect to be interested or see the value and beauty in religious life. I mentioned how I was excited too, but also a bit scared (or on some days, a lot scared) and he assured me that any great adventure worth pursuing is both exciting and scary :)

During my last two weeks at work, I was very cognizant of asking the Lord to use me in big ways to witness to my co-workers and share openly how He is working in my life. I had forgotten about that little prayer until today when I felt the Lord reminding me to open my heart and talk about Him, even to the AT&T guy. Not to mention, He was totally working through Richard to touch MY heart too! God is good.


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But they will get YOU

Monday, May 12, 2014

+JMJ+

Now that I am back from a pilgrimage of a lifetime, everyone wants to know, "how was your trip?!" I am so overwhelmed by all of the experiences I had and the people I encountered, that selfishly I don't want to try and explain because I feel my words are inadequate to capture and convey accurately my pilgrimage. The struggles were so real and so difficult to accept as Jesus offered them to me as ways to die to myself and the graces that followed were so abundant and so generous. Everything was so intense and so surreal leading up to and during the canonization. I will be soaking in this experience and reflecting on it for a lifetime because I couldn't even really reflect on the enormity of the moment of the canonization and the fact that I was there for it.

Really happy. Really tired. Really blessed. This was where we were sitting for the canonization Mass.

This morning at Mass during the preparation of the gifts we sang one of my favorite hymns, "O God Beyond All Praising." While I sang, I was struck by how appropriate the lyrics are in describing how I feel about my pilgrimage as I wonder why I was given this experience and how the Lord is asking me to go outside of myself to share it, to tell of his blessings and mercies I have experienced in abundance.

O God beyond all praising, we worship you today
and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder at every gift you send,
at blessings without number and mercies without end:

we lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word,
we honor and adore you, our great and mighty Lord.


Two days before the canonization, I went to a Mass that was being celebrated on St. John Paul's tomb. Providentially, we missed the 7:15am Polish mass we had planned on attending because the line to get into St. Peter's was already quite long. We went to the next Mass, which was celebrated by an American priest, yay! In his homily, the priest pointed out that most Catholics would never get the experience of coming to Rome to the heart of the Catholic church, and certainly most Catholics will not experience being at a canonization, nevertheless the canonization of two great pope saints. The crux of Father's homily was this, "Most Catholics will never get this experience, but they will get you."

Updated epitaph on SAINT (Sanctus) John Paul's tomb!


Really, that is the new evangelization. We must go outside of ourselves and not be content to keep our experiences with the Lord to ourselves or limit who we share them with (I am often guilty of this one, especially if I am outside of my circle of comfortable Catholic friends). If I close myself off to sharing my experiences, I close myself off to sharing the goodness of the Lord with others and meeting Him in those encounters! The world gets you -- gets me -- to share how/when/where we have met the risen Lord and have been changed. Pope Francis has emphasized this idea of going outside of ourselves several times - including his first general audience and in a meeting earlier this month.

"Following, accompanying Christ, remaining with Him requires a "stepping outside" of ourselves, of a tired and routine way of living the faith, of the temptation to withdraw into pre-established patterns that end up closing our horizon to the creative action of God." -Pope Francis, General Audience on 3/27/13

“It’s a matter of opening the doors and allowing Jesus to be able to go outside. Many times we have Jesus closed inside the parish with us [or in our hearts, I may add], and we don’t go outside and we don’t let him go out!” Open the doors because He goes, at least He does! It’s a matter of an ‘outgoing’ Church: a Church always going out...Go along the streets of your cities and of your countries, and announce that God is Father and that Jesus Christ has made himself known to you, and through this, your lives have changed." -Pope Francis, 5/3/14


Papa Francesco driving through the crowds of pilgrims after the canonization Mass 
I love this picture I took of Pope Francis after Mass.  Like his quote above from May 3rd, after the canonization he literally drove along the streets of his city greeting the one million pilgrims, even those on the fringes of the crowd who were miles away and watched on big screens. Our pope is the real deal - leading us in his example of how we are to go outside of ourselves and into the streets, literally!

Wondering what exactly a pilgrimage is? Click here for an explanation!


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Buona Pasqua!

Monday, April 21, 2014

My pilgrimageapalooza is well underway. I'm going to have to catch up on blogging once I'm home, because I'm doing my best to be present every moment here, and live each day to the fullest rather than see everything through the lens of my camera and while I plot a blog post. I spent a full week in Poland walking in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II. The experiences we had were crazy - like getting to meet the Cardinal of Krakow who was JP's secretary for forty years. The man is practically a living relic!

Nearly three years to the day after this post, I'm back in Roma for Holy Week & Easter, round two! Thanks be to God! Last time I left before the beatification of Blessed John Paul II, but this time I'm sticking around for the canonization. It's going to be crazy, and I'm kind of afraid...but we all know the famous words of Jesus and of Pope John Paul II....."Be not afraid!" I'll be in Rome for 9 more days so there are still lots of graces and gelatos to be had!! :)

Can you see me?! :) During Easter Sunday Mass. 
Pope Francis addressing the church & the world after Mass
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Girls Just Wanna Be Nuns

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

+JMJ+

"March Madness" is the perfect description of my life for the past 30 days. This March, the month of St. Joseph, has been the craziest, most exciting, and most blessed month of my life. I've learned quite a few lessons in trust and patience. The Lord is always faithful, even when I am not. Even when I am worried, anxious, trying to force timing, and control everything, He holds me in his steady hands. "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!" -Psalm 27:14

My last post was kind of vague as to what exactly this big new adventure is but now that it's official, I am overjoyed to announce that I have been accepted to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in August!! Praised be Jesus Christ!!!

I get to pray here multiple times a day. Heaven touches Earth. 

Let's start from the top, because really it's amazing I'm still alive after so much stress and excitement:

I've always looked good in black & white ;)

  • March 5 - bought a plane ticket to Europe. Three weeks with Erin in Poland, Italy, and a quick jaunt to the Czech Republic. Hope I am accepted to the convent soon or I'll have to quit my job anyway because I don't have enough vacation days
  • March 14 - finished and mailed my application to enter the convent after receiving application papers in January (hooray!) 
  • March 15 - Sister received my application and my psychological evaluation and letter of recommendation arrived - application complete!
  • March 15 - 18 - obsessively checked my phone and email every 30 seconds and jumped every time my phone rang
  • March 19 - accepted to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia on the Solemnity of St. Joseph!!! BEST DAY EVER. Thank you Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Dominic, and Cecilia!!
  • March 21 - resigned from my job & told everyone I was entering the convent
  • March 25 - total consecration to Mary
  • March 31 - turned 24 and started my last week at work

My last day of work is this Friday, April 4, and then I'll be in Poland and Italy for the rest of the month on an epic canonization of Pope John Paul II/Easter in Rome pilgrimage. I'll be blogging about my pilgrimage and my preparations to enter the convent over the next few months. 

Also I have a confession to make. Remember my post on how to celebrate Advent? I may be a bit of a liturgical stickler when it comes to waiting until it's actually the Christmas season to celebrate Christmas. I intended to leave my tree up through February 2, the Feast of the Presentation. Well...now we've gone through a cycle of Ordinary time and part of Lent and my tree is still up. It was going to be my Lenten penance to take it down except...by the time I get back from Europe Lent will be over. Resurrection tree anyone?! My liturgical living win turned into a #liturgicalfail. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Pray for me! ;)

Look at all those cute nuns ;)

It was only a matter of time with these two praying for my vocation!

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