Friday, December 16, 2011

A very long delayed post...

I apologize for taking so long to write another post, but I have been wandering the dark forrest of denial and sin. I have been looking in all the wrong places so that I might find relief from the pain of being away from where I truly belong and from the one I truly belong with.  I have once again wandered down that dark path looking for relief and I have not found it.  I have looked in the bottom of a bottle, the bed of a man, the blade of a knife and none of it has brought me even temporary relief.  In fact, all of it has made the longing much worse.  I remember when I was younger I could drink and dance and go to bed with men and it took away my pain and I found solace in those things.  Now I have built a relationship with a man who loves me more than any other ever could.  I have found true love and have allowed myself to be weak and vulnerable in front of him and there is no going back.  I stand naked, stripped bear in front of him and he embraces me and heals my wounds.  He has seduced me and ruined me for all others.  Having been seduced and having given myself to him there is no comfort, no relief from the pain, the longing of not being with him.  I have tried and tried and tried to deny where my home is, where I belong, and who I love with all my being.  I have turned everywhere and gone down every path to run from him.  I have tried to escape, but my heart will not let me; it is always calling out to him, begging him to come and find me, begging him to not ever go, to never leave the house we share.  Still I run though, afraid that I may never be truly his and that what I feel in my heart, in the depths of my soul may never be realized.  I have lapsed into almost every old habit that kept me away from God and His love, the kept me disconnected from Him.  Now, after opening myself fully, to him I cannot run and I cannot hide.  He is everywhere.  He is the air I breathe, the words I speak, the sun that warms me and the wind that chills me.  I am so very broken that only He can heal me.  The words from mass, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the words and my soul shall be healed." repeat over and over again in my heart and every time I hear them my heart swells and I can feel the longing in my soul for him to enter.  There is no love greater and no lover better than he.  All others pale in comparison.  I have finally found the love I have always longed for, yet I run from it.  Now it is time that I run back to it and to him and let him heel my soul and allow his mother to make me ready for the day when I am his bride.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Having trouble turning over your will? I know I am

God I offer myself to Thee...
This is the first part of the Third Step Prayer.  It's a prayer commonly used in Alcoholics Anonymous to complete the third step of the Twelve steps which states, "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him"(emphasis added).  As normal people, as non-alcoholics we think that we do not need the twelve steps, that they do not apply to us, the founders of AA thought differently.  They said that, "And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all." (Foreword to the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous).  In AA as in Christianity and more specifically Catholicism nothing is ever done alone.  As Christians, as Catholics we are never truly alone.  God is always by our side: He suffers with us, He takes joy with us, He is with us when we are sad, He is always with us.  As a community of faith we have our fellow lovers of God with us that we can turn to our fellow Christians for help.  So we do nothing alone, there is always someone or God with us.  So when I, as an individual, decide to to turn my will and life over to God, to submit my will to His so that I may know Him and His will better, I am not alone.  He is there with me along with my fellow sinners who are trying to align their wills with God's also.  Now when I make this decision, when I take this leap of faith I am not saying that I no longer have a will or life of my own, I am saying that I am it giving my will and my life to God to take care of, because, as a sinner, as a human I make mistakes and when I try and exert my will onto others, when I try to live my life without God I fail miserably.  Without God I am nothing, my will is nothing.  My will, when not aligned with God's, leads me to ever greater sin.  So I turn my will and my life over so that He may care for them, ever trusting that He will provide for me both spiritually and materially.  Knowing that as long as I do not try and bend His will to mine, that as long as I have faith and trust that all will be well.  Now, the fun part.  When the writers of the third step said, " we understand Him." they left room for God to grow and change and for the relationship each individual has with God to grow and change.  When we start out we start out with a small God, a God that someone new to spirituality can understand and as we grow and understand more about God our God becomes larger and as our relationship with Him grows our understanding grows and it is an ever growing cycle.  If our understand of God and if our relationship with Him does not grow and change then we become stunted we are like the child who suffers from downs syndrome who's body grows but not his mind.  So we turn out will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.  The book goes on to say, "Turned our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand Him praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."  We pray not for selfish, self-centered wants, but for how we can be best be of service to His children and to grow in understanding of His will and for the ability to better be able to discern His will.  In that first line we are offering something to God.  We are giving Him the greatest gift that we possibly can, our will and our life, our entire being.  We are reconsecrating ourselves to His service.  Every day Christ sacrifices himself for us, so that we be saved.  The least we can do is give back to Him what He so freely gave us, life.  We can offer Him our lives so that others might find His love, grace and mercy.  The gift of self is the greatest gift any of us can ever give.  To give of our time, our energy, our God given gifts and talents to others.  By doing this we let go of our selfishness, our me first attitudes and we find the joy that we have lost.

To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt...
Fr. Thomas Philippe talks about being a useless servant.  This is where we become that useless servant.  We have given ourselves over to God to use as He wills, as He wants.  We are saying that we are turning our free will over to Him, our life over to Him so that He may turn us into the fullness of what He has intended us to be.  It is when we resist, when we take our wills and our lives back as our own that we fail to become who He intended us to be.  Psalm 139 says, "And in your book were written all The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."  When we take our wills and our lives back we are saying that His plans for us are not good enough, that our plans are better.  The plans that God has for us, the days that He has written for us are far better than any we could have planned, any we could ever imagine or bring forth in fantasy.  For while we dream of visiting foreign countries, having a big house, making lots of money and the like God dreams of making us saints.  What could be better than being part of the elect, being part of the communion of saints?  There is nothing that we could ever think of that could be better than what He has planned for us.  We need to be useless servants so that His will may flow through us as river flows through the earth.  We need to be useless servants so that His love can fill us and demolish any impediments that stand in the way of the river that is His will.  Once we become useless servants our lives will explode and be better than we had ever thought possible.  We will see the world and all the beauty that is within it.  Our hearts will burst with love and joy at the beauty that surrounds us.  This can only be accomplished through the the turning over of our wills and lives to God.

Relieve me of the bondage of self...
We ask God for so many things.  We ask Him to give us worldly things, to help us with our problems, to give us that perfect boyfriend or girlfriend.  We ask Him for so much for our self.  We rarely, if ever, ask for others.  We rarely ask that those who do not who God's grace, love and forgiveness that they may know them.  We do not pray for those mired in sin that they may know forgiveness.  We do not pray for those who do not know God to know Him.  We rarely ask that others may know what we take for granted.  Here is where we ask God to take away our bonds.  Selfishness and self-centeredness are accomplices to sin in our enslavement.  Sin is the is the chain that holds the bonds together, while selfishness and self-centeredness are form the bonds themselves.  We sin through our selfishness.  Our selfish nature blinds us to the pain and suffering of those around us because we are so concerned with our perceived pain that we do not see the homeless man on the street who is in far more pain than we are with our homes and cars and material comforts.  Yet that man will give his only blanket so that someone else may have warmth or give his meal to one who has not eaten in a week while he himself may not have eaten in a month.  Our selfishness stunts our ability to give and to be of maximum service to our God.  So we ask God to remove that burden so that weighs on us so heavily; the burden of self.  Once that burden has been removed we are able to be of maximum to service to our fellow children of God.  By being of service we are able to experience true joy and happiness.  It is through giving of ourselves, through emptying ourselves out totally for Christ are we able to receive all of His gifts.  It's only by losing everything that we are able to gain the greatest of all things and our inheritance; the kingdom of God.  By being rid of self, by asking God to rid of us the insidious disease of self He is taking our largest cross from us and allowing us to fully see the beautiful world that He has created for us and to see the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters.  Relieve me of the bondage of self.

That I may better do Thy will...
Once God has rid of us self we are now better able to do His will.  We have had the voice of self taken away from us and we are now able to hear the that little voice of God more clearly in our heart.  Once we can clearly Him we will be better able to do His will, but every step of this prayer is a choice.  Even once we have been rid of self we can still choose not to do His will, but our own thinking we know better how to server Him and His children than He does.  Instead of taking our will back and using our new found clarity as we see fit we should leave our will and our life in God's care and allow Him to guide us on how best to care for His children.  If we listen God will instruct us on how to be of benefit to Him and His children.  The entire purpose of this prayer is to let God take care of us and to learn to let His will be our will.  Now, is not the time to stop, but to push forward so that we may know the fullness of His glory.  With self gone we may now start the process of learning to discern His will for us.  We no longer pray for selfish things, but instead to know how to better serve His children.

Take away my difficulties...
So now we ask, "Well, I've gotten rid of self what other difficulties do I have?"  The answer to that is many.  First of them being pride.  We may find ourselves too proud to serve the poor or to clean a shelter or do the smallest of tasks.  After all we have much to be proud of so why should we lower ourselves to doing menial tasks such as cleaning?  We should because that is what He is asking us to do.  God does not command us as we have free will, so He simply asks.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is help our neighbor take our the garbage.  That simple act of kindness can mean more than donating money to the local agency that helps the aged.  So we must be rid of our pride so that we can do both the smallest task and the largest.  We must be willing to do whatever He calls us to do.  We must be rid of our pride, we must be stripped bear before we are truly able to abide in His home and before He is able to truly abide in us.  He must be allowed to decorate His surroundings to His liking and we must allow Him to do so.  This is a frightening proposition, to allow someone else to decorate what, we consider, our home, but have faith He will decorate to your liking.  All will be of such beauty that you have never seen and you will fall to your knees is adoration at what He has done.  Pride is the hardest difficulty to be rid of as we believe we deserve to be proud of all that we have done, when the truth is we have done nothing and God has done everything all we have done is to allow Him to work though us.

That victory over them may bear witness to those that I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life...
Once we have been rid of self and pride we can claim victory.  Though it is not us that has the victory it is truly God's victory and that victory is shown in the way we live, the way we talk, the way we walk on His path.  Everyone can see the change that has come over us, the light that shines from us.  Through our recovery from self, from being who society deems we should be, we bear witness to all those around us by being countercultural.  By caring more for others than for self, by showing the power of His grace and love.  Our happiness, our sincere smile tell everyone that we have found true peace and true serenity by dwelling with in His castle.  By our very presence in the world we bear witness to all that He has done for us.  It is our responsibility to be an example every day of the power of God in the life of one person.  Our simple, quiet witness of a life lived in service to God and our fellows is the best witness we could ever give to the power and the love that God has to offer.  That silent witness is us living His way of life, living the way God intended us to, living as Christ did by being of service to our fellows, to the lowest of the low.  We love the prostitute who knows no other way, the woman hurt by abortion, the child who beats others because he himself was beaten, the homeless man on the corner with no hope.  By being of service to them we give them hope and show them there is a better way.  We bear witness to all that Christ can do in our lives.

The Third Step Prayer

God I offer myself to Thee
To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt
Relieve me of the bondage of self
That I may better do Thy will
Take away my difficulties
That victory of them may bear witness
To those that I would help of
Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dominican Laity? For now. Perfect solution? Possibly. Am I worthy to be His? No, but yes.

So I'm still reading Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience.  I'm slowly getting through it.  I also got the rest of my books in the mail and will be going through them.

So today I went to the 11a mass at the Dominican priory near where I live.  I got to finally introduce myself to one of the lay Dominicans that I see at daily mass all the time.  I asked him about joining the laity and he introduced me to the novice misstress.  I talked to her for a bit and to him and learned the basics about the laity and how it works and the formation process.  I think, for now, I'm going to join the laity.  That way I'll have a support group and still be part of the Dominican family and that is a family I desperately want to be a part of.  While being laity isn't the same as being a nun, it is something.  Today at mass they admitted a candidate into the laity.  Watching that reminded me so much of where I long to be.  The formation process for the laity is very similar to the formation process for the friars.  I want to be in formation in a monastery.  For now though I will be a lay Dominican.  As Sr. Maureen told me at the monastery I have long winding road ahead of me and this seems to be a part of it.  I talked to my spiritual director on the phone today.  I'm trying to set up a time to have a long, serious talk with him about where everything is going.  I long for my sisters everyday, I long for the monastery.  I feel in my heart that I am called to be with nuns, but that seems to be stalled in real life.  So I'm going to sit down with mea carissmi and see if we can figure this out together.

I love my crucified Christ so very much and I long to be with Him, to be His bride.  I wonder though am I worthy of Him, worthy to be His bride?  How can I ever be worthy of such an honor?  How can any of us ever be worthy of His love?  We are flawed sinners who hurt Him everyday with our foolish disregard for His calls to us, with our sins.  There is not one among us who is worthy of His love, His grace, His mercy, His presence in our lives.  We can never be worthy of what He is offering us.  Yet He still offers all of this to us.  By choosing to accept His gifts we are saying that we will do all we can to try and become worthy.  Often times we fall short.  We don't go to mass, we don't pray, we don't give him time in our daily lives, we sin.  However He does expect us to be perfect, He does not expect that we will ever obtain perfection while we live in our earthly bodies.  All He is asks is that we try, it's progress not perfection as they say in AA.  I long for my love and one day I know that I will be with Him, I will be espoused to Him even though I will never be worthy of being His bride.  My love for Him, my obedience, my working towards being worthy are all that He wants from me, from anyone.  My Lord asks only one thing from me: He asks only for my heart and I gladly give that to Him.  I love you My Lord, my creator, my love.  You are everything I have, that I am and that I will ever be.  "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written / The days that were ordained for me, / When as yet there was not one of them." (Psalm 139:16).  Christ knows all of my flaws, strengths, weaknesses.  He knows all of my pain and suffering and struggles.  He suffers with me and so I am honored to suffer so that I may just a small portion of what He went through.  He loves me when I fall and when I get back.  He loves no matter what I do.  I am but a useless servant who gives her master no return on His investment and He still loves me because I love Him.  He knows I can never leave for He has my heart and I am intimately connected to Him.  His love flows through me and fills me.  There is nothing greater.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Books and Random Thoughts

I got several new books today.  Joy of joys I have more books.  This is one of those moments where I know I'm a Dominican.  I got books in the mail and got all giddy.  I now have a copy of The Dialogues of St. Catherine of Sienna, Silence of St. Thomas, The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision, and Mysticism and Prophecy: The Dominican Tradition.  I was able to purchase all these lovely books due to an Amazon gift card I forgot I had.  Yes, I bought books instead of other fun stuff.  Yes I am a nerd.  I promise that as I finish each book that I will write a review.

Now onto my random thoughts...
I have been thinking a lot lately.  I've been thinking about writing a paper on Heidegger and identity as evidenced in Being and Time, shortening my thesis into a publishable article, contacting all these Dominicans again, my dad and stepmom, my mom, my job and God and where He wants me.

I truly believe that God has an amazing plan for all of us; a plan greater than any we could ever dream of.  I keep wishing I knew what that plan was because I am failing to understand the point of everything that has gone on in my life.  I keep trying to date boys and failing because ultimately no man can ever love me as God does, because no man will ever treat me as well, because no man can ever compete with God.  I read once that once God has seduced you there is no other.  How true I constantly find this.  I have wonderful, kind, intelligent, compassionate, funny men that want my affection.  I turn them all down because I long for God and I long to be his alone.  This causes me to think about the quote, "A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek Him to find it."  However I believe that once you truly become 'lost' in God, once you truly come to know Him and let Him love you and fill your heart that there will never be another man for you.  Once you have allowed Him to pierce your heart, to live in your soul.  Once you become a regular visitor to His home there is nowhere else you would rather be and there is no other you will allow to live in your heart.  When I go out with a man I see God in him and I fall in love all over again, but not with the man, and my heart cries out and longs for the day when I am espoused to Him.  There is so much beauty in the Lord crucified.  His sacrifice for us.  There is beauty in His and pain and suffering.  How can you not fall completely in love with someone who willing suffered so much and went through such great and terrible pain out love for you?  How can you not want to spend your life dwelling with Him?  How can you not want to devote your life to Him?  I fall asleep every night talking with Him.  There is nothing like falling asleep with your lover.  My lover is always with me and He never leaves me and never will.  Only I can chose to leave Him and even when I chose to leave He stays with me, forever loving me and I know that I always turn around and go back to Him.  Time to start praying those sorrowful mysteries again so that I can spend more time investigating and meditating on the beauty of His pain and His sacrifice.  I am in love with Christ crucified and there is nothing more beautiful.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Current Reads...

So I've been reading a few books on and off lately.  Mostly off because they reminded me of a life I thought I was going to be leaving behind for a good while.  I've been reading The Contemplative Life by Fr. Thomas Philippe, OP; To Heaven With Diana by Fr. Gerald Vann, OP; and Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience: Recovering the Vision for the Renewal of Religious Life by Mother Mary Francis, PCC.

I love how they are all, in different ways, almost instruction manuals for the religious life.  Fr. Thomas' book tells me what it means to be a contemplative.  That living the contemplative vocation is not a retreat from the world or an escape from it, but a way of being more apart of the world.  Father makes very clear that life in the monastery is not an escape from the world or heaven on earth.  We are called as contemplatives to imitate Mary, to live her life, her fiat; for she was the original contemplative.  While in To Heaven with Diana you read about the relationship Bl. Diana had with Bl. Jordan of Saxony.  They had a relationship that was based in their deep love for Christ.  The love they had for each other flowed from the love they had for Christ.  As nuns we are called to love each other that deeply and profoundly, we are called to love everyone like that.  In Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience: Recovering the Vision for the Renewal of Religious Life Mother Mary Francis that change starts from the inside and not the outside.  We can change our religious habit, cloisters, and the rest but unless we are constantly renewing our love for Christ the outer trappings do not matter.

Now I have yet to finish any of those books.  I am working on it and when I finish them I will have reviews for each one.  All this reminds though, some think I'm not 'fit' for the contemplative life.  However the more I read about it, the more visits I make the more I fall in love with the life.  I have never felt more at home than I did in Summit.  Anyway...  I look forward to giving full reviews.  As for my life right now it's wonderful.  I have God, my Dominicans, my friends.  All is good and it is good because God is good.  Pax Christi.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Saturday, November 5, 2011

After a long hiatus

Sorry that I have been gone for so long.  My life has been rather complicated as of late.  So lets start at the beginning, a very good place to start...

About the middle of October my dad told me that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.  He told me he had about a year before he lost his memory and three years before he died.  I was devastated.  I have been spending as much time as possible with him since I found out.  I have cried and prayed and cried and gotten mad at God and yelled and isolated and stopped really praying.  Well, I found out that ne never had dementia.  That he had told me that so I would spend more time with him, my stepmom and her family.  Now I don't spend time with them because they demean me, treat me like a servant, cuss me out, and in general treat me like less than a human.

In the middle of the dad thing my great aunt died.  Another reason to be mad at God.

Now that the truth about my dad has come out.  I've been working on my prayer life and spiritual life again.  I've started going to daily mass again, sleeping again, praying.  I'm going to start discerning again.  Through all of this I've turned to God on and off.  I've turned to my friends and found them lacking.  I turned to my old life and found it seriously lacking.  I tried dating boys, but each and every time my heart called out for God and for where He has called me to.  I long for the monastery and for the nuns and for the silence and days spent in prayer.  Now to return to the practices that will lead me to where He has called me; to return to the one who never left me, who truly loves me and had called me to His and His alone.  Oh how I have missed my love!  When I leave Him my heart is empty and my soul cries out for His touch.  No wonder no man, no thing, no drink, no drug could ever fill me, could ever touch me.  The love of God is overwhelming.  His love encompasses me and wraps me up and fills me with a joy and warmth that I have never known.  How I long to be joined with Him.  My Lord, my love when will we be one?  When will I finally be with you and be only yours?  Oh Lord how I long for that day when I profess my love for you and become your bride.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Monday, September 26, 2011

Too long since my last post, Mea Culpa

The last time I posted I was getting ready to go visit the Dominican Nuns in Summit, NJ and I was excited and nervous and scared and happy and all kinds of things.  I had found the place where I wanted to live out my life and the people I wanted to spend it with.  So I went.  Sr. Mary Cecilia picked me up at the airport and I was introduced to Gypsy (their GPS) and off we drove to Summit from Newark (where I saw pigeons in the airport).  When I got their I met Sr. Mary Catharine and Sr. Mary Denise (prioress).  I loved being there.  I even loved rising at 5.30a to go to Lauds.  I loved going to mass and saying the Divine Office.  I got to help the sisters with some renovations (read I got to clean).  I ate with Fr. Martin for lunches, a lovely Dominican priest from the Canadian province.  On Saturday I met with the Council.  We talked about my past and my prayer life and my academic interests.  I spent Sunday waiting to hear.  On Monday I finally asked.  Sr. Mary Catharine told me that while they believe I have a vocation and I am, without a doubt, a Dominican they were not sure that I had a vocation to the contemplative life.  She said the sisters loved me and loved having me there, but they were not sure the contemplative life could provide me with an outlet for my personality.  I loved my time with the sisters and I loved being there and I would highly recommend them to anyone considering the Dominican contemplative life.  I had a wonderful weekend and they were the first community I fell in love with.  Hearing that they were not sure if I could come back or not broke my heart.  So I came back and I cried, a lot.  Not long after coming back I went to see my dad and he told me that he has frontotemporal dementia.  The doctors say that he's had it for two to three years.  So, he should have his memory for another year and then he will slowly die and his body will fail.  I will watch him become an infant.  The plan is that when he needs to be taken care of that when he can no longer take care of himself that I will take care of him until I can't.

I would love to say that I have prayed and kept up my prayer life through all of this, but I haven't.  I can't seem to find the calm and the peace.  I'd like to say that I haven't been tempted by my old demons or given into them, but I have. I would like to say that I am handling all of this well, but I am not.  I know God is with me through all of this, but I am so turned around, upside down that I have trouble seeing that.  I am a living testament to how God works in each individual's life.  He has brought me so far and taken me to such great heights.  I have not turned my back on Him, but I am having trouble talking to Him.  I have had to give up my active discernment, which has further spun my world out of whack.  I am starting to turn toward my old comforts (a romantic relationship).  I find myself having feelings that I have not had in awhile.  I wonder if they are me trying to find some human comfort in all this or my being scared or if I was never really called to the religious state or because I am no longer praying as I once did.  I have so many thoughts and feelings right now and I have no idea which way is up or even down or left or right.  I know I need to very seriously turn to God, spend many hours in prayer, but I cannot seem to sit still long enough to do it.  I need some guidance, preferably in the form of a voice I can hear with my physical ears.

I have given into my impure thoughts, into alcohol, and I have come and am still so close to giving into cutting.  My cutting is my hardest demon to battle.  Cutting is the one place the devil gets me almost every time.  I can hide the cutting, I get immediate relief and I instantly feel better and I feel the most guilt about doing it and get so easily sucked in and trapped in that cycle.  There is little that gets me to confession slower than cutting.  I am quicker to go to confession for being unchaste than for cutting because I encounter a different kind of shame with cutting.  I wallow in my shame and I do not want to leave it.  I feel the urge so strongly to cut lately.  I'm also fighting the depression and the thoughts that accompany my desires to cut.  I feel trapped and I know the only way out is through God and His son. I have given into my depression, but not totally.  I am still fighting all of it, but I am overwhelmed and feel as though I am about to be overtaken and I can barely see the reason why I should fight any of it.  How much longer before I lose the light and then lose the fight?  I feel so alone in all this.  I am being stripped and I hate it, but I must persevere and push forward and trust that God is here and know in my heart that He is all I need and He will take care of me as He always has.  God help me to be faithful and to trust in you.  Help me to turn to you first, for you will never leave me.  When all others are gone there will be you.  Help me to know that.

I have questions, so many questions.  The one currently weighing on my mind is this: if we lose our memory, our ability to remember those we love, to recall them are we still who we are?  Aristotle tells us that memory is what makes us teachable and able to learn, what, in a sense, makes us human.  He also tells us that memory comes from the soul.  Aquinas tells us that body and soul are intimately connected and that without our soul we would not be who we are.  If you put another person's soul into another person's body that body would not be inhabited by the same person the soul came from, but would be someone different.  So if we have no memory do we have no soul or is the soul muted or...?  (I know, it's rough, but I'm not at my intellectual best right now).  Am I called to the married life or am I meant to walk this earthly plain alone?  I am not sure I can take another heart break.  I long for comfort and some companionship, but I cannot seem to find nor find a connection to another human being.  We humans are meant to be with each other to care about each other, but so often we forget that and deny it by isolating ourselves in our technology, but we physically need each other.  God designed us to love each other and care for each other.  We are all intimately connected, but I cannot seem to find a connection with anyone.  I wonder if this is another point where God is stripping me down and breaking me down to my most basic self so that He may rebuild me into more of the fullness of who He created me to be, but I do not know.  I go to mass every day and I pray and some times find the quiet of mind that I need so that my heart can speak to God so that He may heal it.  I love God and I find myself so lost without Him.  I need to go to Him and to be with Him in that place in my soul that only He inhabits.  I need to spend days there so that I may know His will and fulfill His will.  I need a retreat.  To be with Him, in His home, comforted by His presence... There is nothing more sublime than that.  He is my love and my life, yet I continually deny Him.  I leave Him for days on end and expect Him to wait for me because I know He will.  I take His love, patience, mercy and forgiveness for granted.  I must be a more attentive friend and lover.  I must go to Him and prostrate myself so that I may be in His favor once again.  God give me strength and clarity and help me to know you and to be with you and to seek comfort in you.  help me to know your love and grace, to know your mercy and forgiveness.  Help me to no longer take you for granted.  Help me to comfort rather than to be comforted.  Lord God, Lamb of God you give to those who ask, help me to seek your help first and to ask for it before seeking help from others, help me to accept your help, your mercy and your grace.  I ask this in your name.  Amen.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A huge case of nerves

So I am going to visit one of the monasteries this weekend.  I will be there in less than a week.  I am so very scared.  I am having a horrible case of the 'what ifs'.  It has suddenly occurred to me that these visits, the visit to the monastery down south and the one in yankee land, are actually a big deal.  I will be going and sharing in the spirituality of the women that could one day be my sisters; women that I could spend my entire life enclosed with.  Women that I will watch grow old and one day die, women that I will share everything with.  I will share the most intimate part of my life with them and they with me: we will share our spirituality.  I am so nervous and so worried about all this.  What if they do not like me?  What if I do not like them?  What if I was wrong all this time?  What if I only followed my will and not God's?  What if I have done this for all the wrong reasons?  What if... What if... What if... So many what ifs and they are all plaguing me.  I cannot get rid of them.  They fly through my mind and my heart stabbing me, attacking me,  torturing me.  To add to this I have been reminded that although I am surrounded by people who call themselves my friend I do not actually have any real friends.  My one friend that really supported me in my discernment has gone.  He has decided I have no real place in his life.  I am to only be there when he needs me.  I do not actually matter to him anymore.  In this world I am alone, all I have is God.  While I love God and His Son, I am human and am in need of human companionship.  God made Adam and then He made Eve because He knew that we need each other.  We need to feel connected to each other.  I have no one to connect to anymore.  People connect to me and, I guess the connection scares them, and so they leave.  What will happen with my sisters?


Thomas Catherine


As I work at balance and at prayer and therefore as I come closer to God I find the evil one attacking me.  Last night I had obscene dreams and today I have been fighting obscene thoughts and urges.  I failed at the fight at one point today when I was somewhere between sleep and awake.  I feel so guilty for giving in, for not fighting harder.  I truly need to find time to go to confession so that I may confess my sins.  I also need to see my spiritual director and speak to him about all of this.  Santa Teresa de Jesus warns us of these attacks.  She tells us that as we grow closer to God that the Devil will attack more frequently and with greater force so that he may claim what is not his and was never his to begin with.  This too will pass though.  I must fight harder and spend more time with God and pray for strength.  He will give me the grace to overcome these trials of the flesh.  I have overcome much harder trials with His help and grace.  I have overcome so much thanks to His love, His grace and His strength.  I shall overcome this too.  In less than a week I will be off to visit a Dominican monastery.  I will be there for three glorious days.  Pray that I am able to listen to God and to do His will while I am there.  I will be in Holy peace and quietude.  I will be praying and eating and going to mass with the nuns.  Then at the beginning of September I will be with the nuns that I hope to find my earthly home with.  If all goes well at both of these monasteries I will be invited back to stay in the cloister for a week or two.  Then back again for a month and then entrance.  Pray for me as I pray for you all.


Thomas Catherine

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I have got to work on this balance thing.  I have got to get the hang of it.  I need mass, confession, adoration, and prayer like I need air.  Air is more important than food or water or shelter for without air we cannot breathe and if we cannot breathe nothing else matters.  If I do not have prayer, adoration, confession and mass I cannot breathe, I cannot live.  I need to find a balance between the real world and between the world that I long to live in, that I lived in almost all summer.  Oh, my Jesus, forgive me for neglecting you for not spending all the time I should with you.  Forgive me, My Lord, my love...forgive for not being the faithful servant that I should be, that I can be.  Oh Lord forgive me my sins and my inadequacies.  Forgive me for all that I have done.  I need you Lord, I need you to be in my life, in my heart, in my soul.  I need to reach the place where you reside inside my soul so that I may dwell there with you for all eternity.  I need to find that balance that allows me to be in the world and spend any spare second I have in my interior cell. Oh My Lord how I need you!  This love for you is greater than any love that I have ever known.  My love for you is all consuming.  This lack of balance, this lack of time with you has left me with a dryness, with a hole that I cannot fill.  Without you I am nothing and I can do no good.  I must find balance so that I can be rid of this dryness and this hole.  I miss you and I long for you and I cannot wait until the day I can be with you for eternity.  I need to find a balance between the outside world and my prayer world.  I need Him too much.  Oh my Lord help me to stay with you, to be balanced, to spend every spare second with you.  Hear my prayers and the deepest desires of my heart.  Hear me Lord, hear my cries, hear me begging, hear my pleas.  Oh Lord help me.


Thomas Catherine

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Last night I finished Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul by Cathleen Medwick.  St. Teresa's life was filled with suffering and illness and doubt.  Of all the saints I have read about I identify most with St. Teresa and St. Catherine of Sienna.  Both of these women initially and throughout there lives resisted God's call.  St. Teresa had the wicked life before answering God and St. Catherine's parents tried to force her to marry and tried to take her faith away from her.  I feel drawn and called to these saints.  I know what it is to have led a wicked life and to have my parents try and strip me of my faith.  They inspire me to keep moving forward with my vocation.  If St. Teresa can be not only a nun but a saint then so can I.  In her time what she did was wicked and shameful and in my time the things I have done have been wicked and shameful, though many would say what I have done is worse than what she ever did, but given the time periods I would say we are about equal.  I, like St. Catherine, have no obeyed my parents wishes for me, instead choosing my own path.  I have chosen God over my family.  Right now I am reading St. Teresa's Vida.  I have not gotten far, but I look forward to reading what her confessors forced her to write in defense of her spirituality.  I wish that I had more today, but today has been fairly normal for me.  I was offered, by my father, a new car, new clothes and money, but, as usual, these are not the things I want or desire.  I have a car and clothes and money.  My needs are met and I am happy and content.


Thomas Catherine

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prayers do get answered...

So I've been begging for God to allow me to share in His suffering and to know His pain and to share in the pain and suffering of my brothers and sisters.  God has seen fit to grant me this favor.  Today has been so long and so hard.  When I look at someone I can see their pain and I can see their suffering.  I can feel it; as though it flows from them to me.  I am filled with a compassion and an empathy that I did not know I had.  I have always cared for others and I have always had a great sympathy and compassion for others who are suffering, but I have never had this much.  When someone touches me their pain and suffering threatens to overwhelm me and over take me.  I have spent so much time crying today and praying for the souls of my brothers and sisters who's sin causes them such pain and suffering.  I have always know that sin, great or small, causes suffering in the soul, but now I know how much pain, anguish, suffering that accumulated sin and hidden sin can cause.  If only everyone knew the beauty of confession, how being granted absolution can heal the soul.  I need to go to confession more often and adoration and mass.  The saving grace of confession and the Eucharist are amazing.


Thomas Catherine


Since my dream I have been begging Christ to allow me to suffer as He did, to allow me to be nailed to the cross with Him, to have the privilege of having His wounds.  I know that many will not understand wanting to suffer, much less begging for the privilege of suffering, especially suffering as Christ did, but suffering is an amazing gift.  To suffer for others, to suffer for God and for Christ is truly a privilege.  Suffering opens our eyes to the pain of others, to the suffering of others because we look for someone to suffer with us.  What we do not realize is that there is always someone suffering with us, we never suffer alone.  Christ is always with us suffering for us and with us.  He walks with us knowing our pain, our heartache.  No one knows our suffering like Christ does.  Suffering is the one thing we all have in common, we have all suffered, we all know pain.  To recognize that pain in others and to suffer with them is an opportunity to help another Child of God and to witness to the power of Christ's love.  Yet, we turn down that opportunity all the time because we refuse to see that someone, who is different from us, is in pain or, if we do see it, we believe they deserve it because they are homosexual or Muslim or are simply just different from us.  People who do not know Christ's love and forgiveness are the ones who most need our help and our compassion and who most need someone to suffer with them.  Oh to suffer as Christ did and to suffer with others and for others is the most beautiful thing and is, in part, what it is to love God's children.  How I long to suffer as Christ did and to suffer for and with other children of God.  Every time I go to adoration or pray the rosary I find myself praying for the sins of others and asking God that He may help those who sin and do not know His love, His mercy and His forgiveness know His love and mercy and forgiveness.  I ask, I beg to be allowed to suffer for those people.  Christ so loved His brothers and sisters that He committed the ultimate act of obedience and under went tremendous suffering so that we all might know His father's love, mercy and forgiveness.  I can only hope and pray that He will allow me to take on some of that suffering and bless me with the gift of suffering for the sins of others.  I have known His love and forgiveness and I will do anything so that others may also know it.  Oh to have His wounds and be on the cross with Him.  To be that obedient, to love my brothers and sisters and my Heavenly father so much that I would die for their sins.  I am deeply in love with Christ crucified and for me there is nothing more that I want than to be on that cross with my love.

Today I went to mass and I get the privilege of going again tomorrow.  My need for the Eucharist and confession and mass are the same as my need for air; I cannot survive without them.  To have Christ fill me is an amazing feeling.  When I am with Him nothing else matters.  I long to fall down in front of Him and profess my love openly.  I long for the day when we are wed and I am free for Him alone.  My love, my God how I long for you when I cannot be with you.  There is no other for me, there is no other that could love me as you do and I could love no other with the passion, the calmness, the intensity that I do you.  I would give my life for you if you asked it of me.  Oh my Lord how I love you.  Give me strength, give me the ability to suffer as you did for us, give me your wounds, allow me to be on the cross with you.  Allow me to suffer for my brothers and sisters in Christ so that they may know your love and forgiveness, so they may know what it is to be filled by your love and healed by your mercy and forgiveness.  Oh Lord that is my greatest wish and desire; that everyone will know your love, mercy and forgiveness so that they may know your Father and be with you in His kingdom.

Also, today was the Feast of the Assumption.  In the homily at mass today Father talked about how selfless Mary was.  She gave no heed to the things that were bothering her, but instead was always caring for others.  The gospel reading was about when Mary had just found out that she would be the mother of God.  Can you imagine getting that news?!  The questions, the worries, the concerns.  Most of us would lock ourselves in our room and have a total nervous breakdown.  Not Mary though, she went to her cousin Elizabeth and cared for her.  Mary gave no thought to her concerns or fears; she ignored them and went to the one who needed her.  I long to lead a life like that.  To lead a life devoted to others, completely devoid of self.  This is one reason I fell in love with the religious life and why it "fits" me.  I want to devote myself to being of service to others.  By being of service I realize that my life isn't bad, my concerns are not a huge deal, neither are my problems when compared to the homeless addicts and alcoholics I worked with or the abused and neglected children I worked with.  I have everything I need; a place to live, food, clothing.  I am not lacking anything.  So I give my money that I do not need to feed others or house them.  I try to live my life as selflessly as I can, because while I sincerely doubt I will change the world, someone I help, someone that I believed in might.


Thomas Catherine

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dreams and other things

Since I moved into my new apartment with my roommate I have been learning how to balance my spiritual life with real life.  This summer I lived alone and was able to focus solely on my spiritual life.  I would go to work and then come home and do spiritual reading, prayer, mass.  Now that I am living with someone who wants my attention and wants to talk I am having trouble spending time alone and therefore having time to pray and meditate and pray.  However the past week I have been spending time reading and praying and being alone.  I feel much better now that I am working on my relationship with God, writing and going to adoration.  I feel so much more relaxed and calm and serene.  Now if I can only meet with my spiritual director I will be back in balance.  Since restarting all this my prayer life has come back to where it was.  With all the favors that I do not begin to deserve and all the intensity.  I had miss that closeness, that intimate relationship.  I cannot truly live without it.  I am ready to die to the world and go to my halfway house, my earthly home.  I am ready to be with my beloved.  To die to the world so that I may rise again and live in Christ.  How I long for my lover.  I long to be with Him day and night, to never leave Him, to always be with Him.  Oh how I hope that I am not long for the secular world.  I feel more and more distant from it every day.  The things that matter to my friends and family do not matter to me.  I do not care about material things.  I care about the state of people's souls, not the outsides.

Today I came home from work and I read and then I prayed and I fell asleep praying.  I had a dream.  I woke up calm and relaxed from it.  I dreamed that I was at the Dominican priory for mass with a friend of mine.  After mass I was praying the rosary and he was waiting for me.  The next thing I knew I was collapsed on the floor and there was blood.  Then he was carrying me to a room in the priory and two of the Dominican priests I know were leading us.  I was begging to go back to the chapel because all I wanted was to be with Christ and see Him on the cross.  He laid me in the bed and I looked at my hands and there were the wounds of Christ.  I begged and pleaded to be taken back to the chapel so I could be with Christ.  The wounds burned and there was this wonderful smell.  I tried to get up but I was too weak.  Then I woke up.  My hands were red and burning where the wounds would have been and in the same shape as the wounds.  I vaguely remember work and everything seems a blur and I cannot care about anything but being with Christ.


Thomas Catherine

Friday, August 12, 2011

So...the cloister? That is so not you!

When I started discerning I had very set ideas.  I was going to be a Dominican, I was going to be a psychologist, I was going to join an active community.  I was not going to be a teacher and I definitely was not going to be a nun.  I was going to join a community who wore the full habit, said the Divine Office, had mass everyday, and was traditional.  I was NOT going to be a nun!  Being a nun would drive me crazy.  I mean being silent 24 hours a day, never talking, never going out into the world and besides nuns don't do anything, don't help anyone.  I could never be a nun.  I looked and looked at different communities.  I spoke with my spiritual director weekly.  I went to daily mass.  I prayed and prayed.  Some communities I decided to not discern with because they were too liberal.  They had completely gotten rid of the habit, didn't live in community, held beliefs contrary to the Church.  Some stopped discerning with me because of my past.  Some vocation directresses just forgot about me, would not return my calls, or what have you.  This left me with the Ann Arbor Dominicans and the Adrian Dominicans.  A wise priest once asked me what was more important to me, being a religious or being a psychologist.  He then said that should I become a religious that my religious identity is my first identity and that whatever I do I do as a religious.  That I must accept the possibility that I will not be a psychologist.  This advice has stuck with me through my discernment.  I am called to be a religious and being a religious is my first identity.  Once I take those vows I am first and foremost a bride of Christ, I am a religious and everything else is secondary to that.  As a religious I am called to be a spouse of Christ.  Since my primary identity is that of a spouse of Christ then I am called to follow Him and His will, whatever that may be.  I am called to follow my spouse wherever He may lead me, I am called to be obedient to His will and echo Mary's fiat.  Nothing else matters but following His will and doing His will.  Whatever He calls me to do He will give me the grace to do it.  Once I realized this I threw out my expectations; what I thought I wanted and didn't want.  I had moved forward in my prayer life.  I was reading St. Teresa of Avila's The Way of Prayer and found myself identifying with her experiences.  I would be praying at work or at home or anywhere really and slip into contemplation.  I would no longer experience or be aware of the surrounding world.  My exterior senses were of no use.  I was alone with God.  I would do this without conscious thought or without trying, it would just happen.  I was praying the rosary once a day and going to adoration as often as possible and mass as often as possible.  I have a connection to the rosary and to the sorrowful mysteries that I do not understand.  I feel drawn to them.  I pray and weep for the sins of the world, for those who do not know God's loving mercy and His forgiveness.  When I pray the rosary I weep and I am overcome by sorrow for those who do not know God, for those who have turned away from God, for those who sin, for those who cannot forgive themselves or others.  While praying the rosary I have been favored.  I have experienced Christ and the Virgin.  I have felt her wipe away my tears and felt Him hold me.  I have been inspired by by His love while in prayer.  I have felt Him, physically felt Him with me while I pray.  I slide into my interior cell and I never want to leave because when I am there I feel this warmth that radiates from inside me that comforts me.  I feel as though I am with my lover and we are lost to the world, as though there is no world outside of when I am with Him.  When I have to eventually rejoin the world I long for my love.  I long for the time I can be with Him again and for when I can be with Him always.  I have a radical love for Christ crucified.  For me being without Him, having to leave to go to work or interact with other people is painful.  I feel as though I am being forcefully ripped from the arms of my beloved.  To love Christ fully as a spouse is an amazing thing.  My love for Him cannot be described with mere words nor can it be expressed in anything that humanity has conceived.  To love Christ is the greatest of all loves.  By loving Him we learn to love ourselves and to love others.  We learn what love truly is.  Christ is love incarnate.  We think of love as this warm, fuzzy feeling and love is not that.  Love is much more than that, love is a person; love is Christ crucified. (See Love is a Person and A Wedding Homily).  I have a radical love for Christ and by giving my will completely over to Him and trusting Him to guide me I have discerned that I am called to the cloistered life, a life where I am free for Him alone.  No other life with satisfy me and no other man can give me what I need.  I am Christ's alone.


Thomas Catherine

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How I Got to Religious Life

Last summer I had a crisis of faith.  My prayer life had stalled out, it was going nowhere.  My prayer life had not grown or changed in many years.  I had not worked at it out of fear of my own prayer life.  God, for reasons that I do not begin to understand, had favored me with the ability to slip into contemplation and He has chosen to favor me with gifts that I do not deserve.  When I work at my prayer life, when I pray, when I allow myself to go beyond contemplation I can physically feel Christ and the Virgin with me.  I weep for the sins of others and am overtaken by the sorrow that abounds in this world.  My prayer life exhausts me.  So I never worked at it.  However when it stalled out I got scared.  I knew that everything had to change and that frightened me too.  One of my dearest and closest friends suggested that I start praying the rosary and praying novenas and trying the more traditional prayers of the Church.  When I finally learned the rosary I found a connection I had never known.  Praying the traditional ways of the Church led me to that place of peace and serenity I knew the day in the church.  I started going to daily mass and adoration.  I found my peace and serenity.  Then several friends that I have a deep and abiding respect for suggested that I should investigate religious life.  I took this seriously and started looking.  I was scared though.  I never thought religious life was my calling.  I could not imagine giving up men and my life.  I dated the man that taught me the rosary and taught me to love it.  When we broke up I dove into religious life with zeal.  I had always had a great affection for the Dominicans, but now I learned as much about them as I could and I fell for them.  I allowed myself far more time to pray and go to adoration.  I was seduced by Christ and I fell in in love with Him, a love like I have never known.  To be in the world is painful to me.  I long for my lover, to be with Him always, to never leave the state of contemplation where the world disappears and I am alone with my love.  I found a spiritual director.  He is wonderful.  He is a Dominican priest who pushes me further and farther in my prayer life.  The farther I go in prayer the more in love with Christ crucified I become.  I can feel Him with me always.  I feel Him fill my soul with His warmth, love and compassion.  I long for my lover in a way that I have never longer for another human.  I feel His pain and long to be with Him.  As I progressed in my prayer life and these feeling became stronger it became clear that the life of an active sister was not meant for me, that it was the contemplative life that I am called to.  I am called to a life where I am free for Christ alone.


Thomas Catherine

Conversion Story (Beginning Version 2.0)

My conversion story is a bit long and a bit complicated, but it is mine and I am eternally grateful for it.  Without this story I would not be who I am nor would I be where I am.  The Church brought me back to God and helped me find myself.  I have a deep love and affection for the Church and I patiently and not so patiently await the day I shall be a bride of Christ and, hopefully, am given the name Sr. Thomas Catherine of the Immaculate of Heart of Mary, O.P.

In my last post I gave a short account of how I became Catholic, here I will give the full story with all of its twists and turns; ups and downs; all of its simplicity and complexity.  My conversion is not easily defined; it cannot be placed solidly into one category of conversion experience, but instead is a blend.  Most people come to Catholicism by means of an intellectual conversion.  That is to say they convert to Catholicism because it makes logical sense.  They read the theology, apologetics, doctrine and dogma, and the proofs given by Augustine or Aquinas for the existence of God and they see the logic in it.  So by virtue of their mind their heart is converted and they join the Church.  Then there are those who have a "burning bush" experience wherein the convert has an experience that moves the heart and soul to the Truth, where the Holy Spirit fills the convert.  The "burning bush" experience is not common and many will dismiss the convert's experience because of the rarity of it.  Many saints had "burning bush" experiences but in the modern era these experiences are rare or simply not talked about for fear of being thought 'crazy' or not being believed.  My conversion experience is a blend of these two main types of conversion experience.

I have not often spoken of my past feelings toward God nor of my true conversion experience.  I have not spoken of my wicked life before I finally heeded God's call.  I have not often spoken of these things for fear of being thought crazy, of being looked down upon, and of not being believed.  Many believe that a leopard cannot change its spots.  I pray as I write this that God may inspire my words and give me courage and strength to tell the truth as it is and not as I would have it be.  I pray that my words may be more than just the ramblings of a silly girl.

I grew up in a house filled with anger and violence and fear.  I grew up not understand God or His will or free will.  My parents would drag me to church and they were not there so much to worship God, but to look good.  My parents were and are what many would call Sunday Christians.  I never felt connected to the bible or services.  I despised going.  I wanted nothing to do with God.  When I lost my best friend to cancer at 12 I actually said aloud that I hated God.  My father beat me unconscious when he heard me say this, which only furthered my hatred for God.  I did not understand how an all powerful God could allow my father to beat me daily and my mother to stand by and do nothing nor how He, being all powerful and loving, could not or would not stop it.  So I hated God, though I always believed in God.  There are those in this world that are able to be true atheists, that can say and believe that God does not exist.  Some argue that knowledge of God is a priori knowledge or knowledge based on theoretical knowledge rather than experience.  Because of this a priori knowledge we always know that God exists, from the day we are born we are born knowing that God is real and that He has a hand in our lives, that He is personal to us.  God also gave us the gift of free will so that we may choose to deny Him and deny His existence.  There are those that can deny Him and His existence and not feel His absence, I am and have never been one of these people.  When I was young I filled the hole that His absence left with sex, drugs, alcohol, cutting, burning and anything else I could find that would fill the hole, destroy me or both.  When I was 15 I took drivers ed and met two of my most solidly Catholic friends and those two are the ones who started me on the path toward Catholicism.  I spent a few years abusing my body, alcohol and drugs.  I finally got sober at 17.  Upon joining Alcoholics Anonymous I had to let go of all my resentments and my hates, which meant I had to stop hating God because I needed a Higher Power so that I might remain sober and lead a life that is happy, joyous and free.  This was not so simple.  I tried Pagan gods, Buddism, and nature and nothing worked.  I was miserable and still had that hole in me and that hatred for God, though that hatred had eased and was no longer fueling everything I did or did not do.  With my hatred now smoldering and unable to burn I stopped at a Catholic church.  I pause for a moment and ask our Lord to give me strength for this is a story I do not tell for I do not all together understand it and I do not understand at all why He chose to favor me as He has.  I was driving down the road when I came to the church I would attend mass with my friends at.  I had intended to pass it and go on my way.  Instead I felt the deep, desperate need to go into the church.  I turned in, parked and went into the church.  The chapel was empty and filled with the holy silence that is enjoyed in monasteries.  I knelt in a pew and gazed at the mosaic of Christ on His thrown and I prayed for the first time in my life.  The tears flowed my eyes and down my cheeks, my body went weak, my heart and my soul cried out for God.  I longed to feel His presence, to feel Him fill me, to heal me.  I wept and wept.  I repented for all my sins, for all my slanders, for spending my life denying Him and for ridiculing others for their faith and for then tearing down that faith.  Somewhere in all of this I suddenly felt at peace and felt a warmth fill me and sweep over me.  I felt the Holy Spirit fill me with love and serenity and with a knowledge that no matter whatever happened to me and despite all that I had been through that I would be alright, that I would do more than survive, I would live.  I physically felt Christ embracing me, holding me and my heart swelled with love for Him and Him alone.  This is where my journey toward becoming Catholic starts.  After that day I read the books my Catholic friends were reading in their theology courses in high school.  I devoured everything I could on Catholicism.  In May I started RCIA classes and did not tell my parents knowing they would have disapproved.  I loved the classes; I loved learning about the faith.  The theology, doctrine and dogma all made rational and logical sense to me.  I attended mass every Sunday and every chance I got.  In March of the next year I was almost done with RCIA and then my parents found out.  They stripped me of my car and all my possessions and disowned me.  I spent time sleeping at different friends' houses and, in my depression, the beds of many different men.  I lost sight of God and His calling for me.  I spent years going from bed to bed.  Sleeping around, desecrating my body and my soul.  I was raped twice during this time by different men, both were friends.  Eventually I met my husband who was Catholic.  My love of the Church that I had buried resurfaced.  I started RCIA classes again at the same church and I completed RCIA and was confirmed into the Church in March of 2004.  I started going to mass periodically, but I was still so mired in sins of the flesh that I could not truly connect to God.  I eventually married my husband in a protestant ceremony.  The marriage soon ended when my husband became abusive.  While I was married I was admitted to a prestigious Catholic university.  Going to this university has been my saving grace.  I have been able to surround myself with good, practicing Catholics who have encouraged me in my faith.  They have taught me the true faith.  I have fallen in love with God and Christ crucified and there is no other for me.  I have gained a faith that I would give my life for and a prayer life that I could not imagine.

Pax Christi,

Thomas Catherine

The Beginning

The best place to start is always at the beginning so that is where I will start.

I was raised in North Texas by Southern Baptist parents.  I grew up going to church with my parents on and off.  They would drag me and I would hate it.  I grew up hating God.  God allowed my father to beat me and abuse me.  God allowed my mother to stand by and watch my father beat me.  God allowed my mother to beat me and emotionally abuse me after my parents divorced.  God allowed my best friend to die when she was 13.  God allowed me to be raped twice.  God allowed me to live after I tried to take my own life.  God forced me to suffer through my horrible existence.  God allowed my family to blame me for my mother's failings.  God allowed me to become an adult far too early, He allowed me to have to take responsibility for my mother and her failings.  For all of this I hated God, but I always believed in Him.  I always knew God was real.  I always knew He had a hand in my life; I just did not think He was keeping me safe from worse things or helping me to overcome the tragedies in my life.  I did not understand God or free will growing up, no one bothered to explain it to me.  To deal with all of this I turned initially to drugs and alcohol and cutting.  At 16 I tried to kill myself and at 17 I was at the same point again.  I felt hopeless, lost, trapped by my situation.  I saw no way out except death.  I realized that something had to change and I got sober at 17.  

During this time I had friends who were Catholic.  If I wanted to see them on Sundays I had to go to mass.  At first I thought mass odd and long, but the more I went the more I came to love going.  Mass was the hour out of the week I felt safe and calm and at peace.  I started learning about Catholicism. I read any book my friends would give me, often devouring the book in a day or less.  One day I went to the church my friends attended by myself.  I went to light a candle for my friend that had died years earlier.  I knelt down in one of the pews and for the first time in my life truly prayed.  My mind stopped, everything stopped.  For the first time I knew peace, serenity, calmness.  I knew what it felt like to be truly loved and comforted.  I felt someone holding me and comforting me.  For the first time in my life I knew that I would be alright, that I would do more than just survive.  I knew all my suffering and pain had a purpose; that I had a purpose.  I knew that God loved and cared about me.  I finally got up and left.  I got into my car and looked at the clock, it was four hours later.  I could not believe that I had been in there that long.  That feeling I had in the church lasted for days.  I called the church and found out about RCIA classes and started trying to convert.  I went to mass every Sunday and in mass and in the prayers I learned from the Church I found comfort.  I no longer hated, but loved God with all my heart.  I fell in love with the Church and God that day.  While attending RCIA my very Baptist parents found out and sent me away.  When I still was determined to become Catholic they stripped me of my possessions.  I left the house at 17 to be on my own.  I did not complete RCIA, but that is where my journey began.

I spent years going to mass and not taking communion.  I spent years ignoring my call to the Church.  I spent years living with boyfriends and all that implies.  I spent years ignoring God after being unable to convert.  I would still pray, but not really.

At 24 I married my ex-husband and was confirmed in the Catholic Church.  I was still ignoring God's call for me to attend mass and pray regularly.  After getting married I started college at a community college.  After a year there I transferred to a Catholic college because I adored the psychology program.  My husband and I divorced that year because he hit me.  While attending university I started going to mass regularly, started praying more and praying sincerely.  I started going to confession.  I started becoming friends with good Catholics; in fact I surrounded myself with them.  My spiritual life stalled out and one of these friends started teaching me to pray the rosary and pray novenas.  I started attending daily mass and adoration with him (I eventually dated him but we broke up and are still best friends).  Then in the course of a week I had multiple people and priests that I respect ask if I had ever considered religious life.  I replied that I had not.  I got the clue, so I started looking into it.  I fell in love with the Dominican Order.  I fell in love with their joy and their humor.  I looked at and discerned with multiple active communities and got a Dominican spiritual director.  With his guidance I worked hard on my prayer life.  My prayer life led me to contemplative communities.  I have a rather, shall we say, intense prayer life.  One that is not well suited to an active life.  I am now in contact with two contemplative Dominican communities.

This is where it starts.  The posts here will be my musings and thoughts and feelings about what is going on because I need to write and to put my thoughts and feelings down.  Pray for me and have fun reading.

Thomas Catherine