Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Happy Feast of St. Ignatius! Today’s the feast day of my confirmation saint, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.

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A statue depicting the wounding of St. Ignatius of Loyola outside his home

A little backstory on him. So he was born Iñigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491 in Loyola, a small village Azpeita in northern Spain. He gained acclaim as a soldier and was climbing in status until 1521, when a cannonball took out his legs while defending Pamplona against the French. One leg was broken, but the other was severely mangled. Multiple surgeries (without anesthetics) were performed to save his life and maybe legs, but with how he was deteriorating, no one was optimistic about his survival, much less recovery. But on the feasts of St. Peter and Paul, Ignatius began to improve, but the mangled leg was still deformed and the broken leg was shorter than the other. He had the deformity removed and tied a cannonball to the other leg and let it hang to attempt to stretch the other leg out for hours on end. Again, analgesia wasn’t really a thing back then, so none of this felt great…but he was determined. While spending months convalescing, he was bored and wanted something to read. He was hoping for stories of knights, valor, battle, but instead got the lives of Christ and the saints. The room of his convalescence then became the room of his conversion, with those stores filling him with the fire to serve God and His people. During his prayer, he would be filled with a sense of peace, reaffirming his decision. He even laid down his military garments in front of an image of the Black Madonna at the Benedictine Monastery Santa Maria de Montserrat and began practicing spiritual exercises in a cave in Manresa.

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A replica of the original home in Loyola

Now that was all well and good, but considering Mass and all educated communication was done in Latin (which he knew nothing of), he had to start somewhere. And that somewhere was a 30-year-old Ignatius in a Latin class with a bunch of 10-year-olds. He advanced in his education in Alcala and Salamanca until earning his master’s degree at the College of Saint Barbe of the University of Paris at age 44. While there, he roomed with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, who began to follow Ignatius and his spiritual exercises. The group traveled to Rome to present themselves as a religious order to the Pope and serve him since their dreams of traveling to the Holy Land were impeded by a conflict between the Turks and Venetians. Pope Paul III approved them as an official religious order in 1540 and Ignatius was elected the first leader of the Society of Jesus. Those who opposed them called them “Jesuits,” but with all the good work they were doing, the name was no longer seen as derogatory.

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The Church of the Gesu in Rome

The Society of Jesus is known for educating the youth because of their advocacy of using reason and logic to persuade others and fight heresy. The Jesuits were responsible for a large percentage of the work in stopping the spread of the Protestant Reformation. At the time of his death on July 31, 1556, the order had 35 schools…that number has grown significantly since then.

He was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1609 and canonized in 1622. His patronage includes the Society of Jesus, soldiers, educators and education.

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A Father’s Day blessing by Fr. Roger during our pilgrimage especially fitting since my father was the one that introduced me to St. Ignatius of Loyola

My dad was the one that introduced me to St. Ignatius back as a high school freshman when I had to pick a saint for Confirmation. As an awkward teenager whose friends were going with the more popular saints, I was not as eager with my father’s choice for me (and resented that fact that he didn’t let me pick my own since “adulthood in the Catholic Church” is kind of the shtick of Confirmation). My dad guided me that direction because academic success was extremely important to me. But little did I know how much St. Ignatius would return to me time and time again in multiple forms.

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The Life of Christ on display in St. Ignatius’ home in Loyola

The first time I made a real personal connection was back in college. On top of returning to my home parish to help out with high school retreats, I was heavily involved in Longhorn Awakening and STRONG. The former is a large biannual retreat hosted at the University Catholic Center and the latter is a team that hosts retreats for youth groups in the Diocese of Austin that otherwise would not have the opportunity. It was getting to the point where I was averaging a retreat a month. I was even pushed by my friends into a leadership role in Awakening because I was so involved that I could almost literally run it in my sleep. A few years into college, I learned who the patron saint of retreats was…St. Ignatius, the founder of the Spiritual Exercises himself.

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Under this tree was where I did the majority of my meditations during the silent retreats

Speaking of retreats, I had one of my most powerful spiritual experiences during an adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises at a Jesuit retreat site in Lake Dallas. A few college friends had gone on a silent retreat over Memorial Day weekend that was based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Divided over four years, each retreat would be one week of the month-long exercises, and with each return, you would progress through. During these, I found the courage to begin to accept my homosexuality and began to let go of my subliminal self-loathing. During my meditations there, I truly experienced the concept of spiritual consolation, that sense of peace that St. Ignatius himself experienced during his conversion.

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The bedazzled statue of St. Ignatius that’s revealed daily at 5:00pm in the Church of the Gesu

During our pilgrimage to Italy last year, we visited many sites across the country, including Assisi where St. Francis (my brother’s Confirmation saint) rests. We had planned to extend our trip for a few days in Rome after the completion of the pilgrimage, so we scheduled a side trip to Nettuno to visit St. Maria Goretti’s tomb since she was Marissa’s patron saint. But as far as I knew, St. Ignatius was Spanish, so I didn’t figure I was going to get much on my end in this regard. However, I forgot that the Jesuits were founded in Rome. While on the tour bus, our guide pointed out the Church of the Gesu, stating that St. Ignatius laid there. We added that to our personal itinerary, and we went to visit around 5:00pm at our guide’s suggestion. In comparison to the St. Francis and St. Maria Goretti, St. Ignatius’ tomb was much more ornate and elaborate. And at 5:00pm, a presentation began that ended with the painting dropping from behind his tomb to reveal a bedazzled statue of St. Ignatius while all of the lights lit up the church like it was Easter. My brother and Marissa both looked at me like, “of course your saint would be the bougie one.” The apartment that St. Ignatius lived and died in was next door to the church, so we got to go through that as well.

Then this year, during our Marian pilgrimage, we happened to be driving through

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The Chapel of Conversion

northern Spain to get to Lourdes. My mother had told the priest in an unrelated conversation about how my patron saint is St. Ignatius, and apparently his eyes lit up at the opportunity for another pit stop and added Loyola to the itinerary. The basilica was impressive, but the tour of the home of St. Ignatius was the most powerful experience I had on the trip. We got to enter the rooms where he lived and prayed, the room where he was born, and most significantly the room where he convalesced and converted. The room, now turned into the Chapel of Conversion, was where we held our daily mass on that day of the trip. But I was filled with awe and emotion to know that I was walking the very same floors within the very same walls looking at the very same beams that were present when the fire was lit in St. Ignatius to change from military to clergy.

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The stained glass window at the Montserrat retreat center in Lake Dallas depicting St. Ignatius laying down his sword and shield in front of the Black Madonna

It’s funny that I was considering doing the newer Camino Ignaciano next year leading up to my 30th birthday just because the travel bug had bit hard and that I’ve also been more heavily considering grad school in Nursing Informatics to both advance my education and give myself a change of pace from the craziness of the ER. Until doing some quick research to review the life of St. Ignatius while writing this post, I hadn’t realized that his conversion happened at the age of 30 as well. While the changes I’m looking to make in my own life are much different than his, the parallel is amusing to me. It looks like my dad had me pegged much more accurately than any of us could have known.

 

Overheated

So here I am posting from the bathtub of our hotel in Burgos because it has been hot, AC’s aren’t great out here and I’ve been out in the sun all day. To be fair, it’s only in the high 80’s, low 90’s, so basically it doesn’t hold a candle to summer in Texas, but I’m used to only having to endure that in the walk from my house to the car. Haha

In any case, I semi-figured out my electronic device situation, so look for updates later tonight. I may or may not get to upload pictures though depending on my computer’s battery life and if my mom is using her charger because mine blew out two cities ago. Like straight up sparks and everything. I was so mad. But c’est la vie. I’m here for a pilgrimage so if I don’t have the extra luxuries, so be it.

Anyway, time to shower so I can make it down to dinner. 

Vem comigo Day 0: IAH > FRA

My body has no idea what to think right now. My concept of time is already screwy enough as it is with the midshifts, so throw in the international flight and I don’t know what day it is anymore.

To backtrack a bit, I’m going on the Marian pilgrimage with my parents’ church in Houston. We’re hitting up Fatima for it’s 100th anniversary, Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, Paris, and a bunch of places in between. I’m particularly excited about seeing Loyola in Spain because my Confirmation saint is St. Ignatius. I got to see his tomb, the first Jesuit church, and the apartment he lived in at the end of his life. Now I get to see the beginning.

But before we get there, we have to fly out. We got to IAH three hours early, and there were still group members that beat us to the airport. Anyway, nothing eventful. Just your basic airport stuff. Check in, TSA, you know. But while we were waiting to board, some Hispanic lady sat next to my dad and started talking in Spanish. My dad just played along to see if she’d notice that he had no clue what she was saying. We told her she was surrounded by Filipinos that didn’t really speak Spanish. She didn’t seem to care. One of the Mexican men that are in the group with us chatted with her and gave her a heads up. She seemed to have a grand old time with it. You do you, Abuelita, you do you.

The flight was fine except for the fact that I was trapped in a steel tube hurtling through the air for 9 hours with a crying urchin and a mother making no effort to soothe her child. For my friends with kids, please do us all a favor and if you do decide to bring your child on a flight before they can handle discomfort without crying, do SOMETHING. I don’t care what. I don’t care if it works…well actually I do, but I just want to see some effort to show that you’re not an asshole. And for airlines, just putting this out there…I would pay extra money for a childless flight, especially international.

Then we landed at Frankfurt Airport, and police lady checking my passport asked me about the matching shirts. I told her we were on a pilgrimage and they wanted us to match. She asked how long we were going to be doing it. I said two weeks. She gave me this look and asked if we were wearing the same shirt the whole time. I gave a resounding hell no. She seemed amused.

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Does it count as a carry on? Was he wearing anything underneath? Am I going to be in the background of a video on some German Youtube channel? I have so many questions.

Then we got to the gate, and this mofo was the first thing I saw. Not sure what was going on. My first thought was thank God I checked in ahead of time and made sure I was sitting with my family. Because being anywhere near chicken suit on a plane would be miserable. I had so many questions, but unfortunately, I never got answers because I had to go to the bathroom and by the time I came back, he was gone. I’d like to think that he’s very Flula Borg-y.

Well, I have two hours left of this layover before we move on to Lisbon and start our pilgrimage, and I still have a shit ton of Duolingo to do on both Portuguese and French. Oh well. Boa sorte to me, I guess.

Spring(ish) Cleaning: The Pantry Raid

No better time to start spring cleaning than when you’re trying to get everything set for a two-week trip out of the country next week, right? I’ve been meaning to do some spring cleaning, but have been putting it off until I had something else more important to procrastinate on. Aaaand technically, summer solstice isn’t until June 20, so I can still call this spring cleaning.

We’ll start with the area that’s plagued me the most: the pantry. Now, I have rooms that are worse off, but I don’t store food in them and they’re not as visible to the public, so those are a little lower on my priority list. But my pantry was a hot mess. Part of me thought that maybe if I had a bigger pantry, I wouldn’t have as many problems…but let’s be real: a bigger pantry would just mean a hotter mess. Plus, people with less room make it work, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and figure this out. There are no before pictures. Partly because I forgot, but mostly because I’m ashamed. Ha.

Now everyone says step one is to clear out the pantry and figure out what you’ve got. I really didn’t feel like doing that – mostly because my kitchen counters were also a mess too, so I had nowhere to put things – so I made it work. I figured out how much I had of what and what each shelf should have on it. Took a little bit of guessing and checking, but I made it work.

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It was harder to get a picture of the whole thing than I thought.

Anyway, here’s the final product!

 

One of my favorite parts of every pantry organization post I could find was matching containers for things. Yes, I realize this is really bougie and extra of me, but hey, I’m a grown man and pay my own bills. If I wanna be bougie and extra, you can’t judge me. For the pastas and grains I used these half-gallon mason jars.

Full disclosure: none of these people are paying me to advertise for them. I ain’t a serious enough blogger for that. I have less followers than I have fingers and only update when I get a wild hair up my…anyway. I just figure if someone stumbles on this post, may as well make it interesting.

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Ignore the uneven labels

Anyway, so the jars. They’re great, and fit the one pound bags of pasta perfectly. But they’re too short for spaghetti and the like, so I had to deviate for those. These are the canisters I’m using for the spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and lasagna. It drove me nuts that there wasn’t a mason jar tall enough for this, but whatever. I’ll deal with it.

I wanted the labels to be in the same font as my recipe binder (I’ll post that one in another post) but I’m not bougie enough to own a Cricut or Silhouette, so I found some 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of clear label paper I bought on sale when an Office Depot near me was doing its closing clearance a few years ago and used that. The background of the text is kind of frosted-looking but it’s fine. It’s labeled, kind of matches, and has been resistant against moisture so far. I probably wouldn’t go soaking them in water though.

Speaking of canisters, my baking supplies are also in matching ones. I was going to use mason jars for them too, but then quickly realized that if I’m going to bake, I need to be able to get a measuring cup into it, so that went out the window. But the Anchor Hocking cracker jars were close. I swear, the people at the Container Store are probably sick of seeing me.

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Again, please ignore the imperfect labels

The last of the matching bottle saga is the one I used for the sauces and cooking oils. I bought this one from Specialty Bottle online. It’s technically a liquor bottle, but whatever. It works for my purposes and looked cute, especially with all of them lined up. I paired them with these hinged vented pourers I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond, but I can’t find them online, so when I saw them at the store, I bought all four packs I found. Anyway, with the first round of oil bottles I had, I tried frosting the glass, but getting a consistent font and size didn’t quite work because that depended on finding the right stickers to get the frosting to take. If I end up getting one of those vinyl cutting machines, I may be able to make my own stencils and do it, but for now, the Office Depot labels will have to do.

SC - Pantry03Now for the other things, I got some baskets from At Home. I found some similar ones I thought were cute at the Container Store, but I didn’t feel like paying $10 each so I found these for about half the price. For things I had less of but still needed to be in baskets, I bought these handled storage baskets to keep my baking supplies corralled. And then I also bought these handled spice baskets because I intended to use them in my spice cabinet. Then I quickly realized that the stupid cabinet I have my spices in is too shallow. BUT I had some essential oil bottles and some extracts that needed homes, so they were perfect for that, so yay for having a plan B. The non-perishables are still kind of there, but at least the chaos is limited now.

SC - Pantry01As we work our way down, more things I used in here are the Akrobins (and accompanying labels) from the Container Store. These little guys were perfect for the shelves but I went a size bigger for the drink mixes/teas, and the height difference was enough so I couldn’t stack them. Lesson learned, folks: always measure before you buy. But whatever, even putting the drink ones side-by-side, I still have extra room on the shelf…it just killed some of my dead space. Which in hindsight may be a good thing, because I’ll be less tempted to dump miscellany there.

SC - Pantry05Finally we’re down to the bottom shelves. I used to keep the ridiculous amount of reusable bags I have down there in baskets (I use Instacart a LOT). But I cleared those out and found another home for them and moved the awkwardly-sized items under there. The cookie sheets, baking tins, and pans have a more comfy home where I’m not having to play Tetris in drawers which is great. These Threshold baskets from Target were the perfect size for what I needed. For all of my disposable dinnerware, I already had the desk organizer for utensils. But the bins from At Home were also perfect for these. Instead of the bulk packs from Sam’s taking way too much space, I’ve got manageable amounts in the pantry and storing the rest elsewhere so that I’m not cluttering everything. The back shelf is overflow for food and spices so that I can refill their containers as needed. It’s partially obscured by the pet food container I’m using to hold my rice, but it’s not a big deal because I don’t really need those right away.

So now I can actually have easy access to my pantry instead of having to dig through things Thrift Shop style just to make lunch. Now to move onto my next area. Or finish my chart audits. Or to actually pack for the trip I leave on next week. Ugh…maybe I shouldn’t have procrastinated.

The One That Sticks With You

Every health care provider has that one (or more) patient(s) that stick with them. For some reason or another, something in that patient’s story, personality, etc. resonates with them. I found mine tonight.

It was a busy night which is par for the course on a Monday, but for some reason, it seemed even more shitshowy than usual. All of a sudden a cardiac arrest rolled through the door. That in itself isn’t what hit me though. Unfortunately, in my line of work, death is kind of a thing, and we’re frequently put in the position where our team is the only thing standing between this person and death. We swarmed to the room and did our thing.

Then the daughter rolled in.

She stood in the corner consciously avoiding being in the way repeating the phrase, “In Jesus’ name…” with a few statements of disbelief peppered in. I was in the room but not currently taking an active role in the resuscitation at the time, so I stood with her initially out of concern that in her potential hysterics, she would faint or otherwise somehow require some kind of medical attention.

I asked what I could do for her, and she asked me to pray. I stood by her in solidarity as she implored God to guide our hands, revive her mother, and be present in the room, her voice shaking with a mix of adrenaline, shock, fear, guilt, and a variety of other emotions. I watched as she oscillated between a stoic worried understanding and screaming hysterics. She went from requesting God to help to tearful pleading to spare her mother because she wasn’t ready to lose her.

“I’m not ready!”

“I still need her; The kids need her!”

“I was doing my best to take care of her!”

“MOM, PLEASE WAKE UP!”

For the first time in years, I felt trembling in my chest, tears welling in my eyes. Her pleas shook me to my core.

As I’ve mentioned before, medical emergencies are what we do. Death isn’t frequent but it also isn’t foreign. We had another person we were performing CPR on last night that we were unable to revive, and I’ve seen deaths from a variety of causes throughout my relatively short career. But none of them have disturbed me in the way this had.

When you do what we do, it’s easy to simplify each patient to their diagnosis or their room. “The chest pain in bed 8.” “The abdominal pain in bed 17.” “The flu-like symptoms in Quick Care 11.” “The stuck cock ring in T2.” “The CPR-in-progress in T4.” It’s not that we actively seek to dehumanize patients, but for efficiency and ease of communication we have a habit of doing so.

But this one was different. As I sat in the corner of the room with this woman’s daughter, I saw the action from her perspective. I tried to explain what was happening to her in a way she could understand. And even though I knew what was happening, watching from the corner with the backdrop of her wailing helped me share in her helplessness. And her tearful begging to have her mother back because she wasn’t ready…the whole process became much more humanized.

It’s no secret if you know me that being at odds with a member of my family, especially my mother is nothing out of the ordinary. However, I could hear myself in her petitions to God to extend her mother’s stay on this earthly plane. Guilt washed over me for all of the time wasted being angry or annoyed at my parents.

Even as I was relieved by the house supervisor and chaplain of my role in this resuscitation so that I could resume my own assignment, I felt a heaviness in my chest, an aching in my heart, and a trembling to my innermost being for hours after. At that point, I wanted nothing more than to get my parents on the phone and tell them I love them. Unfortunately for me, I work mid shifts, and random calls in the middle of the night would probably not be appreciated by people who have regular-people hours.

And even after the initial frenzy of the resuscitation wore off and we slowly dropped out of the room to return to our own sections, what I observed was awe-inspiring. Any patient or family member within earshot listened and/or prayed in silent solidarity from afar despite never having met the patient or the daughter. One patient that we’d been annoyed with all night said that as soon as she heard the screaming she began to pray. Another patient was in tears because she lost her own mother in a similar situation. And as we rounded to do damage control and apologize to other patients for their wait, they all exhibited some degree of patience and compassion because they recognized the medical and emotional emergency. To see strangers metaphorically come together in such a way was touching to say the least.

In any case, having a situation like this suddenly humanized left me affected with what can be best described as a malaise in my chest…hell, I haven’t posted here in a while, and was so disturbed that I was actually compelled to write this post.

Do me a favor. Call your Mom or Dad; brother or sister; a best friend and tell them that you love them.

 

For Auld Lang Syne

NEW YEAR, NEW ME!

…Yeah, no.

But not having goals or anything leads to stagnation, so I figure why not actually try to have some resolutions?

  • Maintenance: It’s easier to maintain things than to fix them so my goal is to take this first month to fix things so that I can maintain them for the rest of the year. That goes for vehicles, appliances, cleanliness…I’m just tired of this cycle of “Well crap, it’s broke/dirty/something’s wrong with it; now I have to fix it.” The biggest thing with this is that it’s going to require me to quit procrastinating.
  • Finish a project a month: Speaking of procrastinating, I’ve got a craft closet full of things I’m half-finished with, and a list of home improvement projects that I’ve also done pretty much nothing with. So my goal is to pick a craft and a home improvement project for each month and actually finish them so that I can actually realize the visions that I’ve had for them instead of the raw materials just sitting in a closet. Time to start crossing things off my Pinterest boards!
  • Read a book each month: While we’re on the topic of monthly things, I want to also get to the point where I’m reading at least one book each month. With how busy things are and how much catch up I’m playing, I haven’t had much time to actually read (I think I only read a single book cover-to-cover in 2016 and started a handful more without actually finishing). I think I’ll start with The Nerdist Way by my favorite comedian himself (and suspected fellow Enneagram 6), Chris Hardwick.
  • Weekly meditations: For a while I tried to do the daily meditation thing. Read some passages, meditate on gratitude, etc. Then I’d fall off for a day or two, get frustrated and then next thing you know I’m off the wagon. Finding something to be grateful for each day is still important to me, but the every day thing is a little daunting. So my plan is to record what I’m grateful for each day and then each week, sit down and do a legit prayerful meditation to hopefully keep me centered and less impulsive.
  • Planning: With all the best intentions to use my calendars, etc. (especially since Google Calendar is on my freaking phone), I still go from week to week not planning much farther ahead than my next three shifts. My goal is to sit down at the end of each month (or beginning for this one) and plug everything into my calendar so that I can have a better view of what I’m doing and when.
  • Budget: My finances are pretty much a damn dumpster fire when it comes to budgeting. Money goes all over the place, but way more than it should goes into eating out and social outings. I think a couple of months, eating out alone took up $600 of my income. So my goal is to analyze the spending for the last year, and actually come up with hard-and-fast numbers to keep my spending in check.

As much as I would love to have a bunch more lofty goals (and I do in my head), I’m sticking to these six. Mostly because much more than that, and I’ll probably get overwhelmed trying to keep track of them all and fall off all of the wagons.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll actually get my mess in order and get my ass in shape.

…or at least maybe stave off the diabetes and high cholesterol for another year.

…maybe.